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In which the garden fence is finally finished, and everything is rainbows and lollipops . . .  RSS feed

 
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Tracy Wandling wrote:Hi Susan;

Thank you so much. Glad to see I'm entertaining someone besides myself. This is the perfect place to combine two of my loves - words and growing things. I'm glad you have a little slice of the Paradise Pie, too. I hope someday everyone that wants a slice can get it. It just feels . . . good.

Thanks for stopping by with your encouraging words.




Tracy, me too, words and growing things. We are creating a wildlife habit with some food for us. I need to get with it and start a project page of my own.
 
steward
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Yes, I was just strolling through some of your posts! Starting a thread was great, 'cause I can skim through it and see my progress - I think that's going to be important going forward. Sometimes it's hard to see how far we've come, and tend to focus only on what hasn't been done yet, instead of on all the things that we have done and are doing great. Photos are a great way to remind me of how far we've come (and we have come far). They're also a great reminder of all the gorgeousness around me, when I'm having to focus my attention on something . . . less than appealing. If find it very inspiring.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Hi David;

NO SLUGS YET! HA! I checked under rocks and sticks and boards laying around the garden - no slugs. So far so good.

Keyhole beds don't fit into my immediate garden plans within the 'compound' but I would like to incorporate them somewhere. And we'll be using a bunch of our abundance of rocks for doing a little rock wall terracing in the front field. I mean, the rocks are pretty much just laying around waiting to break The Man's lawn tractor, so we might as well put them to good use, and keep them out of trouble. Rocks are so stubborn.
 
pollinator
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David Livingston wrote:I was thinking since you have a rock or two how about looking into keyhole beds and dry stone walling

David


Most of the crevices in my dry stone walls have strawberies growing out of them. When they send out renners I try to find a crevice to poke it into with some top soil. There is less weed compitition and the beries do not get splashed with mud. The birds are descuraged by the cat suning on top of the wall; The slugs by the snakes.
I have a mix of the large ones of different varieties and the alpine which though small are constantly bearing fruit. They are on the pasage way on the west side of my house so I can refresh myself as I come and go to my various projects.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Hi Hans: Great idea! I haven't worked strawberries into the mix yet. And I love fresh strawberries. I think I know exactly where to put them!

~

Today was the perfect summer day. It rained last night and this morning - not a down pour, just a nice off-and-on drizzle. And then the sun came out, along with a lovely cooling breeze. Absolutely wonderful. It looks like we’ll be getting a little more rain over the next week or so - I guess we’re getting our April showers in June this year. I don’t mind - it was already getting pretty dry, as we didn’t have as much rain as usual this winter. Happy plants.

So, of course I was out in the garden as soon as I could tear myself away from the computer. Got some more things planted; and then started to work on my little Mediterranean section along the fence. It’s going to look great, me thinks. The garden will include:

Greek oregano
Sage
Thyme
Rosemary
Summer Savory
Basil
Yarrow
Mints (in a container!)
Calendula

Probably some more stuff will be added in the future, but that’s what I have now.

Also getting ready to plant some flowers and herbs along the fence. I have a couple packages of Beneficial Insect mixes, some wild flower mixes, and a few herbs like borage and dill, so it will be a good mix of stuff for the bugs. Plus, it’ll look purdy. I’ve raked the area out - yeah, there were a few rocks in there - and tomorrow I’ll put down a bed of compost, fling the seeds out there, and give it a light mulch.

I’m so looking forward to a couple of years in the future, when the perennials are established, and flowers are blooming all around the edge of the garden. It will definitely make it look less like a ‘compound’. But in the mean time, I am content with the progress so far. The beds are staying moist, the slugs haven’t discovered the garden yet, and the plants appear to be content, too.

~

I forgot to mention yesterday, another little ‘experiment’ I’m doing in the garden. After reading The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman (many times), I decided to try out the soil blockers. As I mentioned before, I’m really happy with them. Great stuff. So, Eliot suggests that you can plant multiple seeds in a block for many kinds of plants, to make transplanting quicker, and get more plants in the same area. There is a list of plants that he has tried, and some that he has heard have good results.

The ones I’m trying this year are onions, leeks and scallions. For the onions, I’ve planted up to 6 seeds in one block; 4 for the leeks; and 12 for the scallions. Apparently they grow just fine all bunched together, and are easier to harvest - for the scallions, you just pull up the bunch and they're ready to go to market. I thought it was definitely worth a try. I’ll report on the efficacy of this method as they grow. If it works well, I’ll be experimenting with other veggies.

The thing that I like most about the potential of this method is shortening transplant times. If I want to plant 300 onions, well, that’s a lot of onions to transplant - not to mention how much room that many transplants takes up. But If I plant 6 seeds in each block, then I only have to set out 50 transplants - and I can fit all of them in a much smaller space while they’re growing in their blocks. Bloody brilliant, if you ask me.

Here are some of the other veggies he suggests trying, with the number of seeds per block he suggests (most of these are planted in 2 or 3 inch blocks):

Beets 4
Broccoli 4
Cabbage 3
Corn 4
Cucumber 3
Leek 4
Melon 4
Onion 6
Scallion 12
Spinach 4
Turnip 4

So, we’ll see how that goes. I love getting the transplanting done quicker. I did in fact plant 300 onions, 6 to a block. So putting out 50 transplants was a breeze.

Although The New Organic Grower is aimed toward market gardeners (and isn’t actually all that new - first published in 1989, but still totally relevant), it is helpful and encouraging to all gardeners. I love how practical and straightforward he is. I haven’t followed his system really, but I found the book completely engaging, and packed full of little tips and tricks that make gardening life easier. If you get a chance, it’s worth the read. I’ll be keeping my eye out for more of his books. (I got this one at the Free Store - it’s my favorite place to shop. )

And, if you haven’t watched Geoff Lawton’s Soils video, it is definitely worth watching. I saw it last year when it first came out (I think ) and loved it. Now it’s free to watch - you can find it here: http://www.permies.com/t/56802/videos/Permaculture-Soils-Geoff-Lawton

Great stuff. He's not just talking about soil, he talks about how to create great soil, how to take care of it, and all the different things you can do to improve your soil. He demonstrates how to build an 18-day compost, talks about the different kinds of materials you can use, and the different kinds of compost you can make (and I get a kick out of the way he says ‘compost’). He also demonstrates creating a quick sheet mulch garden bed. And just lots of really pertinent and cool stuff. Plus there’s a bunch in there about animals, and how they can help create and maintain healthy soil. I love his enthusiasm and earnestness. He’s just so into it! Very inspiring.

Geoff is the one I’ve learned the most from about permaculture. After watching some of Bill Mollison’s videos, and then discovering Geoff’s videos, I was pretty darned inspired. I’ve read just about everything there is to read online, and watched as many videos as I could (that weren’t totally annoying) over the past almost 2 years, and I find Geoff’s the most helpful, and the most inspiring. Yeah, he’s my hero.

~

My herb spiral kitchen garden is going gang busters! Everything seems very happy, except the basil. Something keeps eating my basil. But I’m planting lots out in the main garden, so we’ll see if I have better luck there. I think I’ll grow some out to a larger size before planting again in the herb spiral. Maybe the rollie-pollies just found those tender little leaves too yummy to resist. Nothing else is getting munched though, so I’m not too concerned.

The Man was out mowing half the day again. But I won’t complain, because all of that stuff will be going into my garden beds. And it does smell good. I’m going to use some of that fresh green material, and try my hand at an 18-day compost. I don’t have any manure, but we have a great variety of plants to use. I’ll get some of the wood chips that have been piled up for a year - I think that will be a good carbon material to use - and some leaves that have been piled up since the fall, and see what I can conjure up. I’ll let you know how it goes.

~

Okay, I think that’s all for today. Time to sleep.

Here are a few pics:

First is the Mediterranean garden. Just got the soil sand raked out into the first terrace. The little ditch near the fence is getting a pipe buried in it - something for a hose to run through to the back of the garden, so it isn't in the way - and then I'll cover it up, and build a slightly higher terrace over that, just up to the bottom of the fence. Isn't the color of that yarrow scrumptious?!

Then, some happy tomatoes.

And finally, my herb spiral kitchen garden. This is about 10 feet from the front door. Perfection.

Thanks for stopping by.

Cheers
Tracy



Garden-Mediterranean-5.jpg
[Thumbnail for Garden-Mediterranean-5.jpg]
The Mediterranean garden - step one.
Tomatoes-June9-1.jpg
[Thumbnail for Tomatoes-June9-1.jpg]
Tomatoes - Juane Flame, I think.
HerbSpiral-June9-2.jpg
[Thumbnail for HerbSpiral-June9-2.jpg]
Herb Spiral - Profusion of goodness.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Today I’m going to talk about something that has been rankling around in my head for some time. I have read - or started to read, and had to stop - quite a few threads on here concerning Permaculture.

Firstly, the threads asking if anyone is actually making money from Permaculture. I find this question to be moot. “Permaculture”, in my opinion, is not a business. Farming is a business; market gardening is a business; landscaping is a business; raising animals for meat or by-products is a business. And beyond that there's building as a business, energy conservation as a business, and the list goes on. The key word here is ‘business’. If you are going to have a business you need, first and foremost, to be or learn to be a good business person. You need to learn your craft well; you need to learn marketing skills; you need to have or cultivate people skills; and you need to get out there and hustle your business.

Now, if you love the tenets of Permaculture, you might want to incorporate these into your business. If you’re growing food or raising animals, you can incorporate many or all of the ‘techniques and tools’ within the ‘design system’ of Permaculture. You can get rid of using poisonous and synthetic fertilizers and feed. You can utilize a wide variety of growing techniques, according to your climate and soils, and which fit well into your system or business. You can embrace the ‘sharing’ and give away some of your products, or freely share information to ‘spread the word’. Or you can incorporate paid classes and tours into your system to not only help spread the word, but help generate some needed income to build your business.

