We always talked about finding a dog that would chase out rabbits, squirrels, and gophers. Then one lucky day, Mother Nature brought us this perfect creature, who turned out to be everything we had hoped for in a dog and more.
Before we realized that this one single coyote had been quietly entering the food forest every evening, we noticed that the rabbits, squirrels and gophers had disappeared from the garden!
At first we didn’t know why the small garden gourmands no longer ate up all of our seedlings and fruit, but we were glad to be able to take down these protective (but unattractive) seedling fences and the protective netting from our fruit trees! They were no longer needed 🙂
Once we realized that the deer-dog was responsible for pest control on the food forest, we were amazed and grateful for its presence.
We affectionately named it “Deer-dog” since it looks like a deer mixed with a dog and eats both vegetables and animals, and because of the double-entendre “Dear-dog” because we love it!
Here’s a video clip of deer-dog stalking an insect one evening recently. It was a grasshopper or a cricket or something along those lines.
Let us count the ways we love our coyote, Deer-dog!
It eats rabbits, squirrels, and gophers from our garden. No more need to build separate fences around our seedlings or netting over our fruit trees!!
Since the day it ate a crow, the crows became afraid to come back to our garden!!
It eats grasshoppers right out of the air!!
It eats fruit that has fallen to the ground and begun to rot, thus keeping the grounds clean. When nectarines and apricots fell to the ground, the deer-dog ate the fruit and spit the clean seeds back onto the ground!!
It never appears during visits from our human guests!!
It sleeps outside under a tree and guards the premises 24-7 for incoming animals that might otherwise be devouring the plants!!
It requires no extra insurance from the homeowner’s insurance company, no city license, no pet food, no entertainment, and no visits to the vet!!
It walks itself and it even practices yoga – we’ve seen it doing the “downward dog”!!
It doesn’t wake us up in the morning and never needs to be let out of the house!!
Its solid waste is comprised of natural ingredients and feeds the garden, so requires no clean up!!
It takes care of itself if we go on vacation or a day trip!!
If a coyote comes into your garden, remember our story, treasure it and be glad for its help!
By watching the video below, you can be with permaculture master Geoff Lawton as he leads us into the peaceful, abundant future we could all share on planet Earth!
In this must-see video, he shows how the inhabitants of Zaytuna Farm live in an abundant, peaceful, earthly paradise that they designed and created!
Not only has Geoff demonstrated once again how to work in harmony with plants and animals to create quick abundance for all, but he also shows the way to work collectively and peacefully with other human beings to complete the circle of abundance.
Some highlights in this video include:
harvest and save water
Use gravity to irrigate slopes, create ponds, dams, and a rice-patty.
Use dribbler pipes and swivel pipes.
How they garden on a floating garden raft in a pond
How Muscovie Ducks add fertilizer to the water that flows to water the plants.
How Turkeys and Cattle enjoy life while adding benefits to the ecosystem.
Anaerobic bacteria releasing iron oxide on the surface of run-off water.
recycle and re-purpose old things for new uses
create quick kitchen gardens
Geoff’s perspective about “Designed-Disturbance”, which explains how sometimes permaculture design requires us to disturb the surface of the earth to direct and capture water
How chickens like to work as minor disturbers, helping create food forests and how they enclose chickens with fencing and move the chickens throughout the food forests.
See a favorite hand tool called a rice-knife that they use to cut, chop-and-drop.
See gardens, food forests, interns working,
See plant-nurseries, the children’s nursery, worm farms, composting systems.
See unusual yet wonderful crops that are easy to grow.
Hear how they disfavor plants they don’t want and favor the plants they do want.
See a fun, unscripted scene featuring Geoff’s dog Possum, who rounds up and captures a wayward chicken and waits for Geoff to come pick it up and put it back into the coop where it belongs!
Hear Geoff’s straightforward advice on how to choose land for your permaculture system.
Tips on earth works, using a cover crop of japanese millet and cow pea covers bare earth that was dug only two months earlier.
Observe how the plants perform and respond to more and less fertile areas of the landscape.
