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a garden of hope and charity

 
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A nearby church with a large unused parcel of land has agreed to let me
use it to grow food for distribution to hungry folks downtown.  It's a
three month trial.

Constraints:
1) Grow a lot of food.
2) Don't require a lot of labor or initial inputs.
3) Be conservative in changes to the land.  This is a good general
  principle, but here also they might not want to continue after the
  three month trial.  (So e.g. raised beds are okay but a huge
  hügelkultur mound would probably be too much too soon.)
4) Be replicable.  Both so that it is easy to continue to grow food, and
  so that others can be inspired to do likewise and have a model to
  follow and improve on.
5) Look good and feel inspirational.  This is a labor of love done in
  the Name of God.  Everything about it should reflect the beauty and
  glory of the Lord as best we are able.

About the site:

It'a a triangle of land (approx. a 3:4:5 right triangle) about two tenths
of an acre in size, although, leaving a margin, we'll only be using one
tenth acre.  It's gently sloping to the West with no tree cover to speak
of, so there's full Sun.  (Or "Sun", we get a lot of fog and overcast
days.  It's close to the ocean.)

In re: the weather, temps fluctuate between 50°F and 90°F (sometimes in a
single day) and average around 65°F.  We get a lot of light but it's
often in the form of a blank grey or white sky, not sunlight.  There is a
pretty consistent easterly wind from the ocean.  We get a few days of
light frost.

In re: the soil, it's sand.  Most of Western SF beyond Twin Peaks is just
big sand dunes.  There's bedrock down there somewhere, but it won't
bother you.  The Sunset and Richmond districts and Golden Gate Park are
just built on sand.  I call it "dirty sand": there's just enough organic
matter in it to make it kind of stick together but only just.  People
sometimes carve sand caves into the sand-"stone" cliffs above the beach.

Anyhow, some grasses and shrubs grow in it, but forget about anything
with a taproot:  I tried carrots and they looked like they hit a wall.
Corn grows eighteen inches tall.  Barely any worms, mostly ants (SF has
really cute tiny black ants.)  Not a lot of mycelium, etc.  All this to
say, you gotta mulch a yard deep.  Fantastic drainage though.

Assets:
* Lots of tall (1 yard) dry grass that can be used for e.g. compost or
 mulch.
* Ice plant (non-native invasive in this context.  Can you compost it?
 Mulch it?  Extract the juice or moisture?  What's the deal with ice
 plant?)
* Electricity and water are available from the church buildings (but should
 be used sparingly!  Especially the garden shouldn't require a lot of
 watering, at least not after the initial period.)
* A small flock of young chickens for chicken tractor.
* Tremendous enthusiasm!


What I'm asking you for:
* Crop recommendations and suggestions.
* Sources for:
 * Seeds
 * Compost
 * Raw materials
   * Straw bales
   * Wood
   * Chicken wire & bird nets
   * Hoophouse materials
 * Tools
   * Wheelbarrow
   * Shovel
   * Hose
 * Small structures
   * Chicken tractor & coop
   * Compost boxes
   * Greenhouses or tunnels/hoophouses
   * Wind breaks
* Tips and advice:
 * Ideas for the design
 * Planting and growing in this (micro)climate
 * Other similar projects to learn from
 * Plant guilds to try
 * ..?
* What am I forgetting!?


 
Simon Forman
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The Ecology Action folks have a system they call "GROW BIOINTENSIVE®
Sustainable Mini-Farming" made up of "the eight essential aspects that
are the foundation of GROW BIOINTENSIVE':

- Double-Dug, Raised Beds
- Composting
- Intensive Planting
- Companion Planting
- Carbon Farming (grow compost)
- Calorie Farming
- The Use of Open-Pollinated Seeds
- A Whole-System Farming Method

They recommend a ratio of 60% carbon crops, 30% high-calorie root crops,
and 10% other veggies for nutrients and flavor.


http://growbiointensive.org/grow_main.html


I've been investigating crops, starting with the recommendations in the
Grow Biointensive Farmer's Handbook.

