Putting the Garden to Bed (compost, adding new beds, bulbs, and there’s no place like home)

Gardening need not be expensive nor incredibly difficult.  By necessity I have come up with ways to make widespread, prolific gardens quickly and easy on the homestead pocket.

The first thing that is imperative to a great garden is compost.  Compost is one of those things that still baffles folks a little.  You do not need a fancy, turning contraption to make compost.  Doug screwed together five pallets to make two open spaces and it is tucked into a far corner of the yard.

20180710_160935

The chicken coop certainly adds to it.  In the fall the chicken bedding gets changed and the soiled straw goes into compartment one.  For six months I add leaves, coffee grounds, lint from the dryer, food the chickens don’t like, and it builds up.  Repeat in the spring, only use compartment 2.  Put on the garden beds what you began six months ago and do this in the spring and fall.  I do not turn the compost or water it or do anything to it really.  It just does it’s thing.  If it smells, add dry material like straw or newspaper or leaves.  If it is not decomposing at all, add more wet items like food scraps or grass.  Let the chickens play in it, they scratch it up nicely.

Time to clean out the garden beds.  I let the plants go to seed.  Next year Mother Earth will grow dill, basil, carrots, spinach, arugula, and many other plants for me.  Everything is pretty well frozen and quite deceased so out they go and into the compost.  Perennials and winter greens stay put.

20181028_142403

Add a layer of compost.  Then a layer of warm straw.  Not thick enough to suppress weeds (because the water won’t get in) but enough to keep the soil cozy.

Jpeg
When we first moved in.
20181030_082316
Now

I have a third of an acre here and I am only gardening a quarter of it.  But, we haven’t even been in this house two years; the changes in this property over that time have been impressive.  As always, I want more garden beds!

20180710_070506
These easy beds create abundant crops and very few weeds!

20181030_08240020181030_082356

This is my own design; a very easy gardening bed that combines many great techniques.  Lay out cardboard where you want your bed.  No need to rototill or disturb the beneficial guys underground.  Ring with wood you have on hand, rocks, bricks, anything really, use your imagination!  Then top with a 2 inches of thick straw.  You can add your compost and soil now or wait until spring.

20181030_082412

I am adding a bed that runs alongside the other one and putting an arbor over them.  Next year I will grow pumpkins over them (and will try to outsmart the squash bugs).  It will create an enchanted walk through that leads to the house or the gardens while freeing up space in the garden.  Pumpkin Hollow Farm is moving up!

Plant tulip and daffodil bulbs and lots of garlic cloves.

Everything looks great!  The garden is put to bed, the new spring beds are ready for next year, and the perennials are snug in straw.  Bulbs are planted, muscles are tired, and the farmer is happy.

All this wondering what to do now that I don’t have my businesses.  Should I go to school?  Should I get a job outside my writing?  Should I…?  And as I spent the day hauling compost, designing beds, standing in the next herb garden, dreaming, being present, working hard, I realized that this is what I want to do.  This is where my heart is happy.  At home.  Creating home.

Improving My Quick Garden Bed Method and Marvelous Summer

20180717_075151There were pros and cons to my quick raised beds but overall they are a success.  I had first put down a layer of cardboard, surrounded it with logs, then put in thick slabs of straw, then compost, then organic gardening soil.  The whole thing cost about twelve bucks.

20180717_075242
This row was planted directly in the soil and is doing just as well as the beds but has a lot more bind weed!

At the beginning I quickly realized that I didn’t have enough gardening soil but was tapped out of funds so couldn’t get more.  It took a lot longer to water because I think too much sand (we have sandy soil) got into my compost.  Don’t forget to check your beds after watering.  It should be wet to your second knuckle.  Beds can be deceiving, they look wet, but aren’t!  I will add more soil this fall or next spring to build up the bed.

20180717_075209

The second issue was an obvious one, but I didn’t think about it.  Some of the corn has to be staked up with re bar because the roots can’t get through the cardboard.  The beds aren’t that deep and the straw takes up most of the space.  So, some of the deeper reaching plants can’t get enough space and nutrients.  They are doing fine now though.

