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Farm For All - A Journal Of Sorts

 
pioneer
Posts: 527
Location: Oregon 8b
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monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
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Another photo where it's probably difficult to pick out what's happening. As I'm weeding the terrace I'm adding keyhole inspired paths every three or so feet so that I can reach the middle, or just beyond the middle, of each growing space. I'm using some of the cherry prunings that I used to mulch the peas earlier in the season laid across the paths to mark them buy not prevent things from growing up through. Because I broadcasted seeds, I do have veggies coming up where I've ultimately decided to put paths, so my intention is to try not to walk on the paths too much until the things growing in them have an opportunity to size up and get harvested. But if I have to, and I lose stuff, that's not a huge deal.

The old garden beds were designed to be 4 feet across. That's the number I frequently see quoted for double reach beds. In reality, that was just too wide to reach the center comfortably without stepping in the bed, so I've gone a bit narrower this time around. If I have greens and herbs growing in the "understory" of corn, sunflowers, sorghum, etc. I don't really want to lean in and get a face full of stalk when I'm trying to reach them.

Progress has been slower today. For starters, the front of the "terrace" is just easier because you can stand more or less upright while you weed. The top of the terrace requires significantly more squatting and hunching to pull the low growing thistles. Plus, the soil is much drier today as compared to yesterday. Thistles were slipping right out of the ground yesterday with minimal effort. They require significantly more force today and have been more likely to break than come out cleanly. I would just run the sprinkler to wet it again, but I don't want to keep the soil excessively damp. I also don't want to be heavy handed with the water and collapse all of the little pockets of aeration that I've created by pulling the thistles out.

I'm not exactly thrilled about having thistles as my mulch... dried thistles are especially pokey and aren't sandal safe... but they are providing pretty much the perfect amount of coverage for the soil. Enough to shade the soil and keep it moist and cool, but light enough that the veggies will be able to grow up through it without too many issues. The other benefit, and I'm not sure that it's been entirely confirmed, is that they're theoretically a good source of calcium. The reasoning I've heard is that thistles are able to colonize areas because they're efficient at mining calcium in calcium-poor soils (which ours most certainly are.) Thus, when they break down, they release that calcium at the soil surface and make it available to other plants. Ultimately, as it improves calcium levels in the soil, plants that are less capable of mining calcium are able to move in and outcompete the thistles. Well, I'm putting that theory to the test.
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Mathew Trotter
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Posts: 527
Location: Oregon 8b
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monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
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Holy shit!

This lecture pretty much just validated all of the things I've been hypothesizing about and taking action on.

 
pollinator
Posts: 367
Location: SE Indiana
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I wish I had more time for conversation here, unfortunately though I am limited in that. Just too much other stuff keeping me busy but I'll address some points.

Mathew Trotter wrote: I mean, he'd argue that you still need some amount each year, or at least every couple of years, to account for what you're taking out, but I'm still convinced that that's down to him refusing to adopt no-dig. I kinda figure his next book will be him admitting that he's been wrong this whole time and no-dig is superior, but he very well may die on that hill. 🀣


From my experience, no dig is vastly superior but probably only possible on a small scale. Even though once you get started it just gets easier each year. I've gotten so lazy that I don't pull up corn stalks, I just cut them off at the ground and lay them parallel on top of the stumps and leave them there. Next year I plant beans or something in-between. Only draw back I've noticed is a decrease in my volunteer, turnips, dill, marigolds and so on. I think without the soil disturbance and with everything mulched so much their seeds don't get buried and or are smothered along with the weeds. I'm gonna have to find a work around for that.

As far as what is taken out, nothing leaves my garden except the food we eat. I don't know if or how fast decomposition returns nutrients in a plant usable form but apparently that does happen.  

Mathew Trotter wrote: It should also be noted that that turnip was harvested after we'd already gone 90 days without rain. To produce a turnip that size with no water and in otherwise atrocious soil is no small feat. This year we'll get to see how well they do with irrigation and increasingly improving soil. They'll be as big as basketballs in no time. 🀣

I have little doubt that a basketball sized turnip is doable.

