Monday, March 21, 2016

Spring Cleaning....

With no snow on the ground and balmy, spring like weather, we have taken to cleaning up the garden beds, spreading compost and doing myriad other outside chores.  We have been burning slash piles, cutting, splitting and stacking firewood (for next years burning) and generally cleaning up the yard in anticipation of spring.  Oh how I love this time of year!

The log deck


Stacked in the wood hut for next winter
As most of you know, I have struggled to grow any kind of a garden since moving to this windswept prairie.  Our soil is heavy and full of clay and it seems that no matter how much organic material I till into the soil, it produces nothing more than a handful of weeds. 

After reading numerous books on the subject, I have become convinced that permaculture is the only viable way of coaxing our land into bountiful production, however, I have to admit that I am overwhelmed with the thought of beginning such a garden and consequently, have done little to establish a vibrant permaculture garden.

Raspberry bed getting a dose of compost

A larger bed with a layer of ash and a double layer of compost
As overwhelmed as I am at the thought of a whole new method of gardening, I am bound and determined to put my all into building a small "guild" and hopefully turning our barren patch of dirt into a lush, productive, garden full of microclimates, swales and self-sustaining goodness. 

In addition to working on a new garden, I am trying to feed the ones I already have, hoping to coax a lovely harvest from them as well.  After putting a thin layer of wood ash (from the burn pile) onto the gardens, I put a rather thick layer of compost on each garden bed.  I am hoping that by amending the soil early, the nutrients will have a chance to soak into the soil as the spring rains fall, creating a rich bed for seedlings and young plants.  What a study it will be - the garden beds and the permaculture garden - I am awash with anticipation!

Cleaning out the front garden bed

Princess Dragon Snack and Master Calvin cleaned the iris beds

The sunroom (in the background) will need some work before it's open for spring!
And so, spring cleaning will continue.  The children and I will pick up the mess that seems to accumulate over the winter, spruce up the sunroom and clean the chicken coop.  We will busy ourselves with spring cleaning as we anticipate a full and productive summer - getting ready for another winter.  Oh, to dance to the music of the seasons!


  1. Lovely - thanks for the tour!! I am listening to the sound of rain outside and noticing that the hail storm didn't affect the weeds at all! Sigh...

  2. You are indeed heading in the right direction with your permaculture. It has enabled us to turn an infertile mountaintop in the east into a vibrant garden and orchard that produces much of our food for us. I wish you well on this new journey. Just remember, it takes time and you need to block that wind!

  3. Permaculture is definitely the way God made things to work together. We have been doing a back to Eden garden for three years now. And can't believe the blinders that had to come off regarding growing food in harmony with Gods creation.

  4. Great photos. Thanks for sharing.

    We love heating with wood. There is nothing like radiant heat, and having a nice cozy, WARM living area surrounded by cooler rooms. City dwellers can keep their fancy schmancy central heating systems.
    Montana Guy

  5. Check out Jack Spiro from Survival Podcast. He does a great job of explaining and demonstrating this gardening technique.

  6. Dido on Jack Spirko. Jack also links a lot to Jeff Lawton who is a master in permaculture. Happy to see you posting more. Thanks for all you do.

  7. You are on the right track with raised beds but the limiting factor with them is moisture retention and depth for expansive roots.
    My Master Garden project last year was to install a "Keyhole Garden" in our local botanical garden. It is basically a compost pile 30" high x 6.5' diameter circle filled with raw materials,(this is the key), cardboard, manure, grass, leaves, etc covered with 6" dirt to plant in immediately after construction. The cardboard breaks down and serves to hold moisture. The other material the source of nutrients. In the center of the unit is a wire basket to continue adding compostable material to add additional moisture and nutrients.
    This method basically eliminates weeding, cuts down on moisture loss, bending over to harvest. This method was developed in Africa to grow in harsh conditions. It is a very productive way to grow veggies.

    I wish I could post pictures, but if you will go to it will show the results we could all aspire to. Additional information also at I have converted my 4000 sq. ft. garden to multiples of these units.

  8. Keyhole gardening is good,so is herb spiral gardens. We use both in central and south TX because of drought conditions. You can use kitchen scraps etc to feed the gardens plus it's cheap to build. Folks have used whatever they have on hand, old tires, cinder blocks, stock tanks... even one guy used an old fishing boat he had sitting out back. Just give it a try. See what works for you.

  9. As others have mentioned Jack Spirkos podcast is so very informative regarding permaculture and life in general. You will learn so much form his shows. May I suggest reading Gaia's Garden? It's a great and through read for the beginner permaculture enthusiast. You are in the right path deciding to use permaculture on your property. As a side note, I think you would be a fantastic guest on Jacks podcast. Your wealth of knowledge about the trails, tribulations and joys of off grid living would truly be worth sharing with his large and enthusiastic audience!! Thanks for your wonderful posts! -Kentucky Red