The seed catalogs are piling up and it’s a constant reminder of how in flux we’ll be as of
June. It’s been a long time since I’ve not put in a large seed order, and frankly, I’m feeling a bit antsy about it this season. So, to take my mind off of what I won’t be doing, I’m thinking ahead to the things this extra time will provide in terms of opportunities for learning. An ever-growing, ever-bearing, zone 1-10 list of things to learn while not farming:
Tend to the travelling orchard
Improve spinning technique
Improve fiber processing set-up and technique
Experiment with natural dyes
Learn about medicinal herbs
Practice grafting techniques
Volunteer at school or public garden
Help a fellow farmer with farm chores, butchering, shearing, etc.
Learn old-fashioned candy-making
Focus on food preservation techniques:
Take a class in business planning for the fiber mill
Maybe, just maybe, learn a new knitting skill
Explore niche or value added markets
Take a botany class
Spend some time with growers using methods outside of your own, including conventional, biodynamic, and other permaculture or organic farmers and gardeners
Cut up seed catalogs to make art with the kids
Cut up seed catalogs to do some companion planting planning
Re-read Edible Forest Gardens
The list continues to grow and hope blooms eternal, so… suggestions are always welcome and may spring shine warm sunlight upon your gardens!
The food dehydrator finally arrived. We’ve been researching the best methods for food storage and it has quickly become one of our favorite tools for preserving the harvest. We can now make jerky, fruit leather, and dry fruit, veggies, and herbs to store for months.
You can even dry sauces and soups for later use (a helpful tip for avid campers/adventurers).
I wasn’t sure what the kids would think – Would our dried apples compete with the store-bought variety? If the toddler had anything to say about it, I think they exceeded all expectations.
I normally buy dried tomatoes – I love the flavor and texture and it sometimes makes a decent meat substitute. Not only do the tomatoes dry really well, they’re something of a work of art when finished.
Buying fruit leather at the co-op is a bit costly for this family. Making our own is not only fun, but a healthy alternative. We use a bit of honey to add some sweet to match any tart flavors on part of the berries and can now make good use of all of that autumn olive at the farm.
I don’t normally do plugs for commercial products but in this instance, with the limited number of options in our region for food-safe dehydration, this product makes a really nice (and quiet) addition to your food storage arsenal. The Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-5A is one of the higher end models at the lower end of the total wattage spectrum. It’s a smallish unit with stackable trays (up to 12) and very quiet. Highly recommended, if solar isn’t a good option.
I’ve been brainstorming ideas to make this blog more effective and I’ve decided to build a website around topics discussed on the blog while maintaining the blog as a central forum for discussion and ideas. The website will offer resources to folks new to permaculture and also those more familiar with the “do no harm” approach to farming, including helpful links and articles written by me and those more familiar with the process.
Since we’re landless, we’ll be propagating a new kind of garden – with vital seeds of change – online!
A fog fell over the land yesterday morning. We have nearly finished the blue berry bed (see photo). It took a full trailer-load of composted manure to cover most of the bed, but we have another load coming and will finish the remainder of berry beds.
While out yesterday, I purchased three butterfly bushes, three catmint, and a daylilly for the beds. We also put up additional bird feeders to attract a greater variety of birds.
T/N Farms has provided the farm with enough hay that we may not need to purchase additional bales. Thank-you T/N!
NPR reported this morning on the increase in dandelions (and other weeds) and rising CO2 levels. With more CO2 in the atmosphere, dandelions are “bolting,” or producing seeds earlier than normal and growing larger, stronger. For those never-ending green lawns, this could be problematic, but for the edible forest, it just signals a response to our environment, larger and deeper roots to open and aerate the soil and a larger, prettier bloom in the summer.
If we want to solve the problem of rising CO2 levels, we need to think differently about what we call “weeds” and begin to appreciate the response from nature to the largest of invasives, or opportunists: the human race.
In other news, we’re picking up a load of black dirt tonight and an additional load of hay for the guilds. We’ve finished two in as many days and plan to finish the girl’s guild this morning. As of later today, we should have five near-complete guilds with five or six to go (unless we receive additional funding and then we’ll tack on an additional three guilds).
Farmers have been wonderful in contributing time, advice, resources, etc. Northstar Organics (organic cherry growers out of Frankfort, MI) offered the use of their dump-truck to pick up the black dirt donated by T/N Farm. And Sandy Rennie made some recommendations on sweets and sour cherries. We are grateful and humbled by the enormous amount of support this project has received already. Thank-you!