For compost ("carbon") crops I'm thinking of corn, sunflower, amaranth,
and quinoa, and it seems like fava beans will be a good choice.  They
will do well in our temperatures and mature in 75-95 days.  All of these
grow six to ten feet tall so that could help with the wind.

For high-calorie root crops I'm thinking of potatoes, leeks, Maximilian
sunflower (it's like Jerusalem artichoke), and garlic.

i'm not sure what to plant for veggies.

I also want to try Purple Goosefoot Tree Spinach.




As a side note, i'm not sure double-digging in the dirty sand makes much
sense.  i think with this "soil" you just have to build soil on top of
it.  What would you say the maximum ratio of sand to other material is
before the sand starts to cause problems?
 
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Hi Simon,
Sounds like a great use of wasted grass space as most almost all churches have from my experience.
From someone who had started a community garden, here is my two cents worth.
You have a lot of great ideas, and ambition. Wonderful. I am the same at the start of every project. Being that you are on a three month trial, I recommend starting slow. Slow as in implementation of all those great ideas, not slow in food production. In public spaces such as a church or community plot, aesthetics, are pretty important, even if people do not admit that. So plan a garden accordingly.
Secondly, because this project is to feed the community, it is not the time for experimental or exotic veggies. It is important to meet the needs of those hungry. Grow what people know and eat as your introduction. Otherwise people can feel alienated to the idea of new. There is certainly a time for new, and how to cook those fun and practical foods, but not right out the door.
I held a kids container and companion workshop to get kids involved. Along with lunches made from veggies to give examples.
I am happy to share my experience, enthusiasm, and pictures if you would like. You can purplemoose message me (am I saying that correctly?) to exchange emails.
All the best.
 
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Simon Forman wrote:i'm not sure what to plant for veggies.

I also want to try Purple Goosefoot Tree Spinach.




As a side note, i'm not sure double-digging in the dirty sand makes much
sense.  i think with this "soil" you just have to build soil on top of
it.  What would you say the maximum ratio of sand to other material is
before the sand starts to cause problems?



Bell peppers I think would do well in your soil and climate.





 
Simon Forman
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pamela darcy - Thanks for the kind words.

You're right about the importance of having a nice appearance to the
garden and about sticking to familiar foods.

Corn, sunflower seeds, fava beans, potatoes, leeks, and garlic should be
familiar enough.  I hope amaranth and quinoa aren't too exotic by now,
but those are also ones where I'm not sure harvesting the seeds will be
worth the bother.  Maybe leave them to the birds and self-seeding?

As for "tree spinach" and Maximilian sunflower (which is like Jerusalem
artichoke, a tuber crop) those are more for fun and beauty.  (And compost
material, what the GROW BIOINTENSIVE system calls "carbon farming".)

I'll contact you, cheers (I think it's "I'll purplemoosage you." but I'm
not ready to be that silly just now.)  :-)

Burl Smith - Won't bell peppers want more warmth?  I haven't had
good results here with hot peppers nor tomatoes.


 
Burl Smith
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Simon Forman wrote:



Burl Smith - Won't bell peppers want more warmth?  I haven't had
good results here with hot peppers nor tomatoes.






Pheww! I got lucky on that one.



 
Burl Smith
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White radish might compliment Bell peppers in a stir-fry. I found the tops to be surprisingly good







The left is about 60 days from seed



 
pollinator
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This sounds a bit like the soil and coastal climate I started working with at the crescent city food forest. I understand why you’d hesitate to build a big hugel at first, but it would be very helpful to bury woody debris wherever you may be digging and building raised beds anyhow. This will add organic matter, water/nutrient retention as exchange, drainage, and fungi that help with all this.

