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Archive for August, 2015

The last post I did, I described the area where I plan on building my library and observation area.  Behind this building I will put in a naturally shaded area to relax and read or anything else we want.  The shade will be provided by about 10 wisteria plants and will extend on either side to grape arbors.  There will be a butterfly garden on one side of the building as well.  Sorry if I a repeating myself from the last post.  I forget exactly what I said.  The area on the other side is going to be my vegetable garden at least for next year.

I had planted wisteria in the spring and it had to be moved so today, I replanted them.  Since the whole area is along the cliff side I lined the edge with rocks to attempt to hold everything in place.  Next I lined up some big rotting trees along the rocks.

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I placed all the wisteria plants in the spots I wanted them along with a currant and a gooseberry plant.  I had bought these other berry bushes because they were shade tolerant and had been waiting for a good place to put them.  Since the wisteria will shade everything, these should do pretty well here.  I placed more rotting trees all around the spots where I wanted the plants to go.  Kind of making a hugelkulture bed.

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I pretty much just took the plants out of the pots and plopped them onto the ground among the rotting trees.  This area is all ledge so I can’t really dig too much.  Hopefully, this will still work.  I plan to add some shade tolerant plants along the edge that have roots that will spread and hold all the new soil in place.

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Then I covered the whole thing with leaves.  This should help hold in the moisture and break down to make some nice soil for the plants.  I will continue to add more leaves as they settle in place.

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Right next to one of the wisteria plants is a young maple tree.  I decided to leave it in place for the wisteria to grow up.  This may very likely kill the maple, but it may not and either way the wisteria needs something to grow up.

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I’m not entirely sure how we will support the other wisteria, but I may be able to put posts in the ground on the side of the cliff.  There may be enough ground below to dig holes that will support the posts.  I don’t really have time to get this done right now since we are focused on the house, but I did need to get these plants in the ground before winter.  I will have to mulch them quite a bit more to keep them protected from the cold over the winter as well.  Fall shouls give us a ton more leaves, so this won’t be a problem.

 

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This is likely the highest point of the property.  A perfect location for an star observation tower.

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We also decided that a library would fit perfectly under the observation tower.  This building may not be started for many years, but the landscaping around it has already started.  I want there to be a shaded reading and relaxing area outside the library.  I had planted some wisteria that had to be moved for the logging to get done.  The area it came from is not really there anymore so now I moved it to my future outdoor reading area.  The grapes are going to be moved up here too.  There will be arbor on either side of the wisteria.  I would also like to plant a butterfly and hummingbird garden outside the library.  This should be a really pretty area in a few years.

Here is a link to the site where we found the idea for the observation tower.  We aren’t really planning to build with cob because it isn’t the best choice for our very wet climate and we have more resources for building with cordwood.  We may very likely end up with something that looks a lot like this.

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DSC_0158This is part of our building site.  I doubt you can clearly see, but there are bees living there.  They cannot be there, but the bees have enough problems as it is.  I don’t want to kill the bees and I don’t want to use harsh chemicals.  We don’t want to do anything that we don’t have to do.  We did a little research and found that bees don’t like garlic or citronella.  So now there is garlic powder all over the building site and a candle burning nearby.  The odor should offend the bees enough to get them away from the site.  It is too soon to tell if it really worked, but there does not seem to be as many bees in the area.

DSC_0167Here is the site.  Kind of flat, but it’s as good as it needs to be because the house will be up on pillars.  We had to use the pillars because our lot is all rock.  Huge rocks, probably the size of our whole house.  Basically, we can’t move them at all.  The man made a bunch of trips up the hill carrying the building materials to the site on the tractor.  We were able to borrow some forks that attach to the bucket to bring everything up.  We are finally on our way to starting to build.  Haha.

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Fail.

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I did not plant anything that even resembles a garden.  I had planted some seeds with the plan to transplant them and it just didn’t happen.  We just did not have the time.  I always, always, always plan more to do than I will have time for.  But I will share some pictures as a comic relief.

