Category Archives: Permaculture

Spring 2016 Garden Update

Been busy gardening and made a good bit of progress in March and April getting things  reestablished. Lots of natives put in for wildlife habitat as well as small food garden consisting of hugelculture beds. The kale and lettuce is looking great. Just got in a few peppers one tomatoes too. Oh, and two blueberries. Not as large as the gardens I had before but a good start at getting things going again. Depending on how my well holds up I’ll consider adding a bit more each year.

The fruit trees I put in back in 2008 are doing pretty good especially given they had little to no attention over the past three summers. Should have a nice crop of peaches, plums and pears. My three female hardy kiwi’s  didn’t make it but the male did. Will need to get in some female plants if I want any fruit!

Video: Swale Update

We started putting in the swales in the middle of April so they’ve had a bit of time to mature with clover as well as a variety of edibles ranging from perennial berries to rhubarb to annuals such as kale and cow peas. As luck would have it our muscovy ducklings hatched  just days after the swales filled for the first time. They wasted no time and began swimming in the swales on their first day.

↵ Use original player
YouTube
← Replay
X
i

Permaculture Progress

Three of four planned water harvesting swales are in and partially planted.

We’ve been making great progress in our effort to implement a permaculture design at Make-it-Do. Until recently the process has been one of observation. Kaleesha put in a very nice veggie garden when she moved to this property in 2006 and has expanded it ever since. In addition to the gardening she and the kids began learning about the plants growing around the property. They also started keeping chickens, goats and even a dairy cow at one point. She put in her first fruit trees, two apples, four years ago. We added another growing area last year which began the expansion beyond the fenced area and up onto the south sloping hill that the house sits on. That was a bed of rhubarb, comfrey, herbs, raspberries and flowers. Further up on the hill we added four blueberries. But it wasn’t until this spring that we began to really think of implementing a design based on the principles of permaculture.

The beginning of our design-a work in progress.

The process really got started a few weeks back when Kaleesha decided that she would give up any future of keeping goats on the property in exchange for a large fruit orchard. This quickly led to a discussion of what it would mean to create a food forest rather than an orchard and from there what it would mean to begin adding other elements of a permaculture design.

The next important step was deciding to build water harvesting swales on contour on the south facing slope to the east of the house. Up until now the side yard was mostly a heavily used play area for the kids so switching it over to planted swales was an important decision.  We were able to do this, in part, due to the decision to not keep goats in the future which allowed us to begin taking down the fencing which exists all over the property. Taking down the fencing means much easier access to different grassed areas for the kids to play in. The side yard is no longer a primary play area so much as a path to get to other areas further out.

Working out the details of our plan

We have a family of 9 living on this 5 acre property and we share it with chickens, ducks, cats, dogs and wildlife. The property itself is fairly complex with soft, fertile soil below the house, rocky soil above the house and 4 acres of woodland which includes a stream and rocky shut-ins consisting of mostly igneous rock running along the western and southern border. The land is mostly sloping with much of the slope facing south or west. In short, there’s a great deal of activity and intended purpose happening here and so the permaculture dictate that observation be step one is something we’ve taken very seriously. We observe and discuss a great deal before taking any action and developing a plan to guide us and to serve as documentation of what has been done is important.

The plan is not done but our work is in progress. We’ll proceed slowly as we co-evolve the design plan and the property at the same time. Eventually the written document will catch-up and become more of a plan for future action than a journal of what we’ve already done. In some aspects this has already happened as the plan has listings and placements for trees and bushes which will not arrive until next week (Pecans, Chestnuts, Goji Berries, and Lingonberries).

Progress!

Permaculture at Make-it-Do

Halfway through the dig!

A few years back I wrote about putting in my first swale . About a year later I offered up an update. In May of 2013 I left that site behind when I jumped into life with Kaleesha at Make-it-Do Farm. This spring we’ve been getting busy taking some important steps implementing permaculture here at Make-it-Do. In the past couple of weeks we’ve added blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and 12 fruit trees including peaches, plums, cherries and pears. This is just the first step towards a food forest and larger permaculture design. Still to come is adding in a variety of fruit bushes, herbs and ground covers to fill out the various layers between and around the fruit trees.

The biggest development in the kitchen garden: three new hugelculture beds built with lots of half rotted logs and ready for planting.

Planted with fruit and filled with rain!

In addition to the planting we’ve also begun putting in our swales. We’ve got the first of what will be a series of three or more swales on the south facing hill that has been a grass yard on the east side of the house. We’re transforming the grassy slope into a series of water harvesting swales that will be planted with various polycultures. The first has an estimated capacity of 400 gallons and has been planted with blueberries, rhubarb, strawberries and clover. Still to come is comfrey, a few herbs and a fruit tree. Each of the swales will be similarly planted though the specifics will vary. More updates soon!

