Summer has been in full force here. Record breaking heat, storms, winds, sunsets. All spring it was a lot of work, but also a lot of discovery. We first looked at this home last July and moved in September, with only a few hours on the property in between. So, it was a guess about the land, the plants, the soil. We have been really happy to find so many natives and medicinal plants growing here. For awhile it was a daily discover, and now in peak summer, I have identified a lot of what is growing here. We have been very lucky to find (I'm sure I am forgetting a few):
sThere were also many garden plants in ground besides the trees including asparagus, raspberry, and strawberry.
We also have been working to plant a lot of food and medicinals. We started by creating a few beds in one primary area and widening a few existing beds. We got a lot into the ground. We started a beautiful triangle medicinal bed and a strip along the food bed for plants that can be moved out into more of a permaculture guild design ongoing - including wormwood, anise hyssop, tulsi, skullcap, brahmi, calendula, white horehound, dagga, echinacea, milkweed, lemon balm, spearmint, peppermint, St. John's Wort, mugwort, hyssop, clary sage, elecampane, Moldavian dragonhead balm, lavender, agrimony, thyme, sage, evening primrose, and a bunch more. We also got plants such as rose, valerian, solomon's seal, black cohosh, american ginseng and a few others into the ground, but it will take a few years to see anything. We also have about 50 pots with herbs on our deck and stairs in back that includes rosemary, fig, lemon, lime, passionflower, and more culinary goodies that like heat. We installed a few flower cutting beds as well, to have fresh flowers all summer - which is nice. We have also been preserving and pickling away from our food beds.
I feel like there are not enough hours in the day, but that is the nature of working a few acres, homeschooling, volunteering almost full time, having a mentor, volunteering in clinic, taking several classes, and trying to have a life! I am enjoying summer as much as I can, while also starting to look forward to autumn and winter for downtime (ha!).
All of that and I have not even mentioned our dog, chickens, or bees. We not only got a new house, we got a whole new life.
More later. Because one thing I have noticed is that I mess the blogs of the 00's. When we would write, share, read, comment, and have actual conversations. I feel overwhelmed by instagram and facebook a bit. More of a throw everything at the wall and see what sticks endeavor, not conscious thoughts assembled to share connect. I mean, I suppose there are people trying to do that, but the more "popular" one is on social media, the more it is just posting to get everyone to tell you how amazing you are. Not anything that benefits the relationship between the two or the reader/viewer. Mostly a poster ego stroke, and I am just not into that. I feel like I want to get some of the old engagement and conversation back. SO, I will be writing likely to myself, for myself, with only myself to read it, but ... it is time to take back this space. until then.
We have had a few months settling in, getting used to wind, water, slope, drainage. Bugs, animals (lots of animals). We have been working to develop a big plan for planting, but really wanted to get to know things a bit first.
We have been working on the big plan - where the beehives will go, the compost pile, the coop, the cutting garden, the food garden, the fruit trees/orchard, the cane fruit, the nut trees, the medicinal gardens, the greenhouse. I have been working on and tweaking a digital plan (see above). We adopted a dog recently, and so I have been walking the perimeter in sun, rain, and snow, so some of that will change as I have walked the land so much I have a better idea of space and light and drainage.
I am trying to make gradual process in some areas, but I also want to get a lot done (without burning out my family helpers). We laid out some black tarps in the fall, planted some canes and fruit, deer-proofed the small plants - we see a dozen deer a day on our property - and then plotted out where the other beds will go and where we hope to install the high tunnel. We have many bare root and 2nd year plants coming in the spring, so we will plant as we get them! We have our starter beehives and bees will be coming this spring. We have a plan for chickens and geese, but we may ease into that as we recently got a dog and there is much work to be done to get this all started, and more coop and animal care might be too much for everyone. We shall see how we feel once the snow starts to melt!
Our goal is to create not only a permaculture farmette here with food and medicinal plants, but also educational gardens and a space for classes. By working to preserve endangered plants as we can, this space will become a botanical sanctuary, caring for pollinators, plants, and people.
We setup a large seed starting system and I have started seeds. I will share more on that later - but here is our big plan for this year.
