Don’t Water – Be Lazier – Feed Yourself – Have a Laugh – Thank You Paul Wheaton!

Aloha Friends!

 

Here’s a smart, funny permaculture talk, if you like that kind of thing.

 

 

Be even lazier!?   Ahhh

 

Feed yourself first?  Ahhh

 

 

Love mycelium, your tap rooted species, your nitrogen fixing species, your food producing species.

 

Hold your water on the land.

 


 

Replace Weeds with Seeds

Aloha Everyone,

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.

Aloha!

Broadcast your Seeds Onto the Forest Floor

Aloha Friends,

We have good news for you!

 

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.

 

Onion seedlings popping up through mulch
Onions sprouting from seed that was broadcast onto the mulch. The seeds germinated when the rains came.

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.

 

Lettuce seeds that landed on top of the mulch sprouted into lettuce plants
Romaine lettuce seeds that landed on top of the mulch sprouted into healthy romaine lettuce plants
Leaf lettuce growing from seed that was tossed out over the mulch on the forest floor
Many varieties of lettuce grow successfully from seed

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.

 

Carrots growing from seeds broadcast on top of the mulch
Up come some carrot seedlings!

 

Carrots thriving on the forest floor after we scattered the seeds and let them grow where they landed!
Carrots thriving on the forest floor after we scattered the seeds and let them grow where they landed!

 

Flax growing from flax seeds that were broadcast onto the surface of the mulch.
Flax growing from flax seeds that were strewn onto the surface of the mulch.

 

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.  

Crows think this Dragon Kite is a DEAD BIRD and won't come near it!
Crows think this Dragon Kite is a DEAD BIRD and won’t come near it!
The dragon kite is simply perched in a tree
The dragon kite is simply perched in a tree

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!

 

 

Aloha Farms food forest Scarecrow - scared us more than it did the crows!
This scarecrow didn’t scare the crows at all! He did, however, startle us at times!

 

 

 

Here are more seedling pictures.

Aloha Farms food forest, where a few onions have now turned into a field of onions - and there's no end in sight!
By planting the roots of green onions from the store after we ate the green tops, the roots grew into large green onion plants, which developed seeds that we distributed around the garden. Now we now have a field of green onions growing, and you can see there are seeds getting ready to create exponentially more onion plants! This is a great picture of nature’s abundance!
Aloha Farms food forest - new green onions growing next to the seed source - the previous generation of onions
See how the seeds of the onions drop all around and new onions begin to grow.
Aloha Farms food forest floor May, 2017 - this is the inside area of the "Middle Garden", which we had previously fenced in with portable fencing to protect the seedlings. In this picture are onions, strawberries, lettuce, and other seedlings that have established themselves on the forest floor, replacing the old weeds.
Aloha Farms food forest floor May, 2017 – this is the inside area of the “Middle Garden”, which we had previously fenced in with portable fencing to protect the seedlings. In this picture are onions, strawberries, lettuce, and other seedlings that have established themselves on the forest floor, replacing the old weeds.

 

Aloha Farms food forest - section of seedlings that we never fenced in and it's doing well! These seeds were planted using the "Replace Weeds with Seeds" method, and the seed-planting took place during a light rain, which was followed by a more substantial rain. Timing the seed-planting with the rain speeds the seedlings growth. We have fewer rabbits & squirrels this year too, which is why they can grow freely!
Aloha Farms food forest – section of seedlings that we never fenced in and it’s doing well! These seeds were planted using the “Replace Weeds with Seeds” method, and the seed-planting took place during a light rain, which was followed by a more substantial rain. Timing the seed-planting with the rain speeds the seedling’s growth. We have fewer rabbits & squirrels this year too, which is why they can grow freely! (Thanks to our resident Coyote – and that’s another wonderful story we hope to share with you soon!)
Aloha Farms food forest - Nasturtium seedlings under Lemon Tree
Aloha Farms food forest – Nasturtium seedlings under Lemon Tree. These are from the third or fourth generation of nasturtium seeds. Each new generation includes many new colors and varieties of nasturtiums!
Nasturtium flowers growing from seed sprinkled around on the mulch
Last year’s nasturtium flowers growing from seed sprinkled around on the mulch
Aloha Farms food forest romaine lettuce producing seeds
Here are the yellow flowers of the romaine lettuce plants. Each individual  flower will produce about 20 more seeds for new romaine lettuce plants!

 

An abundance of calendula flowers growing from seed scattered around the forest floor
An abundance of calendula flowers growing from seed scattered around the forest floor

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!

Rabbits & Squirrels & Gophers – Oh My! How We Protect our Seedlings From Being Eaten by Them – and You Can Too!

We enjoy listening to the birds sing their joyful songs, watching the woodland creatures frolic in the garden, and seeing the darling faces of the moles when they pop their little heads up out of the soil and sniff around in the fresh air.  They enjoy frolicking in the food forest and eating many of the plants they find growing here.