He finishes by walking through a natural forest, where he loves to visit and observe.
Plus you get to enjoy Geoff’s pleasant personality throughout the video.
The official start of Spring is just days away, and gorgeous healthy weeds are popping up everywhere. We have dandelions, thistles, spurge, mares tails and a wide variety of other volunteers that I can’t even name growing right up through the mulch! What I’ve come to love about these volunteers is that they are really here to help. They get the garden started where nothing is growing, creating healthy nitrogen-rich leaves, and breaking up heavy clay soil with their roots! See here how useful these gardening allies are for creating crumble, friable soil where once we had dense clay! I’ve been enjoying time in the garden, listening to the birds sing, breathing in the fresh air and getting exercise as I pull up weeds and drop seeds or small seedlings in the holes left behind, burying the seeds or seedlings back up and then tearing up the leaves and dropping them for mulch. I give some of the dandelions leaves to the turkeys too – they are very fond of eating dandelions! I’ve been planting lots of corn seeds because I still have a huge bag of corn seeds left over from last years crop, even after we ate a lot of fresh corn, froze some, and popped some. This year, I hope we can sell some too! Well that’s our post for today – when you pull out weeds, replace them with seeds (or seedlings) of your preference!
Break off the flowers and seed pods from the weeds for disposal before you drop the leaves back on the ground, if you wish to prevent more weeds from self-propagating.
Wintertime doesn’t stop the food forest from richly producing abundance!
The great freedom of having a forest-style garden is how easy it is to get an abundant harvest!
Here’s a list of the “work” we have done this winter:
Please note: This “work” can also be thought of as fun, good exercise, an opportunity to enjoy being in nature, and an opportunity to create a healthy oasis for life!
Broadcast last summer’s seeds onto the forest floor before a rainstorm – easy! Stroll through the garden with a bag of seeds in hand, sprinkling them onto the mulch as you go, then let the rain wash the seeds down through the mulch where they will germinate when the weather warms up.
Prune the pecan and almond trees to keep them shorter so we can easily harvest from them next year – top pruning takes about 1 hour per tree at most, and if you do it every winter, the tree begins to take the shape you want – we like umbrella shapes, so we prune off the branches that are growing up too tall for us to reach. Here’s a link to our post about why we prune in winter:
Other than that, THE FOOD FOREST GROWS BY ITSELF – check it out…
ONIONS AND GARLIC
The delicious green garlic tops and onion tops are in season now. The roots will survive a frost, especially when covered with mulch so the soil doesn’t freeze.
A A A A single clove of garlic will multiply into a whole bulb of garlic in 1 year.
We enjoy eating these gorgeous purple cherries, seeds and all, either fresh from the bushy trees, added to oatmeal for breakfast, or dehydrated as snacks. The turkeys love eating them too. Every winter they produce abundantly – with no effort from us.
LEMONS, ORANGES, AND TANGERINES
These trees are worth planting if they grow in your area, because they produce useful delicious fruit for decades! Plant them now and your grandchildren will thank you later 🙂
Each January, these trees produce a large crop, and smaller crops throughout the year.
For more on Macadamia Nuts, please see our post from 2016:
You don’t have to meticulously plant seeds in your soil and cover them back up! They will sprout if you toss them out on top of the mulch on the forest floor and wait for the rainwater to germinate them.
During summer of 2016, our beets, carrots, onions, lettuces, arugula, flax, basil, parsley, etc. produced thousands of seeds!!! That is way too many seeds to plant individually.
We experimented this summer by broadcasting thousands of our own seeds onto the mulch layer to see if they would come up. Why shouldn’t they? Weed seeds easily sprout up through mulch. We tossed out the seeds right onto the mulch surface and left them there for a couple of months. When the rain came in autumn, they sprouted.
One of the most important aspects of a forest is the covering of organic material on the forest floor. Our soil is covered about 1/2″ – 1″ deep in a variety of organic mulch.
Some people think that you have to part the mulch to plant the seeds in the soil underneath. This may be true for certain larger seeds like corn or pumpkin, but this was not the case for our tiny seeds.
