Becky Mundt

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since Jan 21, 2013
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Biography
Born and raised on the east coast of the US. Moved to  Hawaii and raised my kids there for a decade, then landed on the west coast.
Blessed to find a little piece of heaven in Oregon in 2012 and have been planting gardens and trees and implementing permaculture plans ever since.
No interest in dogma. Working every day on the land and in the gardens keeps my mind quiet and my heart open. Doing my best to stay present and appreciate the radiant beauty of nature and life.
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Recent posts by Becky Mundt

I have to agree with the idea of the swales and berms.

We are in Oregon and our water table is at the surface of the land in most places on our little farm. Dig a hole in winter, come back and it's full right to the top. We have been planting on this land now for nearly 9 years and all our first attempts failed until we put in our first major swale and berm system with ponds and spillways as part of a permaculture design and pond system. It took two years to do it (permits and etc took one whole year) but now it is so gorgeous and lush and grows everything beautifully.

Read Akiva Silver's Trees of Power - he is in that hilly clay NY area like you and his book taught us how to do it right. :)

We put in big 'tree berms' for individual trees planted out (walnuts, hazels etc.) and build long shelter-belt hugel type berms for planting out shelter belts of mixed fruit, nut and flowering trees and perennials for wildlife and us. The individual tree berms we now surround with old cut up logs to build a sort of structure around and then plant in the middle of it - we adopted this after reading about a guy who planted in the interior of old cedar tree stumps on his PNW land and it also worked.

We discovered a natural seasonal run-off that travels underground above our upper pond and then opens up out in the lower field and so we planted river birches and cover cropped the area to build it up to be a lush wet area during the hot arid summers.

But all the trees we put in in raised mounds or berms to keep the root crown out of the water. Any tree we didn't do this for, other than a few amazingly hardy apples and cherries in our lower orchard, eventually suffocated. :(
It's possible to dig a tree up and raise it later if you do it in dormant season but man it's a LOT more work than planting it right to start with.

Good Luck! You'll have beautiful bearing and amazing looking trees in just a few years if you do it right to start. :)

We took a couple extra years but now we have them and they are so lovely and bountiful and as the hedges and trees grow we have more shade, more coolness and less wind - :) Great bonus!

P.S. Totally jealous of your beavers! Our friends have them along a year round stream on their place... They are a marvel to watch. There's room for all of us here, and we can learn from every creature we encounter if we just pay attention.
2 years ago
Hi!

While it's true we've been reading and hanging around Permies forums for almost a decade, we haven't posted much.

But we've done a lot of work - putting in a permaculture plan with ponds, gardens and a small food forest and in 2019, diving in to Akiva Silver’s Trees of Power and Abundant Propagation course...

So now, here we are, with our own fledgling tree nursery, and we figured we should get serious about introducing ourselves and saying a big thank you to a lot of folks who’ve helped and inspired us along the way.
You can find everything about our nursery offerings at our SpencerCreekNursery.com website. Our current list includes many nut trees (walnut, chestnut, hickory, hazelnut), berry bushes (currant, gooseberry, jostaberry), nitrogen fixers (Black Locust) and Pacific Northwest natives (Pacific Ninebark, Red Osier Dogwood).

We opened to take orders for the first time at the end of 2020, and we’ve been very pleasantly surprised with the response!

There is nothing we love better than being outside planting our new tree crops, taking cuttings of our berry and perennial plants, building new beds or  creating new shelter belts for wildlife.

We're especially grateful to Paul Wheaton for starting Permies, where we've found numerous useful threads and important details on things no one else seems to know even exist... And for his outrageous and amazing mind which appears to be a limitless source of new projects we want to do ALL of!

We pretty much sign up for everything he does on Kickstarter and have a list of projects we want to build that stretches off into the distance here on our little farm...

Another resource we’re very appreciative of is Chelsea Green Publishing where we find so many excellent authors and new innovators and experimenters, like Akiva Silver, Tao Orion and so many others.

When we first got here, nearby permaculture folks from Aprovecho Sustainability Education Center in Cottage Grove taught us in their water management course how to manage our alluvial slopes with seasonal creeks and runoff.

That got us ready to work with  Abel Loster andTao Orion of Resilience Permaculture on the design of our swales, berms, ponds and plantings. That initial effort began the journey on our little farm. At the time, we had no idea what was to come.

