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Steve Thorn

garden master
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since Nov 12, 2018
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   Steve started his first "permaculture" garden when he was about 7 years old and has been addicted to growing things ever since! It was only about 20 square feet back then, and he didn't know much about gardening except what was on the back of the seed packet, but he knew he didn't want to use any fertilizer or pesticides, and wanted to grow everything as naturally as possible.

   Years later, when he got some land of his own, he started planting a larger garden, berry bushes, and fruit trees, and also discovered permaculture and Permies! Permaculture has made growing things so much easier and enjoyable! He is passionate about growing things naturally using natural farming and permaculture methods to minimize work and maximize enjoyment!

   He is also passionate about saving seed and creating new and locally adapted vegetable and own root fruit varieties to increase the natural growing vigor, flavor, and pest and disease resistance of the plants, to make them easier and more enjoyable to grow.

   Creating a plant nursery selling these types of plants occupies most of his free time right now, and he is hoping to start selling these types of plants and seeds soon! He has learned so much from the Permies community and is excited to learn and share our experiences together!
Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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Recent posts by Steve Thorn

I found another frog in a different apple tree looking at a bug.

Sic 'em little froggy!

This one's coloration seemed better for some of the leaf litter below, but I saw him this morning, and this evening I saw him again, so I was glad to see he didn't get eaten yet.
7 hours ago
Who knew an apple leaf could hold up a little frog?

I didn't notice the bug he was looking at until after I took the picture. That bug looks almost as big as him.

The coloration on some of these frogs is just amazing!
7 hours ago
I've built more of these fruit tree mounds around my other fruit trees and am loving the results.

So far I've done it around 8 more pomegranates, 3 apples, 1 cherry, and 1 mulberry.

All of the trees are putting on healthy new growth and looking a lot better than most of the ones without mounds.

I also feel like my food forest is becoming a frog haven, which has been really neat seeing all of the different types of frogs and toads. Hopefully they'll feast on lots of bugs as well.
7 hours ago

Isaac Jamieson wrote:I wonder if adding additional soil makes the crown less elevated.
I'm thinking kind of no, because the crown isn't actually going deeper, but kind of yes, because it now has more soil above it.
Let's hope that it is not too much of an issue. The soil I added was from under deciduous trees, light and full of humus. Being light is probably a good thing, but being full of organic material, this holding more water may be an issue, right?

I'm betting you want have any issues since the soil should be pretty dry at the top of the mound.

Also it sounds like your soil is really healthy, which will hopefully make your tree very healthy, and more resistant to diseases.
7 hours ago
I've been building more of these mounds and am seeing a lot more frogs and toads! The ditches around the outside of each mound stay pretty moist and some have lots of leaves and other mulch, which I think is providing good habitat for them.

This was a little tiny fellow.
1 day ago
(note:  this document is still under construction - feel free to comment!)

sand badge

Build a hugelkultur
Chop and drop (50 square feet)
Ruth Stout style composting (2 spots)

straw badge

seed saving
encouraging volunteer or wild plants (probably mulching or chop and drop)
grow, harvest and preserve 100,000 calories
   - from at least 12 species
   - note (fyi): there are 10,000 calories is in:  
          o 35 pounds of potatoes
          o 10 pounds of prunes
          o 40 quarts of salsa
          o 6 pounds of dried strawberries
          o 55 pounds of onions
          o 50 pounds of winter squash
          o 30 pounds of sunchokes
          o 7 pounds of field corn or rye or most grains
          o 7 pounds of dried black beans
          o 4 pounds of sunflower seeds
   - note (fyi): an average person eats one million calories per year
build a hugelkultur 7 feet tall and 12 feet long
all systems are polyculture systems
direct seed perennials
   - no transplanting
   - the seed is planted outdoors
   - plant 50 of each and verify that at least 1 has sprouted
           o fruit trees
           o black locust
           o nut trees

all of this is completed without imports (except seeds) from more than 500 feet away

