Well, does this site have photo hosting or does it need an external host? This is a link to the set of our farm photos at my flickr account, more than you'd ever care to look at. http://www.flickr.com/photos/fishermansdaughter/sets/72157605315077337/
And yes, I wake up every morning and ask myself "do I really get live here
Oh geese, those trees. It's going to be a multi-year project
to get them rehabilitated. Many of their main trunks are hollow, they've all had their branches pulled down and off by bears doing their thing for 30-40 years, they're really big but pretty scruffy looking. We're definitely going to start the pruning process this winter, but you're right, on old apples - especially if you cut too much - overstimulation of the sucker growth can kill the tree or set it waaaay back in productivity. Soooo.....we're starting with the dead stuff and there's lots of that do deal with. Several - like 6 or 7 - of them have very nice apple varieties, and we know this because almost all of them produced at least a few apples, and a few of the healthier trees produced a whole whole lot. (We were given a huge fruit press this summer, that also needs some work but we'll be in the cider
trade before too long.) The ones that didn't fruit are the ones in worse condition, and we plan to try and coax some fruit before we make any removal decisions. They're really neat old trees, and we're going to help them out as best we can, but what is certain is that they are definitely closer to the end of their lives than to the beginning. We probably shouldn't count on them being our apple producers in 60 years, you know? But you're right, with some TLC they might just live on and on. We're going to have to take it year by year, and we will plant their replacements sometime in the next five years, but that doesn't mean we'll cut anything down before we plant new ones. We want to construct little 'hats' to keep the water out of the hollow trunks....talked about that this summer but didn't get around to it before the rain. I think keeping moisture out of there will help slow down their internal decomposition.
Wolfmtn: Oh we totally want to trade! I want paw paws for sure. And the pear stock sounds nice. Not huge fans of persimmons are we. I've tried, I really have.
Regarding plastic weed barriors.....I'm kind of a plastic snob and try to avoid it, so that's my main reason for the cardboard. I guess if it's just for solarization (although I have my doubts about the actual effectiveness of that....but I guess with any disturbance method the most important thing is to plant as soon as you remove the barrior) it's not so bad but I'm with Lynx on how it can make things worse in the long term if it's supposed to be a "permanent" barrior. There is no such thing.
I've never seen anything like the peas we have (but I'm new to california - grew up in colorado). I call them cow peas because that's what the old timer neighbors here call it. From the ground up they look like any vigorous pea
, except they have a....grassier looking stem? I'm not a horticulturist unfortunately. They have purple and pink flowers in june (the field looks just gorgeous that time of year) and yes, they make copious amounts of pea pods - making them excellent animal fodder. Ok, but when you dig them up! You'll trace a giant bush of them back to a large, usually 2-3" diameter tough, woody root that goes down for 4-6 feet. And because of these roots
they grow back from under whatever mulch you put on top of them. I had a car parked all last winter, and in the spring the peas had grown in the dark all the way up through the engine and out the hood, looking for light. They can grow a really loooong ways in the total darkness. So we've been using it as chop and drop mulch in the garden. With a taproot that big they are probably dynamic accumulators. Except for getting tall and shading things, they don't actually seem to compete with soil surface roots. Our garden this year did very well even in the place where we just rotitilled and mulched, with no cardboard. I'd just go through with my sickle and drop the pea every other week. We intend to practice no-till farming, and used the tiller this first year to turn the field into a terraced garden. I seeded clover and buckwheat everywhere there wasn't dead mulch. I can't stand bare dirt!
We have volcanic, silty soil with tons of organic matter - thanks to those same peas. The field has been in continuous cover cropping for a long time. Nearly toxic levels of magnesium, and we're in the "red" zone on the soil chart for iron. In areas with less orcagnic matter it's bright red, which I thought was going to be like "georgia red" clay, but it's not clay, it's silt. I have to try and convince neighbors that on a semi-regular basis. Not much calcium, no nitrogen, not much phosphorous. I don't think the peas are nitrogen fixers - no nodules on the roots, and again, no nitrogen in our soil. Most of our gardening books have a east coast bias - all about limestone and clay, and we have nothing of the sort. We had to add 25 bags of bentonite to the pond
to get it to hold water...
We're so far north in Cali we're almost in Oregon. We can see Mt. Shasta on the drive to our town with a population of less than 200. We get between 60 and 80 inches of water a year (and can get over 100 in wet years) - but it all comes between september and june. Gets very hot and dry in the summer - no humidity to speak of and highs in the 100+. We're a warm zone 6, probably a 7. We're still eating completely unprotected brocolli and kale even though it's snowed a couple of times, the brussel sprouts I have in barrels in front of the cabin
are still growing....might get to some edible size by spring (if they don't get crushed by snow off the roof)?! I'm not very scientific about amendments....hope to get better at this. I added some bat guano and oyster shell to everything and that seems to be working?
Wolf, I'd highly recommend buckwheat as a cover crop for warm weather. They can't handle any kind of frost, but the seeds sprout in 12 hours and have huge flat leaves in their young life - perfect for shading out other things. If you chop it before they seed
all the way they'll accumulate phosophorous in the soil. They're amazing bee fodder. And we harvested just some of ours (it grows so fast you can get several crops a summer here) and got 4 gallons of buckwheat seeds, to eat and replant! Freshly toasted and ground buckwheat pancakes
are probably the best thing ever.
THANK you for the tip about wild cherries - we have three cultivated ones and probably a dozen more wild ones, but we don't really have the acreage for cattle. We dream about a milk
cow but in reality we'll probably have to have a deal with one of our neighbors that have big ol pastures.
There are many old forgotten or out of use farms and ranches up here in the cascades, but I think I'm seeing a trend of people who want to bring the land back to life moving here. My place is one of four properties that have sold in the last 18 months, and all of the new owners are fairly young or very young and have permaculture-y plans
or intentions. The newest arrival just moved in a week ago and they actually want to have a permaculture
education center there. We'll see how that all works out. I hear a lot of things and see proportionately way less action, generally.
A single patch of comfrey was growing when I moved here, and I divided the old plant into 27 new ones....I'll have more to trade by spring I'm sure. That soil ripper looks interesting. Are you dealing with lots of compaction? We're lucky to have pretty ok soil and I'm completely tyrannical about preventing cars going anywhere other than the roads.