We have enough abundance to share some of it with our furry friends, but when it comes to the newly sprouted seedlings that emerge from seeds we’ve recently planted, we have to set boundaries to prevent the hungry creatures from eating our new sprouts before they have a chance to mature into useful plants.

To create the necessary boundaries, we created a simple fencing system, constructed with 5-foot lengths of 3/4″ PVC pipe and PVC fittings (the kind you use to run irrigation lines), and some chicken wire.

Each section of the fencing is 5′ tall and 5′ wide, and we join them together with T’s and 3-way corner fittings.  With a small fence like the one pictured below, you don’t have to use PVC glue to hold it together – which leaves the material completely intact and re-usable if you decide to dismantle the fence.

Of the various configurations you could make from this material, we chose to make a 10-foot by 20-foot rectangle, but you could make it much smaller or larger.

After fitting together the pipe, we wrapped the entire structure with 4-foot tall chicken wire.  When the seedlings were very young, we draped deer netting over the top of the fence (as a ceiling) to prevent squirrels and birds from getting in.  Here’s a shot of our first enclosed garden from spring of 2014.  The fence successfully protected the sprouts 🙂

 

Our Portable Garden Fence
Our Portable Garden Fence

We  constructed a simple gate by adding one more 5-foot PVC post halfway between two of the existing posts and attaching it to the top and bottom of the fencing.  We cut the chicken wire here a couple of inches past where we installed the new post and wrapped the chicken wire around the post.  Then we wrapped the other side of the chicken wire that we had just cut onto a 4-foot piece of PVC  to give it a little stability while we opened and closed the gate.  Finally, we used a bendy foam-covered wire to tie the gate closed.  Here’s a shot of the gate:

 

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The Door into the Portable Garden Fence

 

 

 

 

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Here’s the Portable Fence, seen from the long side – it’s really great because you can move it easily from one spot to another and keep establishing new growth from seeds anywhere you put it!!!

 

We liked our prototype so much, we decided to create larger, semi-permanent fence, which we call “The Middle Garden”, because it’s a garden in the middle of the food forest!

This one is 30 feet x 30 feet and we used the same PVC framing method, but we had to use glue on the fittings to hold this one together.  We substituted deer netting for the chicken wire to save money (but ended up having to wrap a 2-foot tall section of chicken wire around the entire fence at ground level later because the rabbits chewed through the deer netting).  We also pounded stakes into the ground and tied them to the posts to help keep them upright.  Here’s a shot of our creation on March 10, 2014:

The Middle Garden – 900 sq. ft. fenced, covered in mulch, and ready to plant with seeds!  Hurray!!!

The Middle Garden - 900 sq. ft. covered in mulch, fenced, and ready to plant! Hurray!!!

We also created a similar, but new gateway, by pounding a piece of rebar into the ground and slipping a PVC pipe over it.  In the pictures below, you see how we lift the PVC pipe to reveal the rebar which holds it in place.

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In the middle garden, we’ve planted countless seeds and grown them into healthy mature plants, and have been able to save the next generation of seeds to use in future plantings. We saved seeds from onions, carrots, beets, lettuce, corn, pigeon peas, sunflowers, radishes, squashes, peanuts, peas, and whatever else went to seed in the garden.  Having removed the weeds, covered it in mulch, and fenced it off  has made possible a successful garden space that’s protected from hungry critters!

 

Here are a few pictures of what we’ve grown in “The Middle Garden”  🙂

June 2014 in The Middle Garden
This was June 2014 in The Middle Garden – our first planting from seeds – we were thrilled with the success!

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Here it is today, dominated by pigeon peas and kale (which we planted from seed last year) and strawberries (which we planted as small plants last year), and with newly planted seedlings of peas, beets, peanuts, onion and garlic popping up.

We were enjoying our autumn seedling success, until a family of gophers moved into the middle garden last month and are now busy eating the earthworms and the new seedlings and stirring up the soil.  As cute as they are, they still have to go!  A few days ago, we installed 2 Sweeney’s Sonic Spikes into the ground, which run on solar power and repeatedly emit an annoying beep sound once or twice a minute 24 hours a day!  That did not work at all for us. Maybe because we live in a noisy place.  We saw a little gopher snake the other day,  we are really hoping that nature will work this out.  If the problem gets too bad, we’ve considered installing owl boxes or getting a cat or a dog to drive them out.

Late 2016:

It turned out that hawks keep the gopher population in check, and we don’t have to do anything.

We still have gophers appearing in the garden, but we stopped fighting them because we began to appreciate the great job they do of bringing up unwanted debris from the soil so we can easily collect it and dispose of it, and of creating mounds of really nice soil that we can use for potting cuttings and seeds.  Here’s a short clip of one of these cuties at work:

 

 

So that’s the story of how we protected the seedlings in the food forest from being eaten by our furry friends – and you can too!

Thank you for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it.

🙂

Aloha!