Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Back from the Garden

You reap what you sow...totally geeking out because of the growth.

I walked into the greenhouse with my eyes closed,
and when my mom said it was ok, I opened them up and saw this:

It was such a GREAT feeling to finally see some results!
Look at the size of these leaves!

I never expected that kind of growth though.
This is about 2 months ahead of schedule in Minnesota...WOW.
That pic was taken almost three weeks ago too...so its MUCH
bigger now...its just bananas in there right now.

Its really a funny thing that happens when I'm working
out in the garden...I totally disconnect from most everything else.
Very little email, very little phone. No internet or tv.
Just hard manual labor! Im sure some of you out there know what I mean.

I seriously didnt even touch my computer for 2 whole weeks.
I checked emails through the iphone, but seriously, it was about
5 minutes a day, plus about 15 min each night talking with Dawn.

I would wake up around 6-630, and after wishing my family a good morning,
would head up to the garden. Most of my focus was on building soil.
Plain and simple. Build soil NOW. I skimped on this last summer
because the construction trucks were still taking up space
while building the deck...but now...its on.

Ill keep this all brief as possible.
Building soil...how?
Collecting as much soil-building materials as possible like
dried leaves, grass clippings, newspaper, animal manure,
cardboard, wood chips, and black dirt. Whatever you can get.
Luckily for me, there is quite a bit nearby,
so I didnt have to travel more than 20 min from home. Pretty local.

(always go with copper tools...Ill explain more later)

Adding in whatever organic nutrients your soil might need.
I added some seabird guano and the biodynamic sprays.

I then planted loads of cover crops.
Clover...everywhere. Clover clover clover.
Bees love it, deer love it, plants love it because it gives nitrogen.
It provides a lovely groundcover too, and will choke out weeds.
Great stuff. I did a mix of Alsike, dutch white, and red clover.
There are lots out there, my mix was based on my area and
the height and season. Lots of variables with these things.

On top of clover, I did lots of nitro-fixing legumes like cowpea
and fava bean, plus some other ones that I cant remember.
I bought the "soil builder mix" from peaceful valley and also
the "summer soil builder mix" which has lots of buckwheat in it.
I also did mustard to break up the soil with its massive taproot.

I had to keep watering the area because it was so dry and windy
during the day...if I wanted anything to germinate, I had to provide
some moisture. Covering the seeds with a little soil or dried leaves
works wonders for keeping in the moisture on those windy days.

I finally cleaned up the dome and got the square foot gardens set up too.
I planted wildflowers all around them to attract the bees.

I also planted all the seedlings I started in MARCH and also
prepped the culinary garden with some composted horse manure
and minerals. Check out a before-after pic of the seedlings:

Can't complain!!!!!!

I rejuvenated the fruit trees with some surface scratching
and by giving them some goodies and pulling any grasses that were
leaching nutrients from them...all the mulching last year really kept
this to a minimum though. I can't stress it enough...break the war with weeds
by just blocking them out. Cover your land with cardboard or
10 sheets of newspaper and start from scratch. No point in fighting weeds
forever. Nature wants to fill the space, and as long as sunlight and water
are getting to them, you just cant beat their vigor. Block 'em out.

I planted currants, raspberries, and gooseberries along the deck and greenhouse.
Here is one side...the mulched part on the left will be thick with gooseberries
in about 2 years. Yeeeeeeeees!

Plus I finally put in all the grapes...which I think came to about 35.
Luckily, I had a south-facing slope on the land so I was able to give
the grapes a perfect sunny spot with lots of air circulation and drainage.
Grapes are lovely...much more affordable than fruit trees and just as long-lived.
These grapes are all for eating...not the wine variety. Too cold for MN I feel.

Its funny, because when you do projects like this,
you come up with these huge "TO-DO" lists. Mine is long.
I will have one every day if possible, and it seems short,
but its easy to forget how much time the usual things take like
cleaning up, watering plants (I will buy a drip irrigation system asap),
etc...it adds up. I spent about 13 hours a day working on everything,
and there is still so much to do.

