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Su Ba's Photos of Her Homestead Farm

 
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Let me echo the praise of others for sharing your beautiful pictures with us.  Please, more photos of your stone walls and earthworks.  

I love everything about what you are doing!  Keep up the great work.
 
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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The photos I'm posting today are from my blog. So if you're a blog follower, you'll instantly recognize them. I thought I'd like to share them with the permies.

Early on we had a small barn, a mini barn, built down by the street. Its the one building on this farm that we didn't put our own labor into. It's used for equipment storage. Initially it was painted a neutral green with white trim.....how normal, how mundane. It blended right into the landscape. Suburban-ites would have loved it. But I'm at a point in my life where I'm not interested in mundane. I want my world to be alive! So hubby came up with a different color scheme. We carried it over to a small shed too. I really like the results. And I haven't heard anything negative from the neighbors. In fact, it inspired one neighbor who operates a restaurant in town to paint her restaurant bright and wild colors too. How cool!!

This barn exemplifies our farm. It's basically traditional but also definitely not, all at the same time. Yes, we're a farm producing farm stuff, but we are different from usual farms in some pretty wild ways.

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The front of the mini barn facing the street.
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The back of the barn.
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A small storage shed.
 
Su Ba
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Lambs

This December should be lambing time here on the farm. All the mature ewes appear to be pregnant. I didn't breed the youngest ewes since I felt that they needed to grow in size a bit more. Two of the ewes look to be carrying twins, or more. The rest look to be pregnant with singlets. Frankly, I'm hoping for singlets. They do better than twins and don't drag down the ewes as badly. I'm very happy with solo lambs for each mom.

I figure most of the ewes should lamb the first week of December, but it looks like a couple won't wait that long. One of the ewes is already starting to bag up, though she has a way to go yet.
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Quite the dropped belly!
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One very thick ewe.
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A drooping belly, but I think it's just one lamb in there.
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My oldest ewe looks to be carrying a singlet.
 
Su Ba
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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This past week we made some bamboo trellises. Nothing complicated. Not even well made, but they should work. This was my first time constructing something with bamboo. I've been growing this particular bamboo on my farm for the past 15 years. I'm finally starting to use it. One trellis was made at the entrance to the main garden (which is fenced in to protect it from stray livestock). Another was built by the far second entrance. For right now they are put together using wire, and stabilized with t-posts. I'll screw them together later if I'm satisfied with their configuration. I plan to grow lilikoi (passionfruit) as a perennial crop, and while the vines are still small, I'll grow some temporary crops such as pole beans or peas. I purposely built them wide enough so that I can drive my ATV through them. I use the ATV to bring in compost to the garden beds.

The one corner of the main garden cannot be used for intensive crops due to the ohia tree roots. But the spot is fine for a few pumpkin vines. After top dressing  the ground within the drip line of the tree, I applied fresh mulch. Then I planted 4 pumpkins and interspaced rooted peppermint cuttings which will become a bit of a ground cover. For top dressing I used a light covering of old compost, then a light covering of fresh sheep manure. I also dumped some kitchen waste and coffee grounds that had been donated to me. For mulch I used fresh grass clippings. I will need to apply more light layers of grass clippings every other week for a while to keep weeds suppressed.
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Trellis at the garden entrance.
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Temporarily wired together.
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Top dressing the pumpkin area.
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Pumpkin & peppermint planted. Area mulched with fresh grass.
 
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Really like the bamboo trellis. Actually really enjoy watching your thread and progress. You have an awesome farm.
 
Su Ba
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Yesterday I managed to fit in to my job's list planting more pineapples. Got a whole second row in along the driveway. I had already prepared the site two weeks ago by scalping the grass with a mower, scuffing the surface with a rototiller to cut off the grass at the surface, spreading compost, then topping it with grass mulch. Pineapples are one crop I can grow here via no-till, though they do much better when compost is tilled in first. But this spot is almost all packed chunky rock, so tilling of any sort is not possible. I haven't planted any cover crop because of lack of time and availability. So for now the pineapples will be living solo with close neighbors of taro and grass. If I could, I'd most likely put in chocolate mint or peppermint. These are both easy to pull out excess growth amid the pineapples.....and they smell good.

