Not sure what else to call it really - coffee grounds are crack for worms.
If you add coffee grounds into a worm farm they will go nuts for it, reducing the whole pile into luscious vermicast in no time.
Heh even better because it only does them good.
And now via the power of digital images, I bring you my earthworm drug of choice...
I didn't make this up! Plucked from world news headlines. 'Really'
Scientists believe asparagus could be ward off the effects of a hangover. Scientists have found chemicals in the vegetable also protect liver cells against toxins.
Experiments on human cells found the minerals and amino acids in asparagus can replacing those lost through drinking which can often lead to a headache.
“Permaculture is the harmonious integration of landscape and people. The philosophy behind it is one of, working with, rather than working against, nature. The ethical basis of permaculture is: to take care of the earth; the people, and to set limits on consumption and population.” Bill Mollison, 2002
I disagree with his assessment because on some level I believe each person has the right to decide how many children one has. It’s a very personal decision that I will fight to uphold. Reproductive Rights. Yes, I have opinions and I’m not afraid to state them. You have them, too. And I stand on your right to have them. Personal Responsibility.
Initially, permaculture is a technique to design systems with better energy efficiency. The question is asked, “why is the forest so abundant, but agricultural systems are not?” Permaculture has an ethic that follows three principles:
- Take Care of the Earth. She is your Mother, so instead of saying, “the earth belongs to us, rather say. We belong to the Earth.”
- Take Care of the People; the social permaculture
- Share the Surplus, which is also connected to economical sustainability, because we are not here to live a life of consumerism, but one of simplicity
Sounds a bit Socialist and religious in its approach to me, but hey, whatever works
The way we have been farming for the past few generations is aggressive for all involved; nature, agriculture, and tradesmen, making permaculture more an issue of economics. Permaculture has sustainable a dimension. It takes us to a logic in which we interfere less, save energy, and get more in return. Nature has its own speed and I respect that.
The question I most have about permaculture is how is it going to change our current farming methodology? While I can easily see using this on urban lots that lie fallow and on to small acreage farms, I have trouble envisioning this on farms that encompass hundreds & thousands of acres. So far a comprehensive study has not been completed. I saw a post by a doctorate student endeavoring to study permaculture from a scientific stand point. He is in fundraising mode so he can do this work. Sure hope it works out for him.
There will be more on this topic as I research, learn, & put into practice what I learn. Stay Tuned
I LOVE discovering ways to increase my yield of produce. I stumbled upon this post via a Pinterest pal. I love technology as much as I love gardening, farming, & homesteading. Wonderful stuff!
Although it’s late in the season to start growing much, we can read what others are doing and begin to formulate our own plans for next years planting season. I enjoy the “downtime” of fall & winter after the hectic growing season & preservation flurry of activity. When January rolls around and seed catalogs start coming in the mail I am like a kid at Christmas!
I like Fred’s Garden Gate instructions for increasing the potato yield with wire fencing and filling it with compost. Much more attractive than the old tire route
Enjoy the post. I know I do!
by Fred Davis, MG, Hill Gardens of Maine
Welcome through Fred’s Garden Gate! Well, it’s too late for this season—at least in Central Maine—but there’s still time to prepare and plan a very different way to grow potatoes next season.
Early this Spring (2000), I ordered my Dark Red Norland potatoes from Johnny’s and decided I’d had enough of rows and rows of spuds taking up most of the prime space in our veggie patch. So….I borrowed a concept from a distant friend, highly refined it, and now grow them vertically! The up-side: where 5 pounds of spud “seed” formerly planted about 40 feet of row, now the same plants occupy a circular space 2-1/2 feet across by 36″ tall. And considering the harvest rate, that cooks down to just short of a bushel and a half for the space used! The only down-side that I can see: the planting tends to dry out quicker than if planted directly in the ground. Here’s the deal:
Find yourself about ten feet of 36″ wide “hog wire” that has wire spacing of 1″ by 2″, then roll it into a vertical “cylinder” (now 3-feet tall) and lace it together with either wire or synthetic cord.
Once laced securely, it’s time to cut the openings through which your potato “seed” will be inserted. Each hole will be approximately 3″ by 4″ – just large enough to push the “seed” through, and for the plant to grow through. I arranged mine so there were four openings tall on the cylinder, and 10 openings on each of the four tiers.
Stand this now completed cylinder on one end in the full sun, and drive a stout stake outside on each side (at “9 O’clock” and “3 O’clock”) to keep it standing on end.
