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Living off the land, Living Primally

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  • #31
    You might consider ducks. Have you seen Carol Deppe's book, "The Resilient Gardener"? She strongly recommends ducks over chickens (or at least along with chickens), and lists the different breeds. It would also fit in nicely with your pond plans. The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times (9781603580311): Carol Deppe: Books

    Mama Gault, the "nice PNW guy" you're talking about might be Toby Hemenway, who wrote my favorite garden book of all time, "Gaia's Garden" (now in a second edition.) For those city dwellers who still like Permaculture, Toby's second edition talks about the changes in his style of gardening when he moved from Southern Oregon to Portland. He found, for instance, that the distant "zones" in his Permaculture scheme were in other people's yard, because everyone in his neighborhood shared fruit. The trees would yield too much at once for one household to use it efficiently, so everybody traded fruit around as different trees came ripe. He just looked at what fruit trees everyone else had, and planted ones they didn't have.

    I've heard that lately he moved south (Arizona?) I can't conceive why anyone would do that, but never mind ... he's a cool dude.

    As for Grok not growing his own food, it possibly depends how far back you look. I've read articles which talk about how many hunter-gatherer groups really were wild gardeners, even though they were nomadic. They'd manage the land by burning off the undergrowth, getting rid of plants they didn't want and encouraging those they did, and traveling around a circuit so they'd get to places just as their favorite foods got ripe. A lot of the West Coast and the Amazon both were managed like this before smallpox and measles devastated their populations and messed up their systems. They'd manage game the same way, giving it habitat by removing trees for meadows, and taking a sustainable number of animals in the right season, so their numbers were under control but not too low.

    It would be very nice to have a few acres, so that some of it could be the "semi-wild forest garden" zone, managed in some of their ways. As it is, I've got 1/5 of an acre, some of it given to house and driveway and deck, so I have to think in miniature. I'm still letting the back corner be on its own, more or less, seeing what happens if it's not mowed all the time. So far what is happening is a hawthorn copse with about five coming up and growing like mad, which will gradually shade out some of the grass. As always, unplanted volunteer plants just left alone make cultivated plants look slow and comparatively feeble. There's another good book about that, a very old one called "Plowman's Folly" published in 1942. It talks about how tillage ruins soil and how any wild land tends to seem lush and healthy without any help from a farmer at all.

    I've decided to take down the very high thistles (5 feet ...) before they seed and bother the heck out of the weed-phobic neighbors, but I'll leave the hawthorn trees till I want to add some more of my own trees, and then take out only those in the way. I plan to start some "sea buckthorn" back there, too. There are varieties bred for better fruit and fewer thorns available from Raintree or One Green World. (Both have websites.) I have goumi bushes, and a huge autumn olive bush in front -- nitrogen fixers all, and well able to look after themselves with roughly no care. Edible healthy tasty fruit, when fully ripe.

    Good luck with your farm! The goats sound great! If I were fit and younger (I'm 65) and married with kids and could buy land, I'd be right out there working away like you!

    I totally agree with you about something else as well -- I have no patience with exercise for exercise's sake -- if I exercise I want to GET WORK DONE doing it. Digging, pruning, hauling stuff, or woodworking by hand in winter -- planing and sawing are real exercise. The worst kind of exercise, IMHO, which I would NEVER do, is to hop on a treadmill or other machine which actually USES UP power to give you a workout! What a travesty, and what an admission of helplessness to need to use up fossil fuels just to work out!


    • #32
      Periquin, have you tried planting cleome serrulata, ("spider flower") to encourage bees? It is common in the Southwest, and people always thought it was just a wildflower, but now they've figured out that when the native Indians planted the "three sisters" -- corn, beans, and squash -- they also planted a "fourth sister", cleome serrulata, which they called "bee plant". The whole plant is edible for early greens, it volunteers easily from year to year, as can be seen from the fact that when it grows "wild" it really is an indication of ancient agriculture on that land. They grew it so they'd get good pollination of the beans and squash. The year I grew it at a rental place, it got five feet high with gorgeous flowers always surrounded by a veritable cloud of bees. It volunteered readily the next year, but the neighbors got rid of it. <groan> If cleome can hack Oklahoma weather, I imagine it would fit right into your "wild garden."


