Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Asberry Acres Permaculture Forest Farm - Planting Slowing Down

The reasons are two-fold: most of the plants have been planted, woohoo! and, at the moment, I'm still trying to resolve the drain right-of-way issue with the County Drainage Board. Although the right-of-way issue won't affect much of the property, it does interfere with some of my plan. In particular, it interferes with the placement of a Korean Pine windbreak. Still, I've marked out where the trees outside the 75' zone will go.

The five chicks are still doing fairly well. The two Brahmans have a few feathers missing as does one of the Rhode Island Reds. While goofing around with the girls, I made a crow sound ("caw") and one of the Brahmans tried to respond -- and not a single sound came out! We all had a chuckle as it would do this every time we made the noise. Which got me to thinking, Ostrich (his name) is probably a rooster. He started out being one of the smallest chicks and is already bigger than all the rest. The chicks are definitely starting to mature - they have most of their adult feathers now although Ostrich still has tufts of fluff. And, every so often we'll hear one cluck instead of the cute little chirp.

I'm figuring the pecking and missing feathers is due to space stress so I'm planning on making two chicken tractors instead of just one. We haven't taken the birds (in dog kennels) outside just yet since the dog is still a threat. In fact, the escape artist was found out of her harness and was begging for treats this morning.

The long weekend ended on a good note:
Is it even possible? Can it be? Yes! Clear skies!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Asberry Acres Permaculture Forest Farm - Rain, Rain, Go Away...

Last night we got another 8 inches of rain:
Luckily, where I planned a pond
Yes, 8 inches in one day. That's on top of the 4 inches we got Tuesday and the 2 inches we got Sunday. Of course, this all comes with severe weather and the spotting of two tornadoes Sunday and Wednesday in small towns just west of our home. One thing not obvious is that the grass is about three inches tall and the entire property is covered in water, just below the top of the grass.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

And This is News?: Fungi Reduce Need for Fertilizer in Agriculture

ScienceDaily (May 23, 2011) — The next agricultural revolution may be sparked by fungi, helping to greatly increase food-production for the growing needs of the planet without the need for massive amounts of fertilizers according to research presented May 23 at the 111th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in New Orleans.
It's great that the word is getting out, but Paul Stamets has been saying this for years. Mycelium Running is an excellent overview of all the wonderful things that fungi do for us. Get a copy.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Asberry Acres Permaculture Forest Farm - Officially a Farm!

Bought 6 chicks tonight. Three Brahmans, two Rhode Island Reds, and one white (not sure breed). Not completely sure of the sex, but the seller was fairly sure the Rhode Island Reds and the white one are hens. He was guessing about the Brahmans but we took the three with the smallest combs.
Making New Friends - Feeding from My Hand
For now, we're keeping them in a portable dog kennel. I'm planning on building a chicken tractor where I can move them every day. They'll eat the grass and bugs while fertilizing the soil!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Asberry Acres Permaculture Forest Farm - Biggest Planting Yet

First, a couple pictures...

Would've had more pictures, but this crazy unending flooding rain...

Saturday middle daughter and stepdaughter helped me plant eighty-nine (!) Hybiscus syriacus. They were a huge help, I dug the holes and they put the plants in the ground all only in 7 hours! That freed up enough time for me to plant an ounce of Chenopodium bonus-henricus seeds and put in soil, mulch, and Red Thumb Fingerling seed potatoes into one of the beds just before the torrential downpour started.

Previous attempts to grow Actinidia arguta failed as the leaves would turn black and the plant would die. I think I've identified the reason: ammonia fertilizer. The plants I put in a couple weeks ago had a couple leaves turn black and the field next to the fence was recently tilled and fertilized. Going to keep an eye on the plants over the next few days but not sure what else I can do for them.

