Designing swales

Shortly I shall be designing a continuation of water storage and implementing swales to the mix. When we make touchdown to our property next year, the first thing we will be ‘installing’ is a well. 🙂 Soon you shall see a few drawings in this blog post. 😀 ❤

See you soon! ❤ 😀 😉
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Visual update on the Oyster mushrooms: 10/13/2017
(Started the spawns nine days ago)

 

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Canning .. :)

Canning is not a difficult project to do. 🙂 All one needs is mason jars (boil the glass, lids and rings separated in a pot of water: seven minutes), pears (just ripe, sliced into sections, cooked in boiling simple syrup: five minutes), a pot of boiling water (sugar, lemon juice [for a preservative]:  cooking the pears in), ladle, jar funnel, paper towels (for wiping the tops of the mason jars, metal rings and covers. They need to be dry and clean – for the seal to ‘pop!’) and jar grabber (I forget the proper name of the tool – but it’s perfect for getting the jars out of the boiling water so not to boil yourself too). 😉 😛 🙂

The simple syrup ratio of lemon juice, is roughly one table spoon per quart of water. Half a table spoon is fine. I used a cup in a half of sugar for two gallons.. you can easily look up online for what others say.. I just guessed. 😉 🙂 A large pot of simple syrup will house six to eight quarts of canned pears.

Make sure to boil your jars, lids and metal rings for at least seven minutes. This will sterilize the mason jars, so no bacteria is present. The syrup you use to boil the pears in will also be the liquid you pour into the full mason jars of pears. You want to make sure the pear syrup is boiling before placing in peeled and halved pears. Cook the pears for a total of five minutes. When pouring the simple syrup into the pear jars; fill them to the top. As long as the pears are completely submerged in the scalding simple syrup – they will be safe from bacteria forming. Label and date your mason jars and place in a cool, dry, non-lit place. Allow the canned pears to cool to room temperature before placing them in a refrigerator.. Also, if you wait for at least a month before eating- the pears will be super-extra yummy! 🙂

* It is very important to get all of the bubbles out of your mason jars. Having a long spoon, butter knife, or chop-stick works great for getting the bubbles to the surface before sealing. If air bubbles are trapped in the canned goods, this can give the potential of bacteria forming, making the canned goods toxic (people could get sick).

Thoughts of koi ponds.. <3

This afternoon Daniel and I attended one of his Bach-B-Q socials. The host of the party had a lovely established garden, which was very much permaculture like. 🙂 He had a large patio with hardy kiwi and three-type seedless grape arbor. Behind it, laid a beautiful koi pond with waterfall. I asked the host of the party if it had an air pump, and he acknowledged it indeed does. 🙂

When Daniel and I create the Butterfly Forests Homestead, we are going to have a three pond system for filtering grey water; with adjacent waterfalls to connect the three. Edible aquatic plants shall be on the third pond, along with koi fish to help with fertilizer. 🙂

Creating Traditional Raised Beds

On the last day working as an intern at Cricket’s Cove, I learned the super-easy way to create raised beds in a pre-weeded garden plot. The day before, a fellow intern and I weeded the four raised beds on the farm. It only took a bit of muscle and a prior day of flooding each bed with water to soften the soil around the roots. 🙂

We only used a few tools – wheeled hoe, basic hoe and a few shovels. It took roughly a total of twenty minutes to complete. 🙂 ❤

Last week, I helped harvest bamboo for the first time and worked with a few other interns to construct a bamboo fence. We have troubles with deer in the area, so this will help deter them from walking in at night. 🙂 Thank goodness, we do not have to worry about deer entering our future homestead in New Zealand. 😀 haha The hunting areas where deer flock (as far as I know) do not roam around Mangonui. ❤

The future plan is to use bamboo for various projects around the Butterfly Forests Homestead. There shall be a possible idea of creating a ground barrier that will be deigned for bamboo to grow, without the plant taking over.. we shall see what route we take in order to have a supply of bamboo. . 🙂 😉

*Of course, one can also plant a two tier effect hedge of plants deer do not like to eat around the property. . Or nasty bushes and plants that will cause them to pause or stop. I do not think that shall be an issue in all-honesty .. or something we will have to consider later on. 🙂

Fall ‘preparal’

Starting today, a fellow intern and I shall be planting seeds for the fall harvest. Vegetables such as romaine, butter-crunch, etc (head lettuces). I am not one who is used to growing seasons all year long. In the sum of it all, this is great training for me. 🙂