But Permaculture is not a business. So the people who say that ‘permaculture doesn’t work’ because nobody's making 100K per acre, are, in my ever so humble opinion, looking at in the wrong way. Yes, people like Geoff Lawton, Joel Salatin and many others, are writing books, making videos, giving classes, and going on tour to share their experiences, skills and information. That is a different kind of business. That is writing and lecturing. Not everyone can do that. Not everyone wants to do that. But it’s great that there are people who can and do do that, because that’s how to get the information out to as many people as possible. And they do that for money, so that they can continue to work and experiment on their own farms, and support important ventures such as ‘Greening the Desert’, emergency aid, and helping people get out of poverty, and to keep learning and teaching. There is nothing wrong with this business model. Yes, there are people out there who might be ‘taking advantage’ of this business model just to ‘make a buck’. But I think that people will begin to recognize them, and will steer toward those who have working models from which they have gleaned their experience.

The second thing that kinda bugs me, is the ongoing debate about what Permaculture is, and whether or not someone is ‘actually doing permaculture’. Here is my definition of Permaculture, mostly as it relates to gardening and farming, which is where my interests are:

It is a design system based on mimicking nature, aimed at building a sustainable world (maybe one garden at a time, but that’s how shit gets done), by incorporating a wide variety of techniques and tools - depending on where you are, and what climate and soils you’re working with - and based on scientific and observable constants. I might throw in there that simplifying your lives, trying to cut out reliance on plastic gadgets and motorized farming equipment, reducing the buying of products with lots of packaging, or reusing as many resources as possible is all a part of goal as well.

I think that what people sometimes miss is the ‘wide variety of techniques and tools - depending on where you are, and what climate and soils you’re working with’ part. There are an infinite number of combinations of soil and climate situations, not to mention adding in slopes, water, frost dates, aspects, and a multitude of other elements that affect growing.

The techniques described under the Permaculture umbrella are all viable, often simple and sometimes bloody brilliant - but they don’t all work for all people in all situations. That’s where studying, learning, experimenting, and common sense come in. There are some constants within the system, but there are far more variables. And it’s learning to work with those variables that make the system itself work everywhere for everyone. But you have to think. You have to use your eyes, and use your head. “If you build it, they will come” is a great line, and I like Kevin Costner as much as the next girl, but it was a movie. In a real life garden or farm, you have to work with what you have, incorporate the techniques and tools that apply to your area at any given time of the year; while planning for things that might go wrong. It’s a lot about common sense, but it’s also about learning the whats, wheres and whys, and how to apply that information to get the most out of your little slice of paradise.

As far as the question of ‘who is really doing permaculture’, well, I think that’s just silly. If you’re able to incorporate just a few of the vast number of Permaculture techniques into your little 1/4 acre plot, and you’ve completely banned poisons, you’re doing permaculture. If all you have is an apartment balcony, but you’re growing food in all the spaces you can, you’re doing permaculture. If you have vast acres of farm land, and you’re transitioning from ‘conventional’ farming to more sustainable farming techniques, it might take a long time, but you’re still ‘doing permaculture’. I think that anybody that is trying to simplify their lives, grow more of their own food in a healthy environment, building up healthy soils, and generally reducing their impact on the planet, is ‘doing permaculture’.

All of the bickering about ‘the best way’ to build soil, mulch, grow food, homestead, raise animals, or anything else that people are trying to do to build more sustainable lives, is just silly. There is no ‘best way’. There might be many ‘really good ways’ to do it, depending on where you live, what kind of soil you have, the size of your growing area, what the weather is like, what sort of pests you have, which way your land slopes, if your land slopes, etc. etc. etc. . . . And the condemning of people who bring in resources from elsewhere - well, really, people - if you don't have it, and you need it, then you go get it somewhere else. That's just common sense. Yes, it is probably best to create your own biomass and other resources on your own plot, and it's something to work toward, but if you're just starting out, sometimes you just can't. It is a 'non-issue', in my eyes.

There are few recipes in Permaculture. There is a massive tool box full of tools and techniques, and a few constants to work within. That’s Permaculture, in my eyes. Our job is then to assess where we are, study and learn, sort through the tool box, pick the tools and techniques that will work for us, and then experiment, experience, study some more, and tweak the system until it is working. But it is an ongoing, ever evolving system, just like nature. If you’re looking for a system that you build, and then you never have to do anything else, and you just get food - well, that’s a grocery store.

So, my advice is: just do it. Try lots of stuff. Small experiments in small areas, and if it works great, spread that shit everywhere. If if doesn’t, that doesn’t mean Permaculture doesn’t work, that just means that that particular tool or technique doesn’t work very well where you are. Back to the drawing board. Some people don’t like that. They just want stuff to work. But some people, like myself, find the puzzle extremely engaging, and the learning and studying is fun and exciting. Don’t be so serious about it - have fun with it. Don’t be afraid to make little mistakes along the way. Learn what the ‘constants’ are, and don’t mess around with those - but there are lots of little experiments you can do that keep it fun and exciting. For me, at least.


If you build it . . . you have to keep building it. That’s life.

And that’s all I have to say about that. (Well, not really, but that’s all I’m going to say. For now. ) If you’d like to discuss this like a rational and pleasant person, I’m happy to do so.

I’m off to the garden now!

Cheers
Tracy

 
master pollinator
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Tracy Wandling wrote:And the condemning of people who bring in resources from elsewhere - well, really, people - if you don't have it, and you need it, then you go get it somewhere else. That's just common sense. Yes, it is probably best to create your own biomass and other resources on your own plot, and it's something to work toward, but if you're just starting out, sometimes you just can't. It is a 'non-issue', in my eyes.



I'm not aware of the condemning part because I mostly only read about permaculture here on permies where we don't condemn people. I have a personal goal of a regenerative system (producing more than it consumes) but I don't know if I will ever get there. I would like to see more examples of people with regenerative systems, especially with animals, which I'm finding especially challenging (had to go back to feeding the chickens seeds from the store), and especially small-scale regenerative systems because most folks can't live on a bazillion acres, but have a little urban or suburban lot. Even a productive system attempting to be sustainable, if not regenerative, is an admirable goal for anyone starting out in permaculture. Personally I feel like I'm always starting out, because I seem to have to try things over and over to find a way that works.
 
Hans Quistorff
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(had to go back to feeding the chickens seeds from the store)



I am in the process of rejuvenating some old hens in one of the chicken tractors that came with the farm. I had some wheat left over from previous flock. I had good success with winter wheat that grew feom spilt feed.in the past. The rooster would bend the stalks down and hold it while the hens picked the grains off. I did not have any growing this year but I am bound to have some come up again. what I have been doing is buying bulk millet, amaranth, etcetera and scratching it in after I move the tractor. sme they will get as greens when the tractor comes back again but I am observing which ones will produce seed that I can save in my climate. I am eating the same seeds myself instead of wheat so in the future I may grow my own as well as the chicen feed.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Hi Tyler;

Yes, Permies is by far the nicest place to hang out and talk about permaculture stuff. And I do find far more of the negative stuff on other sites - which I am just not going to read comments on anymore. But it still happens on here from time to time. I suppose condemn is a fairly strong word. Perhaps I could say some people 'strongly suggest' that if you're importing resources from somewhere else (or whatever the point of contention is), you're not really 'doing permaculture'. I think that it gives a really strong 'all or nothing' message, that many might find disheartening. I've seen people post that they themselves aren't really 'doing permaculture' because of something they do, or don't do, or can't do, but they hope to be really 'doing' it someday - and then they post photos of their gardens, and their little trees and guilds they've just planted, and their four hens, in their little suburban lot, and I think. "Well, that looks like permaculture to me."

I guess I just needed to vent. I find permaculture so very exciting and promising, and I am sometimes disappointed when someone presents their ideals in such a way as to discourage someone else from going for it. I definitely wouldn't 'engage' in someone else's thread, but I feel like this thread is a place for me to present my own ideas about permaculture, and hopefully inspire others to jump in.

I love the fact that Paul has laid out the rules so clearly, and that the main mandate is, "Be nice". It's brilliant. It's what I used to say to my kids: "You can be angry, you can be sad, you can be frustrated, you can be whatever you need to be - but you can still be nice."

And, although it might sound cliché, I really feel that every day is a new day. A day to start over, redo, revisit, fix something, make more mistakes that you can fix tomorrow. I've been starting over forever! LOL! I think a lot of people's goal is for a regenerative system, but just because we're not there yet, doesn't mean we're not doing permaculture. We do what we can with what we've got - 'cause we're that awesome.

And that is my ever so humble-ish opinion.

Cheers
Tracy
 
Tracy Wandling
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Today was a lovely sunny rainy hot cool cloudy breezy calm day. Yeah, the weather had more mood swings than I did today.

But it was a great day working in the garden. I got the Mediterranean garden area set up, and planted two sage plants; one purple, and one . . . not purple.

I started the flower bed that will run along the east fence, and put cardboard and cedar chips on the path. I got about 15 feet done today, and will just continue bit by bit. I planted delphiniums, rudbeckia, and a sad little honeysuckle that The Man pulled up from somewhere and brought to me for my garden. He likes me. He also brought me the trimmings of the little magnolia in the front yard - said I should stick them in the ground and see if they’ll root. I haven’t looked up whether this works with this kind of tree or not. I’ll take a look later, and if it’s not promising, well then I’ll just pull ‘em up and put 'em in the hole for the next bed.

The little stone wall for the Mediterranean garden is coming along. Mostly just taking the rocks that come out of the sand and piling them up with sand behind them to hold them up. Nothing fancy, but that’s sort of the look I want - not too ‘finished' looking. I’ll be planting some creeping thyme to grow in and over the rocks, so the spaces between the will work just fine, and the thyme should help hold them in place - at least, that’s the plan. I made the part of the bed that's against the fence a bit of a terrace, and I think that’s going to work well - the Greek oregano will go up there, and I’ll look for something tall to grow against the fence

Tomorrow I’ll plant the thyme. I started them from seed this spring, and I've got 11 healthy plants going - they’re tiny, but they’re growing fast. I’ll put 3 or 4 into that area, and save the rest for other areas around the garden. Also going to plant some basil, summer savory and calendula starts in there, and seed some borage. Not sure what else will go in there yet - Oh! The rosemary - it looks like some of the cuttings I took from my rosemary have rooted, so I’ll have a couple of those to go in a bit later. I’d like to incorporate some grapes in there somehow - they seem very Mediterranean-y. I’ll have to put some thought into that . . . Oh! And I have two lavender plants going into that bed, too.

The other bed along the east fence is going to be sown with beneficial insect wild flower mix tomorrow. Might stick a couple of the thyme plants in there too. The bees seem to really like them. Next year I’ll plant some of the breadseed poppies along the fence as well. The bees absolutely love those. The more bees the merrier! And the deer - so far - don’t seem interested in them at all, so they can go up against the fence.

