No-waste tree planting

Sorry for letting multiple days go by between posts but gardening season preparations are in full swing right during a very busy time of year for me at work!

This past weekend I planted fifty evergreen seedlings – 10 Norway Spruce, 10 Douglas Firs, 10 White Firs, 5 Ponderosa Pines, 10 Loblolly Pines, and 5 White Pines – in bare spots in our woods where I’ve cut down the evil, invasive Autumn Olive monster shrubs.  I thought I would show you the planting method I used. Continue reading

Survival homesteading on one acre: a free talk by David Goodman (but it’s only free for the next 24 hours)

Ladies and gentlemen, this is so exciting!

David Goodman is a highly accomplished gardener whose methods are eclectic, but he is mostly of the forest gardening persuasion.  He’s written several books and many articles, and I have a great deal of respect for his knowledge of small-scale homesteading.  You can find his blog here:

Florida Survival Gardening

I “know” David (aka “David the Good”) through one of my old blogs, and we also used to chat about faith, family, modernism, gardening, and homesteading on Twitter now and then, though sadly he’s no longer on Twitter.  That is why I was SO excited to see that for the next 24 hours, we can watch a one-hour teaching segment Mr. Goodman did for the Home Grown Food Summit for free!  After the 24-hour free period passes, it’s necessary to pay to watch those segments, so if you’ve got insomnia tonight or are up very early tomorrow, and if gardening and homesteading interest you at all, I highly recommend watching David’s talk.

One of my favorite parts is when he talks about all the mistakes he’s learned from in all his gardening and homesteading years.  Those of us who are trying to learn more about producing some or all of our food can relate to that; sometimes it feels like success is a rare thing in food production! But we needn’t become disheartened; that is a normal part of learning to grow and raise one’s own food.

I do hope some of you will have the chance to watch it!  Here is the link:

http://homegrownfoodsummit.com/Presentations/goodman.html

Thoughts on Christian permaculture from The Cultured Home.

With Easter preparations, household chores, and work, I’ve been too busy to write a post this week.  I have, however, been doing some reading, and I’ve found a handful of resources on Christianity, forest gardening, and permaculture.  I thought I would share one set of links with interested readers here.  The Cultured Home has a three-part series that I found interesting:

Permaculture & Genesis, part 1 — “Dominion”

Permaculture & Christianity, part 2 – “Replenish”

Permaculture & Christianity, part 3 – “Native vs. Exotic Plants”

Conservative Christians and Permaculture: separating the wheat from the chaff.

per·ma·cul·ture
ˈpərməˌkəlCHər/
noun
 the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.

 

Permaculture was originally a portmanteau of “permanent agriculture” and was related to forest gardening.  It has changed over the years though, and now has both very wise gardening techniques and quite absurd new-age-y progressivist elements as well.  This is a common graphic associated with permaculturists:
There is both wheat and chaff in permaculture, and I don’t have them all separated out yet.  Here are some of the things I agree with:
1. Rather than large swaths of sterile, barren lawns, humanity would be much better served if people learned to plant beautiful herb, vegetable, and fruit gardens.
2. Planting gardens the way God made forests is sensible.  Permaculture follows a “forest garden” model:

 

Without buying into the pagan new age spirituality associated with permaculture (to read a permaculture blog is to read the word “Gaia” ad nauseum), I’m still intrigued by their ideas about what it means to labor and obtain a yield, as well as their smart gardening practices.

 

We bought a little over ten acres of woods and disrupted farmland this past fall.  The land had been let go, which means it’s becoming overrun with autumn olive bushes, which are highly invasive thorny shrub that can grow ten feet tall and spread like wildfire.  Autumn olive was originally brought to this country from Asia as a means of controlling erosion; the fruit is supposedly edible, but it isn’t a smart plant to cultivate as it will take over and choke out native plants and trees; it even changes the soil chemistry, making the land good only for autumn olive.

 

I’ve slowly started clearing it out of our forest and meadow.  Here is an area I’ve cleared:

DSC04385

Here is what an autumn olive thicket looks like up close:

DSC04387

Here is another area I’ve cleared, transitioning from our yard into the forest; previously this was a thicket of autumn olive and thorns:

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Using some of the techniques I’m learning from permaculture, I aim to transform it into this:

Image source: Starter Permaculture http://starterpermaculture.com/


 
In the fall I planted apple and peach trees with raspberry and blackberry vines under them.  I’ll add sunflowers, strawberries, herbs and other plants, following the permaculture technique for creating a “forest garden”.  Instead of recycling our cardboard waste, I am using it to mulch under the trees and plants for weed control, which saves labor (saving labor and producing no waste are both permaculture attributes).
 
As I separate the pagan chaff from the beauty- and food-producing wheat of permaculture, I will share those lessons here.  Looking at ten acres of work feels overwhelming, but the permaculture approach of implementing small, slow solutions is comforting and compatible with both my conservativism and Christian faith.
 
[This is my second post in an ongoing series, “Separating the wheat from the chaff,” in which I consider the health of our natural world and environment in the context of conservatism and Christianity.  The first post was Conservative Christians and the International Day of Forests: separating the wheat from the chaff.]