20180717_075322
The potatoes are prolific planted directly in the soil.

The weeds certainly found their way through the cardboard but not nearly as bad as in the regular beds.  I have had a much easier season this year with much less work keeping the beds clear of weeds.

20180717_075300_Burst01

20180717_07533820180717_075405My yard looks pretty and more organized with the makeshift beds.  Doug can mow easier around them.  It’s been so incredibly hot and dry here that the grass all died early in the season, but at least the weeds are green!  Because of the early heat, my spring crops came up (if they came up) and promptly died or went to seed.  I will be planting the same crops today as fall crops and hoping for better luck.  I need radishes!

20180717_075414
I planted a tomato seedling in the porch planter and it is doing amazing!

This fall I will build more of these beds and let them sit for the winter before planting in them.  How quickly logs (that I can still use in the wood stove this winter) and railroad ties make creative beds.  I like the look of them.  The bark gently peeling off, the varying colors, the moist soil within.

20180717_075348

20180717_075436The lizards dart here and there, drinking water from small leaves.  The birds come for their seeds.  And the cooler morning breeze rustles the sunflowers into dance. I hope you are all enjoying your gardens.  How I love summer!

 

How to Make Raised Garden Beds Easily and On the Cheap

I pour myself more sludge (strong coffee) as I write, the world encompassed in white, me not trying not to fall under SAD (seasonal affective disorder), knowing in a few weeks I will be planting those first seeds.

I told you that I was going to move the garden to the backyard because zoning had come by last fall and given me a warning post-garden to clean up my front yard into fancy neighborhood status.  I thought it would be easier to grow grass and flowers in the front yard and fence off a 25×25 designated garden in the back yard.  Enter large puppy, large expense for fencing, and here I am back in the front yard.

The weeds last year were incredible.  I have never seen lamb’s quarters ten feet tall!  I have never experienced mallow whose roots may actually tickle the top of Australia.  I was humbled.  This year I know we will still have weeds (they are medicine and food, but they do like to take over the world some…) but this year I will be a little better prepared.  Even though my crops did great in their sandy, never-been-gardened spaces I did want to amend the soil.  Did I mention on the cheap?  Because I never have as much extra money for gardening as I think I will!

This first-of-several beds coming this spring is a combination of everything I have learned over the years.  It is part Hugelkultur, part Permaculture, part straw bale gardening, part raised bed, part ingenious way to use what I have on hand.

20180217_113339

First I laid down sheets of cardboard.  Cardboard will break down within one season but it will help immensely in keeping weeds down.  I sure wish I hadn’t sent all that cardboard to recycling!  I would have layered on a few extra sheets of cardboard if I had it.

20180217_113351

I thought of large stones.  I thought of cinder blocks.  I thought of 2x4s.  I checked the bank account, and went into the back yard to see what I could find!  I have large limbs from the dying Elm tree that were ready for firewood.  We have lots of wood right now and these are so beautiful with the bark still on them.  They were easy to place in an 18×4 rectangle (with the help of my husband) to create a frame.

20180217_142127

Then two to three inch slabs of straw went on top of that.  The straw will suppress more weeds, will create an airy environment for the seedlings, will break down and become mulch and amendments, and helps fill the space so I didn’t have to buy so much garden soil.

Next went on pails of finished compost.  It never fails to amaze me that a banana peel in six months becomes dirt.  That scraps, and straw, and grass clippings, and chicken straw, and everything I put out there turns into rich, dark compost.  I won’t have enough for all the beds I am planning on putting in but I can purchase mushroom compost pretty cheap once I run out of my own.  It is only for this year.  From here on out my own compost will act as fertilizer in spring and fall sprinkled on the beds.  I won’t need quite as much.

