Hello Permies! My name is LaLeña, and I finally have enough time to write an intro I have been reading these forums for many months now, soaking up as much of this great info as I possibly can. I found permaculture almost a year ago, after discovering that I actually like to watch documentaries, but finding scary gloom and doom ones first like "Tapped", and learning about gmos in food and that our kitchen was full of them, I got really depressed and stopped eating. I was trying to figure out what to do about my new found fears, which were much bigger and scarier than what I previously thought to be my biggest fear, snakes. Then I clicked on the nature section of a documentary website, camping always made me happy so I thought watching nature might work. I found "farming with nature" and then I looked up Bill Mollison, and the snowball was chucked down the hill, by the end of that day my life was an avalanche of happy. I was now confident and inspired, there was in fact something I could do, and I didn't have to try and change the world, just my world.
At the time my boyfriend Joe and I lived in Lewiston, Idaho with my family. My sister with her 2 year old son, us, and my parents all shared a household. We were all happy doing this, it was affordable, and we had enough trusted people around to raise Boss, the 2 year old gem of all our lives. My family is all very close, we go camping together every year, where my dad taught us all to respect nature. Still he was shocked when I decided I wanted to live a more environmentally responsible lifestyle. My parents are actually unaware that they are in fact "tree hugging eco-nuts." Last year was the first year they grew their own garden, most of which failed so I loved reading permie info online and then walking out there to observe what was going on, and why. That was also when I started going barefoot to ground myself, I quit smoking cigarettes, and decided the path to a healthier life was for me.
It was a very tough choice, for both of us as even Joe was close to my family, but we moved away from them to come to Whidbey Island, for many reasons. Joe's family is here, or near here so we can visit them more, while we also are closer to many of the resources we wish to be learning and we can make enough money to get this all going. Joe is an injured USMC vet so living here next to a navy base he can actually find work since there are businesses who give preference to injured veterans. Another plus to living here is our views of nature cheer us up too, it's always a good day when you wake up and look out to see birds flying in the foreground and the Olympic Mountains in the background.
As part of our bigger plan, we chose to live in a travel trailer, and Joe's cousin rents a property outside of city limits that is perfect for this. Our reasons for the trailer are simple, it's a function stacker for us. We can use less, live simpler, and our home can go anywhere with us. We want to have a homestead with a cob house built by us someday, we do not have kids yet and would rather establish a foundation for them to grow up in first, instead of struggling to get them out of a culturally void mainstream environment later. We are currently 28 and 25, wishing we had found this all a few years sooner but we know we are perfectly young enough to make our dreams happen with permaculture practices. (or at least we hope!) Living in this trailer is also helping us learn to live happily in smaller spaces, we are both finding out we do prefer this way. Maybe a lot of divorces happened because houses got too big for couples to brush up against each other daily and keep that close contact alive, for us we feel that contact has brought us much closer.
The property here is a challenge, and none of us own it so that is another challenge. The owners live in texas though, and do not really care what is done or not done here. It is 5 acres, there used to be a lot of commercial size greenhouses on it, only 1 remains, we estimate it to be 60 ft long and about 25 ft tall and wide. Unluckily for us, it was 1 they chose to use as a car garage instead of a greenhouse, so we spent this last winter cleaning up oil spills, hauling out everything from car parts to kitchen sinks to house remodeling supplies and tools. It was also full of a lovely pacific northwest blackberry forest, that part took us a month to hack down. We still pull up roots daily. We are trying to build some beds out of stuff that was left in there, there was a lot of wood of all kinds treated and not, containers, an old bass drum we are gonna fill with dirt for something to grow in.
Most of the property is basically flat, with ditches dug all around it diverting all water away from it, including a stream that runs past, we both sighed deeply at this when we noticed it as the snow melted. There are mostly just evergreen type plants, rhododendron, pines, weeds/grass mix for most of the field areas which is at least half the property, the middle is a "christmas tree" farm i guess, but they look like the wrong type to me for that. Black and raspberry everywhere, we do not know if they fruit well but we cut a lot of them back this winter so we are hoping. There are tons of birds, rabbits, and slugs here, huge slugs. We plan to try all the home slug remedies, so far they are ignoring beer, anyone got tricks for whidbey island super slugs? I've stuck them to the ground with bamboo skewers because Joe said other slugs would come eat them, they ripped themselves off the skewers and crawled away and ate nearby lettuce, bastards. Maybe they will go away in a couple months, we are told it is very dry here in the summer, winter and spring have shown the property flooding, with it all running right to the neighbors hay field, and away down the road in the ditch dug to take the stream away. Is it legal for me to redirect the ditch on a county road? lol There is a well on the property, but we are looking into filters because the water tastes like rotten egg and makes hair and skin feel pretty icky, unless you use hard chemicals like conventional shampoo which is out of the question for me and the eczema I cured by getting rid of those products. We also want to do our own rain catchment, so much on our to do lists!
