Last year, I moved from CA to a 4.3 acre property in horse country just outside of Philadelphia. About 2.5 acres (the whole eastern side) are in a wetland forest, while the remainder was nearly all lawn, with a few big pines and crabapple and a dogwood and hawthorn at the northern end. It was a ton of mowing at the end of last summer when we moved in. We didn't get a mower until late in the season, so I did a lot of the lawn with the electric weedwacker to make do--insanity.
The trees, hedges, and front garden area were really overgrown and crawling with brambles and poison ivy and multiflora rose, so some of the first equipment I invested in were a chainsaw, a manual pole saw, and a handheld pruning saw. My dad helped me clear out the back of our fenced in area at the rear of the house, and we put up a half cord of wood in no time.
After clearing out the back, my husband and I fenced in a pretty large area for hogs (Berkshire and Old Spot-Tamworth) and let them clean out the rest of the understory brush. After they did that, we set up an electric fence for the rest of the overgrown fenced-in area, and they happily went to town. My husband built a beautiful shelter for them too, and I painted it an autumn orange color. I miss them, but it's been nice not having to buy any meat from the grocery store.
We also raised our first batch of broiler chickens (Cornish Cross) that summer--built a chicken tractor, moved it every day once we put them out to pasture, and 8 weeks later harvested 28 chickens for the freezer. We did the second batch (Freedom Rangers) this past April/May. Lots of trial-and-error the first run: starting out, we put 3 chickens in the tractor and three days later, they were gone. There were a few holes dug out around the perimeter--so glad we could provide a good meal for our neighborhood foxes. So, we tried again and put heavy-duty hardware cloth under the edges so it surrounded the tractor. Success--the foxes were frustrated, and every morning for a few days afterward I found that they had chewed through the rope I used to move it.
Last fall, we also built a small greenhouse. It ended up collapsing during a heavy snowstorm, but my husband fixed it a few months ago.
This past spring, I started planting my ass off, and I haven't stopped yet. Here is what I’ve planted in the orchard/field/vegetable garden areas so far:
*4 apple trees (Gravenstein, Golden Delicious, Golden Russet, Cox's Orange Pippin)
*Methley plum tree (grew like crazy its first season)
*3 apricot trees
*hardy orange--Poncirus trifoliata
*Empress peach tree
*3 red buckeye trees
*4 false indigo shrubs--Amorpha fruticosa; browsed some by deer
*5 wax myrtle shrubs--Morella cerifera; deer don't eat
*Aronia prunifolia; pretty resilient when nipped at by deer
*2 elderberry bushes; really hold up to deer pressure
*3 bristly locust shrubs--Robinia hispida; 2 died
*2 wisteria vines; deer don't eat
*4 Sweetcrisp blueberry plants--growing on in pots
*hardy banana--Musa basjoo; growing like crazy
*Several different kinds of willow--goat willow, sage willow, weeping willow (several of each)
*3 witch hazel; deer browse
*10 Adam's needle--Yucca filamentosa
*lots of Joe-Pye weed--Eupatorium maculatum; heavy deer pressure
*lots of comfrey--deer like, but grows right back
*3 northern catalpa--plan on pollarding and coppicing; deer usually don't bother
*2 red mulberry--growing like crazy; deer browse but resilient
*several different kinds of grasses
*rose of Sharon
*2 butterfly bush
*4 winterberry--Ilex verticillata
*3 inkberry--Ilex glabra
*2 redbud--Cercis canadensis
*5 red twig dogwood--Cornis alba
*3 buttonbush--Cephalanthus occidentalis
*several different kinds of Viburnum; grows really well here
*day lilies galore; I harvest them wild
*lots of different kinds of iris
*moving new baby hostas to shady fenced-in parts
*3 different kinds of lilac
*several different species of Monarda
*several different kinds of mint
*beach rose--Rosa rugosa
*3 meadowsweet--Spiraea sp.
*trumpet vine--Campsis radicans
*coral honeysuckle vine--Lonicera sempervivens
I'm sure I'm forgetting a few...In the orchard area, I planted in connected guilds I made up, in large curved rows facing south. There will be a few trees that will grow up to 25-30 feet, while most of my fruit trees are semi-dwarf. At the far eastern end of the orchard, the soil starts to become hydric, and the grass and forested area is very, very wet. The willow, elderberry, and winterberry are in heaven. I've also found a lot of spicebush and more winterberry back there. Plants definitely still grow there, even though I think some spots develop anaerobic conditions. There are gigantic colonies of skunk cabbage. I've also been putting grass clippings and pine needles and sticks and leaf litter back there, so a lot more stuff is growing at the edge this season.
