In Due Time

The main reason water is disappearing from the rivers is that rain has stopped falling. The first step we must take in countering desertification is not to redirect the flow of rivers, but to cause rain to fall again. This involves revegetation.

Trying to revegetate the deserts by using the scarce water remaining in the rivers is putting the cart before the horse. No, we must first revegetate vast stretches of desert at one time, thereby causing rain clouds to rise from the earth. ~ pg 60-61 Sowing Seeds in the Desert ~ Masanobu Fukuoka

What I have quickly discovered after removing straw and wood chips from my planting areas and instead, planting green cover crops is that the interspersed food crops are fairing better than they did last year with the carbon type covers. I think it is because of the humidity that the green cover crops create when they transpire, thereby cooling the area some as well.

As it is, in a desert, for carbon covers to be of value they have to be irrigated regularly to break down and they don’t seem all that efficient at holding much moisture; especially not straw. I decided to invest that same water in green covers that will be chopped and dropped eventually. It makes more sense, to me. Both clover and buckwheat flower. Bees love the clover. Turns out there is a honey that tastes like molasses that depends on buckwheat for the bees. Win-win.

Bees in the buckwheat

Here is something I would do if I could. Bees in a field of buckwheat seems too good to be true. The source of my all-time favorite honey, Fagopyrum esculentum, just doesn’t want to grow in my shady forest apiary. Believe me, I’ve tried. So I have to be content looking at a photo like this and dreaming about the molasses taste of buckwheat honey.

I’m also throwing out old seeds willy-nilly. Why not? Whatever should come up, can be more biomass or food if it ends up fairing well enough.

Here are a couple of stands of buckwheat that are doing especially well. They seem to like being up against something.

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Behind the pomegranate tree, the straw was pulled away and buckwheat scattered.

The intention is to improve soil. The straw there did very little to improve the soil. This will be chopped and dropped closer to monsoon season when the rain will help it decompose more consistently.

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The #WestMost corner of the #SouthForty Triangle lot was ‘clawed’ up and buckwheat broadcast.

The dirt in all areas of this compound is sandy. It is hard until watered well and then the water dissipates quickly. When developing this corner, it was watered heavily so it could be dug up to remove Bermuda grass. Nothing has been successful with Bermuda grass except to do this at the beginning. I suppose if lasagna beds were made, in due time, it would smother the grass; but there just weren’t resources for that.

After the Bermuda grass was removed, the dirt was leveled out and newspaper/cardboard/straw was laid over it. It had very little effect in a year’s time except that the newspaper and cardboard were broken down. That is now being use in the Humanure bin.

All of the straw was raked off and put into the paths this year and then I got out the ‘garden claw‘ and broke up the dirt enough that buckwheat could be broadcast and raked over to set it.

I’m so glad I decided to do this. I’m much happier with the results over carbon covers.

The other thing one might be afraid of is competition, but my experience thus far has been that everyone likes being crowded. Below is an image of what looks like a watermelon that has volunteered. To the left is a cage over a pumpkin that was transplanted from the patch on the down side of the #4HugelBed. It’s as lush as can be.

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Looks like a volunteer watermelon in there among the buckwheat and zinnias.

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The #PumpkinPatch has a fourth one sprouting. Two others were transplanted.

I have been using the raked off wood chips and some leaf mulch to cover transplants and seedlings where they are too exposed. As a result, volunteers are popping up all over from seeds that didn’t germinate in the areas that material came from. I always pulled back the covers to sow seeds, but the birds kick it back over; so when it got raked up, it brought seeds with it. Whatever works to get things started.

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Tomato transplants covered with leaf mulch

Where the wood chips were laid, volunteers are popping up around the tomato transplants; beets and looks like radishes.

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Bunching onions covered with a little bit of leaf mulch.

Where I sowed bunching onions was covered with a little bit of leaf mulch that also brought over some things to surprise sprout.