20180219_172941

Then went on five bags of organic gardening soil.  I wanted to get it spread on the new bed now because it will have a few weeks to settle into the straw.  I want to make sure I don’t lose seeds in the settling soil!  We will know in a few weeks if I need more soil.

20180219_173204

The tiny trees I planted are in the tomato cages.  They will be watered regularly by being in the garden bed.  Once they grow nice and tall in as many years and begin to shade the patch, the patch can move.  Gardening is as much about flexibility as it is growing food.  Nature will work with you.  The main idea is to improve the soil and to create as many perennials so that each year we have more and more food and we are helping the soil regain health.

Done!  Now, the straw will try to sprout but the grasses easily pull out.  If a weed makes it through eight inches of cardboard, straw, and soil, it, too, will be easy to pull out.  At the end of the season I will pour some leaves, straw from the chicken coop, etc on top, and blend it in come spring.

*Side note- the empty soil bags will be set around perennial herbs and bushes with straw or wood chips placed over.  Weeds will not get through them!

Grab another cup of coffee, Folks, and hang in there.  We are almost back in the garden…

 

A Great Farming Book and Why Every One of Us Needs a Garden

pumpkin hollow

With very little work I am still pulling out baskets of tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, beans, squash, and greens from the gardens.  The nights are getting cool enough that tonight I will need to bring in the houseplants.  Crickets still sing for summer as I write.  These gardens have been such a lovely respite.  They didn’t cost much to start or maintain and if I did have more money for amendments it would have been even more prolific.  Each year the soil will get better and better with techniques I have learned over the years from organic gardening and permaculture.  I am still learning.

A garden is not just a hobby.  It is one of the most fundamentally important things we ought to be doing.  To provide really fresh, nutritious food without chemicals and without the oil needed to produce, package, and ship our food from across the world is imperative to the health of our beautiful earth, and in a time of epidemic chronic disease, imperative for our own health too.

book

Miraculous Abundance; One Quarter Acre, Two French Farmers, and Enough Food to Feed the World by Perrine and Charles Herve-Gruyer is a lovely guide filled with inspiration and ideas.  By simply focusing our energies on the soil and improving it we then let nature grow all of the food.  We are the helpers, not the geniuses behind food production!

The author states, “If we want to live sustainably on this planet, a growing number of people will have to reconnect with the land and produce food for themselves and the community….But the farmers of tomorrow will not come from the agricultural class that has been reduced to near extinction; they will come from the cities, offices, shops, factories, and more….Their farms will be places of healing, of beauty, and of harmony.”  The farms will be in front yards, in the country, on balconies; we will have to find a way to feed all of us because the current food model is killing us and killing the earth.  Period.

basket

Our yard in the city is the equivalent of four city lots, or just under a third of an acre.  We have utilized very little of it this year and are still producing all of our own produce for our week’s meals plus some for canning.  I have purchased the rest of the vegetables for putting up from local farmers, thereby boosting my local economy and putting food up for our winter meals.  I have chickens for eggs in the city and just purchased a goat share so that I can get plenty of fresh milk to drink and make cheese and other dairy products.  I trade classes or spend my grocery money on fresh meat from my friends that are ranchers.  Now I just need to get staples.  I save money, eat better, and support my local friends and farmers.  This is the model that we may all have to follow sooner or later.  Unsustainable systems are doomed to fail, and Honey, if you look at our food and medical systems….better plant some comfrey and Oregon grape root while you’re at it.

But we can do this!  We can support each other and help each other with knowledge and tool sharing, with friendship and bartering.  What can you plant next year?