Keeping weeds down around the orchard guilds was a challenge, but I finally have a system. After planting, I topped the fruit trees with compost (after inoculating the soil too) and put down a layer of wood chips. I pretty much collect all my grass clippings when I mow and pile them around the growing things. Any dead limbs/sticks/weeds I find I also cut up and scatter them over the clippings. It works really well, since it rains a lot here and the layer of clippings becomes matted and hot and stifles out anything growing beneath them. I do let the weeds grow around a lot of the small shrubs I planted--they hide the small shrubs from the deer. The small winterberry hedge is overcome with tall grass, but I've marked the plants with sticks and keep the weeds away from their base--they are doing really well and are now shielded from heavy browsing that initially had them nipped down to the ground. I find a lot of praying mantises in the long grass.
Also, just a bit of walk into the forest, I found a bat colony up a tree in an old hollow. My girls and I love to watch them come out in the evening and flit around the open spaces.
Also this spring, I made 2 small raised beds for the start of a kitchen garden. I grew a ton of broccoli and kale and pak choi and herbs in them. And I put together a Langstroth hive and got a nukebox of bees--I keep them near the forest and the chicken coop where I let the grass grow long this year.
This summer, my husband and I put up a 7-ft. tall fence around our vegetable garden. Right now, you can only enter it through the greenhouse, but I plan on cutting out and building a door sometime this fall. The garden area measures ~100' x ~40', but I only cultivated about a third of it this season. I made 4 beds that are 4' x ~30' and 2 shorter 4 ft.-wide beds. The footpaths were made using landscape fabric overlaid with wood mulch from several dead ash trees we had removed from the south eastern part of the property this past spring.
We pickled 8 pints of cucumbers, canned 6 pints of tomatoes sauce, 8 half-pints of pizza sauce, and 15 pints of salsa. Unfortunately, all but a few of my Amish past tomatoes died, so not as much canning as I thought. Lots of big and juicy heirloom Brandwines, garlic, eggplant, watermelon, and peppers also--Jimmy Nardello and Ausilio and Wenk's yellow hots. Only a few summer squash--I got a variety that was not so prolific. Also tried sour gherkins this year--my kids loved them. I didn't get a chance to grow any kind of bean this year, hopefully next year so I can freeze and dry a bunch.
I wish I started this journal earlier, because I know I’m forgetting a few things. I’ve been a lurker on Permies for a while but haven’t really had a chance to see what’s been going on here for the past few months. I’ve been so busy, frequently overwhelmed, alternately frustrated and inspired, surprised more times than I can count. I feel like I’m also constantly learning—I never get tired of just observing living, growing things and places. In the past, I’ve been a freelance illustrator and a teacher (biology and earth and space science), but I can honestly say that this—growing my own garden farm and trying as best I can to do so using permaculture principles—is truly my passion. Most people I meet and know are accomplished professionals in a variety of fields; I used to feel shitty and deficient, like I was a failure, for not wanting to climb those ladders. I am so happy I found Permies and get to look at and read about different people from every corner of the earth doing amazing things and growing a better world—I’m getting all sappy, I know. But I don’t feel deficient anymore, just empowered and knowledgeable and creative and purposeful.
The growing season is winding down, and I’m glad for a breather but looking forward to fall work and the beginning of other projects. I’ll be cutting down dead trees and limbs in the weeks to come and clearing out future areas to be fenced in. I am also starting a Master Gardener program in October that I’m really looking forward to.
Some of the books I’ve really been enjoying: William Robinson’s The Wild Garden and Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening.
how often are you poking around in there? an inspection from time to time is probably a manageable setback for the colony. constant disturbance, especially for a new colony, can be pretty detrimental. I know it's difficult to manage one's curiosity, but consider more observation of entrance behavior and less opening the hive.
okay, good...not poking around too much, just the one time first inspection. I took note of how many frames were filled..it was a few days ago and about 7, so I'm just guessing now it's about 8. But when I looked, drone brood seemed to fill half of two frames. And yep, I've just been watching the entrance--lots of drones.
