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Found 9 results

  1. What is a Dead Tree Worth?

    Many people will say not much, it is dead, it cannot filter the air, it cannot produce any more for us. I, on the other hand, see great potential in what others call a waste. The Native Americans would use every part of a resource, letting nothing go to waste. This principal was repeated in my permaculture course. Recently I was able to take a trip to a friend’s farm and he had several trees that had been blown over. Here is my recap of what a dead tree is worth to me. Granted some uses may take time, as in drying firewood, but it all started with the single blown over tree. This single dead tree is worth roughly at least $2,220. There are probably other ways to break it down, but just as an example. Firewood – $400 In my area of suburbia dried split firewood runs for about $60-$80 a rick. Now some people claim a rick is 3×6 where the true rick is 4×8.. Dried, split, delivered, and stacked about $100/rick in my area. 3×6 prices and it would be $500. The particular tree we cut was about 4 true ricks’ worth of wood when split and stacked. Heating offset – $800 In suburbia we only have heat pump/electric heat. The first year we lived in the house that is all we used to heat. Our electricity bill was through the roof that winter. We then invested in a fireplace insert, which is about 80% efficient using the wood compared to the 20% of a normal fireplace. 20% is generous for most fireplaces. The 4 ricks of wood would last us about 2-3 months. With this single fireplace we are able to heat a 1,900 square foot home throughout the entire winter and never need the heat pump/electric heat. Mushrooms – $800 Several of the branch logs can be stacked to make a mushroom colony. The going rate for dried oyster mushrooms is about $60/lb dried. The logs could produce for at least 2 years. If you get a more exotic variety of mushrooms then the profit from said mushrooms increases much more. Mulch – $100 The branches that are too small for firewood and leaves are sent through a shredder and used for gardening mulch. A few cubic yards could be gained from the tops of a tree. Water reduction – $50 Having a thicker layer of mulch around your plants reduces the need to water and external nutrients. This extra layer of mulch will help retain water, and reduce or eliminate the need to water your plants. Mushroom Compost – $50 After the mushrooms break down the log, the compost that is left is one of the best compost you can buy. All of the nutrients and minerals the tree has taken up and stored over its lifetime are broken down and now available for a new generation of plants. Sawdust – $20 Yes even the wood chips left over from cutting up the tree can be worth something. Sawdust, combine with old candle wax, and you have a fire starter. Use sawdust in worm bins to produce compost tea, compost, and worms, cat litter, or use it as animal bedding, just to name a few. You do not want to use around any animals if the tree is a black walnut. There are toxic oils in the tree which can make animals sick or even kill them. This is just one example of how we as a society could use our resources more effectively. I have learned so much with my experiences over the years and the additional benefit of permaculture educations. I would like to help you use this as well. The possibilities of what you can do with what are otherwise waste materials is huge. Old tires, pallets, plastic pop bottles are normally thrown out. You can reuse these materials. Your lawn that produces nothing but work for you. You have to mow, some people water it, and unfortunately many people put chemicals for weeds and fertilizer. Why not turn this wasted space, costing you money, into something that can produce food, or even income, for you. The post "What is a Dead Tree Worth?" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.