I also planted some of the kale that I had started before I knew that I wasn’t going to have a garden until June. They are still doing okay - I was actually eating off of them before I had anywhere to plant anything, so they aren’t huge. But I thought I’d throw them in the ground anyway. They’ll shade the hot west side of the tomato bed when they get a little taller, and they’ll be great biomass. Plus, you know, I can eat ‘em. I didn’t really need any more kale in there, but I just can’t seem to throw out a plant. I always find some way to squeeeeeze them in.

I definitely used some muscles today that hadn’t been used in a while. Ouch. But it’s a good ouch. Reminds me that I got lots accomplished today. Also reminds me that I could do with some pre-garden stretching. Drivin’ the wheel barrow back and forth all day was certainly a good work out.

~

Observations in the garden . . .

I’m finding more and more earthworms in my garden beds. This always makes me smile. I actually say, “Oh, hello there!” when I see one. There are also about a gazillion of those little rollie-pollie bugs. I remember being quite taken aback when I built my buried wood herb spiral last year - it was full of the little buggers too. Still is. But now I know that they can be good bugs - and although they have been known to munch on tender little seedlings, they seem to be quite happy working away in the rich organic material I’ve topped my beds with. I guess there’s enough there to keep them satisfied, and they haven’t done any damage to the plants I’ve put out - except perhaps the little basil plants in the herb spiral. They might be responsible for the nibbles on those. They’re a new thing for me, so I guess time will tell if they will become a problem or not in the future. Living and learning every day.

I was wondering today, as I worked in my ‘soil’ (which isn’t really soil, but a mix of year-old grass, leaves, weeds, wood chips, and sand, on top of buried wood), at what point does this ‘mulch’ become soil? The only soil-type substance that I’ve put in my beds is in the actual holes that I’ve put the transplants in. Each plant got a handful or two of the sea soil/topsoil mix from out of last years pots of stuff The Man grew. So, if that’s the only actual soil in there, when can my mulchy stuff be called soil? This I do not know. I have added a very small amount of clay to the beds - and will be adding more via compost. I’m contemplating adding some rock dust; will be giving all the plants a top dressing of compost soon; and the worms are obviously in there doing their thing. So all of this ‘stuff', which is all really good stuff, I’m assuming will eventually break down into what could be called soil. Anybody have any insight into this?

So far no weeds are growing in the garden beds. I’m assuming that I will eventually get some - especially grasses, and the bracken which seems to pop up everywhere since the Scotch Broom was cleared. But so far nada. So I guess not having any soil to top my beds with could be a good thing. Not that I have anything against weeds - some of them are lovely, and quite useful. But it is nice to start with a clean slate. I know I’m very lucky.

I also haven’t found any slugs. And believe me, I’ve been looking! I’ve seen the havoc the little beasties can wreak. I assume they’ll find the garden eventually, so I’ve been thinking that I should look into what I can do - now, before they get there - to mitigate the potential problem. Or if anything can be done. Besides ducks. It’ll be a year or two before ducks make the scene. I’ve started saving the coffee grounds separate from the rest of the compostables, and egg shells as well, as I’ve heard these can deter slugs. But from what I’ve read, slugs are like deer - one year they like something, the next year they don’t. The Man probably won’t let me use his expensive craft beers for slug traps. I’ll have to go get some cheap stuff. I guess I’ll just have to load my slug arsenal with everything I see suggested - DE comes to mind - and be prepared for the onslaught. I think I can hear them thundering toward the garden as we speak . . .

~

Okay, that’s it for today. Sleepy time for the achy girl.

Here are a few sexy snaps:

The building the beds and rock wall for my Mediterranean garden.

The flower bed and garden path beginnings.

Colored yarrow; some kale with raindrops ('cause it's pretty); and some very tiny eggs that I found in an outdoor shed. They are about the size of my pinky fingernail. Very cute.
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The start of my Mediterranean garden
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The start of the garden path and flower bed
 
Tracy Wandling
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Whoops! The last pic didn't show up.
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Hans Quistorff
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So all of this ‘stuff', which is all really good stuff, I’m assuming will eventually break down into what could be called soil. Anybody have any insight into this?


In my opinion unless you have sterile clay, sand, gravel or rock you have soil. Now you could have rich soil or poor soil or imbalanced soil. Soil is alive so it has to grow. Trying to rush poor soil into rich soil by mixing in to much raw plant material can make it imbalanced but poor soil with lots of plant material on top will grow both healthy soil and plants.

To keep your path building more satisfying keep remembering that you will have soil growing under that path as a resource for next year.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Hi Hans;

We have sand. All sand - well, except for the rocks. There is a bit of topsoil in the woods. But other than that, it's just sand. Dig down four feet - sand. Actually, three different colors of sand. And rocks. The grass and weeds growing in the fields don't seem to actually make much soil. The sand just seems to eat up the organic material. Even where the Scotch Broom grew for years and years - which is where my garden is - didn't make soil. You'd think with the leaves falling year after year, getting trapped in the thick growth so they couldn't blow away, there would be some good soil. Nope. Sand.

That's why I went for the buried wood beds: for the water retention, and building soil. So, the beds are topped with a couple of feet of year-old grass/weeds/leaf compost/mulch from clean-up and clearing last year, mixed with some sand. I will continue to top the beds with organic material, compost, and manure when I get some. That is why I am curious if I am making soil, or if I will just be growing in mulch forever.

The chipped paths might make soil, and they might not. I don't know. It's just sand under the cardboard. I'm sure the chips will break down into lovely mulch, but soil? Not sure.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Location: Longbranch, WA
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My land was apparently a lake front before the Tacoma Narrows washed through. So I have three layers. The silt and clay that was the lake bottom, the sand that was sashed from the glacial till and the glacial till with the mix of rocks gravel and sand.
Concentrating on the area that matches your land where the sand has washed away from the rocks. The "soil" is dirty sand. There is a biofilm on the sand. I have compared deep sand and root level sand by washing it and straining it through a fine mesh strainer. you can observe how much humus is being held on the sand by the biofilm. To build that biofilm from poor to rich I have found you have to keep adding roots to the sand. do not pull weeds; cut them off and leave the tops on the surface. Between the living roots exudate, the dead roots and surface biomass soil organisms will grow soil.
Scotch broom dose not build a humus layer of roots but brings water up from down deep and maintains the biofilm on the sand. The Hymalayan blackberries on the other hand shed a lot of leaves and build a leaf mold layer which holds the moisture. If the sand loses the water film around each grain then it can not wick water up and the biofilm will go dormant.
Where I have burned brush and vines the remaining ash and biochar results in rapped grass root growth. Where I had a tractor rototill a compacted hollow where the horse would pace back and forth it broke the wicking pattern and has taken years to return.

I hope these observations will help you in your observations.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Today is my birthday. And I think it was perhaps one of the best in the history of ever. I spent the entire day in the garden - right up until it started raining at 6:30. I’m lovin’ this evening rain thing we have going on. Won’t last for much longer, but it will really help - it was already getting pretty dry. And it smells glorious in the morning.

Birthday musings . . .

So, I’m 51. I look at other people my age and think, “Wow. They seem so much more grown-up than me.” I am still just a kid. It’s funny, I don’t think of myself as a ‘lady’ (definitely not a lady ) or a ‘woman'. Those terms seem belong to other people who are adultier than me. I’m just a girl. I’m good with that.

Taking stock of my physical wellbeing: still look pretty good (we have good skin in our family); I have aches and pains, and arthritis here and there, but nothing I can’t live with so far; I am definitely getting in better shape now that I’m building my garden - much better than spending all day hunched over a computer; my hips are kinda not great, but I think (hope) they will get better with more exercise - need some muscles to hold them together, otherwise, I’ll just get some new ones - seems to be all the rage these days); now I just need to quit smoking . . . I’m thinking ‘induced coma’ should do it.

~

Today I finished my Mediterranean herb garden. I love it. Just need to move the urn planter in there and it’s done. The garden contains:

Plants
Sage
Thyme
Oregano
Yarrow
Anise Hyssop
Calendula
Summer savory
Lavender

Seeded
Basil
Summer savory
Borage
Dill

Other plants I want
Lemon balm
Winter savory
Creeping thyme

I only got one photo of it, but after I took it I decided to put some small terracotta pots laying along the back (from the Free Store). I love terracotta pots, especially the little ones. But I don’t grow stuff in them very often - too much of a water suck. I just think they look cool, sort of artfully laying around the garden. Then I’ll put the urn planter in there, and plant it with lemon balm, and maybe some flowers that like to hang down over the edge. I love lemon balm, but I don’t want it to turn into a lemon balm patch. I just want to smell it as I walk by.

I’m always looking for places to plant aromatics where they will get brushed or stepped on as I walk by and release their lovely scents - the smells are half the joy of gardening for me. I plan on some creeping thyme on some parts of the path, and some other creeping stuff that smells good, and likes to grow in wood chips and sand.

I also seeded the first part of the flower bed against the fence with a wild flower mix, and Sweet Alyssum along the edge of the path. Definitely looking forward to more flowers in the garden. The delphiniums are about to bloom, and I’ve got the red and yellow yarrows, but can’t wait ’til it’s bursting with color.

I put a layer of fresh cut grass/weeds/leaves into the next garden bed being dug. The Man is hopefully going to finish digging that one soonish, so I can start filling it up with wood. I would love to get a cover crop going on that one this year, with a little bit of space for winter leeks and kale. Might even be able to grow some other things in there, as the beds get pretty hot when they’re first built. That should get some things through the chilly bits of winter, with a bit of cover. It’s worth a try - at the very least, it’s more greens to work into the bed. And with any luck The Man will get the others dug before the fall, too.

I’m really wanting to have them go through the winter rains to soak up some moisture, to see how they work as far as water usage goes. I’ve read that they really hit their stride in their third year, so not expecting to cut out water altogether over the first two years, but am hoping that they will reduce watering needs quite a lot. I’m very curious to see if they live up to the hype about not having to water, or very minimal watering during the long dry season. Definitely will be better than our alternative - growing in hard packed sand. And I have no doubts about their fertility potential. It’s full of great stuff - how can that go wrong?