For this fall-winter, I’d start with fava beans (good greens, nitrogen fixation, biomass production), daikon, brassicas, chard/beets, and peas in addition to a cool weather grain if so desired (barley, quinoa) that will support the peas and pump sugars into the soil in exchange for nitrogen from legumes. Peaceful Valley (groworganic.com) is a good regional source for bulk cover crop seed (favas especially). Brassicas are so prolific as seed sources I bet you could find some in neighbors gardens or put out a request and get a bunch. I harvested a gallon in about 40min this fall! I have also had luck requesting yr old seed from local stores, including the big box guys (if they have a nice manager like our local one). Good luck!
 
Simon Forman
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Burl Smith - You've convinced me to add bell peppers and radishes to the
list.  Cheers!

Ben Zumeta - I'm going to try broccoli and brussel sprouts and maybe some
mustard too.  Fava beans are already on the list.  I'm also going to try
something called a "mangel wurzel" which is a kind of a super-beet.

We don't have the water/moisture to broadcast bulk cover crops (yet) but
I appreciate the referral to Peaceful Valley, I hadn't heard of them
before and they seem really well-stocked.

There's not a lot of woody debris, but there is a lot of dry grass.  I'll
cut that and put six to twelve inches down as a sheet mulch, pile soil on
top, and then mulch again with the grass.  Probably do several layers of
that.  I use a mycelium-rich mulch (Kellogg's GROMULCH) that will
inoculate the grass and convert it to a water-tight membrane.  It might
sound crazy but I've seen it myself.

The basic idea will be a two-prong approach: a small, intensive garden
with soil trucked in and some bird netting or a hoop house to grow a
decent crop over the three-month trial period, combined with a chicken
tractor to prepare more area for Spring growing (if the trial is a
success.)


 
Simon Forman
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There is an acacia dealbata tree near the church that is bursting with
seeds.  I collected a bunch and am germinating them now.  (Nicked some
with sandpaper, poured boiling water on the rest, fingers crossed.)

It might be possible to create a tiny acacia forest following the Miyawaki method.

I'm not sure if that's a good idea, I just keep looking in the jar of seeds and thinking, "Wow, that could be a
forest!"
 
Burl Smith
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Simon Forman wrote:Burl Smith - You've convinced me to add bell peppers and radishes to the
list.  Cheers!




The White radish is devoid of the prickles that make radish leaves unpopular. I stir fried the small one for breakfast, it was delicious.



 
Simon Forman
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A. dealbata doesn't mess around!  I checked this morning and already the ones over which I poured boiling water have already begun to germinate.  I haven't counted but I estimate at least 10% since last night, not even twelve hours ago.
IMG_0783-(2).JPG
Acacia dealbata germinating after boiling water scarification.
Acacia dealbata germinating after boiling water scarification.
 
pollinator
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Simon, that's an awesome project. More power to you!
 
Simon Forman
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Burl Smith wrote:
The White radish is devoid of the prickles that make radish leaves unpopular. I stir fried the small one for breakfast, it was delicious.



It looks delicious!  I wouldn't have considered them unless you said something.  I still think of radishs as a garnish, but I'm learning.
 
Simon Forman
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Douglas Alpenstock - Thanks!  I appreciate you saying that.


I forgot to mention, the acacia tree (and a few foot-tall juniors nearby) was growing out of a field of ice plant (which turns out to be a awesome plant that makes figs, but that's another story).  This suggests (the beginning of) a succession strategy to me: icy plant to a. dealbata to ...?

Ice plant is now considered to be invasive in California (IIRC) but it was used extensively here to stabilize road sides and beaches, etc.  The big problem with that, other than crowding out native ecosystems, is that it gets very heavy and, what with it's shallow root systems, that can cause slides during rain (typically onto the road or train tracks it was supposed to be protecting from just such a fate!)  Maybe a. dealbata could stabilize the ice plant, since it's willing and able to grow through it in the same conditions in which it thrives?
 
Simon Forman
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I talked to the Pastor and we're going to start with 300 sq. ft. or so
for the garden and we're also going to try a chicken tractor on the raw
land a bit, mostly to entertain the birds but also to see what happens.

