#4HugelBed

It’s been such a lousy growing season for me this year. Still unsure of why so many things failed. My suspicion is that the straw mulch must have had herbicide residue. That, and the fact that so many of the things that have been done to establish permaculture features haven’t had long enough to develop to be what they will become in time.

It started like this

It started like this

Though, I have to say that the first year of the #1HugelkulturBed, it was planted and had fairly good success; especially with beets and chard.

At any rate, the thought now is to devote much of ongoing efforts to developing soil to be healthier and able to retain more of the limited water that arrives in this hot, hot desert. Hopefully over-watering won’t be quite such an issue; it may have been part of the trouble too.

So, time for another Hugelkultur element in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot next to the Plum tree. A #SquashPit (see embedded video at the end for a how-to) was ‘planted’ there at the beginning of the growing season and when I dug up to it for the new trench, it was full of worms. The squash pit is just in front of where the yellow watering wand is stuck in the blocks to mark it.

Pyracantha trimmings from a recent culling in the #ParkwayProject

Pyracantha trimmings from a recent culling in the #ParkwayProject

First thing was to dig a trench. Second thing was to use the Pyracantha debris in the bottom of the trench as it is very prickery and not fun to deal with on the surface layers later on.

Pyracantha debris before being lopped down

Pyracantha debris before being lopped down

All of the pyracantha debris lopped down

All of the Pyracantha debris lopped down

Part of why a trench is dug is to give you the dirt you need for adding over the wood and other materials. A Hugelkultur structure can be built from the ground up if you have other dirt to use. More dirt would have been nice, but it will settle in time and there are all of those wire rounds with composting material that can be used to fill in some of the holes. This is all that the Pyracantha debris, that was sitting on the sticks, amounted to after it was lopped down. It was put in the trench first. It was still somewhat ‘green’ so will add some nitrogen for breaking down the other wood.

Next the sticks were added.

Putting the sticks in the trench

Putting the sticks in the trench

The littler ones are useful for filling in gaps.

All of the sticks are in

All of the sticks are in

Green things

Green things

Watermelon, pumpkin, and tomato vines that were pulled to make the trench were added atop the sticks. More nitrogen to activate things.

Stuff from out front that was waiting for this build

Stuff from out front that was waiting for this build

The stuff from the front yard that was just sitting in the #TriangleRaisedBed waiting for this build was brought over to add over the sticks before covering with the trench dirt.

More debris to build up the nitrogen elements

More debris added over the sticks

A little bit closer view

A little bit closer view

All available dirt added over the debris

All available dirt added over the debris

It’s taller than it looks in this image. This was after using all of the trench dirt. More dirt would have been better. I think the things decomposing in the wire rounds will make a nice topping in the not to distant future.

A little perspective for height

A little perspective for height

It got watered in to help the dirt settle some and to start activating things.

Little Red-Haired Girl sniffin for grubs

Little Red-Haired Girl sniffin for grubs

Both of the doggies love when dirt gets dug so they can hunt for grubs, which were many.

Brown Noser

Little Brown Noser

This big critter came to give its approval and see if there were any bugs to spare

This big critter came to give its approval and see if there were any bugs to spare

blue/black waspy flying thing

Blue/black waspy flying thing

And this critter was burying itself in the straw until I disturbed it to try to take an image. It flew off and came back to burrow into this mulch; looking for a place to lay some eggs I presume.

Voila! Another Hugelkultur element at First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy

Voila! Another Hugelkultur element at First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy

#4HugelBed is complete for now. Hopefully this will act as a water sink next to the Plum tree and be another place with lots of nutrition (eventually) for planting. Hugelkultur building is a great way to keep wonderful resources out of landfills and be better utilized (here) for an eventual, hopeful food forest.

Every day something.

The moral of this story is:

“Tis a lesson you should heed:
Try, try again.
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try again.”

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Failing At Quitting

The difference between failure and quitting is in the commitment. Failing is hard, takes a lot of work, yields a lot of experience and insight and while not fun, leaves you a better person. Quitting on the other hand just means that you don’t have what it takes to follow anything through. ~ January 22, 2012 by

#RaisedBed in the #NorthFacingFrontYard

#RaisedBed in the #NorthFacingFrontYard

This growing season has been quite a disappointment. Aside from good yields on the apricot and plum trees, nothing much has been produced.

