Hey everyone, its the middle of winter for me and i have been working and planning my new property. Ill give a brief rundown of whats here, what i am aiming to get to, and how i plan to do it. Please critique and give ideas. This is a large urban system because it is in the center of the city, but is about .5 acres.
Right now i have a few mature trees catalpa, mulberry, sumac, 2 pines, ginko, peach, mimosa.
I have added 2 pecans, peach, pear, apricot, servicebrry, amaerican plum, sandcherry, locust, crab apple, apple. I have plans to add probably 10-15 more fruits and transplant another pecan.
The plan is to eventually have three pecan trees as the main source of nuts, which will be two on the north side of the house, and one to the west. Of course they are grown from seeds, so itll be a number of years. In the meantime i am going to do a lot of fruit trees which will eventually be ready to wind down as the canopy of the pecan is getting bigger.
Water: i want to make a pond system with at least two ponds, and have water circulating, no pond liners! At the highest point of the land i have constructed the first pond. See here for some details.
I have partially finished the swale that extends off the pond and cuts through the garden, this includes a little area that can be quickly modified to bypass the garden if its saturated enough when the pond is overflowing. This setup also allows me to use a pump and shoot water out of the pond into the swale if i ever wanted to drain the pond, or irrigate the garden.
The location of the second pond is already chosen more or less, and i am abstractly considering how to pump water from that location back into the first pond.
Garden: i am a relative beginner at gardening. I have had experiences in the past where the more intentional i was the less successful i was. So ive been throwing seeds around, forest gardening, native gardening, but now i want to get into some serious full sun veggie growing.
I prepped the garden area by removing all the degraded plastic mulch and seeded a white clover cover crop.
It is growing nicely with our mild winter.
My seed list for spring is:
Blue lake bush bean
Detroit dark red beet
Scarlet nantes carrot
Fishers earliest corn
Market more cucumber
Walla wLla sweet onion
Oregon sugar pod snap pea Zepplin winter squash
Chadwick cherry tomato Midnight lightening zuccini
Basically the rest of the land is going to be a forest garden centered on the trees and guilds. I have seeded a mix of clovers and poppies throughout these areas. I have been experimenting with a cover crop thats sorghum, peas, sunflower, and wheat(maybe its wheat) and with its greeness and success it will be implemented over much of the property.
my herb garden is right outside my front door, closest to the kitchen. It already has sage, rosemary, lavender, strawberries, cilantro, mugwort, roses, mints, comfrey, marjoram, goji berry. It will be getting much more come spring.
Composting: no piles, just worms and chickens. I was just able to expand my worm bins to 3 bins. Inside the kitchen i have two scrap bins, one is for chickens, one is for worms. All the worm food is frozen in the freezer before being thawed and fed. I have tuned the system so it is very easy, the worms are not in the kitchen, but only a few step away.
Since everything is scaling up, so will my compost tea brewer. I have plans to scale up to a 40 gallon, 2 pump system. There will be an issue of convenient dispersal with so much material so i have been thinking of building a "tea shed". Basically a small structure shaded by vines in the corner of the garden paddock. Once the tea is brewed, itll be right next to the plants for easy and passive application.
That is a basic rundown. Something totally new and exciting will be acquiring ducks. Ill keep you posted.
How about Okra? It's one of my never-fails crops here, but I didn't see it on your list.
I have a question about the mature catalpa trees, which I see all over as decorative trees in people's yards around here. Obviously an established tree of any kind is an asset when you're making a forest garden, but beyond "being a tree" what are the other values of the catalpa in particular? It's not that I would remove them in your situation, I'm just curious if there's any particular permaculture reason to plant them.
Dan i have done a little bit of looking into it and found some things of interest. Not edible in any part from all indications.
1. Habitat, aside from barn owls and other birds, there is a specific worm called catalpa worm which only lives on this tree. They are in symbiosis since the worms completely deleaf the tree, yet it does no harm to the tree to be 'infested' by such a worm. They were famously used as bait, and can be sold as bait if they are found. From reading i think it takes a large grove to attract the worms so thats of no use for me with only one tree.
2. Medicinal, like most trees this one is decocted in some cases, and the bark used in powder form.
3. Wood turning, some catalpa is downright gorgeous wood for bowls
I have noticed the things pop up everywhere and will keep growing if leveled to the ground, so perhaps some coppice potential. Mine is actually very old and huge, a lovely tree.
Thanks i forgot about okra! I am going to pick up some seed before spring.
Tyler right now I have two redbuds that are probably 10 years old flanking one of my transplanted pecans. Those will be a rich source of organic material in the area of the pecan, and will eventually be chopped out to make room.
In my old forest garden I had 3 mimosas that I liked a lot for chop and drop. They are fast, don't shade things out very well, and look kind of exotic. I plan to have a few of those around specifically to create mulch. I have also installed a comfrey near the peach and pear for mulch.
