Just for my own satisfaction (sanity?), a reckoning of the elements in place or about to be in place here at Robin Hill Gardens:

  1. Veg gardens, all grown from seed (reasonable harvests, gardener needs more experience)
  2. Hoop house (12’x20′)
  3. Solar PV array (5.1 Kw – supplies 100% of electricity)
  4. Medicinal herb garden (minimal, needs more attention)
  5. Cherry tree, nut and berry bushes, 2 kiwis (none of them producing as yet)
  6. Apiary (3 hives) – coming up: 150 lbs (?) of honey
  7. Avian dinosaurs (4 pullets) – coming up: eggs!
  8. Rainwater catchment (5×60 gallons) – coming up: two 275 gallon toters
  9. Compost (3 bins 4x4x4 and 2 Earth Machines and sundry leaf and wood chip piles)
  10. Garlic house for curing garlic (Amie’s play set house: works great!)
  11. Solar clothes dryer
  12. Member of a CSA (carpooled too)
  13. Reasonable number in the 90% Reduction/Riot for Austerity
  14. Firewood – wood grown on property – for three winters
  15. coming up: homemade honey extractor
  16. coming up: homemade solar oven / beeswax melter
  17. wishing for: solar hot water (involves thermal collector and new water tank, possibly electrical on demand)
  18. wishing for: high efficiency replacement for one car
  19. wishing for: trailer for other car (“work horse”)
  20. wishing for: more fruit trees
And, in the immediate vicinity:
  1. Transition Wayland
  2. Solarize Wayland
  3. BEElieve Beekeepers Club
  4. Wayland Green Team
  5. and other friends working on our town’s resilience

There, I feel better.

 

Sorry to be so absent. It will get worse.  We are traveling to India on the 10th – will be back  on New Year’s Day. That is the plan. Thing is, our passports are still at the Indian Consulate without any explanation, or response to our emails, and no one ever answers the phone. If they don’t arrive today, we’ll have to travel to NYC to get some resolution. A huge hassle! And then, if we can’t make it, tons of money will be wasted, but mostly, we won’t get to see my husband’s family, and Amie’s great-grandmother will be extremely sad. It is too stressful…

~

What I do when I get stressed is I go out into the garden. I checked on the lettuce and spinach int he hot box: they’re all doing well. I moved some more pumpkins into the Earth Machine in the hoop house and topped it off with shredded leaves (the aroma!). Then I peeked under the row cover to see what’s growing. A photo-essay.

I shredded a leaf pile today, the one in the back. Here I am dropping leaves into the shredder (best Freecycle ever!), which you can’t even see for the pile.  There are more piles, some even larger, on the property, and of course still lots of leaves not in piles (yet?). As you can see from my previous post, we have lots of trees, a mix of pine, beach and oak. Plus I let my neighbors dump their leaves on part of the front garden. I think I’ll let that pile compress on its own.

done!

This work makes you sweaty, tired, dusty and stink of gasoline fumes (which some like but that’s not me). Yet it is also very satisfying to see that huge pile of mostly air reduced to this compressed, moist, lovely smelling mound of biomass.

~

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the hill, more pumpkin orphans were being dropped off, bringing the total to 36! I didn’t have the wherewithal to weigh each (any) of them, so I’m not sure of the tonnage, but I am sure of the neighbors’ enthusiasm for this project. I keep saying: Ah, the last pumpkins, but they keep on appearing under my mailbox.

I joined the a team of parent and teacher volunteers who are working to make the school system in our town greener. We’re working on getting the recycling going. Especially lunch time is a problem, a big black hole that apparently eats only trash.

~

I’m still baking, only not as much – a bread every three days. Though in this picture it looks like it was forged in the fires of Mount Doom, Bread No.13 turned out very nicely, with the perfect moisture and crumb.

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The rains let up and I got the chance to plant the hot box, in 54 F weather! I hadn’t until now because the temperature o the soil registered 82F until a week ago. What a long  burn that was! Now it’s at 73F, perfect. In went a Winter Lettuce Mix and some Rainbow Chard. Let’s see how they do. I need to locate the sensor that attaches via a cable to my digital  thermometer. This cable is just long enough to reach from the hot box to the bathroom window.

Today we came home from Amie’s cello lesson to this:

We could not believe the size of that giant pumpkin! There were also bags of more pumpkins, goopy pumpkin guts, and a couple of gourds. The latter I would have to cut up somehow,  they’re so hard, or maybe I’ll try drying them for bird houses.

The haul filled up the wheelbarrow and much of the compost bin. Once I get the shredder going I’ll fill up the gaps in the bin with shredded leaves.

