And now… Spring.

Well its been fits and starts around here. My ingenious plan for sheet mulching the entire 70 x 80 ft. garden space, upon doing the proper math of how much composted manure I would need delivered for it, proved too costly to do in one year’s time, even with the great rate of just $100 bucks per truck load of delivery.

So plan B has become doing 4 quadrants in the middle of the garden space with proper sheet mulching, and then I’ll till around the perimeter and plant the hardier things like beans and greens in that space. Then, each year, I can expand outward with the sheet mulching until the entire garden has been turned over and then we can more effectively work on being a true no-till operation.

Now, you may find yourself wondering, “why no tilling? Isn’t it easier to till? What’s wrong with tilling?” and the fact of the matter is that even a small, personal rototiller can be as bad for your soil as industrial agriculture sized tractor tilling of large acreage. The act of tilling, chopping as the blades do, actually hurts the soil’s microbiome. It disturbs the nutrient density that is already starting to form as nature intends for it to via worms and beetles and mycorrhiza of fungus etc… Disturbing the soil not only hurts the beneficial insect and bacterium population, it also creates a situation where soil is more apt to erode, dry out and blow away, contributing to topsoil loss (which is quickly becoming a global crisis). I could do a less invasive “till” method using a hand tool known as a Broad Fork, sometimes called a Potato Fork – it is on my list of must-have tools to acquire. However, when I actually go stand at the corner of the garden and see the entire space before me, and think of the clock ticking away, I surmise I would be a little too ambitious to assume we would be getting the space completely hand turned over in a timely fashion.

As it is, when I had the deliveryman come with the compost, I contacted my curmudgeon neighbor to ask permission to use the side gate entrance into our pasture that happens to come off of his driveway. He sounded like part of himself really wished to be a helpful neighbor and say yes, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to give a straight answer. It was instead a lot of excuses, all culminating over the concern he has for mud or dirt getting tracked onto his driveway. I planned the delivery dump to be on a dry day so it would likely not be an issue of mud, but the neighbor said “well that small patch of dirt between where the gate is and where my driveway begins, when his truck tires hit that, he may pick up some dirt right there and smear it on the driveway.” Clearly I wasn’t getting anywhere with the matter, so the delivery man tried to drive up the hill to the pasture right behind our house instead. His truck was too wide and his back tires spun out on all of the pine straw. I had no choice but have him just dump the whole load at our house’s level, in our parking pad space. Now James and I have to shovel it into rubbermaid totes, load it into our CRV, drive that up the hill, offload and dump the totes, and repeat – until the whole pile is gone. Its slow going to work up the motivation for that, especially after a busy work day or week. So when it comes time to get round 2 of the manure delivered I will offer to pay my neighbor, or offer to hose off his precious driveway, or whatever it takes to get the delivery through that side gate and up to the garden level for delivery!

I was going to follow the permaculture student’s design plan they made for us for the 4 quadrant mandala garden, but it wont work exactly as planned since I cant do the entire garden space the same way this year. It will be a modified system until at which point all of the garden bed space’s soil is equally amended and can better operate together into one unified design.

The area that will be tilled at least did have the cover crop of rye and wheat sewn, which is coming up nicely now that we’re steadily warming up outside. Plus wild radishes and creasy greens/wintercress are all over the garden, so tilling all of that into the soil will help it be a bit more nutrient dense. I still intend to lay as much cardboard and mulch down to create pathway areas for smothering out more weeds as much as possible.

Here’s is some amazing news… I applied for a simple, small grant back in January via an organization called A Well Fed World. I found out about them and their grant program via a woman I know who locally runs a non-profit farm animal rescue sanctuary. She said this particular grant did not require one to be an already established organization in order to be awarded the funds. I had applied but then had forgotten about it. Then I come home one day last week to find a check in the mail for us! Our first grant! I feel so official now. How amazing it was to open and envelope and see that! The only trouble now is, they made it out to Middle Way Forest Farm, and since we are not registered by that name in any way yet, we cannot cash or deposit the check until we go register a small business and open an account for it. It shouldnt take much to do so, and we’d need to do it at some point anyway, now its just a matter of having the time to run to our county’s offices to take care of all of that. Hopefully will be done within the next week or so, and then we’ll have funds to put up a small greenhouse with a water catchment system right next to the garden.
I must solve the watering woes of last year a.s.a.p. no later than May as far as I’m concerned. No more hauling buckets up hill.

