Monday, April 19, 2010

Sunny IDC

It was a busy weekend. I was busy all weekend but I don't really feel like I accomplished anything. My talk at church was fine. I was one of three people who shared "what we do to care for the earth". I talked (with V chiming in) about how we are trying to rehab the house and land. About insulating and planting. I only had about 10 minutes so it went quickly. The other people who spoke were also interesting. One is a well known architect who designs LEED certified buildings and the other is into prairie restoration and brought packets of seeds that he has saved from his prairie. So now- I have another project! LOL! Like I don't have enough already. But he wants to come out and help me identify things we have growing out here (and he wants a start of the horsetails if I have enough)
I moved most of my seedlings out onto the porch.
We've selected a spot for the prairie patch but it is on a slope so I don't really want to till it up before I plant. I'm wondering how it would be if I started my little plants and grasses inside and then transplanted them. We can burn the area next spring to reduce the competition. Anybody have experience with this?

The wild plums are blooming and smell heavenly!
And our big apple is blooming.
But now, it's time for my usual Monday Independence Days update. Here goes:
1. Plant something- hmm, not as busy a week planting-wise. My seedlings are growing nicely but it's still too early to put them out. And all my herbs need to wait until after the septic (we're waiting for bids). But, my peas and radishes are coming up.
2. Harvest something- chives, some chard and some lambsquarters. We had a few chard plants that overwintered and the new growth is OH, so tasty!
3. Preserve something- not directly, no, but somehow I think I can count our beef purchase.
4. Waste not- We are repurposing old fence rails for bins for wood chips and probably compost as well (although I'm worried about toxins leaching out into my compost- but then, I figure that those posts are probably 30+ years old and hopefully everything has leached out already). I've been trying to take leftovers for lunch- I was so disorganized the week before that I actually ended up buying lunch at work!
5. Want not- Put a side of beef into the freezer! Stocked up on frozen peas (to use until ours start producing)
6. Community food systems- did my little talk at church yesterday- we did talk some gardening and people were amazed that my garden is 25x80 feet. I also promoted our plant sale and encouraged a few people to plant tomatoes.
7. Eat the food- Yesterday we had been burning some brush so since we had coals, we decided to use the dutch oven to cook outside. We had a small but wonderful beef roast with loads of potatoes, carrots and onions. I also double wrapped some bread and heated it up on the coals to sop up the broth from the bottom of the pan- yum!

It should be an interesting week at work. One of my co-workers (who only works 3 days a week) evidently injured herself putting up a deer fence at her son's organic garden over the weekend and is now non-weightbearing on her right leg. So, she most likely won't be in to work this week. Unfortunate since there is at least one of the remaining three of us scheduled off every remaining day this week. sigh..... Wish me luck.

Oh, and an addition- I almost forgot to mention that Mama Robin has two more eggs in her nest. Yup, three beautiful blue eggs right by the pump handle. We've been trying to avoid bothering her too much but I'm going to need water. The only other outside faucet is on the South side of the house- not too bad for carrying water to the apple trees but a bit far for the garden.


  1. Glad your talk went well, knew it would. Your blooming plums are just beautiful. Can you eat the fruit? I love plums. From the looks of your porch, you've got a lot of planting to do!...debbie

  2. Haha! Not quite all the seedlings are mine. Some are for a charity plant sale in a few weeks. Actually- they are getting all the ones I don't want!
    The wild plums are quite tasty- we ate some last summer. They are small, with a largish pit and a very tart skin but they make great jam.

  3. The prairie patch sounds wonderful! How nice for him to share his collection, I am sure it will be a great addition!

  4. My parents are farmers and have lots of CRP acres that they have converted to prairie with small and big bluestem along with a host of native wildflowers. Due to the number of acres, they have always seeded. I'm sure transplanting would work but I think it would take a lot of years in order to get it thick like a native prairie or lots of back breaking work to transplant enough.

    The key as you mentioned is burning it. My parents burn their ground every couple years and that significantly improves the quality of the prairie by reducing the competition and undergrowth. The ash also helps improve the soil. We usually burn it between December and when everything starts to green up in the spring.

  5. Ed- I know that seeding is by far the best option (I've helped my parents do it long ago). My only concern is that the spot we have chosen is on such a slope that I worry that if I dig it up to prepare it for seeding that all we need is one good rain and I'm in big trouble with erosion that I'll never be able to recover from. I'm wondering about transplanting enough things in to hold the soil after I burn. Maybe I could seed on top after I burn???
    Actually, the engineer who was out for the septic suggested we burn down near the wetlands to see what native species we have "hiding" out there.

  6. Perhaps you could do some strip farming? Till up strips of land around the contour of the hill and seed that leaving equal amounts of strips untilled. After your prairie gets established, go in next year and till up the strips in-between and seed those. My parents do a lot of strip farming and this works well in controlling erosion since the entire hillside is never bare dirt at one time.

    Another option that you could possibly research is mixing your seed with a quicker growing cover crop that will hold the soil and then can be removed through frequent burnings over the upcoming years. Not sure what that would be but perhaps alfalfa, timothy or fescue.

  7. Great post...those plums are stunning!

    If you want to link up anything for the kinderGARDENS contest feel free to come on over and add your link. Kim

  8. One last comment on this post. I was down on the farm this weekend and asked my father about your prairie planting project. He said his recommendation to prevent erosion would be to spray the hillside with Roundup to kill the vegetation but keep the biomass in place to prevent erosion and get a local farmer with a no-till planter to plant the grass seed. He said he has done that several times and has had great success. He also said, whatever method, it will be pretty weedy the first year but with yearly burning, it should look pretty good after a couple years. Wish you luck.


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