Toad's Permaculture

Rainy day

August 10th: we have pumpkins

That’s right. I have pumpkins sprouting up all over the place. I am extremely excited. We have been watering them two to three times a day depending on the heat.

I went back and read one of my posts. I just should let everyone know I write these up quickly and do not proofread. I just type it up and publish it a couple of days out – just in case I change my mind about posting it (which happens).

This was August 6th

Anyway, there were only a few in the beginning. They were so tiny. It is exciting to see that they are actually coming up. I hope that this time it all works out.

Two babies at a time August 6th

Now, my more mature daughter asked me about planting them so close together and if it was a good idea. I am starting to wonder that myself.

I never anticipated that my garden would actually grow this way. (I am thinking the partial shade is really helping me out) That is one of the reasons that I planted them on the outside and I put the peas on the inside.

August 7th. You can see pumpkins all up and down the two outside lanes.

I figured if I put the pumpkins on the outskirts that they will be able to vine out, but great points were made. Should I do extra for the pumpkins or is my plan good?

Those are pumpkins in their rows below and I can’t wait for them to get bigger and show me pumpkins. In the middle two rows are the peas. We will be setting up stuff for them to hang out against. I have been watching those gardening groups, they have some really great ideas.

The more that I see success in others the more I can see there can be success in me. When I get low I have been asking others (just random citizens that frequent the groups I am in) to show me their gardens. It has been great 100% of the time. People that garden just seem to be nicer. I am excited about the pumpkins and seeing what everyone else has out there.

August 10th

Not going to lie I am starting to feel true concern for my peas. Only time will tell. I am hoping that everything works out, until next time people.

Side note: make sure you know where your water is going to travel so that you can capture it.

Banana Spider or Zipper Spider

All of my life I have called these banana spiders.

Two of the spiders that live on our porch

My husband argued that these were zipper spiders and he was right.

“The spider species Argiope aurantia is commonly known as the yellow garden spider,[2][3]black and yellow garden spider,[4]golden garden spider,[5]writing spiderzigzag spiderhay spidercorn spider, or McKinley spider,” –Wikipedia

None of the names that I found matched what I called banana spiders.

But I do like to keep them around. Females tend to stick around the same area their entire lives. (We have four now that live around us but I don’t know if they are male or female)

They eat their own web at night. I had no idea about that, but it makes sense that they keep such an organized web. I love my Bs. Bertha, Beatrice, Betty and Brenda; because I still call them banana spiders.

More information here

For reference, this is a banana spider. They are pretty cool, but not the spider that I have on my porch.

Pretty things for your eye holes

I enjoy taking pictures. Here are some of my favorites from this week.

The sunrise is beautiful
My fairy garden
Sunset
Evee and Gillis
Ants in my plants
She can grow anywhere

Day 2: continued firebreak phase one

Optimism is out the door. This is day two of the beginning of this battle. The vines are too much.

I am debating setting them on fire myself and just starting over. There are so many and they go all the way up to the top of the trees.

That was after one day of work already.

Even with my new fancy gloves that are amazing and have protected my blistered hands (so far). So many vines. We had no burn pile…

Now we have one… tada

Working on getting it all taken care of has been ridiculous, but we have been working at it.

We were out there working and there was this fine that had been buried beneath the brush. I didn’t notice it but when I went to pull another vine it touched me and I jumped high into the air.

A little bit that has been worked. A lot of vines gone.

If you had been there you would have been impressed with how high I jumped. Regardless, no snake just a vine, but now I am on high alert.

So we have realized that not only do we have a vine problem but we also have a baby tree problem. There are so many baby trees, they litter the floor and it is already hard enough to get to the bottom.

On a positive note we found an abandoned nest

I am debating on murdering these remaining baby trees or if I am just going to cut everything around them and let them grow.

I do not see any benefits to these jungle vines. They are huge and very thick. I have to get rid of them, but it’ll be so hard. Not looking forward to the rest of the work, but I know it will be rewarding and look better too.

Woot woot, almost got one section cleared away but as you can see in the corner of the picture there are still so many vines.

