Rue Barbie

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since Feb 05, 2016
Coastal Southern California
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Recent posts by Rue Barbie

""Thanks Rue,  I shall heed your warnings about introducing new species. Please tell me what plants/cover you have growing after your spring flowers die off? ""

Your biggest problem will be lack of water. YOu mentioned a dry stream. I don't know about yours, but in summer, all of our streams are dry. The only times they flow are about a couple weeks after significant rains. And then they dry again.

If you want to establish trees in our climate type, you'll most likely have to get minimal water to them while their roots become established the first year or two. Or longer.

I am not a farmer or permaculturist. I have mainly veggie beds and some fruit trees (citrus/figs/peach/plum, apricot, avocados). And these all require some water in the long, dry summers or they simply do not prosper.

You ask what plants I have growing after the spring flush. No annuals unless they are in watered beds. I do use covercrops, but those require water to germinate and grow in summer. Right now I'm planning to plant more going into our rainy season (usually November it starts), but will water them to get them started. Rains are not dependable.

The species I am using I'm still experimenting. Rocket/arugula does great and reseeds. Buckwheat, and come extra garden cole seeds, Brassicas and radishes, even grocery store lentils. Sunflowers too.  Vetch (Vicia Villosa) is naturalized in the area. We also have lots of annual Mediterranean grasses that have become totally naturalized, which I welcome in my beds. Also some native flowers such as California poppies.

Two problems with annual cover crops here (besides water issues). The bunnies and ground squirrels and birds eat the seedlings when there is nothing else green to eat. And if you are thinking they will reseed, the birds and mice eat much of the seed that falls. so when you see dry seed heads, collect them.

There are some African daisies that do well without water all year and are pretty in springtime, but once you plant them, you will have them forever. Also some low-growing Aloes which seem to be no problem. Lantana prospers as well, blooms all year, attracts pollinators, and is very drought tolerant. Does not reseed much, but can be started by cuttings. There are both shrub and prostrate varieties, with color variety.

There are some California native varieties the industry has developed, which should grow there, but they do not seem to live a long time. I'd think something like Rosemary would be good, and some of the other sages would work. Rosemary is a common landscaping plant here. Low and veyr drought tolerant.

It's a great climate to be living in, but the lack of water does present a major challenge when establishing plants.
2 years ago
I also live in a Mediterranean climate. We average only about 14 inches per year. It is standard for spring wildflowers to die every year in a relatively short time frame.  They are annuals - that is their adaptation to living in a dry environment. They exist as dormant seeds to 'tide them over' till the next rain.

As someone above suggested, save seed from your local area. Be very careful - and not too hasty - about bringing in new species thinking they will be beneficial. Many things can naturalize in our climate including many pest plants that are replacing our natives. What might seem like a good idea today might haunt you, and your neighbors, for years.

That said, it looks like a good project. Have fun.
2 years ago
Years ago when I was starting lots of rose cuttings I set up an extremely primitive misting system. It was just a hose-end turn on/off, very inexpensive thing that I adjusted to a very fine spray. I had a 'table' on a slant, and it was covered with plastic sheeting that directed water into a container with hose attachment that let extra water, gravity fed, into a small pond.

I left the mist on during daylight hours, and off at night. The medium I used drained very well. The cutting leaves were always wet, but did not rot. Several people said to keep things this wet/damp would not work. But it did.

I do live in a very dry environment, and roses are plants that are perhaps less prone to water damage. But I got well-rooted cuttings with no problems. A species that might be more oriented to dry environments might not be as successful.
5 years ago

Cuts for grapes are 3" long and I space 4 cuts around the vine equally.

Interesting. So you don't do a full girdle, but rather 4 'filet' cuts? Just to cambium layer, or deeper?

5 years ago
I got a rice knife (also called Japanese sickle, grass sickle, etc) on amazon 3 months ago. I really like it. It cuts through herbaceous plants very fast and once you get the hang of using it, You can go quite quickly. I got one with an orange plastic handle so it's easier to find if I put it down. I was surprised to see it had doubled in price to over $16 since I got mine. Not sure I would have paid that much for something I'd never tried before.

I think I'll always have one of those now. In some circumstances such as grasses, they work better than anything else manual I've tried. It's also great for patches of cover crops for chop and drop and leaving the roots in the soil.
5 years ago
Thanks for the replies. Looks like I'm going to try for 6 inches where possible.

