Being at the permaculture convergence helped spark my interest in some aspects of permaculture, and reminded me of the aspects that just aren’t for me. It is good to see both of those ends of interest and disinterest so that I can find a middle path that works best for me.
One positive point is that I returned from the convergence with a renewed interest in working on a design for our yard. Jessica had done a preliminary design earlier in the year, but I wasn’t feeling excited about adding ideas to the design. Maybe it was because I was focused on my art, or that we think we’ll only be here two years, or that I was feeling disinterested in certain things about the permaculture “movement”.
Whatever the case, the convergence seemed to inspire me enough to spend a day working on design ideas for our yard. The first rough design looks good, but I’m starting another which takes a more serious look at growing more storage crops that we can can, freeze or store for winter. It will be fun for Jessica & I to compare each of our designs, and then merge ideas into one final design.
Another inspiring piece from the convergence came from a workshop session given by Joel Glanzberg. I forget what the workshop was titled (something about patterns I believe), but for me it was a Zen mind sort of experience. He taught us basic tools to help clear our minds and become more present in the moment. That presence opened up awareness which allowed one to gain a deeper understanding of the landscape around them. With the noisy chatter of your mind gone (or quieted), it is easier to use all of your senses to examine a potential design site. His workshop alone made the trip worthwhile for me.
I was also excited to find and buy a copy of Integrated Forest Gardening: The Complete Guide to Polycultures and Plant Guilds in Permaculture Systems. The book has several sample designs specifically for SE Wisconsin near Lake Michigan where we live. For some reason plants guilds have been somewhat of a mystery to me (probably because I’ve been overthinking them), and this book is helping me grasp the concept better.
So whether we stay in this house for another year or two, or decide to stay longer, it will be exciting to create and implement a permaculture design for our yard that will provide abundance, beauty, and privacy.
The plan was to grill some pork chops for dinner, but I wanted something different than I usually do. (Usually I use my BBQ rub, or my Harissa blend.) Vietnamese or Thai flavors came to mind, but I didn’t have all the ingredients for an authentic recipe. Well, I love making up my own sauces, so I created my own sauce go with tonight’s pork chops.
We had fresh Thai peppers from the farmers market, as well as garlic and basil from our garden, so I started there to create dipping sauce with Asian influences as well as a subtle hint of Indian flavors.
1 large clove Garlic, minced
1 Thai chile pepper, finely sliced (can remove seeds if you want less heat)
2 Basil leaves, finely chopped
1/8 cup Sesame Oil
1 Tbls Coconut Aminos (or Bragg’s Aminos, or Tamari)
1 Tbls Coconut Vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1/4 cup Lime juice
1 Tbls Mirin (rice wine)
2 Tbls organic sugar (the natural looking kind)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp Tamarind paste
Dash of white pepper
Dash of Cardamom
Chop garlic, Thai pepper and basil as noted. Add the liquid ingredients to small bowl, then stir in sugar until dissolved. Mix in Tamarind paste, stir until mixed in well. Add garlic, Thai pepper, basil, white pepper and cardamom, mix well. Give it a taste and adjust as needed.
This recipe made enough dipping sauce for two of us, and probably would’ve been enough for four.
We used it on pork chops, but it would go great on chicken, beef, tofu, or just about anything. Hell, we even tried some on our corn-on-the-cob and it was great!
I’ve added two new downloadable poster designs to my Etsy shop (plasticcameradesign). Vintage styled Chicken Meat Cuts and Beef Meat Cuts at a low, low price and ready for instant download so you can print your own!
Our new garden here in Wisconsin as of Summer Solstice. Arugula and some other greens have bolted, and we have green tomatoes and broccoli already! The radishes did poorly and didn’t form much of a bulb, and the spinach didn’t do as well as as we’d hoped, but for the most part things are doing well.
The season started a little late for us since we still needed to make the garden but the snow on the ground slowed us. So our cold weather crops were seeded a week or two later than we wanted. I think things bolted early because our spring weather was a bit erratic switching between cool days to hot, and back to cool again. We’ve had a ton of rain which is really nice. By this time of the year back in Colorado we’d be having either huge water bills or water restrictions and really sad gardens. It is really nice to be gardening in an area with more rainfall and better soil!
When we first dug the garden, we seeded a clover cover crop into the areas that wouldn’t be planted right away. That clover is growing happily, adding nutrients to the soil, suppressing weeds, and keeping the soil from drying out. We planted squash, beans, tomatoes, and other things into the clover and they all seem happy together. Every so often we need to do a “chop & drop”, trim the clover and use it as mulch in other parts of the garden.
In a neighborhood where perfect lawns are the obsession of most, we surely stand out as a bit odd. We don’t poison our lawn because of dandelions or ants. We grow our own food. We want to let our lilac bushes get taller so we have some privacy. We were eating violet flowers and dandelion greens from our lawn, and linden leaf from the tree in our front yard. If we stay in this house long enough, I’m sure the neighbors will really be wondering as we fill the yard with more garden beds and fruit trees.
I finally had the time and cooperative weather to dig our first garden at the new house. At our house back in Colorado we mainly had done permaculture style sheet mulch garden beds, and several mini-hugelkulture mounds.
I understand the concept of sheet mulching and have done it, but I’m not sold on the idea for all applications. If you have a pretty good soil as a starting point as we do here in Wisconsin, I don’t see the point in spending the extra energy (and possibly money) to bring in the large amounts of materials needed to make a sheet mulch bed. I’m sure some permies would argue that point, but I don’t care. It is about observation and seeing what makes the most sense for a specific site, not just blindly following someone else’s rules.
The soil here is rich and black, unlike the concrete clay soil we had in Colorado. A basic soil test did show it lacking in nutrients, so we will amend the soil. We found what appears to be a nice certified organic compost with a blend of worm castings made here in Wisconsin and we will amend the soil with it, and then build on that over time.
We seem to have no shortage of bunnies here, so we need to fence the garden. The plan is the usual chicken wire on the low part, which folds out onto the ground so they can’t dig under, and then a cute and inexpensive little white picket fence. I had plans for a slightly bigger rustic fence, but the rules in this county say you need a permit for anything higher than 3′. My plan was only for a 4′ fence and I am not going to get a permit for a simple garden fence. We may also end up getting a privacy fence added at some point (with a permit of course) just because we already miss the privacy we had at our old house.
So to begin, we have this one garden, and will probably add fruit trees and other garden beds over time if we plan to stay here a while. We can’t wait for fresh produce!