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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One Straw

#RaisedBed

#NorthFacingFrontYard

This #RaisedBed is where things first got serious toward growing food. Early on there had been random tomato attempts here and there, but nothing amounted to much. Fruit trees were being planted simultaneously. It’s amazing how much one needs to learn, even to grow tomatoes.

Left to right, facing south.

It’s all about building soil. Reading “One-Straw Revolution” ~ Masanobu Fukuoka, about the renowned revolutionary farmer in Japan last night, I was reminded of just how important it is to “First Do No Harm” and let nature be the guide. His second of four major rules is “NO CHEMICAL FERTILIZER OR PREPARED COMPOST”.  Asterisked, below it clarifies that “For fertilizer Mr. Fukuoka grows a leguminous ground cover of white clover, returns the threshed straw to the fields, and adds a little poultry manure.”

Later in the book he says it is sometimes necessary early on to do things, but that gradually, refraining from other than what would happen in nature is recommended. So I have added bagged compost and brought in straw to cover the ground. I am using clover, but it takes a lot of water, so I need to try other cover crops. I have Buckwheat seeds to try. “Buckwheat grows in soils with poor fertility and requires little water after germination.” Of course, Mr. Fukuoka  had acreage and was growing fields of rice and winter grains along with orchards of citrus.

The main thing is to learn what nature does and try to mimic it.

I try things in different locations and conditions to see what works best here in the Southeastern desert of Arizona. This is the east most corner and has shade off and on. It makes a great sitting area and doggy traffic-watching spot. I left some fence slats off so they had a place to sit and stare.

Anyone who will come and see these fields and accept their testimony, will feel deep misgivings over the question of whether or not humans know nature, and of whether or not nature can be known within the confines of human understanding. ~ Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Relolution, pg. 29

Methods of insect control which ignore the relationships among the insects themselves are truly useless. ~ pg. 27

Monday I was in the #SouthFortyTriangleLot watering when a snake slithered  along the edge of the fence footer. I was almost upon it. I jumped back and skedaddled, but tried to remain calm and get some kind of view of it. It didn’t appear to have a rattler. It went quickly, but seemed docile.

Non-venomous, King/"good snake"

Non-venomous, King/”good snake”

To the best of my recollection, this web image represents what I saw.

It went missing. I think it has a home under the patio slab. I have been tip-toeing around, trying to believe it’s a good thing to have around.

It’s not always easy to allow nature to have Her way. We want control.

Nature is the teacher. I try so hard to listen.

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#AcaciaTreeBed

I have caught cottontail bunnies making escape several times lately and they always head for the gate gaps, so I have installed chicken-wire foils to encourage them to stay out. Ceramic bunnies are all I want to see. This one got crowded out of the strawberry pot, so got brought up here where there is a sweet potato slip to watch and a garlic I forgot I pushed in there.

The chaste tree is coming in to bloom. It won’t be long before I see hummingbird moths. They look so much like hummingbirds.

Gertie has been my walk-around companion as of late, since Little Red-Haired Girl wants to find a spot and spectate now.

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#1HugelkulturBed

Four artichoke have been harvested, but not cooked yet. Others are being left to flower. I understand they make great dried specimens. The chard and beet pods have been removed to save for seed and now this needs new plantings. This is the #1HugelkulturBed and is being allowed to meld into the surrounds.

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#SouthFortyTriangleLot

This seems to be a good time to take pictures. Both sides, East and West turned out good today. The morning was balmy, quiet because “Schools Out For Summer”, with just birdsong for music and a hint of a cool breeze. A slight cloud covering. It’s A Wonderful Life.

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Chaste Tree

A Right Livelihood

Graduation ceremonies occurred tonight across the street on the school’s football field with attendees in the bleachers. Many people park along the street, I guess to make it easier to leave once the event is over.

It was fun watching them all walking, families of all sorts and ages; some dressed up, some in jeans. One man spent an inordinate amount of time inspecting his vehicle, which, mind you was a pretty hot, souped up truck with special wheels. The wheels were more than half as tall as he was. He was at least above 40, so not a kid. I couldn’t tell if he was making sure of whether his parking was satisfactory or if he was just admiring his beast.

