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Andrew Sackville-West
Post     Subject: Farm For All - A Journal Of Sorts

Cool to see the scything results. A scythe is on my (long) list of wants...

And favas! It seems super early to me, but I've never grown them before, so what do I know? When did they go in the ground?
Mathew Trotter
Post     Subject: Farm For All - A Journal Of Sorts

All the worthwhile pictures I can find. I think I've been slacking off with the camera this week, and pictures are one of my favorite record keeping methods. Have to make sure I'm capturing more stuff this week.
Mathew Trotter
Post     Subject: Farm For All - A Journal Of Sorts

A little rest is all I needed. Started my morning with 7 hours of scything (well, 3 hours of actual scything and 4 hours of raking and hauling). Ended up with 4 loads of mulch. I kinda hate how completely contrary to permaculture principles this whole situation is. It's almost a mile to the landlady's septic field where I'm doing the scything. It's the kind of thing where I should be out doing a little bit every day, or at least several times a week. A mile away is definitely not zone 2. One long session a week ought to be enough to keep the septic field under control and provide me with as much mulch as I can make use of in a week.

Came back up and sifted enough compost to finish the bed that it feels like I've been working on forever. Finished applying compost and fertilizer, planted beets, scorzonera, and broccoli, and then got a good layer of mulch down. Also double checked the local gardening bible and the stuff that I've been stressing about has a pretty long planting window... though I wasn't really stressing about getting this stuff in the ground as much as I was stressing about it putting me behind for getting stuff that is time sensitive in the ground.

Decided that I'm for sure postponing my next video for a week. I want to make sure I can do it justice, and I lost 2 days to "rest", so something's gotta give. Thinking I might permanently switch to a doing a video every other week. That would allow me to spend a day a week on filming, and a day the following week on editing, rather than what I've been doing, which is effectively 2 straight days a week working on video. That would shave off at least 10 hours of work a week and give me an extra 10 hours a week to actually get things done in the garden, or to actually rest. Not sure how the algorithm is going to respond to the sudden change. It likes consistency, and I like the numbers I've been seeing with my weekly upload schedule. Month-over-month, my growth has been... miraculous? A ton of my views have been from the algorithm promoting my videos. My views from search are up 535%. Vies from being recommended on the home page are up 794%. And views from being recommended in suggested videos are up 833%. It's a lot of work, but I've got the numbers to show that it's working.

On the docket today: finish prepping the last 80 sq. ft. of my greens bed and plant out the bunching onions I've been managing to keep alive in a pie tin. Perhaps repair the second wheelbarrow so I don't end up in a situation where  I can't do one job until I finish another. Plant out the ACTUAL sea kale that just arrived in the mail. Also need to transplant my surviving tomatoes and tomatillos since they're stunted in the tray they're in... they need room to expand and grow before it's time to plant them out, I just haven't had time for anything that could survive without me. I might plant out the rest of the achira just so I can free up the compost that it's being stored in for potting up plants... but I'd like to give it some compost when i plant it out, so I don't know if that's actually a net win. Lots of other things that need to happen, but we'll just play it by ear. That's probably already more than I'll get done today.

Gonna hop over to my phone and dump a bunch of the photos I've been meaning to upload. Gotta figure out where I left off, picture-wise.

Mathew Trotter
Post     Subject: Farm For All - A Journal Of Sorts

Andrew Sackville-West wrote:Please continue to make sure you're properly caring for yourself. We can wait for updates and videos, health can't wait

That said, maybe you're one of those people who does self-care by getting work done, in which case, good on ya!

