Organic Garden Maintenance

Organic Garden Maintenance

If you are having a maintenance service maintain your grounds and gardens, pay attention to whether or not they are routinely using Round Up. If you have a gravel driveway and it has not been recently replaced, you are likely to be getting weeds there. If the drive is brown and there’s no green at this time of the year, the gardeners are probably spraying it monthly with round up. Also the area near your house, the first two feet around the building is it brown ? This is also a typical place to spray Round up. Pathways, rock areas, even weeds in garden beds are also commonly addressed by this herbicide
When Round Up, glyphosate, first hit the market, it was advertised to be out of the soil within twenty four hours of application. This has been disproved, but many still believe the original claims. Round Up has been declared a carcinogen and is very toxic. We don’t want to use this here, do we ?
I believe after thirty seven years of estate gardening that Round Up is not the way to go. I have been maintaining large and small gardens for more than ten years without any chemicals. It takes slightly more time, but it is so worth it, for the homeowner and the gardeners health, as well as the earth.
When the ground is covered with plants or wood chips, this helps to keep the garden weed free. Drip systems watering only the area around the plant helps too. Adjusting your view to realize you will have a mowed gravel driveway, not just rock. Some other expectations might have to be adjusted, but it can still look great and the cost doesn’t need to be more.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/05/20/glyphosate-roundup-levels.aspx

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Class K Mendocino County

Navigating class K , or Rural Residential permits is a bit complicated, yet well worth it. A very well written law, Class K allows you to build using recycled, upcycled building materials and alternative methods of construction http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/planning/pdf/Class_K_Ordinance.pdf . Including milling your own wood and not needing to have it graded. Possibly being able to avoid having to do the energy calculations, if you are heating only with renewable energy, solar or wood heat. Modify you plans as you build, with written notification . Live in the structure as its being built. Most structures can be drawn by the owner, and don’t need to be engineered. Only one inspection at the end if you want, or you can still get multiple inspections. It’s a law based on safety as the criteria, safety for the occupants. So handrails, fire and co2 detectors, legal GFI protected electrical circuits in the kitchen and bathroom still need to be to code. A lot of the building code goes back to 1976, so has more leeway than the current National Building code.
You have to live in an unincorporated area of Mendocino county. It’s meant to be for an owner builder’s primary residence, so it can not be built to sell, or to rent for the first few years anyway. Class K can also be used for additional structures on the property as well, within zoning restrictions.

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This building we are building using logs . Cut and peeled on our property here. We were also able to use recycled windows making our building cost substantially lower.

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Stone Soup -cooking from the garden, whatever the season

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I’m afraid I’m quite boring in my use of spices, although most of the spices I use come straight from the garden. My husband and kids don’t like spicy food much or strange herbs, even curries. So my standby is a good base of fresh veggies, whatever is currently growing, plus an onion usually parsley or celery. Lately I love the herb sage especially with Chicken, Rabbit or pork. Thyme, oregano, rosemary, chives usually always fresh from the garden or ones I dried from the garden. I’m not exotic in my spice choices but it makes good home cooked food.
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Today I’m making a soup, we’ve had a week of lot’s of sickness going around, finished with me, the nursemaid getting the flu. Soup sounds really good to all of us.

My soup base today-varies with season
1 lg. onion diced
green garlic from the garden 5-6 sliced well into the green
carrots a large bunch from the garden-diced
1 lg. parsnip scrubbed- diced
parsley, stems and all-when it’s fresh the stems are delicious-1 large bunch minced
1 bunch of fresh thyme chopped
dried sage a lg. pinch
salt and pepper to taste

I always saute veggies first in my trusty cast iron skillet before adding to the soup pot
saute in 3/4 cube of butter (yes, this is a lot, you can use less, but adds lot’s of flavor)
First I add in the onions while I’m prepping the other veggies, then the garlic and the carrots, parsnip, thyme -after a saute and the onions are translucent add to soup pot

Add water- today I’m making chicken soup with either potatoes or barley or if I felt better some home made noodles. So I’ll add the organic, washed chicken- without innards- plus whatever else I’m putting in the soup
Bring to a slight boil, turn down to a simmer cook one hour, never let it boil! Take out the chicken, let it cool and take the meat off the bones. Add it back into soup- adjust seasonings. I’m going to add a large bunch of swiss chard at this point, Reheat to serving temp.

Summer canning
Summer canning

You could have also made cauliflower soup this way- pureeing the base with the potatoes. Or crispy bacon, clams and cream for clam chowder.
Or add in beef stock or wine( instead of water) and chunks of browned, floured meat for a stew. Or tomatoes sauce(instead of water), cooked white beans and sausage .

I love to cook food from our garden. You have to be creative to use what’s in season and make substitutions for recipes. But have fun with imagining what you can make. Then try to figure out how to make it from ingredients at hand. Don’t forget the bread with the soup !
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Fun on the farm

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Life on the farm sometimes feels like that movie “Babe”, you know where all the animals are such crazy characters ? The animals here are like that. Our horses are some of the funniest.