I was in the yard making early evening inspection of the plant goings on and took the time to enjoy the people passing by. It was impossible not to think about choices. All these young people getting ready to advance to another segment of their lives, with so much in front of them. All the different classes of people attending their respective graduate’s accomplishment. A Corvette drove by. Made me think of the several Corvette’s I’ve been acquainted with and the one time I sought to almost purchase one.

A right livelihood

I took this image lately because it is an area that is next on the agenda to tackle doing something about. When I look at the picture, I see so much that is wrong with my home and property, and what little resources I have with which to work. Choices I’ve made.

The first choice I made in life was not so much one I really had much to say about as it wasn’t in my nature to take a sensible kind of job like my mother hoped I would; civil service, utility,  or the railroad. That would have been like eating peas to me, they make me gag. My mother finally stopped trying to make me eat them and she knew I needed something different for a life direction. I wanted to be an artist. I had received a summer scholarship to attend The Academy of Art in San Francisco, leaving the day after graduation. Of course, when I returned, it was necessary for me to work. My mother had already lined up something she was sure would be my cup of tea. A man had started a business that was on the order of a Kinkos, (which now don’t even exist), but long before any of us knew of them. Business services. He had paste up and layout. He did advertising. He bound books. He did radio and local events at malls. He had artists on staff and created an art gallery, hiring a man to curate it that had been a portrait painter at Disneyland. He hired me as a “Girl Friday”. He thought I had great potential. I was 18. I got to go out and run errands all over town in my car, with my gas. He paid us a couple of times and we worked for free for the remainder of the year or so it finally took us all to realize that it wasn’t going to succeed. He was charming and we all loved him and the work we were doing. My wonderful mother kept telling me to “hang in there”.

Submission for Scholarship

Submission for Scholarship, Pastels

Most of my life after that was spent “hanging in there”.

I was enjoying myself, drifting from place to place with the breeze. I challenged a lot of people with my conviction that everything is meaningless and of no value, that everything returns to nothingness”,  quoting Masanobu Fukuoka, of The One-Straw Revolution fame. A wonderful book mind you. He was a revolutionary farmer in Japan.

Most of my career was spent as an Interior Designer, so to speak, using artistic talents and a passion for sewing and all things fabric to help clients make their homes what they wanted them to be; but I was never really happy. I loved the work of creating spaces, but I soon got to the point of feeling it was meaningless, wasteful and of no value. For the most part it is a completely unnecessary consumption. A pure luxury.

I have managed to spend parts of two days this week working on cleaning out the garage/studio to make it ready to teach sewing. All of it so far, sorting through papers from life, (I plan to use the file cabinets to organize patterns). Purging that past forced me to revisit the history of a young woman who I can see clearly now was razor focused on getting to a right livelihood; i.e., “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow” ~ Marsha Sinetar

All these young people marching off to new futures; some to useless wars, some to certain servitude with a college education. (“Student debt is really nothing more than a fancier form of indentured servitude.” ~ Simon Black of Sovereign Man)

I hope they get quickly to where they are pursuing their right livelihoods and don’t waste a minute doing things that will eventually seem meaningless. Of course, some people will still want that Corvette or the big fancy truck with wheels and think it means something.

Maybe for them it still does.

Front Yard Farmacy

I’m happy watching plants grow.

The article referenced and linked above by Simon Black is a wonderful tool to help your young person focus on a direction for their future. Well worth a read.

I’m so glad I had a mother who encouraged me to seek what my soul asked me to. It wasn’t always easy, and it took way longer than I would have liked but I am finally at a point where I am free to do what I love and let the money follow.

This week the Dorsett Golden Apple tree found its home on the #SouthFortyTriangleLot just east of the #3Hugelbed. The left over dirt was made into a bed to give 3 more of the volunteer watermelon seedlings a second chance.

#UnderTheScragglyTree got some flower seeds sown and some donated, cedar-smelling logs placed to help keep the #WildGirls from scratching them up. The little volunteer mystery tomato that I left there is doing exceptionally well, especially after the addition of the compost.

I hope you had a good week doing whatever it is you love. If you are following me, no doubt you’re a gardener too.

Until next week, hope you do no tilling.