A little column A, a little column B. 🤣
Andrew Sackville-West
Post     Subject: Farm For All - A Journal Of Sorts

Please continue to make sure you're properly caring for yourself. We can wait for updates and videos, health can't wait

That said, maybe you're one of those people who does self-care by getting work done, in which case, good on ya!
Mathew Trotter
Post     Subject: Farm For All - A Journal Of Sorts

To say that I've been burning the candle at both ends is a bit of an understatement. 8-12 hour days, most days, 7 days a week... with, apparently, the occasional 19 hour day thrown in for "fun." With the rain I finally allowed myself a break, and in the past 36 hours I've slept for about 20. I still don't feel 100% and I'm debating giving myself another day of downtime so that I can push through the slog that's on the other side. It's not actively raining right now, but it's gray and dreary, and I imagine it's only a matter of time before it starts pouring. I'm undecided on whether another day of rest outweighs the stress of not getting things done, but ultimately I don't think I'm gonna make it much longer if I keep pushing myself. Gotta focus on what makes the most sense long term.

I have not yet gotten all of my April crops in the ground, and May is going to be even busier. Some things will be interplanted in beds that I've already prepped, but even more things need to have beds prepared. I'm out of sifted composted, so I either need to set aside a few days for finishing that job, or I need to just sift it as I need it... but that's an inconvenient way to go about things. And eventually I need the whole run to be sifted so I can move the chickens out of the tractor and back into their run. But it'll be a while yet before that needs to be done.

I'm debating pushing back my next video for a week... my last video performed how I expected it to based on how the editing went. I put together an outline for a script, but I still need to flesh it out and I don't know if I can do it justice this week.

All-in-all, the cold season legumes that I hadn't planned on planting probably have me further ahead on calories than I expected to be at this juncture. They aren't yet a part of the calculator, and I planted them densely on contour, so I don't really have a guess about how much food value they're going to be providing. I guess I'll know in 3 to 4 months.

Sunchokes are starting to sprout up in full force, so that's one less thing to stress about. I'm expecting that I'll end up with 100-300 pounds, depending on how well they perform this year. I replanted everything that survived last year, but I don't expect anything about last year's yields to be typical. This year I'll have a better idea of how well whatever variety this is performs in our unammended soil.

Still only 1 asparagus spear out of 6-8 crowns. Starting to think that the others genuinely didn't survive the move. I would kill for some asparagus right now.

Have some photos that I haven't managed to upload yet, but I think this is enough of an update for now and I think I'm gonna take my own advice and take it easy today, if I can.
Mathew Trotter
Post     Subject: Farm For All - A Journal Of Sorts

Manicured Perennial Weed Barriers To Prevent The Infiltration Of Rhizomatic Or Stoloniferous Weeds

Many of the most pernicious weeds in the annual garden are perennial rhizomatic and stoloniferous weeds like quackgrass and Cirsium arvense, the creeping or Canada thistle. And many weeds in this subset are also allelopathic, waging chemical warfare on their less aggressive neighbors, stunting or killing plants of other species or inhibiting the germination of their seeds. Whatever benefits they might provide in mining for scarce minerals, and whatever benefits they provide in improving soil structure through their roots and their eventual decay—they are not a good solution to those problems in the annual garden.

While observing the garden I remarked to myself that the edge of my garlic bed needed to be weeded for the umpteenth time so that it wouldn't rob my bed of moisture—I have very limited irrigation. I stopped and asked myself "If you keep telling yourself to do it, then why haven't you prioritized it? Are you just being lazy, or is there a reason you've made it such a low priority?"

It's true. Weeding is a never-ending task that I loathe doing. I know that it's a losing battle, so I chose the plants that can win, or they die trying. In the annual garden I go to great lengths to avoid it. Deep mulches as high as I can make them without killing the plants I'm trying to protect and a liberal application of urine to keep the voles from adopting the bed as their personal McMansion. Even that is work, but I much prefer listening to the birds in the cool morning air and the schwing of the scythe as I separate leaves of grass from their respective plants like some miniscule, alopecic bison, masticating a sea of diverse greens with my one, massive, metal tooth and then shitting—metaphorically—that fertility back out across the landscape where it feeds the soil and continues the circle of life.

But that's just me.