There are a lot of gophers, anybody have any suggestions about how to
deal with them?  Church cat?  Do chickens eat them?

The plant list at the moment:

Beta vulgaris (Mangel Wurzel)
Brassica oleracea var. botrytis (Calabrese Broccoli)
Brassica oleracea var. gemnifera (Long Island Improved Brussels Sprouts)
Helianthus annuus (Mammoth Grey Stripe Sunflower, seeds)
Helianthus Maximiliani (Maximilian Sunflower, tubers)
Lactuca sativa ("Wild Garden" Mix Lettuce)
Raphanus sativus (Sparkler White Tip Radish)
Vicia faba (Sweet Lorane Fava Beans)

Four corns ( https://permies.com/t/144580/kinds-Beautiful-Corn ):
Painted Mountain
Hopi Blue
Lorenzo's
Top Hat

I also have some tepary beans and other stuff, tomatoes, melons, cucumbers,
like that.  It's off-season but they might be worth trying?

I expect the sunflowers, mangel wuzel, and maybe the fava beans will grow
in this soil as-is with a bit of watering to establish themselves.

The others, broccoli, Brussels, lettuce and radishes (along with some of
the fava beans) will get a nice mix of compost and soil in a double-dug
bed.  Probably bird netting and maybe gopher wire undercarriage will be
required, we'll see.

- - - -

By now more than half of the acacia seeds have started germinating.
They swell to nearly twice their size and lighten to a reddish brown.

This article was pretty informative:

"Germinating mimosa seeds" by Rick Shory, 2015-11-27
https://rickshory.wordpress.com/2015/11/27/germinate-mimosa-seeds/

I used sandpaper for a few seeds and then I found this article which
described the much easier method of boiling water:

> The technique which I prefer more closely simulates the effect of a
fire by applying a rapid change of temperature to the seed. ... Place the
seed in a cup or small bowl, and pour boiling water over the seed.

"Acacias: Part 3: Propagation" by Kennedy Harris, February 16, 2013
https://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/452

It seems to work really well.

I went back to the tree and got about 2/3 cup of seeds.  I've got to
double check if it's A. dealbata or A. mearnsii.

I almost forgot to mention, in "Part 1" Harris lets drop the lore that acacia trees are called wattles in Australia, not because the leaves resemble wattles as i had surmised, but because they were found to provide the best sticks for wattle and daub construction.
 
Simon Forman
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I took some photos of the acacia tree.  Check out how it is suppressing the ice plant under it.

I put the germinated seeds in a soil tray and they have already sprouted.
IMG_0848.JPG
The acacia tree.
The acacia tree.
IMG_0850.JPG
Close up of the trunk of the acacia tree.
Close up of the trunk of the acacia tree.
IMG_0851.JPG
Acacia vs ice plant. Victory: Acacia.
Acacia vs ice plant. Victory: Acacia.
 
Simon Forman
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A wee update.  (Forgive me if I repeat stuff.)

I spoke with the pastor of the church on Monday and we're good to go on a
small trial plot (~300 sq. ft.) for three months.  The garden is behind
the buildings at the base of a hill in a little clearing that's open to
the West.

The soil is basically sand with a good amount of organic matter, some of
it might actually be muddy when wet, but it's really really dry.  I'm
tempted to just sheet mulch over it with cardboard but I don't have time
to build up soil on top of it.  I suspect some things (like the sunflowers)
will grow fine in it with some compost and steady watering.

The basic layout will be a small hedgerow of corn, sunflower, and fava
beans along the western edge of the plot, to provide some windbreak from
the winds off the ocean.  These crops are "carbon" in the GROW
BIOINTENSIVE lingo, they're mostly grown to be composted and the harvest
is more-or-less a bonus.  The GB method recommends growing "carbon" crops
on 60% of your land. Here we have (relatively) vast amounts of compost
matter available from the rest of the land (so we're not going to grow
300 * 0.6 = 180 sq. ft. of it.)