Akiva Silver and Trees of Power

When Chelsea Green published Akiva Silver’s Trees of Power in early 2019 we bought the Audible version first, because we love listening to great books on those cold dark late winter and early spring evenings...
Akiva’s explanation of pits and mounds was the first thing in that book to change our world forever. No one had ever so succinctly stated what our situation was on this little clay hillside. And every failed planting suddenly made perfect sense.

Within days we were listening in the car every time we had to go anywhere, rolling back to hear details of each tree. We began creating local tree identification charts and quizing each other on the form and structure of local Oregon trees. We were hooked. We bought the print version so we could review all the details.

We started looking for mother trees... And gathering materials for building air prune beds...We even drove hundreds of miles to find and visit ancient trees we had heard existed in other parts of our state.
When we discovered Akiva was offering his Abundant Propagation course, we enrolled as soon as it was open to new students.

Now, some 20 months later, our nursery is real, we have hundreds and hundreds of heeled in 1 year seedlings and rooted cuttings, and thousands of new plantings. We've even started seeing sales come in for wholesale and retail orders! It's so exciting to know the trees we are growing are going to be planted, loved and cared for!

Our first order was from a local land trust and bought out our entire inventory of one species for planting in local areas for restoration and fire recovery projects. We were overwhelmed with our luck at having grown these trees simply because we'd discovered an amazing mother tree and felt obligated to gather her 'babies' in the fall of 2019.

Spencer Creek Nursery - Building on Experiential Knowledge

We love building on our permaculture knowledge and following the guidance of someone with such a vast storehouse of personally acquired insight into trees and growing living systems.

Perhaps what impresses us most about this entire process is how we become familiar and personally aware of so much just through observation. Our own experiences have changed so much of how we think and practice this craft.

For us that all leads straight back to Permies and Akiva and direct, personally grounded experiential knowledge. We search and browse Permies and our dog eared copy of Trees of Power exactly because both are so full of these gems.

Changing our World - Planting Habitat and Trees

It’s hard to say which is more exciting, starting up a new bed of trees and cuttings or planting out new wildlife habitat and orchard areas.

We are lucky to live where there are lots of enthusiastic people growing trees and plants and willing to share their knowledge and experiences.

PNW nurseries we love include Burnt Ridge, One Green World, Raintree and Doak Creek Natives and a bit further south, Fruitwood Nursery.

We have a special place in our hearts for Whitman Farms where Lucille has literally given us hours of time and support, not to mention the handfuls of her many varieties of mulberries as we stroll under her mother trees, tasting our way to determining our favorites!

New Projects We're Excited About
Some of the new projects we're excited about include:
  • Tagasaste (tree lucerne)
  • Thornless honey locust we're starting this year
  • a beach plum we discovered in Marcola - harvested last fall into amazing tart plum jam everyone went crazy for
  • a few truly tall and straight Gravenstein apple seedlings that came up last spring (The apples came from  a tree we've loved and cared for since 2011 over in Springfield, OR)
  • and our recent deep dive into biodynamics, Maria Thun's work and calendar and integrating the subtle influences described and explored by Rudolf Steiner.

  • As a way of saying thanks and hello, we thought folks might enjoy a small Quizlet we created for Latin names of some of the trees and plants grown in our area.

    We very much look forward to hearing from and getting to know more of you, the many wonderful members of the permies community! We also would love to hear if there are particular trees or plants you'd love to see us grow, or troubles you're having with growing particular species, in case we can be of some help.

    3 years ago
    Thanks for this post, Daron Williams! And great blog post too, by the way!

    And thanks to all the folks who added valuable insights here as well.

    I'm a big fan of Charles Dowding and his no dig videos, thanks to Morag Gamble, an Australian permaculturist who stole my heart with her barefoot gardening...

    Since we live on heavy clay (is there any other kind?) in the hills southwest of Eugene, Oregon, no dig is pretty much a no brainer for garden beds.

    But we do have tunnelers so I'm excited to try Faye Streiff's suggestion of gypsum. Faye, one question I have is how would you 'put down' the gypsum for the no dig bed? Just spread around under the cardboard when you start? I'll cut the grass short before I sheet mulch, but not sure the best way to apply the gypsum.

    We don't have PermaTil here, but we do have pumice and I wonder if that might not also be helpful. It's not so sharp as the baked crushed shale, but its volcanic rock and its other benefits mean I'm using it in our tree nursery beds already so maybe it would help?

    I also like Al Marlin's idea of storing the potatoes in a box of coir, since I use that quite a bit to build our gardens.

    I'd love to get good potato crops like we used to get when we lived over by the McKenzie River in that amazing loamy river soil... But hey, maybe this is my year! I'm sure going to give this a try outside the main garden and I think I know just the spot!