As I stare at the weeds clawing at the proverbial doors of my garlic bed I ask myself again the question that's been keeping me up at night for weeks "Are you lazy or are you not prioritizing this for a reason?"

My mind, seeing that it's backed me into considering that I'm just not cut out for this homestead life, tries another tact. "Well, why is it that you think you need to weed it so badly?"

"They'll rob the moisture from the bed. We have terrible drought, and it's already starting, and I don't have the resources to water this bed."

"Yeah, dude. We haven't had rain in 3 weeks. Have you even looked at the bed?"

I was right. What I'd failed to realize was that the reason I noticed the weeds every time I walked by the garlic bed was because they were so thick, luscious, and dark green that all I wanted to do was eat them (and often did.) But not only was the garlic—not 6 inches away—not showing any apparent signs of suffering, it was actually thriving. And the peas, the peas that I'd planted as a fuck you to companion gardening writers that told me that I couldn't interplant garlic with peas, those peas were chugging right along. I had packed so much abundant fertility and loving mulch into the bed that all of my plant children, chosen or not, could get along with each other.


(Sorry. Can't go around looking sappy. It's bad for my image… as a neurotic, unemployed, ne'er-do-well.)

I had already hypothesized that these weeds were trapping in fertility that otherwise would have washed away in the rain. The reason they were so lush and green, the reason they were packed so tightly that you couldn't pass a credit card between them if they offered to sell you the secret to the perfect garden, the reason is because they were lining up to protect the abundant fertility I'd provided so that it wouldn't wash away in our usually heavy rains.

"Oh! Why didn't I think of that? Oh, wait…"

But now I was looking, I mean, really looking. If they were already doing this much thankless work, how much more did I need to thank these weeds for?

And then I saw it. Where the thistle had not already made itself a permanent member of this miniature hedge it had struggled to gain a foothold in my garlic bed. Between the thick mulch and what must, by now, be an impenetrable wall of roots, the thistles which has made it into the bed at all were small and sickly looking. They had slaughtered before—especially my be-sandaled toes—but they had never waged true warfare against an army of allies so dedicated to peace that they would risk their lives for the outsiders planted there by a benevolent—or perhaps just lazy—god, and demand that this invader lay down it's many prickly swords.

Okay. The plants probably didn't think that highly of me. More likely they were just hoping I was lazy enough to figure this out before I killed them and shot myself in the foot at the same time.

I wonder if that was the realization that started the transition of the Judeo-Christian world from the Old Testament to the New Testament?

I knew that this was supposed to happen. Eventually. Eventually the organic matter and mulch would maximize water retention in the soil and almost nothing would stop things from growing at that point. But not this soon, and even those people, the ones who had discovered the miracle of mulch before me, weeded their annual gardens. Do they know something I don't, or did their skill in procrastination just never reach the level that mine has?

New plan: surgically excise the offending thistles with a well-sharpened hoe, thoroughly mulch the back half of the bed that you were going to get around to "at some point," and thus encourage weeds to fill in the remaining empty spaces.

But we're only out of the woods because we burned them down. There's still a raging inferno to contend with. Three weeks is chump change when you consider that in a typical year we have three to four consecutive months without rain. After I harvest the peas, I harvest the garlic, and after I harvest the garlic, I will harvest the legendary ulluco which will have been planted there since. Will I still think the weeds my friend when I discover the yields of my ulluco's succulent, neon tubers?

For their sake, and mine, I hope so.

Thanks for indulging me in dusting off my degree. If you like this style of writing let me know—just leave a comment or throw a like on this post—and I'll explore doing more writing like this. Maybe a book? Who knows. Depends on what people are into.

I didn't beat the rain. I got a lot of stuff in the ground, and got 90% of the way though prepping the big bed in the main garden—I ran out of compost halfway through so had a sift more out of the chicken run yesterday and never got around to getting it on the bed. Nor are they mulched. The forecast originally put the rain on Monday, but I woke up to it this morning. Had to run out first thing when I woke up and gather up all of the tools that I'd left scattered about at their respective projects so they wouldn't get ruined.