We already had the horses when we moved here, so we tried hard to provide them with a good sized fenced paddock and two barn stalls for rainy, cold weather. But because farming and homesteading is so much work, we don’t give the horses enough time and enough exercise. So our solution to this is to let them out of their pen and to basically run free around our upper, unfenced area most mornings. They graze on what grass we have and generally run around and have fun. Well, if we go back down to the house, our smart horse Buttercup, comes down to the house to see what we’re doing. She likes to stay around where people are. Sometimes she comes down on her own, just because the grass is better down there, Belle always follows her. My un-fenced ornamental plants and trees get grazed when they are down there. So I was working away on the long bed I was transplanting plants into, and it seemed very quiet and I hadn’t seen the horses for awhile. I hopped on the scooter and drove down to the house, sure enough there they were down in my garden beds. I started trying to round them up with my scooter racing around the beds and smart Buttercup evading every move. Then I hear Dennis coming into the driveway driving the Peterbilt towing the trailer with the excavator on it. He sees my dilemma and heads right at the horses with the truck, then he honks the airhorn and they jump, I’m on the other side on the scooter trying to push them along. Dennis just keeps coming rounding up the horses with the huge truck and trailer. They ran so fast back up to the barn with the truck horn still scaring them. They ran all the way up to the barn and waited for me to close the gate…

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Happy Life in the Country

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New Years Day working in the garden. So much garden work to do at this time of the year. I’m pruning deciduous trees and shrubs, fruit trees, roses, hydrangeas, fushias. Cutting back perennials. Transplanting or planting out new plants. I have an area where I make cuttings and they have now grown there for a year and need to be moved to their real homes. I’m transplanting climbing roses, pruned first, where we removed a fence, to another fence they need that support. I have large olive trees that I have grown in one of my fertile garden rows since they were rooted cuttings, three years now. They will transplant out to line the road to the garden.

Summer Garden Roseman Creek Ranch
Summer Garden Roseman Creek Ranch

I came in from working to eat my breakfast; a piece of seeded sourdough bread, two of our chicken eggs over easy, saute’d swiss chard. Such an abundant life. The fruits of our labor showing up everywhere.
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Fruit trees we grew and grafted to root stock, some from seed (indian peach, apricot and pineapple guava), veggies grown from seed in our well composted beds. Baby flowers coming up in the beds from reseeding. Plants I made from cuttings; roses, hydrangea, buddleia, viburnum growing large. Artichokes from seed, asparagus from seed, rhubarb from divisions. Gardens don’t have to be costly, using the natural abundance of nature to our advantage if you know how. Homemade naturally leavened bread from our brick oven, fired with our wood. Our warm cozy house thanks to the serious efforts of my husband and a chainsaw.
Oven bread baking
The life we envisioned six years ago when we bought this property is so much more than we could have imagined. Self sufficiency just an idea then now a lived experience. I want to tell you it’s quite possible. It takes diligence and hard work. Knowledge of traditional tasks and garden experience.

The Good Life

It was the best of times, it is the best of times.
It has been so hard to slow down enough to enjoy what we have built here.

Tonight I got to put the chickens away, a job Dennis usually does. It is Indian summer here the last few days, and really hot for our north coast. So the dogs and I walked up in the dark. The moon, starting to wane, wasn’t up yet. The stars shone through the cheetah spotted cloud sky.

I oiled the legs of the chickens, helping them to get through a small bout of mites, watched them slide all over their roost, quite funny.


Decided to see if any rabbits were in the garden, our newly planted purple cauliflower are getting eaten. By this time the cat had also joined our walk. No rabbits but I’ll walk the fence line, I take a shovel and with my flashlight between my legs, fill in some holes beneath the fence. After checking the orchard for ripe apples.

This is all getting quite fun in the dark. I decide to go look at the wood pile that some helpers just cleaned up. The moon came up making a bowl of the sky, so beautiful. Why do we watch TV ?

Thought I might try out our solar shower for the first time, it was wonderful, the moon was visible through the cracks.
The cob house has a view of the moon rising out the eastern window. The temperature inside seems slightly cooler than the outside heat.

Life is good.

The Calif. Food Act Has Passed !

the California Homemade Food Act, was signed into law today. The California Homemade Food Act legalizes the sale of homemade, “non-potentially hazardous” foods by creating a two-tier system of “cottage food operations” based upon the point of sale. Having captured the imagination of food lovers in California and beyond, AB 1616 was among the most anticipated bills to be considered by the Governor this year.

The Assemblyman made a commitment to helping aspiring micro-entrepreneurs start their businesses by improving access to locally produced, artisan foods after his constituent, Mark Stambler, was shut down by the Los Angeles Department of Environmental Health for selling his homemade, brick-oven breads to a neighborhood cheese shop. “I am proud to have delivered this victory to my constituents and to aspiring business owners throughout the state that are looking for ways to develop their businesses and purchase healthier, more locally produced foods for their families.”

Prior to the California Homemade Food Act, outdated statutes and local ordinances strictly prohibited everyone from home-based, artisanal bread bakers to small-scale, jam and preserve vendors from selling their products. Now, cottage food producers will be permitted to produce and sell every-day foods such as breads, tortillas, dry roasted nuts and legumes, cookies, granola, churros, jams, jellies and other fruit preserves to their communities. Producers choosing to sell directly to consumers will register with the local health department, and those choosing to sell to local retail shops, such as the neighborhood coffee shop or corner store, will be subject to initial inspection and permitting by the local health department. All producers will also be required to complete a food processor course, verify that the home kitchen meets specific standards, and disclose on the product label that the product was made in a home kitchen.

“Providing people with the opportunity to make and sell these foods directly to their neighbors at the local farmer’s market or through the specialty shop up around the corner is a matter of access to opportunity,” said Gatto. “I am happy that the Governor has joined me in my efforts to restore economic activity to our neighborhood economies and to the state of California by allowing people to produce and healthy, nutritious or culturally relevant foods in their homes.”http://californianewswire.com/2012/09/21/CNW12480_133126.php