Mathew Trotter wrote:Also important to recognize that the whole thing is multifaceted.


Isn't everything?

Mathew Trotter wrote: The reason Joseph's plants do so well without any amendments, in my honest estimation, is because he's choosing the best plants each generation. The reason those plants are better is because they've been bred to have a more efficient relationship with the microbes that are native to his soil. ...


And also climate and practice. Those genetics keep their superior qualities in other locations for some crops and some not. Every corn variety I got from Joseph grew wonderfully here but the soft flour types are just as or more subject to the bugs and molds as any other flour corn. A couple of his tomatoes are now stars  of the show in my garden but most had no disease resistance at all. I got some dahlia seed that he described as getting waist high. Ha! they got close to head high and spread that far too and made big clumps of baked potato sized roots. Apparently dahlias like it here but no other dahlia from seed or root ever got that big.

Mathew Trotter wrote:This is why saving seeds is really the most important part of the process. Adding Steve's mix can jump start the process of improving photosynthetic efficiency, and importing organic matter can help keep the soil microbes fed in spite of less efficient photosynthesis, and you will see the benefit no matter what seeds you put in the ground if everything else is improving, but if those seeds are adapted to the specific microbiology of the local soil that's when the real magic happens.


Yep, but as demonstrated with Joseph's dahlias sometimes the superiority of the genetics selected in one environment express themselves in other, vastly different soils and conditions.

Mathew Trotter wrote:
...whereas the farmers and gardeners that have to amend their soils are importing new genetics each year that extract from the soil without giving anything back.


I have certainly amended my garden soils with years of leaves, weeds, and so on from other parts of the property. I have even mined top soil from the woods and brought it to the garden. Still I wonder about the "not giving anything back" part. It seems to imply that growing things removes stuff from the soil and that is certainly true with those people who remove and discard all the weeds and spent vegetable plants. But it you don't do that, the only part that actually leaves is the food that's eaten, doesn't the rest just get recycled? The question is how long does it take for the minerals and nutrients to return to a form that the next plants can use?
 
Mathew Trotter
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Posts: 527
Location: Oregon 8b
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Mark Reed wrote:I wish I had more time for conversation here, unfortunately though I am limited in that. Just too much other stuff keeping me busy but I'll address some points.



I know exactly what you mean. That's the biggest reason I haven't been posting elsewhere on Permies, even though I've been tempted a few times. I just don't have the time and energy to juggle a bunch of conversations right now. Probably once the winter weather gets here and I'm huddled under the blankets trying to stay warm...

Case in point, I've got a response to your post in my head, but it's probably going to take me a couple days to actually sit down and do it justice.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Posts: 527
Location: Oregon 8b
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monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
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Harvested 3 more of the balut today. They actually probably could still have been a bit more developed than they were, but I've got 2 more where that came from. Actually, truly, genuinely good served in a breakfast sandwich where some of the "weirdness" is covered up by the other ingredients. Crumbled and fried them up with a bit of hot sauce and served them on flatbread with crispy hash browns. Super filling. Couldn't finish the whole thing in one sitting (I mean, the 3 balut alone were almost 600 calories and 40+ grams of protein.) 10/10. Would actually eat again. Maybe as a burrito? That format seems like it's better suited for the job (granted, this was the one flat bread in the whole batch that didn't have a nice pocket, so that made things awkward.)
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Balut breakfast sandwich
Balut breakfast sandwich
 
Mathew Trotter
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Location: Oregon 8b
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monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
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I finally got sick enough of being here that I hiked the 15 miles to my favorite riverside foraging spot, which just reiterated what a waste of my time being out on the property, fighting against all of the landowners shit, has been. Couldn't really stockpile, given that I could only take what I could carry a reasonable distance to the road where a friend could pick me up with my haul. All in all I harvested about 50 pounds combined of plums, apples, pears, elderberries, and pine nuts (in addition to what I ate for the few days I was running around in the woods.) Also snacked on late season berries, though I didn't have any way to transport any appreciable amount without them getting destroyed; a mix of blackberries, huckleberries, and salal.