  2. Permaculture Principles and Preparedness

    What is the difference between permaculture principles and preppers? I have found that there is not much of a difference at all. The only differences seem to be the perceived notion of what one or the other is by the other party. Many of the permaculture enthusiasts seem to think that preppers don't care about the environment and many preppers believe those hippie permaculture people are either part of or encouraging agenda 21. Maybe not those exact issues but something similar. Preppers are a bunch of crazy conservatives and permaculturists just want government to force me to comply with their beliefs. While I have seen members of both parties doing both, I have found far more that think the same way... even if they won't admit it. Let's first break down some of the core principles of each group and then we can look at the differences. To do so I will cite two icons in each industry and what they claim the principles are. Bill Mollison: In Bill Mollison's "Permaculture a Designers Manual" he covers the philosophy of permaculture values and ethics. In there he states: The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children. The next highlight in Bill Mollison's chapter covers the Principle of Cooperation. Cooperation, not competition, is the very basis of existing life systems and of future survival. The experience of the natural world and its laws has almost been abandoned for closed, artificial, and meaningless lives, perhaps best typified by the dreams of those who would live in space satellites and abandon a dying earth. Bill has laid out three sets of ethics that permaculture follows. Those ethics are: Care of the Earth: Provisions for all life systems to continue and multiply. Care of People: Provisions for people to use those resources necessary to their existence. Setting Limits to Population and Consumption: By governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles. Jack Spirko: Jack Spirko has created what he calls "The Modern Survival Tenants". There are six of them so far and they are: Everything You Do Should Improve Your Position in Life Even If Nothing Goes Wrong Debt is financial cancer! Minimize it, pay it off early and stay away from credit cards. Growing your own food is for everyone, not just people who want "organic" fruit and vegetables. Tax is theft, the best way to combat it is to understand every legal deduction you can take or create. Food stored is an exceptional investment. You simply can't lose by storing extra food that you use on a regular basis. Use threat probability as your guide when building a plan to deal with potential disasters. Now let's take a look at each of Bills ethics and views. The first viewpoint that Bill makes is that "The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children." I could not agree more and I doubt anybody in the preparedness mindset would disagree. It is in the preparedness core of thought that we do not fully rely on others and that we fully take on responsibility for our own existence. If we wish to help others, it is by our own good nature. We do not appreciate having a gun pointed to our heads and forced to give to others. That is unethical. That is immoral. The only true way to be free is to refuse the force of government and to take on responsibilities for ourselves. Those responsibilities can be the good of others, if that is what you choose; but, by no means, will that be done by force. You choose who to help and how you will help them. Imagine, if you can, a world where government doesn't steal your money and distribute it as it sees fit. Do you think you would be better able to take responsibility for yourself and your children, and, therefore, be better able to care for others? I do. That quote sounds like something we can all relate to in the prepper community to me. "Take responsibility for our own existence" is a pretty common theme among the best of us. Government doesn't do it, a democracy doesn't do it, the police don't do it, the mafia doesn't do it...we do it on our own! Next, Bill Mollison states that "Cooperation, not competition, is the very basis of existing life systems and of future survival. The experience of the natural world and its laws has almost been abandoned for closed, artificial, and meaningless lives, perhaps best typified by the dreams of those who would live in space satellites and abandon a dying earth." I agree and think that many would read those words and drift off into a conservative outlook in thinking. How could competition be bad? Competition is not bad. Not the kind of competition we as preppers think of. Competing to be and create the best is a good, moral, and natural instinct to have, as long as you keep it moral. We have let government and competition mingle for far too long. What has that brought us? Monopolies, intellectual property rights in the form of patents, and companies viewed as people in the eyes of government. Most would read that statement and believe Bill means to stifle competition completely and that we would all live in a world where nobody competes to do better than another. That, of course, is nonsense. To think that anybody would not want to be allowed to prove that something can be done better is lunacy. It is the mindset of what competition is that varies from one to another. If you look at competition the wrong way, you end up with systems similar to the patent system we now have. A patent doesn't aid in competition, it stifles and destroys it. Good competition can exist if there are no restrictions on what is allowed to be created. I think Bill understands this and simply does not want competition, in the sense that damage should not be done to other's property in the name of competition. Next Bill lays out his three sets of ethics for permaculture. The first is "Care of the Earth." Unfortunately, the media and government have manipulated the masses and pitted us against each other to