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DSC_0184Next year is the year of planting and all things gardening.  This will not happen again.  Oh well.

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DSC_0161I try to do everything as naturally as possible.  I also don’t like to spend money.  These are some of the things I love about permaculture.  Using what you have available that is provided to you in nature.  Mulch is something that I use a lot in planting, all of which I collect from the land.  Some plants have special needs above and beyond rich organic soil.  Blueberries like acidic soil.

So where do we find this in nature?  Evergreen trees.  The needles are quite acidic.  This is why not much grows under pine trees.  But blueberries like the acid and grow best in this kind of soil.  So I mulched my blueberries in evergreen tree branches.  The needles provide the needed pH and the woody part of the branches provide the organic matter.

DSC_0162This is not a science for me at this point.  I scattered the branches around the blueberry plants and then did the same in the area where I want to plant more blueberries next year.  I may need more and I may need less.  I will monitor the pH here and there and see what happens.

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I don’t know what everyone believes about loving your plants and talking to your plants and how that does or does not effect the plants growth.  If loving plants works, then these plants will be huge.  Now that my son knows that these plants make blueberries, he spends a lot of time with them and even tells them goodnight before bed.  I’ll let you know how healthy they are in the future!

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We are very excited today because we officially have our permit.  The majority of our building materials arrived today as well.  Now we can get to the real work!  This pile of lumber, insulation and pillars cost us $3,101.00.  The total for all aspects of the permit was $400.00.  If we add in what we have already spent on windows, our current total is $3639.00.  We still need the rest of the windows and insulation, doors, plumbing, and a roof.  We have actually spent what we had planned on spending, so we are doing pretty good.

The house that we are building is going to be a tiny house.  We are buying all the materials rather than building with natural materials found on the site.  This is not the decision I wanted to make, but this is what we had to do to get the house done in time.  Most of the natural building methods require you to not rush.  We are in a rush.  We have one summer to get a house up or we will have to rent again.  I do not want to do that at all.  So we made the decision to buy the materials and have off-set the cost with having the lot logged.  This is what felt right.  We do plan on building a bigger house a few years down the road, but for now, this should work beautifully for us.  This house should go up fairly quickly.  We have made friends with some neighbors and did some bartering.  We think we should have plenty of help.  The house is not going to be completely finished before the first snow, but it will be livable and warm.  We will be finishing the inside as we go.  For the first time in a while, I feel like we have a well thought out plan that is coming together as nicely as it can.  Hopefully, this will be the path we continue down.

Where we live right now

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Clearly, we need a place to go to the bathroom.  I prefer not to have our main toilet in a small wall tent with less than amazing ventilation.  Building a traditional outhouse requires paying someone to dig a big hole and then building the outhouse over the hole.  We decided to go much simpler and cheaper.  We have a very basic composting toilet.  We also do not have the time to build a fancy setup yet, so for now we have this:

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Inside the small tent is a commode seat the we got for $15.  We don’t have power for the electric saw yet, so we just bought the seat to hurry things along.  The camp shower stall that the seat is in cost $60.  Not what we intended, but we just don’t have the time to build anything yet.  We need to get the house done before winter.  Under the commode seat sits our compost bucket.  We line it with newspaper and add pine shavings each time we go.  It has never smelled one bit.  The black bin you see is a compost bin.  I’m embarrassed to say the we spent $160 on this.  When you do things in a hurry, it costs money.  We also need to be legal so we can’t just dump the bucket all over the place.  We are not going to get in trouble before we even get to start.  The black bin heats up and composts the materials inside.  It can dry enough to have the moisture at a good level.  Then plan is to let the materials compost down and then dump it in a hole near the willows where the nutrients can be put to good use.  The willows will not be eaten, so this is sanitary.  We will not dump this to be used as compost for food.

 

The link to my list of information sources for composting toilets.

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