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One thing led to another, and now I've made a squash dome

 
steward
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It started innocently enough. I learned how to make baskets here on permies, and then my neighbor wanted me to make one for her daughter. I made this:

redcedar bark and blackberry vine basket for neighbor's chicken egg gathering!


But, to make that, I stripped cedar bark off of branches. So, I had curved, stripped cedar branches just laying around being messy.

Then I realized my squash should be off the ground. I thought, "Let's use these curved branches to hold the squash up."

The branches worked okay by themselves, but I thought, "If I tie these branches together, they'll be more secure. I don't want to walk all the way inside to get twine, though.....let's use these trailing blackberry vines that are taking over!"

That was nice, but the squash was kind of dangling down between the branches. I thought, "Let's just braid some of this blackberry to hold up the squash."

Now, if you've ever braided random, uneven lengths of stuff, you realize you have to keep adding in more of said material to keep braiding. For some reason, you never end up with all three strands of material running out at the same time. You end up with what I call the "chip-dip problem." You run out of chips but still have more dip. So you get more chips. Then you run out of chips, but still have dip. You add more dip. And on and on it goes. In terms of blackberry vine braiding, I just kept adding in more vines and extending my braid around and around.

In the end, I went around the squash support nearly three times, and now I think it looks rather cool. Best part is, it used up stuff I needed to "dispose of" and turned it into something useful. I love that!

Squash dome, made from foraged/waste blackberry vines and cedar branches


I think this is one of my favorite features of permaculture. Instead of needing to burn all these "unneeded" branches and bramble (as many of my neighbors do), I turned them into something I needed. A lot of the time, you don't need to go out of the way to get materials for one project, because they're "waste" from something else you're working on!

 
Nicole Alderman
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This thing seems to happen a lot to me.

I had a lot of branches left over from making my kids a roundwood pergola to go over their playpit and learning to cut down a tree to make a roundwood grape arbor .

roundwood grape arbor
roundwood pergola/playpit


All those branches (and peeled bark), worked perfectly to finish my kid's debris shelter/play fort

Branches are both structure and shade for their fort


To hold it together more firmly, I wove the 'waste' cedar bark between the branches.


 
Nicole Alderman
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Has anyone else ever encountered this? Where the "waste" from one project suddenly becomes the needed thing for the next project?

Maybe you're cleaning rocks out of your garden, and need a garden boarder...now you have rocks for your garden boarder!

You have some random invasive vine and need twine. Now when you're cleaning out the weed, you're also getting something you need.

All those food scraps end up being the compost you needed in your garden!

That tree that was growing near your foundation becomes fencing material, or fire wood, or...

I'd love to hear your stories of happy coincidences of waste from one project becoming the solution for another problem!
 
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You're an awesome mom, Nicole!! Yes, the problem is often the solution. One of our series of these is that many of our trees & brush are overgrown, and the trees are in danger of breaking, our grass had become overgrown in the heavy spring rains, leading to potential tick & flea problems, as well as the higher than usual grasshopper population, critter feed has become insanely expensive, and the summer's heat has been potentially lethal for John, and while not lethal, still dangerous for me. The paddocks, because of the heavy rains were overloaded with parasites, and making the goats sick...

The solution for us has been the very livestock we were struggling to find feed for. We turned all the birds out, to forage, and started tying the goats out, rotating them around. That has given the paddocks the chance to dry out, and with no critters to feed from, the parasites are dying off. The goats are mowing the grass and wiping out the brush, feeding them, keeping John off the tractor (thereby also cutting our fuel costs!) and out of the scorching heat, and eliminating the vehicle for the ticks, fleas, and even the grasshoppers.  The ticks, fleas, and grasshoppers have now been ousted from their habitats, and the birds are happily scarfing them all down, keeping the gardens, goats, us, and dogs safe. At the same time they're taking care of our health and chores, the birds and goats have spent the summer cutting back our feed costs for all of them, to next to nothing.  