One of the big challenges in the three-month trial is that the three
months are mid-Oct to mid-Jan and a lot of plants just don't want to grow
over winter even if the climate is mild.

The corn, sunflowers, and fava will likely not be ready to harvest in
January.  Worst-case, we chop them down early and compost them.  As long
as they take the brunt of the ocean winds for the rest of the garden
that's great.

Off to the side between the hill and the main garden will be a potato
patch.  There's a bunch of wild raspberry (Rubus strigosus) on the
hillside, we'll see if anything can be done with that.  My hope is that
the potatoes sort of protect the garden from critters and whatnot coming
in from the hill.  I think conditions there are pretty ideal for taters
(with a little watering) so we'll see what they can do with that in three
months.

The main plot will be a rectangular area bracketed by the potatoes and
corn and divided into three double-dug beds, one each for broccoli,
Brussels, and radishes.

I have high hopes that the broccoli and Brussels sprouts will be willing
to grow well through our winter.  The radishes should grow enough to
harvest at least once in the trial period, maybe twice if there's a lot
of sunshine (rather than fog or overcast.)

Last but not least, lettuce will be intercropped to try and get some
salad greens.  And there are some other odds and ends, like sheep sorrel
which is growing wild around there, and some herbs and veggies I have
laying around.  Oh yeah, mangel wurzels!  I really want to try these
mega-beets, so I'll put a few in as well here and there.

There are a lot of gopher holes, so I'm going to try something I call
"cram a yam" (although I'm using sweet potatoes instead).  I got a couple
of sacks of sweet potatoes and I'm going to cram one in each gopher hole
and mulch and water it.  I don't really care if they grow or not (but it
would be awesome if they do, of course) I just want to appease the
gophers, lure them away from the garden, and maybe get a sense of how
many there really are.  

IMG_0844.JPG
Looking up the hill.
Looking up the hill.
 
Simon Forman
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I did some actual gardening today at the site for the first time.

I've been influenced by Ruth Stout from the video here:
https://www.gardensall.com/ruth-stout-no-till-gardening-without-work/
She doesn't dig.  She doesn't weed.  What's the matter with humans?  Why
we gotta work so hard?

Anyway...

I planted the potato patch: pull back the dry grass, add a double handful
of compost, add a seed potato, cover with another double handful of
compost, a couple of inches of dry grass mulch, water liberally, done.

Behind the potatoes and up against the wild raspberry I scattered some
sunflower seeds (mostly pet store bird feed, but a few Maximilian) mostly
to see what they might do and to give the blue jays something to play
with.

There's a bit of ground between the buildings and the garden plot that's
given over to thistle, now brown and dry.  I started to cut it but you
know thistle, so I just stepped on it to flatten it instead.  For a
ground cover I scattered black beans (because we had some in the kitchen)
and my secret weapon: chia seeds.

Chia is kind of a monster.  The reason they can make "Chia Pets"(TM) out
of chia is that chia seed will literally germinate on anything (except
lava.)  Chia will sprout and grow on moist concrete.  The secret is the
thick gel coat they develop when wetted.  If they get enough water to
fully grow their gel they'll do their best to sprout and grow.  And they
move fast.  There will be a lovely green carpet there by the weekend.

Preparatory to double-digging the main beds I watered the plot a bit (well,
half of it) and I realized that this soil, although mostly sand, is
really good.  It's rich and muddy between those grains of sand.

That's what happens if you leave nature alone for forty years.  Sand
turns into mud.  The grasses and other "weeds" have been putting out
their exudates and feeding the micro-biota, and every time it gets wet
they kick into gear, and when it dries out they rest and prepare.

As soon as it got wet I could tell the soil is obviously rich and
healthy.  It smells great.

So it occurred to me to wonder, do I really need to double dig these beds?
I could just add the compost I have on top, rake it a bit, and sow into
that, eh?  I mean, I know a ton of "weed" seeds are in there right now
and they'll grow too.  Will they compete with the crop plants or
cooperate?