~

Garden observations

Still no slugs, but this wet weather is makin’ me nervous.

The top layer of mulch on the beds always looks dry as a bone, but it remains nice and moist underneath. Of course, we have been having some rain, so that obviously makes a difference. Kind of looking forward to many days of hot and dry to see what happens.

I put out a dish of water and was rewarded with more dragonflies zooming around the garden. Eat those mosquitoes, you lovelies!

~

I’m looking forward to getting more perennials into the garden. I would like to have perennial herbs and flowers in the garden beds, but am still working out the logistics of including them in crop rotations. Actually, I’m still deciding if I will do strict crop rotations. I’m wondering if I plant the way I planted this year - with short rows and patches of different things all planted together - is crop rotation still necessary? I understand the benefits of crop rotation - I have one already worked out for when I have all eight beds up and running - but is it more of a leftover from the idea of growing all one crop together, instead of mixing them up to reap the same benefits? It's the diversity as much as anything else that makes crop rotation so beneficial, I think.

The reasons for crop rotation:

• Avoid build up of pests in one area

• Avoid depletion of certain nutrients by a single crop growing in the same place year after year

But, if I’m planting all kind of different things all mixed together, with herbs and flowers mixed in; and if I’m constantly adding compost and manure (and other amendments as needed) to the ‘soil', do I still need to practice a strict crop rotation? Each bed will almost certainly be planted slightly differently each year, with some things in different places, and really, the beds are so close together that the pest thing doesn’t seem like it will make a difference - the pests don’t have far to travel to find their feast. So, I’m thinking that if I just change it up a little each year, and plant lots of helpful plants, such as French marigolds, herbs, and beneficial insect attractors, and keep adding my compost and other goodies, maybe strict crop rotations aren’t necessary.

For a market garden it might be better to plant whole rows or beds with one crop, to make harvesting easier - but I don’t really want my garden to look like that. And I definitely want to avoid the monoculture thing, so mixing things up makes sense. But I don’t think that will really make harvesting that much more difficult. Of course, I could be completely wrong about that - time will tell. I will continue to ponder this.

Anyway, what was I talking about . . .? Oh, yes, getting more perennials in the garden. I’m thinking that some perennial herbs planted at each end of the rows will be a good start. I have some thyme plants I can put in this year, and I want to get some winter savoury started for next year. Some self seeding things like parsley and cilantro will be good (must remember to leave some to go to seed). I’ll have to continue to ponder this as well . . .

~

Food forest! I’m putting in the Saskatoons and hazels this week. But two hazels and and a Saskatoon bush does not a food forest make. I’m collecting bits of old wire fencing (yes, thank you, Free Store), so I can get some trees out around the property, and protect them from the deer. I feel somewhat of an urgency to start getting trees in. I’m not sure if it’s just the excitement of growing a food forest (I mean, really, how cool is a food forest?!); or if it’s also the feeling that these trees could take care of us in the years to come, especially if anything ‘unpleasant’ happens and we need to rely on ourselves for our needs. Living on a rather secluded island definitely has its perks (I’m a bit of a hermit), but it is also likely to be one of the first places to lose services of any kind in the event of a disaster or breakdown of some sort. I just think that all those nut trees, fruit trees, berries, and a variety of perennial vegetables will be so satisfying, and give me a more secure feeling. It’s like money in the bank. (Not that I know what money in the bank actually feels like - but I imagine it feels rather good. )

So, I’m gathering tree and berry seeds and planting everything I can. I’ll take cuttings from the plums, grapes and figs, and get those going. I’ll go beg, borrow and steal seeds and cuttings from others who live on the island who have trees I want. I think the best way is to get things that have been growing here for a long time - there is a nursery up the road that sells trees and berries, but many are imported from elsewhere. I want the local goods; the ones that are certain to grow happily here. Of course, I would love to get the biggest trees I can, to get a jump start on production, but I’ll take what I can get. And I think that planting the properly - with woody mulch and compost, and companion plantings, will make them grow faster and produce sooner. I think the key to all of this is just to jump in and do it. I don’t mean blindly flail away - definitely make a plan - but don’t just keep planning. The Man is great for making plans, but suffers from 'paralysis by analysis' - he thinks and researches and plans, and then has too many choices, and is unsure of all of the variables, and so he puts it off. Me, I’m like, “Step aside! I’m diggin’ a hole and plantin’ stuff!” Poor guy.

So, food forest, annual garden, greenhouse, perennial veggies and herbs, save seeds, and plant, plant, plant! It’s all so much fun, so satisfying, and so secure feeling. I’m also going to learn more about the local edible plants. I’d really love to know what mushrooms I can eat. I want a real mushroom person to show me firsthand though. It makes me a little nervous - but I really like mushrooms. I’m planning on growing some in the woods eventually, but it would be nice to know the edible ones that are growing everywhere here. They especially like the buried wood beds.

I’m looking forward to saving seed from the annual vegetables. It will be interesting to see what new things I come up with. And I think it will be really satisfying growing a garden from seeds that I’ve saved myself. Not to mention cheaper. I’m going to plant some cover crops in patches here and there just so I can save the seed and build up a supply. That just seems to make sense. I really don’t want to be buying cover crop seeds forever. And then again, there is the sense of security.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m now officially ‘over 50’, but I am really feeling this need to get things set up - to really push forward with the planting of trees and other longterm perennials; to save lots of seeds; to learn all the edibles that surround me; to take stock of tools, skills, and whatever else we might need to take care of ourselves. It’s not a fear, just a strong sense of urgency.


Blah blah blah . . .


And on that note . . . I think I’ll go eat some cake!

Here are the pics of the day:

The Mediterranean herb bed - not a great pic, but I’m quite in love with it. (Notice the evil deer innocently grazing in the background.)

And some photos of the progression of building the garden beds.

No flowers today - all that’s blooming are the poppies, and you’ve seen a few of those already.

Cheers
Tracy
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My Birthday present to me.
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The building of the buried wood beds.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Posts: 2029
Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
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Well, it rained all day today. I’m happy for my garden, and the rest of the island, but it meant that I had no excuse not to do housework. Shudder

But of course I did manage to peruse some interesting threads here on Permies, and gather more good ideas, as well as conjuring up ever more questions. It’s all part of the big puzzle of permaculture, and life in general.

~

The first thread was entitled Clay Pot Irrigation Experiment. Now, I’ve often seen those big ollas that people use for this, and I love the idea, but I've also seen how expensive they are. I’d need a LOT of those for the garden I’m building. But K Putnam’s thread made me revisit this technique with new eyes. Putnam buries regular terracotta pots, with the hole plugged, and uses the accompanying tray as a lid (you could use something else if you don’t have the tray). Presto, instant irrigation! Then someone suggested gluing two pots together, plugging one hole, and watering into the other hole. Love it. I would still need many pots to take advantage of this technique, but I am already amassing a collection - there were a bunch here when we bought the place, and I pick them up at the free store whenever I see them, just because I like them. And I think many smaller pots would work better than a few big ones.

One of the reasons I am eager to try this technique is that I am disillusioned with the idea of irrigation. It’s so bloody expensive, and so fiddly, and I think it will be a pain in the butt if trying to do any sort of crop rotation. I don’t want to be dragging lines all over the garden every time I replant, poking new holes and plugging up old ones, and always having to check to see if the little nozzle thinygs are working. Just seems to be a waste of time, money and energy. There has to be a better way. My main goals with my garden are to be drought-resistant, low-input, low-energy, and low-cost. I am confident that the buried wood beds will not only be quite drought-resistant when they hit their stride, but will also be fertile, and easy to plant year after year. No tilling, no hilling up beds each year; just put another layer of compost/mulch, perhaps a few other amendments if needed, and plant.

I’ll start by using the pots I have, amongst the plants that require the most consistent moisture to grow well. I have already planted the tomatoes in circles around a cage, so plopping a pot into each cage will be simple enough. I don’t have trays for all of the pots, but I can cover them with anything, and they’ll still work I believe. So I’ll do the tomatoes first, as well as the cucumbers. When I plant the next crop of celery, I’ll try to work the pots into them as well.

I think it will take a bit of experimentation to see how close the plants need to be to receive the benefits of the pots, and what size of pot works best with different plants and configurations, but that’s all part of the fun of this, for me anyway. Just trying all of the ideas that seem best for my situation, and seeing what works for me, where I am, with what I have.

So! Buried clay pots in my buried wood beds is my next experiment. As soon as it stops raining.

~

Another garden related thread was concerned with crop rotation. I have been considering this as well, as you may have read in my last post. Just contemplating the logistics, and balancing the benefits of crop rotation - which really do make sense - with what I’m learning about creating diversity, encouraging beneficial plants and creatures in the garden, and generally doing everything I can to mimic a healthy growing system, as seen in nature. Of course, bad things happen in nature too, but from what I’ve been learning, those ‘bad things’ can more often than not be traced back to abuse of some sort, by humans, of the natural landscape, either directly or indirectly.

In my garden I want to plant as naturally as possible, which includes mixing things up, planting a wide variety - even within plant groups, such as planting different varieties of broccoli and lettuces - and keep the watering and feeding of the soil as natural and low-energy as I can. Most of my brain says that this is the right way to go, and that I will eventually be creating a natural balance that will minimize the effects of natural ‘disasters’ such as pest insects, diseases and drought. But there is always that wee tiny part of the brain that says, “But that’s not how it’s DONE. You plant in rows, water with irrigation hoses, and cover everything up so the bugs don’t get them!” Silly brain. I don’t want to cover anything up; I don’t want to keep buying expensive and throw-away inputs like plastics, row covers, and irrigation bits and pieces. I just want to grow a garden. I just know there are simpler ways to do things that will be just as effective without throwing money at them.

So, I am not covering anything up; I have planted a very mixed bag of plants in the first bed, and will plant the next crop of celery, herbs, and lettuces, etc. in the tomato bed; I have planted onions everywhere, and herbs and flowers that the pollinators and beneficial insects like. I am hand watering, and will be incorporating the buried clay pots into the garden now, to help along the water retention of my buried wood beds. I have put water in the garden for the birds and dragonflies. And I will continue to glean other helpful hints to incorporate into the garden as it progresses. Time will tell which work, and which don’t. And I’m good with that.

~

Another thread I read incorporates two topics: 1) feeding yourself from your land with a minimal diet, without compromising your health, and 2) failures.

