Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

Let's read up through the Lawn section. I'm actually there already, so let me know when you get done. i love this part! i wish he had written a whole book just for me!

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just bumping this one back to the top in case you missed it jennifer....
Apologies once again! I am loving this chapter but have been too busy to read in big chunks. I've read thru the lawn section...
alright! what did you think? i hardly know where to start, since this first half of the chapter was all so relevant and interesting. almost like he was talking to me about my land. berries, mushrooms, root crops for winter storage, periglacial outwash, oh my! though i had to laugh when he said "perhaps double glazing in pole-ward walls." since NO ONE uses single pane windows here anymore, ever, in any wall. we've got insulation and draft-proofing down pretty well. though i am intrigued by his emphasis on wind protection and vining plants as heat conserving. love that drawing showing the leaves which grow out in summer, allowing for air flow, and fold down in winter to provide insulation.
the berry section was great. don't know why i hadn't thought of this before, but this section, combined with my little guild exercise (in which i realized that downed trees are such a part of this ecosystem that they should have been listed in the guild) made me realize the value of rotting wood. we have PLENTY of rotting wood around here, and i could make a quick return "hugelkulture" by piling up already half rotten chunks (freshly cut wood takes WAY too long to decompose up here), covering with dirt and then plant my blueberry bushes in it. i had been planning to build berry beds with poultry manure and sand, but was worried that they wouldn't be acid enough. voila! problem solved! and by identifying a prolific third soil building resource.
i was also interested in his referrence to vaccinium sp. growing in oxygen poor soil (that's why we have so many vaccinium here! wet soil = low ox) and esp the part about how they each have a "specific heathfamily root associate to provide nitrogen" wow! what does that mean? a heath species that grows near them and the roots intermingle? do heaths fix notrogen? or otherwise scavenge excess? we have loads of heath species around here in the muskegs.
the section on blackberry control was relevant for our salmonberries. they are not near so invasive as blackberries, but def do encroach on our yard. if left to their own devices they would take over. the rubberbacked carpet idea sounds good, though, do you think he really meant 710 days? or is that a typo, is it supposed to be 7-10? neither makes particular sense....
and then, animals! i am so glad he finally got to some animal specifics! i loved the poultry section, though since i had been on an obsessive poultry kick already this winter, most of it was review. he did sum up most of the important stuff, i wish i had read his tidy little overview BEFORE though.
lastly. lawns. i know the gross overuse of them is evil, but can't anyone ever at least pay heed to the fact that a little bit of lawn for the kids to run on is perfectly acceptable, and give some details about how to do it in a GOOD way, instead of just spouting off about how bad they are, and moving on?
paul wheaton has a good page on his website about how to do a "permaculture lawn" i am going to be experimenting with grass alternatives or supplements this summer. actually, the section on "meadow creation" later in this chapter kind of gave me some good direction. a lawn is a short cropped meadow after all....

I had similar feelings when I started this chapter:  finally, he's talking to me!  

The house design stuff was interesting for me in that my house is 130+ years old.  I don't believe the insulation is all that great any more, but those walls are thick.  We have only one window on the north wall of the house.  Plenty of windows elsewhere, but definitely double-paned.  Interestingly though, our south windows are largely protected from sun exposure because of the front porch.  Good in summer - we have no air conditioning.  

I thought of you, Meadow, this week.  We got about 3 inches of rain the last couple days and our basement is even wetter than usual.  Do you guys have basements up there and do they stay dry?  

I loved all the trellis drawings.  

Regarding the berries - I planted blueberries last year.  I've mulched with lots of pine needles.  After learning about hugelkulture over the winter, I've decided to dig holes between the bushes and bury chunks of old red pine logs we've got piled up around here.  My first aim is to provide moisture this way, but I also hope I'm mimicking the northern forest in some way.  Our wild blueberries I've mostly seen in white pine/fir forest, but I've got red pine, so.  

The orchard section was cool for me as well.  I've got I think 7 old, overgrown apple trees on site.  When we first moved here I thought I'd whip them in to shape.  Um, not so much.  So they're thick.  There's some blight.  The apples are buggy.  Still, I think I'm gonna fence the chickens in there for a while this year.  I'll have to come up with a shelter for them.  i've got a chicken tractor that my hubs made for me, but it's only big enough for about 3-4 hens.  Then maybe I can start planting a guild.  I love the drawing of the orchard on a slope.  None of my slopes are wide enough to really accommodate such a design.  Reading this and the farm forestry section made me yearn for more land!!!  Anyhow, the other orchard question I have is the whole pruning thing.  I wanna know how the permies do with actual fruit yield.  They're not pruning fruit trees?  Really?  I've got a peach tree I planted 3 or 4 years ago and prune the hell out of it every year.  Then I cull so my fruit is no closer than 8 inches apart.  I get nice big peaches.  They get good sun exposure 'cause I prune away so many branches.  So what if I stop doing those things?  What happens?  Is it too late for that tree 'cause it's already been trained a certain way and now it'll just be full of water sprouts if I let it go?  Do I need to start over with a new sapling?  

I'd love to have a little piece of forest farm to try stuff with.  I listened to the Permaculture Podcast today (I am seriously turning in to a geek) and they were talking about agroforestry.  For the first time ever I am feeling like my time is getting short.  I'm 40.  If I want to plant, say, hickory or oak...  I can reap the benefits when I'm like 80.  Fuck.    I've got a little patch of silver maple adjacent to my big red pines.  There's potential there, but now we're talking the FRONT YARD.  Enter my husband.  Ahem.  We have differing ideas about what is and what is not acceptable in front of the house.  