I'm hoping that whatever rain we get isn't enough to completely recompact all of the work that I've been doing. I probably still have 6 hours of scything that I have to get done (well, half scything and half raking up mulch) in order to get the beds mulched, and probably another hour or so to mix the last of the compost and fertilizer and get it on the bed before I can mulch it. My impulse is to jump out of bed and work on all of the inside tasks I've been neglecting so that I could get the planting done, but i don't think my knees can handle any jumping. I'm trying to allow my body to just rest. We were downgraded from at least a week straight of rain to just 3 days, which is a both a blessing and a curse. This has already been the driest year I've experienced in a lifetime of living here, so we need the rain, but it does mean that I'll be able to get out and get more work done, plus, it means less rain compacting my bed before I can get mulch over it. I know it won't recompact instantly, but every rain drop feels like it's erasing a little more of the hard work that I've been doing.

Rest. Today I should just rest. Today I will rest. A day laying in bed with movies. No working on youtube stuff. No reading gardening books (as tempting as that is.) Just taking an actual break.

If I actually succeed at relaxing (which, admittedly, I find challenging... there's so much work to do...), I suspect I won't see you all until tomorrow. So, until then....
Mathew Trotter
Post     Subject: Farm For All - A Journal Of Sorts

Whew. Time for a short breather.

Yesterday I worked about 19 consecutive hours on filming and editing, fun saying 8am to 3am this morning. I had a few breaks for food and to recharge my phone, but it was more or less a non-stop slog.

As I approached midnight my phone started slowing to a crawl. It couldn't handle the length and complexity of the edit I was working on. Eventually I had to make the hard decision to scrap the second half of the video in order to get something done on time. It's not everything I was hoping for. I didn't cover all of the talking points that I wanted to, and in retrospect, my attempt to appease the algorithm has created half of a video that itself should be two videos. My first mistake was trying to save time by not scripting out my taking points... "It's a tour! You should just wing it! It'll be better that way!" It was not better that way. It was a hot mess. I suspect that I saved a lot of time time by not scripting things out, but I probably lost a lot of that by shooting out of order and creating a mishmash of clips that had to be sorted out in post. There is no good way to be organized and efficient when editing on a phone except to shoot concisely and in script order.

It wasn't all bad. I'm really happy with some of the shots I was able to get. Now that I have a good system for splicing in b-roll with a voice over, it's encouraged me to practice getting more aesthetically pleasing shots, and I'm slowly mastering the techniques for getting those shots with my phone. I literally used a quick clamp to attach my phone to the Gator for a hyperlapse that I'm really pleased with, and I just prayed that the rattling didn't shake my phone loose and drop it right under the tire. There was also a close up shot of the pond that made me really nervous about dropping my phone in the water. If I accidentally destroy my phone, that's the end of YouTube.

I was really running on empty by the end. The editing isn't as tight as I'd like and some of the cuts continue to be sloppy. My ability to color correct on my phone is limited, but I a try to say least balance things out a little bit... I did none of that this time around. I also usually try to clean up the audio a bit and incorporate music... that was practically non-existent in this round. After banging my head on the wall until 3am and cursing the worthless Google engineer that made my phone cache 30GB of photos and videos that I couldn't make go away so that I'd have the free space to export my video... after all of thati woke up to find out that a random audio clip from the longer video never got deleted, so now there's just a random clip of me talking over myself at the end of the video. And since it takes overnight to upload video on our internet, I have no option to just delete it and upload a fixed copy. It's full on amateur hour.

None of this would be that disappointing taken on it's own, it's only in context that it hurts. I put a lot of legwork in ahead of time to optimize this video to be picked up by the algorithm... I really tried to do all of the things that our robot overlords demand of us, and I wanted to put my best work forward for all of the fresh eyes I expect to see on my content. I don't think this video delivers on that promise. It's not terrible, it's just not the quality I was striving for in this context. C'est la vie. There's always next time.