August 1: Peas and Pumpkins

Stop and just imagine for a second that plants just magically grew with little to now work…. that is just a great dream. Now pop it. I have been hoeing. These are my adventures… 🤣

The beginning of my flat hole

Well, random citizens, I have started a very small fall garden. I worked on it for an hour a day. First, I took my mighty hoe and I scraped all of the grass off of the top surface. I had to wet the soil multiple times. I did not enjoy this, but since my son hurt my tractor by hand it is.

My dog helping out in the shady parts

I had to really start moving dirt and my kids really only wanted to help with the fun stuff. I used the dirt that had all of the grass in it as an outside barrier.

I do not know why I did this, maybe I thought that it might protect the plants. We plan on putting ant poison around our beds. Something in me said, “keep it away from our precious.” My husband just rolled with it.

I really beat the fire out of the soil

The ground was so dry I found myself beating the dirt just to get what was on top. I complained a lot about how it was similar to rock- because it was. My shoulders were sore and I hate not having a working tractor. It is for the birds

Some people told me that I just needed to do raised beds in the beginning, but I’d kind of like to know how fast I would have starved in the 1820s. Right now, my family would have been doomed. I have already murdered plenty of plants from lavender to an entire vegetable garden. I really hope my luck changes this time, but just in case I am not using nearly as many seeds as I did the first go around.

Day 2 of our adventure

I gave up half way through the day because my delicate hands befell a blister. Missing my tractor. Regardless, I came back the next day with a blister and new determination. My husband felt bad for me and came out to help the second time. Although I did not work the dirt again that first day I did water it more than five times.

It did not work. The dirt was so dirt and compacted that it only glared at me. So, the ground was still tough but my husband watered it 10x more than I had because he said it made it easier for him. He could have peed on it for all I cared, he helped out a lot. I was not going to complain about his methods.

My sweet girl came out and helped me pull out some of the remaining grass that was in our rows (this was only to stay up later and plant the seeds)

I was going to do this cool thing in the circle that I had seen on the internet but my husband disagreed. Since I had messed up so horrible with our spring garden, he suggested i do fancy patterns with my plants at another time after I have become a little bit more skilled. He may be right, but if these ones die: we’re doing it the fancy way. 😒

Day three after the planting and after the first watering.

It does not look like it but I just watered those stupid seeds not even 15 minutes ago. Frankly, I am disappointed. I walked out there only to realize that I might need to put my sprinkler on them at least for today, while they’re getting started. I don’t want them to just become one with the dirt. I will update in a few days. I will also show the progress on spot two.

Spot Two will be preparing for our August 10th planters. I am excited. I saw on big names on this list. When I am done with these spots this fall I have some big plans. First- I am going to plant more grape plants. Then I am going to build a giant wooden structure to go over my bushes near the house. (I do not like the sun as much as I do the shade.) This will eventually have grapes growing all around it and I can’t wait.

So stick around and maybe I won’t kill everything this time.

She is just working too hard 😒

Day one: Firebreak

Been doing some research and I have found that a firebreak might be a good idea to incorporate. Before we even start planting our food forest, we should probably make sure we plant stuff according to our needs.

So, the first thing we noticed is that the majority of articles tell you to survey your land. They want you to look for dry and dead debry that could easily spark a fire.

I did not get far. I just walked to the front of the property and I found my first job. Before I start to plant new evergreens my first step is cleaning up the front of our property.

As you can see, we have our work cut out for us. We moved in October 2019. I have never owned such a large property before and had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even notice this until I knew what to look for.

So, we are going to work on getting this cleaned up. Having all of this could surely spark a fire. As the front of our home is so close to the road I am now nervous about it.

My son is excited to use a hatchet and I am sure together we will make quick work of this mess. Good thing about this is that the majority of these trees are evergreens. 🌲 (I just really wanted to use that tree 🌳 and this one)

Notes: before I start on getting my brand new fire break I will ensure that my current one is secure. I like that there are a lot of pine trees.

Another good thing is that getting the dead away will help them grow bigger and better or just not look so dead.

More on my millions of projects later to come 💚

Fenders cemetary: Many, LA

Asking all these questions

Pretty end to a great sunset at Toledo Bend, LA

So, as I have explained before: I stumbled through my first year. It was not a good thing, I murdered multiple plants this year and I feel very guilty about it.

