Linda Depersis

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since Jul 15, 2012
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Recent posts by Linda Depersis

Pictures is a great idea. I'll do that tomorrow.

The soil is more dusty, like flour- rather than sandy. When the wind blows I can see the soil blow off.

There aren't any cow patties that you can visibly see. It was all tilled in back in May.

At first I was tilling in the mushroom compost in the row before I planted. But after seeing that once tilled in, the soil was back to looking like flour- I stopped tilling in the compost. I switched to just planting directly into the compost.

Then, I bought some organic dish soap and diluted it- a small squirt to a gallon of water. I watered each individual plant with the soapy water. Then I used crumbled leaves from last year as a mulch around the plants. Next, I watered again, each plant individually with a gentle shower. The soil that had the soapy water applied did absorb more water than the plants without the soapy water. I wanted to see if there really would be a difference.

At some point I ran out of leaves for topping off. It took me a few hours to bring back more to my garden site. By then, the plants without the top layer of leaves were already starting to wilt. And any water that I applied just ran off into the walk way. I finished up with leaves today and watered again.

The first rows that I completed yesterday are still only damp down to about an inch. But the plants themselves look perky. The mushroom compost looks nice and crumbly, dark. But an inch below that it is still the powdery soil. I'm hoping to get the soil to absorb more water by giving it regular water each day and keeping it covered with leaf compost.

This is the first time I've dealt with soil that won't absorb water. At least I'm learning a lot.
8 years ago
I have a garden spot picked out for my fall broccoli and cabbage. Last year it was the same area my dairy cows used while eating hay and waiting to be milked. I thought all of their manure, etc. would have added to my soil's fertility. This spring through summer I planted peas, radishes and green beans and squash in that area. The radishes did well, but everything else seemed stunted and barely produced. Except for lots of weeds. I pulled weeds all summer.

Last weekend I tilled up what was left and added about 4 inches of mushroom compost, then tilled that in. Today while I was putting in my broccoli transplants I noticed the water just running off instead of soaking in to the roots. I'm all out of mushroom compost and almost out of time for these transplants. Any ideas? I had planned on mulching with last fall's leaves and old bales of hay. But I don't know if it is even worth planting in this site if I can't get the water to soak in. I read about using a surfactant like 7th generation dish soap diluted with water. I just don't want to make the problem worse before I can "fix" it.
8 years ago
Well, it's been over a month since I first posted about my orchard so I thought I would give an update. I bought the book Gaia's Garden (thanks Brenda) as well as Bill Mollison's Permaculture A Designer's Manual. Those two gave me lots of new ideas as well as reminded me of things I had forgotten.

I decided to go with a flock of Babydoll Southdown sheep to keep the grass grazed down. I chose this type of sheep for several reasons- natural way to keep it "mowed" without depending on tractors, mowers, gasoline etc. Even though there are plenty of chores involved with keeping sheep, I much prefer trimming hooves and shearing once a year to the constant mowing that was facing me with my current situation. The sheep will add fertility, they are small with hooves that will help reduce compaction. In fact, the sheep are no taller than 24" and will be the perfect height for eating along the fence line but not tall enough that they could reach the branches. As we add grapes, raspberries and blueberries they will be able to keep those trimmed as well. I think working with them and just watching them go about their business will bring me great joy. Eventually I will use their wool for spinning- a skill I have always wanted to learn. And their offspring will also provide my family with meat.

So there you go- Babydoll sheep in the orchard. I'll update after we've had them for a while to see how they actually work out. I'll be taking delivery of them in the next week. Thanks so much for all of the ideas!
8 years ago
Earlier this Spring we bought around 200 fruit trees for our farm. We've finally planted all the ones that we want & now have quite a few left over. They are all "heeled in" and branched out nicely. I'll sell them for $10 each if you pick up off our farm in Clatskanie Oregon, or $14 each if you'd like to pick them up in Hillsboro Oregon.