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#5HugelBed with clover and buckwheat around a couple of food things

The #5HugelBed was just installed at the beginning of this season. Clover was immediately broadcast over it and later filled in some with buckwheat. I think it’s two cantaloupes growing there, not doing all that well, as well as a yellow squash and a nasturtium. Wood chips were added around them to help retain moisture some.

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#NorthFencePlot

The #NorthFencePlot is home to many of the tomato transplants that are all doing well. This was thick with wood chips and several times sowed with beet seeds; pulling back the mulch to put in the seeds. Again the birds kicked it back over hunting for grubs and other bugs. It was mostly raked off so some of those seeds are popping up where the wood chips ended up. Now there are  some zinnias finally appearing along the fence where they were scratched into the improved soil minus the wood chips. The bricks were holding down the wire trashcans when the tomatoes were babies and needed some shelter; just haven’t bothered to move them.

The #RaisedBed still has some cabbages doing okay. The chicken wire has done little to thwart the white butterflies as they can navigate the wire easily. I see them in there all of the time. Some are more affected by chomping than others.

Popcorn rows between and aside the cabbages and some sweet potato slips put in the upper right area where leaf mulch was topped over the soil. The lower right had some cold-compost put over it and all kinds of things are volunteering there. Some will get transplanted when they get big enough.

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#NorthFacingFrontYard

Seems to be taking forever, but in time, it will become greener and greener; this season and hopefully long term as well. I find myself almost jealous when I visit images of Bealtaine Cottage and see how lush and vibrant her patch of heaven is; but, after all, she is in Ireland where there is so much more rain.

I wait with bated breath, but nature does things as she sees fit. All in due time. I can only try to help.

Water seems to be everything.

Well I for one will listen to the wisdom of Masanobu Fukuoku and do my best to green this little part of the desert. Maybe the water will come back if enough of us do.

The time has come and gone to get started, so let’s not waste any more of it.

If Humanity can regain its original kinship with nature, we should be able to live in peace and abundance. Seen through the eyes of modern civilization, however, this life of natural culture must appear to be monotonous and primitive, but not to me…

…We must realize that both in the past and today, there is only one “sustainable” course available to us. We must find our way back to true nature… pg. 16 ~ Sowing Seeds in the Desert ~ Masanobu Fukuoku

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Fig tree

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Plum tree

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Chaste tree in bloom. The bees love it.

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#2SquashPit planted with #ThreeSisters

Some of this had to be resown, hence the various heights of the popcorn. Not all of the squashes germinated but there are some extras on the #3SquashPit that will eventually be transplanted to here.

I’m not a big fan of sweet corn, and it doesn’t store all that well. Popcorn I love and it can be ground into meal to use for baking cornbread and stored.

I’m still reluctant to use external inputs because there is not really any telling if there is herbicide/pesticide residue that will contaminate the organic nature of what I hope to achieve, in the long run it isn’t really sustainable/regenerative and it isn’t what I am being lead to believe is the best way overall. Transportation and money are issues as well. For now, I work with what I have and can find locally and am trying to stick as much as possible to the Fukuoku method.

We’ll see. We’ll see. All in due time.

 

 

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Close-Ups

Morning Walk About

Every morning the two #WildGirl doggies and I go out to stroll the garden and see what needs what and just to admire how wonderful plant life is. Well, the girls go out to do some business, I admire.

Today I took some close-ups. Quite a few things are showing the fruit of their labor. Imagine, all from a little tiny seed. Isn’t it grand.

I still need to get out the camera instructions and see how to get the right focus. Hit and miss.

Passionate about purple, but I include lots of bright pink things because that is the color my sister loved the most and I love reminders of her. Artichoke took lots of care and space. I waited a little too long to harvest the ones I did so they were tough to eat, though still delicious. I left the rest to continue blooming.

One of the chard planted on the #3Hugelbed last fall and overwintered is going to seed. I have already culled many seeds from the one in the front yard. May cut these. Patrick of One Yard Revolution just published a new video explaining his methods of tending to perennials and self-sowing biennials and annuals. He sometimes lops seed heads off before they are viable and puts them in the compost. Other times he lets them self-sow. Depending on space and how much of it he wants. I’m planning to level this last section of the bed in fall, otherwise I might let it go. It is the only section still with a crown. It is hard to water.

