Kc Simmons

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since Sep 26, 2019
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hugelkultur forest garden trees rabbit greening the desert homestead
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Central Texas
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Recent posts by Kc Simmons

My apple trees definitely are confused. They are still blooming and one of them is actually trying to make fruit.
Both are low-chill varieties... But I honestly don't think there's been any chill hours since last February.
1 week ago

Simon Forman wrote:OMG that plant is gorgeous!

I tried both too this year but forgot which was which.  I started them
way late (in late July) and it's too cold here, so the ground cherries
(as you can see in the photos) are only a couple of inches tall.  The
dwarf tamarillos sprouted and then steadfastly refused to grow.  Only one
has second leaves on it, the rest have stayed the same size as when they
first sprouted, with just two leaves, for a couple of months.  My hope is
that they're just waiting for Spring to do their thing.

Thank you! That's the biggest of my tamarillos and it's probably close to 5 feet tall, started from seed in late spring. I had an unexpected surgery in March, which kept me from actually planting the seedlings until mid May. The ground cherries seemed to do better before it got hot in July, but the tamarillos didn't start picking up growth until June when the temps were in the upper 90s. The big one in the picture has developed a woody trunk, so I plan to mulch it and see if it can survive the winter. I also have a few smaller ones in pots that I plan to put in the greenhouse. Truthfully they grow so quickly from seed that I could probably just grow them as annuals each year but I've read the fruits get better as the tree gets older, so hoping to keep some alive to see for myself next year.
I have a few volunteer ground cherries that recently came up after one of the rainy days a few weeks ago. They're about a foot tall now, but I haven't seen any blooms on them yet. Our average first frost date is like Nov 21, so not sure if they will have a chance to fruit before it freezes. At least now I know they will grow in fall, so I might try planting seeds for a second crop next summer and see if they will produce. After my surgery there were a lot of ground cherries that I didn't get to harvest or were damaged by stink bugs, so I kind of expect to see lots of volunteers next spring in the asparagus bed and strawberry bed from all the berries that fell from the plant and didn't get picked.
1 week ago
I grew both of those this year for the first time and they haven't disappointed. The ground cherries went strong until late July when the highs were triple-digits and it got too dry. The tamarillos have been growing like crazy, and started flowering in the summer, but didn't make many berries. Now that the temps are lower, though, they are starting to get covered in berries.
In the reviews on the Baker Creek website, multiple people said the first-year fruit is often bitter, but the taste gets better each year. I have 4 or 5 planted in the ground, but kept a few seedlings in containers that I hope to overwinter in the greenhouse. I'm in zone 8a/b, and we typically get just enough frosts to keep us from growing "true" tropicals outside during winter, but we'll see how they do.
4 weeks ago
I haven't eaten bean leaves, but will add it to my list of new things to try. I especially like the idea of dehydrating and grinding them for a boost of protein in dishes.
Looks like it's going to be next spring before I get to try this, though; because the remaining bean & field pea vines in the garden have very few leaves left. The leaves they still have look pretty gross from the aphids, stink bugs, sharpshooters and the myriad of other pests that have plagued my garden this year.
I have eaten the new leaves/shoots of English peas a few times, and was able to get a small row of them planted for this winter's garden so will try the dehydration/grinding with them (IF they can survive the pest pressure until it's too cold for the bugs 🙄).
1 month ago
For individual/small batches I ordered coin envelopes from Amazon. I have the plastic photograph storage boxes that I use to sort and hold all of the envelopes.

Ellendra Nauriel wrote:
There used to be a hybrid pumpkin called "Snack Jack". It might still be around, although it's gone through several name changes over the years. What I liked about it was that it had both hulless seeds and tasty pie-quality flesh. I've spent more than 10 years trying to de-hybridize it, but it's not quite ready yet.