I, like most others who get involved with permaculture I believe, am excited about the possibilities of growing all of my own food. I am not a vegetarian, although I don’t eat tons of meat, but The Man is REALLY not a vegetarian , so feeding ourselves from the land would have to including growing our own meat. Chickens will be the first up, followed by ducks, and a couple of pigs a year to fatten up for the freezer (while helping to create ponds!). We have deer, but The Man doesn’t like deer meat. I could raise goats or rabbits for meat, but I don’t think he’d eat that either. And he doesn’t much like fish, either. So, chicken and pork will be the only meats we will raise, for the foreseeable future. And of course, eggs. I’m okay with that. He won’t drink whole milk, so getting goats or a milk cow would be a waste. So that leaves us with the growies.

The main garden is going to be planted with mostly annuals, with perennials making their way in there as I expand the garden, in the form of more herbs and whatever perennial vegetables I can grow here - artichokes! Yum. The garden will grow the usual suspects such as lettuces and greens, tomatoes, squashes, alliums, cabbage family, potatoes, drying peas and beans, etc. I am also getting a plot ready to plant amaranth and quinoa next year (to see which grows best here), so that will make a great addition to the overall haul of growies. Very much into preserving by drying, but will do some canning once I have an outdoor kitchen (mine is just way too tiny, and way too hot for canning).

And then there are the future food forest plans: nut trees, fruit trees, berries, ground cover things like strawberries, and other perennial edibles such as grapes. Of course, these won’t all be available for some time, but they will be available for a long time I hope.

So, that is the dream - and is probably the dream for most of us working toward sustainability and self-reliance. But can we attain the dream? Can we grow enough food, and enough varieties of food, to create a healthy and balanced diet? Are there things that we need in our diets that we can’t grow ourselves? This seems to be the tripping up point for many - if your growing conditions aren’t conducive to growing everything you need for a healthy diet, what do you do?

I think a main contributor to actually attaining that healthy diet is going to be completely rethinking what and how we eat. If we think, “Okay, I’m going to grow all of my own food!” and then we try to grow all of the things we normally eat, I believe we will be sorely disappointed when we find that there are a gazillion things that we just can’t grow, for whatever reason - climate, soil conditions, time and space constraints, etc.

So, do we just go and buy those things at the grocery store? Or do we stop and think about whether we really need to eat that, or if we’re just so used to eating it that we can’t imagine not eating it? If we approach it from a different angle - finding out exactly what a ‘real' healthy diet contains - for each of us as individuals - and then studying all of the plants, animals, and minerals that provide those things, and figuring out what we can reasonably hope to grow and raise ourselves, we might come up with a vastly different variety of foods than we are used to eating. And some of those foods might take some getting used to! I figure that’s what herbs are for - making ‘healthy' foods more palatable. (Now we need to learn how to cook differently, too? Does it never end?! ) And then there is the excellent option of trading with others near you who are growing the things you can't grow. We are not islands.

I am not a ‘healthy’ eater by any stretch of the imagination; but I would like to be. And I would like to eat what I grow, because it is becoming increasingly obvious that the foods produced ‘out there’ just ain’t so good. And I would like to raise my own meat, and collect my own eggs, so I know exactly what I am putting into my body (plus they taste sooooo much better!). This is the dream for many. And I know it is attainable, because people lived like that before industrialization. So we can live like that again. We just need to adjust our thinking, and approach the ‘problems’ from different angles until we find the solutions that work for us.

These are just the musings of a curious mind.

~

The next topic, which many of us have experienced, concerns ‘failure’. I think that’s a horrible word. I think that you have only failed if you have stopped trying. If you are still working toward your goal, and you haven’t given up on it, you have not failed. Even if you change your mind, and decide to head in a different direction, if you are still moving forward - even a tiny bit at a time - you have not failed. So, if your plants die the first year, and you walk away from your garden straight into the grocery store, and leave your little plot to the weeds forever, then yes, you have failed at gardening. But only because you stopped trying. And that’s just the plain truth according to me.

~

So that is where my mind was wandering today. And I'll have a lot more wandering and experimenting to do before I find the answers I’m looking for, I’m sure. There are always constraints that we have to work within - whether they are climate, space, time, health, or living with other’s who do not share our particular visions - but even within these constraints, I believe that we can do so much. We just have to retrain our minds to think differently, look at situations from many angles, and question all of the things we think we know, and have been told are 'absolute truths', to see if perhaps there is a better way.

~

Okay, that’s just about enough of that! If you have any insights, stories, or musings of your own to share, please feel free. This is a safe place. But you have to play nice.

Here are the links to the threads mentioned:

Buried clay pots - http://www.permies.com/t/56986/plants/Clay-Pot-Irrigation-Experiment

Growing enough healthy food & Failures - http://www.permies.com/t/56996/frugality/Minimal-diet-deficiencies

Garden rotations - http://www.permies.com/t/56537/gardening-beginners/Crop-rotation-home-garden

Cheers
Tracy

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Tracy Wandling
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Posts: 2029
Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
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Aaaaaaand! The sun came back. Everything is moist and green and delicious smelling. So very nice.

And! I won a book! ‘How to Permaculture Your Life’. Should be interesting. I’ll let you know what I think of it.

Today will be a short post, as I worked most of the day, and didn't get to play in the garden much. Also, it’s too easy for me to just sit here and ramble on and on. So I’m mostly going post photos. But because I don’t know how to add more than three images to a post, there will be a few posts. Just random shots around the property and garden. Because I can.

~

First, I would like to take this moment to thank the people responsible for digital cameras, and the computers on which to view the photos. Can you imagine being back in the days when we took our film to be developed, and were so disappointed in all the pictures with our thumb in them, or someone’s head cut off, or so blurry we can’t remember what the picture is supposed to be? Not to mention all of the ‘beautiful’ scenery shots we took, that when seen in a small photo were really a waste of film. Digital cameras are the bomb! How else could I go out every day and take a gazillion photos of my land, delete the crappy ones, keep the good ones, and not break the bank? And I wouldn't be able to share them with you all. It’s a wonderful thing.

~

I took a stroll around and checked out the fruit trees today. None of them are big producers - they are very old and have been neglected far too long. We did get one plum tree up by the driveway trimmed up, as it was a real mess, and was very visible as you come into the yard. But the other two on the edge of the clearing I have asked to be left pretty much alone. They are mossy and twisty, and I just love the way they look. They do produced a few tasty plums, and I’m hoping they will also produce a few new baby trees.

Two apple trees in the front field produce smallish tart apples, and one on the treeline is a Transparent apple. They aren’t ready yet, but getting close I think. Looking forward to my apple cider vinegar experiments!

I took photos of all the fruit and berries that are developing around the place - except for the huckleberries; they’re all over the woods. It’s kind of a nice feeling having these little bits of food growing all over the place; but I’m sure it wouldn’t keep us going for long if something untoward happened. (Hence my long winded musings yesterday about the desire versus the ability to grow everything we need for a healthy diet, prompted by Tyler Luden’s post.)

~

Planted the next succession of lettuce transplants in amongst the tomatoes today. I’m hoping the tomatoes will provide a little cooling shade for the lettuce as we approach the hot times ahead. That is something I’ve been thinking about experimenting with - growing lettuce in the hot season, without it all bolting quickly.

Lettuce needs a cool soil for the seeds to sprout, so I always start them in a cool spot. I think I’ll be popping them into the basement, now that it’s the most consistently cool place. Then I’ll grow them out somewhere where they will get dappled shade - perhaps in my little outdoor office area, which is shaded with the grapes now. I’ll try some there, and some in another area that gets morning sun, but dappled sun in the afternoon. Then I’ll plant them on the east side of some tallish plants, and we’ll see what happens. It’s definitely worth a try, and if they look like they’re going to bolt, I’ll just harvest them, and sell them as smaller heads - maybe two small heads for the price of one big one. I’m also going to grow the most ‘bolt resistant’ lettuces, and maybe do the landrace thing with them to see if I can make them even more heat resistant. Should be a good experiment.

I also want to be able to grow cilantro through the hot season, but that rarely works out well, unless you harvest a few leaves when it’s very young. That’s what I’ll do for myself, ‘cause I just love my cilantro! But it won’t work well for market gardening. Again, always worth a try, just to see what happens.

Everything in the garden is growing well, except some of the parsley that was a bit too long in the seed blocks. I didn’t expect it to take off, as it is a tap rooted plant, and they don’t like being transplanted when they’re too big. But they’ll add some green and some roots to the garden bed, and that’s always welcome. The rest of the parsley is doing well. I’m very excited about the celery. I’ve never grown it before. I like celery with peanut butter on it. Yum. I bet it’s going to be even better with fresh, homegrown celery.

And that’s it for today.

Here are some photos. Enjoy.

Cheers
Tracy

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Celery is looking very celery-like.
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Onions are doing their onion thing.
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Luscious lettuce.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
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And a few more.
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The broccoli isn't broccoli-ing yet, but it did get a late start.
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The Mediterranean garden is gonna be so purdy.
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The herb spiral is spiralling.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Figs, plums and gooseberries!
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Figs soon!
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Plums are plumming.
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Red Gooseberries soon. We have green ones too.
 
Tracy Wandling
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And this is all. Honest.
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Oh, you don't fool me, you dastardly deer.
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Green Gooseberries.
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Plants by the front door: Sage, Breedseed Poppy, and Chamomile?
 
Tracy Wandling
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One of the reason I love being able to take digital photos of the garden every day, is that it makes it easier to see the progress. When you’re out there looking at things, waiting for things to get growing, it’s hard to see how far things have come sometimes. So, I take a photo every day from the same spot, and can compare with the first photo I took when I set the plants out. I have attached just such a photo comparison. June 4 on the top, June 15 on the bottom. Yep, they’re growing!

Got the urn out into the garden. Pulled up some lemon balm from the herb spiral and stuck it in. Okay, the Mediterranean garden is still looking a little sparse. But it’s covered in seeds, so I’m hoping that something will start popping up and fill it in. Just need to get some kind of hanging plant in the urn, to flow down the sides - something with bright flowers, and I will be satisfied. Also, found out (yeah, okay, I read the tag thingy that came with it) that the lavender that I bought has yellow blooms. Sheesh. Yellow lavender. That’s just not right, somehow. I’ll be grabbing some LAVENDER lavender the next time I see some. I hope it at least smells lavenderish.

