Friday, December 30, 2005

Growbox Gardening

Okay, I have posted a lot about running barefoot. When I started this site, I also meant to mention something about gardening, the vegetable kind.

Years ago, probably in the early 80's, my dad had this book on "Growbox Gardening" by a guy named Mittleider. I remember reading it and thinking that it would be an awesome way to create a vegetable garden, but I never had the gumption to really set one up. It seemed all complicated.

By the way, when we lived in Salt Lake City, the author lived not far from me. I remember going running at the bottom of this little canyon and looking up on the banks above the path and seeing lots of layered terraces creeping down the hillside. I was told that was his house. It was pretty cool, kind of like some Chinese gardens I've seen in picture books.

Somehow I discovered that he had a website set up and I visited it. To my surprise, his website was basically the entire book available on line, for free! Not long after I discovered his website, he changed it so now it is more of a big sales spiel for his book. Makes sense to me ... why give away what you're trying to sell?

Well, about 3 years ago, I decided it was time to give it a try. Mittledier updated his techniques since he wrote the one I first read. I like the new methods a lot more.

The Concept

A growbox is just a raised bed filled with artificial soil that you create. The box is only 18 inches wide, 30 feet long, and 8 inches deep.

You fertilize it once a week with a broad spectrum fertilizer and water it every day. It almost explodes with produce! Unbelievable.

I couldn't find a suitable fertilizer around here, so I had my son buy some bags of it in Salt Lake City and bring them up when he drove up here for a visit. Later on, I discovered that the Portland Rose Society sells a nearly identical fertlizer for about 1/2 the cost! Nice! My "soil" is made of 50% river sand, 25% sawdust, and 25% peat moss. I have to replenish some of the sawdust and peat moss each year, as the old stuff decomposes.

My first year, 2003, I grew broccoli heads that were almost the size of dinner plates. I grew corn plants that reached heights of 9 to 10 feet and produced very sweet, tender corn. This is almost unheard of in these parts - its considered too wet and cool and too short of a growing season for corn.

I grew green beans that reached the top of the 6 ft. trestles and wanted to keep growing, so I stretched lines from the trestle to the eaves of the house. The plants grew all the way to the roof, more than 12 feet tall! It has been pretty cool to pick beans that are hanging overhead. We always have more green beans than we know what to do with. I'm not planting them next year.

I have used the growbox method for three years now. Still with wonderful results. This past year I planted one single sweet meat squash plant. It threw out tendrils that were 15 to 20 feet long and produced 7 basketball (or larger) sized squashes.

<--- My corn plants in 2003, still growing. To the front of the pic on the left is a tomato plant and you can just see the edges of green beans. On the right I had some pots with yellow and green zucchini in them.

I also grew too many tomato plants and I let them grow too tall. They also threw out runners that were about 8 to 10 feet long. Turns out I should have trimmed them much shorter so the strength of the plants went into growing tomatoes, not longer vines, so they produced lots and lots of green tomatoes that never ripened. Live and learn. I also planted blue potatoes, and got great results from them!

So, I highly recommend the Growbox Method of gardening! Once its set up, its easy, weed-free, produces like crazy, and won't let you down. Looking forward to next year's garden!

Corn, fully grown & green beans almost to the eaves of the house! I had one zucchini plant at the far end that spread out about six feet wide on both sides! (2003 garden)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Oh, Salt Lake City has a new marathon that started up in 2005. Its a different course than
the Deseret News Marathon. The new race starts up near the University of Utah, goes out Foothill Boulevard to around 78th South, goes west to about 3rd West street, and goes north to the Delta Center. Its quite a flat course. Its also one of the few marathon races that is NOT run on a Sunday! In 2006 it is going to be held on June 3rd, a Saturday.

I'm thinking how much I would like to train to get myself ready to run this marathon, barefoot. I've never run a marathon before. When I was in law school I ran away a lot of the stress by going on almost daily runs of 8 to 15 miles, sometimes I ran 20 miles. That was a long time ago and a lot of pounds lighter! I've always wanted to run a marathon, and my new excitement about barefoot running has me eyeing the Salt Lake City Marathon to be my first. I'll keep on running through the winter here and see how things are shaping up in the Spring.