believe that caring for the earth is to be a democrat or liberal. By doing this, they have harmed the people's care of the earth more than anything in the history of earth. Nobody wants to destroy the earth. If they actually do it, it is out of greed more than anything else. People want to breathe fresh air, eat fresh food, and be healthy. This is not done by counting cow farts or judging people because of their actions. The only way to truly have an impact and care for the earth, is to set the example and care for yourself first and then others. If you set the example, others will follow. Permaculture is probably one of the best methods of caring for the earth, reducing pollution, and bettering your health. The second ethic Bill gives is to "Care for People: Provisions for people to access those resources necessary to their existence". What better way to do this than to create a system in your backyard that provides an abundance of food, and then sharing that extra food with others. It was done for centuries before government forced people to help others. There is no better way to create a strong bond than to help others in their desperate times. There will be no bond if one is forced to help another. The bond comes from an individual voluntarily contributing. How much would you care for a person's wellbeing if you were forced to give them your property to help them? Would you care for them more doing that or would you have more concern over their wellbing if you saw their needs and met them with the abundance you had created? The third ethic Bill lays out is "Setting Limits to Population and Consumption: By governing OUR OWN NEEDS, we can set resources aside to further the above principles." When Bill says the above principles, he is referring to the first and second ethic. Now some would read this as "Bill wants to kill people to reduce the population". This is incorrect. What Bill is saying is, the more people produce for themselves, the less they tend to populate and consume what is not theirs. I do not think that it is always true, that population is decreased by the wellbeing of a person; however, I do think if you were to look at the population growth of people throughout the world, you would notice that the poorer and less a family has, the more reproduction there is. Look at third and second world countries as an example. Last year the United States population growth was 0.9%. Qatar's had the largest population growth rate at 4.93%. Zimbabwe came in second with 4.36% growth. The United States was number 124 of all countries. We are the wealthiest country in the world and we have one of the lowest population growth rates. Maybe Qatar and Zimbabwe are just eating healthier foods and, therefore, growing faster, but I do not think that is it. I think we are doing well compared to other countries and, therefore, reproduce less. In the United States, we will not die if we do not have children to work the farm and take care of us. We do not have rampant disease that causes us to have as many children as possible to make sure we have some that survive. By each person producing more food than they take in, we would reduce population, because people would feel more safe and secure from outside threats. If you are producing more food than you're consuming, you become surprised by how protected and resilient you feel. You make the decisions. You are in control of your own destiny. You have the means to survive what may come about. You can provide for you, your family, and have excess to provide for others that do not. It is a very good feeling to be prepared and be involved in permaculture. Now lets wrap this up with a look at each of Jack Spirko's modern survival tenants. 1. "Everything you do should improve your position in life even if nothing goes wrong." The things people need in life to survive are shelter, water, food, energy (fire). What would you rank as the most important? Mine would be water first, food, fire, then shelter. All of these things are provided by permaculture if you design it to be so. What better way to prepare than to practice permaculture? And if you have other means of the necessities, why not have a backup? Would it hurt? Why couldn't your primary means be switched over to a backup and permaculture become your new primary means? If it is for food, I bet you anything you're going to be eating a lot healthier with your own home-grown produce than you would from anything you buy at the store. 2. "Debt is financial cancer! Minimize it, pay it off early, and stay away from credit cards." How much would you be able to put away or put into paying off debt if you no longer had to buy food? How much do you spend on groceries every year or every month? Wouldn't it be great if you could simply put that money into your debt. Once that debt is paid off, you still produce food and get to use that money for something else! 3. "Growing your own food is for everyone, not just people that want "organic" fruit and vegetables." Well that is a no-brainer, if you have gotten this far into the article. It comes down to health. I don't care when I die. I just want to feel good going out. Eating truly fresh produce, that I created with my own hands, gives me better mental and physical health than anything I have ever purchased, organic or not. You do not have to be a hippie to want better health. That is insane. If you do have a dislike for "hippies" then don't you want to outlive them? 4. "Tax is theft, the best way to combat it is to understand every legal deduction you can take or create." I absolutely agree that tax is theft by the enforcement of a gun. I love guns, just not when they are pointed at me. I do not think the best way to combat tax is to understand the legal deductions you can take, but that sure is a good way if you are concerned with law. Most people are. The best way would be if everybody ignored the existence of government and stopped using US currency for anything, including taxes. That is a dream though. I have that dream often. A great way to avoid taxes is to not have to pay taxes though. Can you think of ways permaculture leads to not paying taxes. How about not having to pay a gas tax for your lawn mower? If you design your property right with permaculture, there is no longer a need to mow a lawn or run a weed whacker. Do you think you don't pay taxes on food just because there is no sales tax? What are subsidies but taxes taken from people and given to corporations? Stop buying food and start growing your own. Start trading with others for food you are unable to grow. That is another way permaculture fixes part of the taxation without representation issue. 