One day, just as the seedlings were starting to appear, many crows landed on the forest floor and started digging up the seeds. After chasing them away, we placed this dragon kite in a tree near the seedlings.
This dragon kite scared the crows so much that they haven’t come back into the garden since we hung it in this tree!Apparently crows are afraid if you hang a DEAD BIRD on a tree or a pole for them to see. Now the crows fly by, and when they see this scary dragon kite which looks like a dead bird, they cry out with a fearful CAW and they won’t land anywhere near it! Even our pet turkeys are afraid of this kite and moan fearfully when they see it!
Compared to our first scarecrow, which didn’t seem to do anything at all – this has been amazing!
Here are more seedling pictures.
We hope you are happy to learn about how easy it can be to plant seeds when you have a food forest!
We wish you Peace, Abundance, and – let’s say it together – Aloha!
Hügelkultur is a German word meaning “hill culture”. Simply put, it’s a way to speed up the decay of fallen branches, logs, twigs, canes, vines, or any other dead vegetation by covering it with soil. Once its covered with soil, the diverse soil-dwelling life-forms feed from the vegetation as they decompose it, creating richer, moister soil as they feed.
Hügelkultur is not a new concept!
For thousands of years, people worldwide have imitated nature by creating hügelkulturs. Our modernized world nearly forgot about this process until recently, when world-famous permaculture experts Sepp Holzer, Paul Wheaton and Geoff Lawton brought the practice into the limelight and now promote it as a perfect practice for working in harmony with Earth.
Practicing hügelkultur achieves these results:
Hide the garden’s unsightly “dead” vegetation
Feed the soil-dwelling life-forms that help your garden flourish
Enrich garden soil as vegetation decomposes
Release moisture into the garden soil
Hügelkultur works in synergy with earth’s natural processes!
Hügelkultur happens all the time in nature. When a forest tree falls to the ground, fungi, microbes and insects feed on it as they help to decompose the tree into rich humic soil. It once was a tree, but it becomes part of the soil that feeds plants with rich nutrients.
Hügelkultur works all around the Earth!
Hügelkultur works in all environments – from snowy mountain tops to rain forests, to deserts.
Since our climate is dry and we get very little rain, we have learned how to use hugelkultur to benefit our food forest, and here is what we’ve learned.
How to Optimize Hügelkultur for Arid-Climate Gardens
In dry climates, if you lay a pile of fallen vegetation on the ground uncovered – it will take years or decades to decompose.
If you cover that same pile of vegetation with soil, and it will decompose faster, but if it’s not completely covered, that will delay the process.
For our first hügelkultur, we followed this diagram we found on Wikipedia. This method didn’t work too well for us in our dry climate, although it works well in moist climates.
We had a pile of branches sitting on top of the ground, so we dug up some soil from elsewhere in the garden and covered the pile with the soil. We didn’t cover all of the vegetation completely, so some branches stuck out. Over time, the soil settled down further, which exposed even more of the vegetation. After a year or two, we covered the pile with more soil, but that pile ended up taking years to become a rich garden bed.
Here’s how the unburied pile looked a couple years later – in the lower left area of the picture – it still had not decomposed!
The next hügelkultur we made, we completely buried the spent vegetation into the ground, and found that the soil rapidly became fertile. In the picture above, where you see pumpkin vine, potatoes, and corn – all growing vigorously – that’s the hügelkultur where we completely buried the vegetation, which rapidly decomposed and jump-started the soil with new life!
Here’s how the process works:
Rake any sheet mulch to the side to expose bare dirt. Set the mulch aside to use on top of the completed hügelkultur.
Dig your trench deep and long enough to hold the spent vegetation.
Beginning with the largest pieces, fill the trench with your fallen branches, twigs, canes, vines, leaves, manure, fruit and veggie peels.
Cover the vegetation back up with the soil you dug out of the trench. Our chunky clay soil needs a soaking of hose-water to help settle it in. Water the pile to help settle it, then cover the pile with mulch.