Hello beekeepers, I have a question. I just installed a nuc colony from a reputable local beekeeper about a week ago into a deep brood box (shown in pic--I have an empty medium on top with food sitting on the inner cover), and I'm pretty excited about it so I watch the hive a lot. The workers are going crazy because the crabapple blossoms bloomed the day after I installed--I see their little legs carrying lots of pollen saddlebags. I did my first inspection a few days ago, and the queen is there, laying normal eggs, there's brood in all stages, the empty frames are filling, and I think I'll have to start putting the frames in the medium soon...but there seems to be a lot of drone brood too. And today I was watching the entrance, and there's a ton of drones about, flying from the hive. It's been clear and mild, weather-wise, in the mid-60s. Is this normal?
I'm reviving this thread because the topic's fascinating to me. And I didn't want to take over another thread about getting rid of pampas grass to talk about a lot of discussion points that are already taking place here. I like taking the ecological point of view when it comes to invasive species. As an observer, avid reader, and science teacher, I take the stance that they're not good or bad.
Repeating some of the previous responses here--it's curious that for every one invasive poster child that's reviled and accused of potential world domination, there's a dozen more that go relatively unnoticed or even loved (some wisteria and lily of the valley, in my neck of the woods). I think in some cases it has to do with their niche, what their role is in their native range, and what they do when that niche presents itself for the filling. I’m talking about the invasive plants that take over disturbed land that a lot of people are likely to see, along highways and roadsides, in little snippets of land between roadways, in small parks surrounded by houses in dense neighborhoods--they get a lot of the press. A lot of the “bad guys" are the pioneers that are really good at gaining footholds in disturbed (land that has significant changes in nutrient retention or biomass, e.g.) or fragmented ecosystems or simply places where nothing is growing. Like garlic mustard in my area--you would think it's on a rampage judging by some people's descriptions and responses to it. To my eye, it's not--it's growing on roadsides and under pine trees (and it's growing in a bare patch of yard where I hacked down some barberry--ironic), and it happens to make a delicious pesto. Even native pioneers are labeled “invasive” by farmers and homeowners--but just because it “invades” the backyard or cornfield or apple orchard doesn’t make it a bad guy. The land has been disturbed--this is nature’s response.
Like the pampas grass argument--the meadow being invaded in the example I was shown doesn’t look like a meadow to me. It’s a clearing at the end of a sliver of woodland/shrubland hedged in by thousands of houses and buildings and streets in a large suburb of San Francisco. That does not constitute an ecosystem disturbance by an invasive species (it’s in a small city) because that ecosystem is seriously fragmented--native grasses in wild places are established along a timeline of natural succession, and in natural succession all those factors like biomass and primary production and soil properties are changing from one stage to the next. If you want something different to grow other than pampas grass, let it grow and die and change the niche parameters so something different will thrive (probably the trees that are growing there in the middle of the sliver).
I taught in northern CA about invasive species in biology class and discussed pampas grass a lot in that unit. I was reminded of the first attempt to reign in pampas in the other thread--how a lot of people took it upon themselves to spray the grass that had started growing on canyon soil disturbed by loggers that was eroding away. Many kids asked why that was bad--why not let the pioneers settle and stop the erosion? I silently agreed with them in that debate. They’re (pioneers) the first line of succession, and in succession there is no one way to reach the climax community. The invasive plant isn’t “exploiting” because only predators and parasites exploit in ecological terms--they live at the expense of others; the invasive plant is competing with native plants for the resources in its niche. In interspecific competition, whether between native species or native and invasive species, one species inevitably outcompetes the other (lots of times the invasive isn’t competing with anything because there’s nothing to compete with in some disturbed areas). Interactions may or may not be redefined, niches may or may not be affected. If they are, it just means that the change may lead to divergence in the morphology of competing species--natural selection. Evolution. Wow, what a mouthful. Not good or bad, just par for the course, because even though a landscape may seem eternal, it’s not. It’s always changing--just on a much different timescale than we’re capable of perceiving most of the time.
A lot of the students ended up asking if we humans were an invasive species--a fair question. And unlike pampas grass, which grows according to its growth habit in places that accommodate that habit, humans actually change their environment. Pampas still “plays by the rules,” just like all other plants, even though it’s a fairly new introduced player on the field; humans are players but they're also capable of changing the entire field.