5. "Food stored is an exceptional investment. You simply can't lose by storing additional food that you use on a regular basis." And what better food to store than the food your create! Simple as that. 6. "Use threat probability as your guide when building a plan to deal with potential disasters." What are some potential disasters that could very likely happen in our lifetime? Would you even care if you and your neighbors implemented permaculture? Food shortages, trucker strike, economic collapse, drought, flood. All of these can be combated or, at least, aid in combating these disasters. Permaculture in your own backyard is the greatest feeling of security you can have. It is one of the best plans you can put into place. You can design your permaculture system based on these potential disasters. Another threat could be the threat of people trying to steal your food because they are starving. Having an abundance of food may give you the opportunity to give food to beggars, but that can only last so long. Giving food to beggars could also lead to more beggars and ultimately theft, when the begging no longer gets them anything because you have run out of a surplus. You can design around all of this. Your entire property could be a six to twelve foot hugelculture bed. That bed could be covered in rose bushes or some other thorny and pesky plant that nobody wants to go through. You could also plant a field of perennial vegetables and fruits, just for people to take from and have your thorn ridden hugelbeds behind that. When the food runs out, beggars think that is all there is and go on their way. Next year there is more. As you can see, there isn't much of a difference between modern survivalism and permaculture. There are extremists in each group, but those exist in everything. Ultimately, they go hand in hand. Every prepper and permaculture enthusiast should be incorporating both into their lifestyle. What do you think? Leave your comments below and we can have a sensible discussion. References Jack Spirko Picture Reference: http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com Bill Mollison Picture Reference: http://spokanepermaculture.org/ Survival Tenet Reference: http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/articles-by-jack Permaculture: A Designers Manual by Bill Mollison Reference: http://www.amazon.com/Permaculture-Designers-Manual-Bill-Mollison/dp/0908228015
  3. Water is the key to life, so it should come as no surprise that water is a fundamental building block in every permaculture design. It is important to understand how to capture, direct, store, and utilize this resource in order to integrate it with other design components. The strategic placement of water elements in correct positions on the landscape cultivates a self-sustaining, low maintenance, resilient system. But how do you build one of these systems? And where do you even start? Prior to creating water elements, a baseline knowledge of earthworks is needed. Earthworks includes understanding concepts such as slope, aspect, orientation, level, and contour. It also includes usage of surveying equipment, hand tools, and possibly large machinery. Exposure to these topics and tools is necessary to be able to read the potential of land and to develop successful connections among individual elements. Some basic terminology regarding earthworks are: Slope: Slope is “rise over run” that many of us encountered during geometry class. Basically, it is the measurement of incline or decline across an area. This is very important to understand with regard to water flow. (It also gave me the answer to my decades old question of, “When will I ever use this in real life?”) Aspect: This refers to the directionality of sloped land. Orientation: Orientation can be described as, “the position of one object in relation to another object.” An example of this would be orienting the long side of the pond towards the prevailing wind. Level: Level means at the same height or depth. Contour: This is a line in the landscape or on a map that is at the same elevation. Once a solid foundation of these land sculpting principles and equipment is attained, the focus can then shift to water elements and their benefits. Three main water components utilized in many permaculture systems are ponds, swales, and hugelkultur beds. A pond will benefit the system in many ways. This single element has many multifunctional uses and potential connections. Water can be held in a pond at a high point on the land allowing easy integration with gravity fed connections to lower points on the land. A pond could be stocked with fish to increase food security. In addition to the practical reasons, a pond can be included as an oasis of beauty and diversity. Another water element often used in permaculture design is called a swale. A swale is a ditch dug on contour to passively collect water. Ensuring the bottom of the ditch is level minimizes erosion. This component is used to increase the water table on site by soaking excess water in place. Attaching a swale to pond maximizes the volume of water collected over an area. Swales are widely utilized because they are excellent tree growing systems. Water and nutrients are delivered where the tree roots need them. A third feature related