Ok, so how does that help with the trees, or the brush the critters can't get to? Those will be fine for a few more weeks, until it cools off enough that John and I, rested and relatively healthy from being able to pawn off those chores onto the critters,  will be able to go out, cut, dry, bundle, and stack all that fresh 'tree hay' to keep cutting down the costs to feed the goats, for the winter.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Carla Burke wrote:Ok, so how does that help with the trees, or the brush the critters can't get to? Those will be fine for a few more weeks, until it cools off enough that John and I, rested and relatively healthy from being able to pawn off those chores onto the critters,  will be able to go out, cut, dry, bundle, and stack all that fresh 'tree hay' to keep cutting down the costs to feed the goats, for the winter.



I think this is one of the huge things I've been realizing about gardening--and life in general--through permaculture, and I find it counter to societal pressures. A lot of society kind of lives outside of seasons: you can get any fruit at the store at any time, you're house feels like a nice spring day all year round. You have the same amount of light inside all year round. So I often get this feeling of failure if I put off a important thing until the time is right (like how my house was primed and ready for paint for 9 months but we couldn't paint it because it RAINED all 9 months. I felt so shameful about my house, and I really didn't need to!).

Historically and naturally, a lot of things work best at certain times of the year. There's as reason people wove rush hats during the summer: that's when the rush was best to harvest, and also when they needed hats for shade! That's the reason people "make hay when the sun shines": that's when the hay dries.

Not everything needs to be done "right now." A lot of things are just better to do at different times of the year. Tree cutting is great when it's cool. Brush cutting is also great in the fall when the leaves fall off and it's easier to see where to cut (and it's cooler). It's okay to wait for the right time, and just get other things done in the meantime.

Stay cool over there, and do what you need to to stay cool--your health is the most important. I sometimes have to remind myself that part of the reason we garden and practice permaculture is our health. It's counter-productive to sacrifice our health for our homesteads. You've got your priorities straight!
 
Carla Burke
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Nicole Alderman wrote:Stay cool over there, and do what you need to to stay cool--your health is the most important. I sometimes have to remind myself that part of the reason we garden and practice permaculture is our health. It's counter-productive to sacrifice our health for our homesteads. You've got your priorities straight!



Ohhh... maybe, lol. I do better about it now, than when I was your age, but only because I don't really have the option of just pushing through, any more. Take that as the lesson in my life - don't wait to take care of your body, until your body takes away your options. Take care of your body now, so you can keep your options longer.
 
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I love what you did with the dome, and I agree with you that very often in life, we can find what we need around, if we just look. The earth provides, especially if you respect it and works with the earth, instead of forcing things to grow by adding chemicals to the soil.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we had the biggest wild harvest of mallow in 2020. And also, just think about poison ivy, most of the time, the antidote for it, grows right next to it. What I love most about permaculture is that it’s a holistic approach to gardening, and food production as a whole. Our garden doesn’t just feed us, but also our chickens, ducks and rabbits, so much so, that if needed, we will become a self sustainable, which has always been our plan.
The two of you are also right that often social pressure makes us move faster, when in reality we need to slow down.
Anyway, I love what you did.
 
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That's a nice squash dome Nicole.

How is the kid's fort holding up? Was it usable again this year? I remember seeing pix of that when it was first built & thought it would be good for several years with minor upkeep each year.
 
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Problem is I have these green squash spheres that weigh?  One fell off a trash can lid and survived, have a number of this squash low and spreading everywhere.
 
gardener
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I had an old wooden chair. I painted and decorated it and it had a nice life in my garden. Then it broke beyond repair, but the back and legs were intact, I needed extra support for a tomato, and the chair back worked beautifully. That was several years ago, and I still use it every year.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Mike Barkley wrote:How is the kid's fort holding up? Was it usable again this year? I remember seeing pix of that when it was first built & thought it would be good for several years with minor upkeep each year.



