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Kc Simmons

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since Sep 26, 2019
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hugelkultur forest garden trees rabbit greening the desert homestead
Central Texas
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Recent posts by Kc Simmons

As we quickly approach the end of 2020, I suppose it's time for me to begin reviewing my year's worth of notes & observations in an effort to have a proactive start to 2021. But this is just an update of things since my last post.
I've been kind of MIA for the last 6 weeks or so... Mostly because I've had a lot of stuff going on in my professional & personal lives that have demanded a large % of my time and focus. I ended up not doing much of a fall garden, because I felt I need a bit of a rest period to regroup and better define my wants/goals. In the name of self-care & personal growth, I've actually been considering downsizing some areas... Particularly with the animals. It's just began to feel like I'm living for the sole purpose of working and, after recently turning 35, I realize I may want to actually live life instead of just working at my job and on the farmstead from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed.
This doesn't mean I want to up and quit everything... My spiritual beliefs are deeply connected to the earth, so my permaculture system is a major component of maintaining my mental/emotional health. I do think, however, that it may be healthy for me to scale down a bit to reduce the overwhelming workload, as it's gotten to a point where I don't have time to embrace the spiritual part because all of my time is needed just to get the daily chores done.
So, what that means is I have some reflecting to do before I set my 2021 goals and begin making plans to reach them. Once we're a little closer to the start of 2021, I will officially close this post and share the link to my 2021 project thread.
1 month ago
My apple trees definitely are confused. They are still blooming and one of them is actually trying to make fruit.
Both are low-chill varieties... But I honestly don't think there's been any chill hours since last February.
2 months ago

Simon Forman wrote:OMG that plant is gorgeous!

I tried both too this year but forgot which was which.  I started them
way late (in late July) and it's too cold here, so the ground cherries
(as you can see in the photos) are only a couple of inches tall.  The
dwarf tamarillos sprouted and then steadfastly refused to grow.  Only one
has second leaves on it, the rest have stayed the same size as when they
first sprouted, with just two leaves, for a couple of months.  My hope is
that they're just waiting for Spring to do their thing.



Thank you! That's the biggest of my tamarillos and it's probably close to 5 feet tall, started from seed in late spring. I had an unexpected surgery in March, which kept me from actually planting the seedlings until mid May. The ground cherries seemed to do better before it got hot in July, but the tamarillos didn't start picking up growth until June when the temps were in the upper 90s. The big one in the picture has developed a woody trunk, so I plan to mulch it and see if it can survive the winter. I also have a few smaller ones in pots that I plan to put in the greenhouse. Truthfully they grow so quickly from seed that I could probably just grow them as annuals each year but I've read the fruits get better as the tree gets older, so hoping to keep some alive to see for myself next year.
I have a few volunteer ground cherries that recently came up after one of the rainy days a few weeks ago. They're about a foot tall now, but I haven't seen any blooms on them yet. Our average first frost date is like Nov 21, so not sure if they will have a chance to fruit before it freezes. At least now I know they will grow in fall, so I might try planting seeds for a second crop next summer and see if they will produce. After my surgery there were a lot of ground cherries that I didn't get to harvest or were damaged by stink bugs, so I kind of expect to see lots of volunteers next spring in the asparagus bed and strawberry bed from all the berries that fell from the plant and didn't get picked.
2 months ago
Nice!
I grew both of those this year for the first time and they haven't disappointed. The ground cherries went strong until late July when the highs were triple-digits and it got too dry. The tamarillos have been growing like crazy, and started flowering in the summer, but didn't make many berries. Now that the temps are lower, though, they are starting to get covered in berries.
In the reviews on the Baker Creek website, multiple people said the first-year fruit is often bitter, but the taste gets better each year. I have 4 or 5 planted in the ground, but kept a few seedlings in containers that I hope to overwinter in the greenhouse. I'm in zone 8a/b, and we typically get just enough frosts to keep us from growing "true" tropicals outside during winter, but we'll see how they do.
2 months ago
I haven't eaten bean leaves, but will add it to my list of new things to try. I especially like the idea of dehydrating and grinding them for a boost of protein in dishes.
Looks like it's going to be next spring before I get to try this, though; because the remaining bean & field pea vines in the garden have very few leaves left. The leaves they still have look pretty gross from the aphids, stink bugs, sharpshooters and the myriad of other pests that have plagued my garden this year.
I have eaten the new leaves/shoots of English peas a few times, and was able to get a small row of them planted for this winter's garden so will try the dehydration/grinding with them (IF they can survive the pest pressure until it's too cold for the bugs 🙄).
3 months ago
For individual/small batches I ordered coin envelopes from Amazon. I have the plastic photograph storage boxes that I use to sort and hold all of the envelopes.

Ellendra Nauriel wrote:
There used to be a hybrid pumpkin called "Snack Jack". It might still be around, although it's gone through several name changes over the years. What I liked about it was that it had both hulless seeds and tasty pie-quality flesh. I've spent more than 10 years trying to de-hybridize it, but it's not quite ready yet.



I'm thinking it may be called "Jack Be Little" nowadays, but not 100% sure it's the same cultivar. Have seen seeds, but haven't personally grown it.
Huge congratulations! Great job!
Autumn is always a little bittersweet for me. On one hand, the mid 80s- mid 90s temps are glorious after the last two months of triple digit temps. On the other hand my anxiety is in high gear because the shorter days have me rushing to get all the daily chores done before it gets dark, and I haven't had time to work on the things I put off this summer when it was too hot to do them.
I'm not a fan of the winter since my body doesn't work as well when it's cold; however the thought of at least a couple of months without mosquitos & other pests sure sounds nice.


3 months ago
First, big congrats on the new home/property!
A lot will depend on the type of grass and the climate.
Personally, I would probably have it mowed... Just because it's not going to do a ton of damage to the grass/soil lifesince it's already been mowed consistently by the previous owner (so damage has already been done).
Having it short will allow you to observe the actual ground so you can more easily see the high/low points of the land and plan around that, for future projects, as you observe. You'll also be able to explore without worrying about suddenly stepping in a lower spot and falling or spraining an ankle.
You will be getting a source of organic matter to start a compost with, use as mulch, etc. It will come in handy to already have it when you are running around doing other things and don't have time to go out and find stuff on the property.
It won't take long for the grass to grow back so, even if you regret having it mowed, it's not permanent.

These are just some things I thought of. Looking forward to hearing more about your new adventure!
3 months ago