Clearing out more brush area took lots of time too.
Its one thing that many of us nature-lovers have a problem with.
Do you cut down a tall tree so three more can have its sunlight?
We have lots of poplars and ironwoods growing over here, and they
are considered first-generation trees.
This means that after an area is logged, these trees will be some
of the first to regenerate an area. Our spot, although it was completely
logged over 50 years ago, is now totally covered with trees.
Thats a good thought, right? If we let nature re-group, the forest
would completely take over again in less than 20 years.
Our planet could be on the fast track to healing in no time.

So yes...in order to expand the "food forest", I had to cut down
some trees. I felt pretty shitty about this, but I honestly assured the tree
that it was for the best, although im assuming the trees werent
comforted by this as my saw was cutting into them :( .
But this opened up the canopy a bunch, and made room for
three pears which will grow huge and a cherry tree.
So is this good or bad?

Another funny thing. I would totally forget to eat.
I was so in the zone that food wasnt an issue.
This is a key indicator that you've found your passion -
when you are so in the FLOW that food doesnt cross your mind.
I wouldnt have breakfast. I would just drink water spiked
with MSM and Truly Natural Vitamin C.

I would drink about a 1.5 gallons a day, and urinate
about three times only...where did all that liquid go?

How about some food though?
For lunch...I mean breakfast, I would come down with some
(VERY freshly picked) wild greens and blend them up with:

Hemp butter. I LIVED off this stuff for two weeks
while putting in serious physical labor.
I consumed about a 1/2 to a full cup a day, and felt amazing.
Totally lean and no issues with fogginess.
It IS a staple food for me.

I then would add in a tbls of coconut oil.
It just adds that great flavor.

Then a tbls of Mango Blossom honey (which I have to buy
more for my dad for Father's day! He LOVES it!) So does Debbie from
Debbie Does Raw...this stuff is THE most epic honey Ive had.

A very decent pinch of sea salt. Ive found that if I use a little more,
it adds a great smooth flavor to the smoothie. Try it with more honey
if it doesnt work out for you at first.

These items, blended with springwater or good well water,
is not only fast and easy, but SO good and nutritious. Its divine.

For dinner? A big massaged salad. Usually spinach and lambsquarters.
Lots of garlic and hemp oil..plus the key snack of all time.


I tried these a few weeks back and was totally BLOWN AWAY.
Ive had kale chips, but usually they are crispy and kind of boring.
These were soft and the flavor was unreal. Even my dad liked them.
I tried to replicate them, but it was impossible.
These are my favorite savory raw snack Ive found to date.
Ive gotta support them..because they are keeping their prices low
and are really making a superior product.

Check them out for sure HERE.

That was about it for food. I didnt even eat a piece of fruit the whole time,
which is completely unheard of for me. I ate a watermelon on my
last day with my mom and it was sooo good though...
took me back to last summer when Dawn and I split a big one every day.

The fruit is coming soon enough though, but for now,
a diet of greens, plant fats (plus some kefir), and bee products seriously
kept me going the whole time I was working.
Im going to talk more about this later...

In addition to the fact that we are growing our own organic produce,
I think permaculture is the best thing you can do for your health.
It was complete bliss to be away from all the electronics, the traffic,
THE NEWS, the masses of people, and the bad energy.
I woke up completely excited for the day's events,
and went to bed happy and tired. It was amazing.
To work on something actually REAL and lasting...it felt so right.

Plus the fact that I was on my feet for 14 hours a day.
That can't be bad for getting into shape.

Body by permaculture...and P90x.

Please...if you really care about what you eat and
want to have more power over your food supply,
growing your own in the best option.

And it only gets better. Popping in the seedlings this
year into the established garden was a snap compared
to all the hard work I had to do last spring.
Easier and easier...

Now that Im back on the computer, Ill be posting
much more regularly...you know how I get when I
start working in the garden.

Food forests...NOW.

The Persimmons are coming!!!!!