Dog is loosing her winter coat, insects buzzing in the windowsill, we´re collecting eggs by the buckets now and drinking the morning coffee outside – today I even went and fetched my magic garden belt (because I needed the knife) it´s certain all right, it´s dead sure: spring is here.
One thing we do when spring arrives is to make a plan. We´ve been talking about the plan all winter but only when spring arrives we finally decide.
Funny thing about the plan is that it never lasts. Circumstances change. Situation. Money. Possibility. Time. Energy. Therefore the plan is not REALLY a plan. It´s more like a phenomenon; a certain point in the time/space continuum.
When we arrived at this spot in the universe (confused, exhausted) we didn´t know a whole lot about permaculture. We knew a little. Plus a little bit about forest gardening, all in all we didn´t know a lot.
According to permacultural principles you view your land as divided in zones, the zones closets to your house should be the more cultivated, wilderness should gradually prevail and out there in zone 6 or 7 or something humans should never…. be humans (meaning: build, change, optimise OR destroy, damage or diminish depending on your view on humans)
It´s just the wild dosn´t know about the zones. The wild will enter your zone, it will.
Last year a sick fox came to us. It was very clear that it wanted us to kill it so we did and just this morning as I was planting these poppy seeds that I got from my mother (I collect the seeds and use them in my baking) two young ravens began to circle above my head. It´s not the way they call. It´s not the shiny feathers. It´s the sound of their flapping wings. That sound….
We have created a microclimate here, a biotope…. bees, butterflies, insects even the elks and the deer (who feed on our kale), the flow in the well now that we actually drink from it… the longer I live here the more it amazes me to see how everything is dependent and interconnected. Which is why the idea of the permacultural zones seems more and more… redundant to me.
So I use them as a guiding line. An inspiration.
Kind of like this: a small basket containing an abundance (!) of food.
I´ll plant some of the seeds but not all of them.
There was nothing when we got here. No house, no barn, not even a garden, a single apple tree. We don´t own a tractor. Everything here is done by hand.
The timber framing, the firewoodsplitting, the hugelkultur mounting. The only machine we have (besides the chainsaw) is a lawn mower. “Lawn mover?” you say. Yes.
We use grass clippings for mulching, in our experience this works the best here (better than hay, straw or forest floor material)
Because of our situation (actually moving into the actual wild not having not even the bare essentials to run a small scale homestead) we have had to be extremely flexible and able to adapt to a myriad of inputs. We´ve had major setbacks (like me getting sick last year) and we´ve lived a long time in a way that most people would find well below their standards. Living like this requires you to be able to tolerate discomfort but also requires some laissez- faire in your thinking.
So what if our roof is not really finished? It´s better than having no roof at all.
It will have to do (until we get the money and the time… and we probably never do)
That being said, the plan is still important. Almost like a live actual being.
The first years out here our plan was very long, many pages long.
Here is our plan for this year:
Woodshed (we´ve been putting off building a woodshed for too long, we need it), sauna (I probably don´t need to tell you why) and re- building the barn (we built it too fast) because this year we want to reintroduce animals to our homestead (we´ve had goats and sheep before) not so much because of the meat (yummi) more so for the manure.
Because above all- this year- we will focus on the garden.
IF we have time and money we will board the cabin before winter. I hope we will be able to but we probably won´t.
I also cross my fingers regarding the roof.
We´ve been doing hugelkultur beds for 2.3 years now. We even made an herbal spiral, did the 3 sisters companion gardening too but I´m going to be honest with you: hugelkulturs attract ants and ants are already a problem as it is. Besides all of these methods (lasagne gardens, keyhole gardens and so on) they just don´t work for us.
What works is straight lines and squares. Sorry.
This is our super soil-o-later de luxe. Building it was a big deal- but today we dismantled it just as we did the herbal spiral and some of the hugelkulturs. It´s kind of sad but it´s also exiting. We have found BETTER ways which is, in effect, what permaculture is about (or should be about) isn´t it: adopting, optimizing the output using minimal input. Letting nature do it´s thing and what nature does is this:
Just like us.
We use the hen yard as a compost now. Since we are located at a slope and since hens will always scrape material downwards we now have a lot of really nice well worked through compost to mix into the potting soil…
.. which we still have to buy in small quantities BUT it has moose on the package so that´s a plus!
While Jeppe began to take down trees/making building material for the woodshed I began the work to create a new herbal garden closer to the house (your herb garden plus spinach and salad should be located as close to the kitchen door as possible! AND you need your spinach as soon as possible in the spring!)
We need to be able to dry more herbs for winter (thyme, rosemary, sage) and I use chamomile, poppies, flax, sunflowers, st. johns wort, fennel, liquorice and many more for teas as well as baking.
(I think growing herbs is a good way to come a long way- fast) (I do a lot of pesto´s, like the nettle one the most)
The new herbal garden will be located here (the flat area with all of the snow is our main garden)
Notice how the snow have melted closer to the edge of the forest?
It´s because the trees soak up the sun during the days creating a warmer environment on the west-facing side of our plot.
We should have located our fresh greens/herbal garden to the west from the beginning but as I said, we had too many things to do, too many things to think about, we didn´t notice the lay of the land, the rhythm, the way.
I didn´t make the beds neither in straight lines (difficult because of the location) nor as hugelkulturs (because we´ve given up on them) but I used the scrap materials I could (left over logs plus stones) and then I just went with it.
– up and down the slope I went with the wheel barrow.
It was nice.
And then we had sausages for dinner.