Brenda, why not use the inaccessible space at the top of the bed for those important plants that a polyculture needs, but that we don't eat. Nitrogen fixers, dynamic accumulators, insectaries and biomass producers.
Taller clump grasses, yarrow and alfalfa will fall over in the winter and mulch the sides of the bed.
Since being a permie is all about being far sighted, I'd add that the end result of a beaver pond is a silted-up meadow which will one day be a very fertile garden. In the meantime, making sure that they have their favourite foods available -- willow, poplar and birches -- all of which grow rapidly, will add a level of protection to your food trees. Metal protectors around the trunks of the trees will also give some protection, even for the willow etc. that you want to grow big enough before handing them over to the big toothed crowd.
Ya, it's nice to have a little muscle power around, and there's nothing like striking out hard to burn off all matter of frustration. My new tool this spring is a mattlock which is head and shoulders above working with just a pick and a shovel, especially in my rocky soil.
Last week at the Anomaly was great, yet the heat and sunshine after a long winter weren't very conducive to the will to work. We need rain too since we've had none since the snow melted. On the other hand, the normally hard spring rains beat my poofy daffodils and magnolia to the ground. They've never looked better than this year.
This week I'm working on the roof and am just getting the house plants out there now. I hope I don't fry them. Today the car's getting its winter boots changed for running shoes.
WOW! Your motto should be "If you want to get something done, Hire Heidi!"
If only I could concentrate my efforts in such an organized way, but my personality demands otherwise.
I hope you are documenting your efforts with photographs. It would be great if you posted pics of your beds before you plant them and then when things are at their height.
As for your problems with grass roots amongst the roots of your perennials, at this time of year you can wash all the soil off the roots and then wheedle the grass roots out. Don't let the plants stay unplanted for too long, but keeping them in a bucket of water with a flavouring of aspirin is also a good idea.
And yes it's GREAT to get dirt under ones fingernails again. I don't know if it's due to the dry summer we had last year but the black flies aren't annoying us as we dig this year --- yet. Fingers crossed.
The question would be how big a pond. If it's big enough for fish (even just a few) they will eat all the mosquito larvae. Mosquitos also need stagnant water so if there is a way to keep it moving (waterfall or fountain) you will have no problems. Italians love their fountains but this will also cause a good deal of evaporation. Just a few things to think about. Personally I love ponds, but we've never had malaria where I am either.
Cohan, I meant the rocks are growing, or at least it seems like they are. Mostly I use them for building terraces since I'm on a mountain side.
I never thought of using Pinguicula, but we do have a native Drosera that gets to be about the size of a quarter. The primula do love it though. I've got P. denticulata and P. veras. 2 years ago we had to go to the niece's wedding an Vancouver, and whilst visiting the Van Deusen botanical gardens I picked up a package of their "candelabra" primula seeds. They were already a couple of years old and I didn't get a very good germination rate, about 6 in total. They should bloom for the first time this year; I'm looking forward to it.
In this area the other plants that do very well are lobilia cardinalis, meconopsis betonicifolia, iris ensata and all the wild volunteers. I'm sure the small stature of most alpines would get them overrun in my wet areas, but we do have crumbling shale outcroppings that we plant with sedums, saxifragas' and the like.
The first thing I thought of were the reports of all the heavy metals that are found in coal smoke (and therefore spread over the land and sea).
This is from the wikipedia article on Smoke. There are several elements there that I would be concerned about, but how they would be bound up in the non oxidized coal, I have no idea.
Smoke emissions may contain characteristic trace elements. Vanadium is present in emissions from oil fired power plants and refineries; oil plants also emit some nickel. Coal combustion produces emissions containing aluminium, arsenic, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, mercury, selenium, and uranium.
Hey Conrad, welcome to the forum! I've been buying seeds from you for years, always to great success. Your family's work over the years has been in many ways seminal to everything we can do now. Thank-you.
Michael, I don't know if you follow the Archdruid's blog, but this week he has started to talk about the modern religion of Progress. For me it's the philosophy of the thing that's important too. For the rest I'm pretty sanguine and laissez faire.
Kris, every plant has it's different needs for germination. Those that require stratification for germination will not sprout without it. Some need light, some need dark, some need specific temperature ranges, and thats just the way it is.
Keeping dry seeds at any temperature is not stratification, which can only happen if the seeds are moist. In my experience most annuals will sprout quickly, it's mostly the perennials which make special demands. I once saw a link here on the forum for a 3 part PDF that the scientist who did extensive germination research allowed to be public for anyone to download. It's helped me immeasurably for a couple of years now. I'll see if I can find the link.
Hey Cohan I'm a rock gardener too, got them growing everywhere
The reason we have ledge showing there is because the big machines ripped off the soil when we built the dam. Watching nature try to re-colonize it since then has taught me a lot about how these systems work. The reason the moss does so well is that there is almost always water draining across it because the shale bedrock weeps.
