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Candes King-Meisenheimer

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since Jan 02, 2016
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Chino Valley, AZ (Home of Mother Nature's Menopause)
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Recent posts by Candes King-Meisenheimer

Steve Simons wrote:Well there was the time that we went to plant the arugula in the planter garden but spilled half the seeds on the patio. We didn't think much about it until a few weeks later we noticed that there was lush arugula growing between the cracks of the patio brick. In fact it put the garden arugula to shame by a long shot. We figured that each brick was harvesting water and smothering the competition thus giving a huge advantage to the arugula in the cracks. It's been my favourite happy little accident so far and I'm trying to replicate the situation in a small brick covered spill way that I've made.



My family has been growing arugula for 40 years. Arugula prefers "bad" soil over "good" soil. We use it as the main scatter for our controlled fallows and initial ground breaking (We "break ground" by staging in different kinds of plants over a 3 year period instead of tilling the clay and rocks beneath our feet). It grows fast, requires little water once going, and turns into excellent soil when chopped and used as mulch or green manure. It's awesome at acting as weed suppressant when grown in thickets you don't want to have to worry about.

And it's tasty. So are the raw seeds.

I sow arugula in the early fall to hold gardens together during the winter, and to have something fresh to eat when there's snow on the ground. Yes, it's grows in snow. It's really funny to see half a foot of snow on the ground with a ribbon of lush green popping right up out of it along contour lines and pathway edges.

The more food you give it, or the better the soil it's gown in, the smaller the leaves will be and the faster it will go to bolt. It likes clayous soil and turns bitter when you feed it iron. For a more mild flavor water it more. For a more spicey flavor water it less. If you want to harvest the seeds tie the groupings up with twine or wire when the flowers fall off and the pods start getting bigger (or it will fall over). Pull or chop the plants when the leaves are halfway through falling off and hang to dry. You can leave them in-ground until completely brittle, but you'll loose half the seed to the wind and wind up with arugula in your driveway.

6 years ago
Holy cow! That's AWESOME! So many great ideas. Thanks for sharing!
6 years ago
I have inherited a beautiful mess. Or, rather, I should say, I've inherited the management of a beautiful mess. The beautiful mess is my family farm in northern Arizona. Part of this mess is an old glasshouse built onto the bottom level of a massive 3-story workshop/warehouse. This glasshouse exists off of the foundation of the main building and is divided into two rooms: one with a sandstone patio floor, and one with no floor that is open to the ground below. Inside this second room the previous management accidentally grew a little food forest. It was cute, but horribly overgrown and haphazard. The previous manger, my mother, had become physically incapable of maintaining it several years before that, and had made numerous level-1 errors throughout the property, including in this glasshouse. For the past 5 years I've been addressing those level-1 errors and have now gotten to a point where I can begin moving forward to some degree.

My husband and I removed the elm trees and rebuilt the walls where they had broken through. I have staged out the over-abundance of alliums and cabbages that were keeping the grapes from fruiting. And tweaked the growth of various clovers, the ground cherry tree, and the rosemary bush. I removed the lavender (which grows just fine outside) to make room for the jasmine (which won't grow outside here) to do it's thing. This year I am taking out the spanish dagger (because I'm tired of getting stabbed by it) and replacing it with a lemon tree. But, the big project in there is year is....

The Grapes!

Yes, there are grapes in there, which isn't a bad thing, even though they will grow outside here just fine (we have some down on the eastern fence). The grape roots in this glasshouse are about 35-years-old and were never taken care of. They were never trained, or even propped up. Until last week they were an overgrown hedge of bug-harboring brambles. Except one. 3 years ago I cut one all the way back to it's crotch and regrew its arms, training them up the a metal lattice anchored to the sils of the glass panels. This year that one grape vine produced happy, massive red wine grapes. I've decided to do the same with the other 5 grapevines, using them as a the canopy layer on that side of the room.

Now, the question I have right now is what people recommend for the accompanying guild? Things I grew with the experimental vine that did really well were: parsley, chocolate mint, sweet mint, and bush beans. I have, in the past on other properties, had great success growing grapes with strawberries (between the vines, not below), and oddly, cucumbers (they grew right up the grapevines using them as a trellis). I've also been told by others in this area to grow flattop buckweat at their feet to use as a much plant and weed suppressant. We do get weeds in the glasshouse since there are "Bee Doors" between the roof and glass panels that remain open in spring and early summer.

I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations for other plants? We just ran the chickens through right after cutting the grapes back and plan to do so every year around this time from now on.

I will round up some photos too. I have some from when we first moved in, then a few years later, and I'm taking more as I go along with the changes. There is only so much I can do with this glasshouse, as I am simply the manager/head gardener and have to live by the will of the extended family. But, eventually we plan to tear down the existing glasshouse (which was just added as a sort of afterthought), and rebuild it to twice the width, 4 additional feet in height and... properly. That won't be for at least 4-5 years, however, as we have to build a new house and address more important things on other parts of the property first.