      • #33
        piano-doctor-lady: Thanks for the tip. I checked it on a few web sites. Interesting plant. I like that it attracts bees and is edible, plus doesn't look all that shabby. I haven't found it in Oklahoma, but I may get some seed to try it next year.

        I used to grow a small three sister's garden almost every year. Small is just under 10x10, that's feet. I tried one year with something called cow cabbage instead of corn. Cow cabbage is from somewhere around Ireland. Edible, up to ten feet tall, large leaves, excellent for making canes. It was the canes that made me want to try it. I did't have luck. That year just about everything in Oklahoma 'burnt' up under the sun. This year is a lot like that year.

        Are you a fan of the wild natives?
        Tayatha om bekandze

        Bekandze maha bekandze

        Randza samu gate soha


        • #34
          Hi, Periquin

          (Gault, sorry if I'm hijacking your thread!)

          I hadn't heard of "cow cabbage" ... might this be similar to "walking stick kale"?

          Be warned, cleome is a little hard to get germinating. You might try naturalizing it, and check the web for tips. It apparently needs a day-night fluctuation of temperature, but at a fairly high temperature (higher than is usual in Oregon) to get going. However, once it grew here, it came right back up the next year from dropped seed, and my sister in Colorado gets tons of seedlings coming up in her garden. I had her send me a few plants, hoping to get it established here. Of course, it's easy to buy "cleome" in a six-pack from any good-sized nursery, but that is usually a related variety, "improved", and I wanted the original stuff, cleome serrulata.

          I also grew "three sisters" in a very limited space, because in my quest to improve a nasty subsoil subdivider's clay, a limited space was all I had. When I moved to my house (FINALLY able to own after all those years of renting!) the front yard was so ruined by "construction pan" and chemical lawn and constant scalping that even dandelions couldn't get more than two inches across. Now if I let things go the weeds and grass get five feet high, to the neighbors' chagrin, so I'm trimming and working harder on the raised beds.

          I had fun that "three sisters" year, because I tried a weird sweet corn recently bred from a distant cross by Alan Kapuler. He liked "Painted Mountain" dent corn, a long-established heirloom from (Montana? I believe), tolerant to cold and very beautiful. He crossed it with a sweet corn, an extremely distant cross, and when I bought it from Nichols Garden Nursery it wasn't ... er ... quite rogued out yet. I sorted the seed by color, and made each of three hills a different color. The red hill came up red all over, including the leaves and the tassels. And while some of it grew corn in the conventional way, some of it tossed out "mixed inflorescences", which seemed to remember its teosinte heritage. Some of the ears looked skinnier than normal, and when I got into them, there were fewer silks and there were three narrow long ears in there, about three kernels wide. Some of the tassels at the top had rows of kernels underneath them! Some of the ears were normal but a little shorter than usual, with tassels about three inches long at the ends of the ears, and less wrapping than usual. It was way fun, and I bought more of it before it could get "improved." It also tasted delicious. And the blue hill, when I hand-pollinated with tassels from the same hill, gave me some ears which were all blue -- with lighter and darker blue kernels mixed on the same ear.

          It seemed to me that I could have a heckuva good time making a bigger corn field with this stuff, and gradually adding another few plants of another open-pollinated sweet corn into it, using the Painted Mountain Sweet Corn as the female parent. These days I worry about Monsanto's filthy genes getting into any corn, even garden corn, but I figure that if I choose for parent ears only those with ear worm at the tips, I'll avoid at least the BT genes. Since most of these plants produced more than one ear, my plan would be to eat the first ear, and if I really liked it, mark the plant with yarn and leave later ears for seed.

          So far I haven't fixed up enough ground for the "corn field" which would still be only about 20' x 15', but maybe by next year --

          Regards ........
          Last edited by piano-doctor-lady; 07-28-2011, 07:46 PM.