Just one point of view. Now I have to get myself back outside and cut back some damn Rosa multiflora ;)
I don't want to be the stick in the mud here, but I keep thinking of all the things I've read about invasives in permaculture books like Gaia's Garden and the one that was given away not too long ago here on Permies, Building a Better World in Your Backyard--that they're not the bad guys a lot of people think they are.
Looking at Malek's photos, I was caught by the one with the baby pine tree. I couldn't stop looking at it--why the heck is it growing there? Did it germinate before the Pampas, or after? Looks like after, as Pampas clumps take around 3-5 years to get that established. If that seed did germinate right there all up in the Pampas grass's business, why would it do so?
You're on the California Coast, where it can be salty, windy, and pretty dry--those are some harsh conditions for a little plant. Maybe the Pampas is being a protector in this case--it's very good at withstanding salty air and wind. And yes, the grass roots can grow to be more than 10 feet long--at first you would think that that would be bad for the little pine tree. But then again, it gets dry on the coast, and any ground with roots in it is retaining water. Furthermore, baby pine tree taproots grow to be pretty long relatively quickly--I've read the range is anywhere from 5 to 20 feet. Larger mature pine trees have a taproot anywhere from 35 to 75 feet long!
And after 10-15 years, the Pampas grass would die, leaving an established pine tree to grow for who knows how long. You may have just stumbled on a truly excellent way to grow trees along the coast...
Thank you, Kristine--she is one of two Faverolles I have right now and the gentlest hen I have. They are funny personalities and have the appearance to match--feathery legs and poofy cheeks. As per your advice, I'll wait patiently for her to hatch some chicks, no intervening or trying multiple things to rush her along...if there's one thing I've learned from striving for a more self-reliant life--in the garden, growing trees, in building projects, with animals--it's patience and letting things take their course.
Jay--I had similar thinking, and a "few" eggs is six. After reading about your "setting boxes" I'm also going to move her to a box I've built to lessen the chance of disturbances. Thanks very much!
Thank you all for the replies and good info. I think I am going to give her a few fertilized eggs to sit on, as Mike suggested. I found a fellow chicken lover nearby that has a few. Matt--she's a Salmon Faverolle--mixed reviews on broodiness. When I first got her, she and the rooster used to hang out all the time, and before she went broody, she was the one who spent the most time in the coop just sitting. I guess it's just in her blood.
I have Faverolle that won't leave the laying box. She's only on day 4 or 5 of sitting on the eggs, but I've only just realized that she's broody. I've never had a broody chicken before, and I don't have a rooster now, either (he gave his life to something in the brush, protecting his girls to the end). After a big kerfuffle, the other hens have resorted to laying in other boxes. So, I'm thinking of just letting her go for the whole 21 days and hoping that she'll go back to normal. However, I don't really want any of the other hens to go broody. I don't mind that she won't lay eggs for a while, but I am concerned that the broody cycle will start all over again.
So, break the brood cycle now or just let it go? I'm looking for any advice because I have zero experience with this.
I second Hugo...I planted Monarda citriodora a few weeks ago, and it looks exactly like that right now.
I make diagrams in my garden notebook for seedling labeling...just as long as I don't change the orientation of the tray, I'm good :) Still, it's happened once or twice, and it's always nice to be surprised in the garden!
I'd love to see photos of your childhood home and/or hear any words of wisdom you or your parents might have to share.
Next time I visit, I'll get photos--they have a whole album of pics they took when they were building.
I can tell you that that place is the only place that really feels like home to me and my younger sister--the roots go deep. When you build and grow and take care of a place yourself, you have a deeper connection to the land, as I'm sure many people on this forum can tell you. And the forest isn't just a forest--trees and ferns and birds and animals and rocks alone--it's a whole organism unto itself. It's always changing but somehow always feels the same. And ours had a creek running through the middle that cut through the Marcellus Shale--we found some pretty awesome fossils.
I've been moved out for nearly two decades now, but I can tell you, as a child, that life was magical. And scary--snakes swallowing toads, freaking wasp nests, coyotes dragging away fawns into the brush, bears demolishing the burning barrel and bird feeders, fires ripping up the hillside...there were some crazy things that happened. And as my dad says: it's supposed to be scary sometimes--you're not the only one that lives here. You just never knew what you might see--I remember one late spring were were playing in there and it started to drizzle and all these tree frogs came dropping down out of the branches.