The upside, I suppose, is that I now have a lot of the footage for a part 2 video. I only covered a small percentage of the work I've done out here, and I didn't emphasize a lot of the ways I've been able to acquire plants on a shoestring budget. I really wanted that to be a primary feature of this video, but because I didn't script anything, it ended up being an after thought. But, I'll be able to go back through all of the footage I got, script out a cohesive story, and then shoot whatever footage I need to fill in the gaps.

With the hours I'm putting in, YouTube is definitely at least a part time job... possibly full time once you consider how much time you sit around twiddling your thumbs waiting for something to happen at a lot of part time jobs. And that on top of a full-time "job" of producing food. I'd like to streamline the YouTube process so that I can produce more with less time and effort, but I think that's going to have to wait until fall or winter when the garden work load is lighter. I also have a bunch of features I want to add to the calculator, but that's definitely a winter job.

In the back of my head I'm keeping track of all of the lessons I'm learning from this whole process. I'm imagining a future where my channel is successful enough that I can create a kind of master class on doing permaculture on YouTube. I'd like to help people that have good ideas actually execute them and find an audience. I'm dreaming of a future where the average person can't even get on YouTube without being bombarded by (high quality) videos about Permaculture. And create a platform for marginalized voices to have their unique perspectives heard by the world. You know, nothing to big or outlandish. 🤣

As you may have noticed, I've pushed back the premiere time like I'd discussed previously. The video is going live at 2pm Pacific with the hope that more people can watch it within the first couple of hours. We'll see. And this week, because I'm doing a food forest tour, I'm posting my video as part of a playlist of other food forests that have inspired me or which I think deserve more attention. There are undoubtedly more that I forgot in my sleep-deprived state, but I'll add them in time. The idea is that YouTube learns what your video is about in part by the videos you watch before and after,  so if you can continue to watch one or more videos after mine, that will really help YouTube to understand that my video might be enjoyed by people who watch other for forest videos. I know that that's a big ask, but I hope you enjoy and learn from these videos like I have. And if you can't actually watch them, I won't tell anyone that you hit mute and left the playlist playing. 😉

EDIT: Apparently Permies' implementation of the YouTube player doesn't with with playlists. Use this link instead:

Mathew Trotter
Post     Subject: Farm For All - A Journal Of Sorts

I'm halfway through the video. Now I don't even have enough free space on my phone to render the first part of the video. Blegh.
Mathew Trotter
Post     Subject: Farm For All - A Journal Of Sorts


I just spend 10 or 11 hours filming. This was supposed to be an easy day. For the life of me, I can't imagine being done with editing before 4 am, and I'm already disappointed in the result. I know I didn't get all of the shots I wanted to, or make all the points that I wanted to, but there just aren't enough hours in the day. I really can't justify pushing the video back, or taking another day to film. It just will be what it will be, and that's gotta be good enough.

I guess the good news is that I'll have something resembling a tour so you guys can see all of the little things I'm working on. Hopefully it's watchable.

I almost feel like it should be a two parter. It might have to be in order to fit it all on my phone and get it uploaded on our crappy internet. I started the day with about 40GB of free space on my phone. I'm down to the last 2GB. We'll see what happens...
Mathew Trotter
Post     Subject: Farm For All - A Journal Of Sorts

Wowwee! I made myself promise to spend less time proofreading and more time putting actual things into words. It's definitely cut out some unnecessary screen time, but then you get stuff like that last post which is barely comprehensible. Some day I might actually make the time to go through and edit these posts so that they make sense, but right now that is work, and it's work that I don't need.

Bed prep is mostly complete (just finished mixing up a new batch of fertilizer and have spread it and compost on half the bed.) I distinctly recall mixing up previous batches of fertilizer wrong, but now I'm at a loss with regard to which ones. I doubled the recipe, but I know that I didn't double a couple of the ingredients at least once.

