Posted in 1 Garden, 2 Home

The Evolution of a Design

One of the “rules” of Permaculture is that every design evolves.  And it should, as needs change and plants grow.

house front orig
I called my new home “the ugliest house on the block.”  Today’s sitting garden (pictured below) is where the gold truck is parked.

When I first moved into this house, I knew I didn’t want an extensive garden to take care of, because the house itself needed so much work, and I had other things I wanted to do.

What I needed for the front yard was 1) sunlight to reach the south-facing windows, 2) year-round beauty, 3) privacy, and 4) low-maintenance.

The solution was to erect a fence, and plant evergreens near the street that wouldn’t grow higher than 8 feet, so the lowest winter sun can still heat the house; use shorter plants and deciduous trees near the house, so the sun can shine over or through them in winter; and plant perennial and native flowers everywhere I could.

mesquite2Keeping things simple (I’d complicate it later), I created narrow gardens, 2- to 3-feet wide, all around the perimeter of the yard, next to the house, next to the road, and around the one enclosing side.  Done.  Simple.

Later, after the water harvesting and solar features were developed, and the kitchen-side garden terraces were built and planted – and even after I added a mesquite tree and bench to the front yard – I found the big empty space was just not inviting, even surrounded by greenery and flowers.  Besides that, the granite gravel needed weeding!

The Permaculture solution to weeds is to plant more of what you want.  So I expanded the garden space to every square inch that wasn’t needed for a walkway or for sitting.

Not that I wanted the extra work of creating or maintaining more gardens, but this felt like playwhen the time was right – and I did it little by little.  The payoff was huge!

And it actually resulted in less work!  Gardens, as living communities, tend to take less work than single plants or spare gardens.  The plants in a more complex community provide each other nutrients, shade, moisture, mulch, and more – and that’s work we don’t have to do.

Widening the gardens meant that I’d need to utilize the “keyhole

From Toby Hemenway's book,
From Toby Hemenway’s book, “Gaia’s Garden.”
one winter squash will be nestled in each lobe of this adapted
See the keyhole on the left, near the hose? The original garden is back where the roses are, on the right.

garden” design (creating short walkways into them every six linear feet or so, so that every part of the garden is within a three-foot reach.

front yard
Since this photo was taken last year, we’ve laid down cedar mulch over the gravel, giving the yard a much softer “forest-like” appearance.  Sunflowers have been positively amending the soil (thanks!), but also rather dominating the space, creating a much wilder picture! And the central mesquite (rather obscured in this photo by the elderberry behind it) is bigger this year too – one day providing more serious summer shade.

And here’s the garden today, so lush, I begin nearly every day, summer and winter, sitting here, feeling oh so blessed!

Posted in 1 Garden, solar ovens

Sun Oven’s “Holiday Special”

b9f19fc1-1251-4abb-a598-46523e75e700This holiday sale saves you well over half on the Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package PLUS a Hanging Turkey Roasting Rack when you purchase a new Sun Oven.

The package, for only $35 (instead of $90) includes:

Fresh_Tom_in_GSO.jpeg* Multi-Level Dehydrating & Baking Rack Set (set of 3 racks w/1 roll parchment paper)

bbcf50eb-cf73-466b-930c-4aaedb2620a9* Two Easy-Stack Pots w/interchangeable enamel and glass lids [this set is my personal favorite]

Multi-Fuel Water Pasteurizing Indicator
(WAPI) (read more about it and the other accessories here)

* Two Loaf Pansloaf pans

* cdromComputer CD featuring how-to’s, over 600 recipes, videos and much more

Since the cook pots (my favorite) cost $25, and the WAPI ($9) is an essential survival item (with or without a Sun Oven), it’s like getting two loaf pans, the dehydrating racks, and the turkey rack for free!

  • turkey-rack-5-1024x6821-510x340The Hanging Turkey-Roasting Rack replaces the regular rack with one curved on the bottom to create more space for a turkey inside a roasting bag!

Purchasing is easy:

With a credit card, debit card, or PayPal account!

Just email, and I’ll send you an invoice directly from PayPal.

The Sun Oven is $294 – shipping included ($261.15/oven + 32.85/shipping) – the lowest price allowed!

With the “Dehydrating and Preparedness Package,” the current Special, is $329.00 – shipping included.

This Special offer is valid through January 11, 2016.

Also, be sure to check out the accessory page, to read about the WAPI and other accessories – including cookbooks and a programmable meat-thermometer, which can be added to your order and sent inside the oven for no extra shipping cost.

Posted in Uncategorized

Plan to Prune!

The bumper crop of almonds is ready to be harvested! This is a branch earlier this year (see those in the shade by my hand too?). Now they’re yellowed and splitting open – time to harvest!

Today was the first day I went outside in the morning and almost needed a sweater!  

As I reflect on the changing of seasons, I must share our greatest success and lesson:  Prune!!  Everything we pruned last fall gave us bumper crops this summer. 

It’s embarrassing to admit my gardening ignorance (not yard design ignorance though!), but I will, because so many people say the same thing as I used to:  it’s hard to cut off healthy plant life!  (Actually, I still say that, but I do it.)

I used to think, “Plants in nature don’t need to be pruned, and since I imitate Nature, I don’t need to prune.”

Even though these are dwarf peach trees and didn’t need much pruning, they still responded positively with a double-sized crop.

The error is in the phrase “plants in nature.”  The truth is that very few of our garden/yard plants are actually wild and natural.  Many have been genetically selected for traits such as hardiness, which can make a plant grow too vigorously for it’s own good – unless it’s pruned.  And even Nature does a fair amount of pruning, through windstorms, for instance, which we try to curtail with fences and plantings against walls for their protection.

So, attend a pruning class, or go online.  Clean and sharpen your tools, or buy or borrow the correct ones.  Then set aside a day, maybe invite some friends over to help and learn, maybe work at their house next, and get it done!

HUGE apricots!
HUGE apricots!

Fall, after leaves have actually fallen, is the generally-accepted best time, so it’s not too soon to start gearing up.  But if it’s too busy a time for you, other seasons have benefits too.  Look it up.

You might also read about planting cuttings to generate new plants instead of throwing those branches away.  Also, you might save a few large branches for natural stakes next year – and other uses.

Have fun out there!  Enjoy the cooling weather.

Twice the cherries on our little tree too!
Twice the cherries on our little tree too!