Patrick Winters

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since Mar 02, 2012
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Recent posts by Patrick Winters

Last year my potato towers yielded fantastic results, considering they were made of tottering, flimsy old plastic flower pots with the bottoms punched out.

This year, I got free 12x36 boards and made three 36x36 potato towers! The potato plants grew enormous before I even had the chance to frame the towers around them. I surrounded each plant with the first 12-inch-tall board for layer one, and filled them with 12 inches of soil rich with well-rotted manure. I lined the insides of the towers with chopped comfrey and borage as green manure.

The potato tops were covered completely by soil. Now, two weeks later, I am anxiously awaiting signs of resprouting, but nothing yet. I know it will take time for the new sprouts to emerge that far up, but I just want to reaffirm that I haven't killed them by over-burying!
2 years ago
These landscaping trees are extremely common in the eastern US, but I was surprised to discover that they have no entry in Plants For A Future. Does anyone know if they have any uses or interesting properties?
3 years ago
This last photo was taken almost exactly six weeks after I first stuck my shovel in the ground. Hugelkultur works spectacularly!

Something that also works spectacularly: that fencing around the garden! It's tight around the ground to keep the chipmunks and voles out, but it's way too wobbly for any of our plentiful squirrels, raccoons, or other raiders to climb. We never had a single interloper all year.
3 years ago
art
Here's those same mounds, about two weeks later!
3 years ago
art
After that first hand-dug hugelbeet, I was so wiped out that I realized it would take at least two days per mound at this point, and I was going to miss the growing season. So for the others, we decided to simply plop down the weed barriers, drop the wood on them, and cover them with organic matter and then a layer of rotted manure from down the road. That we brought in by pickup truck, and then tipped onto the mounds by upending the wheelbarrow in a half-million trips. I was worried that we might have problems with the logs rolling downhill, or issues with erosion during a rainstorm, but they've held up magnificently. In fact, the bottom three hugelbeets are far richer than the original top hugelbeet, thanks to that manure!
3 years ago
art
That first hugelbeet just about killed me -- all dug by hand, all of the wood lugged around, all the soil piled back up again by hand. My brothers were thankfully there to take turns chipping in.
3 years ago
art
Here's a series of photos following the construction of my hugelbeets last year! I wish I thought to take more photos during the harvest, the potato plants were quite simply larger and taller than any I've ever seen online, so tall that the stems literally began decapitating themselves on their trellis twine! And by the end the tomato plants were practically trees. Even with only full sun from around 10am to 4pm, I got a beautiful harvest of pumpkins, beans, cucumbers, raspberries, and tomatoes, with the only failures being onions, which I planted way too late in the season to get decent bulbs, and carrots, which I never figured out how to thin out properly.
3 years ago
art
As my area begins to emerge from a late winter, I've noticed the grass and clover around the edges of my compost bin is already a deep rich green and it is growing enormous by comparison to the yellow, still-dormant grass everywhere else. The leachate coming out the bottom holes is working wonders, and I'd hate to waste that. As the west-facing side of the compost bin is also going downhill, it's the perfect spot for something, and it would provide some shade in the afternoon for the bin to keep the worms alive.

I'm thinking about planting a nice medium-sized perennial, and I wanted to hear what people think would make good candidates! I hear American Elderberry is an excellent companion for compost (and I'm thinking about knocking the bottom out of my bin, which means the Elderberry could interact with its soil), but I worry that it would spread out too far and gobble up the space between my fence and my first hugelbeet.

A dwarf fruit tree would grow straight up and not spread out, but they say that overrich soil is bad for fruit production.

What's the best perennial to put there to exploit that glorious compost leachate?
3 years ago
I'm pretty sure Toby Hemenway suggested planting the companion plants like the Umbellifers up on the central "ridge" of the hugel mound, because they don't require any maintenance and provide nothing that needs harvesting, so they might as well be put farthest from your reach. This also works because it means that by virtue of being in the center/top, they can be the companion of the plants on BOTH slopes of the hugel mound!
4 years ago
So, White Mulberry is known to be able to grow near Black Walnut trees, because it is immune to the juglone, but Red Mulberry would be killed under those same circumstance because it lacks Morus alba's tolerance. Fair enough. But what I haven't been able to discover, however, is if Black Mulberry can grow near Black Walnut. Does it share White Mulberry's tolerance of juglone, or is it vulnerable like Red Mulberry?
4 years ago