Garlic Harvest

About 1/2 of 2014 Garlic crop
Half of 2014 Garlic crop

Our Garden seems to be doing quite well considering how hot is has been for the last while. We put in a new drip irrigation system this year, which is simply a hose connected to a couple of multi-shutoffs. We bought some ergonomic shut-offs this year to help Diannes hands. Also bought a better quality drip hose (same as city uses in some of their parks). This allows us to create zones in the garden and shut areas off and on as needed. As we just harvested the garlic, we can now shut that area off, so we don’t waste water.
The garlic is a little early this year. This photo is about half the crop which we harvested yesterday. Tomorrow, we will select out the best bulbs to be used for re-planting this fall and hang up all of the garlic for curing. Can’t wait to start eating! (We did try a little out already, but not as tasty before curing). With the Garlic out of the ground, we can train the squash to take over the area, as they are rapidly spreading now. They are full of bees and other pollinators, so should have a good crop of them as well!

Pesticides linked to bee deaths must be banned, scientists say – Technology & Science – CBC News

BeeWe do everything we can to invite pollinators into our yard. We have Mason Bee houses, a Butterfly house, lots of flowering plants and we certainly don’t use any chemical pesticides.

Unfortunately, all around us are neighbours that just don’t understand or care about what is happening to our natural world. Please have a look at this CBC article that, once again, sounds the warning from our Scientists.

Pesticides linked to bee deaths must be banned, scientists say – Technology & Science – CBC News.

Organic vs Non-organic lawn care

We have cut our lawn down to a very small area in the back yard. To cut down on the inherited weed problem, and to bring the lawn area up to a safer height with back sidewalk, we covered the old lawn with cardboard and added 5 inches of compost from Classic Compost. We then seeded with an eco lawn seed, which requires very little water.

For our health and our dogs health, we do not use any chemicals on the lawn. I was sent a link to this interesting poster on the benefits of organic lawn care compared to non-organic and thought I should share. It comes from Safer Brand, which one of our Food Policy Council members used to work for, so thought I should post for everyone to read.


Benefits of organic lawn care companies

Combustion-Free Hot Water at the Whole Systems Research Farm on Vimeo

This is a very interesting project showing the heat you can generate from composting. We have been discussing this type of project on larger scale here in Kelowna, so good to see others testing out as well!

Combustion-Free Hot Water at the Whole Systems Research Farm on Vimeo on Vimeo

via Combustion-Free Hot Water at the Whole Systems Research Farm on Vimeo.

Ghost town becomes Eco Village It's a utopian fantasy- discover a ghost town and rebuild it in line with your ideals-, but in Spain where there are nearly 3000 abandoned villages (most dating back to the Middle Ages), some big dreamers have spent the past 3 decades doing just that. There are now a few dozen "ecoaldeas" – ecovillages – in Spain, most build from the ashes of former Medieval towns. One of the first towns to be rediscovered was a tiny hamlet in the mountains of northern Navarra. It was rediscovered in 1980 by a group of people living nearby who had lost their goats and "when they found their goats, they found Lakabe", explains Mauge Cañada, one of the early pioneers in the repopulation of the town. The new inhabitants were all urbanites with no knowledge of country life so no one expected them to stay long. At first, the homes weren't habitable so they lived 14 in a large room. Slowly they began to rebuild the homes and the gardens. When they first began to rebuild, there was no road up to the town so horses were used to carry construction materials up the mountain. There was no electricity either so they lived with candles and oil lamps. After a few years, they erected a windmill by hand, carrying the iron structure up the hill themselves. "Even though it seems tough and in some ways it was, but you realize you're not as limited as you think," says Mauge. "There are a lot of things people think they can't do without a lot of money and there's never been money <b>…</b>
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Chickens in Permaculture

This is a guest post from Anne Hess. You can read her Simple Living blog at
Chickens are the ultimate permaculture tool.  After spending six years enjoying their scratching feet and delicious eggs on our farm, we’re still finding new ways to integrate them into the homestead ecosystem.  Here are my favorites:

Food for us.  Of course, the reason most of us bring home chickens is to enjoy eggs and/or meat with a quality much higher than you can find in any store.  In permaculture systems, I’ve found it’s handy to figure out your main purpose for any plant or animal before delving into multiple uses.

That way, you can decide whether it’s worth the tradeoff of lowering egg quality but getting more manure when you confine a bird inside all day.  For us, the answer is no — the food we eat is our top priority.

Food for the garden.  Eggs aren’t the only quality product that come out the back end of a chicken, and most permaculture systems do their best to capture that high-fertility manure.  Chicken tractors move the flock to fertilize a new patch of lawn each day, but I feel like I get better results from a stationary coop filled with deep bedding.

The chickens are rotated to a new pasture each week so they don’t get bored, but the manure all stays in one place, creating compost for the garden.

Garbage disposal.  Although most organic gardeners have a compost pile, I’ve chosen the faster method of passing food scraps through a chicken.  In go the melon rinds, out come eggs and compost — it’s a win-win.

Stacking.  Chickens don’t mix well with most active vegetable gardens, but they can share their space quite happily with many other food-producing operations.  Bee hives and mushroom logs are good additions to the chicken pasture, and once the trees are old enough not to mind getting their mulch scratched away, fruit trees can actually benefit from hungry chicken beaks snatching up insects around their roots.

I like to graze new chicks amidst our ever-bearing raspberries for their first two months of life — the berries can use the boost of fertilizer and the baby chickens feel safe in the thorny interior.

Weed removal.  Chickens won’t till your ground like pigs will, but the birds do munch on young sprouts and leaves repeatedly until most areas become bare.

While you don’t want this to happen in a permanent run (use tractors or rotational pastures to prevent moonscapes), you may choose to use chickens in this manner in an off-season garden to help prepare the soil.  Over the winter, when grazing is scarce, you can leave a tractor in one spot for several weeks, adding leaves to the ground every day so your flock stays out of the mud.  The result is a high quality raised bed.

Deer barrier.  We built chicken pastures encircling our core homestead to keep deer at bay.  After trying all of the deer repelling home remedies, many of our neighbors have given up on gardening since their plots would simply be munched bare, but for the last year, we haven’t seen a single deer in our strawberries.  We couldn’t afford the recommended ten foot tall fence to surround our acre homestead, but a cheap and easy five foot chicken wire fence does the same job if you keep the pasture narrow.

Deer are held back by one tall fence or by two small fences close together, so plan chicken moats to have no more than ten feet between fences.  If other types of pest animals are moving into your homestead, your chicken pastures could keep them at bay as well — just learn the animals’ migration patterns and choose your fencing strategy wisely.

I’d be curious to hear from other permies who’ve found ingenious niches for their chickens.  How do you put those busy birds to work on your homestead?

Anna Hess and her husband produce POOP-free chicken waterers on their southwest Virginia farm and spend the rest of their days growing their own fruits and vegetables, experimenting with permaculture, and writing about their adventures.

Anna’s new paperback, The Weekend Homesteader: A Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency, presents one fun and easy project for each weekend of the year to help beginners dip their toes into the vast ocean of homesteading without becoming overwhelmed.