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.

 

 

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.