I'm thinking it may be called "Jack Be Little" nowadays, but not 100% sure it's the same cultivar. Have seen seeds, but haven't personally grown it.
Huge congratulations! Great job!
Autumn is always a little bittersweet for me. On one hand, the mid 80s- mid 90s temps are glorious after the last two months of triple digit temps. On the other hand my anxiety is in high gear because the shorter days have me rushing to get all the daily chores done before it gets dark, and I haven't had time to work on the things I put off this summer when it was too hot to do them.
I'm not a fan of the winter since my body doesn't work as well when it's cold; however the thought of at least a couple of months without mosquitos & other pests sure sounds nice.

1 month ago
First, big congrats on the new home/property!
A lot will depend on the type of grass and the climate.
Personally, I would probably have it mowed... Just because it's not going to do a ton of damage to the grass/soil lifesince it's already been mowed consistently by the previous owner (so damage has already been done).
Having it short will allow you to observe the actual ground so you can more easily see the high/low points of the land and plan around that, for future projects, as you observe. You'll also be able to explore without worrying about suddenly stepping in a lower spot and falling or spraining an ankle.
You will be getting a source of organic matter to start a compost with, use as mulch, etc. It will come in handy to already have it when you are running around doing other things and don't have time to go out and find stuff on the property.
It won't take long for the grass to grow back so, even if you regret having it mowed, it's not permanent.

These are just some things I thought of. Looking forward to hearing more about your new adventure!
1 month ago
Time for another update... Though there's actually not a lot to report. Autumn has arrived, meaning it's cool enough to want a sweater in the morning but by noon you're wishing you were wearing shorts. ;)
Seriously though, after the Hurricane Laura hit the coast, we got some nice rain, followed by a few days of 95°+F & 95% humidity, but after that temps have been fairly pleasant, in the 80s & 90s, with some days of rain mixed in. This has allowed me to work on some things, and has really helped with the burn out mentioned in the last update.
1. I've been cleaning up the annual & forest gardens by chopping the dead/dying stuff and using it as mulch in the food forest. Currently in the annual garden there's still a few okra plants, some peppers, a few greens that made it through the summer, some of the yard-long beans, plus a few tomatoes that survived the chop and put out some new growth after the rain. I also still have the HUGE broccoli (I think) plants that grew all summer, but never produced anything (though it's possible they aren't broccoli and I forgot what I put there). Also the sweet sorghum got chopped for pig/poultry food after I saved some seeds, and has put out a lot of new growth.
In the forest garden I still have a bunch of sweet potatoes that I've been chopping the vines for the animals as I get ready for harvest. There's one pumpkin plant in the hugel, and luffa vines all over. Additionally, I tossed black-eyed peas in the open areas after I harvested onions and potatoes and those suckers have tried to really take over. Lately I've just been harvesting a few pods at a time because the plants are a haven to the mosquitos that swarm me whenever I disturb them.
Most of the annuals are being left alone, so I can save seeds from them since they survived with very little care or irrigation. I didn't save tomato or tomatillo seeds because I suspect I'll have plenty of volunteers next year.

2. I've been debating sowing a fall/winter garden, so decided to "compromise" and will be doing a few things in containers, the keyhole and other empty spaces. Normally I'd plant in the annual garden but, since the pests were so bad this year, I want to periodically run the silkies (chickens) and the geese/ducks through the garden to eat any bugs/larvae they find, and hopefully some weed seeds while they're at it. Right now I'm putting a little fence around the annual garden, but may expand it to include the forest garden once things start going dormant and I can see what will need protection from the birds.

3. I've begun dumping rabbit manure on the empty spaces in the garden, but am holding off on the wood chips until I can get the birds in there for bit to mix it with the top layer of soil and find/eat weeds/seeds. Since I have a steady supply of the rabbit manure, I'll probably add another layer, then the chips, then I'll let the poultry go through again and mix the chips with the manure; which really seems to help the chips break down and provides a nice planting medium in the spring.

4. My moringa is setting seed and hopefully they'll ripen before it gets too cold. I messed up last year by stratifying the seeds in the fridge, and they ended up rotting.

5. The apple trees seem to be broken... Meaning they've put out some flowers in the wrong season. Hopefully they're just enthusiastic and will bloom again at the right time of year.

1 month ago