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taro and pineapples
taro and pineapples
 
Su Ba
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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So here's my second table. It's low and designed to go beside my bed as a night table. The legs are funky and fun. That was on purpose.

I'm now convinced that some furniture can easily be made at home, even by a novice. It can look nice. Why pay some store hundreds of dollars for the same stuff? Yup, I've turned into a frugal old gal.

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View from the side.
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Looking down on the top. The grain turned out looking great.
 
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Nice work on that table, Su!  Love it!
 
Su Ba
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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New Lambs

As of dawn, we had 2 new lambs on the farm. By lunch, we had a third. All three births are singlets, of which I'm glad. I prefer single lambs, rather than twins or triplets. All three births were unassisted, again, what I prefer.

Our farm is a homestead style farm, thus producing our own lamb for the table. One of these three lambs will become a herd replacement. The other two are destined to be one either someone else's pet or a denizen of the freezer. It's an easy choice-- one is a female, the other two are males. Sorry guys, but the boys aren't needed as herd replacements this year.

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Little girl that we will be keeping.
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One of the boys. The third one is pure white.
 
Su Ba
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My location is subject to wind. Sometimes from off shore storms, but often it's just the normal tradewinds. How strong can these winds be? Strong enough to be a problem on some days. Thankfully it's not every day!

Most things need to be fastened down in some way. The greenhouses have rebar spikes at each corner, plus internal cross bracing. My three bamboo trellises are fastened down with t-posts pounded into the ground. Pea fencing has to have wooden spikes holding it in place. While pole bean trellises need something a bit stronger, so I use rebar spikes.

How bad could it be, you ask? Well.......I planted a dozen pineapple starts last week. They haven't had the time to put out anchoring roots yet before some brisk
tradewinds visited the farm. It blew then right out of the ground! Had to replant them today.

Exposed young gourd and pumpkin plants also need some help. Otherwise the wind would whip them in circles, twisting them right out. So I pound in some bamboo spikes as the vines grow so that they have something to hold onto. It helps keep them in place.

Once the pineapple starts and young gourd plants have a chance to become established, I plan to interplant a cover crop. Perhaps it will be chocolate mint, or if not, then sweet potatoes for edible greens. This ground is too rocky to expect harvestable tubers.
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Pineapple starts torn out by the tradewinds.
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Another look at these pineapples.
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Bamboo spikes helping a young gourd vine.
Bamboo spikes helping a young gourd vine.
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The vine tendrils latch onto the bamboo spikes.
 
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Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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If that's normal winds, what would a storm do? I wonder if Italian Alder would grow where you are. It's a more drought resistant nitrogen fixing shrub/ tree that can serve as a windbreak. I've planted a few some weeks ago in a hedge formation.
italian alder PAF
 
Su Ba
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Yup, that's normal winds.  Storm winds do a lot more damage, for sure. I've had windstorms take out lots of trees. Needless to say, we used lots of hurricane clips and screws to fasten our roof down! When building things around here, one needs to keep the winds in mind.

Thanks for the suggestion of the alders. My area already has a number of tree and bush species that are both drought resistant and stand up to the wind. They are a great help in certain situations. I use both Christmasberry and haole koa (in addition to rock walls) as windbreaks down on my seed production acre.
 
Su Ba
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Homemade Screendoor

I can't take credit for making this, but I watched and learned how it was done. I'm ready to try making the next one. This one was actually made out of various bits of leftovers from other projects. Outside of the hinges and door knob, nothing new was purchased. The wood frame is fir, and the lattice is some leftover teak scraps. The roll of screening had just enough left to fit the door, with only 2 inches to spare. You talk about luck! I didn't even need to buy a can of polyurethane. There was enough in the bottom of the gallon can to use on this door. Made me feel good to know that I put leftovers to good use.
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Su Ba
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This past week I refurbished my chicken pen, getting ready for the upcoming laying season. The chickens all had the opportunity to run loose for the week , having a grand time. Of the 70 or so hens, about 60 returned to the pen when I was finished and opened the door once again. Just 9 had no interest in going back, so I ended up having to trap them. It's not uncommon for a few hens to not return to the pen at night, but most willingly go in with a bit of birdseed or cracked corn persuasion.

