Monthly Archives: April 2008

Um, I think I’ll wait a little while to plant

This is a picture of the garden plot area.  If you count 4 posts back in the photo my plot is about 30 ft to the left of the 4th pole in this photo. You can just barely see the top of the post. Pretty far under water at this point.  The water is receding very quickly though so it may not take as long as you think to get in there, but for once it’s a good thing I’m over busy or I would have had all my taters and carrots already in the ground.

I was here Monday night and the water was up to about where my feet are in this picture, to give you an idea on how fast the water goes down after it comes up.


Building a Permaculture Swale

Tonight I built a swale in a back garden bed. I tore some evergreens out of this bed last year and since then I’ve been fighting the evil forces of Creeping Charlie. I decided I wanted to build a swale here because I have two gutters here that are funneling water away from the house. Our budget is very tight right now and I can’t swing some rain barrels (at least not enough for all 12 of our downspouts) so I figured a swale would be a good way to store the water in the ground. Especially because I have some big plans for this area.

A picture mostly from the front, and one below from the side. These are before pictures.

Pictures of the same two areas after the swale is dug. I used a hoe to dig out the swale. It took me maybe 10 minutes. (Sometimes people call swales “irrigation ditches” or other names like that) I borrowed this hoe from someone but it’s just like the one I ordered. The design works great. I can’t wait to use it more.

All this wood you see, by the way, is for the earth oven I’m hoping to build sometime this summer. After I dug the trench out I laid a few sticks and twigs into it as I’ve heard that wood can help soak up water while it decomposes. I also laid some bricks and rocks under the down spouts so that the water that comes out of them won’t eat away at the soil. As you can tell the soil slopes away to the left, which is north, away from the house. I currently have two blackberry bushes planted there. Also a lovage plant and two little shrubs that have grown since I cut down the evergreen bushes.

I am planning to place some ground covers on the back (north/left) part of the swale and there will be two cherry trees planted down towards the bottom of the slope. These are semi-dwarf plants. Part of the appeal of the swale is to keep excess moisture in this soil for these trees to grab as needed. Additionally, I’m going to plant some herbs (probably chives) as well as some Eqyptian Walking Onions, if they ever come off backorder. I should have a nice little permaculture guild going there, just without the vining plants, for now.

After all the dirt work was done I laid down copious amounts of wet WSJs and covered that with leaves. Hopefully the WSJs will kill the remaining Creeping Charlie.

Now I just have to wait for the plants to come and I can get them in the ground too. It should be just a day or two until it rains so I can see if the swale works. If you’re a permaculture person let me know if there’s anything that I can do here to make this work a little better.

Sounds Easy Enough To Me

Thanks to my friend Tom for bringing this to my attention.

My Mind Is Awash With Greenery

Lately my brain has been awash in gardening and green goodness. It’s everywhere and I can’t help it.

I was watching the movie “The Color Purple” the other night with the little lady and all I could think about was trying to figure out what crops Celia and Mr. were growing at their house. How they had their animals housed and what the dirt looked like. (I didn’t see a lot of organic matter in that soil) Is there something wrong with me? Maybe. The biggest memory of the movie to me was that I noticed they weren’t rotating their sunflowers from year to year. That’s not good. That’ll cause you to drain your soil.

The same thing happens to me when I drive to work. I drive past a golf course every day. (It’s kind of stupid the number of golf courses we have in this town (4 owned by the city plus private ones), and in fact the city says some of them aren’t making a profit, and all I could think about when I drove by was all that land, in the middle of town, that we could use to grow a ton of food. And to top it off, it already has a sprinkler system installed. How easy would it be to sheet mulch the grass, plant some food and if you need to water something turn on the sprinkler system? The grounds people could even keep their jobs possibly to maintain the garden plots. All that land could be turned into great natural parks and native habitat with some garden plots built into it. The ponds could be naturalized and they would be beneficial for animals and fowl, plus a possible source of irrigation rather than city water. The city could rent out 2k square ft plots to people so we could grow our own produce. Think of all the food! Such great ideas but no avenue to the movers and shakers!

Then as I drive around I see all the empty wasted space for road easements, setbacks, other parks and other assorted areas. Even places where you could rip up the concrete and plant food. (Like my driveway and a ton of parking lots)

As I see all this I think to myself, “Self, as scary as the future is, if we can get people off their asses to work in some gardens I think we’ll be OK. I think hunger might be that prod to get people moving.”

Hell, if you grow the right things it’s not that hard to get a ton of calories from a small area.

Your Action Is Needed To Help Stop The Starving

OK, Greenpa has a post up talking about how we need action to bring about some political change to stop the starving that is occurring around the world.  It’s not just happening in isolated cases, but also in a lot of places that weren’t having problems before.  Great compilation of news stories so go over and read it.

When I read all these stories I wonder to myself how these people get into these situations.  If they are so hungry why don’t they get some plants and plant them?  I don’t understand why the people are looking to their government to help them instead of making a solution themselves.  Why is that?  I can’t figure it out.

We have the same thing going on here in America.  People are hungry but the idea to grow some of their own food never crosses their mind.  Why is that?

All these news stories talk and talk and talk about all the reasons that we’re having all this mass hysteria about food and shortages and riots.  Why is that?  They say it’s because people are eating too much meat (true) or because food is being used to make fuel for cars instead of people (true).  It’s because there are droughts (true) and because the prices have gone up and some of the more poor groups can’t afford to buy it (true).

Why isn’t there any mention of overpopulation?  Why is there never any mention of how these local economies have sold themselves out for the export money (at our behest) and thus have lost the ability to be self sufficient with their agriculture?  Why doesn’t anyone mention that Bangladesh is the same size as Wisconsin or Arkansas but they have either 30 times or 75 times as many people as those two states?  Is that sustainable?  There never seems to be an mention of how badly the politicians in those countries have managed their countries.  There’s never any blame on the people themselves for allowing their food security to become so compromised.

Greenpa speculates in his blog post that financial traders could be the cause of some of the price increases.  He’s right, people speculate and “invest” in the food markets all the time, and have for a long time.  Do we need to get rid of it?  I don’t know.  It would seem like the prudent thing to do would be to keep food supplies out of the arena of speculators.   Of course, without the commodity exchanges and these “speculators” our food supplies would be completely local and we wouldn’t ever see food being exchanged around the world.

I think the repercussions from that would be much, much worse than what the world is seeing now.

Quote from Barack Obama

Last night’s debate was a horrible, horrible joke (from what I’ve been reading) but Obama was able to get in this nice blast today about it.

Here is a quote from Obama regarding the debate from last night, which was abysmal from what I’ve been reading in the news.

“I will tell you it does not get more fun than these debates. They are inspiring debates. I think last night we set a new record because it took us 45 minutes before we even started talking about a single issue that matters to the American people.

It took us 45 minutes — 45 minutes before we heard about health care, 45 minutes before we heard about Iraq, 45 minutes before we heard about jobs, 45 minutes before we heard about gas prices.

Now, I don’t blame Washington for this because that’s just how Washington is. They like stirring up controversies and getting us to play gotcha games and getting us to attack each other. And I’ve got to say Sen. Clinton looked in her element,” – Barack Obama, in Raleigh, today.

Gotta love a guy who can get in a quick little jab like that.