Green Gold – Documentary by John d. Liu

Retaining Whatever Rainwater Comes Down

 

Aloha Friends!

 

Here’s another great class in Permaculture!

 

Thank you John D Liu for inspiring and educating us, a new world of natural growers here on our Beautiful Shared Earth!

 

Aloha!!!!!!!!

Replace Weeds with Seeds

An Abundance of Corn 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!

The Secret Underground World of Food Forests

Aloha Friends!

Please enjoy this video featuring Paul Stamets, a truly revolutionary man who is dedicated to teaching the world about the Mysterious World of Mushrooms and how they affect food forests. 

He makes this subject exciting and compelling and you will be so grateful you got a chance to hear him speak.

 

 

 

Peace, Abundance, and Aloha to You!

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

 

 

 

 

 


Hügelkultur Will Make Your Arid-Climate Garden Burst With New Life

Aloha Friends!

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:

  1. Hide the garden’s unsightly “dead” vegetation
  2. Feed the soil-dwelling life-forms that help your garden flourish
  3. Enrich garden soil as vegetation decomposes
  4. 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.  

Hugelkultur pile atop the soil - not buried
Hugelkultur pile atop the soil – not buried This pile took much longer to decompose than the hugelkulturs we buried completely in the ground.

Here’s how the unburied  pile looked a couple years later – in the lower left area of the picture – it still had not decomposed!

Hugelkultur - to bury or not to bury
In Arid Gardens, Burying the Hugelkultur completely speeds the decomposition process dramatically.

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.

Hugelkultur Step 1 - Rake aside covering of mulch
Hugelkultur Step 1 – Rake aside covering of mulch to expose the soil

 

Dig your trench deep and long enough to hold the spent vegetation.

Hugelkultur Step 2 - Dig Trench Deep and Long Enough to Hold Vegetation
Hugelkultur Step 2 – Dig Trench Deep and Long Enough to Hold Vegetation

Beginning with the largest pieces, fill the trench with your fallen branches, twigs, canes, vines, leaves, manure, fruit and veggie peels.

Hugelkultur Step 3 - Add Large Branches
Hugelkultur Step 3 – Add Large Branches

Hugelkultur Step 4 - Fill the Hole with Smaller Pieces
Hugelkultur Step 4 – Fill the Hole with Smaller Pieces

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.  

Hugelkultur Step 5 - Using the Soil You Dug out of the Trench, Bury  the Vegetation and Cover the Soil with Mulch
Hugelkultur Step 5 – Using the Soil You Dug out of the Trench, Bury the Vegetation and Cover the Soil 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.

Aloha to you!

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

Thank You Kind Readers, We are so Grateful for Your Comments!

Aloha Everyone 🙂

Thank you so very much to the many kind readers who have been cheering us on here on this blog with encouraging comments – we appreciate hearing from you!!!

We’ve learned that it’s one thing to send out our message into the world, but something else entirely to receive back so much encouragement – it was unexpected and it feels amazing!  It brings us joy and even laughter each time we receive your encouraging words and funny comments!

Overwhelmingly you are most interested in Ways We Conserve Water, so we will explore how growing food forest-style is itself a way of conserving the water that’s in the soil.  We’ll share some ideas to get you inspired.

Here are the answers to a few questions we received from the comments:

Is there a way to subscribe?

On the front page, Aloha! down toward the bottom on the right side, is a  “Subscribe to Aloha Farms Food Forest Blog” section.  If you enter your e-mail address in the box, the system will send you a confirmation e-mail, if you then confirm that you want to subscribe via the link in the e-mail, you will be subscribed!

How long have we been blogging? 

We had a blog called [email protected] from November 2013 to November 2015. (Hardly anyone saw it!)  In November 2015, we created this website blog by transferring the information from the old blog into this one.  So in total, we’ve been blogging for about 2.5 years already – although it feels like we just started!

Do we have any tips on how to get onto yahoo news?