The next step involves a wheelbarrow and some elbow-grease: fill this wire enclosure right to the top with the freshest compost or very high organic matter soil— not the usual stuff (“dirt”) you usually grow your potatoes in!—you can get your hands on, and slightly shake the cage a little to settle it down. I used 100% compost—a biologically hot-rot product using my own 21-day, no-turn composting method (see the article in archives: Fast Composting! (use your Back-Button to return directly to this page). Moisten thoroughly and then let it sit for a couple of hours to drain out.
Note: Another system similar to this uses, instead of wire, a relatively rigid recycled plastic sheet with convenient holes drilled for the plants, which you’re supposed to roll into a cylinder, fasten, and plant as you fill. In my experience, planting in layers from the bottom up inside the enclosure is fraught with an annoying handicap: by the time planting has reached the top, the bottom layers have compressed, forcing the already planted potato seed down and away from the hole. As it sprouts, more often than not it misses the hole and spends the entire season trying to get to the top rather than expending all that wasted energy producing a good crop.
When you fill and settle first—especially when using wire—the seed is pushed through the openings, where they stay put…and can “see” daylight so they know which way is “out”!
OK, all filled up, settled down and ready to plant! But first, you should have cut your potato “seed” into smaller pieces about 24-hours ago so the cut surfaces have a chance to “heal”. Most seed potatoes can be cut into thirds or fourths (+/-)…just be dead certain each piece has at least one “eye” or growing point. After cutting, spread them out on a clean surface (an elevated screen will allow good air circulation) in an airy, dry place out of the sun.
Actual planting is pure simplicity. Gently press each piece through each hole in your compost filled and moistened wire cylinder so that just the slightest bit remains visible.
You should end up with several pieces left over….nudge them into the top surface about 6″ apart and a couple inches deep. If you still have a couple pieces left, keep them in a cool, dark place because one or two of the ones planted may turn out to be “duds”, and you’ll have replacements (I didn’t keep any in reserve and, consequently, there are a couple of gaps in my y2k vertical potato “field”. Oh, well….there’s always next year!). Here’s what it should look like about 3 weeks after planting (some seed-pieces may be a bit slower than others, so have patience:
Now comes the boring part: Maintain moisture throughout the remainder of the season – remember that it’ll dry out faster than if planted directly in ground-level soil – and, after about 5 or 6 weeks, you may enjoy “stealing” a few little, 1-inch “baby” spuds from the top layer…to put into soups or stews, or just wash off and crunch down on the spot.
At the end of the season, after the tops have wearied, turned yellow-green and have obviously done their duty, remove all the external plant parts, push it over, give it a good shake to liberate the wire cage (or untie the lacings and remove wire that way)…and harvest your potato crop without the necessity of digging up 40 or 50 feet of row! The photo at the right shows a few of the 45 pounds of spuds retrieved at harvest…nice size and almost totally devoid of distortions and scab. We’ll be doing this again!
All that’s left to do is retrieve the wire, clean it off a bit and store it for next years’ crop. Spread the compost around the rest of the garden and till it in to improve your soil. Oh, I almost forgot: don’t use any kind of manure as part of the mix….chances are you’ll end up with scabby spuds. And you might also consider moving the planting around to a different – possibly distant – spot each year to make it more difficult for the Colorado Potato Beetles to find your crop (they spend the winter in the ground very near where they were originally hatched….but if there aren’t any potatoes there the next season, that should help keep their numbers down).
An alternative method:
Some years back, customers of ours recommended this also-very-effective (but not quite as space-saving) method of growing spuds: they made foot-tall raised beds out of old planks, filled them with high-organic-matter (probably compost), laid out their seed potatoes and covered them with straw—lots of it, apparently. Their potato plants grew up through the straw, looked magnificent, entertained no beetles, and harvesting involved little more than removing the straw and picking up spuds.
“Permaculture is about designing sustainable human settlements through ecology and design. It is a philosophy and an approach to land use which weaves together micro climates, annual and perennial plants, animals, soils, water management and human needs into intricately connected productive communities.” Bill Mollison, Founder of Permaculture
Permaculture is about community living, building healthy environments, producing fresh local food, eliminating use of harmful chemicals, maximizing natural energies, ensuring clean air, water and soil, building on conserving bio-diversity, and meeting our needs with time-tested natural solutions.