 

The Enchanting Urban Homestead (a field trip, class, and future)

IMG_1388

Farmgirl school is supposed to be uplifting, inspirational, and full of fun and hope.  It is also about our life so I suppose not everything can be as such but I inadvertently caused a storm of emotions for many people across the continent and beyond in empathy for us.  We want you to know that we just do not have the extra strength or energy it would take to rip out the wood stove, pipes, fittings and fix the ceiling at this point.  We have no emotional attachment to the stove.  Our hundreds of plants will feed the local wildlife and a lot of hungry girl scouts that are coming Monday to take home a transplant since they helped create the garden in the first place!  We are not sad over these things any longer.  With the encroaching wind mills and the negativity here we are more than ready to head out on our next journey.  So let’s get back to the inspiration and hope part of this blog!  Yesterday we visited a lovely urban homestead that was so enchanting and complete that I am ready to get back into the city.  We were there taking a cob building class to make outdoor structures.  Doug and Chris will be creating a chicken coop, bread oven, and who knows what else!  Tomorrow I will take you through our class to learn to make cob.  But today I want to take you through the enchanted homestead of my friend, Niko and his wife, Brandi at Folkways Farm.  

IMG_1422

IMG_1498

It wasn’t very long ago that I wrote a blog post about Old Colorado City (which is a bike ride away from where we are going to live) and that is where we headed this fine evening.  I met Niko three years ago when Joel Salatin came to speak at a local farm.  He sat with me and Nancy and we talked all things homesteading, about his family, his work as a cobb builder, and we told him about our adventures in homesteading.  I later ran into him building a yurt with our friend when we went to visit the goat she bought from us, and then at the homesteading store, and then…well, you get the picture.  We were meant to meet.

His beautiful wife held their youngest daughter on her hip and spoke freely with the guests.  His middle daughter came up to me and took me with her on a tour of the “forest” where a silent cat lay secretly in the high weeds below trees.  They are easy people, barefoot, comfortable in their surroundings and self and I was instantly drawn to them.

They have created an oasis in town, a secret place of sustenance and wealth.  Herb gardens, Permaculture gardens of food, honey bees, goats, a shed-barn, and places to get lost and read or dream or be.  The plot of land is about the same size as the one we are moving to and I was so inspired and overwhelmed with ideas and joy.

IMG_1506

The cob structures look to be out of a fairy tale.  A sweet chicken coop stands off the back porch.  Another is a bit more elaborate and whimsical.  It is a chicken coop with a bread oven on the side.  One could start a fire in the cooking area to heat the coop on the coldest nights while making some delicious thin crust pizzas.  A door on the other side lets the chickens out to wander a closed in area that felt roomy and lush.  A towering apple tree above provided shade.

IMG_1504

IMG_1423

IMG_1503

IMG_1505

IMG_1403

IMG_1400

IMG_1398

IMG_1399

IMG_1392

IMG_1390

IMG_1397

IMG_1395

The greenhouse built in the back yard was a structure of fine art and skill, a transporting place out of the cold.  A place for tea and books in autumn and a place to grow starts in the spring.  All made from reclaimed windows, mesh, wood, straw, clay, sand, water, manure, and painted with beautiful slips.  Niko is an artist above being a builder.

IMG_1419

IMG_1406

IMG_1402

IMG_1410

IMG_1420

IMG_1415

IMG_1414

IMG_1412

IMG_1418

IMG_1417

IMG_1416

IMG_1421

One can meander from the front herb garden, past the vegetable gardens, visit the bees, duck under the apple tree, wade through weeds and medicinal herbs, follow a path past the goat yard, past bins of delicious compost, a pile of wood, the beautiful green house, wave to the chickens, pass the hemp plants growing tall for fiber, onto the back porch to sit a spell, and visit with the kind family that lives there.

IMG_1494

IMG_1502

IMG_1442

IMG_1429

IMG_1428

IMG_1439

IMG_1497

IMG_1479

IMG_1437

IMG_1404

IMG_1389

IMG_1411

IMG_1409

I spoke with Jillian at the end of the class.  She wanted to make sure that I considered our new venture to be our homestead. I asked what if we jumped forward fifty years and there we still were and her then much older daughter would mention to visitors that her crazy aunt lives in the back.  “That would be fine,” Jillian replied.

And so begins our urban farm adventure.