I am not talking about one or two- it was the entire thing, the whole garden from corn to peas. Mid season I had to do raised beds and study. No matter what I did that first round was not good enough. I didn’t come prepared and I had a vague idea of what I wanted as well as some idea that it would all just magically happen for me.

During this time I came up with quite a few questions. These might or might not be useful. Feel free to add your own or comment a suggestion to add. I haven’t thought of everything I am sure.

Toledo Bend, LA on our family vacation.

1. What are my goals? How will our current decisions impact our long term goal? Do we have a clear end in mind? Can we break our goals into smaller missions and goals that can help us get to our end game? What are our manageable goals? What is most important? How will we manage our property organized v wilder methods?

My sister carrying her dog down while I was making this list. Toledo Bend, LA

2. How will my goals impact the property? How can the property interact with our ideas of our homestead? How can we plan adaptability into our system and how will it respond to change? What does the property want to be and what do you want it to be? What is appropriate and inappropriate for the property? Where is the natural flow of the property? What are the primary characteristics of our property? (Climate, terrain, biome etc.)

Oh vacation in Toledo Bend, LA

3. What do we need in order to make that happen? How will we work with nature? How can we retain resilience and durability? What materials and methodology do we want to use? What is our starting point? Can we do it alone or do we need assistance?

4. What is the natural layout of the property? What are our renewable resources and how can we make them work for us? What are our climate and geographic risks? Do we want to add to the property geographically in order to benefit our systems?

Sunset on Toledo Bend in LA

5. How will we handle our waste? What compost system will be best for us? Do we want worms or flies? Do we want a living system? Do we want do those weird German or Dutch mounds? How can we make it low impact and low waste?

6. How will we integrate as opposed to separate? How will our plans for diversity effect our long term goals and long game; how can we use these things to our advantage? Should there be straight rows or do we want a wilder and more layered food forestry method?

My favorite fish in Toledo Bend, there are five. You can look them up and find out more information.

7. Do we want to plan our outside perimeter that is a wild area barrier? If not, how do we utilize that space? How will we use our edges and values? What kind of agroforesty, permaculture or other scientific name do we want to use and why? How do we plan to balance our system?

8. Where do we want to place our infrastructure? What type of structures will we need and how much space do they need to occupy? What type of nursery/greenhouse do we want to utilize? How will we heat our greenhouse? Do we want to have an aquaponics system and if we do what kind of fish? Would we want to expand to a fish farm? What about hydroponics?

A path in Coleman Park. Sulphur Springs, Texas

9. What is our natural soil fertility and how do we plan to improve it? What living fertility methods will we be using? What is our soil texture, soil structure and biological activity? How can we get our soil tested?

10. How do we plan on using our natural landscape to capture maximum rain water? How will we store the water? Do we have a natural water source? Do we have a natural slope? Where is our natural occurring positive drainage and how do we direct our water and not it direct us?

Some scenery I thought was beautiful in Negrete, LA (I think that is the town name I may have spelt it wrong)

11. What natural ecosystem do we want? Do we want a pocket wetland? How much work do we want to put into that system daily?

12. Where is the Suns orientation? Where is our solar sweet spot? Where does your property get the best sun and how do you plant your property according to what would be the best to support that natural sun direction?

My niece waiting for little red riding hood

13. Where do our wind directions? Summer v. Winter winds? Do we need a wind break? Do we want to use a windmill?

14. Do you want animals? How much will it cost? Is it worth it? How much area will it use and what are the benefits and the risks? What kinds of animals do we want to raise?

Another beautiful sunset in Toledo, LA

15. What skills can we contribute? Are those skills useful towards your goal? What can you YouTube and what will you need help with? Do you have help (who, what, when, where, why, how)? What insects and animals are in the area? What can we do to repel them naturally?

Who knew right? Thought this was pretty neat

16. What will our zones look like? How will our zones effect our property and the water supply? Hiw many zones will you have and how will we section those zones out? What overlaying sector plan do we want to use? Are there natural things that we cannot change or edit? Where do we want our fire break and how will that effect our zones and property? What plants will we need to do this?

It’s really pretty in Toledo Bend, LA and the rental is pretty nice. This sunset though 🧘‍♀️

18. What do we want from our land (self reliant, hobby, income, education, healthy food etc.)?

17. Where are our frost pockets? How will we protect our plants during the winter? What kind of winter preparations do you need? How does winter effect your property? These questions also apply to summer.