Permaculture is a way of thinking as well as a system of organizing intelligent ecological and ethical design. It does not focus on the elements of sustainability in themselves, for example the details of organic living, eco-building, appropriate technology, community building, green finance, or rainwater harvesting, but on the beneficial relationships between these elements. Further focusing on how they are put together to make them as energy efficient and sustaining as possible for people, the planet and our ecosystem.
Permaculture (Permanent Culture) enhances our observation and understanding of natural patterns and universal principles. It teaches us to contemplate nature and natural systems and then to apply these ecological truisms to our own living environments. (Definition partially excerpted from the Permaculture UK magazine editorial by Maddy Harland).
Permaculture is not gardening, is not composting, is not chickens, is not rainwater harvesting, is not solar, is not intentional community, is not recycling… It is all of these, together! It is all these things in beneficial relationships, in the right location. This is permaculture! This is sustainable!
Backyard chicken keepers beware! Do not use the shatter resistant bulbs coated with Teflon in your chicken coops. I would imagine the fumes would prove deadly to turkeys too.
Oh, and by the way, those Teflon pans in your kitchen should go too. If the fumes from heated Teflon are so deadly to your poultry, they are no doubt unhealthy for you to be breathing too
A couple weeks ago, with the threat of a storm approaching, I went to my garden and picked as many tomatoes as I could find, with no respect to color. As such, I ended up with containers full tomatoes that I was able to eat right away. However, many of them were green and had to wait. Well, I waited and they finally ripened.
- grow a typical garden without irrigation or fertilization
- has been demonstrated to work in deserts as well as backyards
- use up rotting wood, twigs, branches and even whole trees that would otherwise go to the dump or be burned
- it is pretty much nothing more than buried wood
- can be flush with the ground, although raised garden beds are typically better
- can start small, and be added to later
- can always be small – although bigger is better
- You can save the world from global warming by doing carbon sequestration in your own back yard!
- perfect for places that have had trees blown over by storms
- can help end world hunger
- give a gift to your future self
It’s a german word and some people can say it all german-ish. I’m an american doofus, so I say “hoogle culture”. I had to spend some time with google to find the right spelling. Hugal, hoogal, huegal, hugel …. And I really like saying it out loud: “hugelkultur, hoogle culture, hoogal kulture ….” – it could be a chant or something.
I learned this high-falootin word at my permaculture training. I also saw it demonstrated on the Sepp Holzer terraces and raised beds video – he didn’t call it hugelkultur, but he was doing it.
Hugelkultur is nothing more than making raised garden beds filled with rotten wood. This makes for raised garden beds loaded with organic material, nutrients, air pockets for the roots of what you plant, etc. As the years pass, the deep soil of your raised garden bed becomes incredibly rich and loaded with soil life. As the wood shrinks, it makes more tiny air pockets – so your hugelkultur becomes sort of self tilling. The first few years, the composting process will slightly warm your soil giving you a slightly longer growing season. The woody matter helps to keep nutrient excess from passing into the ground water – and then refeeding that to your garden plants later. Plus, by holding SO much water, hugelkultur could be part of a system for growing garden crops in the desert with no irrigation.
I do think there are some considerations to keep in mind. For example, I don’t think I would use cedar. Cedar lasts so long because it is loaded with natural pesticides/herbicides/anti-fungal/anti-microbial(remember, good soil has lots of fungal and microbial stuff). Not a good mix for tomatoes or melons, eh? Black locust, black cherry, black walnut? These woods have issues. Black locust won’t rot – I think because it is so dense. Black walnut is very toxic to most plants, and cherry is toxic to animals, but it might be okay when it rots – but I wouldn’t use it until I had done the research. Known excellent woods are:alders, apple, cottonwood, poplar, willow (dry) and birch. I suspect maples would be really good too, but am not certain. Super rotten wood is better than slightly aged wood. The best woods are even better when they have been cut the same day (this allows you to “seed” the wood with your choice of fungus – shitake mushrooms perhaps?).
Another thing to keep in mind is that wood is high in carbon and will consume nitrogen to do the compost thing. This could lock up the nitrogen and take it away from your growies. But well rotted wood doesn’t do this so much. If the wood is far enough along, it may have already taken in sooooo much nitrogen, that it is now putting it out!
Pine and fir will have some levels of tanins in them, but I’m guessing that most of that will be gone when the wood has been dead for a few years.