Jamie, what you're describing is "plum knot" and it is endemic where I am. It's local host here is prunus pensylvanica (fire or pin cherry) which I cut down when I see them.
Plum knot is a fungus in/on the bark. It starts small and eventually girdles the branch, killing it. The best thing to do is to remove the branch since it does not go into the heartwood to spread around the tree itself. This fungus isn't black in the spring when it produces spores about the time of flowering. Get rid of the branches before that. Actually all I do is to drag them off into the woods, no burning, no burying.
Learning to recognize it is the best way of keeping it under control. Almost all prunus species can be affected by it to some degree.
Chris I really think you're being too fearful of foxglove. I have them growing everywhere. They are biennials and self seed readily so if they come up in a place where they don't get in the way of some defined project I just leave them. They are beautiful and the bubble bees just love them.
I have handled them in every way possible (I rarely use gloves) and never even noticed the slightest heart palpitations. As for accidentally making tea from them, they are very distinctive and once you know what they look like you'll never mistake them for something else. I'm hard pressed to think of any other plant that resembles them -- maybe a mullein but their leaves are flat and foxgloves are very crinkly.
Once in early spring deer went through and ate everything that was green, including the foxgloves. I didn't see any carcasses lying around afterward. The foxgloves came back from the leafless crowns of the plant.
Alcohols also make very good degreasers. Back when I was in art school we wanted to use less turpentine and varsol for cleaning printing plates of ink. A few drops of cheap vegetable oil and a rag got rid of the ink and a little rubbing alcohol cut the oil and perfectly prepared the plate for the next ink application. Believe me just the tiniest oil residue would be visible as the ink wouldn't stick.
Last week I was shopping for meat at my local farmers market. The place that I get my humanely raised pork had little bales of hay for sale with a recipe on the label that said to place a ham in a large pot, pack the hay around it, cover with cold water and slowly simmer for 20 minutes per pound.
The hay was mostly timothy grass (I saw one plantain and 1 dandelion flower) cut just as the timothy was starting to put up its bloom. It was still quite green and very sweet smelling. At first it was delightful at the end of a long winter to smell freshly mowed grass as it started to cook, but as time went on it became quite cloying. Next time I do this I'll wait until it's warm enough to open some windows.
The meat was delicious, at once fresh, earthy and pungent, the flavours were subtle not overpowering at all. Anyway it lead me to think, why not herbs of different types selected to go with the type of meat being boiled. Boiled meat is always so bland.
Heidi, I was just rereading your first post to think about design ideas and there were two things that caught my attention. I thought it would be best to keep them here in public view for others to see.
1. You mention foundations of old out buildings. If you have access to stone piles that farmers make when clearing their fields, you can build drywall walls on the north and west sides of them for wind protection.
With the gardens built in the southern footprint you will get the benefit of a warmer garden plot.
A stone drywall is one built without any mortar, which withstands freeze/thaw cycles better and small tremors too. They're the kind we use for terrance retaining walls.
2. You also mention that the place was built by a blacksmith. If any of these buildings was his forge, and if he used coal to fuel it, there may be a problem with soil contamination. A little digging might turn
something up. Or maybe your beau can take some samples into the school's chemistry department for an assay.
kirk dillon wrote:
Growing up in Williamsburg Michigan, it was pretty common to put up snow fences each season to stop drifts from forming in/ across your driveway. They were about 4 feet tall slats of wood inside a wire fence that you rolled out and attached to 6 foot metal posts driven into the ground. You could put them anywhere and just roll them back up in spring. Putting them near a pond would be my idea to better catch that extra water and not worry about when it will melt. Might be a good way to start harvesting snow and eventually when you have the wind figured out they could be replaced with some kind of bush or shrub.
All five of my thumbs up on this response Kirk. I'd even give you an apple if I had the right. Short, concise and pointing to an experimental method for determining the best placement for permanent plants to achieve the same effect as a snow fence. I would suggest a deciduous hedgerow for the best result.
As for the question of how much snow produces a rainfall equivalent; up here in the great white north, Environment Canada gathers the snow in their gauges, melts it and then multiplies the resulting water by 10 to determine snowfall.
Brian, after reading that Paw-Paw was very fussy about being transplanted, and should only be done whilst very young, I was wary of using these 5 year old trees. The truth is they were among my best results last summer and I would never use another method if planting more. (Which I may have to do since we've had the coldest temps. in 25 years here this winter).
Indeed I am in the process of pushing zones when it comes to Paw-Paw and I'm not sure my guild plantings would be the best choices for California. That being said, I've got wild ginger ground cover, passiflora vines, a dwarf quince, a line of skirret planted in the front and many volunteers. My approach to guilds is not nearly as intensive as the theory and practice of those who need to produce a lot of food in a small area.
