After the drought we experienced in the summer of 2016 you will not hear me complain about rain. The storms that have provided the recent precipitation have sadly caused alot of damage in some areas. High winds and tornados are not something I can be thankful for. The rain however is something I am thankful for.
Along with some of the normal unseasonably warm days I’ve began to see life emerging from the soil. It was a few weeks ago I broadcasted rapeseed as fodder and root knot nematode control on my farmstead. After all those recent nights and days of straight downpours they have begun to grow. New wild strains of fungi have been spotted on my farmstead. Mushroom fruits such as wild oyster have emerged from hickory stumps felled 2 years ago.
It’s been constant testing and retesting of my water harvesting systems by the rain events. Places that had previously washed out are now soaking up every drop I get of the vital resource. This has given me a feeling that what I am doing is working. I am not talking about major earthworks either. What I have done is very small scale moving of dirt along with laying logs on contour in keyline areas. Creating natural dams in gullys up hill has also proven effective in recent rain storms.
Keeping in mind where I’ve been and where I want to go, I’ve decide to be thankful for the rain no matter what…
‘Cause who knows how long I’ll have to wait ‘Til you come blowing back my way I’m learning to be thankful for the rain’
Over six years ago I decided I was going to do some landscaping at my new home. I had never heard of permaculture design nor did I know just how awful my soil was at the time. It turns out a sandy hill void of topsoil comes with challenges. Adding to those challenges was the high acidity from all the surrounding pine trees that are a staple in southern monoculture forestry land. So without much observation I dug six holes and filled them using four encore azaleas and two peach trees.
The peach trees I planted almost immediately died regardless of the care I gave. By the next year all but two of the azaleas followed suit and decided not to live. With such a low return on investment I stopped planting. I stopped trying to grow. It did not make sense to buy more plants just to watch them die. Looking back I can see how this was a true failure. My dream of a nice yard was done. It would take to much time, energy, and money to keep going without guarantee of success. Going fishing and having a good time became the path. Counting the cost made me quit something that I truly felt connected to.
As time went on my health went with it. High blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and lack of energy had taken hold. It was at that point I knew things had to change. I began to diet and exercise regularly with a focus on organic fruits and vegetables. This helped tremendously but I was not satisfied. The more I researched the more I realized that the whole system was rigid. So with this new revelation I began to garden. Working on that garden made gave me the sense of accomplishment I had been longing for. Growing my food became my passion.
As I went deeper into growing the best food I kept coming across one word. There had to be something to this for so many to want to share it. I had found the word permaculture. The idea of making the problem the solution just made sense to me and captured my focus. Applying this new way of thinking to my life and plantings began to close the loop of my well being. Now I spend a lot of time, energy, and money creating great soil. I no longer see it as a liability but rather as a priceless asset.
While riding home the other day I noticed something unusual off to the side of the road. It was a huge pile, no more like a mountain of leaves! They had been bagged and appeared to be headed for the landfill. I pulled in and knocked on the door of the property owner. The door cracked barely open and a small lady with a soft voice said hello. After exchanging greetings I pointed to the mountain in her yard and asked about it. She informed me that I was welcome to take as many of the bags I wished. I thanked her and began to work. I was going to move that mountain!
Equipped nothing but leather gloves, a truck & trailer, and will power I went after my goal. Loading the wet bags on a frozen day was a challenge. As I unloaded the bags of biomass, I staged them in locations that would make it easy to spread. Three large piles sit waiting to be applied. Over 50 bags total is a fair estimate. I plan to use some of them as brown material in compost, sheet mulching, and biotowers. The soil I started with here is sandy and will benefit greatly from the added biomass. Worms, fungi, and bacteria will move in and break them down into beautiful soil very quickly. That beautiful soil will be the foundation of my permaculture food forest. That food forest is going to be a reality!
It was around this time last year that we decided to host a workshop on inoculating logs for mushroom cultivation. The we I refer to here is our amazing local permaculture group. Path To Permaculture began planning the event for the following February. Some of us would need to order the spawn and wax. Others located items such as crockpots, drills, table, cords, and things such as brushes. Everyone came together to harvest the trees we would need. We teamed up with www.eatsouth.com to host the event in downtown Montgomery, Al. This allowed us to bring in more people from the local community who were also interested. Jayme Oates of www.farmscapesolutions.com did a wonderful job of introducing us to the whole process as our presenter. I will admit it was work inoculating a trailer load of green logs. Everyone got involved and everyone got to bring home a log! I was impressed at the teamwork of all those individuals coming together to do the hard work regardless of their differences, that may separate them any other day. Now it was going to be a waiting game for us newbie mushroom cultivators. I admit it crossed my mind a few times that the logs might not make it due to the awful drought we experienced this year. Making use of the logs instead for firewood never was an option for me. I had seen people work so hard to make this a reality. I keep my share of logs well shaded and in more humid areas of my property the entire time. It was a recent post by a friend in north Alabama that triggered me to take a closer look at my logs. She had hosted a similar workshop around the same time as ours. The logs they had made were beginning to fruit. Instead of my casually glancing at the logs as I walked by I took a closer look at what I had today. What I had was home grown shiitake! Seeing our idea come to fruition one year after taking action kicks ass!
Can’t wait to cook a flush of my shiitake up for dinner one night soon.
Recently I lost my grandfather. He was a man loved by those who had the pleasure of knowing him. Losing loved ones has kind of been a staple of life since an early age. Still I was in no way prepar…
Source: Applying Permaculture Principle #2 to Life