As you might expect, life has been pretty busy since our move. Fall went pretty quick and now we are already headed into winter, so work outside will slow down for awhile. Here are a few of the things we’ve been working on.
- We put in an herb spiral. I’ve always found the idea of these one of the most interesting and accessible permaculture concepts. We have some rocks scattered around the property, so I was able to build this with a combination of repurposed bricks and rocks.
- We had one little hoop in a raised bed for the fall. Got quite a bit of lettuce and other greens out of it into November. Also some radishes and Hakurai turnips. The last part of November was fairly cold here, so not much is still growing now. But there are also carrots and bunching onions that should come back and continue to grow in the spring theoretically.
- Kristin is experimenting with the concept of a couple of “lasagna” plots, which is basically where you build up a raised bed using various materials (grass, straw/hay, food waste, chicken shavings/manure, spent beer mash, etc.) It’s basically building a compost pile, letting it sit over the winter and early spring and then planting directly into it. We have two of them going so far, both a standard 4’ x 8’ size that we settled on for raised beds. Makes it easy to use scrap dimensional lumber for frames and the hoops fit over them nicely.
- We dug up another section in our back pasture and planted garlic. Our tiller really struggled with getting anywhere with our dense pasture grass sod. It took about 8-10 runs to break the ground into anything useable. So we may need to get some sections of the properly plowed at least once to get certain things started, like asparagus, strawberries, etc.
- I just planted a couple of hazelnut bushes from the Arbor Day Hazelnut Project. They are developing hybrid bushes that can grow in a much wider range of climates, hopefully over most of the US instead of mainly in a small area of the Pacific Northwest. I also started our windbreak with 10 Norway Spruces from Arbor Day. Eventually I want to build up a substantial windbreak on the north and east sides of the house and along the lane, with a mix of evergreens and deciduous trees.
- We did a bunch of efficiency work on the house, including blowing cellulose into the attic which was never done for some reason. We also insulated the basement above grade for now as well as our bulkhead door, with the intent of eventually putting foam board on the entire set of walls in the basement. This may not be necessary and foam board is pricey, so we’ll see how it goes. The basement is already noticeably warmer. We would like to eventually put in another heat source, such as a pellet stove. We have a fairly efficient oil furnace, but I don’t like having that as my only option and it’s certainly not the cheapest way to go for a house of this size.
This winter I hope to do a few small projects, including building a larger chicken coop using the principles in Fresh Air Poultry Houses. We also still have some odds and ends to wrap up in the master bath, painting to finish in the upstairs and some electrical work to have done. I hope to get some additional storage and a workbench/tool area set up in the basement, now that we have some of the insulating done.
I’ve ordered my first 4 apple trees for spring delivery and we’ll need to start thinking about strawberries, blueberries, asparagus, rhubarb and additional trees for windbreak to plant in the spring. Plus our normal seed starting and the fun we always have looking though all our seed catalogs. This year we’ll finally be able to grow some things we didn’t have room for in the past, such as sweet corn, melons, pumpkins and lots of other things. Not sure we’ll get to all that in the first year, but we’ll do what we can like we do every year.