Sunday was a day of rest as the steady, drizzly rain continued. Have 30 Pinus koriaensis and 30 Corylus x. hybrids to map out and plant this week.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Downshifting and Intensive Gardening: Reduce the Learning Curve Now from a Cliff to Simply Steep Later

Another golden nugget from the Archdruid:
More generally, it amazes me how many people seem to think they can downshift in a blink from a modern American lifestyle, with all its comforts and privileges, to the close-to-subsistence lifestyle most of us will be leading in the middle future. It’s reminiscent of those old-fashioned survivalists whose idea of being ready to feed themselves once the rubble stops bouncing is a nitrogen-packed tin of garden seeds, a random assortment of tools, and a manual on how to garden, which they read halfway through on a slow afternoon ten years ago. Those who adopted that approach have been very lucky that their doomsteads have never had to function as anything more serious than deer camps, because if they’d tried to feed themselves that way, death by starvation would have been the inevitable result. Growing food in an intensive organic garden is a skilled craft requiring several years of hard and careful work to master, and if you hope to rely on it for even a small part of your food, you need to get through the steep part of the learning curve as soon as possible.
Get started. Now. Any small progress will get you ahead of the curve and reduce those pangs of hunger right when you need it.

Green Wizardry - LESS

Archdruid John Michael Greer hits the nail on the head again with Hair Shirts, Hypocrisy, and Wilkins Micawber:
What comes to mind at this point, rather, is an acronym – LESS – that stands for "Less Energy, Stuff, and Stimulation."
The last point, "stimulation", being the most critical for pointing out why we are where we are: dopamine hegemony. I want to make clear that the problem isn't simply stimulation, rather, stimulation for stimulation's sake only. I use many of the technologies that the Archdruid refers to for the purpose of stimulation... however, I use it to awaken my understanding of my (mostly hidden) desires and of the world. I use it as I say in "About Me" to transform myself from asleep and incidental to awake and intentional. This is a far cry from how and why most people experience stimulation:
A mind that’s constantly flooded with noise from television, video games, or what have you, is a mind that never has the time or space to think its own thoughts, and in a nation that’s trying not to notice that it’s sold its own grandchildren down the river, that’s probably the point of the exercise. Be that as it may, recovering the ability to think one’s own thoughts, to clear one’s mind of media-driven chatter, manufactured imagery, and all the other thoughtstopping clutter we use to numb ourselves to the increasingly unwelcome realities of life in a failing civilization, is an indispensable tool for surviving the challenges ahead, and one that I’ll be talking about at more length in a future post.
Once dopamine hegemony is recognized as the primary driver in our society, the next step is recognizing our overwhelming, predictable irrationality and managing the impact of our human cognitive errors.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Asberry Acres Permaculture Forest Farm - Lots of Progress, Even More to Do!

Had another very productive weekend. Mostly because I received two large shipments: one with 25 Arctostaphylus uva-ursi and another with 10 Rheum rhabarbarum, 5 Actinidia arguta, and 96 Hibiscus syriacus. Yes. 96.

My dog is a mouser! Go Layla!
I started Saturday digging 25 holes for the A. uva-ursi. It is a low-growing woody ground cover and has a prominent importance in my plan as I build around this and other trees and shrubs into several mini-guilds. Around noon or so, the rain changed over from a pleasant (but mud making) drizzle into thunderstorms.

Looking south as the storms come in from the southwest - our prevailing weather pattern.
I didn't mind the rain but the thunder and lightning told me to get out of the weather. So, I took the opportunity to run into town for supplies! (And a nice break :-)

Fresh and steaming hardwood mulch. I love that smell...
Wood for more raised beds
 By the time I got back home, a light rain was coming down, but the thunder and lightning had moved on. I quickly got incredibly muddy as I dug out all 25 holes for the A. uva-ursi. It was getting late by the time I finished digging so I took a few pictures of the plants since they were all coming out in full spring glory!