My budding permaculturist friends and coworkers, Julienne and Jennifer, are going to be investing in helping me build some simple terraced beds near the house in order to plant some medicinal herbs come May or so. Specifically so we can get a side project up and going of utilizing said herbs to make herbal medicine, body care, incense and other such items that may help to be value-added product off the property, as well as get all of us working together on something we collectively love.

I feel like spring is happening faster this year. We had already been settling into our new home for a month by this time last year and it still seemed like we had just barely crawled out from under ice and snow. This past winter was considerably more mild, consequently the frogs, birds, crickets, and flowers are going crazy. Its like someone flipped a switch and they all popped out at once, flashy and loud, and wonderful. We will probably have more bug issues this year because of it, but maybe, hopefully, a longer and rainier growing season as well.

 

– E.

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Farm Dreams

This past weekend I attended the “Farm Dreams” workshop hosted by the local, non-profit, farmer training organization known as the Asheville Organic Growers School.

Here’s their website, they’re pretty amazing and you should check it out.

http://organicgrowersschool.org/

Anyhow, the workshop was designed to help budding farmers decided if farming is really right for them, and if so, to really help visualize what it is one is wanting to do it for and why. Laying the foundation of one’s intentions, knowledge, connections, skills and resources, in order to have a clearer picture of where you already stand, so as better to prepare your next steps.

I wasn’t sure if I’d be walking into something a bit more rudimentary than I even needed at this point. But I’m ever the one looking for both opportunities to learn new things from knowledgeable people, as well as network and share my interests with others of like-mind, so it seemed worth the reasonable workshop price to check it out.

I was not disappointed.

The first thing that struck me upon entering the classroom that day was the wonderfully eclectic mix of people for such a small class, with a small organization, on a lazy Saturday morning. It was a pretty even split of males and females but of many various age ranges.

There was a woman who drove up from my hometown with her young (middle-school aged) daughter, both of them were starting very much from square one, but the woman worked as a nurse and was getting so saddened by how many people end up sick due to poor diet, which was prompting her to start gardening to grow healthier food for her family and friends. Her daughter was being a good sport about it, coming along to learn as well.

There was an African American couple, the woman came to support her boyfriend who was the one with the farming aspirations. He inherited farmland from his grandfather when his father had wanted nothing to do with it. After having gone off to bigger cities and earning a college degree he still decided to come back to the basics of preserving a family heritage, learning farming, and sharing it with his community out near Charlotte.

There was a guy in his early 40s who was getting into chicken farming and wanted to learn more about how to run it better as a business, he drove up from South Carolina. His 60 some year old uncle came with him in support of him.

There were another couple of middle aged men there by themselves. One of whom had driven in from Tennessee. Both starting from square one with not much besides the dream of living off the land.

A couple of women who were sort of restarting/refreshing their lives together by getting into homesteading and getting out of whatever their former lines of work had been.

A young woman who moved down here from PA with her boyfriend, after they had traveled around the country doing Willing Worker On Organic Farm stints (wwoofing), in search of longer growing seasons of the south, and being in the lovely mountains. She has all of the passion for having a farm but she was there seeking direction on how and where to start.

There was a woman who, after having worked with some church groups gleaning leftover/reject produce from large scale farm fields and turning it over to area soup kitchen to feed the poor. She had become so inspired that she now wants to start an organization dedicated to growing food for the poor, and networking farmers so they wouldn’t waste product that could still be used to feed people in need.

There was a middle aged woman who is seeking to start a healing/teaching garden for the LGBTQ community and women who had been abused/abandoned by the church.

There was a young couple who moved here from out of state and lucked out in buying a small parcel of land almost right away, and were in the beginning phases of planning their off the grid homestead and learning forest gardening due to having bought an entirely wooded/sloped lot (the most common and affordable land type in this region).

I was fortunate enough to end up being seated next to a woman who has land right here where I’m at. She has her own lavender farm just a few miles north of my place. She is a school teacher, teaching Physical Education to be exact. Her passion for healthy food and exercise and the importance of training our youth to value these things, has prompted her to be the sole creator/crusader of a teaching garden at the school she works for. She was telling me this year she is teaching the kids how to grow garlic and is going to take them on a field-trip to the farmer’s market to teach them about selling their garlic they grew. She was telling me about the “troubled”/”at risk” children she has worked with who’s personalities completely come alive and are transformed when they get to have garden time with her, as opposed to how they act out in other classes they may have – which is proving to her how important that sort of outdoors tactile connection is for children’s development.
She doesnt live in Canton full time, she lives elsewhere in state where she teaches and so forth. Her lavender farm property out in my area was land inherited on her family. She comes out here on the weekends to tend the farm, and spends more time out here when she is off work from the school for the summer. She came to the Farm Dreams workshop much like myself, with some hopes of getting some tips for growing one’s own operation, but mainly to network and meet other interesting people doing small scale stuff in the area. She really wants to come take a look at Middleway here and she said I’m more than welcome to come visit her Lavender patch as well. She is going to show me the varieties that grow best in our area.