The tomatoes were large and tasty, but very few. I quit eating night shades doing an elimination strategy trying to identify the culprit in migraine headaches; so the tomatoes went to my neighbor and a friend. I did eat a few and we all agreed that they were delicious and that store-bought varieties taste like cardboard and are therefore pretty much a waste of money comparatively speaking.

Over the several years that have been devoted to being very serious about growing my own food, I have used many techniques to try to improve soil and water retention and have been planting things that are perennial and offer layers toward what I hope will someday be a ‘food forest’ of sorts; as much as a desert can become a food forest.

Popcorn

Popcorn

The goal, of course is to produce the things I want to eat. Popcorn is a favorite snack. It was looking so hopeful, compared to the sweet corn that succumbed to worms early on. Alas, it failed as well. It didn’t quit, mind you, it failed. It did it’s best and I applaud it. It didn’t have all the support it needed and I take full responsibility for that. This little ear may have made it, but the one next to it was infected so highly unlikely. I felt badly for pulling it after opening it, it looked so clean and nice.

Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, broccoli were all planted in Fall last year and over-wintered. They all bolted at the first sign of heat.

Asparagus went along nicely, taking up so much space for such little yields. The one that I did harvest, I waited just a smidgen too long and it was tough. This growing food is a VERY tricky thing.

So many other things, chives, cilantro, carrots, onions, garlic…nothing viable. Watermelon and cantaloupe are still struggling on; not sure what will amount to anything.

I did get a few beets that were good, not as good as last year’s.

Sweet potatoes are still vining away and may produce a yield. #WaitAndSee.

The difference seems to be the straw. Straw was put everywhere as a ground cover over newspaper and cardboard. I’m afraid that the straw may have had herbicide residue and that may be what had caused so much trouble. It’s just hard to know. I asked the local feed if he could get that information before I used it, but he says that he uses a broker and it comes from many sources. Seems the only possible way is to secure a local organic farmer. I haven’t been able to do that yet.

The other thing might be to get a chipper/shredder so that all of the arbor debris generated on site here could be worked down to wood chips/arbor mulch. That will take at least $700. and it’s not in the budget at present.

So, we march on.

#3Hugelbed in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot

#3Hugelbed in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot

The #3Hugelbed seemed a good place to start Fall clean-up now as it had nothing left producing aside from the cantaloupe along the East foot of it, which got left in place.

When it was built, it had a thick layer of straw put over the wood before adding back the hole soil over top. There were lots of vacant spots in the stick layer so when I went to walk over it, it sunk in a lot. There was just one tomato vine still green but with no flowers, so it got taken over to the new #TriangleRaisedBed to decompose along with some purslane that was dried out on it too. It will get chopped down and spread around.

#TriangleRaisedBed

#TriangleRaisedBed

Baby Tarantula

Baby Tarantula

When my foot sunk down into the debris, I yanked it back as quickly as possible because I imagined all kinds of teaming life under there. Sure enough, out came a baby tarantula from a den it had dug. It got put back into an opening in the debris while I went about raking all of the dirt and such up from the side and onto the top to consolidate and pack it all in better. I sure hope it finds it’s way out again; they’re good bugs that eat bad bugs.

#3Hugelbed reconfigured

#3Hugelbed reconfigured

Watered in and some sticks over top

Watered in and some sticks over top

The soil on it now has much more organic matter in it that has gone through Summer. Raking it around helped it all to mingle. Then it was watered in. The sticks were some from my neighbor’s trimmings that are just there to act as a little mulch, keeping the Sun from scorching any life there now, which is abundant.

L - R: Kale, Cabbage, Brussels sprouts.

L – R: Kale, Cabbage, Brussels sprouts.

While waiting for spaces to direct sow some cool weather crops to try the over-winter strategy again, some have been sown in trays. The #3Hugelbed may get planted.

Gardening morale booster

Gardening morale booster

As hard as it is now for Little Red-Haired Girl to walk, she insists on being near me. Often I carry her out, but this time she came through the doggy door on her own. Bless her little heart; she stayed the whole time.

MickeyMouser

MickeyMouser

MickeyMouser, lollygagging around inside as usual. Oh, he’d be out if he could.

So the moral of this story is: Quitting isn’t an option if one wants A Simple Life of Abundance and Peace but failing is inevitable.