Below photographs, are a few trays of what we started. 🙂

I come originally from New England where all four seasons appear in extremes. The snows are in tidal waves of blizzards in groups of three. Since climate change has reared it’s ugly head -in the past seven years snow has become more gradually less and less harsh in Vermont. . . Concerning, yes. But- this is why I am glad this internship has odd flows of droughts, to mild climates. I need to continue my grasp in being able to adapt to ever-change: the routines first world pampered humans assume every year/day is a bubble-fantasy .. Mother Nature is unpredictable at times, yet does indeed have a rhythm .. but if the balance is ‘jarred‘ by us in overtime-negligence; nature then has to re center it.. and this re-balancing is certainly not always so pleasant, to our desired comfort.

*steps off soapbox* -Continues on with the seeding post. 😛

So, what we shall be doing in regards to making sure we have an ongoing crop of produce – is to space out the plantings. The seeds will be placed in four packs with a gap of a week in-between each sewing. 🙂 The produce we grow at our farm shall be helping feed delighted customers – anxiously waiting. They have been asking: “Do you have any lettuce ready yet?” for the past month I have been working here. 🙂

Rustic Carpentry..

While looking around the large main cabin, in the social quarters – I found books of vast information on professional smithing, and a small book called: “Rustic Carpentry: An Illustrated Handbook” by: Allgrove Publishing, Classic Reprint Series.

In my middle school, high school days – I did a bit of fiddling with carpentry (I was the only girl in wood-shop class with the guys) *shrugs* which didn’t matter to me. I have always been one who likes to remain busy with something, preferably creating something fun and interesting (“How does it work? Let’s see if I can make it too, but in a different way” -kind of thing). I like creating ‘conversation pieces’ – art works which cause you to stop in pause and think. 🙂

It would be fun to try some of these projects shown in the book. 🙂 There are plenty of sticks here to create whatever your little-imagination desires. We are planning as a group in the fall, to thin out the forest behind the pond -so then the forest can get proper air flow (it’s a bit over crowded right now). The book mentions the flesh of hazel, cherry, yew (I do not think I will find any of that here), birch, larch, fir and the pruning of many varieties of shrubs may be used. 🙂

You should not harvest your wood in the spring or summer (it will cause the bark to peel off) -unless you want this effect or ease for the rind to do so. Harvesting in the mid-winter is best, due of when the sap is at rest. You certainly want to make sure the wood has completely dried before working with it.

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Also to mention, learning the simplistic joints one can make with the wood is important for designing our roof and connecting rafters, etc. We are planning to make our own wooden nails as well. 🙂

Once I create some decent ‘ish looking projects, I will write about how I made it – and will be drawing out some basic designs on how to construct it (the uploads of completed projects will have to wait for photographs, because we do not have a good internet connection and our bandwidth is limited here).
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Update: 08/01/17′

We are going into phase two for setting up the ‘mushroom gardens’ -next Tuesday. We shall be cutting biodynamic/organic certified trees on the property in an area where it needs thinning out for proper forest air circulation. There shall be plenty of sticks that shall not be good enough for the project. The instant thought came to mind of creating my first project with rustic carpentry. Also, we have an area on the property which has a rich flush of bamboo (I can also use this as a secondary option as building materials for the arbor). 🙂

Knowing me, I always start big and complex designs (so then I can get a good understanding for the mechanics of how to develop a certain skill). I tend to learn more efficiently and better grasps hold of my mind that way. 🙂 I enjoy a good challenge to myself. haha 😛 😀

Biodynamics

Before entering as an intern at Cricket’s Cove, I did not know the term “biodynamic.”
.. What is biodynamic gardening? (google keeps trying to say it’s not a real word, in spell check; 😛 Just like the word herbalism). I asked Marianne on my first day working here. Well, it is certainly a much older term then the latest catch-craze-word you see all over grocery items and ways to garden in this current time.

Right now I am studying and participating in learning about biodynamic gardening at the farm. By no-means am I an expert in this way of gardening. Even so, since learning about this approach of growing plants with your homestead, and the more I understand it – I have a strong feeling, I shall have both certified organic by New Zealand and biodynamic certified in the nearby future. 🙂

It saddens me that Cricket’s Cove is the only one is the state of Virginia which is certified biodynamic. Not many farms in the United States are certified biodynamic.