Lonicera caerulea edulis - in pots for later planting, just not sure where...
Helianthus tuberosus - they survived the wind!
Elaegnus umbellata - all 30 planted two weeks ago are in leaf!
Fragaria x ananassa - transplanted from Granny's last week and doing great!
Allium sativum "Giant" - saying "Hello World!"
Solanum tuberosum "Purple Majesty" - looking forward to purple mashed taters!
Solanum lycopersicum and Capsicum anuum - not sure those stakes will be stable enough for the maters. Hmm.
Hibiscus syriacus - all 96. Really.
Sunday started off a bit foggy, but turned into a nicely-cool partly-cloudy day -- perfect for planting. In each hole, I planted one bearberry, two strawberries, two onion seeds (not sets), and three asparagus seeds which I covered with a layer of musky-smelling mulch. (Looking forward to seeing how the bearberry and strawberries work out being the dominant ground cover.) I put rhubarb roots in ten of the holes. As the day progressed, I noticed the roots starting to dry out even with frequent rewaterings so I tried speeding things up a bit. Of course, my body resoundingly said, "no." Still, I got all the holes planted. Phew.

This week is going to be daunting as I plant all of those Rose of Sharon for our north and west hedgerow.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Asberry Acres Permaculture Forest Farm - Weekend Update

Ok, it's been a week since the last update. Mostly because I haven't done anything... it took me all week to recover!

On Saturday, we finally had a break from the rain and I was able to mow. It's not that I mind mowing, it's that I dislike that it's a requirement and wasteful of time and fuel. However, until I accumulate the soil amendments and am able to start my mini guilds, it's a necessary evil. The best answer is to nurture the land so that it can heal itself over time. I also don't like relying on external inputs. Any oil disruptions and the mowing is no longer a doable task and the weeds will choke out all the plants I've put in so far.

Also on Saturday, I got about a dozen small strawberry plants that have overrun my original practice beds out at Granny's farm. Strawberries make for an excellent groundcover. In the process of digging one of them up, I discovered a tiny (about the size of a dime) Calvatia gigantea preparing to burst above the surface. I didn't have my phone nearby, so, sorry, no picture. I did use this as an opportunity to "seed" my current mulch pile with the mycelia though!

While digging up the strawberries, I noticed a couple of other plants with markers. One was extremely faded but I could barely make out "Chrysanthemum cinquefolium". Not quite sure why I used that name. I did a quick web lookup when I remembered it was Pyrethrum which is classified as either Tanacetum (or Chrysanthemum) cinerariifolium. The other marker was completely faded, but I brought it home anyway. In another keyhole bed at Granny's, I noticed where I had dug up all my Helianthus tuberosus that I clearly didn't get all of them! Six healthy plants were sprouting.

3 Yacon in the back and fig in the front
I finished Saturday up transplanting some Polymnia edulis and a Ficus carica "Chicago Hardy"  into some containers since they don't like our cold winters.

New hoop houses holding up just fine in the strong winds!

Saturday night through Sunday afternoon visited us with rain. Again. After it cleared up, I followed the advice of my friend Tony and built two 4' x 4' hoop houses, not with PVC like my first attempt, but with 8' (x 4' 6") lengths of cattle panels. The panels were $1/ft so the price was about the same as using the PVC but the heavy gauge wire made it much sturdier. Another improvement I made was to wrap the bottom of the plastic around 4' long pieces of wood trim and put it on the inside of the bed. Of course, this was all done in 25 mph winds so my two youngest helped me keep the plastic from flying away like a giant kite. One small problem with using the cattle panels is that the metal poked through the plastic in a couple places pretty easily. The holes were small so I think this type works much better. After finishing the hoops, I planted 6 tomato plants and 3 peppers in each raised bed. I still have 36 'maters left to plant. Hmm.

Six tomatoes and one of the three peppers - all happy out of the wind.
All this digging and rolling around on the ground makes for a dirty boy!

Not sure why it's not visible, but my hands, arms, head, and face were just as dirty as my pants.

I don't know how my oldest daughter took this picture, but I really do have normal length legs.

Plan for this week: mark and plant the potted fruit trees. I also haven't received shipping confirmation for my 85 other trees, so they'll be a priority if they come in.