Since it is here, we are using the greenhouse, we got a late start on a lot of planting so it has helped, it has also proven to be another suck factor, or pile of them I should say. We are still happy with the amount of produce coming out of it, especially considering how contaminated it was when we got here, and we are only using a small portion of it because we cannot afford to fill all of it, nor could we eat that much. The biggest problem is temperature, it has a fan that doesn't work great, and we try to not use it anyway as it uses the grid. We open the big doors, that helps unless it is a wind-free day with sun, it gets to over 100 in there fast, within seconds fast. We are pretty sure the bell peppers have started to cook on the vine, have to wait and see what the wilts on it do. Tomatoes love it, broccoli, squash, cucumber, zukes, melons, mints, borage, thyme, nasturtium, sunflower all doing well in there. Beans are yellowing, but still fruiting, arugula, lettuce, spinach, mustard all bolted before being a few inches tall. We moved em near the door to draw in bees and birds, it worked. We brought some idaho potatoes with us from Joe's boss' home garden, they love it in there because it is exactly like Lewiston's climate. We did get some lettuce to do very well in there, its planted in small raised beds of strawberry onion borage and lettuce, all doing great together.
We feared more bolting of some of our favorites so we risked shock and moved them outside to a bed we made. It is slightly sheltered by some trees, stays moist, and also gets just enough sun to make things happy. In there we put kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, arugula, spinach, garlic, leek, onion, beet, okra, rainbow chard, collard, mustard, borage, and a few others I cannot remember right now. This is all in an old flower bed surrounded by a border of brick, outside that border we are putting in a bunch of herbs too. We also started 2 kinds of amaranth, and just moved them outside to a spot I can see from where I now sit so I can watch them grow. We are hoping they do well because we want to add amaranth to our diets. I don't know how to use a lot of this stuff yet, some of it I have never eaten but wanted to try it homegrown before I judge whether I like it or not. I used to hate tomatoes, so far I can eat the ones we have grown just fine, in fact I find them quite yummy and hard to resist when I see one that is ready.
Speaking of, I think I will go make some lunch Bill Mollison style, grazing the garden
Have an awesome day everyone!
I hope that you can learn/absorb a lot of useful information here. Make the most of your present location while you are there, but I detect that you will be happiest once you find your own plot of land. Experiment and learn while you are there. Everything you learn will help you once you have your own piece of nature to nurture. The more you can observe from nature, the easier it will be to mimic, and enhance it once you are on your own.
Thanks for the welcome John! We definitely agree with what you said, just trying to observe and learn as much as we can and keep our expectations focused on gaining knowledge right now. We are ok with loss while we learn, it helps one to remember what happened and why. Those slugs better stop eating my love lies bleeding amaranth though, I just want to see it mature!
So cool that you found somebodies land to use for few. How is your gardening coming. Do you have vegetable for winter. Did you get duck/chicken for the slugs.
I too hope to get some land and start a little homestead this march
I lived on South Whidbey for over 15 years. There are subspecies of deer, skunk, weasle, coyote, cougar many owls and hawkes, osprey, eagles and others. My best remedy for slugs was a Muscovy duck. Unfortunately between the weasels and coyotes the first ducks lasted less than one week. I then upgraded their pen from chicken wire to fully enclosed hardware cloth. Weasels can't reach through it and the coyotes will rush one side of the enclosure to get the ducks to fly out, where their buddies are waiting. So full enclosure defeats the coyotes too. Best of all no slugs after two weeks of duck patrol. We had issues with tomato blight where we lived so we gave up on tomatoes. Broccoli and potatoes did well. Our fruit trees were attacked by tent caterpillars every other year and finally died. We were surrounded by alders in every direction so getting rid of the tent caterpillars was never going to happen. Good luck with the slugs!
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