    Thanks everyone for all the good information in this thread -I've actually re-read it all about three times now. Every time I find some new morsel I'd missed.

    Watching the last light hit the forest above the fields behind the house as the late sun sets and the rest of the world goes quiet and soft in the grey dusk and the baby squirrels raid the seeds under the feeder one last time, hiding under their tails.
    6 years ago
    Heh.
    Deer fence. Yep.
    We're in the middle of it right now.
    1200 feet of fence around ~ 2.5 acres of our total 5 acres.

    Essentially zones 1, 2 and a bit into 3 - so we skirt just inside the woods which are the upper portion of our 5 acres, and leave wildlife corridors on both sides. We'll have some wooded shade for our mushroom logs and shady perennial gardens (and also have the fence up there more or less invisible from below as it's in the woods about 30 feet - just below the main deer trail.

    We are installing ourselves, using red brand and black vinyl coated hexmesh deer fence - the hex on the wooded eastern upper edge (it's black and harder to see) and topped with 2 plain wires - fence is to 6 feet and wires take us to just under 8 feet. Round wooden posts in concrete for corners and a few H braces - and metal T posts set in the (mostly clay)_soil for the rest - it's not cheap - we saved up for it - ~5K with supplies and some helping labor from a local permaculture school - great helpers!

    We started with earthworks in late 2015 - a sloping swale to draw water off the hillside above the house/chickens and garden area and into a basin that flows to a spillway to a lower pond - this spring the entire area is full of water and the frog chorus is beyond amazing. There is a natural pond up in the woods for the wildlife, so they have their own water access.

    But our plantings of the first of the food forest, currants and flowering plants for our bees were getting chomped by deer relentlessly - and I was tired of losing my battles to keep the garden deer proof.

    We talked a lot about whether to just fence one garden area, but after discussions with other permaculturists who've done their whole properties or at least the larger inner zones, it made sense to us to give ourselves the freedom to really open up what we can do inside a larger protected area.  

    It is a lot of work, but we're really happy with our decision.

    We also have regular foxes, coyotes, cougar and the occasional bear around here, so the fencing will mean they can't just waltz right up and eat our ducks or knock down hives for honey. This winter we lost 2 of our ducks for the first time, and have nearby bee keepers who lost hives to bears.

    We used electric fencing around the garden for the first 2 years here OK but by year 3 the deer were onto us - the fencing doesn't really bother them, esp. in dry summer weather - they don't ground much on dry earth - tiny hooves. So then they just walk through it - basically shoulder barrel it out of the way. They send their kids in under the lower wire and figure out really quick how to negotiate the '3D' style of off setting the lines - we've tried it all.
    By last summer (year 4) they just walked through anywhere and took what they wanted.

    If you rent a one man auger and only put in wood posts and cement in your main corners, a few H braces and braces around gates you can use metal T posts for the rest - and get a lot of fencing for a lot less money than doing wood/cement posts all around.

    We paid $189/roll for 165 feet of 6 foot redbrand deer fence at the local farm supply store - and about $7ea/10 foot T posts (most places seem to be at about $10/ea)

    Since you're going 8 feet tall (assuming you want to actually keep the deer out) you need a 10 foot post - 12 foot were too hard to find and too expensive when we did find them, but the 10s are working out just fine.

    You can also use 2 4foot fences one on top of the other - we know of at least one place where they did that and like it. We were really looking to keep the visual impact as low as possible -hence the wire on top instead of solid fence to 8 feet.

    It might be possible to find better pricing or get used materials for some of this - we just made our budget and planned for it and did our best to hold the line on the expenses once we had it set. If you can wait and plan and take your time, you could gather materials 2nd hand and other ways for more savings.

    The best money spent by far was for the people helping us. Find your local permaculture people and hire them. Local fence contractors go for $30 to $50/hour according to our research. But you can pay half that (a decent wage for short term help) and get great hard workers who know their stuff.

    PLUS you make great new friends! Best thing we ever did was take the earthworks class at Aprovecho four years ago! It got us the education we needed first, and the team to actually create our vision and get it in motion. Highly recommend finding your local permaculture center!

    Earthworks, plantings and fences are just the first parts of the plan, then the real fun begins!

    Good luck with your place! Don't forget to think about earthworks ideas first!