to water is the practice of burying bulky, woody material in soil and then using that area as a growing space. This concept is known as hugelkultur. It is a low maintenance growing system. “Hugelkultur” is a German word translated to mean “hill or mound culture.” Depending on the size and shape of the mound, this element could reduce or eliminate the need for irrigation. The woody material sunk in the soil breaks down releasing nutrient. As the wood decays, micro pockets of air are created, eliminating the need to till the growing space. Hugelkultur is a solution for a growing area receiving too much rainfall. The plants and roots are growing in drier soil above the wood base. Amazingly, hugelkultur is also a solution for a growing area receiving too little rainfall. Over the course of two or three seasons, the woody material sponges up water holding it in place instead of letting it run through. Plant roots go deep into the soil to mine the water held by the decaying wood. A hugelkultur bed, by its very nature, has varied microclimates. Areas near the top are drier, and soil near the bottom is wetter. It also has a sun side and a shade side, generating warm and cool pockets in the soil. On paper these components and concepts individually may make sense. But how do they come together? How are they built from the soil up? The biggest question is still, “Where do I even begin?” Paul Wheaton has recorded an earthworks and hugelkultur workshop answering that very question. This workshop starts at the beginning with planning and site analysis, then it expands into functional design, finally demonstrating how to get started. It covers how to avoid common pitfalls, getting shovels in the ground, hurdling challenges, and completion of the system. Paul Wheaton’s Permaculture Earthworks and Hugelkultur Garden 3-DVD Set demonstrates the construction, implementation, and strategy behind the individual concepts and their critical connections. 24 hours of classroom and hands-on workshop content will be condensed into 3 DVDs showcasing how to design for one pond, one swale, and one hugelkultur bed built into a terrace. Get an excavator-eye view as a pond is built without a pond liner. This style of design mimics a true ecosystem just as Mother Nature would build. See how real world challenges are identified and designed into or out of the system. Contaminated run-off water from a nearby street flows on to the property. Observe the strategy put in place to mitigate the pollutants while the additional water resource is captured, cleaned, and cycled through the permaculture system. Time is spent teaching tool usage as well. Learn how to use laser levels around the property to accurately mark elevation. Hugelkultur design is examined in detail as multiple variations are outlined. The type of wood to use is analyzed. The example hugelkultur bed is built on a terrace and shaped in a sun scoop so that the planting area is warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. The 3-DVD set has been set up as a Kickstarter campaign. A Kickstarter campaign is a way for individuals to determine if a project has an audience prior to putting in hours of labor. Community will gauge the value of a project by pledging a monetary amount. If Paul Wheaton’s Kickstarter campaign reaches the goal, then the DVDs will be made. The completion date is set for June 2014. If you like this sort of thing, you can support Paul here. The post "Paul Wheaton’s New Kickstarter: Permaculture Earthworks and Hugelkultur Garden 3-DVD Set" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.
  4. How to Plant a Cherry Tree Guild

    Homesteaders, gardeners, and permaculturists alike are planting more and more fruit trees around the nation. As Jack Spirko said recently, ‘Plant a garden for yourself, plant a fruit tree for your children’. Fruit trees will take a few years to begin producing, but their yield and longevity can’t be beat. Cherries are one of the more popular fruits trees. Combining them in a fruit tree guild can make for more vigorous and productive trees with less work from us. Why Tart Cherries over Sweet Cherries? On our homestead, we planted three dwarf tart cherry trees in the parking strip between the street and the sidewalk. It was a good way for us to take advantage of the unused space and expand our food production. We chose tart cherries because they are naturally more compact in size and more winter hardy and bloom later in the spring, which makes them less susceptible to frost damage than their sweet counterparts. Tart cherries have a greater tolerance for our heavy clay soil, which can get rather waterlogged at certain times of the year. Additionally, tart cherries have demonstrated a higher tolerance for more humid climates and are less frequently afflicted by the common tell-tale signs of too much humidity: mildew and fungus. For all of these reasons, tart cherries are a good choice for us here in the Midwest. The converse is true for the more arid climates out West, where the sweet cherry may perform better. What is a Guild? A guild is a combination of plants that work synergistically together around a central plant to provide it with mulch, nutrients, better pollination, and pest or disease resistance. In a guild, each component should have at least two functions. This is for the sake of efficiency (modeled after nature) – there’s only so much room under each tree! If all goes well, your guild will become its own balanced mini-ecosystem, which means less work over time. Guilds as a Concept, Not a Recipe What nutrients my cherry trees need in my soil may be different from the nutrient needs of your cherry trees in your soil. For the guild to actually work, the combination of plants needs to be correct, and this will depend on climate, soil, sun exposure, etc. Many well-known permaculturists have created fruit tree guild recipes because of persistent requests from gardeners looking for a plug-and-play option. The