My dad does not like giving advice at all, but one thing I've learned from him--don't get discouraged about projects taking a long time. If you dedicate a little time each day, knock it out in chunks, have a goal in mind--it will get done and it will be how you want it. And it will be yours. When they first built the house, they had a lot of friends helping, so they finished in about a year and a half. And they were creative with the materials they had--the face of our house was a plaster mixture with cross-sections of trees in sort of like a mosaic pattern. But his other building projects (he put an addition onto the house by himself)--some of them took years. Some of them are still going on. One of the last times I visited, he was getting up before dawn to go down in the woods for a few hours each morning to make a more direct trail to the creek--hewing a lot of switchbacks because that terrain is steep--so he can connect other trails and collect all his firewood piles easier.
Sorry for the rambling...we should start a thread with stories of growing up this way...
Thank you for this--got it yesterday, read it, going to share with my parents, who will probably share with their friends. I grew up in an "underground" house my mom and dad built straight into a hill above a big forest, and they're still there, living the good life the best they can. My dad will definitely want to read more about rocket mass heaters.
I have to paraphrase a great line in the last chapter:
"Own your own shit."
Keeping that in mind with every decision I make--even when it seems crazy to other people. Because I get a lot of funny looks sent my way.
Hey Jen...it's a northern red salamander. Supposedly common around swampy boggy areas like mine, but this is the first I've ever encountered one. I picked him up to show my kids, and he wasn't in a hurry to leave my hand--I think he liked the warmth. I set him down where I found him, went out a few hours later, and he was gone. I always like coming across reptiles or amphibians in the garden...it switches it up from loads of different insects :) I used to see that lizard in your photo a lot when I was in CA--they liked to bake in the sun and could move like a flash of lightning. I once saw one snag a bee that was perusing rosemary flowers...
echo minarosa wrote:I've planted heavily for them. The good part is, those same plants are also loved by other pollinators so win-win.
I have natives for them like Monarda spp., etc. but also a good many salvias like 'Black & Bloom', 'Black & Blue', 'Hot Lips', 'Roman Red', as well as Salvia coccinea (Texas red sage, and several other names), cosmos, Tithonia (Mexican sunflower), hanging pot fuschias, Cuphea 'Vermillionaire', an armada of various mint family members, a fair number of succulents (that have to hole up in the cellar for the winters), and even some petunias. They REALLY love those salvias. In late summer, when Tithonia blooms, it attracts EVERYTHING. They also hit the numerous other flower resources.
I winter sowed seeds of Ipomopsis rubra (standing cypress). Fingers crossed they will come up.
I also run several sugar water feeders. However, these are really just supplemental as most of the time they are hitting the flowers...especially those all-season flowering salvias. The feeders are changed frequently...when it's really hot (90F+)...almost daily. Feeders are sterilized and await the next cycling.
I've provided a variety of soft items for nesting...dog hair, wool, down, etc.
I thrifted several table top fountains. They don't need a lot of room and prefer REALLY shallow water especially if it trickles and makes noise.
I drilled holes in a ceramic pie plate and hung it with chains tray-style. I put in bananas, peach skins, whatever will ferment, and a small teaspoon or two of beer and molasses. That is a breeding space for vinegar flies. I've seen hummingbirds hover and fly back and forth over it sucking up flies. You can buy a plastic fly feeder on Amazon for around $30 or so.
I've added extra smaller perches all over the place for hummingbirds. They get used.
After seeing online photos and taking to people who had them build nests on wind chimes and other hanging things on covered porches, I added a good many possibilities under each porch roof. No nests but they are also used as perches.
I've planted plants with hairy/woolly bits in case they are needed for nests. Don't know whether they are used.
Anyway, they figure heavily into our pollinator plantings & habitat mods here. We're not swamped with hummingbirds like some of you out west, but ours do well.
It's also been great for sparking gardening interest. Some people might not make an effort for bees, but they might for hummingbirds. Whatever works!
And finally, after seeing one too many examples of the non-native Chinese praying mantises preying on hummingbirds, I've started killing every one I see (not Carolina's which are our natives). After the first two years of killing them, I rarely see them any more. Chinese mantises are huge compared to our natives. I've seen them kill and eat small mammals, lizards, birds, toads, frogs, and even each other.
Excellent ideas for attracting those amazing little guys...I'm going to try your ceramic pie plate idea or some variation of it. And I'm definitely going to try and incorporate more perches and water opportunities in the food forest and garden!
