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Archive for the ‘Perennials’ Category

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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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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I have been sitting around waiting for the Man to get the trees down so that I could start working on the garden and the living area.  Since there was nothing else to do, I started making some little improvements on the living fence.  I decided that where the two sections of fence met that I needed wisteria.  For now, they are in the ground with some small posts to climb.  I will eventually have a big arbor there, where the wisteria and grapes will meet.  Hopefully, the wisteria won’t overtake the grapes.  This may be something I have to keep on top of, but wisteria are really good for the pollinators like bees and butterflies.

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I also went out and bought a couple more grape vines.  I already had 4 purple grapes, one may be dead, so I bought 2 green grapes.  I extended the border around the grape vines, strawberries, and rhubarb and popped the 2 new vines in.

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Here are the grapes, just starting to grow!

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DSC_0074I had a bunch of hugel beds left from last year that I had no plans for.  It seems like such a waste to not plant anything in them though.  I ran out to the local farm store and found a rack full of non-gmo plants for sale.  I decided to go for it.  I bought a couple different kinds of asparagus to try out.  These guys look a little pathetic to me, but I have never grown asparagus before so I don’t really know what they should look like.  I think I planted 10 plants all together, some green and some purple.  They got a good rain on them the few days after I threw them in the ground, so they should have plenty of water.  I guess now I just sit back and see if they grow.  They are in a sort of shady area, should be sunnier in the next few weeks though.  I have read that asparagus will grow in less than full sun so I should be alright either way.  My very first perennial vegetables are in the ground!

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I do not want to work as a nurse for the rest of my life.  I’m not saying it is an awful job or anything, but I want to work for myself on my own land at some point in the future.  I have been looking at some possibilities of what I could do instead for some time now.  I know it will be a few years before I can officially quit my job, I am particularly excited about one potential job idea.  Coppice agroforestry with livestock.

The idea is that you plant your land with various trees and coppice them in a five or so year rotation.  Coppicing is to cut the tree without killing it, allowing it to grow back even stronger in the future.  This means that you don’t need to replant yearly in order to maintain your lumber supply.  You can incorporate animals into this system easily, making it even stronger.  The animals provide manure and pest control and can graze more naturally.  There are many considerations to make in this system, but it can all be figured out with some research.  This type of a system would help to provide me with income through selling meat, eggs, wool, fruits, vegetables, lumber, and fibers.  I’m sure there are more things I could incorporate, but this is fairly new research for me.  Here is what I am finding so far:

Coppicing: Coppicing is the practice of cutting trees for the timber and leaving the stump to regrow for future cuttings.  By leaving the stump and root system intact, it provides a faster and stronger growth for the new lumber.  The new growth is called poles.  Pollarding is the term used for coppicing above the level where animals may be able to eat the new growth.  This allows for the incorporation of animals in you coppice agroforestry.

There are many different types of trees you can grow for the purpose of coppice.  A common variety is willow, which tends to be know for it’s rapid growth rates, especially with enough water and nutrients.  (The nutrients could come from manure.)  You could use apple trees.  When done in the right rotation, you would have apples and apple wood for many years.  And so would your children and grandchildren.  It’s the same idea with nut trees.  You get the wood and the nuts and you extend the life of the trees.  Keep in mind that you will have new growth from the trees, but I’m not sure how many years before they would begin to produce fruit or nuts.  More research required on my part.  You could also include nitrogen fixing trees in the system to increase the nutrients in your soil.  Don’t forget about including trees for animal fodder.  The animals will love the variety of food supply and there will be less food that you need to supply for them.

Your living fence can easily be incorporated into this system as well.  Willows are great for living fences and are great for coppicing as I mentioned before.  You could make more willow baskets than you could possibly imagine.  I know brambles are great for living fences too, but I’m not sure yet what you could do with coppiced thorny vines.  I’ll work on that thought.  Some research will have to be done on which plants won’t be good for corralling livestock.  All the different berries that can be used in living fences will provide an excess of fruit.

Adding animals into this system makes the system even stronger.  The animals fertilize the plants.  They eat the pest bugs that could destroy your trees.  They eat the low branches off the trees that would otherwise need to be pruned.  Animals can eat the weeds among the trees or keep the grass between the trees mowed.  I wouldn’t plant grass myself, put you could plant nitrogen fixing clover or some other tasty treat for the animals.

Depending on the animal you choose to keep, there are different benefits that can be offered.  Ducks and chickens provide eggs meat in addition to pest control.  Grazing animals like goats, sheep, and turkeys are wonderful at eating worm infested fruits as they fall dead off of the trees.  This interrupts the life cycle of the worms and maggots and helps to resolve this pest problem.  Removing rotten fruit from around the trees can also help from spreading disease by destroying the spores.  The rotten fruit is a good food source for these animals too.