Nope!  We don’t know how that happened – and we didn’t even know we were on there until you told us!  We still have quite a bit to learn 🙂

How frequently do we update the website?

We don’t have a set time schedule, but we try to put out new information when we have a great idea to share!

Thanks Again, and Much Aloha to you All!

The Aloha Farmers, Elizabeth & Eric

cropped-Scan_20150927-21.jpg

Protect your Seedlings from Predators with Materials from your Garden

5 Tips for Increasing Fruit Tree Vigor and Production

Aloha Everyone,

Here’s a video that we put together to show you how we brought vigorous health to some very old, neglected fruit trees that were here on the land when we arrived.

Please watch this video for our 5 tips that will help you bring health to a fruit tree near you!

 

 

Alternately, here’s the text from this video, so you may read the information if you like.

 

Aloha Everyone,
This is Elizabeth with Aloha Farms food forest in sunny Southern California, where we  enjoy growing citrus fruit year-round.  The 5 decades-old trees that were here when we moved in hadn’t been cared for in a while, but we found that with a little TLC, we were able to bring them back to outstanding health and they now produce some of the juiciest, most delicious fruit I’ve ever had.
Healthy trees are less likely to attract harmful pests.  Our beautiful citrus trees were recently tested by the County of San Diego Department of Agriculture, when they placed traps in the trees for 6 weeks during January and February 2016 to see if they could trap exotic fruit flies, asian citrus psyllids, and other unwanted pests.  They found that our trees had no pests – which is really great news.
Here are 4 things we did to improve the health of the dear old citrus trees:
1. Pruning – cut off dead or dying branches and stems, remove leaves or stems that are infested with bugs like scale or white fly, remove new growth from the interior of the tree to improve air circulation.  These “Water Sprouts” grow vertically from lateral branches and can be removed entirely or pruned above a node to re-direct their growth.
2. Cover the soil under the tree in organic material, which feeds and protects the life-forms that grow in the soil allowing them to proliferate safely under the covering. This also moderates the soil temperature so that it doesn’t get too hot or too cold, and finally, helps retain the soil moisture by preventing it from evaporating.
3. Sprinkle the soil with epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) before a rain so that  the rain will wash it into the soil.  This really invigorates the trees.
4.  Insert into the ground under the tree a 2′ – 3′ piece of ABS pipe or other pipe that’s 2″-3″ in diameter, leaving 2″ or so above the soil level.  This will be your watering pipe, so you can water directly into the pipe with a hose, and the water will go right down to the roots.  Before we installed our watering pipes, we could water for an hour on top of the soil, and it wouldn’t penetrate deeply into the root zone, so we definitely found this to be a tremendous improvement.  We can fill the pipe a few times, and we have deep water penetration of the root zone.
5.  This last tip I discovered, and it works well against flying insects that love to feed on new leaf growth.  During periods of rapid new leaf growth, if the weather is dry, come out in the late afternoon/early evening and shower off the trees’ foliage with water from a hose.  Whatever flying insects are on the tree will instantly fly away to go find drier places.  I do this in the early evening so that the water won’t quickly evaporate from the leaves and the insects will stay away while the leaves are wet – and hopefully decide not to come back!  This also washes off dust and the trees seem to enjoy a good shower – just like we do 🙂
That’s it for now – I hope this information helps any of you who are growing fruit!  Thank you for watching, and Aloha!!!

Forest Gardening for Snowy Climates – please meet Sepp Holzer of the Krameterhof

Aloha All,

 

A reader just asked about forest gardening in snowy climates, and I realized that I overlooked linking this site to this amazing creator of forest gardening processes in the snowy mountains:  Sepp Holzer!!!

 

We love to watch all of the videos on his work repeatedly because we learn so much from them every time!  Truly, Sepp first inspired us create our garden using food forest growing concepts.  Because he grows a food forest on the top of a snowy mountain, we can’t use all of his ideas in our climate, but many of his processes are useful in any forest gardening situation.