The 9 renegades slowly got caught in a small catch box over the past several days. Baiting the box with canned corn did the trick. But getting them out of the box without them blasting free required the use of a chicken catcher. Not being able to buy one here, I fashioned my own. I used an old clothes hanger. Bent it into the appropriate shape. It worked fine for the small confined space of the trap box.
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A short chicken catcher, only 2 foot long.
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The catcher end, bent into the appraise shape.
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Snagged chicken!
 
Su Ba
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Today's photo is of a nasty pest on the farm, one that makes it really difficult to produce cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and melons. It's the pickleworm moth. I found this one clinging to a window in my kitchen, waiting for nightfall. Let's hope you never have to deal with this one!!!
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Pickleworm Moth
 
Su Ba
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Macadamia nut trees in bloom.

Oh, it's that time of year again. The macnut trees are starting to bloom and I can catch a whiff of their lovely scent when I pass by them. It's one of the joys of living on a diversified homestead style farm......I have all sorts of trees and get to enjoy each different one. We've been getting quite a bit of rain, so the macnut trees are producing lots of flowers. Looks like it's going to be a good year for nuts.
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Macadamia flowers.
 
Su Ba
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Utilizing on farm resources.........

I'm creating my homestead farm by not only focusing on food production, but also by keeping the idea of farm produced resources in mind. So back when I started this new chapter in my life I had planted bamboo and trees that are intended for harvesting. Their wood can be used for firewood, making hugel style growing areas, fence posts, trellises, sheep hurdles, building, furniture, and woodcrafts. I've been working at creating this farm since 2004 and I'm now regularly harvesting some of my renewable resources. I've used bamboo for a number of projects, and recently have been experimenting with using wood for more than just simple posts.

Recently  my home now has been upgraded with two homemade tables and a clothestree. This week a shelf was added to the inventory. The shelf itself is made from a discarded cutoff slab (I thought it would become firewood when I cast it aside). Short pieces of tree limbs were used for the supports and to be used as hat racks. I have a habit of hanging my work hats at this location. By the way, this wood was cut down over a year ago. I have a pile of wood pieces waiting to be formed into something useful. My house might be sprouting lots of shelves in the near future. And probably picture frames too.


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Looking at it from one angle.
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Looking from the other direction.
 
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Su Ba, so impressive!  You should be really proud of all you've accomplished there!  :-)
 
Su Ba
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It's been almost constantly raining these past months. Not all day, nor a lot, but things just stay wet. The garden soil is soggy and impossible to work. So this is when my above ground growing boxes are valuable. I'm actually able to grow tender things even with this constant rain. The boxes drain well. Of course this isn't a great feature when the weather is dry and windy but it surely is an asset with this rain.

Currently I have snap beans, lima beans, potatoes, peas, green onions, and broccoli in the pallet grow boxes. In the next couple weeks I'll be adding chard, beets, more beans and peas.
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Baby broccoli I planted last December 9th.
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What that broccoli looks like today.
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I sowed the peas the day before New Years. They are looking pretty now.
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Snap beans starting to flower.
 
Su Ba
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'Twas cleaning off the leaf debris that had accumulated on the roof of the equipment shed and came upon literally hundreds of worms. This was the granddaddy of them all. I accidently cut off the last inch of the worm, so it was longer.

I transferred all the leaf litter, along with the worms, to one of my pallet growing boxes that was already half filled with finished compost. Hope the worms will be happy exploring their new world. And I was glad to get the "leaf mold" to top off the box.
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Long worm.
 
Su Ba
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Early on when we first moved to our current land, we cobbled together an open sided equipment shed to keep our things out of the rain. We used round logs that came from clearing a space for our solar panels. Since we weren't planning to use the shed more than 2 or 3 years at most, we didn't even bother to debark the logs, nor set them up in a foundation of any sort. No. The upright support posts were set directly on the ground. The tree species is ohia. We don't have oak, locust, or Osage orange here in Hawaii, but we have plenty of a hardwood called ohia.

Using old metal roofing we snagged on its way to the dump, we cobbled this shelter together for less than $100. We did buy spikes, construction connectors, plumbers tape, and nails.

So time went by. We were busy and didn't give this shed much thought. So here we sat, 15 years later. Recently we had a heavy storm dumping 7 inches of rain overnight along with gusty strong winds. 5 of the 10 upright posts snapped, succumbing to dry rot. Sitting directly in the ground, they were frequently wet and fungus spread upwards from the soil.

