Sunday, March 27, 2011

March Ends - ACK, where did it go?

The LAZY BLOGGER strikes again. The days are just not long enough. The month of March as flown by.

Have planted some strawberries, a gift from a co-worker and some yellow onion sets. Cleaned the some of the beds and spread compost on them. The rhubarb that was planted late last spring is coming up, looks healthy. The raspberry plant that survived is budding up and will be joined by four more if they ever get here. Ordered them and some more onion sets (red and yellow), some horseradish root and 50 strawberry plants from Gurney's 6 weeks ago. Hopefully the order get here in time to plant the onions, the farms around here planted their onions the last week of February. In a couple of weeks I'm going up to Spokane to pickup an order of berry bushes ordered from the conservation service there. There will be 5 each of American Cranberry, Northern Blue Elderberry, Golden Current and Shrubpea. So need to get their holes dug and admended before then. Bought some seed potatos, which need to be chitted and their bed prepared.

Lately I have been browsing the Forums at, interesting stuff. The talk of Hugelculture beds has gotten me converting one of the garden beds into a hugel like bed. The picture below is of the construction of said bed. I started by removing the soil from the top of the bed(which is place to the right in picture), then dug down 9 inchs(which is on the tarp to the left). Then the pit is filled with wood chips mounded up to 12 inchs deep in center which are then topped with compost and manure; then finished with the soil remove in first step. I'm thinking of planting pea's and beans in that bed this year.

Had another load of wood chips delivered a couple of weeks ago, the workers doing the job were driving by, saw me, stopped and ask if I wanted another load. So the big pile in the front yard got bigger.

The dew pond experiment isn't working to well. The few times the dew has formed it doesn't seem that much gathers in the pond, and if there is any it evaporates before I get a chance to note it. Will let it be for another month or so, until the Skitters come out anyway, as we have Nile Virus around here.

Note that there are two new links of interest in the sidebar, and Paul Wheaton's Site. Paul posts short videos to about permaculture topics and has a pod cast where he talks about topics that are discussed on permies.

Garden On.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Last Friday of February

This last week I noticed that some of the Willows around town are greening up, which got me wondering when did that happen last year. So, archives here I come. Humm, posted that the willows were budding on the 27th of Feb, so, a week earlier than last year. BUT, it wasn't 11f over night then either, BRRRRR. The weathermen have been saying it was supposed to snow, which it did, 1/4 inch here, much more all around (12 inch in Walla Walla and Spokane).

The dew pond is great at catching rain but hasn't caught much dew yet, it's been too darn cold. Caught 4.5 gallons of rain two days after I built the pond but nothing since. Thinking that it needs to be above freezing at night for it to work correctly.

Rain water in the dew pond.

In an earlier post (end of January)I talked about using terra cotta pots as watering sources. Having no luck finding an inexpensive source of pots I glued two 8 inch planting pots together using Gorilla Glue (which is great stuff). The hole in lower pot is plugged with a stone glued in place. On any made after this, I think, a piece of paper with some GG should suffice to plug the hole. For those who haven't used GG, as it drys, it foams filling gaps.

Handmade Ola for Pitcher Irrigation

Listened to a podcast on Sustainable World Radio Podcasts with Doug Weatherbee about healthy soil. I recommend it. It's 1 1/2 hours in 2 parts. There is also another podcast with the author of the best selling book Gaia's Garden, Toby Hemenway.

Garden On.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dewings ?

I have been reading about dew ponds the last few days. Dew ponds are ponds that have no external water source, receiving they supply of water from condensation of atmospheric moisture. They work on the principle that dew collects on surfaces that are cooler than the dew point. This evening after work I built a small test pond out of a pile of wood chips and a salvaged tarp. The wood chips were spread out in to a dish shape 6 feet or so in diameter. The tarp was then spread over the dish and weighted down with several large stones. The idea is to insulate the tarp from the heat of the earth allowing the tarp to cool off by radiation. Then in the wee hours of the morning the dew can collect. Will let it be for a few days to see what it collects, then add a layer of small (1.5 inch) stones for more mass. Traditionally dew ponds are made using straw as insulation and clay/chalk as the pond surface.

Wood chip pond  dish

Finished test  dewpond

After I did the dew pond I moved 20 wheel borrow loads of chips from the the pile to the other side of the yard. I'm spreading them about 4 inches deep over the front yard in preparation for planting some berry shrubs on order. Getting 5 each of Blue Elderberry, American Cranberry and Golden Current, also 5 Shrubpea. The Shrubpea has edible pods and fixes Nitrogen just like peas and beans. Also ordered some horseradish, strawberries, onion sets (red and yellow) and raspberries. Need to plan where to plant every thing then get the soil prepared, just hope the weather co-operates.