It was so nice being in a room full of people who all had such different backgrounds and reasons for being there, but were all drawn together by the united factors of a love for tending to the land, sustainability, and healthy food/local food security.

The first half of the class was a lot of visioneering – sketching out our farm dreams, utilizing work sheets to narrow down and express out core values, etc…
The second half of the day was spent with a farmer panel made up of 3 farmers in the area. One who grew his vegetable/fruit operation slowly over the course of 30 years, acquiring little deb tin the process, until finally retiring from his day job in the last 5 years and becoming a farmer full time. One woman who lived in a community setting and started a raw dairy operation there. She came to it with no experience and learned everything from the ground up, even if it meant learning it the hard way. But she has grown to be very successful and now teaches others based from where she had made her mistakes. And one young guy around my age, who was new to his current property, but had spent the previous 7 years doggedly working on and managing farms all up in the north east, gaining all the skills he could until he could finally manage to buy his own parcel and go into business fully for himself, he is only entering into year 2 on his current property here in NC.
Seeing the different approaches and walks of life between them, and hearing them compare notes on their various approaches to the farming experience was very helpful.

I was especially happy to hear the 30+ years experienced farmer, when mentioning his list of priorities for new start ups, among his top 3 things were – making sure there is irrigation or water catchment set up – and making sure to build/establish some sort of propagation room like a greenhouse/hoophouse etc…
Both of which are top primary goals I have for Middleway this year, and I came to those conclusions for prioritizing of my own accord. To have them inadvertently validated by someone with 30+ years experience farming in the area was a good feeling. I may have a better toe-hold on this whole thing than some days I give myself credit for.

I cant wait for next month when I get to attend the Organic Grower’s School weekend long Spring Harvest Conference workshops!

;]

-E.

 

Happy New Year!

Plans are underway here to get a jump on the 2016 growing season and really make this year a good one.

I just placed my seed order from Baker Creek heirloom seed Co.
Including varieties suggested to us by the permaculture students when they designed our mandala garden layout plan. As well as making some switches on a few varieties due to availability and preferences.
The following is on its way:

– Delicata Squash (One of my favorites!)
– Candy Roaster Squash (An Appalachian native. The seeds we tried from Don last year didn’t germinate, he said they may be too old. So we’ll start with this fresh pack and see what happens)
– Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin
– Gill’s Golden Pippin Squash, an Acorn variety
– Waltham Butternut Squash
(The Permie students planned in lots of winter squash into the garden diagram because I told them how it is my favorite vegetable category.)
– Golden Berries and Pink Bumble Bees Cherry Tomato varieties
– Amish Paste Tomato
– Homestead Tomato
– Blue Curled Scotch Kale
– Mignonette Bronze Lettuce
– Red Romaine Lettuce
– Flashy Lightening Lettuce
– Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach (a very heat tolerant variety)
– Formanova Beets
– King of the North Bell Peppers (can be eaten green or red)
– Corbaci Sweet Peppers
– Sweet Chocolate Pepper
– Tam Jalapeno Pepper (a jalapeno that’s a bit no the mild side)
– Pusa Rudhira Red Carrots
– Parisienne Carrots (these grow into small round balls instead of the normal long carrot we’re used to)
– Kuroda Long Carrots (good for juicing, or so it says)
– Ruby Wallace’s Old Time White Cucumber (an heirloom from right here in NC. Touted as one of the most distinct and wonderfully tasty cucumbers)
– Beit Alpha Cucumbers (variety developed on an Israeli Kibbutz. Now used as the standard type for Israeli pickles, which we all love! So hopefully this one turns out well and we will pickle and can our own.)
– Cocozella Di Napoli, a true Italian Zucchini variety
– Lemon Squash (going to try these interesting little things instead of traditional yellow straight or crookneck summer squash this year.)
– Ronde De Nice Squash,  a new summer squash to try
– Perfection Drumhead Savoy Cabbage (taking a gamble on starting cabbage from seed. Savoy is my favorite though. Fingers crossed!)
– Henderson’s Bush Lima Beans
– Streamline Runner Bean (Good for soups. Beautiful burgundy color)
– Landreth Stringless Bush Bean (Had to have some green bean variety on hand just in case the seeds I saved from the Sow True Seed variety of this past year don’t end up germinating.)
– Mayflower Bean (another heirloom preserved from right her in NC. Reportedly this variety has been passed down originating from being brought over to “the new world” by the pilgrims, hence the varietie’s name.)
– Papa De Rola Bean (Honestly, it sounded good, but I mainly picked it because it is pretty. lol)
– Tendercrisp Celery (Apparently celery is hard to grow? That’s what I keep reading anyway. But we shall see. I hope it works out, because I love celery. And the greener and fresher and crisper it is, the better!)
– Orange milkweed (flower to attract pollinators)
– Crackerjack Marigolds mix
– Lemon Balm and Hyssop (Herbs for companion planting, attract beneficial insects and helping repel some of the badies.)
– Olympia and Papermoon Scabiosa flowers (because they’re amazing and pretty and I want to keep scattering wild flower seed around the area we tried to establish as a flower bed last year.)