In the drawings at right, the artist is trying to show that while the wood decomposes and shrinks, the leaves, duff and accumulating organic matter from above will take it’s place. The artist is showing the new organic matter as a dark green.
the soil comes from somewhere else
raised garden beds dug in a bit -
note the sod is put upside down on the wood
and the topsoil is on top of that
raised garden beds dug in a bit -
plus paths are dug on the sides and
that sod/soil goes on top too
I find I most often build hugelkultur in places where the soil is shallow. So I end up finding excess soil from somewhere else on the property and piling it on some logs. Presto! Instant raised garden beds! This is usually the easiest/fastest way too. Especially if you have earth moving equipment.
For those times that the soil is deep and you are moving the soil by hand, I like to dig up the sod and dig down a foot or two. Then pile in the wood. Then put the sod on top of the wood, upside-down. Then pile the topsoil on top of that. Even better is to figure out where the paths will be, and dig down there too. Add two layers of sod onto the logs and then the double topsoil.
I have discovered that a lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of raised bed gardens. They have seen the large flat gardens for years and are sure this is the way to do it. Some people are okay with raised beds that are three to six inches tall – they consider anything taller than that unsightly.
So this is gonna sound crazy, but I hope to convince you that the crazy-sounding stuff is worth it.
If you build your hugelkultur raised garden beds tall enough, you won’t have to irrigate. At all (after the second year). No hoses. No drip system. Anything shorter won’t require as much irrigation – so there is still some benefit. Imagine going on vacation in the summer without having to hire somebody to kill water your garden! As a further bonus, the flavor of everything you grow will be far better!
To go all summer long without a drop of rain, you need to build your hugelkultur raised bed gardens …. six feet tall. But they’ll shrink! Mostly in the first month. Which is why I suggest you actually build them seven feet tall.
Hugelkultur raised garden beds can be built just two feet tall and will hold moisture for about three weeks. Not quite as good, but more within the comfort zone of many people – including urban neighbors.
Some people will start out with hugelkultur raised garden beds that are two and a half feet tall and plant only annuals. And each year they will build the size of the bed a foot. So that after a few years, they will have the bigger beds and the neighbors never really noticed. And if they’ve tasted what comes from it – they might be all for it without caring about the big mounds.
Besides, isn’t this much better use of the wood than hauling it to the dump, or chipping it, or putting it in those big city bins for yard waste?
|standard hugelkultur raised garden beds||narrower hugelkultur raised garden beds||peaked hugelkultur raised garden beds||hugelkultur raised garden beds with a stone border||hugelkultur raised garden beds with a log border|
I usually build hugelkulture raised garden beds about five feet wide. This makes for some mighty steep beds. Just pack that soil on tight and plant it with a mix of heavy rooted plants to hold it all together. Quick! Before it rains! If you are going to build beds shorter than three feet tall, I suggest that you make the beds no wider than four feet wide. Unless you are doing keyhole style raised garden beds, in which case you should be able to get away with something wider.
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
Dash of cayenne
Coconut Cream Filling
2 cups firm young coconut pulp
1/4 cup coconut oil
4-5 pitted medjool dates
½ tsp vanilla extract or caviar scraped from 1 bean
Blend ingredients until creamy. Set aside and refrigerate.
6-8 large firm strawberries, de-stemmed and sliced 1/8” thick
Top Chocolate Layer
1 cup young coconut pulp
3 Tbsp coconut oil
½ cup raw cacao powder
3 pitted medjool dates
3 black mission figs
½ tsp vanilla extract or caviar scraped from 1 bean
¼ tsp cinnamon
Dash of cayenne
Blend ingredients until thick and smooth, adding just enough coconut water to turn over in blender. Set aside.
1 cup assorted berries – raspberry, blueberry, sliced strawberries
1 tsp honey
Mint leaves (optional)
Blend the honey with about a few of the strawberries to make a glaze. Toss gently with the berries and mint and refrigerate until ready to serve.
1. Press crust recipe evenly into a 9” spring-form torte pan with a removable side greased with a little coconut oil.
2. De-stem, then slice the strawberries the long way and press the large pieces against the inside of the torte pan. Use the smaller heels in the garnish..
3. Pour in and spread the Coconut Cream Filling.
4. Freeze for 2 hours to firm up.
5. Pour on and spread the top chocolate layer mix. Refrigerate or freeze again until firm.
6. When ready to serve, first arrange the fruit garnish on top.