Any suggestions for more diversity in my woody legumes? I usually pick mine based on what can be easily found growing in a ditch.
One tree I forgot to mention is what I think is a mature black locust next to the mulberry and sumac.
I have been busy trying to clear sod and get cover crops on soil in between small rainy weather systems. I have alot more garden now rhan i did have but still nowhere close to where i want to be. Every strip of sod i can remove before the grass wakes up is a win.
Here is a long and skinny bed along my western fenceline. I seeded a grocery bag full of wild sunflowers along the outer edge. Already have my potatoes ready to go in the ground when things are a bit drier.
Of my tree collard cuttings, only the one that was the top of the plant lived in its pot through winter. Here it is relaxing under the goji, behind cilantro and strawberries in the herb garden. I had it sitting in the backyard and the chickens snacked on it, is why it has hardly any leaves.
I got 4 ducks! 4 different types. They were really babies when i picked them up so they are in a makeshift brooder box for a little while to get their growth going. They have already been sampling some of my clovers and dandelion greens.
The peach tree that i transplanted when moving in has showed no signs of life yet, which is probably an indication that it did not make it through the winter, my other peach is blooming. The asian pear i transplanted has leafed out on the lower half, no buds this year i guess, but its alive.
Heres some blooms.
Lilac looks like candy
Let the fun begin! Not only has spring really started springing but the ducks have been introduced to their new spot.
They were dragged in and out of the garage for a few days getting sun and being introduced to foraging prior to going in the pond, they ended up really liking the spring beauties. Now that they are in the pond, they are being very funny playing around.
Potatoes went in, sunflowers and covercrop went in. A lot of onions too.
One dwarf peach is officially passed onto to the realm of dryness known as death. The mature peach bloomed nicely, and has no orange jelly on its wounds. I have had my tea brewing on hold for a little while so it did not get treatments as it bloomed, which could have been an unfortunate mistake. There is orange areas on most of the leaves.
My sand cherry, american plum, service berry, strawberries, gojis, sage and comfrey are all flowering or starting to flower. Cilantro is bolting so a seed crop will be coming soon. The cover crop in the main garden got trimmed with the push mower to create dried mulch and keep the growth down a little. As soon as I have time and a dryish ground Ill be planting a big round of spring crops.
Everything is purple right now! Wild violets, some variegated ivy i havent IDed, the goji flowers, dead nettle, henbit, sage blossoms, peonies, on and on.
I have my compost tea brewer about halfway completed. I have the barrel, the pipes for inside, one of the pumps, and some materials for the tea brewer shed. Ill post the photos once I have the pumps and connectors to complete the initial design. Im kicking around burying the barrel for thermal protection during the extreme heat of the summer, but it would be alot of work, and I already have a lot of that. Anyway, we will see what happens.
It is odd that these images have rotated while I view on my PC. In the thread I posted them first they appear right side up, but when linked on this post they rotate, unless I am on the ipad, then they appear correctly.
Well scratch the fun off the list. One of my dumb dogs got it in her head to dig under the pond fence and kill at least 3 of the 4 ducks. The 4th is missing and presumed dead. What a discouraging bummer. Fuck this.
Thanks Tyler, I think I'm going to get some sections of rebar and hammer them in at the base of the fence to prevent any unauthorized pond access. I wanted to tie the dead ducks around the dogs neck but my wife forbade that. Next best thing is let them rot in a bucket and stick the dogs head in there twice daily with stern reminders.
Here's a few updates from my stuff. I am pretty sure the hardest part of caring for worms is making bedding and applying it. I have learned a lesson from scaling up using prior technology and having unintended consequences. So my worms are all about 98 percent dead from my estimation because things were just too wet and I was focusing on too many things at once in my life. I am going to try to salvage a 2 percent and build it back up, but since I was freezing and unfreezing the food before feeding, there was more moisture than usual, and the moisture increased a lot more with just a small increase in the amount I was giving. I am going to find a way to streamline the worm system and try again. For now I have a bunch of soaked castings filled with bugs that I am drying out for later tea making. In other news I had two nests of two hens each sitting on eggs and one group hatched 6-7 and I caught a pic of them in the chicken yard.
The second pic is some freshness around the pond.
The 3rd is of some solomans seal that is growing very well in the front herb garden. I didn't expect it to do anything, so I am excited.
While I am working on sealing this pond, I have started using a pulse rather than steady trickle from my hose. I have had some smaller rain systems passing through that maintained some wetness in the test area for a number of days so I had the hose off. I started just turning on the water in bursts because the ducks liked it so much. The water level is always moving, and the ducks have smoothed the bottom and edges significantly, they also have mined out little holes along the edges. So far it seems like it might work. Now that the grounds wet if I get anymore rain the pond could fill all the way up, I am sure the ducks will be thrilled.