After the business of the fall harvest season, this family goes right into the holiday rush in our shop
. We don our elf caps and work hard to get a lot of swords, chess sets and ponies to kids before Christmas. By the time Jan. rolls around, we're ready for a break. This year,
we didn't do much but snowboard...
Admittedly, Feb wasn't much
different, but as I stroll down our familiar ice packed road on my daily walk with Johnny, I find my mind coming back around to productivity again, as I contemplate spring.
I spend a lot of white, blizzardy afternoons researching the randomest things on the internet. Mom always says I have a healthy ability to multi task, and that would be proven by looking up the history on the computer after I've been on: Aquaponics, cold stratifying seed, composting toilets, civil war history, free motion quilting, rocket stoves and ram pumps, would be a start.
I thought I'd share some of the cool stuff I've been looking at and planning with you all (not the random stuff--the cool stuff!).
First of all, I found a beautiful, inspiring youtube channel
where a single woman in Ireland flaunts her amazing permaculture gardens. It made me realize, despite our beautiful gardens, we're doing several things wrong.
Like our orchard for example:
Mowing a young orchard is a terrible idea--I've learned--since the clipped grass will fight back with a vengeance, robbing the soil's nutrients and stifling young roots. We always try to mulch the trees, but, as you can see, it's never enough.
We're making a plan is to employ permaculture methods in our orchards. I hope to make beds around the trees the width of the tree's canopy, like this:
And then lots of mulch. Leaves, straw, manure, brush.
The idea is to suffocate the grass, but make an awesome, disney-world-like environment for the worms!
And then plant all around with perennials that will compliment and correct soil instead of robbing from the trees. I'm still working on lists of everything I want to grow--there's never a lack of things we want to try growing! :)
So here's our property (as seen by the friendly alien eyes from google space)
The red areas are all orchard spaces that I hope to convert to garden with paths between. The boys might faint at the sight of this plan, but I can't wait to make a million-hundred (as Johnny would say) worms happy!! :)
The line jutting over to the cranberry is the shortest route to the creek.
The circle is an area of forest I want to clear for a nice sitting area, and the circle in front of the greenhouse is a 'maybe' site for a tiny acuaponics pond. More on that later...
(Theresa's round garden, lower left corner, looks so perfect from space...)
In a few years, I hope the orchards will all look the rest of the garden: crazy, wild and vigorous:
We do employ a lot of permaculture methods in our veggie garden. The raised beds are surrounded by wood and wood chip mulch, which retains water.
And it works. Our veggies seem to like their beds.
But I want it all, orchards included, to look like a rad, awesome, wild food forest, like this:
The other thing Johnny and I talk about on our walks is water. Usually while hanging over the creek or stomping on thin ice (him, not me). Water is fun to play in and with, directing little run offs in the spring to drain puddles. I wish we could use our creeks to better potential, adding water to these food forest plans, with the nutrient rich water from our spring melt off.
Unfortunately, there is a whole slew of legalities that keep those plans from firming up much, but they don't keep me from researching ideas. There are some amazing self perpetuating water pumps (like the ram pump
) that you can build if you're handy with scrap (wish I was).
Johnny wants a fish and swimming pond, so we've been watching cool inspiring videos
on that--how you keep a healthy pond chemical free. I don't know if this will happen this year or not (my projects plate is more than full!) but I hope it does. Seriously, watch that video. Neat-O stuff!
And then acuaponics combines these two things, water and plants, with the awesomeness of fish.
Mom experimented in aquaponics a bit two years ago. The results were
disappointing, but we still have faith in the principles and I'm itching
to try it again. My house plants want to drink fish poo water, and I want a fresh, nutrient rich salad bar in my living room--in the middle of winter--combined with the gurgle of running water and cool looking fish.
I mean, who doesn't??
This time of year, I appreciate the life in the greenness of my houseplants, especially in contrast when the weather is nasty. I think adding the life of little fishes swimming around would make that feeling even stronger!
Oh and rocket stoves!
Obviously, we've been warming our butts on ours a lot this (and every) winter.
(BTW--the box on top of the barrel is a homemade dehydrator. On top of that, a broken snowboard is being repaired. And on the warm spot on the floor in front of the bench, those pvc molds are curing a batch of Mom's soap
Though our poor stove does a lot for this family, I want to make a rocket stove that can be used to cook more efficiently, and have been looking at some pretty neat conceptual designs that people much smarter than I have come up with.
This one combines a pizza oven (which we made once) with rocket stove.
This one heats water with a slightly different design than ours (which also heats water, but we've had some problems with the design). I wonder if this idea would work better? Andrew??
This one, the rocket bread oven, I found especially cool.
Make sure you check out the links to the original sources for any of the pictures you find cool. I tried to provide them all.
Theresa's doing her part to add life to the house and zest to our spring fever by growing wheat grass. She supplements it as feed to her bunnies, but also makes an energy green drink which she generously shares (sooo good! Makes you bounce off the walls with spring fever! :))
And Mom's doing her part by researching her own projects AND ordering seeds!! Our first lot came a few weeks ago. All these amazing new kinds of flowers--omg, I can't even! :D
And when the brain can't possibly absorb any more cool information without going gaga, there's always chess to recharge the mind (it doesn't work for me, but Mom, Dad and the boys seem to enjoy it).
I reset my brain with my foot to the peddle of my sewing machine.
A week, a garbage bag of jeans, and a new couch cover later:
My crazy ambitions combined with the swiftness of the approaching spring never fail to overwhelm me at times, but I know even if it doesn't all get done, our garden will still look like a beautiful space of love...
Because it is.
(And besides, with this crew, we can get anything done, right? I mean, look at 'em!)
So many cool ideas! There's always more to learn, and March is the time for it.