Also, glad you mentioned the Chinese praying mantids--I had no idea they preyed on hummingbirds--they are all over my garden.
Thanks for posting that list, Dan--I wanted to try a few more fig varieties in the garden. I bought a Violette de Bordeaux on Ebay because it was cheap, described as hardy in my zone, and I got combined shipping. Accounts vary as to hardiness zone; I've found some sources that say 7 and some that say 5, so we'll see what happens...while researching, I came across suggestions to train the trees to have multiple trunks or a bush form if you live in a colder climate. I'm not exactly sure how to do that, but I found a set of guidelines that I'm going to try and follow (the picture links are broken, unfortunately): https://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-home/11735-training-and-pruning-figs-tree-bush-and-espalier-form
I notice the hummingbirds around our neck of the woods really like the bee balm (anything Monarda) and the trumpet vine. I just got a coral honeysuckle vine that they're supposed to go after, and I am getting a hardy fuchsia shrub in the mail soon that I'm sure they'll love. The fuchsia isn't native, but I tend toward hardy tropicals in my garden...
They also really love the rose of Sharon...anything in the hibiscus genus and mallow family (while I don't have any holly hock seeds, I am going to plant some rose mallow annuals in the garden). I'm planting a couple of Hibiscus moscheutos around the food forest too, and I hope to catch a glimpse of them there.
Same thing happened to me twice in the past few weeks...I was reading that it's calcium deposits caused by excess calcium in the chicken's diet. This is my Cuckoo Marans--I'm thinking she likes foraging for plants higher in calcium than the other hens. And I think soil-dwelling insects are pretty high in calcium--especially pill bugs and earthworms. Outside, everything has started popping in the last week and everything is coming alive--Spring is definitely here--and the chickens have been out more eating other things, so I don't think it's a coincidence.
I went to visit my parents this weekend, and my dad just told me a story about a friend of his who recently drove to a convenient store, ran in, came back out to his car only to fine a swarm of bees had taken over the backseat...they called a local fireman, who happened to be a beekeeper, and he spent a couple of hours removing the swarm from the car. He took them home afterward and set them up in a new hive.
I also just recently watched really great documentary called Natural Beekeeping, which showed an excellent segment about how an expert beekeeper (Jerry Dunbar) removed a swarm from the walls of a house--definitely worth watching.
And I agree, Ann--that is a magical picture of bees next to the edge! I think it's a great idea to situate bees next to a food forest...I think people sometimes forget how many trees are pollinated by bees: maples, lindens, serviceberries, tulip trees, hawthorns, willows, etc...the list goes on. I'm getting a nuc in a week and setting it up in a sheltered spot in our newly planted orchard/food forest--I interplanted fruit trees with shrubs and perennials for bees, both honey and native:
--a whole load of mints, including bee balm and other Monardas
--inkberry shrubs (Ilex glabra--bees love it!)
--Rosa rugosa shrubs
--shasta daisies (I see a lot of little native bees on these)
--bristly locust (Robinia hispida; this is my go-to nitrogen fixer, and the flowers happen to be beloved by the bees)
--Northern Catalpa (I have one closely planted to fruit trees that I am pollarding; bees love the flowers)
--blazing star (Liatris)
--Lysimachia (for native bees)
I'll probably plant some Jerusalem artichoke tubers in there, too. I think I'm also going to plant a few goat willows (Salix caprea) into the mix, if I have room.
I used to show this to my kids I taught, right after I scared the crap out of them for buying chips (aluminum foil coated with polypropylene!!!) for lunch at the school cafeteria...gotta love Jeremy Irons's voice.
This looks AMAZING, Antonio...I'm looking forward to seeing all the growth this season. I'm jealous of all of the fruits you are planting. When I lived in CA, we had a lot of oxalis--it grew really well beneath the redwood trees. We had a few redwoods on one end of our property there, and just about the only thing that grew under them was that and shallow-rooted ferns. If you're still growing Sequoia trees, I would keep that in mind--those trees grow feeder roots that form really dense mats at the soil surface. It's almost impossible to dig into them, and if you do, they'll grow back in a matter of months. If you try putting soil on top, they will grow up into that soil. I've seen people successfully pile on mounds of soil and grow Agapanthus, but the raised garden I tried near the redwood got SHUT DOWN by those roots...
