Our Mission:

Our Mission: To enable individuals and communities to take an active part in the cultivation of systems that provide the highest quality fruits, vegetables, herbs and other yields, in a way that benefits themselves, cares for the land and environment, and provides a surplus to use, share and reinvest into the system.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Save Money, Secure Food, Start a Garden

This is a great year to start that garden you've always thought about!

Bill Mollison, co-founder of Permaculture

With rising inflation, due to a multitude of issues - supply chain problems, lost productivity during the pandemic catching up, and efforts to stimulate a lagging economy - growing a garden can help reduce food costs.

Sure, brand new stylish cedar raised beds will cost a lot to get started, especially with current lumber prices.  Wood scraps can also be found if you know where to look, or build one out of used pallets.  Look for the "HT" stamp which means Heat-Treated for durability instead of chemically treated.  The gardens built with these may not last as long, but they will get you started and can be replaced easily after a few seasons.

But also skipping that step and adding new in ground garden, or adding soil on top of cardboard can be a great lower cost option.

Lasagna Beds in Beaverdale

Upcycled garage doors used in raised beds

Increasingly bare shelves, with a seemingly random rotation of available products, eggs and chicken (even before the bird flu) to fresh fruit and vegetables, are causing some to think of new/old ways to get through temporary, but increasingly longer, grocery shortages.  This can definitely can be alleviated with some homegrown produce, neighborhood veggie swaps and farmers market items.

Also, with a stressed food supply, every calorie you grow and consume, is one less calorie this system has to provide. The more people do this, the more pressure it takes off the food system and supply chains - our friends the farmers, truck drivers and retail workers.  Even if you live in an apartment a few herbs or tomatoes growing on a sunny deck or patio makes a difference.

A few dollars in seeds can yield many, many times that in food savings!

You can take pride in what you've helped provide, get the health benefits of soil & being outside with dirt on your hands, and you may even pick up a new hobby!

Raised beds in Windsor Heights

Geoff Lawton Online

Friday, April 22, 2022

Happy Earth Day 2022

Happy Earth Day!

It's a 'soggy' one out there today!

One way to help care for the planet is by putting in a Rain Garden like this one in Johnston.
They capture stormwater and soak runoff into the ground, instead of letting it rush into the storm sewers.
Full Rain Garden in Early Spring

That helps prevent chocolate milk looking streams (below) that pollute rivers downstream with sediment.
Sediment laden suburban stream

For more Earth Day posts from previous years, click

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Happy Easter 2022

 Happy Easter everyone!

These are such a fun plant to grow, and due to the loss of shortgrass prairie ecosystems, the population of Pulsatilla patens, or Pasque Flower, is declining.  Growing some in our yards can help support the native insects that rely on them.

Pasque flower on our sidewalk prairie

Blooming early makes it a nice addition of color to somewhat drab, early native landscapes.  

The Pasque Flowers common name is derived from the Hebrew word for Passover, "pasakh", and refers to it's Easter flowering period.

I hope you have a blessed week!

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Wine Caps in Larger spaces

As we covered in our previous post-

Wine Cap mushrooms are an incredible organism that have the ability to turn cardboard, straw, and/or wood chips into a rich, loamy soil. Wine caps are usually planted as the soil warms up in the spring after the last frost date until several weeks before the first frost date in the Fall of the year. While the Wine Cap mycelium grows specifically on woody plant material (wood chips, straw, or a mix), the mycelium will reach down into the soil and pull up soil-water nutrients into the developing mushroom cap, which eventually forms the vehicle for dispersal of Wine Cap progeny... the spore! This is why Wine Caps are anecdotally known as "The Recycler" as Wine Cap mycelium engages in movement of nutrients from soil to surface... a great asset in the garden.

Building a Mushroom Bed for Larger Areas:

Guidelines from Phoebe Krawczyk at Field & Forest Products

This is a great bed installation method if you are putting in large beds or creating new garden spaces over perennial weeds, like quack grass . This usually does not give complete control of the weeds but will significantly suppress their survival. In the end, you have a nice mushroom bed and the cardboard (except for the strapping tape) will have disappeared. This method includes three ingredients in the layers, plus the spawn. 

Layer 1: Wet Cardboard

Cardboard dries quickly and can inhibit growth at the soil surface. Soak it or sprinkle it until it is thoroughly wet just prior to inoculation. Lay out the cardboard to make up the base of your bed. If your cardboard sheets are big, poke some holes in it with a pitchfork or poker to allow excess rainfall to drain away.

Cardboard goes fast once you start laying it out

Layer 2: Soaked Straw

Soak the straw. Just getting the straw thoroughly wetted (24 hours) will suffice, but leaving the straw for up to 72 hours can soften the straw and speed spawn run. One small square bale can cover 50 sq feet. The straw can be wheat, oat, barley, rye .... even old straw that is just starting the decomposition process if let out in the rain. The straw layer should be 3 inches deep.

Bales can make good benches to take a break on, too

Layer 3: Woodchips

Use wood chips that are fresh or show only minor decay from composting ( 1 - 12 months, sometimes older, depending on location and species). If the chips come to you bagged and dry, soak or hydrate them first. Spread the chips over the straw to completely cover the straw by several inches. You will want the straw to stay covered, lest it dry out before the spawn runs. Usually for a 50 sq ft bed you will need 3 wheel-barrows of chips.

Tree service woodchips fresh off the truck

Bed maintenance is very low-key but the important indicator is if bed is dry at soil level. The top layer of a bed will almost always dry out, but when you plunge your hand into the bed to feel the moisture at soil wood chip interface, it should feel very moist. Your watering regime should aim for maintaining that moist layer- this usually translate to about 1 inch of rainfall or garden sprinkler fall per week.

Your first harvests can come as early as 4 weeks after inoculation, especially if you use straw in the mix. Straw/ Wood chip beds usually last 1 and 1/2 seasons. 

Thanks Phoebe!

Now is a great time to purchase spawn as you plan your garden or food forest.  Following the link at the sidebar, or off their website here!

Field & Forest Products

If you follow these tips, you'll have lots of delicious mushrooms PLUS an area with super rich soil, with most of the weeds & grass under control, ready to plant with flowers, vegetables or even a new food forest or orchard

Wine Cap spawn can even keep running and fruiting with regular additions on fresh woodchips in the food forest understory.

If you want a food forest, mixed orchard or ecological landscape, we would love to help you make it happen!