I'm trying a new technique for raking out my rows. It creates a flatter profile and a more uniform distribution of soil particle size. After trialing a couple dug versus mostly non-dug beds, the dug beds were the clear winner last year. Obviously no dig is going to win out in the long term, but I have to balance short term production with long term production. So, my question becomes, how do I loosen the soil but create a stable enough matrix that it will hold the soil in that loosened state until the biological matrix can form? The solution that I'm trying is to hand dig the bed with a hoe, rake the soil into one of two patterns (large clods evenly dispersed throughout or large clods at the edges of the bed), add my limited quarter inch or so of compost plus my homemade organic fertilizer, then plant and mulch with freshly scythed grass straw. The main hope of the initial dig is to remove herbaceous, perennial, allelopathic weeds (which will hopefully be relatively easy to control once the mulch is in place) and loosen a few inches of soil to ease root growth. Afterwards, the hope is that the loose texture can be maintained with a thick, shielding layer of mulch and ultimately be stabilized by the biology that's introduced through the compost and fed by the mulch (it's been 6 months since I prepared and planted my garlic and favas and the worm numbers in those beds are way up compared to the rest of the garden.) Hopefully, hopefully, hopefully that loose structure can be protected, maintained, and improved. And if not, I'll at least get one good season out of it and hopefully I can pump more organic matter into it at that point and get the biology sorted out. Would definitely prefer to just dump a bunch of compost on top and call it good, but lacking that option, this seems like an acceptable substitute.

I've been thinking a lot about artistic touches in the forest garden. Little things to make it more fantastical and magical. Living sculptures is one idea; I'm especially fond of the "giants" depicted at... I think it's called Helligan, or the Lost Gardens of Helligan? I could be way off. I've also been fantasizing about a living mural on our retaining wall that's painted out of different species of moss. And finally, little planters, and sculptures, and things made out of willow, living or dead. Perhaps some impressive willow columns whose interiors would be lined with leaves and stuffed with soil and planted to strawberries. Or some sort of willow bowl that's planted to mashua. I think I've seen too many trees and rotting logs with interesting things growing out of them and I want to play with that pattern. Life begetting life.

But maybe I just watched Edward Scissorhands too many times as a kid.

At some point I hope that I have the stability that I can hire a local artist to come do a mural on the barn. Something to make it feel less manufactured and more lived and worked in. But who knows. For all I know, I'm going to starve to death. One problem at a time. Food first. Then dreams.

I also want to build a pyramid and a solar calendar (Ha! Dreams!) Things that are practical, and things that are just a testament to what we are capable of with just our bodies and simple tools, if only we put our minds to it.

I think I've partly been thinking about art because people have a history of destroying things that they don't recognize as special. Now, some people were put here to destroy no matter what, but most people have a tendency to preserve that in which they can perceive an artistic intent... even if it's just to sell it to the highest bidder. So how do you protect a space that's designed to produce something as mundane and insignificant as food? You have to add a little magic and mystery. Was that tree contorted by gods or elves, or did it simply grow that way? Is it something in the water that creates these shapes and forms? If you want to protect something, you make it too fascinating to destroy. Or you do a really good job of hiding it.

There will always be assholes, but for us casual vandals fascination is usually enough. And if your problem is assholes, you better talk to the warrior not the philosopher.

All I know is that ideas, if they're powerful enough, can live on longer after the person who had them has passed. Every day we're learning lessons from civilizations that our very existence has erased. Ideas transcend time and they transcend language. And the best ideas come back to us over and over again until we learn to value and preserve them.

And I think that is the other reason for creating art in the landscape: to relate ideas long after their originator is gone. You can create a calendar in the landscape  that 1,000 years from now people might still be using to guide their actions.... this is the time of year to harvest the hazelnuts, this is the time of year to harvest livestock, this is when the chickens are moved from pasture to chicken tractors to prepare the garden. So much information can be encoded in our designs. Perhaps our designs can be embedded with an instruction manual so that if they were abandoned for a thousand years someone could come to the garden and learn how to take care of it, even if they didn't speak the same language. But how would we communicate that?