I've been wanting to do this too! I think one of the major factors to consider when deciding to do it is where you are. A few years ago, my dad converted a stretch of lawn similar to the size you want to do into a meadow, just around where my sister situated her honeybees. My parents are in a very rural place where wildflowers grow like mad all around them, so it didn't take too long. He cut the grass a few times in the spring, and then just let it grow and then scythed it to the ground before the next spring. And he did this for several years--there are so many different types growing in the area now, it's a bonanza for the bees. If you're in a more developed area, it may take a little longer for a variety of flowers to get naturally seeded.
Mike Barkley wrote:That's a beautiful hive. Looks like it's ready for some bees!
It doesn't mention what type of hammer you used. I've found that a ball peen hammer works better than a claw hammer because it's easier to control precisely.
Thanks, Mike...it is pretty nice, all dipped in wax and ready to go outside! Thanks for the info on the hammer--I did use a claw hammer, albeit a small one, and will use the ball peen next time as per your advice. Maybe I just have to practice my hammering skills, too...
This site is amazing, as is the person who made it.
I'm glad I added mycorrhizal inoculant to the soil around the fruit trees I just planted, but I'll be making some compost tea using the recipe on this site, just to make sure the soil is alive and well. I don't know if I'll build a crazy brewer (probably just start out with the "Stir Method"), but I will be experimenting and breaking out my microscope.
I found the info about black strap molasses especially interesting--so many uses for BSM.
Soon to be beginner beekeeper here...my husband got me a hive and some beekeeping equipment for my birthday, and I'll be getting a nuc from a local beekeeper in less than two weeks. So, I decided to spend this rainy afternoon putting everything together.
I found a helpful video on Youtube by Galena Farms where my husband purchased this hive and got to work. A few things I learned along the way:
1. If you're using wood glue to put together the frames, don't glue them all and then nail. Glue one, nail that one, move on to the next. I had to redo a few because the glue dried without adhering the pieces before I nailed them together, and those frames popped apart when I was putting in the wax foundation. If you work fast, this probably isn't an issue for you. Or, alternatively, you could just glue a few and nail a few, which is probably what I'll do next time.
2. When nailing together the frames, make sure you're hitting the joints at dead center. Same with nailing the supers together--this is easier because you're working with bigger joints and longer nails than with the frames. I hit a few nails in the frame joints that went through the sides of side bars--I removed them and re-nailed in a different place, again because when putting in the wax foundation, the frames came apart.
Now, I need to decide the best place to put them...I just finished planting a bunch of fruit trees and shrubs, so I think they will go in the orchard, even though there won't be a lot blooming there this year. There are a lot of crabapples though, and it's on higher ground, south-facing, and sheltered by a big pine windbreak. BONUS, I can collect the dead pine needles for the smoker!
As for my beekeeping goals, while I do like honey and will hopefully harvest some in the next few years, my main objective is to just be a good host and provide a lot of forage sources.
I like using honey and stevia for natural sweeteners too...I also do what Pearl does and blend up fruit for lots of baking recipes. I use dates as a sweetener a lot--I mostly add them to smoothies, but I bet you could make some kind of date paste using water and mashing up really ripe fruit into a consistency that you could fold into whatever you're baking.
Family recently got take-out from a local restaurant, and the food came in these little plastic rectangular containers...it's really lightweight, plastic #5, which is considered a "safe" kind of polypropylene and is supposedly remade into a number of different items after recycled. I may be being a little cynical here, but I highly doubt a lot of people will be recycling these things, and I'm not sure if there's widespread acceptance of plastic #5 by recycling services now that China no longer takes our recyclables.
You can supposedly reuse these for up to six months for food storage, and they're microwave-safe [don't know if I believe this either because that "factual" info was provided by the industry, who also claims that plastics aren't a big waste problem and that "paper and paperboard account for 34.2% of our landfills ; Plastic 11.8%.(EPA, 2005)"--I'd like to see international statistics for that].
I've been using them for mini-germinating containers for perennial flowers. They work really well.
My husband has been "vegan until dinnertime" for about 8 years, and I've been doing it for a few months now...I also don't eat anything processed, make everything I eat from scratch, and now eat meat only raised by myself and not every day. I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer this question, my veganhood not being quite complete, but I'll tell you the number one thing that helped me when I decided on that lifestyle.