So, any advice or recommendations would be welcome. Feel free to ask questions too. Oh, it's worth it to mention that it gets almost down to freezing in the glasshouse in the winter, but never actually does. If we don't mind the airflow in the summer it can get up to 130f in there. Yes, venting was the very first thing we addressed... after the elm trees that had been growing there that had taken out two walls and 4 glass panels.

~Candes
6 years ago
I would love to go, but the only month of any given year that I can even THINK about leaving the farm is January. And this year we have several large projects going in, so my full attention will be mandatory from last tuesday till November. **sad face** On the bright side, 500+ more people will get fed this year thanks to these projects. **happy face**
6 years ago
My spring line-up varies from year to year, but there are always a few I put in every year, or come up every year.

Asparagus: we're on our 3rd year with our current patch, and planning to put in another one this year to time stack the harvest so we (hopefully) don't go a year without anywhere down the road. In my region asparagus is a 20-year-perennial.

Arugula: We actually grow this year-round, as it grows in snow just fine. It actually has a hard time with heat, and will bolt quickly when night time temps go above 60 degrees. So, we have long, slow plantings from Oct-April, then rapid successions of baby arugula from May-Sep. We cut the plants to harvest, not pull them, so we harvest every week, no matter the weather.

Rosemary: We have several bushes in different locations around the property, and they always go into a spurt in the late spring.

Savory mints: Greek oregano, germander, marjoram, catmint, and horehound all have rapid tender growth a few weeks after hibernation lifts in the early spring. The first harvest is our biggest, around late April/early May. Then they slow down a bit,but still harvest every 6 weeks. Note: Horehound is actually an evergreen in most places, but it's growth in winter is very slow and not worth mentioning.

Cilantro: We plant in late fall and it usually comes up in late February. We harvest by picking 1/3 of the leaves every two weeks until it bolts to corriander in late April.

Candy mints: Spearmint, peppermint, pineapple mint, sweet mint, and chocolate mint all do the same thing in early Spring as the savory mints, but these continue to grow rapidly until it get REALLY hot (80s at night). Note: Pineapple mint is more fragile than the rest and needs special care if grown in temperate drylands... lol

Lamb's ear: This is an evergreen herb that can be harvested year-round, but it's sweetest leaves are in early Spring right before it flowers.

Sage: A triannual evergreen here, sage's best leafs are in Fall, but starts getting new growth in early April.

Currant flowers: Starts flowering in April here. Berry harvest is in June-August (depending on the type, we have 3 types). We always harvest some of the outer branches during the flowering to keep them under control. Make a great potpourri.

Early spinach: We plant in late Fall and it acts as an indicator for planting our hardy squashes and doing final preps on all other warm season plantings. We always have a harvest by late April.

Various lettuces: We let several cultivars "do their thing" in our food forest and just keep self sowing year after year. Because the forest floor is protected from harsh winds and mild frosts by the upper 4 layers (canopy, understory, clumpers, and bushes) they tend to sprout and grow earlier than other places on our property. We usually have a mixed bag harvest by early April.

Mustard: Another one that's planted in Fall and comes up in late winter/early spring. It never fails, and has become something of a tradition for us to spend the first official day of Spring harvesting mustard greens. (Side note: This year we planted a lot of "first sprouting" greens and snow plants near the fences, where the neighbors can see them, just to show off.)

Okay, trying to remember everything off the top of my head. There's more, but my notebook is in the office in the greenhouse right now. These are only the things we grow outside. There's a LOT more that we get before May, or year-round, from the greenhouse and interior window planters. Tomatoes, cucumbers,...my daughter's pumpkin plant just sprouted in the greenhouse, lol. I've never done winter squashes in the greenhouse before; we'll see how that goes. I should also note that our "greenhouse" is technically a glasshouse on the southern side of our workshop building, with an indoor food forest in it. The entire thing is one big planting box.

I'll post again if I think of anything else that fits the bill. Or after I fetch my notebook...

~Candes

6 years ago
I guess I should formally introduce myself before I do anymore posting.

**stands up, clears throat**

Hi, my name is Candes, and I'm a second generation permaculturist. I live in Chino Valley, Arizona, on the same 5-acre patch of land my mother managed for 40 years. I'm currently growing a crop of 3rd generation permies who are almost ready to harvest. Wait...no...a few have already been harvested and sent off to tend their own patches of land. But, I still have two of the teenage variety at home, and a young adult that grew roots here and will never leave.

I inherited management of the family farm a few years ago after my mother suffered some strokes. I dragged my husband and younger children up here from Phoenix (kicking and screaming at first). My farm was a service farm back in the day, when I was little... we won't talk about how many decades ago that was. We grew most of our own food, and rented services to other farms in the area through our many workshops (carpentry, mechanical, metal, etc) and warehouse. I'm turning it into a school of adaptive gardening, and hopefully, eventually a PRI. I'm currently running a growing work/resources cooperative using my farm as a main base.