I just went out and got a picture of it! It's holding up really well. The needles haven't even fallen off the cedar branches, and the weaving has held really well. The only problem it has, and I'll quote my son, "We don't go in there very much because there's a lot of spiders" and my daughter, "It's too webby. We just need to break the webs. That's all we need to do." But, even though they don't use it much, I think we all learned a lot in the process! I asked them both, and they said that they like it and they like that they made it. They just don't like the spiders!

Edit: Looking at the pictures, it seems the roof is swaying. I'm thinking this is because I used bamboo for the "beam" that goes the length of the fort. I didn't have a nice, long piece of cedar, and so improvised. I think that if I'd used cedar, there would not be any sag in the roof at all. Material choice matters!
20220808_114238.jpg
Here's the view from the side. The grass and weeds like to grow next to it, but it doesn't seem to hurt it.
Here's the view from the side. The grass and weeds like to grow next to it, but it doesn't seem to hurt it.
20220808_114258.jpg
View from the enterance.
View from the enterance.
20220808_114329.jpg
The inside--it's still blocking light and heat quite well. It also stays drier in there than elsewhere
The inside--it's still blocking light and heat quite well. It also stays drier in there than elsewhere
 
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Brilliant! I love how cosy and magical the kid's fort looks!

I was just listening to Formidable Vegetable - this song! "There's no such thing as waste, just things in the wrong place"  - it feels fitting!

 
Nicole Alderman
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Michael Moreken wrote:Problem is I have these green squash spheres that weigh?  One fell off a trash can lid and survived, have a number of this squash low and spreading everywhere.



I'm not sure if I took any pictures of it later in the season, but it actually held up all through the summer and fall! I don't think any of the squash fruits themselves grew on the dome, or if they did, I harvested them as summer squash. Either way, it held up all season, and I actually had to take it apart in the spring because it lasted through the winter and I wanted to plant something else there to rotate crops.
 
Nicole Alderman
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I'm glad this thread got bumped, because there really is no such thing as waste if you can find a use for it! This summer, we'd coppiced a maple for firewood, but it left a lot of branches that were just "waste." They've been just sitting in a pile up the hill between that maple tree and a hazelnut tree.

My son's garden needed a tomato cage and pea trellis for his plants, and he wanted it made out of hazel wood (which is really nice and bendy). I went up the hill to get some, but there wasn't very many canes. BUT, I spotted all those "waste" maple branches, and they were just perfect for the upright post of the tomato cage!

peas are in the back of the garden, and tomatoes and pepper in the middle. And there's my big pile of 'waste' maple branches


I got some hazel rods, too, but not enough for a whole giant tomato cage (which I made wide enough for all three tomato/pepper plants). What to do? Use some of those ever-present trailing blackberries that are always growing into my gardens and paths!

The maple rods installed, but there isn't enough hasel to weave around it!


So, my giant tomato cage/pea trellis was made almost entirely out of "waste"!

finished tomato cage/pea trellis, made with my 'waste' maple branches and blackberry vines
 
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It started out with pine needles. Off my deep shade patio was dust in the summer and mud in the winter, from decades of commercial landscaping “remove everything”. I want to go barefoot so beat them to it, gathered small pine branches from all over the apt complex for that area. As the needles fell off there was a “crop” of small twigs. The manager didn’t like the twigs so I broke them down, weeded (with mask,gloves, long sleeves) the worn out mulch around the foundation and put the bits on that. Good thing my patio is private enough to strip off the contaminated clothes! That reduced the commercial herbicide use so it was now safe to put out pots of flowers. The mostly shut-in elderly persons in my building asked for help making little doorway flower gardens. An opportunity to implant ideas of bee friendly planting and enlist allies in fending off the landscapers!  I bought a little one horse power electric chipper, used the larger (up to one inch) branches for more formal appearing mulch to start rehabbing the parking lot islands. This resulted in community growing of tomatoes etc, which brought in kids from other buildings. More opportunity to educate! I did buy the huge tubs for veggie gardening to avoid the massively contaminated soil. I just wanted to go barefoot. Now bees & birds come around, I feed a wild bunny and a pair of wild ducks out my back door. The owner approves enough to reimburse me for flowers. Pine needles and persistance
 
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