My time away, and the relative abundance that exists literally anywhere that isn't this property, has made me realize that the landowner wants someone on the property "doing permaculture" as a status symbol, but couldn't be more opposed to the actual aims of permaculture.

At this point I've already committed seeds to the ground, so I'll be here until next fall to collect seeds and tubers and whatnot. After that, though, unless significant changes happen around here, I think I'll be moving on. I hate that I'll be starting over again, soil-wise, but at least I'll be starting with much stronger seeds.

I have 3 or 4ish people that have offered me places to continue my work. All of them have pretty significant downsides, but I think they're finally being outweighed by the downsides of staying.

We'll see. A year is a long time and a lot of things can change between now and then. I'm going to at least pack up the stuff I can live without for the next year and store it somewhere. Or at least have it ready for when the time comes.

Anyway. Didn't get pictures of everything before I started eating and processing it. Here are a few pictures I got of the stuff I foraged.
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Mathew Trotter
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Location: Oregon 8b
138
monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
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Updates from the garden. Could definitely use a fertility boost, but I've been putting it off in favor of dropping thistles.
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Seeing a lot more peas popping up recently
Seeing a lot more peas popping up recently
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These rainin daikons have gotten a little extra fertility and it shows
These rainin daikons have gotten a little extra fertility and it shows
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Carrots are showing up in force
Carrots are showing up in force
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Beets that survived the drought and are starting to take off in the cooler/wetter weather
Beets that survived the drought and are starting to take off in the cooler/wetter weather
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Drought-proof carrots also starting to take off
Drought-proof carrots also starting to take off
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Drought-proof turnips starting to size up
Drought-proof turnips starting to size up
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The one surviving runner bean. Pretty much guaranteed that it won't produce anything, but we'll see.
The one surviving runner bean. Pretty much guaranteed that it won't produce anything, but we'll see.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Location: Oregon 8b
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monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
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Caught a ride into town to visit friends and do some more foraging. There's an abandoned lot behind their apartment complex that has maybe half a dozen apple trees on it, plus hazels, plums, and other odds and ends. Picked maybe 30 pounds for myself in addition to what my friend got for them. Only one of the trees was ripe. We completely missed another tree that had already dropped its fruit earlier in the season and it was all thoroughly rotting away. There was another tree, clearly a seedling, with fruit about an inch in diameter. Friend picked some of them and handed me one to try. It was sweet and appley, but it also had a hint of tilapia or other really mild fish. It was weird. I did not pick any of those ones for myself.

Also hit up one of the two publicly accessible black walnuts that I know about in town. Maybe about 3 gallons, with hulls? So, not a ton, but a good start. They've just started to drop, so I should be able to get a good harvest throughout the year. Hopefully make it into town next week or the week after and collect from the other tree, and then maybe wander around town looking for other stuff that's publicly accessible... Or maybe offer to clean up the "mess" if I find them growing in somebody's yard. I'm always a little hesitant to bother people about the things growing in their yards (especially with as much as it's growing in the public right of way), and the pandemic has only compounded that, but I think I'm at the point where I don't want to see things go to waste when I can use them.

The reason we didn't have time to hit both of the walnut trees is because we went out to the edge of town for what I had hoped would be chestnut trees. The town has a habit of naming their streets after the trees that are growing there, and I noticed that one of the streets in one of the newer developments was Chestnut St. There were two big trees growing on the corner there that I was hoping were chestnuts, but I couldn't tell from Google Maps what they were. Sadly, they weren't chestnuts. Chestnuts are a rarity here, mostly through a concerted effort to keep the blight from making it to this side of the mountains, but we do have some here. Including American chestnuts that have been tucked away safely. The nearest ones that I know about are an hour's drive from here, so probably not something I'll manage to get this year. I do have a friend that lives down that way, so maybe I can convince them to pick up a sack full just so I can have some to plant. Of the dozen or so store bought seeds that I had stratified, only 2 ended up germinating, and neither survived very long. I was surprised that I got germination at all, since most commercial seeds are heat treated, but maybe that's why the measly two that germinated didn't have much vigor. Maybe they were heat treated, but not enough to completely destroy the embryo in two of them. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

My oldest rooster dropped dead the other day. No apparent sign of injury, but the organs looked fine and no obvious sign of illness, so I figured he was good to eat. He was flopping on the ground when I went out to feed them. My only real guess is that he jumped off the roost and managed to get his head stuck in the fence on the way down and either broke his own neck while he was flailing around or asphyxiated. Or maybe it was just a heart attack or something. Who knows. Kind of a bummer that I didn't get babies from him first. But that just means that the Bielefelder I was on the fence about will now get to take his place.