2019 Planting Plan
Moving is one of those things that seems to take forever and then boom you are set down in a new home full of boxes. The UNpacking seems to be the hardest - finding the new right, logical, spots for the things that used to have a certain place. Getting the feel for where things will make the most sense and most natural.
We are still unpacking. I think it will be awhile longer. Last weekend we tackled the apothecary and apothecary storage areas. We installed new shelving to get more space for items and we setup several large tables in the classroom/family room/apothecary space so there can be many people there being productive. We have slowly unpacked the boys rooms, getting everything just right. A few neighbors have already dropped by to introduce themselves, including a homeschooling family on the next deadend over. Everyone has been friendly and helpful and I am not worried about Brice traveling on business during the winter knowing that if needed someone is close by.
The main draw of this house was the land, but we haven't been able to explore it since we moved. The Madison area has historic flooding and days where more than a foot of rain fell - so the mosquitoes are fierce and stepping outside, even for a moment, is a battle. Not a few mosquitoes, but literally thousands in a dark cloud. So we are awaiting the first frost, and enjoying seeing outside through our amazing and huge windows. We also have a lovely and large second story deck that seems to be above the mosquito line for the most part, so sitting outside watching the sunrise is beautiful and blood-free. The deck is where we plan to distill any autumn hydrosols before the first frost - we are planning spruce, pine, tulsi, juniper, and geranium before they are done for the season.
I had wondered about the thought vs reality of moving to a rural place. I know I have lived in tiny towns, and in small rural neighborhoods, with no streetlights and only a few distant neighbors. Everyone has been so happy and so in love with the views, the stars, the darkness, the quiet. We all stand together watching the Cooper's Hawks aerial stunts only feet away from the windows. We see the turkeys visit many times per day - dozens of them - and have found a few feathers left from some male posturing over turf. Hummingbirds visit every plant on our deck and a fox ran by along the roadside today before dodging back into the forest. The boys are both happy and content - and have been helping enthusiastically in the kitchen as we try to "catch up" (haha) on canning and preserving as we skipped most of August trying to move with less. Apples, peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, peppers and more are a breeze in our giant kitchen. I am actually enjoying leaving the open floor plan concept into a room that is a kitchen. It is near the living area and dining room but it is a distinct room. We have found ourselves spending more time together in the kitchen - and my baker G is very motivated by having the extra space.
We have big plans and so we have been sketching and thinking and planning. We hope to have a high polytunnel as well as a greenhouse or some sort of permaculture forest greenhouse for plants needing more heat. We are also laying out a food garden with deer fencing, and then are creating many medicinal microgarden areas wrapped around all of the tree areas, to create a walking natural path of medicinals and plantings.
Our fall will include planting fruit - elderberry, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, aronia. goji, and lingonberry. Fruit trees will be going in this fall as well - apple, cherry, and pawpaw.
We also have plans to plant endangered woodland medicinals along the woods on the east side of the property. I brought many plants with me, but we are also planting a lot more. This will include mushroom log spawning as well as black cohosh, solomon's seal, valerian, goldenseal, and several more - all on their way as bare roots. I have seeds for fall planting going in for nettles, lady's mantle, woodruff, hawthorn, evening primrose, skullcap uva ursi, lobelia, motherwort, osha, mugwort, and more. We are staking out our composting area and getting a trailer addition for our ride on mower to haul garden waste as we get things in ground, cleared, and beds made so they can rest over winter. My goal is to have this land as a United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary as well as an educational garden and medicinal herb minifarm.
This was a perfect time of year to move here as it gives us some time to prep for next spring now, but also time to get to know the land, the slopes, the weather, the wildlife, the drainage, and then winds. It isn't overwhelming feeling like we have to do everything NOW, but can work to prep for next spring. I am excited to be able to grow a significant amount of medicinal herbs here - for my use, class use, and to donate to HWB. I feel lucky to be here.
One reason we were motivated to move was the loss of the views at our last home. We started at the edge of a field with views for miles and ended up surrounded by homes and people with no view but lawns and fences. Our new living room has floor to ceiling windows facing west and I am happy to say we have spent almost every night at the windows or on the deck looking out as the sun sets over the fields and hills. We have our piece of the sky back.
I am a certified aromatherapist, herbalist, organic gardener, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled boys in south central Wisconsin.