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Back from Europe!

Gardening, Random Fun Stuff By June 19, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

Note: I wrote this post a week ago, but failed to post it. I think I’m getting the hang of a schedule here and will be back to posting regularly soon!

Hello everyone! First off, I want to apologize for not having any posts while we were gone. I had every intention of scheduling a series of posts to go up while we were gone, but I just never got around to it. Can you all forgive me? I hope so, because I have a ton of awesome homesteading and environmental stuff to talk about having to do with this trip!


Polyculture Lawns – Increasing biodiversity, and maybe sequestering more carbon

Climate Justice and Environmentalism, Gardening By March 2, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , 8 Comments

Polyculture Lawns: An experiment in turning my turf into a more biodiverse, carbon sequestering environment

I’ve been learning all about lawn care in my Landscape Management class this semester. Since starting this program, I’ve found a deeper interest in lawn than I ever thought possible, which still isn’t that high. Turf is kind of boring, and most lawns are nothing but turf. You don’t realize just how boring turf is until you are staring at it’s auricles with an eyeloop trying to figure out if this is Kentucky bluegrass or fine fescue. But lawns and turf aren’t always the same thing, and lawn care has sparked my interest. Mostly, I am interested in how we can use lawn to create more biodiversity in the landscape and capture carbon. The more I thought about this, the more the idea of a polyculture lawn began to take shape in my mind.



Climate Justice and Environmentalism, Gardening By August 30, 2014 Tags: , , , No Comments

I can’t tell you how often I am asked (or hear others ask) what works for weeds. This is a tough question to answer. What do you mean by “works”?

If you are meaning what will make them go away and never come back, the answer is nothing. Even in Carthage, where the Romans salted the earth so many centuries ago to obliterate any chance of culture forming there again, there is now fertile earth that supports, amongst many plant life, weeds.

But perhaps you mean just for your lifetime, or even just a year? Salting the earth might work for your lifetime, but for just a year, I’d say nothing “works”. Nothing organic, nothing that they sell at the hardware store or garden center, nothing will get them all for very long. Chemicals break down, and anything legal today is designed to break down fairly quickly to minimize it’s risk of getting into our water or doing long term damage to the soil (note: it still does those things, just to a lesser degree than, say, DDT). So if you spray something, it might kill the plants, but there may be seeds still in your yard that will outlast the chemical you sprayed, and will sprout and grow. Or new seeds will be blown in, or carried in by birds, mice, squirrels, etc.

Honestly, though, I’m skeptical that most chemical solutions, whether store bought (like RoundUp) or home made (like the dish soap and vinegar concoction everyone seems so fond of online) actually kill weeds. Having used them a few times in my life, I’m pretty sure all they do is wilt the leaves. So before long, they spring back, along with all those seeds in mentioned above. Meanwhile, we’re getting harmful chemicals into our water and air through spraying, and we’re killing off the micro biome in the soil that allows plants to get nutrients from the soil (which eventually end up in us and other animals that eat those plants), decompose dead things, and support any kind of life that hasn’t specifically evolved to thrive in sterile soil (in other words, weeds). The eventual outcome of spraying, yes, even vinegar, is the creation of soil in which only weeds can grow, and if the weeds have no competition for space from other plants, they will grow, aggressively. At that point, though, it’s probably good that the weeds grow. They’re the only thing that will bring life back to the dead soil.

Given this experience, and my knowledge of what these chemicals do to our water and the soil microbiome, my preferred methods of weeding are digging and torching. Digging is the most effective. When you get the majority of a root up out of the ground, you know that weed is dead and gone forever. Yes, it may have left seeds, but it won’t survive to make any more. If you don’t get the whole root, there’s still a chance that weed is dead, and even if it grows back, you’ve seriously stunted it’s ability to make seeds, meaning it might reproduce less this season than it would have had you not dug it.

Torching works much like spraying, but is way less toxic. And it’s kind of fun. I don’t think it gets the root very well in most cases, but it’s no worse than sprays, and way better for our soil and water.

I am not sentimental about weeds. You won’t hear me describing dandelions as wildflowers, or keeping lambs ear growing because it can be medicinal. I learned my lesson about letting purslane have a place in my garden, and I advise people to pull anything they don’t recognize in their garden. But I also have taken a realistic viewpoint on weeds, and stopped looking for some magic fix for them. Weeds will always be there, always keep coming, and I have to accept and make peace with the fact that I will always need to meet them to do battle against them in my yard. This is the nature of life, and frankly I would be scared and worried if something stopped their constant assault. The loss of weeds, plants that evolved with civilization to thrive in the destruction we reap upon all other life, would be a pretty big dead canary in our metaphorical coal mine. Weeds are our promise that life can find a way in even the most dismal conditions, and to find a way to squelch that permanently would spell certain doom for more delicate creatures, like ourselves.


Tomato blooms, squash growth, and tiny citrus. More rocking on the homestead

DIY, Gardening, Home cooking By July 16, 2014 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

I figured I’d catch you guys up on how the gardening is going. ┬áHere is the view from the deck.

Our patio garden

Our patio garden