Please do not think that I am not aware of the threats that are so close to home right now ~ COVID, loss of loved ones, loss of employment, loss of a sense of your reality in our democracy, general loss of trust and belief. As painful as this all is, please know that it is also a very rich time that will broaden hearts and minds, and will, alas, strengthen fears and prejudices and ignorance. But there is only so much you can do. The Earth Abides. Take refuge in knowledge, in personal action, in the earth, in natural processes beyond human behavior ~ except your own. I hope that the following series of posts will extend your feeling of time and fill the cold, dark hours with ideas and creation and a sense of the long view, to take back some of your sense of your own resilience. The Soul of the Garden posts look at the landscape, horticulture, gardening, the place of humans as part of the landscape… or the back yard. It is a Social Science perspective, informed by Earth and Botanical Sciences… interdisciplinary, interdependent. I hope these will not only distract you, but will lead you to a new sense of reality which is in your hands… you and the weather and the earth and the bugs, and bartering with your neighbors, and the crimson branches of the dogwood, and watercolors, acrylic paints, color pencils, and the snap and taste of fresh asparagus, and a grounded divinity that doesn’t blow smoke in your eyes or up your overalls, but ties your soul to its source. Here we go.
Clear a corner. The greenhouse is a refuge, a temple, a secret garden, a retreat, an atelier, a salon, a wine tasting room, a place to watch rain drops run down the poly or glass, a snake and spider bug hunt, a place to bury your hands in potting soil, a biome of life… through the looking glass. Wine spritz, spiced cannabis tea, iced Turkish coffee… you’ve created another world. How will you populate it…
Food Forest Floor: Groundcovers ~ Nitrogen Fixers & ‘Weeds’. What goes on the ground under a ‘food forest’? The truth is that the lowest tier of plants should be providing shade just inches above the surface. But when you are just starting a food forest the ground can be fairly bare. Here are some groundcover suggestions that will improve or preserve that top soil until the lush installation takes over. As for planting instructions: for the perennial, nitrogen fixing plants, scratch the surface of the soil with a rake and hand cast the perennial seed. Water to set into the marred ground. Water very lightly every day unless it rains. You could see sprouts within the first week. Watering will increase growth, but you can reduce to “when the ground is dry” once the plant is growing. For the annual ‘weeds’: find them in your favorite deserted lot. Look for pig weed, purslane, knotweed, low mallow. Collect in fall when seed sets in paper bags and spread on ground after winter snow is off. Keep the area mowed using chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, string trimmer or hand mower. Hand pull from immediately around the shrub and tree bases. Leave some groundcover flowers for all-season pollinators. #thegardenisnotclosed
Sorry it’s been so long! May and June are crazy busy months. But to have those warm winter treats from my own gardens I choose to work hard right now.. After seeing an increase in posts online about “food forests”, and living in The Wind Corridor of the Northern Rockies, I decided to do a series of videos on food forest/ windbreaks / hedgerows. We will look at trees and shrubs that do well in Central Wyoming, what “tiers” are, maintenance and management, and stories of success and failure. Feel free to Message, email or text with questions. Beautiful day; get outside #thegardenisnotclosed !!
#thegardenisnotclosed The Garden Is NOT Closed! Take a look at an easy precipitation harvest setup -rain and/or snowmelt to keep the clay – soil Meditation Garden waking up. My hands are washed but the scars prove my work! Let’s get outside!