The neighbors are really into the orphan punkins this year. Maybe I could get a more elaborate system set up, a large three bin system down the hill, near the mailbox, where they could drop off vegetable kitchen scraps? A neighborhood composting facility… And once we get chickens,  we would doubly appreciate the scraps. Mm…

I’m going to ask my tree removal neighbor for all his wood chips from now on to do this in the  veg garden. I could easily fill up those garden paths with wood chips and leaves. These paths erode so badly, especially the ones that run in the direction of the (slight) slope. It would also keep the weeds down, and be a haven for the worms. A permaculture function stack!

What a day today was. 65 F and sunny. The bees took the opportunity to take some cleansing flights and dump out some more dead bees, and we got to go outside too, to rake leaves, and leaves, and leaves, and play…

The Fall peas never had a chance to blossom – my fault, I planted them too late. But during a garden tour a friend pointed out I could still eat the shoots. Lovely just like that and in soup and salad.

Also baked Daily Bread No.12. It sang when I took it out of the oven.

And all the rain barrels are stored away now. Emptying them is challenge, since I don’t want all that water puddling around and eroding away the soil and stones the barrels are standing on. The solution is a short hose, of course, but I made the mistake of storing that on the hose reel underneath the 50 foot one… A loose gutter was the solution.

Lastly there are the pumpkin orphans still coming in daily. I’m not even cutting them up anymore, most are well on their way to collapse.

This bread is so good. We had it with homemade pesto (last harvest of homegrown basil) and the last Brandywine tomatoes.

Tomorrow if I am feeling better I’ll pull all the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants from the hoop house, chop them up, and mix them with the orphan punkins, of which we received three more today. The neighbors are really into this!

Today, the day after Halloween, we found our first punkin orphan, dropped off at our mailbox. Amie ran to welcome it. We reminded people of the composting program when we were out trick-or-treating, and many were enthusiastic. And I met one elderly gentleman who was the first to live on this street, and he and I resolved to meet soon so I can take down the history of the neighborhood.

~

I am back on track with the baking. Because these are busy days I went back to the old recipe which is such a favorite in our house. Daily Bread No.7 was finished in a jiffy and Bread No.8 will be finished at breakfast. I love it too, but am hoping fr a good no-knead whole wheat recipe.

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We had our first frost last night. It went down to 21. There’s more frost predicted tonight and tomorrow night, so I decided to bring in all my potted pepper plants. I’ll post a picture of my interesting living room tomorrow. The hoop house is performing well, though unfortunately I don’t have any precise data. But all the plants inside it survived the frost, so far. The eggplants are still going strong. The tomatoes aren’t looking so good, but the tomatoes on the vine are still ripening.

~

Today I went into Amie’s class (K) to talk about compost. While putting her snack together in the morning I had an idea. I walked in, sat down in front of the kids, and asked them if it was okay for me to eat my snack, I was so hungry. I rummaged around in my bag, complaining that my snack had been in there for a long time and muttering that I hoped it was still good. Then I pulled out a big clear plastic box with wet, gooey, wormy compost! Eek! What happened!

We talked about rot and decay, composing and decomposing, falling apart and being taken apart, it no longer being food for us but still perfectly edible for other organisms, etc. I must say, I used to teach college kids metaphysics, epistemology, logic and ethics, and that was tough. But teaching these five-year-olds is a different thing altogether!  Afterwards the class went out to  plant bulbs and make a scarecrow in their little school garden.

(Note to self: mustn’t forget to take that “snack” out of my bag. I’ll do it tomorrow…)

The weather turned “normal” again: hovering above freezing at night, in the 50s during the day. This weekend is going to be sunny, too. Last chance to really make a difference in the garden!

  1. get more horse manure
  2. finish other side of hotbox
  3. transplant seedlings into finished part of hotbox
  4. plant garlic and Egyptian onion
  5. sow Fall flower and herb seeds (nettle, nasturtium, echinacea, etc.)
  6. sow carrots and peas
  7. plant two elderberries, mulch with straw
  8. move one Earth Machine + contents to Winter hoop house location
  9. turn compost
  10. weed and mulch strawberries, currants, gooseberries, elderberries, hazels, kiwis, blueberry, raspberries
  11. weed and mulch all beds not used in Winter
  12. take down a couple of small trees?
  13. rake leaves and shred them (first pile them of course, for Amie)
  14. clear gutters
  15. store hammock :(  (though I must say I never had much chance to lounge in it this Summer)
  16. store patio table and chairs
  17. store all but one rain barrel