Anyway. Just some musings as I hide from the sun. Another hour or so and it should be cool enough to go back out and finish spreading compost and fertilizer. I'm already soaking winter peas (yes, I know it's not winter, but I'm hoping I can bang out a quick seed crop so that I have enough to actually use them as a cover crop) and the aforementioned lentils. I'm hoping I can get contours measured out and planted tomorrow, but I also have to balance that with filming and editing. I really don't want another night up until 2am editing because the video can't upload on our crappy internet if I don't give it at least overnight. I'm also thinking about pushing the publishing time back a couple of hours. I've been posting at noon Pacific so that it's up and ready as people start winding down for the weekends.  And views usually pick up slowly as the weekend progresses. But apparently Youtube gives more weight to how your video performs in the first couple of hours (which I can definitely see with videos I've promoted on social media), so pushing it back at least a couple of hours would allow more people to watch it within the first couple of hours. At this point I think Thursdays are still the best day, but pushing it back a couple hours might prompt Youtube to promote it a little more. In any case, I've already done a lot of the legwork to get this video promoted across Youtube and I'm working on a few other strategies to get the video promoted. I've been practicing getting better shots with my phone, so hopefully I can put together a very visually appealing tour of my very young forest garden. I guess we'll see how filming goes.
Mathew Trotter
Post     Subject: Farm For All - A Journal Of Sorts

I've decided to give lentils what go this year. Without mulch, irrigation, or weeding, they really floundered last year and didn't produce much. In retrospect, they should have probably been placed way earlier than I did, but they were an after thought last year and had to fend for themselves and prove their worth to me. I'm not sure I collected a single gram of seeds. I combined the rest of the bag of lentils I planted from last year (this was just a bag of lentils from the store that I got from my mom... they must've been 5+ years old and so dry that they wouldn't cook completely anymore... I'm honestly surprised they sprouted.) By comparison, my home saved seed is super plump and healthy looking, so that gives me hope that they'll be worth eating if I can get a decent crop. To that I added two more varieties of lentil from the store... I don't know how readily lentils cross, but I'm hoping I get some good crosses with such a jumbled mix of varieties. If this endeavor proves fruitful, then I might have to look into adding locally adapted and heirloom varieties to my mix. All in all, I'm putting ¾ of a pound of seed in the ground. Hopefully I get a good return on that investment.

Yesterday the temps were back down in the 70s and I was and to work through the day without the constant breaks to get out of the sun like I had over the weekend. My appetite was better. Lately I've been subsisting on 2-4 potatoes a day (with butter, of course... though I'm starting to run out), plus what I've raided from the landowner's 20 year supply of coffee (I exaggerate, of course... but there's enough in the freezer to keep me productively caffeinated throughout the growing season at my current consumption levels.) Caffeine is 100% a drug, and it's the only reason I'm able to get as much done as I do. I have to be pretty clinical with it's use, though: 2 cups a day, maximum, and before 10am; take the weekends off; occasionally take a week or two off so that any negative effects it's having on my sleep cycle don't outweigh the energy boost it provides.

But back to potatoes. I'm finding that after weeks or months of eating the same food over and over, my body naturally loses its appetite. After months of rice, I can barely get through a bowl of it. After several weeks of a predominately potato based diet, I'm down to eating 2 potatoes, or add many as 4, and but being hungry for anything else. I wonder how much that's just psychological... a kind of boredom with the monotony of it... and how much is physiological, like the body saying "We've had enough of the nutrients in this thing. Let us know when there's something else to eat." Well, I just discovered a new technique for preparing potatoes that's pretty hands off (which is great, because I don't have a lot of time to devote to cooking) and produces an amazing end result. I just fill the pressure cooker to the max with whole potatoes and a handful of fresh oregano, time, and rosemary from the garden and a healthy serving of salt. Cook the potatoes until their done and have absorbed the broth (carrots, onions, meat, etc. could be added to make it richer.) Lightly oil a baking sheet and then smash the potatoes with the bottom of a plate, pot, etc. Drizzle with oil and season to taste. Roast until the desired level of crispiness is achieved (convection is especially good for this)... half an hour, minimum, though I like them best at close to an hour. Flip once during cooking for even crispness. And I like to add fresh rosemary in the last 5 minutes to crisp up like little rosemary chips.