wood badge

grow, harvest and preserve 1 million calories
   - from at least 30 species
   - half the food is grown without irrigation
   - all systems are polyculture systems
build a hugelkultur 7 feet tall and 24 feet long
build a ΒΌ acre food forest
grow perennials from seed
   - no transplanting
   - the seed is planted outdoors
   - verify that each of these have at least 12 that have sprouted
       - apple
       - plum
       - peach
       - cherry
       - apricot
       - pear
       - mulberry
       - seaberry
       - walnut
       - hazelnut
grow: raspberries, rhubarb, melon, summer squash, 3 sisters, tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, garlic, peas, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, daikon radish, sunchokes, strawberries, rye, stinging nettles, sunflower seeds,  horseradish, sweet clover, comfrey, crocus, daffodils, grape, chives, parsley

all of this is completed without imports (except seeds) from more than 500 feet away

iron badge

grow, harvest and preserve 4 million calories in one year
   - from at least 30 species
   - half the food is grown without irrigation
   - all systems are polyculture systems

build hugelkultur 7 feet tall
   - total of 150 feet long
   - at least six beds
   - no straight lines
   - no frost pockets
   - designed to keep wind out
   - mulched and planted

Harvest fruit from 12 trees that you started from seed

food forest
   - sun scoop shape
   - no frost pocket
   - covers at least an acre
   - full seven layers

landrace seed saving and use for at least 12 species for at least 3 generations
save the seeds for particular traits, encourage those traits for 3 generations

all of this is completed without imports (except seeds) from more than 500 feet away

2 days ago
This is a badge bit (BB) that is part of the PEP curriculum. Completing this BB is part of getting the straw badge in Gardening.

Seed saving is a huge part of permaculture! By saving your own seed, you are creating more adapted plants to your specific area, usually resulting in more vigorous and healthy plants! You also don't have to keep buying new seed every year.

Seed is generally saved from the strongest growing plants and ones with certain traits that you want the offspring to have.

Glass jars by Ross Catrow, on Flickr

To get certified for this BB, you will need to save seed from 4 different species.

This thread has some good basic information on saving seed from common vegetable varieties.

Saving seeds (Basic information)

It's important to clean the seeds and store them in a cool and dry place. This thread discusses it in greater detail.

Storing seeds

This thread has a good list of additional reading material on seed saving and plant breeding.

Saving Seeds, Breeding Plants, Landrace Gardening - reading list

How to Certify That Your BB is Completed

 - A picture of each species with seeds before being harvested (such as seed pods or sliced open with seeds showing) and some seeds removed
 - A brief description on how you are storing the seeds (in jars, seed packets, etc.)
2 days ago

Isaac Jamieson wrote:Ok. I'm back to forest building.

I've wounded the trunk above the graft and added soil and mulch.

First I made some space as the daisy that protects the mandarin was rubbing on the trunk and its early Spring here, so more exposure to the world is in order.

The mandarin is not quite up to my hip height now. It will be interesting to observe its growth in the future.

Great pictures Isaac,  that looks awesome!

It's neat to see your plants getting going for the Spring, as mine are getting ready to slow down for the Fall.

Excited to see how it turns out!
2 days ago
This is a badge bit (BB) that is part of the PEP curriculum. Completing this BB is part of getting the straw badge in Gardening.

Encouraging volunteer and wild plants to grow together in a beneficial polyculture has many benefits. Volunteer plants usually tend to seed themselves well and are generally pretty tough and vigorous growers, which can be very helpful traits to have in a crop. They also can reduce the job of planting seeds. Who doesn't like less work?


To get certified for this BB, you will need to show 3 species of volunteer plants and 2 species of selected wild plants growing together, and a brief description of what you did to encourage the polyculture, like mulching or selective chop and drop.

This thread talks about selecting volunteers as a useful trait in plant breeding, and has a good discussion about volunteer plants in general.

Volunteering vegetables- The squash that won't go away...

What if there's a lot of unwanted plants growing amongst the volunteers?

Volunteers versus weeds

How to Certify That Your BB is Completed

 - A picture and identification of the 3 species of volunteers and 2 species of selected wild plants
 - A brief description on how you encouraged the volunteers and selected the wild plants (ie mulch, selective chop and drop)
4 days ago