Which brings us to the lawn conversation.  We have a lot of lawn.  We will soon have less - the windbreak trees have been ordered and will take up a pretty wide swath.  I too wish these books and articles would describe some kind of compromise.  We definitely enjoy areas of our lawn - games, parties, etc.  And I'm not going to deny that it looks nice most of the time.  But I would also like to see more space dedicated to prairie/meadow, pond, pasture (only if we add animals at some point), forest.  Here's another set of questions:  When we decide to plant a bunch of trees for forest or orchard, what do we do about the grass?  Tear it all out?  Then we have to plant the WHOLE space with something?  'Cause no bare soil.  It would just sprout a zillion weeds anyway.  Plant the trees among the lawn grass?  Then let the grass grow?  Mow around the trees?  These real-life questions are the ones that sometimes stop me in my tracks.  I still don't know how exactly we're going to proceed with the wind break trees.  My husband's lawnmower is sort of gigantic and mowing between and among a lot of tiny trees is not going to be simple or fast.  Time is a resource we don't have a lot of these days.  Not mowing?  If we just keep the vegetation away from the trunks of the little trees will everything be just fine and eventually the shade will do the grass in?  Can I gradually plant more desirable ground covers, etc.  I'm getting really long-winded here.  Thoughts?  

no basements here, no crawl space, no root cellars. the water table is about two feet down. or two inches *above* ground in a heavy rain.
apparently geese are the answer to lawns. they keep it clipped nice and neat. but they also chase small humans. i was chased by one, when i was shorter than it. i've never fogiven them, as a species.
or sheep. could you get two sheep?
lawn alternative mixes that i've seen tend to rely on white clover and roman chamomile. that's what i'm gonna try. i'm just gonna spread compost over the existing wimpy barely there grass sod, and plant clover and chamomile seeds right into it. see what happens.
when you plant trees, i think you just tear out the few feet circle for each tree, then mulch heavy. mulch is the answer to mowing in between tightly spaced trees. grass is apparently specifically not good for trees, competes directly. whereas broad leaved plants can be okay.
re the pruning, i don't know much about it, but i think you have to make that decision from the beginning. i don't think you get to change tack. the natural shape of a tree is *completely* different from the shape of a tree let loose after pruning. i seem to remember Fukuoka talking a lot about that in One Straw Revolution. his natural mandarins.
if you think the windbreak trees are intimidating, try 40 (yes, FORTY) chicks and ducklings arriving in a month and a half, with only one small chicken coop as of yet, and no brooder. i am starting to freak out a little. or a lot, depending on how much coffee i drink. the fact that i decided to make the duck shack integral to the new woodshed doesn't help. so, i have to build a 10x14 foot structure in the next month and a half, and there is still four feet of standing snow.
and, first i have to finish the "ice box/cold pantry" i'm building for our kitchen. and finish the special orders i took in december for pottery dish sets.

Ahhhh.  Affirmation.  Thank you.  I needed that.  i.e. the tree planting/grass and the pruning thing.  I vaguely thought those things but I needed someone else to firm it up.  We got a little reprieve on the trees, cause the pick-up date has been moved in to May.  Everything is a bit behind this spring.  I'm not usually one to complain about Wisconsin weather, but this year is rough for me.  I NEED some sun.  And I'd like to see 60 degrees thank you very much.  I know I'm taking to the wrong audience here, haha.  

Not a fan of geese, myself.  We have our share of Canada geese in our parks and beaches.  Nasty things.  Mean.  And free-range poultry in real life is gross.  Stepping on chicken shit RIGHT OUTSIDE MY KITCHEN DOOR is not okay.  Fenced pasture.   That works for me (especially with moveable fencing - i'm a big fan).

So.  40 you say?  That's... brave.  You know how fast those little monsters grow, right?  Don't skimp on the size of the brooder.  I've made that mistake.  But I only had 10 chicks that time.  You should definitely blog about the cold pantry!  'Cause you don't have enough to do, obviously.

Speaking of your building projects, I was just thinking of scrolling through Apron Stringz for your LA chicken coop.  I want to cobble together a portable coop for 8 hens.  My coop is permanent and my old portable is only fit for about 1/2 my flock.  I want to use my portable fence so I can utilize my girls for prepping sites for seeding/planting.  Under my apple trees, in my "forest" areas, etc.  No idea why I've never thought of that before.  Seems like I'm saying that a lot lately.  

Also, check me out!  I finished the chapter.  I know, I know.  Please hold your applause.   

oh dear! you mean, i'm BEHIND?!!?? i'd better get reading. i think i'll be able to finish by tomorrow morning.

i got waylaid by my *new thang* apparently the end of the manual approaching i got scared that i might run out of something to obsess over, and i started getting really into medicinal herbs. i guess i always go on a wild plant kick in the spring, so that's not surprising. but i've always focused on eating them before, and now i feel like i'm finally ready to start penetrating the huge world of herbal medicine. 

back to our current reading though. i do want to read the gardening section, from the tropics chapter. anything else you want to read?

Possibly aquaculture just out of curiosity. I'm game for whatever.




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