We’re now in the pre-op stage of a planned transformation of this eyesore that’s in front of my house, the stump of a beloved maple tree that I had to cut down maybe six years ago (because these fast-growing trees start dropping branches big time when they’re about 50 years old, and the woodpeckers tell you when they’re ready to go . . . I had found myself moving to a back room of the house during wind storms; that was the deciding factor . . .).
For the first few years, I planted vegetables around the stump, and two years ago, Jim, who used to live here, and who started lots of projects and got us going on hugelkulture, also started to construct a sweet short brick and stone wall around the stump (bricks which he did not want to glue together, and which we shall now glue together. . .). And meanwhile, we just basically, let the place “go to seed,” watching the bark dissolve and mushrooms grow, and lots of perennials volunteer.
Last winter I had a revelation. Asking the question that usually comes in, eventually, if I wait long enough and observe (first principle of permaculture), that question being, “What wants to happen here?” And all of a sudden it came to me. This should be another hugelkulture bed. In the form of a circular mound, the top of which is the top of the decaying stump. We have so damn much wood lying around this two-house urban farmstead.
Between the houses, next to the swale that takes water from my house to the pond, we had to cut a tree down last December when we installed the two-house solar array on the DeKist house (the front yard of which is being mulched for its eventual fruit tree and perennial native plant orchard) —
And, there’s the tragically cut short life of the mimosa tree, now dragged to the curb (so I can cut the grass) and awaiting the chain saw’s return from being fixed . . .
And those two large stumps from the downed elm tree from two years ago (most of which went in the hugelkulture beds) that have been hanging out ever since in the “activity center.” See them? In the background, sticking out like sore thumbs.
(Oops, just found out from Rebecca that she wants to quarter them lengthwise and use to face the new garden beds next to the front fence, so again, where’s the chainsaw?). Notice, in the above picture, the apparently dying little trees? Those are sassafras, hopefully reviving soon, from the back yard, just dug up and placed in pots. Not sure where they’re going yet. Probably to someone else!
So. We decided to put most of the old wood around the decaying stump and add soil, plants. Aaaah. And just yesterday Rebecca said, “Let’s make that hugelkulture bed an herb spiral. There are lots of designs. Let’s look them up on the internet.” BINGO!
YES! And guess what? In my usual “job” of walking puppy Shadow through the neighborhood in the mornings, I often come across “flows” (a permaculture term, otherwise called “waste“) that we would like to include in our farmstead. In this manner, I’ve come across, and persuaded workers to bring, wood chips, leaves, grass clippings, and, now, as of a few mornings ago, fill dirt (from a house excavation). Four blocks away. To arrive sometime this week. Which means that we have to get the bricks glued, NOW. Ye gods!
I mention all these things, and show all the pictures, just to get you used to how much work is involved in permaculture, and also how many relationships, not just with plants, but with humans! And how much timing counts. For example, oops! We still need to get the rest of the seedlings in the ground . . .
But that depends on getting more soil for the just completed new beds, and in order to do that, we need to make a trip to the dump first, because the truck is loaded with stuff that we have to unload there (yes, we still produce waste — contradictions abound! — like old carpets taken out of the DeKist house and nobody wants them, not Restore and not even us since we’ve decided NOT to line the aisles of the garden with them anymore. Why? Because when plants do manage to grow through the carpet, they are almost impossible to dig out without cutting the carpet too, and it’s a big pain) before it can be used to haul the dirt . . . Get it! And all this, THIS WEEK.
Luckily, we’ve got the pond to help center and soothe us, with its lotuses, frogs, fish, butterflies, waterskippers, and all sorts of other plants and insects and gobs of birds and who knows who else inhabits this magical little ecokingdom next to the seating area —
Here, this grey morning, a pink lotus in half-lotus position . . .
Flowering catnip . . .
And a brand new flower. Never seen it before here. What is it? Did the birds bring in its seed? Did I plant it and not remember? Did someone else?
GLORY GLORY GLORY!
Oh shoot. I just noticed the grasses around this flower, making seed heads. Need to get them outta there NOW . . .
Damn! And just found out chainsaw still not fixed . . .