Armed With A Mind Armed With A Mind
armedwithamind at hotmail.com
Sat Dec 19 16:08:04 EST 2009
I appreciate the responses and good wishes, and yes I will be taking it slow due to monetary constraints if nothing else. I will do my best to resist the urge to rush long term crops in the ground, like mulberries and walnuts etc. until zone one is established and I've got a better acquantance and understanding with the land. I've learned that lesson the hard way while involved in planning a nearby community garden.
This winter I will be doing a lot of research and tentative planning, and I'm lucky to have the luxury of a nearby school of natural resources college library. While a student there I was amazed to find books like the One Straw Revolution, Robert Harts Forest Garden book, Mollisons full series of permaculture manuals, Gaia's Garden, Gardening and horticultural books of all kinds, several Agroforestry books, and even several of the Permaculture Activist magazines hidden away in the older periodicals section. I may well become known as the phantom of the Fleming College library. I would love to take a permaculture design course but I don't know how I could scrape the money together for it. We have so many expenses to worry about with this farm that every spare penny so far is going to paying the bills.
Thanks for the advice Tripp and Mitch. And Tripp, as per your question; "do you like people? You seem like a fairly gregarious fellow. Just be honest about that aspect of the future. " I'm not sure what you mean by the last part but I am far from gregarious and was a loner and outcast through most of my childhood. I have been trying to be more sociable for the last 8 years or so, and have had some success but feel I have a long way to go. On the one hand I do like people in general but on the other, I see what most of us are doing to the planet and I view us as a cancer-like entity. I'd say that I do like people in general and at the end of the day we are a part of nature and are simply filling our role, whatever that may be.
When it comes to swales, when I said before that I was mystified, I suppose I used the wrong word. I think I have a basic understanding of the function and theory but no real world experience with it so I am nervous to start plotting and digging away only to realize I messed up. Luckily my zone one is relatively flat and low lying (laying?) so I won't need to worry about putting swales in there. Jeff Lawtons Youtube videos "Greening the Desert" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sohI6vnWZmk gave me a much better understanding of how they work but then I watched his video on 'water harvesting' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPrfNVzDNME&feature=related, read a few websites talking about swales, and I became a bit overwhelmed at how technical it can get. I also can't find anything with any detail about swales used on land with a high water table.
Lawrence, thanks for the list of uses for those species. I've definetly thought along the same lines. As to your suggestion of starting a plant nursery, there is a native plant nursery 2 km's down the road so I don't think I want to 'cut their grass' and start my own nursery. There may be a possibility of some sort of consignment deal with them to provide plant stock that they don't have.
To answer a few of your questions and uncertainties... Manitoba maple or Acer negundo is a species of maple native to North America. Box Elder, Boxelder Maple, and Maple Ash are its other most common names according to wikipedia. It is a vigorously spreading species who's seedlings pop up in droves on lawns and gardens around central ontario. The wood is too weak for carpentry but would make decent firewood. Balsam poplar is fast growing, and can be used as firewood. The wild apple trees on my property are real apples, of different cultivar types. They are mixed in the hedge rows seemingly randomly and I've counted only 7 of them, all probably planted by birds, squirrels, or farm workers who tossed their cores aside. They are all very mature and gangly and I plan to practice pruning on them, and to feed the apples to the farm animals as most of them are wormy and not so tasty. A funny thing happened with some of the apples; squirrels took a few and skewered them onto pine tree branches and left them there for later eating. My girlfriend joked that we've discovered a new species of pineapple...
A question for the group about wild strawberries... I wonder how best to go about working with them. They are heavily populated in one of our hay fields so my instinct is to dig shallow paths to designate beds, weed out the grasses, and mulch heavily. Or it may work out that if I can get to the patch early enough in the spring, that I can just mulch around the plants and suppress the grass that way. Luckily there are old hay bales on the edge of the field that I could use as the mulch. Does this latter idea sound feasible as long as I periodically refresh the mulch layer?
Hi Isabel. Establishing Chinampas are definetly in the plans if we get some more ponds dug or expand the existing one. And don't worry as far as tilling goes...I pretty much have a phobia of tilling and my success with sheet mulching has convinced me to stick with no-tillage, except maybe when it comes to our hay fields. Some of our hay fields need reseeding and we'd like to have hay without alfalfa due to the high protein content causing hoof problems in horses that aren't worked very hard. I'm wondering if I simply hand broadcast grasses like timothy early enough and thick enough, if it will eventually crowd out the alfalfa. Does anyone have experience similar to this or have literature that talks about it? All this being said, I am intrigued by the Yeomans Keyline plow, especially after seeing it in action on youtube. Our farm will rely on people power out of necessity and we plan to have several interns at various levels of committment from one-offs to a full season. There is a sustainable agriculture course starting up at the aforementioned Fleming College of Natural Resources and I'm trying to collaborate with them. We'll see how it goes.
Again, thanks for the support and advice,
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