More importantly, are they even "weeds"?  I tried some sheep sorrel today
and you know what?  I like it!  It's got a crazy mineral aftertaste but
you can blanche it (or just acquire the taste.)  If the sheep sorrel
out-competes the radishes, so be it.  (But I suspect that things will
turn out fine.)

I've got eighty corn sprouts just reaching one inch tall (twenty each of
four varieties: Hopi Blue, Lorenzo's flour, Painted Mountain, and Top Hat
sweet https://permies.com/t/144580/kinds-Beautiful-Corn ), twenty fava
beans, twenty Mammoth sunflower, fifty-one broccoli and roughly a hundred
radishes all ready to go in the morning.  Still to do: mangel wurzel,
Brussels sprouts, lettuce, and miscellaneous odds and bods I have hanging
around the house.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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It's great to see your passion for this. There is nothing like getting your hands in good soil.

I would think that it's best to have some more conventional patches too. Your land providers will want to see production, not only experiments. Maybe even dig some little borders around your "experiments" for show and tell. Success comes in small steps.

Also, consider your planting in terms of what you can visibly distribute the first couple of years. Stuff that can create a sense of a harvest event, and then passing it on. This helps get you both goodwill from the elders and volunteers for your endeavour.

BTW thanks for the info on chia seeds. We were given a bag that's well past its best-use date, but maybe it's good as seed. We'll see.
 
Simon Forman
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Cheers!  It's really good to be gardening even if it's just a tiny demo
garden.  Thanks for the great advice.

(BTW, when I said chia can't germinate on lava, I meant molten lava.  Once
it's cooled they'll grow on it. ;-)

So far everything has been eaten.  We're right on a wildlife corridor.
Lots of birds, raccoons, and a family of coyotes live right there.  We're
kind of at the tip of a vast forest that stretches to Santa Cruz.

The corn is still there, leaves nibbled.  Everything else, sunflowers,
chia, broccoli, etc. was eaten.  Gone.

I got some bird netting and I'm going to build some kind of gopher-proof
raised bed or something.

That takes care of growing crops, but I don't like how it's basically
making a giant terrarium and letting Nature babysit it.

Eventually we can make something that produces crops and is integrated
with the natural systems right there.  Maybe not a food forest, but
something.

The original ecosystem was grass, shrubs, and a few oak and pine trees.
Tule elk might have grazed here but this wasn't a high-density area.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Wow, that's a harsh introduction to gardening. Incredibly frustrating! I hope you will find a way to defeat the local "munchies" and keep trying.
 
Simon Forman
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It's not that bad.  In hindsight it seems obvious, and now I'm not sure what I expected.  There were blue jays watching me plant the seedlings...  I basically laid out a little snack bar for them.  :)

I have six sunflower and six fava bean seedlings that I didn't plant out and I've transplanted them to gallon containers to get bigger.  I'll probably build a "plant terrarium" and grow crops in that to have something to show for the effort, and then also grow things that can harmonize with the local ecology.

I have high hopes for the Maximilian sunflower.  It's from the Great Plains, but if it likes conditions out here by the beach...  It grows tons of flowers each with tons of little seeds, so that's great for the pollinators and birds, and you harvest the tubers like Jerusalem artichokes (aka sunchokes).  (Hmm, the gophers might eat those.  We might get a church cat, but then the coyotes will eat it. Hmm.)

(The thing about the gophers is they're the ones keeping the soil from becoming compacted.  They run through there like giant worms, fluffing up the soil like pillows.  Every time I have to step off of the little paths I've made the ground compacts an inch or two.  (So I try to avoid that.) It's the gophers that make it, uh, expanded.)

I just started learning about "air pruning" and it seems great.  I found this video about making your own grow bags, and I've been doing that.  I'm pretty excited all over again.

"How To Make Your Own Grow Bags"


I'd rather be making a food forest integrated with the local ecosystem, but that's a huge multi-year project (that I'm not qualified to design).
 