YouTube Channel

I set up a YouTube channel a few years ago but never made it a point to post much. A couple months back it was pointed out to me that one of my YouTube videos had gotten quite a few views, 29,000+, and that perhaps I should invest more time in developing my channel. so, this is me putting in some time creating more video updates.

The funny thing is that I actually enjoy putting them together, its just something I need to work into my routine. I’m hoping to assemble 2 – 3 each month. Here are the first two, both are gardening updates. We’ve been busy with baby goats, spring gardening as well as putting up a raspberry trellis and a small duck pond.

Bringing Permaculture to Make-It-Do

Hugelculture herb spiral in
construction. Leaves and wood used
as organic filler, topped with soil
and compost.

Let me start by saying that Permaculture is not a new concept for Kaleesha and she’s been putting various elements of it into practice for several years. What is new though is having me around and my thoughts on how to go about things.

Probably the biggest change is going to be a change in goat management which is both a permaculture driven change as well as a very practical need. Essentially the goat fencing was never quite finished and with a bit of effort they were able to free-range which is not a good thing with a road nearby. Nor is it a good thing if one wants to grow berry and fruit trees and bushes or any kind of flower garden. If you dont already know, goats eat practically every kind of growing thing so growing a garden or food forest is difficult, probably impossible if goats have open access to growing areas.

Last week we finished the fencing and the goats are mostly contained. They will do their best to get past it and will find a few week points (already have!) so we’ll have to get out and do a bit of troubleshooting. But as of now, it is a big improvement and they are behind the fencing most of the time which means we are now free begin landscaping areas around the house which had previously been left as grass or gravel.

After the goats the priority has been to improve the aesthetics of the north, driveway side of the house is poorly defined with two doors that confuse visitors about the actual entrance. The first door goes to the laundry room is more a utility entry but is usually the first door seen by visitors. The real entryway is not marked in anyway. That entire face of the house was used as storage with a heating unit, doors, windows and other items leaned against the wall. The rocks of the driveway were steadily migrating down into the gravel mulch that served as a yard. Most of this area is heavily shaded by the house and two large trees. The northeast side of the yard has a bit of grass and gets a good bit of sunlight.

Well rotted log from my hugelculture beds. The logs
and soil are full of fungi and micro organisms.

We started by getting all the items along the house moved to the shed. Once we cleared the space we wanted to bring some life and usefulness to the area. We built a hugelculture shade bed against the house and to the west side of the main entrance to the house. The bed has been planted with a mix of shade tolerant plants such as ferns, hostas and native columbine. A smaller bed on the other side of the door will also be built and planted with shade plants. The concrete pad in front of the door will also be getting some attention. Currently it gathers a good bit of small gravel which makes its way into the house. To help draw attention to this door as the primary entrance and to reduce the amount of gravel coming inside we are repurposing some concrete paver stones mixed with various stones found around the property which are being laid in as an extension of the pad forming a sort of patio.

Much of the focus thus far is working on moving extra plants over from my efforts at the lake. I’ve gotten some of the kitchen herbs and Missouri natives moved over with many more to go. My folks will be taking over my cabin and have no interest in gardening so I’m also bringing over soil from the two year old hugelculture bed. The logs are rotting up nicely and the resulting soil, previously enriched with manured straw from the chicken coop, is fantastic. Thus far the herb spiral and hugelculture beds around the mature trees in the yard have been planted with Oregano, Skullcap, Lavendar, Garlic Chives, and Purple Coneflowers.

This fall I’ll move the serviceberry bushes, blackberries, and raspberries and possibly a few others. In the longterm I’d like to put the hill that the house is built on to use. It is a south-facing hill and an excellent opportunity for water harvesting with swales. Another longterm project is improving the goat forage. Currently they forage a diverse area with a fairly good mix of food but it could be improved. Yet another long term project that we’ll get started in the spring of next year we will be several food forests. We’ll obtain low-cost nut trees from the Missouri Department of Conservation as well as a few fruit trees from other sources.

This is a great site with fantastic potential and I look forward to becoming a part of it.

 

Just to let you know

A couple posts today… this first is just to let folks know that I WILL get back to permaculture/homestead related writing at some point! But the simple reality is that in the winter there’s not a whole lot going on in that area. At the moment my day-to-day routine consists primarily of reading, occasional freelance web work, starting fires and keeping them going, tending to critters, and getting the telescope out on clear nights. As we get closer to spring I’ll update a bit on the garden and food forest plans.