Here is a small update. I have now built a "compost lounge" with 4 bins, about a cubic metre each. I am currently filling the first bin with the grass clippings that I had put on the large pile a few weeks ago, along with shredded trimmings of shrubs that have accumulated in the past weeks or which I shredded on location.
Unfortunately the process of digging up the old compost pile is slowed down because I discovered that the previous owner had dumped some plastic and metal waste. I even found an old battery that luckily had not disintegrated yet. Also there is a bottom layer of soil mixed with pebbles. This is appears to be our regular soil (a somewhat sandy loam with glacial pebbles) without humus, so I suspect they disposed of this when they were digging up something, probably for paving.
This essentialy means that I have to check every shovelful fur undesired content, and I also have to remove the pebbles. So far I have liberated about 200 litres of useable compost. I suspect the final volume to be 1 to 2 cubic metres.
Things are further complicated by the fact that I found a slowworm wiggling just below the top layer of grass clippings. I had already noticed slowworms before in the garden, and it turns out the compost has been their hiding place. I now have to find away to get rid of the pile without harming the slowworm and potential companions. My original plan was to build a small hugelkultur bed on the site of the heap after it's been removed. But I guess I need to relocate the slowworm(s) first, so they have a place for hibernation. Any suggestions? I know that slowworms are not partcularly picky about choosing a hiding place, and the "wilderness" part of the garden might provide enough shelter, but maybe there is something I can do to help them anyway.
At least the traditional scarlet runners I raise (can’t comment on others) make a nearly tuberous root to the point you can dig and replant them. They can get a little swallowed in some settings because they have some delay compared to standard pole beans. That is also an advantage when planting them in three sisters since it gives the pole time to grow.
You don't say where you are, or your USDA zone. It could help! For example, I see black ground covering, and if you live where it's very hot, that might be raising the temperature a bit. But I agree, new transplants can wilt due to the stress of the changes.
Many plants will change their leaf position when water stressed to reduce sun exposure. In my opinion (shared by many, including those I learned this from), the best time to water is when they show mild moisture stress, pointing their leaf tips upward “praying for rain”. If they begin to droop this is a sign of extreme water stress that is not beneficial, but if you get them when they are “praying” it seems to encourage deeper rooting.
I agree with the differential heating idea, With gaps in the bricks you are asking those bits of exposed metal to radiate more heat than the covered sections, those bits will also cool faster possibly causing warping or cracking.
Clay is a real easy effective alternative, use the bricks where they will receive the rough treatment of wood being shoved around, and mold the clay in places where it's receives less rough treatment.
The nice thing about the clay is it's easily replaced or repaired,
Anne Pratt wrote:Such interesting land! If you've been reading about permaculture, you know that one of your first tasks is to live there and observe. California flora/landscapes are so foreign to me, and despite the excellent photos I can't observe much so far (!). Are some of the standing trees dead, or is this a seasonal issue? Dead trees can make great hugelkultur.
I also notice a lot of aged wood chips near the top of the stairs. Great! And a terraced section next to the stairs - but are those treated railroad ties? That might not be the place for edibles. (And why do the stairs look so much like an escalator?)
Wherever the chicken bedding/litter was dumped is likely a great spot for a garden, if the chickens have been gone for 6 months or more. Awesome fertility! Are you a gardener already? If not, definitely read up on it. There is so much to learn, and fortunately, mistakes are usually cheap! Think about what you and your family like to eat, and learn about what is easy to grow. Don't try too many things that are hard to grow. Easy: brassicas started from seedlings, cucumbers, summer squash, carrots, radishes (the easiest!), potatoes. Tomatoes can be fussy - they get diseases, need fertility but not excess nitrogen (otherwise the crop is tomato leaves!). But don't be afraid to try!
I always put in perennials when I first arrive, observation be damned. I like to get them started from tiny plants or seed, so that my garden starts to fill out the next year. I wonder how this works in your USDA zone. Is there winter? Is there a rainy season and a dry season? So much to learn. But I would figure out where a couple of fruit and nut trees could go sooner rather than later, and plant them very carefully. That way, you're one more year closer to having fruit! You can plant more later.
Congratulations! So exciting. It looks like a beautiful spot.
I don’t know about the railroad ties, that area doesn’t get much sun I was hoping to put some shade tolerant ornamental flowers.
I think it’s likely the colder side of zone 8 I know that the owners said it snows 1-2 days a year
It took me two years to rid our hill of honey locust. I was astonished at the thorns - I didn't know such things existed. Of varying lengths, they seem to be where you don't expect them. The leaves and flowers are pretty. They spread like blackberries. If you hack one down, underground the roots spring into action, creating 5 new ones. Here, there, and everywhere.
I don't know where ours came from. We don't have a grown tree, and I haven't seen any near here. The leach field for our septic system was built up in that area, and my husband suggests that soil with seeds was imported.
I went to church on Good Friday and discovered another use for honey locust. The crown of thorns that encircled the cross was made of those fierce thorns. A good indication of suffering.
Another thought, if a building has multiple functions, the most conservative standard will be applied to the entire building. For example if living space and meeting space are in the same structure, the standards for the living space will be applied to all. It may be cheaper to chop up the project into separate structures. How a separate structure is defined can vary. It may just be an issue of a firewall. Finally, do not assume the most recent national fire code will be applied. Find out the year of the code that your state uses. Ditto for other codes.