After salvaging most of the equipment from under the severely sagging and wonky roof, we considered what steps to take next. Tearing down the whole thing was an option. It was old. But after determining that the horizontal logs were still sound, we decided to try repair. The roof was jacked up at each post site and a new 4x4 set in place, and placed upon a concrete foundation block. The structure was saved. Afterward I checked each upright log post and found all were dry rotted. It's amazing it stood for so many years.

We opted to use store bought 4x4s. Why? They were already on the farm, thus immediately available. We did not have any seasoned logs on hand.

I wish I had a before photo to show you, but I accidently deleted it. Sigh. So you'll just have to image the sagging, wavy roof. Oh by the way, the old metal roofing is still functional. Yes, it rusty and corroded. Edges were eaten away by the vog. But it still has enough sound metal to be an effective roof for a number of years to come. Not pretty, but functional.
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Repaired shed
 
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I loved the post about your own landrace of pumpkins. I practice something similar on my zone 3 (maybe some pockets of 4)  wanna-be-a-farm in Northern New Hampshire. I save seeds from the pumpkins I like and let nature take her course in terms of breeding. I've had great results and not-so-great results. It's always an adventure! Here's a picture of the one that I liked called "the banana squash" from a few summers back.
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This summer squash made very long, light green, very sweet eating.
 
Su Ba
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The homestead got neglected these past few months. Creating a new farmers market for my town, plus problems with the coronavirus epidemic, put much of my homestead work on hold. But I'm finally giving it some tender loving care. Not get everything was totally ignored......livestock got tended, food got harvested. But I now have lots of young weeds and empty growing beds. Plus three empty greenhouses. So here I go........

First thing I'm tackling are the growing areas around the house. I harvested the weeds around the taro. A month ago I had poked some bean seed into the ground and planted some onion starts, then ignored them both. So I had to carefully cut out the weeds so not to disturbed their roots. I used a sharp knife, one of the long bladed box cutters. Using the same knife, I cut off the weeds at ground level in the rest of this bed. All these weeds were a welcome addition to a compost bin. After clearing the weeds, I used a shovel to flip over the soil so that the weeds wouldn't grow back before I had a chance to sow seeds.

Two more things got done with this particular bed. I mulched the established plants with grass clippings. And I sowed another small section of beans (variety: red swan) and a small area of cowpeas (variety: Holstein). Once they germinate and grow a few inches tall, I will lightly mulch them too.
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Weeds cut out, ready for mulching.
Weeds cut out, ready for mulching.
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Mulched
Mulched
 
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Su, I know you've done a lot toward soil improvement, so I'm curious about how the soil color in those photos compares to you "natural" unimproved soil. Black soil makes me swoon! LOL
 
Su Ba
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Leigh, give me a day or so and I'll get some comparison photos for you.

This past week I also divided up a comfrey clump into 2 dozen sections and planted them around the house. Comfrey stays green here year around and looks lovely all the time. All along I have been harvesting leaves weekly for feeding to the chickens. So I could use more. By planting them along the pathways, they will serve not only as a source of livestock feed but also as an ornamental making the pathways look nice. Sacrificing one clump from production will result in two dozen more plants producing for me in a couple of months.

Oh did you notice those wood chips mulching one of the beds? Those are pine bark landscaping chips I bought from Home Depot 12 years ago. Yes, 12!! They have never rotted. I can only assume that the bacteria and/or fungus needed to rot them doesn't reside here in my area. When I lived in NJ, those chips would have rotted down over the winter. Not here, they are still hanging around. It's been a real puzzlement, but I've never bothered to look into it. They just don't rot.
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Planted two weeks ago.
Planted two weeks ago.
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Comfrey planted a couple of days ago.
Comfrey planted a couple of days ago.
 
Su Ba
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Next task on the list was tackling the young pineapple patch. Like the other garden spots, it had gotten covered with weeds as the mulch layer decomposed. So first thing, I hand pulled all the big weeds, collecting them for the compost bin. I didn't go crazy doing this by trying to get every weed out. I simply got the easily grabable ones. I find that if I try to be too perfect, the task becomes burdensome and thus doesn't get completed. So to make myself happy, I tackle the easy stuff first.

