Tag Archives: Herb Gardening

PERMACULTURE ** Design Principle #5 – REDUNDANCY in the Garden is Good

Gardens that are riddled with redundancy thrive!

orbit timer_irrigationWHEN a key function such as getting water to the garden is supported by multiple elements such as:

  • Drip lines on timers
  • Rain barrels
  • Hoses, with adjustable spray nozzles, that are long enough to reach all parts of the garden

OR the key function of enriching your soil is supported by the elements of:

worms_red wigglers_ compost bin

Compost bin made with old wood pallets and red wiggler worms in a worm farm

  • Compost bins for kitchen scraps and shredded paper
  • A worm farm
  • Using poop from your small (or large) flock of chickens, geese or ducks

Then, if any one of these elements or functions fails, the whole system does not fall apart.

Even as I write I realize this principle planted right in the middle of the ten Permaculture design principles is in some ways redundant because I have already talked about some of these things in the first four principles.

Redundancy improves our chances of success. If I need to get up a 6am to get to the airport on time I set my cell phone alarm, the alarm on my nightstand and I raise the shades so the sun shines in my window. This insures that I will get up at 6am. The same applies in the garden.

When choosing plants and trees for gardens and orchards plant three or four different varieties of the same fruit or vegetable just in case one or two varieties fail. I also plant different varieties in different locations on our property so if one type of tomato in the garden gets a bad case of powdery mildew or an infestation of the tomato hornworms and the crop fails I still have the tomatoes I planted in the orchard. Of course if all goes well then I end up with a bumper crop of tomatoes and I am very busy canning, dehydrating and juicing!

Araucana_chickens_hens

Ameraucana Mix with Attitude

If you start a backyard flock of chickens for producing eggs and manure consider getting a variety of hens rather than just one breed. I have a Barred Rock, a Rhode Island Red, a Black Star, a Swedish Flower Hen, a Welsummer and two Ameraucana mixes (also called Easter Egger chickens)! Why have so many different breeds? Some of the hens lay later into the winter (the Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red), some lay blue eggs (Ameraucana mix) which are pretty, some of the hens are unique looking and are good layers (the Swedish Flower Hen) and so it goes. If you are not breeding chickens why not have a few different breeds?

Redundancy multiplies and strengthens the connections we build so our gardens thrive and produce abundant harvests.

 

 

GARDEN JOURNAL ** How to make Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

I’ve been experimenting with fermenting lately so I thought, since I have all these apples, I would try my hand at making raw apple cider vinegar. It seems pretty basic as long as you get Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar for starter. You can find Bragg’s at health food stores.  Use Bragg’s because it has the live “mother” in it.  The “mother” is the ingredient that gets the fermenting process going successfully. I looked up making apple cider vinegar, and found that recipes varied from mixing ½ Bragg’s with ½ half apple juice (raw apple juice if you can get it) to ¼: ¾ ratio. I compromised on 1/3 Bragg’s:2/3 raw fresh juiced apple juice. I covered the jar with cheese cloth and put it on my hall pantry shelf (a shelf that stays cool and dark most of the time). It supposed to take about 2-3 months to turn into apple cider vinegar. We’ll see how it goes!

Juicing Apples to make Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Juicing Apples to make Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

GARDEN JOURNAL ** How to make a Quick Basil Pesto

Making Fresh Basil Pesto

Making Fresh Basil Pesto -The glass of red wine is not part of the recipe but it goes well with the pesto once it’s done!

I made pesto with all the basil that needed to be picked now (or it was going to start flowering and go to seed).  The recipe I use is quick, versatile and easy to adapt to what I have on hand.

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts – Pine nuts are traditional and my favorite but they are hard to keep on my pantry shelf because we eat them up so fast around here. My second choice is walnuts and third choice is almonds. They all make tasty pesto.
  • 3 cloves of garlic – I’ve used elephant garlic, hard neck garlic and soft neck garlic. They all work, just keep in mind that some garlic is hotter or stronger than others, be sure you use one that is to your taste.

I put the nuts and garlic in the blender or food processor first to chop them up then I add:

  • 3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves – It works best if you chop up the leaves a bit before tossing them in
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Now pour in 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil– I use organic cold pressed extra virgin oil which is what I keep on the shelf. Again, use what you have to make your pesto.