A spooky Coleman park morning. Sulphur Springs, Texas

19. How will manage our roads and paths? How will we prevent erosion? Living v. Nonliving walkways? Do we want to build pathways? What kind of paths?

20. What inspires you to continue? How can you put a plan in place to avoid getting burned out? Are you in a group to help where you have other people to help you? Do you want to do it alone or do you want people to help you and if so, who?

A rocky shore that the kids found when they went out on the boat. If you are coast guard and I think military they give a sweet discount.

Lots of questions. As I get them answered I will post them here because I am a boring person and this is exciting for me. So that is that. Lots if work to do but my husband would prefer I not do anymore on my vacation.

Things I didn’t know… Metal pipes v. Me

Yeah metal piping is not good for your plants to grow on 😒 ignore my weird drip irrigation system.

So first let me say, I jumped into this like a kid that can’t swim. First, I decided I was going to start out with four. I bought four baby plants- I did not know what I was doing- and planted them along a metal pipe.

This is not including the six lavender plants that I murdered, just the ones that I am baking alive this summer.

Tire rims also heat up in the summer sun, no matter how easily you can obtain damaged ones

So I did not realize that I was literally baking two grape plants, a blueberry, and a blackberry plant. Honestly, the grapes and blackberry plants are not dying but these blueberries are crying. I do not want to uproot it because I am afraid I would murder it.

Those blackberries have some never die in them though

No trellises. I thought I had this. The one closest to us died a miserable death. He just got tall and tipped over- snapped in half.

Also, my dumb self did not put any supports up. Later I will take a picture of how my one living tomato plant is propped up with garden decorations and some twine. It isn’t a good look, but it worked at the time and I have not switched it out quite yet.

My friend’s amazing hobby garden that I am super jealous of. She knew what was up, I didn’t ask for help in the beginning and now there is a clear difference between our gardens. Hers is great and mine is murdered.

My goals are ever evolving right now but I really want to have a whole property covered in plants. I think it will make me happy in my old age.

The picture from the other angle. It is pretty sweet. She is amazing at this stuff with her green thumb.

End game goals: make a seasonal “witch” themed attraction during September and October. I will retire on this. My permaculture food forest will have everything I need to do a spooky trip that will be fun for all ages. I have so many ideas, but that my dears is how I plan on retiring. I want being old to be fun.

Negrete, LA cemetery: Zion Hill

As I was leaving I saw this sign and could not stop laughing

My sage: one day of being back

Yesterday
Yesterday
Today 💚
Today 💚

Our plants after one week vacation

Our banana tree. I will take a picture of the pup later, but this is fun.
My blue berry plant 💚
Lemon tree 💚
Baby blue berry
Blackberry
Bell peppers and garlic
Banana peppers
Baby fig do do do do do do
Blackberry
Sage
One is squash and one is cantaloupe for sure
Grape
(Left and up) ? Oregano and sage (Right, middle and up) rosemary, thyme, and Greek oregano or at least that’s what the tag said
Lemon balm, marjoram and something salad….
Juniper that seems to be struggling
Aloe Vera
Zucchini

Drip irrigation: After a one week vacation

So we left for vacation on Saturday, July 25, 2020. We came back just now- like magicians or in cars. Anyway, before we left we tried to find someone- anyone to water the plants that survived the first few months.

We realized some the week before that traffic cones can only be so helpful. We used something alternative later. Pictures to follow

Anyway, we have all these plants and we had no one to water my babies. Also I had just planted three blackberry bushes because I got them on sale. I am a sucker for a sale. We looked into many different systems but we decided that the easiest cheapest way was to use our old buckets and collect tidy cat buckets in order to set up drip irrigation.

We are not perfect people and this wasn’t even the ending amoung

Not going to lie, we were throwing this mess together the night before because we had to collect the materials

Into the wee hours of the night. It gets dark later during the summer. It is clearly night time.

It took quite a bit of time. We were collecting materials until the night before we left. Driving to strangers houses and asking for their little boxes the week before- to make sure we had enough. Fun Fact: we still didnt have enough.

He worked hard and tirelessly in order to the best he could with minimum light.

