Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ruminations for 2014

Now that we live in a cooler climate ,Lover and i are talking about adding rabbits again. We have more gardens and less chickens so we are going to build a couple chicken tractors and raise the rabbits colony style in the old coop and run. The coop already has a solidish bottom (so no rabbits digging out or predators digging in). The run would need to be fortified to keep the rabbits in.
Bees are also a go for next year.. im very much looking forward to 2014!! Its going to be a great year..
If youre unsure what a chicken tractor is, here are a curtesy of google.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

One word: BIOMASS

In a permaculture garden, biomass is usually grown in zones 3 and/or 4. Basically, a garden of trees that supplies many uses to the homestead.

Im practicing the "Ruth Stout" method in my beds-DEEP mulching. The mulch is applied to 12 inches deep to help retain moisture and nutrients. In the desert this is a must!

Since i dont have a forest or wooded area on my property i have to buy or bring in the biomass (mulch) for my beds. Thats A LOT of money and a high carbon footprint (with all the driving to pick it up)..

By planting a biomass grove of native trees i will lesson,if not eliminate, my dependency on outside biomass. In addition to providing mulch, the grove will also shade my livestock paddock,provide firewood for the winters and foraging for the critters.

Yes-this is a long way off. But this is a way of life-Plan and execute now for a more sustainable future.

The species im looking at planting are Pinion Pine, cottonwood, and tagasaste ( tree lucerne) if i can get my hands on it.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Garden gazing and accidental permaculture

I just started reading a book entitled Paradise Lot ( which I highly recommend). While burning through the chapters  I learned that there are some principles they were practicing which I too am practicing and didnt think anything of it.

For instance- i planted peanuts in nearly all of my garden beds. Mainly just because if there was a space i would fill it with something. I had no idea at the time that peanuts were nitrogen fixing plants, a member of the legume family, and would benefit my other plants!

I did the same thing with sunflowers. I just through them in whereever. I noticed the sunflowers shading the lettuce  planted underneath them. After noticing the results i decided to look up companion planting with sunflowers. The only thing i could fine that was a "yes" was corn. And there were a few things that were mentioned that i shouldnt plant with sunflowers. But-with that being said- ice actually applied my sunflower companion gardening and plant on continuing to do so.

Cucumbers was one if the plants there were suggesting not planting with. I do have a single sunflower growing with my japanese cucumber ( as well as spearmint) which has struggled since day one. I wonder if thats why?

Another key point to "forest gardening permaculture" mentioned in Paradise Lot was how the authors Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates mapped ot their land by watching for patterns with the light/shade.

Im a garden gazer. I stare out at my land all day long. I watch for the changing patterns in light and shadow. I watch for wind and birds. Then i start my research as to what plants will do well with the light alloted in that spot and what can be planted with it.

Gardening has become my main passion in life. Applying permaculture principles as been a welcomed challenge.Somestimes its so hard i just want to give up.

But I cant. I love it. Im bringing something positive to my family and the world around me. Im making a difference in my kids lives and health.

Whats that saying? Anything worth doing is going to be hard.... Or something like that.

Happy Gardening Garden Gazers

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Reflections on the garden

Stupid wind. Its destroying my high climbing cucurbits.

I definately need to put up a windbreak on the southwest side of the garden.

My paths seemed like a good width at the time, but if they were a weeee bit more narrow i can fit a lot more crap in there!!

I will not be planting corn again in this plot. It takes up way too much space. I thought because they were primarily planted on the very edges of  the garden behind the beds i was utilizing the space well. Im thinking i will better utilize that space by planting something permanant-like grape vines!

Rather than widening my beds, im going to add 5 lb buckets. I have them all the place so i may as well in them!

I also can now see i could have fit more IN the beds. In other words, more intensive plantings.

So these are my reflections. And these are changes that i will be implementing in the fall garden.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Lifes beautiful bounty

Todays harvest was 10 lbs. I probably should have been keeping track all along...bit i didnt really think about it!

Next year my gardens will be larger.The soils will be healthier. I will have more experience and therefore,hopefully, more productive.

I will start keeping track then :-)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

How i prep my new beds

First a disclaimer. I do thing my way. I like to experiment and see what.happens. However I welcome advice and read ( a lot) about what others are  doing.

The first thing i do is pick a site. I usually watch it for a couple of days to see how much sun that spot gets.

I then find something to make a bed. I frequent the culled lumber section at the local home improvement storeand stock up. This little bed cost a whopping $2

I dig out the spot where the bed will be located. I go down about 18 inches. This is to loosen the soil as well as remove rocks and other debris.

I then line the hole with cardboard. I do thisso i dont have to throw it in the garbage and it also slows the rate ar which water drains through my sandy soil. I put the hose on low then carry a 5gal bucket out to the livestock for some manure.

When i get back the hole is full of water. I dump the manure in ( horse and cow aged a few months) and break up big pieces with a shovel or rake before adding two or three shovels of dirt. Then i stir stir stir!

Once its sufficiently mixed and the water has been absorbed by the dried manure and cardboard i finish filling in the hole and top dress with straw mulch. VOILA!