Here is what I have available to date: (all are semi-dwarf and cherries are ultra-semi dwarf)

Burbank plum
Satsuma plum

Lapins Cherry
Lambert Cherry
Stella Cherry

Apples: Granny Smith, Winesap, Chehalis, Gravenstein

You can message me for more details.
I want to take out the grass for several reasons. First, it just gets so tall! Easily 4 feet. It's hard for us to keep up with either a weed-eater or a lawn mower. It's excellent forage for livestock- but overwhelms the fruit trees as well as us. The first year we weren't so busy with everything else and we had more time to keep it mowed down. But, as we continue to plant more trees as well as grow our farm in general- it's just too much. And then there is the taking away nutrients from the trees themselves. The grass also provides great hiding spots for voles, mice, etc.

I did some more reading on the comfrey and decided it's probably not the best thing for us to use at this point. It sounds like it would be great if I planted it 3 to 4 feet away from the trees. But right now my main focus is to remove the grass from around the base of the trees. Last year I removed the grass from around 20 trees and planted a clover- I don't remember which one. I didn't use rocks or anything else, just the clover. But the grass grew back and I never saw any of the clover. I don't want to start adding transplants that will just get over run by the grass. We're talking orchard grass, canary grass and a few other kinds. Not the basic lawn grass that most people have in their backyards. Of course, our whole property is like this or we would have picked a different spot for the orchard.

I'm starting to think I should try smothering it out with cardboard, leaves etc. We have dairy cows and I could work on composting their manure and old hay, then pile that on top of the cardboard.
Maybe I'll try a combination of the ideas all of you have shared on just a few of the trees and then wait it out to see which one works the best. It doesn't sound like there is a "quick fix" lol.

8 years ago
I make yogurt once or twice a week and it turns out nice and thick each time. I use raw milk, so I heat it initially to 180. You can skip this step if you aren't using raw. Here is how I do it:

Pour milk into 1 quart jars. No lids.
Set the jars in a large pot (I use my black canning pot) and fill to just below the neck of the jars with warm water.
Clip a thermometer to one of the jars to read the milk temp.
Heat the milk to 180 for raw milk, 110 for pasteurized milk.
Once the milk is at 180, cool it down to 110.
While cooling, turn on your oven to lowest temp. 170 for mine.
Now add 2 TB of your yogurt starter to each quart jar. (I use a plain Greek yogurt from the store). Stir.
Turn off oven, Turn on oven light.
Put lids on the jars, put back into the pot of warm water. Put a lid on the canning pot & put everything in the oven. Leave for 12hrs.

Thick & creamy every time.

8 years ago
That orchard grass easily gets to 4 feet high. Would I mow it down, plant the comfrey and any other plants that you mentioned, then mulch the area with the wood chips? I avoided the wood chips up to this pint because I had heard that as they break down they take nitrogen out of the soil. Maybe that's only a problem around vegetable gardens? I'm worried that the grass would grow so much faster than any of the plants. I'm so excited to get started on this, but I want to do it the right way. Thank you so much for the replies so far.
8 years ago
We've been planting an orchard for the last 3 years. I've only recently stumbled upon the permaculture concept. Right now our fruit orchard is planted in a pasture type setting. It is incredibly hard to keep the grass mowed away from the trunks of the trees (about 130 trees). I've tried digging out the orchard grass, smothering with cardboard, leaves, grass clippings, mowing it down etc. But the grass just keeps coming back. What should I do first? I'd like to end up with plant guilds under the trees. My husband doesn't want it to look too wild, and wants to be able to walk between the trees without "tripping". The trees are planted 15 feet apart. We are able to raise sheep and geese and I would like to be able to graze them, but the trees are still so young that I worry about damaging the trunks. I'm not able to go out and purchase enough daffodil bulbs to go around 130 I have to come up with something cost effective that I can slowly build on as I have the time and money. I would appreciate any tips. We're in the Pacific Northwest, Zone 8 with a lot of wind (coming off the dike lands/water) that blows down the slope towards our orchard.
8 years ago