That’s it – you’ve completed the hügelkultur.
We had great success planting garlic cloves on the mounds immediately, and in the following spring our seeds grew vigorously in their new home.
Practicing Hügelkultur allows us to recycle our forest vegetation and enrich our soil with little expense or effort.
Top 10 Reasons to Practice Hügelkultur in an Arid-Climate Garden:
1. The trench you place the material into will also serve as a water reservoir in times of rain, capturing water for the water table
2. Broken and trimmed branches and other forest material transform into humic garden soil
3. Provide food for the soil-dwelling creatures
4. Release moisture into the soil as it decomposes
5. Sequester carbon into the soil and reduce carbon in our atmosphere
6. Requires less work than chipping or shredding material – especially larger branches and logs
7. As a raised-bed substitute, it requires no wood frame structure. 8. Just bury the material once, and leave it alone – enjoy the results for years to come. 9. Increases soil health and nutrition in the form of humic soil, which helps plants thrive. 10. Burning your fallen vegetation may be dangerous and will cause the potential humus to go up in smoke and release carbon into the atmosphere. Hauling it away requires a truck burning fossil fuel to carry it somewhere else. Burying it is free and helps planet Earth!
Do’s and Don’ts: Creating Hügelkulturs in Arid Climates
Do dig a hole deep and long enough to hold your material and to leave you with enough soil to cover it back up.
Do leave the soil you dig up next to the trench, so it will be close to the trench when you’re ready to back-fill.
Do cover the material completely with soil.
Don’t leave any of the material sticking out of the soil, as it will wick away your moisture and lengthen the decomposing time.
Do include fruit & veggie peels, grass clippings, green weeds (no seeds), leaves and a little sprinkling of manure (if available) for a nitrogen source.
Do be mindful of any seeds you may be adding to the pile in the form of weeds or spent flower heads.
Do add only those seeds you want to see growing next season!
Do cover the soil mound with organic mulch such as leaves, straw, chipped material or compost.
Do water the mound to help settle it – unless you prepare the mound just before a rain!
Here’s a quick look at a Hügelkultur we created:
Look for an upcoming post on where to position a Hügelkultur to be most helpful to existing plants and trees.
Walking past the macadamia tree this morning, I noticed a lot of nuts on the ground.
I started gathering them in my pocket, then looked up into the tree and noticed these babies were ready to pick! Instead of a pocket to hold the nuts, I needed a shopping bag 🙂
They are completely ripe when the husk turns brown and releases the nut. These are about to fall to the ground.
I noticed that some creatures were starting to eat some of the nuts, which tells me it’s time to harvest them.
Here the husks have opened, and you can see the nuts, so they are ready to harvest.
These are not yet ready to pick, because the husks haven’t split open yet.
Here are some pictures of the heavy shopping bag containing the macadamia nut harvest.
They can’t stay in the bag or they will get moldy. They need to dry out for a couple of days, and then I can take off the green husks.
Here’s my system for drying:
I use these trays that you get from nurseries when you buy seedlings.
I keep these old nursery pots full of rocks I collected from the food forest. The rocks collect heat during the day and release it during the night, so they accelerate the drying process. Bricks work the same way.
I line the nursery trays with brown paper so the nuts don’t fall through. Paper is a good choice because it will allow air to flow through it.
Pouring them into the trays. A single layer of nuts will dry more quickly.
Here’s where they will stay until the husks dry out and then I’ll take the husks off. I leave the husks on for a few extra days in case they will help the nut to mature a little more. The husks will leave me with a new pile of organic material to lay out on the forest floor or to use as a dye.
Once the husks are off, the nuts will continue to dry for a few weeks. Test to see if they are fully dry by shaking the nut. When the nuts are fully dry, you should hear the nut rattling inside the shell.
Some of the nuts have already sprouted and can be planted in the pots to grow into seedlings.
Macadamias are delicious raw or roasted. Salted or unsalted. Eat them by the handful or use them in baking and cooking. A local grocery store sells the popular shelled macadamia nuts for $16.99 per pound.