Ive shown the new zuchinni transplants with a shade cover. This helps reduce transplant shock from our hot desert sun.

By the way- the shade is being provided by an empty feed bag that has been cut open and attached to bamboo stakes with clothes pins

Thursday, May 23, 2013


My only memories of having consumed okra are fond ones. My grandmother used to make the most delicious chili with okra being the second main ingredient.

She was from the south so it shouldnt be a surprise but at the time i just thought they were weird peppers.

I planted several okra plant this season. I put them all in different locations, with different soil mixes, in different containers.

The plant on the patio died. If i had to guess i would say it didnt receive enough sun.

The second is in a raised bed that gets at least 6 hours of morning sun and is primarily store bought potting mix. Nothing in this bed is doing very well.

The third was in a 3gallon pail consisting mostly of native sand with a top dressing of store bought compost. This plant was also getting about 6 hours of sun. But unlike the others it was thriving. It has been been chewed to bits by what i assume was grasshoppers (since i keep finding them). I would cloche it and withing two days it would be covered in new leaves again.

Since this little guy obviously has a strong will to live i decided to move it away from the patio garden and put it in the ground in the backyard garden.

Ive cloched it with my homemade feed bad cloche ( which i will blog about later)  to protect it from the two ducks and one chicken that live in there.

I expect this trooper of a southern classic veggie will be quite happy in its new home.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

no rest for mamas and farmers.

ugh. Im sick. All i want to do is lay on the couch and knit. But I cant. Theres work to be done!

The garden is looking beautiful. I spend hours just staring at it in awe. Ive decided to start prepping a pumpkin patch. All squash take up a lot of space. it would free up my bess to move them elsewhere.

eh. cant think to make this post interesting so here are some pics instead!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

New Additions!!

I was waiting for ALL of the new spring arrivals before working on this post, but some are delayed so here it goes!!

First off -My birthday was in February. Lover kept asking me what I wanted. I couldnt think of anything. i suggested choosing something from my amazon wishlist but that response didnt fly.

So i picked something i assumed Lover would NEVER agree too -A calf. To my surprise within 48 hours of making the decision a deposit was put down on a jersey heifer!! I picked her up from the ranch two weeks later.

Her Name is Diane  though more often than not she gets called Miss D (whens shes being a brat) or Diana Banana (when she is being cute or silly).

And remember my challenging Baby Orchid from a couple of years ago? Well shes all grown up now and has had a kid of her own. She looks just like her mama, but she has blue eyes like her daddy instead of yellow. Her sire is a saanen. He is incredibly sweet. And so is Little Trixiebell.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

grooming day!!

Today is going to be stressful. Its grooming day for the critters.  Orchid, my bottle baby angora goat, is due to kid any day now and needs a hair cut. Shes pretty easy. I can do her with scissors.

Her mama, Lily, has always been a stress case. Her fleece grows twice as long/thick as her daughters. It takes me usually two different days because she starts stressing half way through and i have to stop.

Ive got to do everyones feet, give a vitamin bolus. Brush the winter coats from the horse and my new aquisition Miss Diana.

Who is this Miss Diana?? well, you have to wait for that post!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sprouted Fodder systems

Most everyone has heard of eating sprouts. I never really considered this a viable option for livestock but apparently it is. Ive been  experimenting with sprouting for the critters for about a month, give or take.

Grassfed animals/livestock are healthier happier critters. My problem? i live in the desert-ergo, no grassy pastures.

I started out my experiment by purchasing a 20lb bag of wild bird seed. it contained black oil sunflower seeds, millet, sorghum, and wheat. I soaked two pounds of seed in a gallon of water with a tablespoon of bleach mixed in.

After 24 hours I drained and rinsed these seeds and poured them into two garden trays, watering 3 times a day for about a week.

By the end of the week i had a tray full of wheatgrass and sunflower sprouts. The millet and sorghum hadnt sprouted yet. It has been sprouting npw the the temps have gone up.

I also tried feed barley from the local feed store and bought clover to mix in with both.

So far the chickens,ducks amd pigs *LOVE* it. I do have one goat who also loves it but the other two only eat the root mat off of the bottom.

I had pics of the root mass but ive deleted it like a dodo. I wont have any harvestable trays for about 4 more days.

I will add more details in a second post, as this is a lengthy topic to cover in one sitting. Enjoy some bad photography of my ghetto system!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Negectful blogger

Sorry!!! Winter is a slow time . Animals are pregnant but not birthing. Plants are all dead. And its too damn cold to do anything outside.

But i have been a busy little bee the past 8 weeks or so so I guess its time to play Catch Up!

At present we have three gardens going. One in the backyard,one on the front porch and one over by the critters.

For the most part they are empty right now but not for long. The seeds i started will be ready to transition outside in a couple more weeks.

Im going to be blogging about tje fodder system ive finally gotten around to setting up, the hay shed i built amd a few new additions to.the homestead so stay tuned!!

in the meantime here are some baby plants that are coming along :

pumpkins,broccoli,Armenian cucumbers, several varieties of squash, swiss chard, beats, and some lettuces.