Farmgirl School Part 3 (cottages, mountains, and Permaculture)

Doug holding one of the cows we were treating

Farmgirl School began while looking out the French doors onto a barren back yard in a small town.  Two dogs slept behind me as I set up the WordPress site.  What to name it?  It seemed perfect.  I needed a school!  Things that we were not taught growing up in the city were difficult to learn, we often did it the hard way, and the adventures were funny and informative to write about.  Our first garden there was short and compact.  We didn’t water enough.  By the third summer there we were quite a spectacle when folks drove down the main road in front of our house.  There we were among honey bees, watering the expansive pumpkin patches along with all the other vegetables that had taken over the yard.  The corn field in the driveway, the raised beds, the chicken in the front yard that wasn’t supposed to be there, the goats in the back yard.  The ducks playing in their pool.  It was quite a blissful place there in town.

IMG0129A

IMG_2839

Last fall we moved to a homestead without heat, without any luxuries, and made our way chopping wood, hauling water, taking care of sheep, goats, and chickens.  We worked and toiled through hail and cold to put in a half an acre garden, and donned our accomplishments with peace and pride.  So the delusional insinuations and the suddenly suburb-same rent was a blessing, it turns out. (As these things always do.)  The most we lost was all of our money and a tiny piece of our sanity.  As I write a looming picture comes to view, a futuresque, Tim Burton style Holland appears all across the horizon, and amazingly close to this property, a windmill farm threatens my beautiful owls and the equilibrium of the occupants in this area.  Well, the lessons we learned here were great.  We realize that nature provides.  A willow tree can provide food at its base, water nearby, medicine in its branches, and shelter from storms.  And it turns out we didn’t need so much stuff!  The owners of this property will be gifted with the lovely wood stove we put in and a half an acre of food.  I hope it blesses them and that they will find happiness.

IMG_2825

And now we are off to Part 3 of Farmgirl school.  I felt suddenly saddened that I may not have anything else to write about, that our farming, homesteading, living sustainably, poetical outlet was finished.  This blog seems to be a bit of a life force for me.  I so look forward to waking with the sun to write about our adventures, to teach, to learn from readers, to ignite friendships around the world.  And I am so pleased to announce our next step of this adventure.

pikes peak

Remember in January when the house was forty-five degrees and we could see our breath because the wood cook stove in the kitchen didn’t actually heat the house?  We escaped to the Indian Hot Springs that day in the mountains and soaked in the warm pool.  There were two girls there that just seemed like light filled spirits and I had to go tell them how lovely they were.  One of the ladies, Jillian, contacted me a few months later and signed up for the herbalism course.  Each week I see her and when it was apparent we had to leave here she had a brilliant idea that she and her husband, Chris, pitched to me and Doug over drinks on a patio of a historic hotel at the base of Pikes Peak.  A co-homestead.

2 sis

They close on a bed and breakfast in Manitou Springs in three weeks.  The beautiful old inn is a smiling Victorian in town with a wee cottage in back.  One room will be available through Air B&B on weekends.  They will inhabit the upstairs and most of the downstairs.  A large area with a classroom is being set up for our respective classes.  We can see a large blackboard with that week’s specials on it that Jillian and I lovingly prepare en masse once a week in the larger kitchen.  She is a baker and a great cook.  You all already know my obsessions with great food and cooking techniques.  Perhaps I will finish that Sommelier Certification.  We have great plans for feeding our families.  A large root cellar and pantry downstairs will hold our hundreds of preserved foods and root cellared items.  We will don our aprons and create sustenance for winter.

IMG_1286

The men are heading to a cobb making workshop Thursday to learn to build an outdoor kitchen, bread oven, and hobbit style chicken coop.  They are planning the infrastructure of the new urban farm.  Chris is planning a party where the local experts on Permaculture and sustainable gardening come and mingle and note where things might work well in the new garden to be.  The large u-shaped driveway will become a meandering, lush oasis of food and teaching.  We can glean knowledge from these folks that have done this before and then take our own ideas and create this garden complete with a greenhouse (and possibly a solar heated hot tub within!).  The three of us have taken Permaculture classes but need to just put it into place with our hands.  They have learned more than I and I am excited to have new teachers all around me.

cottage 2

The cottage is three hundred square feet.  It is, um, quaint.  And enchanting, and challenging, and cozy.  A Snow White cottage in the middle of town surrounded by trees and lilacs.  It’s pink, and has shutters, and window boxes.  It is the playhouse I always wanted!