This can be an excellent system to feed your family and provide a source for timber.  However, it can also easily over provide and allow for a source of income in your life.  This could be an excellent solution to the problem I have been having in deciding what to do for a new “career.”  My biggest issue in deciding what to do with myself was that I needed variety.  I can’t imagine that I would ever run out of variety with a system like this.  I can’t say that I have come up with any potential ideas that offer anywhere near as many different things that can all be incorporated into one idea.  Any thoughts, ideas, or insight?

The link to my list of information sources.

 

 

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There are plenty of critters out there that like to dig through your garden and eat all the plants by the roots.  Especially your carrots and other root vegetables.  I have never had any problems with these guys in my own garden, but have heard from others how hard they are to get rid of.  Traps and chemicals are not what I want to be doing to get rid of them, and I’m starting out in an area where I’m not sure how much of a problem they will be.  So I’ll just go ahead and plant the stuff I need to keep them out anyways.  Daffodils and garlic.

I am familiar with using garlic and onions to keep pests out of the garden, but daffodils came as a surprise to me.  Apparently, they are quite offensive to deer and chipmunks too.  I have seen a ton of chipmunks around, so I need to be proactive against them for sure.  Both types of bulbs are offensive to these critters that want into your garden.  By planting the bulbs around your garden beds, it should function as a barrier for them.  They apparently won’t go through the offensive plant barrier, unlike the fences that they laugh at.  I doubt I bought enough bulbs for the whole garden, but I won’t know until my plants are eaten or not.  I did end up getting regular bulbs at a local garden store.  I would have preferred heirlooms, but I just can’t afford to do that right now.

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Here they are!  All ready for a fall planting.  The garlic will provide quite a few plants after I splint the bulbs up into cloves.  I noticed that some of the daffodils also had separate cloves to their bulbs.

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I’m not sure if it works the same as garlic, but I pulled the bulbs apart like I dod the garlic.  They weren’t expensive or anything, so if I kill them all, I will only lose $10 or so.

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According to the packages, I bought 10 bulbs.  I ended up with 16 or so.  Hopefully, I haven’t killed the daffodils and they will keep the critters out of my beds.  I’m just wondering how, if I plant my bulbs in the fall, I will be able to get to the beds to plant the veggies in the spring.  I guess we will have to wait and see.

 

 

 

 

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I have had a great month for injuries.  I sprained my knee at work and then sprained my wrist moving logs (doing it the stupid way, of course).  I was in total agony after the wrist injury, it was a really good one.  But the post is not about the injury, it’s about the healing.

I believe that part of permaculture is to get as much as you can from nature, including medicines.  I avoid medicine at all costs, but when I can heal with herbs, that is another story.  I am totally amazed at how well some herbs really work.  I know not everything works as well as popping a pill, but the side effects of the pill are not worth the quick and easy result you get.  But again, that is not what this post is about.  It is about comfrey as a healer.

I had some huge comfrey plants in my garden that I had planted for S&Gs.  We dried some of the leaves a while back, just because we could.  They have been sitting in a paper bag stored away for a while.  Then the man was doing some reading about what to do for the agony that I was in.  Make a compress out of comfrey.  I made comfrey tea and let it steep for a half hour.  Then I soaked a small wash cloth in the tea and let it cool just enough to wrap around my wrist.  I held it place with an ace bandage.  I used the compresses for about five days.  The first day I could not even move my wrist it hurt so bad.  It hurt tremendously even if I didn’t moved it.  By the fifth day I could use my wrist for everything but twisting off caps or anything like that.  I can do this motion alright, but it’s a little sore.  I am thrilled that this worked so well so fast.  It should have taken this sprain three weeks to heal.  I need to have function of my hands right now for all the work we are trying to get done before the snow.  I can’t afford an injury.  This worked great and cost absolutely nothing.  I will have a huge supply of dried comfrey around this year for sure!

Comfrey with flowers

Comfrey with flowers

We also have a neighbor down the road that grows comfrey in his garden.  He broke some ribs and came to ask for my opinion on what to do since he knew I was a nurse.  We told him about the comfrey’s medicinal use and said we hadn’t tried it yet.  He came back a week later and thanked us for the comfrey advice.  He said that as long as he had the compress in place, the pain from his multiple broken ribs was significantly lessened.

I know there are quite a few people out there that don’t believe in herbal medicine.  Plenty of people just tell me I am a crazy hippie because I use herbs.  That’s alright.  They are missing out on a lot and I’m not.  I have given up trying to convince people I’m not crazy.  Maybe I am, but my wrist works just fine.

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