I have been given tentative permission to plant some guilds around the fruit trees in the front yard. The Man is all about ease of mowing, and low maintenance. (He was not convinced by my argument that NOT mowing was much more low-maintenance. ) So, I’ll need to make sure that anything in the guild that might 'escape' into the ‘lawn’ is easily mow-able.

I’ll be doing the plum trees first, as they are on the edge of the field/forest, and are more out of the way. And I like them best. So, first will be the wood chips. I’m not terribly concerned with keeping weeds down, so will probably just do the chips and some of the year-old grass/leaves/weeds mix underneath. I’d like flowering things, but they would definitely have to be deer resistant, and somewhat drought proof. Putting up a wire barrier and minimal watering is not entirely out of the question, until things get somewhat established.

I’ll probably start with herby things that deer don’t eat, as well as daffodils, which they leave alone; then I can add in some other things, once there is a little protection from the herbs. Definitely put some poppies out there, and encourage the foxgloves. Lemon balm might be nice - would smell great when mowed, and it’s not near anything that will be inhibited by it invading nearby territory. I’ll stick some thyme out there, too, as the bees love it. Lavender would look lovely. And of course, the ferns will most likely pop up in there. So it will be a nice mix of stuff.

~

I put some compost from my tumbler into the garden. I had emptied it into a large plant pot a few weeks ago, and in the meantime it had become home to many, many worms! So, I not only added compost to the beds, but a whole host of worms and their castings as well. Cool. Instead of spreading the compost on top of the mulch, I just made a hole, plopped a scoop in, and covered it up. Should give my plants a boost. I also spread some coffee grounds. I put coffee grounds on one set of broccoli, and compost on the other. Just to see what happens.

Little tiny plants are sprouting in my wild flower bed. I hope I get good germination - can’t wait for flowers! And not just ‘cause they’re purdy - I want some happy bugs in my garden as well. I know that next year when I have the Breadseed Poppies in there, the bees will be visiting a lot. It will also help when the pond gets built - this fall I hope.

At the back of the soon-to-be-fenced back (north) end of the garden that will be the mini food forest area, there is a natural depression, just about the perfect size for a small pond. The Man had used it as a burn pit, and it is also conveniently situated next to the two large piles of clay we got delivered. So! Between the ash and the clay, and some ‘gleying’ with greens and plastic or tarps, I think I can make a lovely little oasis back there. It will be shaded by trees eventually, and by then I hope it will hold water. Ducks! Must get ducks; that should help. And pigs. But the pigs will be put to work helping create the upper pond/dam - the one that will hopefully eventually gravity feed water to my gardens, and provide security water storage. Connected to swales, it will definitely help to hold and spread water, and hydrate the surrounding and lower landscape. Plus, I hope to get fish happening in there as well. The Man might not like fish much, but I sure do.

~

I have been reading the threads and comments about using microbe teas to regenerate land, and especially as it pertains to sandy soils. I’m pretty excited about the possibilities. Our little slice of paradise pie, being located on an island of sand and rock, can definitely use some of this alchemy to help us get some humus and life into the ‘soil’. It sounds almost mythical, but having read some of the science, and many instances where it did work its magic, I am prepared to give it a try with an open mind. My next step will be to research the ‘recipe’, and see what I have on the land that will work to create this magical, mysterious concoction. I wonder if The Man will let me use his brewing containers . . .

And even if it doesn’t produce epic results, it surely can’t hurt, and will most likely help to get some good microbes into the landscape. Every little bit helps.

I look forward to the time when I can report on the efficacy of the techniques I’m going to try, rather than just talking, planning and hoping. I have faith in the permaculture system, and have a lot of common sense, so I know that I am heading in the right direction. But some days I do get impatient. I want to do MORE! You know what it’s like. But there is only so much that can be done in a year, much less in a day. So I am trying to fill the time with little experiments, and lots of observation time.

~

I have been scouting out my outdoor kitchen area. It will be in the ‘ruins’ in the front field - the spot where the foundation and chimney from the old house is, as well as our fire pit, sitting area. It will obviously include the BBQ and a nice work counter, but I am more keen on setting up a rocket stove for canning, and an oven for bread and pizza. I have been ‘granted' space to put in a small herb garden as well. Not sure how it will fare with the deer that like to hang out there, but there are lots of herbs that they don’t eat, so I’ll at least get something going. I’d love to have it as a small kitchen garden, but planting tomatoes and lettuce would be like setting up a buffet for the marauding munchers. So, sage, rosemary, and thyme will be the first to go out there, and I’ll experiment with some others. Hoping the deer don’t like summer savory, as I love that on roast potatoes done on the BBQ. Mmmmm . . . So, we shall see how it progresses.

~

The town in northern British Columbia where I grew up - and where most of my friends and family live - Dawson Creek, is having terrible floods. Roads and bridges are washed away, basements are flooded, and the sewer is backing up all over the place. The power is out in many places, and parked cars are being washed away into raging rivers that were once ditches. Huge culverts are washed out and upended. Power poles are knocked over, and light posts are washed away. People have been evacuated from some areas. The town has basically been split in half, with very little in the way of access from one side to the other. I’ve been watching it unfold on Facebook - it’s not a pretty sight. In April they had 49 forest fires, and in June they have had snow and floods. The rains have slowed down, and the waters are beginning to recede, but it’s going to be a helluva mess to clean up, and there is major road and bridge damage everywhere. Not to mention all of the flooded basements all over town.

And there are many other issues up there, too. The Cite C dam is causing a lot of strife for many, and is going to be so destructive of the surrounding area. The economy - which is a lot of oil and gas, and farming - has kinda tanked. It was booming, and then BAM! Nothing.

And that’s where my children live. I have been trying to lure my kids down here (I have two, a boy and a girl), and am hoping that their visit here this summer will give them an idea of just how much easier life is here. Having spent decades of winters in the north, I am amazed at how less stressful life is without winter. I found the winters up north exhausting. It was especially hard when the kids were little. I don’t miss it one tiny bit. But I do miss my kidlets, and hope that they will come try it out here. I just really want them to experience something other than the north. Now that the economy up there isn’t as good, maybe that will encourage them to move somewhere else. They were born and raised there, and I know it’s hard to leave somewhere that you’ve lived all your life, but a mama can dream . . .

We have had unseasonable rains here, too. Nothing catastrophic - they have actually been quite welcome. My garden beds are nice and moist, and it will help with the germination of all the seeds I planted.

~

I planted 15 cucumber seeds, and got one cucumber plant. Actually, two sprouted, but one succumbed to . . . something, I don’t know what. I’ve planted some more, hoping to get at least a few more plants. Even though they’ll be going in very late, I should still get some cukes from them. Might try to rig up a little shelter for the tomato/cucumber bed, to see how far into the fall I can get them to go. The bed is still putting off some heat, so we’ll see how that goes. Yes, another experiment to report on later.

~

I got some more of the path and flower beds done today. Another 10 feet or so, up to the end of the Mediterranean herb garden; and threw some more wild flower seeds on the flower bed. There are little sprouts sprouting on the first bed. I was pretty tickled about that. Also planted some chard. And now it’s going to rain. Again. Well, at least the seeds won’t dry out.

Also, put in some stakes for when the tomatoes decide to kick into high gear. Aaaaany day now . . .

~

And that’s that!

Here are the latest photos. Just a mish-mash of stuff.

Cheers
Tracy
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Tomatoes staked and ready to go
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Garden comparison: June 4-15
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Yes, there are little tiny plants in there. Look closer!
 
Tracy Wandling
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Some more.
Trench.jpg
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Digging a trench for the sewer to the trailer (guest home)
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Oh, look! A big rock. Imagine that . . .
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A little more done on the garden path and flower bed.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Aaaaaaannnnndddd . . . some more. And that's it.

Thanks for hangin' out!

Cheers
Tracy
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Urn in Mediterranean garden.
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Just stuff . . . growing . . .
 
Tracy Wandling
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June 20

I haven’t posted in a couple of days as I found my writing had taken on a distinctly . . . bitter flavor, and was not appropriate for human consumption.

So! Onward and upward!

Garden Mystery

I went out to my garden on Sunday, and gasped to see a broccoli leaf laying on the ground, just holding on by a thread. I clipped off the fallen leaf and threw it into the new trench, and left the one leaf that was still growing. I went out to the garden today, and noticed that that leaf was no longer attached to the plant, but was, oddly enough, rolled up and poking into the mulch. I mean, I looks like someone rolled the leaf up and stuck it in a hole. Crazy. There was an ant on it when I took the photo, so maybe they did it? I don’t know. When I went out this evening, it was further down the hole. Just another garden mystery.

~

We need a cat. I’m not a big fan of cats living in the house - and litter boxes are entirely out of the question - but I believe cats would be preferable to the mice that frolic about at night in our house, with no regard for the fact that we are trying to sleep; not to mention that we're trying to not have mouse shit scattered around like confetti.

The Man keeps wondering how the mice get in. Poor guy. We’ve got ivy growing in our bathroom - from the outside! It’s not like our house is hermetically sealed.

So, I have put ‘get a cat’ on the long list of things we should probably do at some point in the not to distant future . . .

~

But, although the mouse populations are apparently doing just fine, the slug population is noticeably low this year. I was talking with a friend whose garden is very wet, and she usually has major slug problems - she generally plants some for the family, and some for the slugs - and she said she has hardly seen any slugs in the garden this year. So, I guess that’s why I haven’t been finding slugs in my garden. We are much drier than she is, but I had expected to at least have a respectable showing. Nada. Not that I’m complaining!

Also missing this year is the horrid wasp infestation that we had last year. It was insane. Last year you couldn’t walk outside with anything resembling food without swarms of wasps descending upon you like vultures on a carcass. Really not fun. But this year, we hardly see them. I have nothing against wasps, as long as they don’t dive bomb me when I’m eating. So their absence is a great relief.

I know these things often come in cycles, so I’ll be keeping track of these things - years of high slug and bug pressure, and years of low pressure - and see if I can find a pattern. Might come in handy . . . at least I might know which years to plant for the slugs, and which years we won’t be having many picnics.