important thing to remember is that any guild recipe is just a starting point, and in permaculture what follows the plug-and-play is observation. Comfrey in bloom Build Your Guild STEP 1: MULCH The purpose of mulch is to retain moisture in the soil and create habitat for beneficial soil organisms. We planted four comfrey plants around each of our cherry trees. We also added a heavy layer of mostly-composted wood chips. For one thing, the wood chips look tidy, but more importantly, they retain moisture and add beneficial fungal networks to the soil. Comfrey is the star of the mulching world with its giant soft leaves that can be cut back every couple of weeks throughout the growing season. Whenever I find the time, I use the chop-and-drop method to keep a continuous supply of comfrey mulch covering the soil. Comfrey is but one of many living mulch options. Mulch STEP 2: NUTRIENTS Miraculously, the forest grows without man-made fertilizers! You could say that the towering forest canopy trees are coexisting with their own supporting guild plants below on the forest floor. We want to add herbaceous plants underneath our cherry tree that will naturally fertilize. Some plants are dynamic accumulators, meaning that they reach their roots deep into the ground and dredge nutrients from the subsoil up into the plant itself. Cutting the leaves of these plants or letting the plants die back on their own will add those mined nutrients to the topsoil, which can then be used by the fruit tree. Many common weeds are actually dynamic accumulators. Other herbaceous plants are nitrogen fixers, meaning that they extract nitrogen from the air and convert it to a useable form at their root level. Nitrogen is an important nutrient for fruit trees. Comfrey: Luckily for us, not only does it make excellent mulch, it is an excellent dynamic accumulator. Chives: We added four garlic chive plants underneath each tree in a ring inside the comfrey plants, touching the trunk of the cherry trees. Chives and comfrey together provide nitrogen, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and silicon. Clover, fennel, vetch or yarrow would work well in combination or in place of comfrey and chives. I recommend checking out Toby Hemenways’ book Gaia’s Garden for his straightforward plant lists. Garlic Chives STEP 3: POLLINATION Attract pollinators to your fruit tree in bloom and get better fruit set. April and May is the time when cherry trees are blooming and when you should have other things blooming around the cherry trees. If you build a buffet for the pollinators, they’ll tell their friends! Comfrey wins again: It is a prolific spring bloomer with very popular flowers. Note: We planted garlic chives in our guild, but regular chives would work just as well, and their flowers bloom in the springtime (garlic chives bloom in the fall). Daffodils are another excellent spring bloomer and additionally, if planted thickly at the dripline, can minimize grass invasion into the tree root zone and guild. STEP 4: PEST/DISEASE RESISTANCE Many of the afflictions of cherry trees are fungal and mildew in type. For this reason, I might consider adding herb plants to the guild that have antifungal properties. Chamomile, garlic, scented geraniums, and peppermint are all antifungals AND dynamic accumulators (always search for dual function). We did not add any of these additional plants to our guild because we wanted to see if the chives, being in the same Allium family as garlic, would offer sufficient resistance to fungus and mildew. STEP 5: OBSERVE Our cherry trees were planted in 2011, and our first real harvest came in 2013. The three pints of fruit were delicious. I can’t wait for an even bigger harvest this year! Often, complications in tree health or in the combination of guild plants will not show up until fruit production is in full swing. While our cherry trees have shown prolific growth and tolerance to both wet and dry conditions, this year our trees suffered an infestation from a non-cherry-tree related pest: the uncommon hawthorn lace bug. We noticed that a nearby hawthorn tree was looking lackluster, but didn’t consider that the problem might affect the cherry trees. The lacebugs showed up later in the season after the harvest, so they didn’t disrupt our happy cherry-picking. But they did do a number on the trees, which lost more and more leaves as summer went on. While it’s likely that you will not encounter lacebugs on your cherry trees, the process is the same: 1. Observe: We discovered the pests through observation. 2. Identify: We identified them with help from the internet and our local extension office. 3. Attack: We researched what the pest’s natural enemies are and how to attract them. Hawthorn Lacebug on Cherry Leaf STEP 6: ADJUST We discovered that lacewings, assassin bugs, ladybugs, and hoverflies are all natural predators of hawthorn lacebugs, so the essential next step for us is to add something to the guild to attract the good guys. Yarrow is my pick, because it attracts 3 of the 4 beneficial insects listed above. It is also a dynamic accumulator, and while it accumulates several nutrients, I am particularly interested in the fact that it accumulates phosphorus, one of the essential nutrients we were missing in the chives-comfrey duo. This year, we will add yarrow plants to our cherry tree guild and begin the observation process once more. Pint of Cherries Summary Cherry trees are a worthwhile fruit-producing crop, and they benefit from the use of a guild, which supplies them with mulch, nutrients, pollinator attractors, and pest/disease resistance. As with any actions we take to create integrated design systems, we must make time to observe our work and make adjustments as we go along. If we can create well-functioning fruit tree guilds, we’ll be on our way to healthy, balanced ecosystems and highly-productive gardens. The post "How to Plant a Cherry Tree Guild" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.