I definitely ate 3 pounds of potatoes yesterday, and I suspect closer to 5 (though nowhere near the 14 pounds that Carol Deppe suggests were eaten by adult males in pre-famine Ireland.) I made potatoes as described for breakfast lunch and dinner. For snacks in-between I was able to eat the boiled potatoes out of hand at is... being cooked and stored in an herby broth, they were nearly as rich and creamy as a new potato. Between the sudden bump in calories, a day of pretty non-stop physical activity, and a cup of California poppy tea to unwind at the end of the day... I slept like a rock, and this is the most well-rested and recovered that I've felt in weeks.

We've been without rain for 3 weeks now and I've been worrying about whether some of the stuff I've planted would even germinate. I ran the soaker hose for a couple of hours last week at the top of my contour beds, in part just to make sure they'd have enough moisture to germinate, but also to make sure the water is flowing as expected. It's working beautifully. The water flows until it hits the contour line and then it spreads evenly across it until it's fully hydrated, and then it spills over and repeats the process on the next contour line. I suspected that might not be enough moisture to germinate the shallowly planted poppies, but I discovered that they were already eagerly germinating yesterday. The little bit of compost added at planting time is really helping it hold onto the little bit of moisture it's gotten. There's a little bit of flow that makes it out beyond the reach of my contour lines, but it's a spot where I need to maintain vehicle access, so I need to observe how that spot progresses and decide how best to address it.

I think I got my first sunchoke. Between our nasty, compacted clay, and the gopher activity in that area, I was worried that none of them made it through the winter. Of the 20 or so I traded for last year, only 2 actually survived our drought and plague of deer. I replanted all of the tubers those two plants made (30 to 35ish in total) in the fall and mulched them with wood chips, the hope being that they'd develop stronger root systems by starting the season in the ground and thus have an easier time with our drought. Only one plant so far, though. 29 to 34 to go.

When I moved to this side of the property my asparagus had gotten left up at the landowners house. In a wine barrel. Without irrigation. The ferns definitely died off early in the season and I was worried that the crowns had been fried to a crisp  I finally went up and excavated them maybe a couple months ago and excavated them. It took probably an hour to get that tangled mass of roots out of the barrel. There had been a lot of root die off, but there were still a lot of healthy looking roots as well. All in all I ended up with 6 or 8 healthy looking crowns which finally got planted in the ground where they belong. They're at least a week behind where they were last year, but I suspect most of that is due to being in the ground and topped with mulch, both of which will have a cooling effect on the roots. I'm anticipating that I'll have to abstain from picking any this year too make sure they're able to recover, but I'll let the first few shoots fern out and see what production looks like from there. If they're still sending up good sized shoots then I might make a few meals out of them. But like the sunchokes, I've only seen signs of life from one plant so far, so it could still very well be the fact that most of them are dead. It might be a slim year for asparagus, but I've also got just over 30 asparagus seedlings to put in the ground, so I'll be swimming in it in a few years.

The owner bought a bunch of bacon on sale and had more than they could finish. They brought me their surplus this morning, which was a welcome addition to breakfast.

And I hit another milestone in YouTube. 170 isn't huge, or anything, but it is appreciated. And it is slow, steady, sustainable growth. There still isn't a lot growing, but a few people have asked for a tour, so hopefully that's what I can do for my video this week... and hopefully the editing will be a little more relaxed this week. I need a light week so I can focus on getting stuff in the ground before the rain hits.