Half a block away is the main strip of shops and restaurants in this historic town that nestles at the base of our favorite mountain.  My great, great, great uncle was Zebulon Pike and my adventurous spirit comes from the lines of pioneers before me!

We will be warm this winter.  We will be visiting farmer’s markets, preserving food, getting honey bees, creating a Permaculture garden, ponds, and a greenhouse.  We’ll have an outdoor kitchen, a traditional horno, chickens, ducks, and herb gardens galore.  We will be co-homesteading, proving that it can work, sharing the load, and creating an oasis here that will inspire and sustain.  Their sweet daughter, Ahna, can enjoy the security and serenity of this place, and Maryjane will be with me two or three days a week where she will be doted on and taught by a whole new family of people.

owl

I changed the name of my herbal school to Sacred Owl School of Original Medicine and will teach classes there.  I’ll tell you more about that later.  We are brimming with ideas and excitement for this new venture.  Even though this place is incredibly breathtakingly beautiful, it seems to always be in a fog, always windy, colder than town, and not really our home after all.

I raise my coffee cup to you, here’s to new adventures on the journey ahead.  Thanks for reading and I can’t wait to see what we will all learn next in Farmgirl School!

Being Set Free (a thrilling week long adventure)

IMG_1289

We are strong believers in karma, whatever you put out will come back, usually ten fold, and we watch ourselves pretty closely.  We really try to put out only positive and happy vibes.  So this came as such a shock to us.  We were so friendly, put so much work and money here, why did we lose so much?  It’s laughably ironic that I write about and that we went from so close to self reliance to completely reliant.  Completely.  Reliant.

As each thing leaves the house I am saddened as it feels that the memory is lost with it too.  Our trip to California, that sweet Christmas gift, antique shopping in Evergreen, our friendships, all walking out the door for practically nothing.  Of course those memories and people are still with me, in the literal or spiritual sense and as we unburden our existence with so many material things, we feel lighter.

And I wonder if the karma coming to us is not bad, it’s a gift.  It’s good.  I have written about our day in the life of a homesteader, and our businesses, and our to-do lists.  They exhaust my friends just reading them.  We are being set free from ourselves!

I am daring to imagine an existence where my morning starts the same, with coffee on the porch with my cat, and writing, but then doesn’t turn into a frenzy of trying to keep up.  In this little cottage we do not need 500+ preserved food items to be put up.  We do not need to chop 4 cords of wood.  We do not have to milk twice a day.  We do not have to make enough money to feed all the hungry farm animals.  We do not have to make cheese and soap and lotion and try to find the strength to do yet another farmer’s market.  We are being set free.  So long have Doug and I worked sun up to sun down with businesses, committees, children, and homesteading.  We love it, but the idea of something different does intrigue us.  If I want to do those some of those things, I can.  If I don’t, then we can walk around town and find ourselves listening to live music in the park on Tuesday nights.  We are being set free.

We will be working on building a tiny house.  We will be co-creating beautiful, practically maintenance-free gardens, we will be teaching, but we will be doing it slowly and methodically in the middle of a town where we can find new teachers and friends and find each other in our honeymoon cottage.  What a gift.

IMG_1085

This week on this blog I would like to write about various ways to set ourselves free.  How to find a closer connection to Creator, mental and emotional releases, herbal teas for spiritual use, easy ways to strengthen the body, to bring back health, to bring on inspiration and to make some dreams start coming true, and just setting ourselves free from anything that weighs us down.  I hope you’ll join me!  It’s going to be a freeing week!