There are some things, like Broccoli, which really would do better as starter plants, not from seed. So I will have to get a few things at a later date from a local greenhouse. Cabbage and/or Kale too if they don’t want to come up from the seed.

We are not yet equipped to start our own seeds outside of just planting in the ground. We have no greenhouse, and since our actual house sits on a shaded north side slope, and does not have central heat, the house itself does not provide enough light and heat to germinate plants. I was looking at indoor stackable seed starter trays equipped with grow lights, they’re on sale right now from Gardener’s Supply Co. but even on sale its still a few hundred dollars to drop that we just cant prioritize right now.
So we’re going to plant seeds right into the ground as we did last year, and see what comes up.

Last year we saw what the land could do of its own accord, just the good ol HaC2-Hayesville Clay Loam soil type we have in the garden area. HaC2 is rated “Farmland of Statewide Importance”, so its decent soil to have, and Don had formerly planted some winter rye cover crop a couple times, but it was a few years ago. All in all, despite the pretty drought-filled summer we had, the fact there was no water immediate to the site of the garden, and we started virtually everything from seed by the end of May and beginning of June, it really did perform rather well all said and done. Not enough to go to market with by any means, and not maximizing use/productivity of the allotted space either. So hopefully this year it will do even better.

This year I’ll be trying sheet mulching as our garden soil amendment approach. Sheet mulching is a good way to build concentrated new and better (i.e. healthier) soil on top of existing soil and smother weeds out at the same time. I believe that doing this approach for just this one year will help us really get on top of things in the garden and save labor time where weeding is concerned, as well as maximize drought tolerance.
I broadcast a mix of winter rye and wheat a couple months back, and I’m happy to report the cover crop is popping up as little grass shoots fairly well all over the garden now, which means all of the scattered seed was not just immediately eaten by local wildlife before getting a chance to germinate.

Come February we’ll lay broken down cardboard boxes flat all over the garden, this is the first layer of sheet mulch that acts as the primary weed smothering mechanism. You can use newsprint too, but since I work at a grocery store, cardboard boxes abound as a free medium – plus they dont have so much chemical ink printed all over them, they’re thicker so they can hold more moisture, and apparently as they get soggy and break down earthworms love to eat it.

Technically the first layers of sheet mulching should be soil amendments as needed – such as lime, or gypsum. I don’t know that we’ll need much of anything, our soil samples that came back from the state labs had the garden area’s soil showing to be pretty neutral across the board. I’ll consult with out friendly regional Ag. Extension Agent, Craig, to get a second opinion though. Then, some nitrogenous material, which in this case will be all the shoots of weeds and cover crop already poking up and adding greenery, as it gets smothered out by the cardboard layer and decomposes it will help add nitrogen to the soil.

Next will be a layer of composted manure put down to be a couple inches thick on top of the cardboard. I was able to get the local contact of a horse farmer who has already composted horse manure in the area and delivers for very reasonable rates, he has supplied Ashevillage their compost this past year and that is how I found about him.