The thing that got me through the first few weeks--have several go-to meals, snacks, salads, etc. and make a lot ahead of time. I tend to gravitate toward legumes, greens, and other vitamin-dense veggies.
My husband loves this lentil stew I make, and I probably make it once a week in a big batch-- lentils, onions, carrots, cumin, curry powder, thyme, crushed tomatoes, vegetable stock. When it's done, I ladle it over spinach or some other greens. Variation-- kik alicha--yellow split peas, onions, carrots, coconut oil, vegetable stock, ginger, thyme, tumeric--another one we eat a lot, usually with greens. I also make a lot of chilis and curries for him--just have a good basic recipe for the base and start throwing in the veggies.
Also, I usually make a big batch of some kind of hash for the week--onions, roasted sweet potatoes or winter squash of some sort, black or pinto beans, greens, with paprika, cayenne, thyme--there are countless variations that I make. Soemtimes, I even eat this for dinner. Summertime--stuffed squash reigns in the house.
For the morning, I make a smoothie with lots of greens, frozen half banana, frozen fruit, honey. During a day I don't have the hash, I make one of my favorite salads, with whatever is in season or whatever I have in the pantry. I love avocado, hearts of palm, cucumber, and kalamata olives with dijon vinaigrette. In the summer, I eat giant bowlfuls of sliced cucumber, zucchini, red pepper, kalamata, avocado, red onion.
Snacks--I eat a lot of nuts, fruit, dried and fresh.
This looks and sounds amazing--if I were closer and not in the midst of a permaculture project of my own, I'd be there in a heartbeat! Since I was very young, I've always had a deep interest in tropical ecology, especially in the plants, and I have many books on the subject--alas, I have settled in a more temperate place. Annual rainfall here is around 50-55," so not quite on par with equatorial rainforest precipitation, but close to that of temperate and boreal rainforests (and our forest is a wetland forest!). I plan on finding as many hardy tropical and subtropicals that I can!
I wish you and yours all the best--it looks to be a wonderful life there :)
Skandi Rogers wrote:Running out to shut in the chickens naked because you have forgotten and it's already dark? Yup done that, taken the rubbish out in a dressing gown? Yup. Waved to the train as it went 12ft over from the bins? yup!
Can't even put a number on how many times I've run out scantily clad to shut in the chickens for the night or take out the compost...the older I get, the less I care if anyone sees.
A few more recent paintings I've done--the first two are inspired by my daughters--5 and 8. My oldest loves fishing, and my youngest loves to go exploring in the woods. And what I've been working on this week in the early mornings and late evenings...
This reminds me of Dolmades--stuffed grape leaves--more savory than sweet. My husband and I make these sometimes...but I do know that in some places in the Mediterranean, they DO use fig leaves instead of grape leaves.
Years ago I got a root canal by an over-zealous dentist...it was an awful experience for me, especially when I looked back on it and thought it was unnecessary.
The tooth that was worked on and capped once again got infected, and I had a visible abscess that scared the living #$*! out of me. BUT...I didn't want to go back to the dentist, so I started researching...
After much perusing, I cut out sugar and most refined foods and added grass-fed cow's butter, cod liver oil, and lots of fermented foods to my daily diet. Abscess completely went away, and I haven't had a cavity since. Also, for toothpaste I use activated charcoal, coconut oil, and bentonite clay with a little peppermint oil every other day and baking soda the rest of the time. I floss and use hydrogen peroxide to rinse. I haven't been to the dentist in 5 years, and my next visit is coming up--I'm willing to bet I don't have any cavities still :)
Ryan Mahony wrote:I wanted to add my inputs on seed starting from the perspective of different fruits that may be of interest, as well as a few resources available online.
Regarding apples, I've found on other forums (and was briefly touched on in this thread) that commercial orchards usually use crabapples as pollinators. This is great for high fruit production but not necessarily for seedling fruit quality breeding. If other high quality cultivars are used for pollination, there is a greater possibility of producing higher quality seedlings closer to the desired mother tree.
Ryan makes a good point about variable pollination with apples--I have been reading that some cultivars are also triploid and have three sets of chromosomes instead of two. This makes their pollen sterile so they can't pollinate other cultivars, and they also require compatible cultivars to pollinate them. This makes them seem a little picky, but they are supposedly very long-lived and fairly disease-resistant on their own. Just something to think about when experimenting.