Simon Forman
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Because the birds ate everything I brought the seedlings back to my house and put them in containers.

I also put some of the acacia seedlings in a tray.  They're sharing with some radishes, and it will be interesting to see if they grow well.  Acacias are said to be allelopathic.

I got some galvanized hardware cloth, chicken wire, and bird netting, and there's some bits of lumber and an old wooden pallet I can use at the garden site, so once I build a cage or two for them I'll bring the plants back and put them in there.
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Air prune tray with ~30 acacia and 14 radishes.
Air prune tray with ~30 acacia and 14 radishes.
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Three fava and three mammoth sunflower seedlings in gallon bags.
Three fava and three mammoth sunflower seedlings in gallon bags.
 
Simon Forman
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Here's a glamor shot of the four chickens.

Role call:

Buffy, Buff Orpington (face man)
Ducky, Silver-laced Wyandotte (demolitions and get away driver)
April, Ginger Queen (stealth and recon)
Stella, Salmon Faverolle (muscle)


We got them as day-olds (although they were more like five-day-olds) from a nice lady in Mill Valley and now they're about four months old.  They should start laying eggs by Spring.

Their main task will be manning (chickening?) the chicken tractor at the garden to bring more area into cultivation.  BTW, does anyone know if dry old thistle bothers chickens?  I get splinters from it and I wonder if I should clear it myself before running the birds on there?

Bock bock!
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We call them the Ladies Detective Agency.
We call them the Ladies Detective Agency.
 
Simon Forman
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The broccoli patch is the lightly composted are between the two
horizontal rows of stepping stones (the soil is darker and there are
woodchips on it.)

The thing to notice here is the complete lack of broccoli seedlings.  I
planted thirty, and then about fifteen more after those were eaten, which
were also eaten.  No one's eating the grass sprouts though...
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The no-broccoli patch.
The no-broccoli patch.
 
Simon Forman
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Here are some of the wee corn sprouts.  You can see that they have been
nibbled but otherwise seem okay.  They're for windbreak and (eventually)
compost so it's okay if they're shorter than normal.

The question is will they survive the gopher? (Singular because apparently
they're solitary and pretty territorial.)
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A corn.
A corn.
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Another corn.
Another corn.
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Another corn.
Another corn.
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Another corn.
Another corn.
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Another corn.
Another corn.
 
Simon Forman
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This is part of the area between the wall and the garden plot where I
scattered a bunch of chia seeds and black beans.  As you can see, once it
started getting watered all of the seeds that were there sprouted, not
just the chia and beans.  I'm eager to see what they are.

It's fascinating to me that the birds leave these plants alone but the
corn and broccoli are eaten.  One brassica seedling seems to look much
like another, so how do the birds tell them apart?  I could probably get
some insight by nibbling some of these little greens, eh?  Sparkler White
Tip radish seedlings probably taste better than wild radish?

Once these plants get large enough to trouble the passage of the riding
lawn mower they can be pruned back for chop-n-drop or a compost pile.
And I'll bet they're edible too.  Like sheep sorrel.
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Ground cover, mostly native, some chia.
Ground cover, mostly native, some chia.
 
Simon Forman
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To defend the yummy little plants from hungry gophers and birds I put them up on a pallet and a sort of upside-down tray I made from some scrap wood and a 2'x5' 1/2" galvanized wire panel.

There's a crate with acacia and radish seedlings, and one with a bushy potato, and several fava beans and mammoth sunflowers in gallon containers made from landscape cloth.

I also took a couple of sacks of potatoes and sweet potatoes and stuck 'em all around in the gopher holes.  While doing that I found one of the sweet potatoes that I had buried earlier, it had about half eaten off but didn't seem to mind.
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A garden in all it's glory.
A garden in all it's glory.
 
Onion rings are vegetable donuts. Taste this tiny ad:
Greenhouse of the Future ebook - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/greenhouse
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