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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Firewood, smallwood, mulch, and what have you

ZukealiciousIndependence days report [posted by risa]

Plant something: a potato in a pot, and some bok choi. I had dumped out the pot (one of those big things for planting, like, baobab trees) thinking the spring planted potatoes in it were a failure -- no, there were lots! So I gathered those up and started new slips, all from a sprouted storebought redskinned spud.

Harvest Something: runner beans, French beans, green zucchini, yellow zucchini, nasturtium, eggplant (we have lots -- the long skinny ones), cucumber, peas, red onions, kale, chard, beets, apples, knotweed, basil, dill, marjoram, mint, parsley, lettuce, rhubarb, potatoes. Am on my way out to check the pear tree. People tell me they are not getting zukes. We are; not enough to give away or put up, really but plenty for summer use. I like the yellow ones best. The Blue Lake beans are in, along with the runner beans, and there should be enough runner beans to preserve as well as keep seed. New crops of bok choi and lettuces look well. Eggplants splendid. Celery doing well. All onions top quality. Tomatoes very green, also not numerous. Resorting to covering them at night. Ducks are molting but the chickens are back online.

Preserve Something: rhubarb, mostly.

Store Something: firewood, beanpoles, mulch, stevia, olive oil, whole wheat flour, spelt flour, amaranth flour, whole wheat pasta. Firewooding around here consists of leaving the slash after taking wood down to about 8" diameter minimum. We're taking a different approach on the home place. We pick a regenerating tree species when we can, such as ash, cottonwood, or willow, and cut it off when it reaches 8" diameter.
The trunk goes into firewood, as does branchwood down to 1" which we call smallwood. Then branches that are suitable for beanpoles are set aside, and the leaves and twigs are windrowed on the lawn and mowed with the bagger mower into mulch. Very little is left unused. Then we encourage sprouts that pop up, in the next year or two, from the stump, and each one of these can be made into more firewood, smallwood, polewood, and mulch -- in good time. This is called coppicing. I know I keep harping on it but this is an amazingly productive way to manage resources.

Manage Reserves: We put up a whiteboard over the chest freezer, and drew a map of all the beds on it, and use the board to carry on a nonsynchronous conversation about vegetables, seeds, home maintenance, housework, and preserving. Gathering more cardboard; the first 100 foot bed is now in place. And we have worked out our rideshare plan for the week. Heaped the chicken manure straw and recorded the date, October 15th, that it'll be ok to use.

Prepped: put up 1/2 cord of smallwood and about 20 all-purpose poles from branches of ash cottonwood, and cherry; several of these went right to work propping up heavy-laden apple branches. Planted apricot seeds (dry the pits three days, crack (inside a cloth at the bench vise), extract the seeds, soak overnight, plant in glass jar with lid in damp potting soil, put in refrigerator, check once a month for germination, repot, grow new apricot trees, plant by south wall in 2 years).

Cooked Something New: nope; all old recipes. Have discovered stevia leaves, however; using in switchel. Beloved has discovered you should use rhubarb fresh, in preference to frozen, and her rhubarb crisps are even more of a hit than they were before.

Worked on Local Food Systems: All of the above. And we've found a supplier of really good local goat cheese.

Reduced Waste: Cardboard collection continues, and I'm gathering coffee grounds at work. Drying on clothes line!

Learned a Skill: cracking apricot pits without having them go all over creation or smash up the seeds.


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