Co-Homesteading and Urban Farms

IMG_1286

I am a writer. Beyond being a gardener, mom, grandma, wife, teacher, or anything else, I am a writer.  This means that all of my business and my family’s business is generally open for all to read.  If I had to keep it to myself, I would fall into the depths of despair or be too giddy with unspoken news.  Sometimes I may give too much information.  Sometimes the information changes daily as I know it.  Sometimes the reader may feel that they are on a rollercoaster if they don’t read the posts in order.  But I don’t mind sharing my life with you.  It is an extraordinary, ordinary life that most people can identify with.  Readers can identify with our losses, heartaches, successes, passions, and emotions.  We have so many cheerleaders out there.  I have been touched by all the letters, messages, and calls to help.  My friends send me Craigslist ads for rentals, folks have offered for us to stay with them, people are buying our things to help us out.  Thank you.

Our income was wrapped up in this farm.  The goats are gone.  I watched the sheep leave.  The chickens left yesterday and I cried and cried.  Our income right now is from selling off everything.  We needed a miracle.  I don’t want to jinx it, but it seems we may have gotten just such a miracle.

Kindred friends buying a piece of property.  A place longing to be an expansive urban farm created through Permaculture.  We see a chicken coop and duck coop rising up near a greenhouse, raised beds filled with delicious foods.  Outlines of perennials and herbs, of fruit trees, and bushes.  Wildlife is abundant in this little town.  We were surprised to see a raccoon walking by and noted to make a stronger coop after we heard of bears.  It is interesting to me that over the years I have written about co-homesteading, sharing the load, creating an oasis that benefits a group and a community.  The urban farming posts are numerous on my blog.  It is almost like I manifested where I am right now and that this was just a lovely, scenic stop on the way.  A way to make us appreciate a much smaller space, a way to make us handle cold better, and help make us appreciate little comforts.

We are long past being able to find a place that allows our animals, finding the money for a deposit, first month’s rent, transfer the cable and internet, hire a moving van, and hope we can stay there for awhile.  We are stepping out of the status quo and the norm and entering a community ideal that is quite different but that I have envisioned for a long time.  It is not a new idea though.  A place where expenses are shared and knowledge is shared and each person brings an important skill set to create such oasis.  A place where no one has to do it on their own anymore.  Where the chores are shared and the gardens are shared and building sustenance for all is shared.  This place is surrounded by really eclectic and talented urban homesteaders and farmers, Permaculture experts, and vibrant people.  Well, from the outside they are called hippies.  Sign me up.

So, here we go.  We are standing on a cliff, armed with my favorite cast iron frying pans, some clothes, and our cats, and are ready to jump off.  Are you with me?

Spring Time Lambs, Seminars, Seeds, and Farming

sustain

We were driving home and heard a commercial on the radio for the Southern Colorado Sustainability and Outdoor Living Expo for this weekend.  We are participating in it so were glad to hear ads for it going out.  They named off different topics that were being spoken about at the fair.  It took me a minute to figure out they were naming off what I was speaking about at the fair!  I started giggling.  I changed my life.  I used to be invited to speak about herbalism.  Which I love, and is fine, but I want to be an herbalist for us and to teach herbalism, not promote my retail business anymore.  So, here I am speaking six times this weekend on homesteading and simple living.  A new start.

fairy38

My dear friend, Margie, bought my business name.  She is the new Garden Fairy.  She was my first student.  She used to run our shop when we were gone.  She is a part of the Celtic Festival in Elizabeth that we are avidly involved in.  She and our families get together for Christmas and see each other when her kids are in town.  She never thinks of herself, only of others.  And I am thrilled that she is taking it over.  So, if I am not the Garden Fairy anymore, who am I, the Pumpkin?  Pumpkin Hollow Farm is our new full time endeavor and it starts full throttle now!

Homestead 101 Cover

Our spring has begun.  My two books are done.  (I have a cookbook coming out in the spring, but that is not too time consuming.)  My promotional materials and work for the farm are done.  The seeds have arrived!