If you wish to learn what biodynamic is in comparison to organic farming, you can watch this very easy youtube video created by the Biodynamic Association. They did a magnificent job explaining it at the Biodynamic Education Centre, Australia; with the gardeners at Garden Organic, UK:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgduHhfv3ms

How to properly plant a tree..

This morning, Marianne (one of the owners of Cricket’s Cove), another intern and I planted a garden bed. Lavender plants, a few shrubs and ground covers were planted. While planting, we noticed since the drought has been going on for a month and a half – the ground in reaction has become hard as a rock. So, to help with loosening up the soil, Marianne watered a hole to help soften it up for easier digging.

While we were on a short break, she told us how to properly plant a tree or large plant in general.

1.) Dig your hole in the evening.
2.) Fill the hole up to the top with water.
3.) Allow the water in the hole to go down into the soil. Go to bed. 😉 🙂
4.) In the morning fill the hole a second time to the top.
5.) Once the ground has taken in the water, you can drop the tree in and cover with mulch of your choice.

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B
y allowing the water to soak in twice, gives the tree’s bare roots when planted -to reach down into the ground depth in search of water. This overall helps within developing a strong and well-rooted tree. 🙂

For if you simply did what some people will do:
*Dig a hole in dry soil, plant it and water it from above heavily in one sitting – this causes the roots of the tree/sapling to search above for water instead. Let the combination of soil/water/time/gravity to lead the way.  Soil is like a sponge. If you try to water a dry soil, it will take some time in order for it to take it in. Plenty of run-off shall happen first.. and it takes a while for it to reach deep into the Earth (even by a mere five inches). Learn to embrace the wisdom of patience and awareness in growing beautiful plants in a developing garden. All-and-all, It will make your life far more easier and also for the plants. 🙂

Bring on the’ Mushrooms!

I come bearing more exciting news! 😀

Starting in August or September of this year, I will be learning how to grow and harvest a wide variety of wild mushrooms. 😀 There are two wonderful sweethearts who certainly know their mushroom knowledge who will be teaching all interns here at Crickets Cove. I will learn further on the bare-bones of marketing and selling organic (not the USA version of ‘organic’) to customers locally. From farm to table and from farm to restaurant. 😀

I‘ve been wanting to obtain knowledge in regards to wild-edible mushrooms for years. Never got to it, due of simply not having the time. Now I am in the gold-mine of opportunity of what I need to learn for the Butterfly Forests Homestead. ❤

I will be also getting a ‘refresher class’ on how to properly use a chainsaw. hehe 😛 😀

Also to note:

I will try and upload a few photographs whilst being at Crickets Cove. They have a limited bandwidth per month, and their internet connection isn’t the high-speed I am used to (we are in the middle of no-where).  Once I settle back home next year (it could be back in Boston or in Washington D.C. [Daniel might get a job as a web developer in Washington D.C.]) I will go back to all of my posts from Crickets Cove and update them with photographs. 🙂

Water conservation: Swells

This morning, I learned how to save water in swells with connecting ponds. 🙂

By using a hillside one can create tiers of land with small ditches. Each ditch has a mound of soil in a rounded ‘step formation’ with water. Each tier has various useful plants and trees nearby to help with stopping erosion and slowing the water loss. Depending how much water you want to store and if you plan to have fish in one of the lower tiers to help make the land more fertile – you could have three to five ponds with various swells between each pond. 🙂

A water pump is used to help with water cycling in the water ponds and lower levels, and/or in times of need when a drought is happening. We are currently having an early drought this season in Virginia. So the water level is dropping in the ponds by inches. We need to have the swells kept at ground level for water. If we do not keep the swells full, it takes more water and trouble with water staying in the area .. and more water is used when the swells are low with how mother nature will automatically try with balancing things.

When it rains, the swells will fill to full capacity and overflow into lower tiers. Once the last tier fills and spills over – the domino effect proceeds in continuing to all ponds. If there is a creek nearby, it will eventually flow into the creek when the last large pond is over filled by rain storm. By having the swells, this stops the rain water from gushing quickly down the slope of the land and taking precious soil, organic nutrients, etc with it. By having the swell-tiers method, this helps collect water sources into pond reserves.

Excellent with improving the water-table’s surface where your plants shall be rooting best. 😉 😀

Overall, it is a better control approach in regards of water storage/watering plants on a semi hilly to steep landmass. The tier-swell method really helps lands who have been ‘raped’ over many years by over grazing livestock, clear cutting trees and repetitive mono-crops heal faster overtime with new green growth and watering more effectively.