With the big weeds gone, I was left with lots of small weeds. To tackle these I used my Mantis tiller/cultivator. It's the quick way of doing this job instead of using a hoe. So I cultivated shallowly so as not to disturb the pineapple and taro roots. I then let the bright sun do its thing, drying out and killing the young weeds. By the next day I could see that I missed some spots, but it wasn't much. A hand hoe took care of most of what was left.

Next I went from plant to plant, trimming and cleaning them up. This basically meant removing old mature leaves and damaged Ieaves. I removed the lower Ieaves on the pineapples to make applying mulch easier.

Next job - mulching. An hour of lawnmowing gave me 5 trashcanfuls of clippings. This gave me a light mulching for the entire bed. I'll need more clippings for a proper mulch layer, but that can be done over the next couple days.
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Partially done.
Partially done.
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I bit more to finish up.
I bit more to finish up.
 
Su Ba
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Another use for a sun oven.

With coronavirus on my island that is being community spread, I take a number of precautions if I need to leave the homestead. One of those is the wearing of a facial mask. I ALWAYS wear a mask when off the property now. I keep a few in the truck, stored in containers to keep them clean and uncontaminated. If I would need to change the mask before getting home, the used one gets dropped into its storage container for sanitizing later. Yes, I immediately put the lid on so any possible virus is sealed away. And yes, I'm very careful not to touch the exterior of the mask.

So what happens when I get back to the homestead? If the sun is out, I'll immediately go sanitize the mask. If not, then the sealed container is stored in a safe place away from the curious cats and dogs, awaiting the sun.

I use my Sun Oven to sanitize BOTH the mask and its container. I'll use a pair of chopsticks (you could use tongs) to open the container and remove the mask. The mask, container and lid are arranged inside the sun oven, and the chopstick dropped into the oven too. Then the lid is shut in such a manner that the temperature goes to 200° F. I could fiddle with the lid to get a temperature of 150° F, but I already have a stop for the lid to give me 200°F, so I use it. I'll leave the Sun Oven do its thing while I go unload the truck, or let the dogs loose for a run, or collect the chicken eggs....whatever task takes about 15-20 minutes. By 20 minutes, things are well baked......and sanitized. I'll pop the mask back into its storage container, put it back into the truck ready for its next use, and stow the Sun Oven. Simple. Easy. Quick.
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Sun a Oven in use.
Sun Oven in use.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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A month ago I planted seedlings into two of my greenhouses (actually they are high tunnels because they are just screened on the ends and have no heat systems). Tomatoes -- five varieties. And basil & cilantro. I've been harvesting Ieaves off the cilantro and basil for the past two weeks, selling them at the farmers market and trading or giving away the excess. The tomato plants have been blooming and are already setting tiny fruits. It will be awhile still before I harvest ripe tomatoes.

The gardens around the house have been producing plenty for making soups and stir fries. Beans, peas, green onions, sweet potatoes & greens, pipinola shoots, Chinese greens, parsley, other greens,  etc. Instead of having a lawn, I have food producing gardens.
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Seedlings planted a month ago.
Seedlings planted a month ago.
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What it looks like today.
What it looks like today.
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No lawn outside my front door. Give me food & flowers!
No lawn outside my front door. Give me food & flowers!
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1808
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
749
forest garden rabbit tiny house books solar woodworking
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Adam harvested a bunch of bananas today. We've been watching them for a couple of months now, waiting for them to be ready. Today was the day. The bunch is so heavy that Adam had a bugger of a time lifting and carrying the thing. These bunches can be quite heavy.

This variety is a Williams. A commercial variety, it's not the best banana in Hawaii. We have plenty of others on the farm that taste far better. But we grow some Williams because ....
.... we happen to have them, so we don't throw them away
.... they produce very large bunches that give us lots of bananas for feeding not only ourselves, but also the livestock.

Most of these bananas will end up going to the chickens. Adam will eat some. Normally our excess stuff gets sold or traded, but most people around here are spoiled by the better tasting banana varieties that are available, thus not wanting the Williams.

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Adam and his freshly harvested bananas
Adam and his freshly harvested bananas
 
The permaculture playing cards make great stocking stuffers: http://richsoil.com/cards
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