So at this point you may be asking “where’s the cheese?” If you are vegan you can make pesto without cheese, it tastes great! If you want traditional Basil Pesto then you’ll add Parmesan cheese.

If you’re going to use your pesto within in a week and not freezing it than add 1/3 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese depending on your taste. The Parmesan cheese can be pre-grated or you can buy a chunk and grate it by hand. IF you are freezing the pesto, to be used later into the fall and winter, then don’t add the cheese now. It’s better if you add the cheese after you thaw it out.

I freeze pesto in small containers and thaw it out to put on wraps, mix into zucchini dishes and if I slide off the gluten free diet I have it on pasta.

The original of this recipe can be found in the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home cookbook

GARDEN JOURNAL ** It’s time to order garlic for Fall Planting

Order Garlic Bulbs Now! 

It’s almost time to plant garlic! If you haven’t ordered yours you can still get them at: http://www.groworganic.com/seasonal-items/seed-garlic.html, I just checked. I’ve been buying organic garlic bulbs here for 3 yrs. and have been really happy with the harvest (fyi – I’m not on their payroll). Plant garlic in October or November for a June/July harvest, here in Julian (USDA Zone 7) I plant it in early November. You can get hard neck, soft neck (the kind you can braid) and elephant garlic. They are all good! I’ll be posting some planting tips for garlic next month. One important early tip is to plan ahead and choose a location in your garden that is protected from gophers. Gophers love garlic.

elephant garlic_how to grow garlic_ when to plant garlic

Elephant Garlic harvested in June

PERMACULTURE ** Design Principle #1 – OBSERVE

This afternoon this wild turkey was just outside the fenced portion of the area I will be gardening in. Turkeys are one of the many critters that want to eat the food I grow!This afternoon this wild turkey was just outside the fenced portion of the area I will be gardening in.

This afternoon this wild turkey was just outside the fenced portion of the area I will be gardening in. Turkeys are one of the many critters that want to eat the food I grow!

The 10 permaculture design principles I’m posting about are applicable to all sizes of gardens from the very smallest to full on farms. I’m revisiting them now because I’m expanding my gardening efforts (again) and it’s good for me to go back and review before I start new projects, otherwise I tend to get carried away with enthusiasm and do things that may or may not work!

Permaculture design principle #1. Observe 

Before starting a project whether it’s big or small, acres and acres or a new patio container garden, take time to observe thoughtfully and carefully – the longer the time taken to observe the better. Observe how each season interacts with your environment or if you just can’t wait (I couldn’t) than observe for as long as your patience (or winter) holds out and then start small (I didn’t) and learn from what works or doesn’t work on a small scale. I’m learning that moving mountains before I understand the lay of the land is counterproductive!

[Side note . . . these principles work great for ANY project whether it’s a garden, a business or a blog. It amazes me how universally applicable these principles are.]

I went out today and spent time on the land where I intend to expand my gardening and orchard growing efforts next spring. I took some took notes and photos of possible locations. I noticed what plants, birds, insects, and mammals are living there now at the end of summer. This first principle is a challenge for me. I want to jump right in and start doing the project. I’m still learning that thoughtful observation is much more rewarding in the long run than thoughtless uninformed action.

I tell myself all this as I realize that I still jump into projects head first without a lot of informed observation like deciding I’ll start doing stained glass windows and then figuring out that it’s a very challenging art form that requires lots of time, tools, materials and yes, patience, or blogging – talk about a steep learning curve! Good thing I have a hard head since I keep landing on it! When I back up and apply the permaculture principles to all my projects I find the results are much more sustainable and rewarding.

