Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Getting Ready for Spring

I have not posted in some time. There are a couple of good reasons for this.

#1: There has been a lot of human caused drama out at the ranch. Bad drama. Drama that I don't want to be a part of. So, rather than elaborate on all that, I am setting my sight on the future, more specifically, spring!

#2. Spring isn't here yet. Drat.

As you can see by the frost on these mesquite logs, it's still too cold at the ranch to plant anything that can't handle a freeze. People in town are probably planting away, but not me. I have all these great raised beds in the Gigantic Garden just waiting. Sure, there's some brocolli, cauliflower, artichoke, rosemary, lavender and trees in there. But I want to plant tomatoes! I want to set in the eggplants! Ugh. It's so difficult to be patient.

It's okay though. There is always something to do out there:

For example, I had some leftover trees from last year's lot delivery. Since I only have a few goats left and about a million--okay maybe about 60 trees--I decided that I am done feeding these crusty, dried up things to my goats.

Did I mention that weeds don't care if there's frost? In the Three Sisters Garden there is a bumper crop of weeds growing between the rows. Permaculture teaches us that these weeds (which appear to be related to the dandelion family) have long tap roots and are nature's way of breaking up compacted soil. True. That soil is compacted because it's a pathway.

These weeds are tasty if you're a chicken or a cow or a goat. But when life gives you dead wood and weeds and you can't plant your seeds yet, oh and half your Three Sisters Garden needs some beds, I say make HUGELKULTUR (and a long, run-on sentence)!

Hugelkultur garden beds are raised beds made of wood, plant trimmings, and dirt. Basically, you build a pile of wood, old, new, rotten, whatever you have on hand (see what types of wood are best in the article link at the end). Then you toss on some organic matter and bury it all in compost and dirt. Plant seeds right away and water.

Does it work? *shrug* Other people online say so. Sepp Holzer wrote a whole book about it. So, I figured since I can't plant all of this stuff:

I might as well make myself useful and pile my trees and pull some weeds. It can't hurt, right? I could stand to lose a few pounds anyways. Hard work is good for the soul.

Here's a pic (above) of the nearly finished hugelkultur bed. Sepp Holzer recommends building these things high, like five feet up! That way you don't have to crouch down to harvest. This one is maybe four feet high. It's being covered with well composted manure/straw and a layer of earth (you can see the trench next to it where the earth came from). Finding enough compost/dirt to cover this is the trick. I did notice some dirt piles near my cows...

My tomato seedlings are excited! Hopefully by the time spring gets here, they'll be ready to live in that hugelkultur. And double hopefully, the hugelkultur will be done and ready. Maybe spring is waiting for me to finish?

For more information about this type of garden, check out this very informative site:

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