    7 years ago

    Clifford Reinke wrote:

    My coop is an open air design I modified from a 1919 book on chicken coops.  This type of coop was used as far north as Alberta Canada with -20 degree weather.  Chickens have nice down coats, and do not mind the cold.  The large front windows are covered in 1/4 inch hardware cloth.  I have a trap door that leads to the "daylight basement/dusting area".  I lock them in every night because we have weasel problems.  I use a four paddock system with the solar powered, 160 foot,  electric poultry netting which I move once a week.  There is no artificial light in the hen house (although I may add solar powered lights later).  Food consumption does rise with colder weather, and if it freezes I change out the water more frequently so it does not ice over.

    I replace the straw under the roost every week with the straw from the nesting boxes and the front of the coop.  New straw is placed in the nesting boxes and the front of the coop.  I use the pooped on straw as mulch around my fruit trees.  My compost pile is on the border between two of my paddocks.  So two weeks out of four, the chickens get to turn my compost pile for me eating bugs and worms.  The other two weeks allow the bugs and worms to recover.  The compost pile is on a slope, so we throw the new stuff on the top of the hill and shovel the good stuff from the bottom of the hill.

    I have 13 Barred Rock chickens, two roosters and 11 hens.  I'm averaging 9 eggs a day, even though it is winter.  My chickens seem very happy and healthy, the coop does not smell bad, stays dry, takes five minutes to clean once a week.  I think for me, I've finally found the right combination.



    I sure wish I could see the photos that were posted with this!  Love the idea of the compost pile being the area the girls get to move through each two weeks. I also love the idea of the open air south facing windows - we have a big glass window from a junk store that opens but we close it at night - I wonder if I could eventually replace it with hardware cloth to make the house lighter and easier to move around... Lots of great ideas here! thanks!!
    7 years ago
    Mike Turner,

    If you are looking for a sunroot that is slower to spread, try White Dwarf, Dwarf Sunray, or Supercluster as they are smaller, less invasive plants than the average sunroot cultivar. You can find them at Oikos.



    What is an Oikos?

    8 years ago
    So wish I could drop everything and go do this! SO want to learn it - and play with it aroud the farm here... esp with all the clay we have, and things I want to build. I hope you guys will post lots of pics and share your fun as you do this - I can live vicariously for now, right!? *sigh* My gardens, chickens, ducks and dogs won't let me just skedaddle outta here just now - but I surely do wish I could! *swoon* - cob! It's what I want to doooooooooooooooo!!! I envision a cob wall along the front of our place between us and the road one day... Yes. Yes. It WILL happen. Sending you great vibes for tons of folk not as constrained as I am to come and learn the great art and play, pick berries and enjoy the magic! Totally jealous of you all! Please DO post pictures!! What a generous and outstanding offer!!
    8 years ago
    I remember when it did mean something. We started the first paper recycling at our school the year it started.
    We'd collect newpapers from the entire neighborhood and take them to school by bicycle towed trailer...
    We all rode bikes everywhere and for a while my family didn't even own a car - when I got my license there was no car to drive. hah.

    This year I moved the chicken pasture fence to new grass. Spread some Cascadia organic fertilizer as per Steve Solomon
    on their old torn up stomping grounds and seeded it with parsley, chamomile, scarlet clover and various flowers -
    including sunflowers, nasturtiums, and a whole bunch of others...

    That felt like a good chore on a beautiful sunny but cool and windy day. Today it rained and watered it all in.

    Didn't solve any bigger problems, but the girls are happy. I'm helping support the Benton County local ordinance, even though it's not my county - (wish it was) - and I'll abstain from any car travel until the weekend trip to town. That's a pretty good contribution for the week of earth day, I guess.
    9 years ago
    Welcome Feidhlim! - Perhaps you have some miracle genius ideas for this slow witted Northwestern-er...

    What is the best way to reconfigure an existing septic system?
    Our septic is in a totally lousy location (came that way) and could probably be 'okay' if we could,
    for example, just direct the vast majority of waste water to an alternate system...
    Never mind that 'gray water systems are outside of the allowable in our State code - we will just
    have to deal with that as we go...

    The biggest issue I see facing us is that we are super wet in winter and super dry in summer. Freezing is not a big issue,
    a few cold enough days now and then - but how to store excess water in winter for use in summer is the real challenge.

    Otherwise we're just adding to the constant downward flow across the property in winter - already doing earthworks planning
    to at least slow and pool some of that, but adding to it with gray water seems less than intelligent.

    Feels like that leaves storage tanks or... or... ehm... no brilliant ideas are popping into my head that won't require
    some kind of pumping - the house is near the lower end of the slope of this property - so the majority of it is uphill.
    9 years ago