I almost always plant starts instead of direct seed. When putting out small plants, I only want to mulch near them so deep. I guess that means if I want deeper mulch, I'm going to have to go round a second time. And if I do that, it means the mulch won't necessarily have to be a uniform depth - if growing plants are in the way.

As for water, I do run soaker hoses beneath. When preparing a bed, I'll do what I want with the soil, then lay down and temporarily weight the hoses (and make any repairs), then plant in relation to the hoses, then mulch either right away, or when it gets a bit warmer or any seasonal rain has ended.
5 years ago
I've pretty much mulched all the veggie beds, but I'm now wondering if I should mulch even deeper than I did initially. It does tend to settle. I had put down about 5 inches which, after a couple weeks, is now 3 inches or so. I use free city mulch, which is ground green waste. I'm thinking another few inches where it can easily be done might not hurt. The plants are growing great so I won't have easy access to all areas, and since they are now taller, they will be less prone to being buried by the mulch. If it means watering less, it might be worth the extra work.
5 years ago

Alex Apfelbaum wrote:Here's a trending graph of the term "Permaculture" on Google for the last twelve years. It doesn't tell us much about good or bad reputation, but gives rough idea of how the general interest for it on the web has evolved.

It seems that it had been decreasing until 2008, then relatively stable followed by a slight rise since 2011 and a surprising jump at the beginning of 2016..

It's also interesting to see that the graph follows the seasons, it's always lowest in December and highest in April, when many people go out to garden.

Thank you very much for the graph, and that site. In terms of 'trending', except for somewhat of a rise near the end, over the years it is not going up that much. I was having a bit of fun looking up trends for certain things and was actually shocked to see how much 'organic gardening' was falling. With greater interest in buying organic foods today, that is shocking. (Costco is even financing farmers to grow organic produce for them) Sadly, 'vegetable gardening' also has a downward trend, also with seasonal spikes. I guess that's a sad reflection of fewer people growing their own food.

'Agroecology' is even flatter than 'permaculture' over the years. If you want to see something spike upwards relatively quickly, plug in 'gmo' or 'transgender'. (I was trying to think of terms that might be 'hot' right now to see what a sharp upward spike might look like, not make any kind of statement.)
5 years ago
I've watched a lot of the no-till videos the past few months, and a number of them are careful to not call themselves 'organic'. Not only because they aren't (though approaching it), but because 'organic' in some circles, has the implication of being sort of 'hippie', 'green', and a quasi religion of sorts which in certain circles is off-putting.

There is a huge hippie/green vibe to it in my experience and I have to say I am struggling with this too. I go to very few permie events. I am not an activist, greenie or anything even close to it. I work in the corporate world and live the life of a farmer in the middle of conventional farmers. In my experience most "main stream" people shy away from permaculture because they don't have the green mindset and some permies are lecturing a different lifestyle.

In many ways permaculture is very reminiscent of folks wandering off into communes similar to decades ago. The old true 'hippie' days. I don't mean to offend anyone, but it often looks the same as places from that era - living off the land, repurposing things, counter-culture, etc. (And referring to folks here as 'goofballs' does absolutely nothing to dispel that impression.)

If permaculture wants to be taken seriously, it has an unfair legacy to over-come and needs to present itself more seriously. Just my opinion.
5 years ago
College can be very enriching. But it can also put one in a position of debt that will last for decades, which, as you know, can put a damper on one's general happiness.

If you do not need a degree for what you are doing now, or what you want to do in the next few years, don't take on further debt. I wouldn't even spend the money for a permaculture class. There is much online and in books. If things change, you can revisit your decision. Or, if they let you and it's convenient and not too pricey, take one 'most useful' class at a time.

I used to teach in a small college horticulture program and we literally had students of all ages and situations. That in itself made the classes more enriching.

Going to college is a great thing, but you have to be in the right situation to take full advantage of going. It can be a wonderful cultural, social experience, but it won't provide a high percent of people with the skills for a good job afterwards. It does give one a better understanding of the world they are living in however and that alone can be worth it.

I am very pro college because of my own experiences, ...BUT in reality, many people think the greatest asset of sending kids to college is keeping thousands and thousands of young people out of the job market for several years. And at the same time, it keeps thousands and thousands of administrators, teachers, maintenance workers, book sellers, food workers, apartment renters, and cops employed. It's a very, very big business ....and propaganda to attend is widespread, but not necessarily true. For 'them' it is win-win. For many of the students, especially those going into serious debt, perhaps less so.
5 years ago