On top of the manure goes a thick layer of mulch, which can be straw, leaves, or bark mulch. I may do a mixture… we’ve got a lot of leaves on the property, straw is cheap, and Canton seems to have a perpetual local roadside wood chip/shavings dump along the side of the road here which anyone and everyone who runs wood through a chipper then goes and dumps there and anyone and everyone who wants it is willing to come and take some and haul it away for free.

Then some more manure, and some more mulch.

Then commence planting in the new and improved planting medium.

 

On another positive note, using gifted money from the holidays we just ordered ourselves a Black and Decker battery powered string trimmer. It was the highest rated one we could find. We’re wanting to try electric mainly because it should be lighter weight and less stinky to use…. if it cant hold up to the size of this place though, we may have to do gas in the future. For now, we’ll hold on to the hope that electric is the way of the future!

Picture summary

Here are a few more pictures overlooked during their posting time frames, so I will share all of the leftover pics now as part of the year 1 review.

Including: soil samples being taken, more snowy shots from when we first moved in, up close crop pics, chickens, the first and only bonfire we had this summer, pictures from the back hill slope going down to neighbor’s cow pasture and our little boulder field overlooking the creek, Sassy inspecting my stone walkway project, and a squirrel that appears to be levitating. lol

Year 1 in review

Well if the only “failure” I can count for the year is not utilizing all of those acorns I’d bothered harvesting then I’d say things weren’t too shabby for only the first year on the new homestead.

The summer was dryer than is typical for the area, so by about late July going into August it was harder to keep up with the watering enough to have the ground hold the moisture and it make any real difference.

I am rather satisfied with how much we managed to accomplish in such a whirlwind first year, working full time jobs off site and generally lacking in funds to put towards the homestead.
Certainly much of it was made easier for Don’s help and contributions, so we are forever lucky and grateful for that.
We definitely have a better sense of how to move forward and continue growing the operation after all of the observations from the first year.

My DIY rain barrel attempts, with a tarp strung up to catch water over the old dog kennel fencing, did not hold up. The weight of the water caught in the tarp tore the edges of the tarp so it would not stay up. One rain barrel’s spigot never properly sealed at all, the other sealed for the most part, briefly, enough to fill the barrel once, and eventually its seal was poor enough that the water slowly all drained out.

Planted 20 trees –
5 are doing fine.
1 Chestnut was lost to accidentally being mowed over when the weeds and grass got too tall around it and it couldn’t be seen.
One Chestnut seemed to rot out for some reason.
Others were “lost” because of not being planted in good spaces for them (those tricky paw paw bare roots!) but they could surprise us and pop up this coming year for all we know.
5 are too newly in the ground to really know if they will get through the winter and bud out come spring.

Planted 9 fruiting shrubs –
The 2 blue berries may be getting choked out by all of the pasture grass around them so I may need to uproot this spring and move them into the garden blueberry bed instead.
Of the 7 Sea Buckthorn only two marginally leafed out at all this year. 2 got accidentally hit with the mower and probably wont spring back. Of the 3 that are left, which includes the two that did show signs of life this year, it will remain to be seen if they show life again.

