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!

Winter Abundance in a Food Forest

Aloha Friends,

 

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:

How Winter pruning increases our harvests

 

Chip the pruned branches into mulch, which we spread on the forest floor – Easy with our new Patriot electric chipper

 Create a hugelkultur from the larger pruned branches. Easy – here’s a link showing how it’s done…

How and Why to create your own Hugelkultur from pruned branches!

A bit of mowing our pathways.

And a whole lot of harvesting!!!

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.

 

 

Onion and garlic plants look like tall grasses
Onion and garlic plants look like tall grasses – note the ground is covered by mulch

 

Garlic growing around the perimeter of a fruit tree - it gets sun in winter and improves the soil surrounding the tree.
Garlic growing around the perimeter of a fruit tree – it gets the sunshine in winter and improves the soil surrounding the tree.

 

A A A A single clove of garlic will multiply into a whole bulb of garlic in 1 year.

1 year old Garlic, harvested in late summer. These bulbs each grew from a single clove.
1-year-old Garlic, harvested in late summer. These bulbs each grew from a single clove.

 

This is the flower of the onion - it's a whole ball of individual flowers, and each flower has little black onion seeds inside of it
This is a flower from an onion that grew last .  It’s a ball of small individual flowers, and each flower has little black onion seeds inside of it.


 

Onion seeds that fell to the ground last summer are this year's new onions!
Onion seeds that fell to the ground last summer are this year’s new onions! They look like tall thin grass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EUGENIA CHERRIES

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.

Eugenia Cherries are delicious and abundant in winter
Eugenia Cherries are delicious and abundant in winter

 

Use like cranberries in sauces or relishes or dry them for snacking. Delicious!
Use like cranberries in sauces or relishes or dry them for snacking. Delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aloha Farms food forest dried Eugenia Cherries, February 2017
Aloha Farms food forest dried Eugenia Cherries, February 2017

 

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 🙂

Aloha Farms Navel Orange Tree in February 2017
Navel Orange Tree in February 2017 You can tell by the trunk that this tree is very old, yet it still produces incredibly sweet and delicious oranges, year after year.
Aloha Farms food forest Lemon Tree in February 2017
Lemon Tree in February 2017 – This tree is over 40 years old – and it’s now healthier than it was 5 years ago!  Imagine, 40 years of lemons, in exchange for planting 1 lemon tree!!!

 

Aloha Farms food forest Tangerine Tree in February 2017
Tangerine Tree in February 2017  producing more heavily each year!
Aloha Farms food forest Valencia Orange Tree in February 2017
Valencia Orange Tree in February 2017 This is featured in our video (below) about increasing vigor in older fruit trees, and produces fruit year-round!!!

MACADAMIA NUTS

Each January, these trees produce a large crop, and smaller crops throughout the year.

Aloha Farms food forest Macadamia nuts in Shell - This crop has thin shells and are coming off the tree already split
Macadamia nuts in Shell – This crop has thin shells and are coming off the tree already split.  These have been soaked in saltwater and dried.
Aloha Farms food forest Macadamia Nuts February 2017 - a small portion of our harvest this year
Macadamia Nuts Drying February 2017 – a small portion of our harvest this year.  (with and without their shells).
The Macadamia tree is forming flower tassels for the next crop, while we are still harvesting this winter's crop!
Macadamia tree is forming flower tassels for the next crop, while we are still harvesting this winter’s crop!  The abundance doesn’t stop in a food forest!

 

The macadamia tassels have just begun to show their form. Cute!
The macadamia tassels have just begun to show their form. Cute!

 

Aloha Farms food forest Macadamia Tree in January 2017
Macadamia Tree in January 2017-  Healthier after a pruning and producing more than last year!

For more on Macadamia Nuts, please see our post from 2016:

How we process the Macadamia Harvests

GUAVAS

These tropical fruits grow safely here in a warm micro-climate at the edge of the oak tree.  

Aloha Farms food forest white guava tree in 2017 - with ripe guavas
White guava tree in 2017 – with ripe guavas

 

KALE

 

Aloha Farms food forest Kale in February 2017
Kale in February 2017 – There’s kale available year round

ARUGULA

Aloha Farms food forest Arugula in February 2017 - growing from last year's seed
Arugula in February 2017 – growing from last year’s seed. It spreads its own seeds,  growing with no effort from us other than harvest and prune. Last year, we made spicy mustard from the arugula seeds too!