  5. Here Come the Girls

    It’s silly, I know, to humanize plants, seedlings and seeds, but with so much information out there, much of it contradictory and most of it ‘ticklist’, it’s something that helps my little mind prioritize and it sorts things out in my head. Sow in March directly into moist raked soil – says the packet. Well what if it’s still cold in March? What if there’s not enough oomph in my soil? Obviously you need a degree of knowledge for successful growing of crops, but empathy, and connecting with an intrinsic common sense, goes a long way. One of my tools is to treat my seedlings like I would any little person, and if you listen and watch hard enough, the answer is often there. After all, I’m spending a lot of time with these little fellas, they are getting a lot of attention, both in terms of how much they get from me, and how their performance reflects on me professionally, so they become ‘my girls’. The tomatoes are important at Pattendens (my main place of work). The clients eat a lot of them. 4 varieties this year, 3 cordon and 1 bush, and they have already been pricked out and potted on, this is an important step – they sit on propagators, so I am always keen to get them potted up as soon as the seed leaves are unfurled. Having their own pot means they are able to grow away without getting spindly in the race for more light with their mates, also the tendency for the whole pot to dry out is increased if we have a number of seedlings in one pot. The organized chaos of the Polytunnel Aubergines and Melons have been moved on in exactly the same way – all now sit individually in a heated propagator, the first perilous part of their journey to fruition completed. Moisture levels are checked regularly – not too much or too little – a balancing act for me as I only get to visit twice a week, although I will pop in midweek if I feel the need. It’s a bit like having a small baby, high inputs at this point, but it does get easier. I leave the watering can on the propagation mat in the greenhouse. It warms the water nicely so my girls don’t get a cold shower. Instead the watering becomes ‘a treat’ – a warm watering from a fine rose. A cold soaking every now and again might not impede germination and growing on fully, but I can’t help but feel it doesn’t help. I try to leave as much space between plants, to enable airflow and eradicate the build up of disease, I am giving them the room to grow – just as I stand away from my daughters and allow them to explore and grow without their embarrassing dad too close. I will find different spaces within these protected environments for plants and seedlings with different needs. I am always attempting to ‘read’ what is going on and then act on those conclusions. Past the danger of mice? Out in the garden, I am doing similar work. Old bits of glazing go down on the soil, ready for sowing. This will warm the earth beneath, giving any subsequent sowings a better chance of ‘getting away’ – like baby turtles hurtling to the waves, so germination will be the first big test and I will be there to nurture and aid. We have mice at Pattendens, too – and I don’t like to put down poison, though I wouldn’t be averse to a cat or two in this space. But I have to think differently if I want peas (and I do). It appears, after a few years of wrestling with the problem of mice eating my peas before they get going, that the solution is to germinate them indoors and plant them as small plants. The pea before germination appears to be the treat – not the small plant (that appears to be pigeon fodder – but nothing a little chicken wire doesn’t fix.) And the broad beans, whilst being a very easy baby, requiring little care and being happy plunged into cold Autumn soil, will turn into a gangly juvenile. Hazel coppice crafted into a support structure will protect these youths from getting too ‘leggy’ and the inevitable flopping, just like a drunk sixteen year old not understanding his limits. It’s useful, at least for me, to think like this when dealing with plants that we annually grow for crops – they require care and attention, and the inputs are pretty large. If we think like this, it becomes less of a to do list and more natural. I have had clients and friends quite fairly say that the price of fruit and vegetables are so low, that it makes no sense to grow your own, and to an extent they are right – but that argument misses the main points. Yeah – it’s a hassle, if you’re not naturally inclined to grow stuff (actually, I believe we are ALL naturally inclined – it’s just that we’ve forgotten over the centuries) and modern life gets in the way of nurturing something to fruition – there is often something that feels more urgent or important to do, and we have instant gratification everywhere. BUT if we swing the thinking around a little (or a lot) and looking after a tomato plant, or a row of spuds can be life changing. Bear with me. The reason growing your own is so special is because it is not always easy. Like life itself, supporting a rubbish football team and going through adversity, you come through stronger, more philosophical and more able to deal with the future. You also learn how to grow good food, which is no small thing – especially in this uncertain world. It’s a learning curve you will never master, you will be forever a student because, for all the advice and books and courses, and maybe even this blog, mistakes will be made. Anyone that says different is almost certainly fibbing. Growing food will always throw you a curve ball – because that’s intrinsic in the nature. It’s why commercial agriculture uses so many ‘weapons’ to curtail the chances of those curve balls – of course, in the long term, some might say those practices are storing up one whoopass problem in the not too distant future, but maybe that’s for another day. The point is that growing food is an experience that can help the individual grow and heal. Nature can be read, and this is a intense course. The advantages of growing your own are actually infinitesimal- it’s healthier both for you and the planet. It’s also tastier. In the end, it can be cheaper, though certainly not at first, but the real bonus is a connection with your piece of earth, and the mental gymnastics and common sense practiced to perform to coax life and food from it. This allows philosophical thought and an escape from the vast amounts of bull shit that is heaped upon us every day. It connects us with the rythms of nature and unearths the meaning in things. It cuts through the noise and creates peace. Of course that’s until you get potato blight or Carrot root fly. Nobody said bringing up kids was easy! The post "Here Come the Girls" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.