I'm an amateur, so don't take my ideas too seriously! But my initial thought was, cover it with a tarp while there's still a downpour! This would be fraught with potential trouble (e.g., the sun comes out while you are not home and the seedlings that haven't yet drowned are steamed to death) and is probably a bad idea. Maybe cover at night only? Just wondering if less rain might speed the drying.
I'm a little new to permaculture, but I think that many practitioners would recommend starting small, observing for a year, looking at the slope, water, sun, and so forth. And who am I to disagree?
But I am somewhat impatient and sometimes impulsive. I would certainly want to do something this spring! Cover cropping seems ideal. I couldn't possibly advise about equipment, except to say that this is an area to do a lot of research on beforehand, since it's so expensive.
Right below where I'm writing is a section named "similar threads," and one is called "How to plant cover crops without tilling." Seems like a good resource!
Unless you're planting tropical plants, you should be fine. It's too soon here to put out plants that can't tolerate frost (we are not supposed to plant until Memorial Day!) but my brassicas and lettuces (both from seed and starter plants) are happy out there. It was 38* F. last night. But all your regular garden vegetables should be fine unless there's going to be a frost. They might grow a little more slowly for a few days and then take off when the weather warms up.
I’m just starting this year with my food forest and experimenting with a variety of methods. I have noticed that cardboard and paper mulching drys quickly around the edges though it seems to stay moist underneath enough to degrade I hope. Maybe watering the plot heavily before planting, and after sowing, may help with the process.
Thanks for the Pie!!! And I am amazed that you got so much abundance of food from such a tiny space. Just goes to show you can grow a great deal of food if you find the right plant for the right place.
This year, the butterflies are loving the thistle that has sprouted all around our house and garden area. The blossoms are very pretty in my opinion. I like to dry them and use the in flower arrangements.
Did you know that thistles are edible? Yes, the thistles in the genus Cirsium, and the genus Carduus, are edible.
I’ve got a similar project on my hands, but it’s more of an accidental artificial spring. I was planning the water systems on the property of some friends, and I noticed that a certain spot was quite soggy. I decided that the best thing to do in that particular area was intensify the water by bringing it in from across the property at a 2% grade, and create some kind of water feature. When I started building it, I found a drain pipe that ended literally inches uphill from the earthworks I was digging. It turns out that, since the property is so soggy, a drain pipe had been put in that went all the way around the house, and then went down to the top of the minor ridge that I was digging on. The first pic is the latest one I have of it; I have finished it since on the same pattern; the second is of the same seasonal-crescent-zigzag-stream-water garden; and the last shows the spot where the drain pipe goes into the swale that drains into the whatchamacallit.
They can stick their heads through it. But they don’t. The raised beds were one big invitation before I put the fencing on. Now they bypass them in favor of the unfenced, unprotected flower beds. (Which are next in line for protection!). They can’t walk on it, and can’t scratch. They don’t bother the garlic, which lines the outside of several of my beds, and I’m hopeful that the brassicas planted now will just get a nip or two. We shall see!
65yo solitary female gardener here. I know what you’re feeling!
These are the tools that help me most:
Good quality cultivating fork!
Shuffle (Hula) hoe
Battery powered hedge trimmer, string trimmer, and chainsaw a I love my Makita
A bagger on my mower - no raking
Also, doing shorter but more numerous work sessions, changing up the activities to minimize repetitious movements.
Also very important to stop working BEFORE you feel pain and fatigue. Simple stretches before and after working helps a lot - hands especially.
Albert fence a pair of geese in your orchard and they will keep it trimmed for you. They also love the wind fall fruit. When it comes to companion planting, Day lilies, mustards, and for some strawberries, planted around the base of your fruit trees is a winning combo. You can't go wrong with basil and marigolds with all your veggies. Add dill to your cucumbers. Roses and garlic love each other. Put nasturtiums with your squash.
For thing like stork's bill or thistle that have a long tap root I use a hoe that has a pointed end. I could not find a picture of it. The blade is about 3" wide with a flat end on one side and a pointed edge on the other. The blade is about 7" from point end to flat end That pointed end make digging that tap root out really easy.
You can buy seed for coriander/cilantro which has been selected to be slow to run to seed. Of course, you can do this yourself by resisting the temptation to gather seed from early "bolters" and wait instead for the plants that take longer.
I've read a lot about them and from what i understood, once you have them, you'll never get rid of them until they deplete your soil of food and move on. even if it gets cold enough to kill them their egg casings will survive to start over in spring. they are very aggressive. when i was in the army in alabama in 1989, i found a bunch of them digging a foxhole so they have been in the south for at least 3 decades. it freaky how fast they move. they used to be sold for fish bait until they realized how invasive they were.
Try posting any plans/ build you can find anywhere on the net. So some members can comment. But let me give you some important pointers. Strip all the non metallic parts of the fridge. They are not good conductors. Paint inside out with thin coat of flat black. You may want to scrape the original paint, paint is also poor conductor of heat. Hot air rises and cool air goes down. Don't think of collecting the suns heat on the air alone collecting it on metal is far better than just trying to heat up air or any material with low thermal conductivity like wood or plywood. If air is cool in your place. You have to cover the whole thing with glass or transparent plastic so that the breeze wont rob your fridge of the heat collected. put some space between the metal wall and the glass. at least half inch to 1 inch space is ideal. just post anything you can find we will try to help you.
Any thing you can do with the barn is a bonus.
Once the gent moves, I would prepare the house for renting and use the income for works elsewhere.
I would fence off a house block for the tenants to use by themselves.