Of course you're right Alder, I should have mentioned that in my original post. Apparently in the south of Japan they are really causing a lot of problems.
I am in a cold temperate climate where the organic co-op who sold me the nuts assured me that they have never survived our winters. In my research I discovered that even in a moderate climate like England's the plants would fizzle out because they came back so late, they never had the chance grow more nuts.
The nuts themselves are a great food source. They contain about one third oil, which has a profile as good as olive oil and doesn't solidify at the freezing point of water.
Thanks Devon, I guess I was just using too narrow a search (Canada). I've noticed over the last few years many seed companies are refusing to ship over the border as gov'ts apply new rules (none of which I know).
Is the offer you speak of my telling Heidi I'd send her some Armenian sorrel seeds? I only bought 1 packet which has a 100 or so seeds in it, but I think I could offer you a dozen or so if you want. They aren't too big or thick so I think they could slip through the mail without getting flagged (or am I just being paranoid?). Once established there should be ample seed to share around.
Working with nature is always a question of give and take. The standard ag model is all about fighting nature and that's why it's failing so miserably. When all my goji cuttings got dug out by turkeys (they left foot prints) 3 years ago, I realized the power of these birds. This could be their chance to give back (whilst I give a little more in the form of chufa nuts.)
Gord, everything I've seen describes cold/warm as 40/70F, 4/20C.
And yes this means moist. Keeping many different species of seeds in moist medium in ones fridge takes up lots of space. I have a non-frost free bar fridge just for this, keeping my seed potatoes etc.. Instead of using peat, I've had good results using No. 4 cone coffee filters in which I place the seeds, moisten and seal in a ziplock baggy.
Wasn't Elsie Reford amazing? If only everyone with staggering wealth were as sensitive and visionary. She's inspired me since the first time I saw Metis. I really had to learn how to grow the blue poppies and I did!
Heidi, I can't believe that I didn't see your post here before. Anyway I would have told you what I said to Elizabeth in her thread. It seems that our libraries are pretty much identical.
I would also recommend Paul Stamets Mycelium Running.
I've found that since my land gets reliable snow cover early in the season I'm capable of keeping herbaceous perennials that are 2 or 3 zones warmer alive, so I was thinking, if you use shrubs as a snow fence along side your terraces to
guarantee that the snowdoesn't blow away and buries tender things all winter long you can enlarge the number of plants you use. It's been hard these last couple of days as we're all getting amped for spring, and the snow never seems to
want to stop; but never curse the snow, it is our friend.
And I must say wow, a real scientist, BS and all. lol I've a BFA (Bac. of Fuck All) actually fine arts.
That is a good site Devon, but I still cannot find ulmus rubra (slippery elm).
Heidi, I've had great luck with la societe des plantes their seeds germinate very well.
I bought the Armenian sorrel and have researched it. It seems to be a land race of Dock (rumex spp.) It certainly looks like the one we have here. I wonder if they would hybridize? Anyway seems you harvest the leaves at the beginning of summer before they get too bitter, which they are anyway, but the drying process makes this go away. I stumbled upon an Armenian cooking blog which explains how to use them. I got lots of seed and could send you some if you want to experiment.
Hey girls, the type of cuttings you have to take depend on the plant. Sometimes it's hard wood, sometimes semi-hard and sometimes it's new growth. It's best to research each plant for the kind that's necessary. There is also air-layering which is worth researching since it oft times works the best.
hi Heidi, poke around all you want, I do. I've always found that is a great way to keep a thread of thought going when you notice someone who has the same situation or philosophy as you do. There are more photos of my place that I've put in other peoples topics too.
I too was rather tentative about how to approach my gardens in such a challenging environment but over the last 20 some odd years, using nature's example; total anarchy, I get gardens that just keep getting better and actually take on organized patterns that are both visually and functionally satisfying.
I have to run now, but I'll respond to your other posts later.
What a small world it is. I've been putting together a list of fruit trees from that guy. I especially like the old ones that he searched out in his area and selected for grafting. If you need nuts there is a guy near Jolliet who does basically the same thing only specializing in nut trees. His site is http://www.lafeuillee.com/index.htm (c'est uniquement en francais).
Lennoxville is closer to my land than Montreal is, maybe some time you're visiting your folks.....
I bought some bayberry seed last fall, and have had them stratifying in my fridge all winter. Just today I was checking through the seeds there and researching what conditions they need to germinate.
When you gather the seed you have to remove the wax from the seed or else they won't germinate. Moist stratify the seed just above freezing for a couple of months then bring them out and plant at room temperature. I didn't find out how to remove the wax but I imagine hot water or alcohol would do the trick