LETTUCE

Aloha Farms food forest Romaine Lettuce growing from seed February 2017 - growing near Carrots, Clover and other Volunteers
Romaine Lettuce growing from seed February 2017 – growing near Carrots, Clover and other Volunteers

 

HERBS

Fennel, Parsley, Thyme, Mint, Sour Grass, Oregano, Stinging Nettle, Calendula and more can be found throughout the food forest.

 

Aloha Farms food forest Rosemary and Lavender - Some of the many herbs growing in February 2017
Rosemary and Lavender, Calendula and Nasturtium – Some of the many herbs growing in February 2017
Aloha Farms Food Forest Mint Growing in February 2017
Mint Growing in February 2017

 

 

Aloha Farms food forest Parsley growing from seed, February 2017
Parsley growing from seed, February 2017

 

Aloha Farms food forest Fennels and Stinging Nettles growing from seed February 2017
Fennel and Stinging Nettles growing from last year’s seed – along with other volunteers – in February 2017

 

Aloha Farms food forest Calendula and Lettuce growing along with other Volunteers in February 2017
Calendula and Lettuce growing along with other Volunteers in February 2017

 

Aloha Farms food forest Chamomile growing in February 2017
Chamomile growing in February 2017

TOMATOES!

Aloha Farms food forest tomatoes still ripening in February 2017
Tomatoes still ripening in February 2017

Here are some things that are not quite ripe yet, but growing:

 

COFFEE

Aloha Farms food forest coffee ripening in February 2017
Aloha Farms food forest coffee ripening in February 2017

 

PASSION FRUIT

Aloha Farms food forest Passion Vine in February 2017 - here comes the fruit!
Aloha Farms food forest Passion Vine in February 2017 – here comes the fruit!

 

Even now in winter, the forest is lushly abundant with food for us and for the animals that make it their home – and it’s so easy – we just go out and pick what we want!!!

We hope you try growing a food forest of your own, and it brings you

Peace,  Abundance, and Aloha 🙂

Aloha Farms food forest Logo Roots Grow Fruits!
Roots Grow Fruits!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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!

Protect your Seedlings from Predators with Materials from your Garden

Making Seed Balls, Masanobu Fukuoka style, perfect for food forest seed planting

Aloha!

We have been learning more important lessons from an important teacher, Masanobu Fukuoka, author of One Straw Revolution, a popular book from the 1970’s that looks at his successful style of natural farming. 

Today we decided to try making seed balls, Masanobu Fukuoka style, for a quicker way to plant seeds in the food forest.  In one pleasant afternoon, we created around 200 clay balls full of a variety of seeds (around 1500 seeds) that we will scatter throughout the food forest as a quick and easy way to plant a large quantity and variety of seeds.  This was really fun, and brings to mind making chocolate chip cookies or meatballs for spaghetti.

Ingredients:

Clay soil – pound out the hard lumps with a pestle or stone, until you have no clay lumps, and the soil is consistently fine.  (soil that the moles have been working on was soft, pliable, fine, and perfect for use in this recipe). I must tell you that the clay soil that the moles had worked over was the perfect choice for this project!!!

Seeds – a variety of whatever seeds you have on hand, or whatever seeds you choose.

Water – to moisten as needed.

A large bin for mixing the ingredients together.

Directions:

Obtain clay soil for the main ingredient of the seed balls and place it in a large container.  If there are lumps in the clay, then pound them out with a pestle or a smooth stone, so that the soil is uniformly fine.

Add a wide variety of seeds to the clay and mix them in. 

Use water to moisten the clay until it’s moist enough to form into balls.  Try to cover the seeds with the clay, so birds and insects won’t eat them.

The seed balls or seed bombs we are making today contain seeds of pumpkin, corn, lettuce, sunflower, and artichoke and beans. You can create fun plant combinations of your choosing for each new batch you make.  
You can let them dry or you can plant them right away.  I will plant these right away.  First, I’ll part the mulch and place the seed ball onto the soil, so the roots can get right into the earth.  then lightly cover the ball with a very thin layer of organic material, mostly to hide the seed ball from curious animals.

When these clumps of plants come up together, they will be companion plants growing  forest style.  

I hope you try this easy method of seed planting and that it brings you great success in your food forest!

 

With much gratitude to Masanobu Fukuoka, One Straw Revolution, for his wisdom and guidance in food forest gardening.

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!