 

Sepp’s fascinating work has greatly influenced not only us, but the entire planet, and I’m honored to be able to introduce you to him!  He grew up gardening on this mountain Krameterhof, planting his first seeds at age 5.  You will be amazed at what he has achieved over a lifetime.  Now his son is running the Krameterhof, and in this YouTube video, his son Josef explains many of their processes.  Also, you can learn more if you visit  www.krameterhof.at .

 

 

 

 

Best wishes, and happy exploring…

 

Aloha 🙂

 

 

 

 

You can get “Volunteers” to grow free food in your garden!

Aloha!

Creating a food forest probably shouldn’t include weeding, but I like weeding – it relaxes me!  I like picking out which plants can stay and which have to go.  Usually my criteria is if I see them growing on the roadside, then they don’t get to be in the food forest.  I recently learned though, that I’ve been uprooting really good edible plants that volunteered to grow here without any effort on our part.  And I thought they were weeds.  Oops!

I learned from this website:  http://www.eattheweeds.com that I’ve been removing some lovely sources of food, medicine, and useful fibers that volunteered to grow in our soil.

Check out these “Volunteers” who settled here to grow free food for us after their seeds somehow made it into our soil:

Stinging Nettle Volunteering in the Food Forest
Stinging Nettle Volunteering in the Food Forest

Stinging nettle volunteered to grow out in the orchard.  I would pull this “weed” out of the ground before, but now I know to leave it there, because it’s a wonderful source of food, medicine and clothing fiber, as it has been for thousands of years.  I like to dry it and steep it as a tea, and I also chop it up and add it into soups or sauces.  People claim it has many benefits, so once I figured out what this was, I decided to enjoy eating it and bring on the health benefits.  It tastes similar to spinach.  Caution: when you pick this, it will sting your skin, so wear gloves as you cut the stems with scissors and drop them into a paper bag.

Read more about stinging nettles:

http://www.eattheweeds.com/urtica-chamaedryoides-nettle-knowledge-2/

 

Dandelions Volunteering in the Garden
Dandelions Volunteering in the Garden

These “weeds” have been cultivated for through the ages for their many benefits.

Read more about dandelions:

http://www.eattheweeds.com/dandelions-hear-them-roar/

Sour Grass, aka Oxalis, Volunteering in the Food Forest
Sour Grass, aka Oxalis, Volunteering in the Food Forest

Sour Grass was my childhood favorite springtime treat! I actually didn’t pick these out of the garden, because I love them 🙂

Read more about sour grass:

http://www.eattheweeds.com/oxalis-how-to-drown-your-sorrels/

Cleavers Volunteering in the Food Forest
Cleavers Volunteering in the Food Forest

These taste pretty good.

Read more about Cleavers aka Galium:

http://www.eattheweeds.com/galium-aparine-goosegrass-on-the-loose-2/comment-page-1/

 

Flax Volunteering in the Food Forest
Flax Volunteering in the Food Forest

Flax they showed up in the orchard one day, and bloomed with their delightful sky-blue flowers, so I let them stay.  It took me a while to identify them, but once I did, it felt like we got a huge gift.  I have saved and planted more of the seeds, and would love to have them growing all around.  The seeds are delicious and after you harvest the seeds and the plant dries out, you can bundle the plants and  use them for a whisk-broom 🙂

 

Mallow Volunteering in the Food Forest
Mallow Volunteering in the Food Forest

This cool lady makes marshmallows from the mallow volunteer!

 

Mustard Greens Volunteering in the Food Forest
Mustard Greens Volunteering in the Food Forest

http://www.eattheweeds.com/cutting-the-wild-mustard-brassica-sinapis-2/

We think it’s wonderful that so many volunteers have offered to grow free food for us, and we hope you will find some helpful volunteers growing free food in your garden too!

Aloha!

We are growing Moringa!

Have you heard of Moringa, the Miracle Tree?

We are growing it here at Aloha Farms and are so excited about it!!!

IMG_20151118_090942059

Here’s a picture of our baby tree, but even better, here’s a link to see what Moringa is all about!