More Running

It's become obvious to me that most of my posts are about barefoot running. I gues that's because its the "new thing" with me, plus I'm working hard to improve my running ability. Since its the middle of winter, I'm not doing much gardening. I still work in the temple every Tuesday evening, and that is still the highlight of my week's experiences. But it starts to sound redundant to keep saying "I had a wonderful time in the temple last night." There's not much more I can say about it than that! I guess I could mention that I helped do some temple work for a man whose first name was "Batman"! Now I'm waiting for "Superman" to come along!

Yesterday, Monday, I ran 12 miles around Portland, Oregon. I ran 6 miles on some smooth sidewalks along the waterfront, then I headed uphill from there through the city and back down the other side. This gives my feet a workout on rougher surfaces, which forces me to improve my techniques. When I got back down to the waterfront I ran another 3 miles. It was pretty cool out, about 38 degrees, so I wore gloves this time which helped keep me warmer overall. Surprisingly, my feet are not very cold when I run.

I believe that bare feet help set the body's thermostat. I do not need to turn my house heat up much more than 60 degrees, my body seems to have reset its warmth level so I am very comfortable where others seem to feel chilled.

Faith is only a word until it is challenged.


Thursday, December 08, 2005


Yesterday I did 6 cool weather miles with bandaids on a toe injury.

Today I did 9 cool miles (36 degrees) with bandaids -- 3 miles on smooth cement, 3 miles up and down city streets with mixed quality surfaces, and 3 miles back on the smooth cement. No real problems, except really getting cold all over when my wet tshirt got hit with wind gusts during the last 3 miles, but my feet felt fine! Well, almost fine. The raw spot on my left big toe got bothered a little bit, not too much though. Its healing, despite my repeated abuse!

I got a LOT of
stares from people this time - loved it!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Deepening Winter

I had developed a rather bad skin erasure problem on the pad of the big toe of my left foot, running in cooler weather here. Weird, I thought. I've never had that problem before.

So I rested and let it heal until it felt good. Then I went back out running, again in cool weather, and promptly got a painful deep bruise and blood blister in exactly the same place! So its time out for more healing.

Someone commented about how their toes tended to curl downward when their feet got cold. That explains why this unexpected problem crept up on me! I figured the cold on my feet made me "dig in" or "push off" with my toes more than normal. I'm thinking I need to put on a bandaid or something and keep running anyway. I hate taking too many days off from it!

I waited as long as I could stand for my fairly raw big toe to heal (3 days). Today I wrapped it up in a couple of bandaids and headed down to my favorite smoooooooth cement running path in Portland, OR and got in 6 miles. Temp outside was about 36 degrees, the coldest I've run so far this year. My toe was protected enough that I did no harm to it. I felt my left Achilles stiffening up, probably from the cold. I noticed my feet got fairly numb, so I had to try extra hard to follow good form techniques so as to not do them any damage. After my run, when my feet warmed up and I could feel them again, I was glad to find they were perfectly healthy and happy again!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Cool Running

I'm still running, even though the weather has gotten cooler. Last week I gouged or cut my right foot right in the center of the ball of the foot, maybe on some glass. I didn't think much of it, waited a couple of days for it to feel better, and went back out again. Darn if it didn't break open and bleed exactly at the same spot! I wonder if a little piece of glass wasn't embedded. So I waited a couple more days, went out, and -- no problem! Except I was letting my left big toe scrape a little and it got a little raw. Must be from the colder surface possibly numbing my foot a little - maybe from still trying to "push off" too much.

Little things, nothing to worry about, I still love running barefoot and will keep on!

I have run from 6 to 10 -12 miles each run, approximately 3 days a week. My last run was only about 5 miles, because of the left big toe getting kind of raw and sore. So now I'm letting it heal.

I'm getting a lot of incredulous looks from people as I run in the colder and wetter weather. Its g
ood to give them a new education - puncture their paradigms! :)

Its been said by hunters that to warm your head, hike uphill, and to warm your feet, hike downhill. I always wondered if there was any truth to that!

This week our temperatures got a lot cooler, and I was out running in about 43-45F (6-7C) degree weather. This isn't all that cold by itself, except I didn't have much to put on in the way of clothing, so I was underdressed, plus I still perspire when I exercise, so I got wet and cold after running a few miles.

As I was running uphill in Portland, I noticed that my feet felt quite cold, but the rest of me was fine. Then when I ran downhill, I noticed my feet were no longer cold at all, but felt quite warm, while my head and upper body felt chilled. Then I finished by running another couple of miles on flat sidewalks and noticed that my feet were getting cold again.



Vancouver Barefoot