Cilantro can’t seem to take this heat so bolts quickly. I may let it just self-sow on the little mound as it is a useful plant to attract beneficial bugs.

Tiny flowers of cilantro as a companion plant accommodate beneficial bugs and encourage them to maintain residence in your gardens. As a companion plant, cilantro may be planted throughout the garden in well-placed locations, tucked in near tomato and spinach plants or planted in rows bordering fruits and vegetables. Choose varieties of cilantro which bolt easily, producing flowers quickly. Cilantro is a short-lived flowering herb which may be re-seeded every few weeks to maintain its potent effect.

I’ve mentioned before that I occasionally toss kitchen scraps out the back door into a little corner. Every year, without fail, things volunteer. This year watermelon came up, abundantly. I potted most of them, giving many away and transplanting some. I left 4 in place along with a gourd plant that came up last year as well. The image above represents the ones that still haven’t found homes.

The Avocado plants also volunteered there last year. I extracted them, potted each and took them in and out of the garage throughout winter. Since they worked so hard to survive, I will nurse them as long as I can.

These are all things that increase abundance and help minimize cost inputs. Whatever doesn’t produce a crop is always fodder for compost and chop and drop biomass for improving soil.

Until things start producing enough to create sufficient biomass, bagged organic compost, composted mulch and straw have been brought in. Our little town isn’t quite sophisticated enough to think of long term permaculture strategies for helping citizens build food forests. I would like to see our landfill include a chipping station for us all to utilize city and residential trimmings. At this point it all goes to waste. I believe my time is better spent sowing seeds and creating my own internal system than to try to “fight City Hall”. I’m a firm believer that we can develop things outside of the existing system and that it is the best strategy after all. Politics schmolitics.

I have sown some buckwheat in the #ScragglyTreeBed. It is another ground cover/soil building strategy. And, I just found that our local feed sells the seed in bulk for $2.50 lb. I had bought a couple packets, no doubt for 2 or 3 dollars each. Silly me. I hope to sow the parkway and start developing it for food planting. Buckwheat grows in pour soil and doesn’t require much water/attention after it germinates. Chop and drop and the plants do the work of “tilling” the soil and help build the microbiome while they’re at it; such hard workers, plants are.

Building soil is also about increasing its water-retention capabilities. The pomegranate tree has a thick layer of straw over newspaper and I have watered it sparingly since I realized that they don’t like much water. I may have held back too much. One fruit has cracked.

This is the first time I have planted corn. It is fun to watch grow and so attractive. There is both sweet corn and popcorn growing in various places all over #TheCompound.

Beets and sweet potatoes are staples in my diet. I have planted lots and lots of slips that were grown on taters in water starting long before spring on a warming tray built with a plank, furring strips and incandescent tube lights. Beets, I need to get out there and plant more.

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I’m just amazed at how well these four, yes four cantaloupe seedlings have done in this shallow pot with a nasturtium in the middle to boot. Will let them go as long as they look good. It’s always fun and good learning to experiment.

I follow Colette of Bealtaine Cottage Ireland and am in awe of what she has done on 3 acres all by herself in 12 years. This is my 13th year here and I’m by myself too. Granted she has rain. We have desert. None the less, she is totally inspiring me to plant, plant, plant, now, now, now. I need to start propagating.

Colette just published a video where she spent almost an hour walking around her property describing what she does. It’s well worth viewing, even if in segments.

 

There is another video I put the link on Facebook and ended up with over 10,000 “post reach” of two men who bought a duplex and created a permaculture paradise on 1/10 of an acre. Paradise Lot it is called. This video is not YouTube and I think only available through The Permaculture Research Institute. Here is a link  but you will have to go to the site to view it. You won’t be disappointed.

before after backyard

There is no end to what we can do to change things if we want to. I want to. What about you?