Gooseberry fruit only develops on the underside of new wood. Watch those nasty little thorns, please. On branches that are well established and are woody, find potential leaf bud about 1/3 in from the end. Use sharp pruners. Cut at about a 45 degree angle at a point that will encourage the new wood to point up. This makes getting to the fruit – around those thorns! – alot easier. The bushes will be coming out of dormancy very soon now. But PLEEZE do not make yourself crazy by being afraid you are doing it wrong! Animals that browse and break wild gooseberry bushes don’t watch a video on YouTube first. As long as you don’t mow it to the ground, you will both survive. Now, Saturday morning, grab that coffee and enjoy this weather while it lasts … like the next 5 minutes …
Further Tales From The Refuge: Recently someone asked me how winter was going at the farm. Well, actually winter just officially got here. Hasn’t seemed like it since fall. Some folks I know have measured what they think are record-breaking snow amounts in the Casper area for the late fall. The biggest problem with snow events like this is the snow drifts that form in three places between my cabin and Ten Mile Road. I can see the road; I can see it’s clear; but I can’t get there. I have to rely on others to help move the drifts and that is never comfortable for me. It was during one such drift problem that my furnace decided it was lonely and needed a nice man to pay some attention to it. I dealt with two repairmen and both were amazing. They were from Jim’s and Sheet Metal Specialties. And even on my present pre-Social Security budget the cost was completely reasonable. I am hoping that the regular temperature dips below freezing will kill off the majority of the grasshopper eggs. Let’s not go there. All the indoor projects are in-progress. The enclosed porch is now a cozy, sun-filled place for coffee in the morning with a view of the mountain. The kitchen is getting a face lift. And all of the logs inside the cabin are being cleaned with Murphy’s Oil Soap. I’ve used the woodstove more this year than ever before, going through all of the newspaper and firewood I had stored. When the weather allows, I drive out to the greasewood and collect dead and dry material. This reduces the fuel loading in the wilder areas of the property, and it doesn’t take very much of this wood to heat the stove up for the evening. Once the stove is heated and the flames have died I close all of the dampers and flue and keep the fan on. This keeps the cabin at about 64 degrees until bed. The ice hasn’t been good to Bridget either. She injured her front leg so she is spending this winter in the pen in the shed. Rough life: she gets cracked corn, COB and MSM with grass hay in the morning and grains and an alfalfa flake in the evening. I clean the pen and massage the leg and have placed an ACE bandage above the knee to give some support. Some days she stands on it just fine; other days she puts little or no weight on it all. Soft tissue damage is a long heal for anyone. I’m also using this ‘quality time’ when she is happily eating her cow candy to trim all of her hooves. But she won’t be going out as long as there is ice in the corral. I’m certain she will be a princess cow by the time this is all over. Maybe I should cut back on the massages and hair brushing. Those horns disqualify her for My Little Pony. As I do not have a water hydrant inside the shed, I carry a 5 gallon bucket to fill her tub twice a day. Now the whole point to this is that next week I will be 66 years old. I have been graced and blessed – so far – with good health. I am doing yoga every morning to warm up; ten pushups; planks for core work; jogging a quarter mile on the drive (weather permitting), climbing fences and opening gates, pitching hay twice a day, feeding and watering the ducks and geese and tending to Bridget. I wish I had a dime for every time someone has said “You’re a survivor; you are so self-sufficient!” Even I can’t do it all. I get hurt. I get exhausted. I castigate myself for not doing more, or doing it all better. But for now I cannot see doing anything else. I’m sure that one of these days I will be found, face down, frozen in a snowdrift (Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.) And when that happens please, please, please refrain from saying – all of you, at all times – that I died doing what I loved. I hate hearing that. There isn’t a single one of us who doesn’t want to die, ready to go, in a comfortable bed, tired, easing into the dust from which we came. Survivors only say that to hide their own discomfort. It’s 4pm. Time to tell the birds to go into their houses, pitch some more hay to the Black Angus girlz and pamper Bridget. That’s pretty much the day here until March. Soon cabin fever will set in heavily and either I will dream up some new classes for the spring or … fall face down in a snow drift… wish me luck.
The Geometry of Organic Design and Clean Water. (In memory and tribute to the efforts of Dr. Nakamura to provide clean water for irrigation and people) Just the form of these towers is comforting. Locally sourced materials. Simple technology and construction. I have the unlikely fantasy of creating one here. Who knows.
And like the refugee tents in the last post, the towers are an ever evolving creation. Organic design learns, is dynamic, evolves to the changes in goals, resources, challenges.