Garden On.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Fungi, those many formed things that pop up in so of the strangest places, usually in the lawn where you didn't really want them... but don't panic. They are a normal part of the ecology to the soil, in fact they are a prime member of the soil life web. What we call mushrooms are in fact the fruits of fungi. Fungi form strands that can be inches to many yards long, a single fungi can cover thousands of square feet. They can form near, on or even in plants.

The roles of fungi in the garden are many fold. They are the prime decomposers of lignin and cellulose of woody materials. They release acids that break down minerals making them available in the soil. They remove minerals from the organic matter and mineral particles in the soil and transport it to plant roots. They also store Calcium and phosphorus. They bind soil particles and small aggregates into larger aggregates improving soil structure, draining and habitat.

Some Fungi form symbiotic relations with plants that benefit both plant and the fungi. The fungi supplies the plant with resources that the plant can't access (water and minerals), in return the plant supplies simple sugars, complex carbohydrates and proteins. Basically fungi form extended root systems for the plants that they associate with, provide habitat for bacteria and protect the plant from pathogens, pollutants and herbivores.

[rant] Another reason to NOT use glyphosate based herbicides is the it kills fungi not just plants. It's like using a nuclear bomb to kill a mouse in your house, sure it kills the mouse but also the dog, cat and you.[/rant]

Garden On.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Winter's Back

The cold weather has returned :-(
Don't know if it got to 40f today or not. There was a bit of white on the hill to the south of us this afternoon. sigh. Oh well, it's January for crying out loud, it's supposed to be cold.

Saw an article on the damages done by glyphosate herbicide the other day. Apparently it doesn't break down as fast as it is suppose to, building up in the soil, chemically binding the soil minerals up, which weakens the plant allowing disease organisms to attack and kill the plants. The binding of trace minerals also makes the plant less nutritious. And the main seller of that type of herbicide wants our beloved governments permission to release alfalfa that can survive larger doses of the herbicide. NO, NO, NO, WE don't want your chemical crap....OR your genetically altered plants.

Healthy soil with a lot of biomass, bacteria and fungus doesn't need to be treated with external fertilizers. If the bacteria and fungi in the soil are not killed, they can convert the biomass that is in the soil into the nutrients that the growing plants need. So provide biomass for the soil bacteria to eat and your plants will be happy. Don't be super neat in the garden, let the residue from the garden rot in place, the soil bacteria will love it.

Garden On.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A new year, a new garden

As you have probably noticed I don't Blog much. The written word is not my normal mode of communication. I have one heck of a time putting thoughts on paper because of lack of spelling skills which causes a major disruption of thought flow. So please excuse the lack of posts.

The weather here in south central Washington state is being strange again this year. Our normal weather for the end of January is cold (20 to 40F) with snow. Today it was 50ish and rainy and has been so for the last week. Normally December is rainy with chances of snow, this year, Snowy and cold. It will probably be a repeat of last year, cold early winter, cool late winter and a wet cool spring, with a warm (not HOT) summer.

Having read 'Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden', I'm going to growing squash and try drying some. Thinking of doing a three sisters planting with sunflowers instead of corn, as last years corn didn't do well. Also this area has many growers of sweet corn. Beans, lettuce, beets, cabbage and tomatoes are on the list. The Strawberry patch is going to be moved to a new spot. More raspberry plants need to be obtained. The Moon and Stars melons will be repeated as will the cantaloupes.

This fall/winter I have read several books on Perma-culture and gardening (see the book list page), which have given me many ideas that I wish to implement. Water harvesting, fruit/nut tree guides, insect habitat, perennial vegetables. Bactria and fungus, worms and beetles, sheet composting, cold piles and hot piles, ponds and greenhouses, trace minerals and deep rooted nutrient accumulators ,bio mass accumulators and ground covers. The depletion of the soil by current farming practices and how to restore the same. ugh, time to get off the soap box. (but not to far)

The piles of wood chips that were delivered last fall are being moved to the garden paths. The chip that were placed there last spring are decomposing nicely, adding humus to the edges of the beds and holding water for the beds. Several compost piles have been built from the chips and other materials, which will have to rot over the summer.

Have been searching for a source of terra-cotta ollas to use as pither irrigation, But $30-35 per 1.5 gallon jug is a bit excessive IMO. Does anyone throw terra-cotta or know someone that does? Have asked Annie's Granny to check on the availability down in southern AZ. May have to cobble a couple of regular TC flower pot together as others on the net have done.

Garden On.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Oh, dear. To long gone.

It has finally frosted. With a vengeance. Last week it was still 36-7 over night, last night it was -7F, Brrrrr. The load of bagged leaves I picked up Sunday evening is still in the truck which is O.K. as it adds weight to get through the SNOW, about 6 inches.

Garden On (in yours Dreams if not in the yard)