Our area is a temperate dryland. We don't have "soil" here; we have clay and rocks with pockets of silt that allow certain kinds of prairie grasses to grow natively. My place sticks out a bit, lol. Our summers are 100f + and our winters can get down to below zero on occasion. A normal year sees about 14 inches of rain here, usually all at once over a 3-day period in July. What other people call "drought" we call "June", and what other people call "prepping for the End Times" we call "getting ready for winter." Despite that, I now grow enough to feed 100 families via annual and perennial crops. I grow food year-round, though most of it still comes in during the summer and fall. I'm the only person in my area that has green things growing in my outdoor gardens when there's snow on the ground.

This year we're expanding our operations significantly as we put in the first acre of a time-stack system to grow food for our local food securities charity partners.

I don't know what else to say. I will probably post and reply to posts in spurts, as I have time. Most of the time I'm out working, even in the winter.

~Candes
6 years ago
I manage a work/resources cooperative in my area. We are very small, only 7 properties right now. We only bring in one new property per year. This allows us to concentrate on bringing that one property up to speed and getting to know the people that belong to that patch of land. Our group does a lot of things for it's members, including tool sharing. Each property has to bring something to the table, as it were. Specifically, at least one maincrop that no one else in the co-op is growing much of (A req), AND another benefit of some type (B req), AND all crop surpluses go to the charity of the group's choosing (C req). One lady provides eggs year-round, another provides zucchini and pumpkins, I offer 13 different maincrops, etc. On type B requirements: one guy is a mechanic and services all of our equipment (scheduled sessions), another guy has a lot of equipment to lend (small tractors, etc), and I have several specialized workshops (carpentry, mechanical, metal work, preservation greenhouse, etc). I also have an 8,000cf warehouse that members use to store things, like empty canning jars and equipment. One lady has a clay wheel in there, and in return she holds 2 classes on pottery each spring; one for members only for no charge, and one that's open to the public that I can charge for. I give her 15% of the money made (so that her day isn't a waste), and keep the rest to go towards maintenance on the warehouse.

We have a shed filled with "common tools", that any member can borrow as needed. This is a "need not ask, just sign it out on the sheet" situation. These are things like rakes, ground tools, fruit pickers, etc. Most of these are refurbished and came to us free. We all keep our eyes out for tools of all kinds that people are throwing away because they don't know how to do things like replace handles or set new edges to blades. We get these in, refurbish them, and keep the shack filled. Since our group is small the tools pretty much always come back. We even find ourselves thinning the inventory occasionally and giving tools away to low-income gardeners who can afford to replace or buy their own tools. Members can also schedule time in the workshops or the loan of other members' equipment. We also pool our workforce and do blitzes as needed on each other's properties (build animals structures, plant gardens, fix a roof.. ). As manager, I oversee everything and make sure everyone has what they need, including information. We, as a group, conduct seminars and workshops in our various areas of speciality throughout the year. Some of these we do for free as a community service, some are sponsored by charities or local businesses, and some are straight up pay-to-play.

We have a few things that "belong to the co-op" and not to one specific person. Along them are things like a water-saw, a refrigerated box trailer, and this year we're adding a few custom-made porta-potty setups. These are all things that none of us could afford on our own, can't rent at a decent price, and usually aren't going to need every single day of the year.

Anyway, I don't know if that helps you at all, but, that's us. I do let people rent time in my workshops on occasion, and will even take payment in trade for needed items, but that's a bit different. Only co-op member humans are allowed to be in my workshops unsupervised. Beware of guard cats. lol

~Candes
6 years ago
I live in an area that seems to be ground-zero for the mole's evil partner in crime, the gopher. But, I have very few problems with them anymore. When I took over my family farm 5 years ago the place was infested with them to the point that you described. Ground caving in where food plants and trees were growing, etc. (The entire property was in very bad repair as it had effectively been sitting fallow for 15 years) We had sink holes forming in the old orchard (which is now a healthy food forest) and we lost a few older trees because of them. There was only one food garden on the entire 5 acres that wasn't affected: my mom's old sitting and herb garden. Upon close inspection I discovered one solitary Mole Plant growing in a corner under an overgrown covey of monsterized rose bushes. I researched the plant (which is also called Gopher Purge) and decided to propagate it around the perimeter of the property. Low and behold, within a year there were no more gophers.

Now, there is a note of caution when growing Mole Plant: It's poisonous. If you have small children or pets that are prone to tasting things there are certain precautions that should be taken. On our farm the only free-roaming spontaneous eaters are the farm cats. They don't gobble things down so much as give them a brief taste, which will only irritate their mouths, not kill them. So, I don't have much to worry about. However, I've seen some really neat solutions on other people's properties as I've shared the seeds and sprouts. Since the above-ground portion of the plant is rather small (around 8") the simplest thing to do it cage it. I think the coolest cages I've seen were some old bird cages that the property owner had picked up at yard sales. She took the bottoms off and simply set them over the Mole Plant, then used ground staples to anchor them. It was a nice touch of whimsy, and very effective.

Once the Mole Plant matures nothing gets through below ground. Then the cats can take care of anything that pops it's head up. The combo of the two saved our farm. Hope that helps.

~Candes

6 years ago