Here’s a list of questions I made before I went out today:

  •  Where is the sun? Where do I predict it will be throughout the day? Is the garden in shade in the afternoon or morning? Is it in full sun all day?
  •  How does the water flow and where does it collect? How will I deliver water to this space during the dry summer months? How will I conserve water?
  • What might work best large pots, raised beds, sunken beds, a “hugelkultur” bed? I’ll be talking about hugelkultur and other new (and some very old) ways to garden in later posts?
  •  How much time will realistically be devoted to this new garden?
  •  How often will I be leaving this new garden in the hands of friends, family or neighbors?
  • What kind of soil is in the area to be gardened? Will it need lots of nutrient rich compost and mulching? Can I produce this on my property or will it have to be brought from off site?  Does the soil need to be tested for possible contaminants?  Will I have to do a lot of clearing?
  • Where will paths go? How will I get the harvest out of the garden? Am I leaving room for a wheel barrow or if needed a truck to get to the produce?
  •  What critters will I have to deal with? How will I keep them out of the garden?
  • You could try this with a project you are looking to start. Jot down your answers. Post them here on the blog to share with others. Your observations may spark insights for others. If you have questions please ask. If you want to share gardening adventures please do!

You could try this too with a project you are looking to start. Jot down your answers. Post them here on the blog to share with others. Your observations may spark insights for others. If you have questions please ask. If you want to share gardening adventures please do!

Location shots for possible garden expansion project…

organic gardening, raised bed gardening, permaculture, seed saving, growing heirloom vegetables, herb gardening, planting fruit trees, edible landscaping and water harvesting also garden art, mosaic, stained glass

First possible location for vegetable garden expansion for next years summer garden

permaculture

Second possible location for vegetable garden expansion for next years summer garden

permaculture

third possible location for vegetable garden expansion for next years summer garden

 

 

PERMACULTURE ** An adventure in lifestyle change…

lawn_irradication,organic gardening, raised bed gardening, permaculture, seed saving, growing heirloom vegetables, herb gardening, planting fruit trees, edible landscaping and water harvesting also garden art, mosaic, stained glass

February 5, 2010 Doing away with the backyard lawn!

Our journey towards living a more sustainable lifestyle started four years ago when my husband and I decided we wanted to live a little more off the grid. I was curious as to how much of our own food we could actually grow and I wanted to experiment with alternative energy. I was looking into solar hot water heaters and using solar panels to supply household electricity, as well as water harvesting techniques.

I was somewhat familiar with organic gardening practices, composting and the idea of using rain barrels but I hadn’t had a much long term success with any of it so I figured, since I was planning on doing something on a larger scale, I should learn a lot more about it. I did a bunch of research and discovered the term “permaculture”. While still living in a one bedroom apartment I started checking out books from the library and reading lots of articles on the internet. I decided that permaculture was the way I wanted to go when we finally found land somewhere. Once we bought our four and half acre property, permaculture design principles gave me a framework to work within that was both practical and in alignment with my wish to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Without the permaculture design principles I would have been completely overwhelmed. I was about to begin gardening on a large scale, in a four season climate, in the mountains and it turned out that there was a lot of competition from hungry critters for just about everything I grew to eat. I could make lists of things I wish I’d known before and after we purchased land in the back country! I would do it all over again but I would be a lot more prepared and do more than a few things differently right from the beginning. At the very least I would know what questions to ask, questions I never thought of until after we moved.

So in an effort to both remind myself as well as share with others I’m doing a series of posts on 10 permaculture design principles based on what I’ve understood from the book Gaia’s Garden, A Guide to home-scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway. When I use these principles I’m productive in a ways that are more sustainable for myself, others and the planet and I achieve an overall saner existence! I would love to hear from you about your experience  if you have started using these principles and if you haven’t yet I’d like to hear what questions you have. I invite you to subscribe and be part of discussion about what we are all doing to have an environmentally friendly sustainable lifestyle.

 

PERMACULTURE ** Definition

 

Calville Blanc d'Hiver Apple Tree Guild- Guilda are a new way to grow fruit trees

Apple Tree Guild –  Fruit Tree Guilds are a different way to grow fruit trees – think of it as companion planting for trees.

Definition of Permaculture:
Permaculture (Permanent Agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of cultivated ecosystems which have the diversity, stability and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape, people and appropriate technologies, providing shelter, energy and other needs in a sustainable way. Permaculture is a philosophy and an approach to land use which works with natural rhythms and patterns, weaving together the elements of microclimate, annual and perennial plants, animals, water and soil management, and human needs into intricately connected and productive communities.” –  Bill Mollison, founder of Permaculture and Scott Pittman, founder of the Permaculture Institute.