Anyway, it worked (kind of it turns out our neighbors will filling the buckets twice a day), so we are 90% sure we did it wrong. We screwed a hole into each bucket and the water slowly dripped out. My Aunt went back to check on her cats, so she filled up my buckets for me mid week and I thought that everything was fine.

I thought that the drip irrigation was lasting, per white bucket, 4 days, the tidy cat’s around 3.

We woke up super early to make sure

The blue berries loved it, they were looking yellow before. I think we’ll keep the buckets for our blue berries because the leaves look a lot better. I think that is because of the rain water. We need rain water collection and just found out that I don’t need to be watering my plants with tap water.

One of my daughters carrying a bucket to fill by the plants the morning before we left.

Regardless we only lost one plant the entire week because of a team effort. Now my neighbor (who I had no idea was an irrigation specialist) wants to help us.

What our almost complete system looked like. It still wasn’t the best, but we tried.

He informed me that this was not going to work for our long term plans and how water is the bones of any yard. I would need to figure that out long before I started mass planting like I want to next year.

Our one dead tree. It was still watered but I am pretty sure it isn’t going to come back.

We are going to start working on that tomorrow. This has been one heck of a learning experience. Hoping for future success.

Mimsy, our bunny chaser 💚

Where I went wrong and right with my property

My pasture

Well, first let me say I had a general idea of what I wanted in the beginning. It was a rough guess but more like a daydream. I wanted to build this awesome thing but didn’t have a bit of information on how to do it. I decided I would just figure it out as I went.

I did zero research on my property I just knew it had this big huge tree and it had a wide open pasture so I wouldn’t have to clear anything. I do love that big tree, it was a major selling point.

For not buy property for a big tree.

So we put in our house and we starting messing with the dirt. I didn’t even check out the soil until I broke a shovel. That was when I realized that pasture land might have some cons. It does not hold water to save a life. The only things that survive are resilient and durable plants that are native- which did not follow my plan one hundred percent.

So, now I have this property that has been used to run cattle for over twenty years and I need to figure stuff out. Nitrogen levels are low. There is no water source. I did not look into these things before hand because I guessed natural rain would just magically make my plants live.

Still I was happy because look at that sunset 💚

I was still super excited and continued to fight the clay dirt. It was so tightly packed that we had to wet the ground before we tilled it. If we were using a shovel we had to use lots of water.

The garden was tilled and I added NOTHING. I just figured it’s broken up, the dirt will just fix itself. Again, I was hoping for some magic. I planted and watered and waited. We watered faithfully and very few plants sprouted. We planted over five hundred seeds, most didn’t germinate in my soil and the ones that did could not survive a few weeks.

The tree that sold me 💚

When nothing came up I was really upset, but i moved to perennials and raised beds. Now, I am planning for 2021. I will not be choosing another property, I’ll fix it, but now I know that plants don’t grow on hope. I really wish I had done more research.

The memorial marker under our tree that we found when we cleaned up the branches.

Dun dun dun: Little Flock Cemetary, LA

The beginning

So first let me say, hello and welcome to my adventure in turning my property into a Food forest by using the principles of many things. One of which is Permaculture. Let me first say: orginally I planted so much and spent too much on seeds just to watch it fail.

The beginnings of my herb garden

After that terrible start my eyes wandered to research. Lots of research which started the beginning of my herb garden, as shown above.

In the beginning… there was hope that everyone would survive

After failing so hard at first I really needed these raised beds to make it. So I worked a little too hard at them. It helped some plants thrive, others not so much.

So we decorated it a little bit and I learned late that some of this stuff bushes out bigger than I’ve allowed.

After lots of research. I decided that these experimental boxes would help me get my end game goals accomplished. They helped me out because I realized what I did wrong with my large garden that I had planned.

What my blueberry plants looked like before the birds came and ate them all.

I planted 26 plants this year that were perennial. Plenty of BlackBerry and blueberry bushes as well as a fig tree and other naturally occurring trees and shrubs.

What I gathered from the small herb garden I managed to grow after killing so many defenseless plants.

Honestly, even though some of my original plants died I got a lot out of it. I learned a lot and I think I want to expand that and share it. Who knows someone smarter might have a suggestion.

More beautiful sun things

Natural colors are the most beautiful

A few sunsets for your eye holes

A few pretty things for your eye holes