Margaret Townsend

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since Aug 27, 2018
Newbie to permaculture, trying to learn as much as possible, looking for hands-on experience.
Olympia, WA, USA
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Recent posts by Margaret Townsend

Hi, I am just getting started with gardening and permaculture related projects this year on an approx. 1 acre suburban property in Olympia, WA zone 8 (rainy with increasingly dry summers). We are in the process of getting professional design help.

I guess this year I should really be focusing on observation and soil improvement! And building my compost bin.

However, I am impatient and want to start planting stuff this year. For example I'd like to sow a few companion plants around these 2 older apple and 1 cherry trees.

Is it too late to do a sheet mulch to kill the grass and moss around the trees and build the soil up a bit for spring planting? Farmer's almanac says average date of last frost is towards the end of April.

And what are the best materials in the sheet mulch? I can get horse manure, coffee grounds, possibly seaweed (we live near the water), fairly easily. Not sure if anyone around will still have leaves left over from fall or grass clippings. I can buy compost, worm castings, and worm tea.

I have been trying to research what helps apple trees and what tolerates some shade, here is my list (don't know if these all tolerate partial shade):

Fava beans (shade tolerant? and nitrogen fixing)
White clover (tolerates partial shade, nitrogen fixing)
Garlic chives

Any input and reality checks will be appreciated. Thank you.

4 months ago
We have three large stands of bamboo on our property and I would like to make some skewers. For the purpose of sticking them in corks and making plant labels.

Google is failing me and only giving me stuff about bamboo skewers that you can buy.

I have not done anything with hand tools and wouldn't know where to start!

Thanks for any help offered!
4 months ago
Hi! I’m not sure if I should post about my project here or start a new thread in Hugelkultur.

I am starting this year to work on a few projects on an approx. 1 acre suburban property in Olympia, WA, zone 8. Rainy most of the year and increasingly dry summers. This year’s goals include building a compost bin and starting to compost, testing and improving the soil, and just generally observing the site.

However we have an old rotting maple tree and the tree expert said it needs to come down, which will happen in about 3 or 4 weeks. I would like to try to do a Hugelkultur here (picture attached) with that wood. It doesn't have to be perfect, everything is an experiment at this point. I have been reading threads and trying to get ideas (I haven’t read every page on this thread yet.)

I don’t want it to be tall—I’m thinking four feet and then I know it will shrink. I saw Paul’s post about layering wood-soil-wood-soil etc, not just pouring soil over a pile of wood. I guess doing a sunken Hugel allows the wood to collect more moisture and wick it upwards, right? Does digging 2 feet below ground level sound about right?

I have read about rodent problems when the hugel is too dry? Or will there be rodents regardless?

I understand 'no watering' is an ideal and 'less watering' is usually the reality? Or less watering at the beginning and no watering after 2 or 3 years if you do it right?

Is layering with soil and the sod on that old pile going to be enough? It’s not the season for grass clippings, what else can I use? I can get free horse manure nearby.

Is this the right time of year to do it so it can soak in the rains before summer?

I need to see what’s actually under that mound and do some soil tests. I don’t know what that pile was. It might have been bark mulch. Since the soil is likely not good, and compost won’t be ready til next year, I guess I might need to add some stuff. The local food coop carries worm castings, remineralizing soil booster, and some kind of biodynamic compost. Any pointers?

I’d like to grow annuals: cucumber, watermelon, and summer squash. And some nitrogen fixers. Lupin because I already have seeds, and whatever else (I'll look at good companion plants for these veggies). None of the nitrogen fixing berry shrubs are ones I’m familiar with so I don’t know about planting things I’m not sure I’m going to like and I don't want to make this a permanent fixture until I know it will produce good results.

Am I missing anything? What can go wrong? I would appreciate any advice from people that have tried hugelkultur in my growing zone. Thanks very much for reading.
4 months ago
Okay, I won't bring my dog. I don't think she meets all those requirements.
5 months ago
Thanks, it sounds awesome. I paid the gapper fee. I have some experience holding a hammer (Habitat for Humanity) but I'd LOVE hands-on permaculture experience. I am an experiential learner (I guess most people are) and I can read things for hours on the internet or in books, watch YouTube videos, attend lectures, etc, and not retain much if at all.

I have a small self-contained truck camper, will I be allowed to bring it with my dog (she would stay in the camper most of the time except to be taken out to potty on leash)?
5 months ago
Is there any space left in this workshop?
5 months ago