Thank you February. Thank you for bringing the sunshine, for making me get outside, for motivating me to start big projects, for providing learning opportunities, for being a month of real growth in all areas of my life. Yes, a thank you is well deserved. Maybe you are nodding right now in agreement somewhat – the wonderful early Spring weather has really seemed to boost everyone’s spirits. So let’s start at the beginning…..
Early in the month Avery attended a cooking class at The Bayview School of Cooking in Olympia. She had such a great time, learned knife skills, made homemade mac n cheese, faux pho, and brownies. Part of our homeschooling philosophy is based on hands on learning just like this – it was so much fun she didnt even think of it as school 😉
We found out we are having another…GIRL! Everyone was excited about this. Sawyer also does not care for ultrasound appointments much (or anything that requires sitting still in one small room more than 5 minutes).
For mid winter break we had the chance to get away with a friend to the beach on Whidbey Island. I wish I could say it was a blissful relaxing 2 days, but honestly it was challenging with my busy boy to find much time to relax. He still has sleep troubles, but we may have stumbled on to a solution. My friend offered us some melatonin which she uses for her kids, and it put Sawyer out in 5 minutes! We have been using this since, and it has been working great for naps and bedtimes. That sure is a great feeling of relief.
The kids love the beach. Avery had so much fun playing with her friends, and Sawyer loved throwing rocks and sand of course. The adults found time between everythign to talk gardening. I helped my friend plan her brand new massive raised bed kitchen garden. We relied a lot on the Maritime Northwest Garden Guide for information about plants, and she used the Mother Earth News Vegetable Garden Planner to create her design. I was also able to finally start drafting my chicken and childrens food forest permaculture garden design; I have had so many ideas for this swimming around in my head for so long! I started with the basics I learned in my Permacultre Design Course last August including the base map and identifying the sectors. I had a good idea of our wants and needs and budget/resources. I didnt quite finish my design in those few days, but I got far enough that we could start on phase 1!
Chad and I attended this workshop Living the Permaculture Dream put on by the Wolf College at this beautiful woodland homestead. It was the perfect place to soak up some inspiration and have my mentor Kelda of Divine Earth Gardening Project review the start of my own permaculture design.
Love the eloquence of creating a raised garden to cover this stump of a tree that had to be removed due to disease; pieces of the tree were used to create the wall surrounding the bed, and leftover chunks were placed in the bed as a sort of hugelkultur. This was one of 4 raised beds that were designed so that when viewed together from above they created the wings of a butterfly!
With all that inspiration we were chomping at the bit to get out in our own garden at last! First things first, we cleaned up our bed at the community garden and put some fresh straw mulch in before planting an early crop of shelling peas. Then we rolled up our sleeves and got to work on phase one of the chicken and children food forest permaculture garden. Above is the “before picture, once we cleared away the old chicken coop and chopped the limbs off the old cherry (we still have to cut the cherry shorter and cut down the old pine).
Day One: Chad made an awesome find on this extra wide and long wood pallets from a piano store! There were five 8″ x 12′ long boards and several large pallets with 4″ wide planks that were super easy to take apart. We already had the stakes from a project last year, and the burlap coffee sacks were free, so building this 3ft by 40ft raised bed along the fence only cost us the price of the compost to fill it up! I did buy some plants, including these new blueberries. For the raised bed we planted 4 blueberries including Bluejay and Duke varieties.
They are the best helpers outside!
Towards the end of day one, we just filled up the bed with compost after this.
Day Two: After the long raised bed was pretty much complete, Chad moved on to installing the new gate that with be part of the fence for the chickens to stay in their garden. Avery and I began work on this wattle fence back there, made out of the branches from the cherry tree we cut. I had no idea how long this was going to take, but I was pleasantly surprised at how fast it came together! We were able to get this section of fence about 75% done, enough to fill it will the rest of the leftover compost. We also got the raised vegetable beds planted with the very first seeds: some lettuce, carrots, spinach, and onion sets. The new bed was planted with the blueberries, some snapdragons I had over-wintered, peas, asparagus crowns, more onion sets, a couple cabbage and kale starts. Planting is my favorite thing to do.
Here we are at the end of the day, so much farther along than we thought we would be. The long raised bed in the vegetable garden is complete, all the veg beds were topped with compost and mulched with shredded leaves. We got the wattle fence section 75% done and half filled with compost. The blueberry boat is filled and planted with Chandler and Rubel berries. We hung the hammock. It was a good day. I can’t begin to explain the joy that this project brings me and how happy I am to have my family together outside working on this.
I am so excited to continue working on my garden design and complete phase one in March. What a treat it will be to enjoy this space all summer long.
Thanks for joining me again this month for an update on our life and adventures around the Brundage Homestead. Catch up on what has been happening the past few months here. Have you tried any permaculture techniques in your own garden? Or are you scratching your head wondering what the heck that even means? I would love to hear your advice or answer any questions in the comments.