The bees have been a welcome sight, as well as the butterflies. Far more butterflies this year than I’ve seen in a long while. Very nice. And our wood bug/rollie pollie/whatever-you-call-them population is doing fine. :/ But they aren’t bothering my garden plants so far (except for possibly the basil? and that creepy broccoli leaf?), so I’m getting used to them. It is rather odd sometimes that my garden bed appears to actually be moving because there are so many of them. Mildly creepy . . .

And that’s it for the bug report.

~

In other news - nothing much new actually. I continue to observe and marvel over my garden every day. We have had a mix of rainy days and sunny days, and the plants seem to get noticeably bigger over night. Little sprouts are appearing all over the flower and herb beds; little tomatoes are appearing on the tomato plants (obviously; it would be odd if they appeared on some other plant ); the lettuce is beginning to form little green heads; and the celery is soooo lush and vibrantly colored.

I walk around and check all the plants, looking for signs of bugs or disease, checking the moisture levels in the ‘soil’ around them, and smelling them, just ‘cause I can. Yes, and I talk to my plants. I can’t help it, they're so CUTE! And then I sit in my chair and just look at my garden and smile. It is incredibly calming, and I am ever so grateful to be living where I am, and able to have such a beautiful garden. (I got a ‘new' garden bench from the Free Store on Friday. Just need to make a nice comfy cushion for it, and I’ll have a splendid throne from which to preside over my domain.)

The herb spiral is awesome. After minimal watering to get the transplants going, I stopped watering it at all. I did the same last year, with just a few deep soaks when the dry summer was pretty much sucking the moisture out of everything. It just keeps on ticking, every day getting lusher and more varied. And it smells so good. The bees are frequent fliers there - they loved the thyme and rosemary flowers, and the poppies near by, and will soon be greeted with sweet alyssum and calendula.

I think everyone should have a herb garden. It’s one of the most satisfying things - the sights and smells are delicious; and then you get to eat them fresh; and then you get to preserve their yummy goodness, and use them in the winter. This year I’ll have lots of rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, and summer savory for drying. Parsley will be blended with some olive oil and frozen in cubes. I’m also making herbal vinegars - that’s probably my favorite way to preserve herbs, although some are better dried. Luckily, I’ll have both!

One of my future purchases will be a distiller to make essential oils. That will probably be how I’ll preserve the scrumptious scent of lemon balm - mmm . . . makes my mouth water. I’ll also make eucalyptus oil from our trees, other herb oils, cedar oil, and eventually get some flowers growing for making oils - roses, lavender, gardenia . . . so many possibilities.

~

I’m also very interested in the whole 'landrace/adapting to local conditions' aspect of seed saving, as I’m sure many of us are. It only makes sense. With the freaky changeable weather being experienced everywhere, I am inclined to think that, if I have my own landrace seeds, the plants I grow will adapt to the changing weather. Am I wrong in this thinking? Does the adaptation take longer, or will the plants adapt from seasons to season? I suppose the thing is to select for hardiness in a variety of conditions: drought, excessive rain, sandy soils, varying temperatures, etc.

More things to research, ponder and observe . . .

~

Time & Money

Trying to learn to manage my time better, as I have so many things I want to do - and many things that I ‘should’ be doing, but don’t really want to. It is so difficult to tear myself away from the garden to go work on the computer. But at this point there really is only so much that actually needs to be done in the garden. There aren’t any weeds; everything is planted; the seeds don’t need me to stare at them to make them sprout; and the plants don’t need me to stare at them to make them grow; and apparently they don’t need me to take pictures of them everyday either (but I do anyway). Of course, there are things to do in there - finish putting cardboard and chips on the path; move some rocks; move some more rocks; stuff like that. But it doesn’t NEED to be done right now in order for the garden to grow. Unfortunately. Also, waiting on The Man to finish digging the next trench so I can fill it up . . .

So, I find myself begrudgingly dragging myself back to the computer; checking my email with the hope that nobody needs anything from me; and generally slacking off when it comes to ‘work’ on the computer. It will be a couple of years before the market garden is making anything like respectable money, so in the meantime I have to work at the computer. But I need more time to finish building the garden. But I need money to pay the bills, and save up for things I want - such as a greenhouse and my PDC in the fall; but I, but I, but I . . . well, you know how it goes.

End of whining.

~

Inspired by the Cottage Industry thread

I work from home as a freelance graphic designer, though I am trying to whittle my client list down to the highest paying jobs (and the people I like to work with), to make more time for the garden, and other things around the farm. I am also an artist, and sell my art online as well as locally.

Some of my ideas for farm-based income, long-term and short-term:

Fruit and veggies: market garden; winter greenhouse growing
Essential oils: herbs, flowers and trees
Herbs in various forms: fresh, dried, and vinegars
Seeds
Bedding plants, flowers, and trees
Tours and classes: yes, I will charge people money for the privilege of seeing my garden adventures, and to learn how to do it themselves. I see nothing wrong with that, as long as the cost is reasonable, and the information I provide is correct, easily understood, and viable.
Art classes

I’m also looking into setting up the ‘residual income’ thing. There are so many ways to do it, so I’m looking for the thing that I am most excited about. I was considering setting up an online store, but I don’t really like the idea of all of that manufacturing and shipping. It will probably be something to do with writing - although we are also getting ready to make some videos as well: little videos showing how the garden beds are built, how to make soil blocks, and hopefully future videos of pigs gleying our ponds! Most videos will be about gardening - I have been making a long list of all of the Frequently Asked Questions that I find on various sites, and putting together answers for them. Those are the things that I will base my writings and videos on. I come across the same questions over and over again, so I think that there is definitely a need for clarity for a lot of people. Should be fun. And you know how I like to yammer on.

~

And I think that’s it for today!

Photos include:

The Mystery of the Curled Broccoli Leaf

And random shots.


Cheers
Tracy
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The Mystery of the Curled Broccoli Leaf
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Newly transplanted zucchini and cucumber
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My new garden bench, awaiting its cushions.
 
Susan Taylor Brown
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Tracy I just want you to know I get joy from reading your posts. And I love seeing your garden come to life.

Happy belated birthday, too!
 
Tracy Wandling
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Thanks, Susan. I forgot how much I enjoy writing - it's been a while since I have just written what I want (usually do technical or website stuff for work - most decidedly dull), and I'm having a blast. And it's a great way to keep track of my adventures in the garden, since I'm very bad a keeping actual records.

Thanks for the birthday wishes - it's gonna be a great year!

Cheers
Tracy

 
Hans Quistorff
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And our wood bug/rollie pollie/whatever-you-call-them population is doing fine. :/ But they aren’t bothering my garden plants so far (except for possibly the basil?


I like rollie polie. Some times they are called armadillo bugs because of the way they roll up protectively. Often they are called pill bugs because when they are rolled up tight they look lie a round pill. I first herd them called sow bugs because when they are partially rolled up they look like a sow with the feet being the little piglets nursing.

As to what they eat? After much observation and pondering what the observations mean I have come to the conclusion they prefer to eat the filaments of fungus and mold. When a skylight leaked they moved in in great numbers. The only thing to eat in there was the filaments and fruiting spores of the mold and dry rot that was trying to grow there. Some times an apple will fall and crack and a slug will start to hollow it out then move on the rollie polies then move in to take shelter there. that partially eaten apple dose not rot because they keep it klean inside. Therefore what is probably happening is with the wood chips you are putting down they are pruning the mycelium that is growing into dead air spaces between the chips. I believe they often are accused of eating things that others started eating when actually what they are doing is keeping the injured site clean for you so that you may be able to use the remaining produse. I have accepted them as probable beneficial part of our PNW ecosystem.

Keep observing the rolled up leaf. something may be planing to use it as a nesting site. Wasp, spider, solitary bee?

P. S. I should be submitting my chart notes so I get paid but that is work and this is fun after seeing 5 clients and doing the farm chores.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Hi Hans;

Yes, I am inclined to agree with you. If they were into eating plants my garden would be empty, there are so many of them in there! I think that because my beds are topped with so much organic matter, and filled with wood and wood chips, they have plenty to eat without having to bother my growing things.

We have them in the house, too. It's an older, not very well built house, with leaks and condensation problems, and has generally been neglected for too long. But it is a nice thought that the rollie pollies are in there eating the mold and fungi! Some people here call them wood lice - not a very attractive name. I prefer rollie-pollie. And if they are cleaning up, then they are most definitely welcome.

Will definitely keep an eye on the rolled up leaf! It is such a bizarre phenomenon, and I'm terribly curious as to what's going on there. Hope it's a bee, and not an arachnid - yeah, I'm not much of an arachnid kind of girl.

Thanks for the info! And I agree - this is way more fun than work.
 
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Rolled up leaf is often a sign of aphids here with attendant ants

Great posts
David
 
Tracy Wandling
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Thanks!

Aphids?! I haven't seen any aphids. I haven't seen any insects at all except for the rollie-pollies and the ants - and I've been looking at all the plant leaves, top and bottom. I'll have to keep an eye out. Tomorrow might show some more activity with the leaf. I'll keep ya posted!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Hans Quistorff wrote: I believe they often are accused of eating things that others started eating when actually what they are doing is keeping the injured site clean for you so that you may be able to use the remaining produse.



I agree. I have insane numbers of pillbugs and sowbugs in my garden and they only eat plants that are very stressed/dying - they seem to prefer rotting organic material. If the garden gets too dry or there isn't enough moist rotting material for them, they may eat baby plants. But in my experience they do not choose baby plants over rotting vegetation, so the key to keeping them happy is to keep mulching and make sure there is sufficient moisture.

 
Tracy Wandling
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Well, I'm feeling better about the little buggers all the time! I'll just make sure to keep them well fed.

On another note: the Garden Mystery continues. This is what the rolled up leaf looked like this morning. Almost completely pulled underground. I'm tempted to dig in there
and see what's going on. Maybe this evening.
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And the rolled up leaf sloooowwwly disappears underground. Kinda creepy.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Rain, sun, rain, sun - the weather has been a roller coaster ride. Very odd for June. But the garden is happy, as is the rest of the landscape on our little slice of paradise pie. We had a torrential downpour a couple of days ago - one of those real gully-washers. Didn't last long, but it sure moved a lot of water; and sand. My little Mediterranean herb garden got an influx of unwanted sand and small stones, and tiny seedlings were washed away, or buried in sand. But there are still lots coming up, so I can transplant to fill in the empty spaces. Pictures to follow.