In the garden –
The carrots, and beets started from heirloom open pollinated seeds from local Sow True Seed Co. didn’t do much of anything beyond show little sprigs of greenery. Suspect heavy clay soils and summer drought as stunting issue. Don even said he’d never successfully grown carrots here in his years gardening the property.
The potatoes Don planted seemed to be doing ok based on their greenery growth, until the drought hit.
The sweet potatoes I planted off of old ones sprouted in my pantry, did produce a handful of edible fingerlings but that was all.
All greens, both the starters from local Red Barn Greenhouse and Garden Center, and the organic lettuce seeds purchased at Lowes, tried to grow but kept getting chewed down to a numb by rabbits living in the nearby honeysuckle thickets.
Sow True Seed heirloom honeydew and watermelon did not fair well in the drought. Honeydew did not fruit at all and vined out very late. Watermelon got no bigger than a baseball and was just fed to the chickens.
Cucumbers produced more than I could handle, and mostly malformed and unusable, awkward fruits. So many got left to rot that I imagine we’ll have volunteers this year.
Tomatoes and peppers Don planted fared decently, even despite the drought. Wasn’t a big fan of the Mexican peppers he planted, they had a strange bitter taste which was hard to work with. The green bell peppers never got bigger than my fist.
We ended up with 3 different types of green beans which all produced well. The pole beans Don planted in with the corn needed to have the strings removed for consumption, and lacked flavor. The small, skinny french style, bush green beans I planted did well and we got a couple of harvests, but they were among the first things to get ravaged by pest bugs. The tall vine heirloom variety I planted from Sow True Seed had the enormous pods and produced in great abundance. I’ve saved some of the seeds in hopes they will grow well again this year.
Edamame gave a few good harvests before I believe drought stunted their bean formation and we were just left with empty pods.
Peas made a few handfuls of a snack while working in the garden but that was all. I believe had we started them sooner and had I a better trellis design for them to climb, they would have been quite prolific.
The old lima beans Don planted on a whim to see if they would/could still grow actually did generate just enough beans for one pot full before the plants succumb to pests and drought.
The winter squash, Candy Roasters, which Don planted, ended up doing nothing.
The conventional yellow squash Don planted and the heirloom zucchini which I planted both did very well and there was much zucchini bread to be had!
The strawberries tried to produce, but as instructed by Ag. extension agent, Craig, I pinched the flowers back this first year in order to let them divert their energy into root production and spreading. It seems to have worked, because their are rooted clusters popping up around the mother plants.
The corn Don planted produced a little to be eaten by both his family and ours, but not much. The heirloom Sow True Seeds variety gave even less than that, and its flavor was very underwhelming and its ear’s growth was stunted.
A number of the french breakfast radishes from Sow True Seeds did sprout up, but most of them got too woody and slightly rotten too quickly, before being able to harvest and consume. Nothing special about their flavor, so I’m not married to  ever planting those again.
The Creasy greens/cress from Sow True Seed didnt produce. Despite claims of it being a local and perennial plant, not minding some shade, fast growing, and being tolerant of all types of weather patterns etc…
The swiss chard from Sow True Seed started slowly but ended up producing quite a good amount of very healthy leaves which no pests wanted to bother really, it is still hanging on up their in the garden even now.

Fruit –
Grapes did well, despite us having chopped many vines from it in order to start training it more properly to the current laundry-line arbor. They are very seedy and have tough skin, but have a good flavor.
The pear tree fruited despite both Don and Craig’s experience and expectations. They were good. Very crunchy.
Blueberries, the 2 new ones I planted need to be moved or have the grass around them controlled more. The two Don had established the birds beat us to.
Birds beat us the mulberries and the cherries as well.
The black raspberries did very well. More cane has spread into further shadier areas though, so we will need to consider uprooting and moving some of it to make it viable.
Wild blackberries never seemed to do anything, unless wildlife just beat me to it.
Hawthorn trees never flowered or fruited from what I observed. Could be sick or dying.
Apples: short, old tree across from garden never did anything. Of the three on the hill the sparsest one closest to chicken coop did very little of anything and what couple fruits it produced were tiny and rotted quickly. The other two trees produced a fair amount for their size and age, but most of them did have worm holes which needed to be cut or eaten round when consuming or utilizing the apples. The two baby Winesaps Don had planted just maintained, didn’t seem to fair poorly, didn’t seem to grow much more either.

Herbs –
Cilantro, still carried over from stuff Don had planted previous years, voluntarily came up in large qty.
Garden sage and white sage fared well, but didn’t grow very significantly.
Sorrel was eaten by the rabbits and chickens.
Fennel was eaten overnight by the rabbits.
Wild mug wort, mullein, plantain, and chicory abounds
Nasturtium finally kicked into high gear with its greenery near the tail end of everything else in the garden (by sept/oct), but by then it was too late to produce much flower and thus seed pods, so no chance to make nasturtium capers this year.
Borage apparently takes over everything. Even after it died back and I chopped out the rotten parts, there are currently new little plants of it popping up both inside and outside of the strawberry bed where it was originally planted.

 

Big plans for 2016:

Better water catchment and water accessibility right near the garden plot. May include the purchase of a small tool shed, which can then have gutters mounted for catchment, and better barrels built or bought.

Possibility of building a small structure (looking into it being strawbale methods currently) on site for some friends to stay in briefly while helping with the farm work over the summer, and then the structure would become the WWOOFer’s lodging for any future volunteers.

More fruit and nut trees planted – working towards goal of food forest being established.

Compost spread and sheet mulching begun for the garden space to amend this hard clay soil. Plus permaculture mandala design plan for the garden space being implemented.

Potential of rigging some sort of greenhouse/hoophouse structure up before the year is out.

Getting more medicinal herbs planted, and spreading more wildflower seeds for pollinators.

 

~e.