1 lamb

Tomorrow we pick up two darling baby lambs.  Just like with our goat kids they will have collars and leashes and baby bottles for awhile and go with us everywhere until they are old enough to hold their own in the yard.  They will be attending the fair with us this weekend.  I’m sure they will be a hit!  They even made the poster!

IMG_0646

Tomorrow we also get into the garden.  Five rows of four foot by twenty-eight foot beds will be created and formed with bricks or whatever creative pieces I can find laying around the property.  Leaves and coffee grounds and old compost layered in, then topped with hay.  The walkways covered in wood chips.

Today 98 plants will be started, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants and will line the windows with hopes of keeping them hidden from the kittens.

I’ll write about each thing this week!

Spring cleaning and the last orders being filled will take place as well.  Perhaps a little time in the sun.

Spring has sprung and we are now all systems go!

If you would like to go to the Expo this weekend we’d love to see you.  My speaking schedule is as follows but you can also just come by and see our new additions and say hey!

Friday at 3:00- Chickens 101 and Common Chickens Myths

Friday at 5:00- How to Live a Simpler, More Sustainable Life

Saturday at 11:00- Turning Common Weeds into Medicinal Teas

Saturday at 4:00- Smart Gardening; Interplanting and Permaculture

Sunday at 12:00- Chickens 101 and Common Chicken Myths

Sunday at  2:30- How to Live a Simpler, More Sustainable Life

 

Choosing a Garden Design

IMG_0647

It’s been a long time since I had a blank slate.  I am staring out at the fenced in garden.  26×30 sized plot, no beds.  The porch longs to be filled with pots of greens.  The side field will become a pumpkin patch.  Fruit trees will be off of the porch.  The big blank garden space needs life.

We have made the very possibly crazy but incredibly giddy decision to jump ship into full time farming.  Oh the excitement!  But, that means I have a quota in my head of how much produce I need to sell, how much I need to feed us, our intern, our friends, and for events, plus have enough to preserve for the winter.  That kind of glazed over expression sneaks up and I grab another cup of coffee.

circle

I read that circles are the most space savvy way to farm.  How do you find things to border circle slightly raised beds?  I don’t have that many rocks.  My friend recommended a hexagon.  Doug was explaining how much square footage was in a circle bed verses a square.  “Well,” he says, “If pi equals….then the bed would be…..minus the path…”  He sounded like the teacher in Charlie Brown.  wawa..wawa..wa.  Uh, what?  I am not a math girl.  I could be if I wanted to but I was daydreaming about swirly twirly paths of herbs and water features and the new Asian greens bed I am planting.

row

I am going to create this plot in a permaculture fashion.  No rototiller, no digging.  I will outline the beds with rocks, bricks, wood, whatever I can find around and fill them lightly with compost and amended soil.  That will be the basis of my planting.  Two tons of wood chips are on my wish list.  Alas, my daughter has my truck.  Lisa told me to call the utility company.  It’s on my ever growing list!

arbor

But outside of the no digging, building up theory I am stuck in my ways.  I like the look of long rows of potatoes intermingling with garlic and collard greens.  I saw some photos of permaculture farms that do garden that way so I shall too.  I may make it a bit more creative though.  Maybe the lines of the long beds will be a little wavy, like little rivers of vegetables heading down the garden.  A water feature in the middle will add beauty and a water source for visiting bugs and birds.  A handful of arbors will create a walkway to the water feature, yard long beans, squash, and morning glories scampering up their sides.  I can fit 600 square feet of plants in with 1 foot paths minus the water feature area and the walk way.  That’s the kind of math I can understand.  I am so ready to plant.

Spring fever’s got a hold of me!  Would y’all mind checking out my new website for the farm?  Let me know what you think. I am most ridiculously proud and enthusiastic for the next person to ask me, “So what do you do for a living?” “Me? I’m a farmer.”

IMG_2415

http://pumpkinhollowfarm.net