I'm sure all the plants are doing little plant happy dances when no one's looking.

~

I have been watching my tomatoes veeerrrry closely with all of this rainy weather we’ve been having. I hear so much about people experiencing blight in tomatoes grown outdoors, and other problems with wet tomato plants, so I want to make sure I’m on top of things. But they look fantastic. Vibrant green, and putting out lots of little baby tomatoes. Nothing odd looking going on with the leaves. So I’m relieved about that. Today I put up some twine for them to climb, and trimmed some bottom branches that were laying on the mulch, to keep them drier, and let some airflow through.

~

I am wondering if all of my pest-free luck so far is due to my garden beds being new, and the lack of gardening going on here over the past decade or more. There were a few things growing in the immediate yard and sunroom when we bought it two years ago - mostly in pots - but the field where my garden is was all Scotch broom. So there was never a garden there. I think it was a pasture for horses, possibly goats, years ago. So I’m wondering if it’s just that the pests haven’t found me yet.

I am eager to find out firsthand if healthy plants, combined with healthy soil, beneficial insect-attracting plants, good water, etc. will really hold off the destructive insects, and create that balance that I hear so much about. I am sure that eventually I will get the usual influx of slugs, aphids, beetles and whatnot. But I am very eager to find out if everything I am doing, and will do, will actually make it so that I am not fighting bugs all year, every year. I have no desire to be buying row covers year after year, but I want to grow broccoli that doesn’t have worms, and carrots that don't need to be protected from the rust flies.

I’ve been reading about all of the different techniques and resources that can be applied to the garden to help build that ‘healthy balance’. I am doing whatever I can to help keep my garden ‘safe', while also keeping it as natural as possible, if ya know what I mean. I am quite willing to try all of the different plants that are suggested to help attract beneficials or repel the nasties. And I am more than happy to invite bug-eating critters into my garden, if they will help me keep the populations in check. I think that it’s a matter of doing everything possible within my means, and hoping that some combination of techniques comes together to create the perfect ‘storm’ of good things.

I’ll be adding some clay to my composts from now on, to keep those minerals flowing, and add to the water holding effects. I’m also eager to get some manure. I missed out on the local horse manure that was for sale in the spring, so hope to get on that particular bandwagon next spring.

~

Speaking of manure - Oh, how I want chickens. I am so looking forward to all that they can bring to a farm. The eggs, the meat, the entertainment, the poop, the clean-up crew - such helpful little critters.

But it looks like it won’t happen until the spring. There is just too much to do before winter - finishing the garden beds is going to take some time; and we still have to build the coop and runs, and get some areas ready for planting chicken food.

Some of the things that I’m planning to plant for my chickens, many of them gleaned from this site - Thanks!:

Amaranth/Quinoa
Millet and other seeds
Greens - all sorts of greens that I can just grab handfuls of and toss to the chooks
Cover crop forage in the winter in the garden
Some grains - I’ll be experimenting with what grows best here
Mulberry trees - for shade, protection and food
Compost - I LOVE the idea of chickens doing a lot of the composting work. Brilliant. (The compost area will be slightly sloped, so the chooks will move it down to the bottom, and I can rake it all up to the top again a couple of times before it goes into a separate pile to age.)
Peas
Sunflowers
Weeds - nice to have a crop that just grows all on its own
Cut grass/weeds - once the garden beds are built, cut grass with go to the chooks, who can eat it and/or compost it for me
Herbs - I’ve read about many herbs that have the potential for helping to raise healthy chickens, so these will be planted liberally around the outside of their run. It can't hurt, plus, it’ll smell nice.
Caragana - I’ve heard that chickens like the seeds, and it’s a great hedge, so will be good for shade and protection. I’m always surprised when people don’t know what I’m talking about when I mention Caragana. Maybe it’s a northern thing. Maybe it doesn’t even grow here - but I’ll give it a shot.

I also want to plant some wheat/oats for straw bedding eventually. I’ll leave the grains on the stalks, that way it will be bedding AND food AND compost material. I'll be using a lot of wood chips for bedding as well, and that will be great for compost, too.

We still have some land to clean up before I’ll be planting any fields of gold, though. Also planning where the quinoa/amaranth will be grown (for me, not the chickens); and that will come before the grain. I’m really looking forward to that: from the stunning display it will create when it’s all in bloom, to the delicious tabouleh it will make mixed with my homegrown tomatoes and cilantro. Mmmmmmm.

Okay, I went from manure to tabouleh in that section - my mind wanders . . .

~

I wish I had gotten to plant peas and beans this spring, but there just wasn’t enough room in the two beds that got built. I should have stuck them in somewhere, though. Ah well, there’s always the chance of having a bed ready for a fall planting of peas. I keep forgetting that I’m not gardening in the frozen north, and there is a much larger window of opportunity for growing things here. Maybe I’ll stick some beans in somewhere anyway - I’m sure I can find a little space for a few.

There also wasn’t enough room to do any winter storage veg such as squashes, potatoes and dried beans. But next year they will definitely find their way into the garden. I am mostly interested in starting off with food that I can either store in the cold room, or dry and store in glass jars. I don’t want to be filling freezers up with frozen veg - too much of a power suck, and our power is questionable as it is right now. So, dehydrating veggies and fruit/berries, making fruit/berry leathers, and storing garlic, onions, potatoes and squashes will be my first attempts at feeding us through the winter with stored goods.

What I would like to eventually have for storage goods:

Dehydrated:

Tomatoes
Peppers
Mushrooms
Kale
Herbs
Garlic - dehydrated and powdered
Onions - dehydrated and powdered
Dry Beans
Soup Peas
Chickpeas
A variety of different dried veg mixes for use in winter soups, and powdered for flavoring
Fruits & berries - leathers and slices
Nuts
Quinoa/Amaranth

Cold storage:

Potatoes
Squash
Onions
Garlic
Apples
Cabbage

Canned:

Tomatoes - whole, sauce, and salsa
Fruit - jams and syrups

Vinegars:

Herbs - lots of herb vinegars, and mixed, i.e. with berries, fruit, veg, etc.
Apple cider vinegar

We also have a flour mill, so I would really love to eventually have room to grow some grains, as well as some flour corn. Yum. I think we’ll be able to use it to make quinoa flour, but not sure yet. Will try next year.

And then, add in some chickens for eggs and meat, and some pigs for meat, and I think we could eat very well. Of course, there are the things that we can’t grow or make, such as coffee beans for The Man, the 18% cream (he won’t drink fresh milk) and demerrara sugar he uses in his coffee. I don’t think he’ll be giving up coffee any time soon. And he’s a hot chocolate fiend too, with marshmallows - pretty sure they don’t grow on trees. I have a Pepsi addiction, which I'd love to wean myself off of; and I LOVE chocolate, and there won’t be any chocolate bushes growing here in the near future.

I would love to be able to do baking with a minimal amount of off-farm inputs. I know that cake, bread, and cookie-like things were made before baking soda, baking powder, little packages of yeast, and enriched white flour came on the scene, so that is on the list of recipes to collect and experiment with. Sourdough is definitely on the list. I’ve got a sweet tooth - and I love cookies, and they most definitely need chocolate chips in them - so if I can make them actually somewhat healthy, that will assuage any guilt I might have when eating far too many of them (I don’t really feel guilty, I just think I should ). Now, I just need an oven . . .

~

Okay, enough blathering. Feel free to jump in and make suggestions, share recipes, and send me cookies, any time.

Here are the photos of the day:

My little Mediterranean garden got more sand than it bargained for. Large rocks will be going along the back of the garden . . .

Got more of the pathway covered in cardboard and wood chips, all the way to the end of the Mediterranean garden.

And a little mycelium magic.

Thanks for visiting!

Cheers
Tracy





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After the mini flood.
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More lovely paths - so much easier to walk on.
Mycelium.jpg
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Mycelium magic in the wood chips for the path.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Oh! And garden pics from yesterday. Look how big everything is getting! Very excited to have some broccoli.
June24.jpg
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The garden on June 24. Now, isn't that just pretty?
LettucKaleCelery-June24.jpg
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Food, food, food . . .
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More food!
 
Hans Quistorff
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Some of those rocks in the back ground moved under the fence wire would not only hold the difference in ground level but deter critters digging underneath

The really big ones would make a great centerpiece for a goat pen.  They love to play king of the hill and survey their domain. It also wears the hooves down so they do not need to be trimmed as often.
 
Tyler Ludens
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The garden looks great!  A good climate for veg.

 
Susan Taylor Brown
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The garden is looking so very lovely, Tracy.

So your "trench paths" filled with wood chips. Have you had any trouble with the chips floating away in the rain?

Have you figured out what was going on with the rolled up leaf yet?

I hear you on the wanting chickens. I am right there with you. I think it is another year, at least, for me. But I have their future home planned out. I need to work with the dog a bit more too.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Thanks, Tyler. Yes, we have a very good climate for growing so many things. I am very fortunate be living here. Compared to up north, winter here is just like a long autumn, so there are lots of things that can grow all year! Yippeee!

Hi Hans; Yes, rocks, rocks and more rocks, will be going all along that edge now. The Man just dug a trench for the sewer lines, so we now have a whole bunch more rocks. (There is no digging without pulling up boulders around here!) So, more fortification for the garden. Luckily, we don't actually have any digging things on the island. No rabbits, no groundhogs . . . what else digs under fences? Whatever they are, we don't have them. We have deer, racoons, rats and squirrels. The deer I can keep out. The rest will get in no matter what. But they don't both much.     And most of those rocks in the background are WAY too big to move. The goat pen would have to be built around the tree!

Thanks, Susan; In this garden, the garden beds are actually the trenches - about 4 feet deep. The paths are covered with cardboard, and then wood chips. With our last crazy rain storm, only the sand moved. The chips stayed pretty much where I left them. Very well behaved.

Not a clue what was up with the rolled up leaf! I dug into the place where is was disappearing, and saw nothing. No tunnels, no bugs. Nuttin'. Still a mystery. and nothing else has been touched. Weirdness. But I'm keeping an eye out for further garden creepiness.

 
Susan Taylor Brown
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Thanks, Tracy. Lucky you with well-behaved mulch.

Maybe the Man was messing with you with the rolled up lead.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Nah. He wouldn't have been able to keep it a secret this long!  
 
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