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This project is from the Summer of 2010 and is now archived. Visit the IMA Island page for the next related project.

finally floating


Got out to the lake today, I brought my floating garden to test it out.  It’s been in the back of my truck all day during school so that I could bring it to our meeting.  We aren’t able to get out to the island but we are here to take some PR shots with our new friend Tad.  He is going to follow us around every time we are doing stuff on the grounds to keep things documented.  He helped us load everything into the lake and watch it float.  It worked, duh. It worked a little too well. The barrels could hold at least 10 times the weight. I will put some more pots on the raft but I don’t want to load it up too much or it’ll start to become a tipping risk.  I also want to figure out a way to dress it up a bit.  That’s something that’s interesting about working on this project. If it was just me, I wouldn’t care about how it looked but I have too keep in mind this new audience. I’m representing not only myself but Andrea, and the IMA.  I like the fact that people can see how it’s put together and figure out how to do it them selves but I want it to be congruent with the aesthetic of the rest of the project which is pretty polished and clean. We’ll figure something out.


new design

Here is the first Model of the new design.  Jacob’s idea was not only easier to construct but seems like it will work better.  You can see the inlets on the bottom of the storage unites that will wick up the water.  Look close and you can see the sock inside. They are those cool hospital ones with the grips.



frost cometh

indoor garden

I’m really enjoying working on the garden for the island, it’s presented some interesting problems that take some creative maneuvering. There was a danger of a frost this weekend. I’ve had everything setting outside but decided to bring them in to avoid loosing my head start. Because everything was in the containers i could just bring them in my living room. The inlets on the bottom make them unable to be just set on the floor. I made a makeshift stand out of a bunch of old paint cans and Two by Fours. They look so good I wish i could have a big garden inside all year. I’ll keep dreaming.

soil prep

The last week we’ve been in full garden mode. While I’m working on the floating garden there is still work that needs to be done at my home garden. In an effort to try to organize the yard i’ve built some raised flower beds. I’m not going to have time to use them so i’m lending them out to friends and neighbors who don’t have any space. I have four 14×4′ beds. Alan and I procured some soil from a local construction site. (they were digging a hole for a foundation) We will mix in crushed eggshells, coffee grounds, and compost to make this free dirt something to be proud of. We are working at our own pace and now have 3 beds fully built (not pictured) and two beds filled with soil.



old design Click 2x for large view

So the original design for the floating garden has been giving me some uneasy feelings.  Our plan is to treat them a lot like the floating message containers. They would be a styrofoam shell that mimics the surface of the island, smooth and white.  (insert butt joke)  I have some problems with that, not only will that much styrofoam be expensive, it will be hard to adjust and get the water level just where we want so the plants have enough water but don’t drown. Not to mention what will we do with all that foam when the project is over?  I’m thinking of having 15 floating pots, that’s a lot of styrofoam that will be in a very specific shape.

new design

new design Click 2x for large view

So i brought my concerns to my personal super hero Jacob McCoy. We talked about new designs and he suggested building a frame around two 55 gallon plastic drums. It will be cheaper and we can use them as rain barrels after the project. There will be a wooden frame that fits on top of the barrels and there will be a nylon strap net to cradle the garden pots. Everything can be repurposed and i can adjust the water level by adjusting the tension of the straps or letting some water into the barrels. Lets do it!


learning as i go

quick fix, lousy pics

Here are my new fixes. Zip ties, socks, and Chinese takeout containers.
One of my favorite parts of working on something like this is that since I’ve never done it before I’m thinking of new ways to make the project work better as I go. The coat hanger wires were really tough to bend since the pieces I’m using are so short. It was also starting to rip the yogurt containers. Zip ties are easier to put on and are gentler, maybe stronger in the long run. I switched to Chinese take out containers for a similar reason. They are a little thicker plastic so they won’t rip a easily. Also, now I don’t have to worry about consuming 15 tubs of yogurt in a few days. (even though that might have made for a good party)
The socks came from my paranoia of dirt falling out of the water inlets. Most of the holes are smaller so maybe not a problem but loosing soil is something I really want to avoid. They will be stretched around the inside of the inlets, a barrier between lake and dirt.
All these fixes will be applied to the bins I’m building now but I have to retro fit the socks on the 6 bins I’ve already finished. I’m going to put the sock on the outside and leave the coat hanger since the dirt is already in and sprouts are getting comfortable. Learn as you go I guess.




setting the mood for the night shift

I love the feeling of being so involved in something that I completely loose myself in the project. It’s a great feeling to see something that has only existed in your head become actualized in a tangible form. That’s been happening to me a lot more now that I’m taking on several projects that take a lot of time to put together. That can be said for a lot of the projects for Know No Stranger. Practicing bringing those visions to life strengthens me and builds my confidence to do other things that don’t exist. If it wasn’t for littler projects that build on each other’s experience I might have a harder time telling the IMA, well I’ve never done anything like this but sure, it’ll work.


hidden treasures

pay dirt

My man, Alan Gofinski.  I was starting to worry about how much dirt I was using filling up the bins.  There is this mysterious white container in my yard underneath the grape harbor. It’s always been filled with sticks and ignored for the last 4 years.  Being the curious fellow that he is, Alan started removing the brush to find a substantial amount of composted soil.  The container is about 4.5’ tall and 5’ in diameter.  It’s a little over half full so I don’t have to worry about dirt.  Thanks Al!


get to work

grow little ones, grow

In the past I’ve had such a hard time transplanting. My sprouts would always have a hard time if I planted them in a smaller pot and after they sprouted transplant them to garden. I would loose several in the move.  To try to curb that I’ve put everything in either peat pots or egg shells.  The egg shells I’m really excited about supposedly the calcium helps the sprouts grow more quickly.  Crushed eggshells for the calcium and Coffee grounds for the nitrogen seems to be the magic combination.


my babies

my babies!

They’re here! The seeds came today.  This is the first year I’ve ever had a budget for buying seeds so I thought it would be a good idea to have the entire floating garden be heirloom seeds.  I ordered from baker creek ( after a friend showed me a catalog of plants she was excited about.  I was a little hungry when I was picking out what plants I wanted so I picked out a few too many I think.  My favorite things to grow have been spinach and green beans because of their high yield and quick production.  New to me this year are radishes melons and tomatillos.

Here is a full list of things I’m planting.



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