  6. Today I show you how to turn two comfrey plants into almost 30! Comfrey is an incredible plant and grows easily from root cuttings as small as 2 inches long!
  7. Today I finish what I started and clean up the rest of the garden area to make room for the fall planting! Now I've got a lot of work to do to prepare the beds themselves, but you can at least see the beds now! Links to New Things: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicada https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eriosomatinae https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passiflora_incarnata
  8. The garden is a mass of weeds and other unspeakable horrors. Join me in my quest to take back what is mine in preparation for a fall planting.
  9. Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset When it comes to content creation, I often think about writing on topics specific to the industry in which I work. While there may be some benefit to consistency of topic choice in my blog, specificity is no longer the nature of my business. All too frequently, I judge my success on the actions of others rather than the accomplishments I have made in my own life. Work in my daily life and thoughts shared here with you help me hone and refine my systems for deliberate living. It’s important that we have role models and mentors, following the framework of those who we respect and value – but the idea is that we learn and adapt so that we ourselves can become the next generation of role models and mentors…it’s needed. The content published here on this blog and via the email list over the past year and a half covered a wide range of topics. That was covered in detail last month in a blog post titled “Transition and Progress” – which you can read here. The majority of the content created on the Deliberate Living Systems platform has been about taking active steps to live a more healthy, positive, and beneficial life. In large part, these topics covered four basic human needs: I am not interested in content specific to the green industry. I’ve struggled with explaining what Deliberate Living Systems is to people. It’s been challenging to accurately describe the mission and and vision behind Deliberate Living Systems. A company formed as a direct action of attempting to implement permaculture into my life and the lives of others, the mission and vision has been equally difficult to define. The content created has validated this statement…in the best way possible. Looking back on the content that embraces the four basic human needs is a good start, but through direct action and deliberate living, we can do better. Expanding on the four basic human needs, we can read about the seven dimensions of wellness: Social Wellness Emotional Wellness Spiritual Wellness Environmental Wellness Occupational Wellness Intellectual Wellness Physical Wellness After much thought on the manner in which content has been created and delivered to you, I continue my efforts to ensure that it is done so in a way that is effectively read and processed, so that you can take away what is relevant for your own life. At the end of the day, I enjoy sharing my life with you in this way and receive great joy when you share your journey with me. The community of like-minded people like us is growing. We are all taking active steps to deliberately improve our lives. Blog posts will continue covering a wide variety of topics, but will focus on what I’ve identified as three primary components of a Deliberate Living System: Seven Dimensions of Wellness Permaculture Entrepreneurship Email format will continue being sent as “The Sunday Review” as it has been, but I will try to make a push in an attempt to get it back to a weekly email. Keeping the emails brief and to the point will be easier to create…and easier for you to read. Please feel free to share this blog post with your friends and family via email or social media. The buttons below will hopefully make it easy for you to do so. Also, please share your favorite blogs, books, podcasts, etc. in the comments below. I’m always curious so see what you’re reading. I love learning about what keeps your monkey mind entertained and all the various things that make YOU tick. Many thanks and keep living deliberately. The post THREE PRIMARY COMPONENTS OF A DELIBERATE LIVING SYSTEM appeared first on Deliberate Living Systems.
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