Saturday, October 07, 2006

Introduction and How I Got HERE

I met Mia on the Weight Watcher's Vegetarian Message Board. From there I discovered her Eco Mama Blog and Beo's The Future is Insight Blog which I read regularly. I've watched hers and Beo's journeys to permaculture their suburban WI lot, grow some of their own food, shop locally to feed their family and do some Prairie restoration. I have my own almost year old blog called Body Tales of the Heart and Scales which is mainly about my weight loss journey and my road to all-over health. I'd been writing a lot about my garden and the harvest and really getting away from the laser bream focus of my Weight Watcher's journey. Maybe that is because the garden has been such a big and important part of my life these past months and that I've made my weight loss goal and just don't have as much to talk about regarding that part of my life. But as we move towards what feels inevitably to be the end of oil, becoming self-sustaining in all ways possible is a huge onion to peel and since I seem to relish peeling onions, here I am.

So I approached Mia about co-creating a blog. I think we three all have very similar values towards the stewardship of the little pieces of Earth that are in our care. We all are on a similar path to eat local, to become more self-sustaining and grow and eat organic food. I was thrilled that she said yes to this and that Beo wanted to participate too. I think they are both pretty brilliant! And I think we've all been affected by the 100 mile challenge idea. It's not hard to eat within 100 miles of your home in the late summer and early fall. As Tara and I have preserved a lot of our summer into fall fare, we will be enjoying tomatoes, pears, tomato sauce, dehydrated beans, corn and summer squash and stored winter squash far into the new year.

My partner Tara and I have owned our little piece of N. CA paradise for 3 years exactly today. We came in here to this kooky develpment in Mendicino County, CA that is carved out of a mountainside and is built over the partially healed devastation of a clear cut Redwood forest. The clearcutting happened after the 1906 earthquake to help rebuild San Francisco. The forest has had 100 years to recover and where there is forest, it has changed to 2nd and 3rd growth Redwood and Douglas Fir and the more opportunistic Madrone, Manzanita and Tan Oaks. These trees are thickly clustered throughout the greenbelt, able to grow pretty abundantly with the acid pH change from the demise of the old growth Rredwoods and all the shade and moisture they produce. Some of the land here is field rather than forest and hosts large Black Oaks and Valley Oaks which thrive in open space. Our little piece is surrounded to the north and west by forest, but we are on the gently curving sides of a bowl that bottoms out into a manmade lake which is the develpment's water source. We have a young redwood grove on our berm, but the rest of our land is clay, rock soil field, probably created with a bulldozer back in the 1960s.

Tara had received the book Gaia's Garden for her birthday the year we moved here. I know Beo uses this book too. If you are at all interested in the idea of permanent agriculture, it is a must read. We used the model of "Bomb Proof Sheet Mulch" to create our garden. And now as we go into our 4th winter, our garden probably covers 1/8th of an acre of our 1/2 acre. All our beds are sheet mulched. It was the only way to sustainably grow here where the summer days go over 100 degrees for weeks at a time and the growing season is long and water is expensive and soon to be scarce.

When I say it's a long season, I'm still harvesting foot long beans, tomatoes, summer and winter squash and carrots and have recently planted lettuce, with onions, garlic, spinach and broccoli on deck. The chard happily reseeds itself all over the garden and grows through any cold weather we get in the winter. What I mean by cold is that it freezes through much of December which is usually a pretty dry month, then it rains in earnest through April with a few small snow falls thrown in. We have frost regularly too.

Last year we built a small cold frame, under which I kept a cayenne pepper plant going until that hard, cold weather of December hit and successfully grew chard, spinach and carrots throughout the winter. We are wanting something a little bigger this year and hopefully Tara can build it before it gets too far along into the season. Otherwise, I'll just do intensive planting under the one we have, which needs a new plastic covering and I will hopefully have good stories to report about what's happening under there.

So off we go! I do hope you enjoy reading about our journeys!


Blogger Beo said...

Wow! Color me jealous of your 1/8th acre garden and mild winters!
Unfortunately I discovered sheet mulching AFTER I established my gardens, but this year's new beds have better soil than last years. Nothing like dirt in the nails experience to guide you!

Looking forward to this project MAddy, and thanks for the invite.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Mia said...

Congratulations on your 3 year ownership anniversary! I am very excited about this challenge. :)

4:45 PM  
Blogger blueshakti said...

what a fascinating blog. Although I'm a renter in the suburbs with a very tight budget, my dreams include sustainable living... I do what small things I can, and get vicarious thrills from the things other folks do.

yay for all three of ya for being part of the solution.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Mia said...

Thanks, Lisa! Every step counts, everywhere from everyone. :)

3:35 PM  

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