This is the first rooster I've butchered, and the oldest bird I've butchered to date. I was surprised at just how dark the leg meat was. Like, it could have almost passed for beef. This is also the first bird that I've allowed to rest for a couple days before cooking. I'm usually to eager to eat it after putting in the work to butcher it. A couple days of rest made a huge difference between him and the previous bird, which was genuinely almost too tough for any sane person to want to eat. At 19ish months, and after my experience with the previous bird, I honestly didn't expect him to be good for anything other than stock. Threw him in the pressure cooker for a couple of hours and he was tender enough to fall off the bones. It definitely shredded into distinctive muscle fibers, but they weren't especially tough or chewy. I was pleasantly surprised. I'll definitely be patient enough to rest my birds from here on out.

Ended up making chicken noodle soup out of him with the remnants of a veggie platter that the landowner had leftover from a party. That's some damn fine chicken stock. I'll say that much. Between soup, fruit, and nuts, I should be pretty solid for the next week and change.
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Apple harvest
Apple harvest
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Small walnut harvest
Small walnut harvest
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The darkest chicken
The darkest chicken
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Ready for the stock pot
Ready for the stock pot
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Chicken noodle soup
Chicken noodle soup
 
author & master steward
Posts: 2452
Location: Southeastern U.S. - Zone 7b
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goat cat forest garden foraging chicken food preservation medical herbs writing solar wood heat homestead
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Fantastic bounty from the foraging. And good job on the rooster. Allow the carcass to rest and pressure cooking work wonders. I usually pressure can all our old birds and the meat makes tender, tasty soup or stew. A slow cooker (longest, slowest time possible) will tenderize pretty well too.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Location: Oregon 8b
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monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
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Not that it's any surprise to me, but it's a lot more depressing after you have them hulled and sort out the rotten/empty ones. Granted, it literally took less than 5 minutes to pick up everything that had fallen from the tree so far, so it was definitely still worth it. Just not exactly filling the larder with that harvest.
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pollinator
Posts: 688
Location: Chicago
196
dog forest garden fish foraging urban cooking food preservation bike
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Too bad about there walnuts, I had the same experience this year with hickories.  I was excited to find so many, but turns out there was a reason the squirrels had left them!
 
Mathew Trotter
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Landrace Seed CSA Shares



I've played around with a few different services and found that most of them were lacking in one way or another. Some had pitiful customer support, some were outright broken, and some hadn't been actively maintained for years. Ended up having to expand my search beyond services that were tailored specifically toward local produce and CSA sales. Because Square doesn't have any reoccurring fees to get started, keeps track of everything I need to know to get seed boxes shipped out, and allows you to make a fairly robust website, that's who I ended up going with.

I'll be updating the site over time with information about the landraces I'm breeding, but until then, orders are at least up and ready. I don't expect a ton of takers, but one of the services I looked at that didn't end up working had a deal where there were no fees for your first 10 CSA members and then it was $10 per person after that, so I was going to allow the first 10 people to sign up to get $10 off. I decided that was worth carrying over to the new service, so the first 10 people to sign up get their shares for $49 (just select the early bird option) and then it's $59 after that.

It's only available to Oregon addresses at the moment. That just helps comply with different regional quarantines and shipping restrictions. Plus, the point is that it's locally adapted, so that just makes sense.

Orders will be open from now until December 25th for boxes that will ship in Fall/Winter of 2022-2023.

Thanks to everyone for your support!

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It's in the permaculture playing cards. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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