PHOTO ESSAY: Green Acres Ecovillage pod life: April 23-25, 2015

The weekend started with a paint job. On Friday afternoon Katarina put finishing touches on her recycle boxes that she then distributed to likely party houses in the neighborhood for this year’s traditional Little 500 bicycle race weekend that started in 1951 and was memorialized in the sweet little 1970 movie, Breaking Away.


But then I woke up in the middle of the night Friday to an almost complete silence. Very unusual around here on any weekend — almost disturbing, even eerie; but this was Little 500 Weekend!! What? No yelling and whooping, no loud music and drumming?

In the morning I noticed the story, page one, in the local paper. The body of an IU coed who had gone missing on Friday afternoon had been found, murdered.

Suddenly, what had been planned as an annual night of revelry, had been stunned into silence. On Saturday morning the autopsy was done, she had been killed via four blows to the head, plus minor abrasions from trying to defend herself. Not raped. A suspect with a long criminal history is in custody.

How to continue with my story after this ghastly news? Well, that’s what we humans do, we go on, despite shock and surprise, the complete obliteration of expectations.

Also on Friday, here, I decided to put our Garden Tower

Garden Tower

(the second one my son Colin made, four years ago was it?) to use, after sitting fallow all winter — with strawberries! But first, I told Rebecca, “let’s clean out the compost tube.” (It had never been cleaned out, and was nearly full. The worms had died over the unusually cold winter.) Lucky for me, she volunteered to get under there and do it.

start to remove compost

removing soil almost done

The tube filled a five gallon container with beautifully dark, rich, friable compost (except for the eggshells). Now we’ll start over with new red wriggler worms and kitchen scraps and a bit of wet carbon (usually newspaper) in the tube. The worms go in and out of the soil through holes in the tube to make soil that gets richer and richer, especially when you pour back in the “compost tea” that drains from the Tower when watering the top of it.

Here it is, 65 tiny (hard to see here) strawberry plants, including six on top. Most of them bearing all summer long.

66 strawberry plants

Meanwhile, the chickens were watching me plant. Check out the new fence.

chickens and fence

Wow! Now check out the fence. Later that same afternoon Leah and Rebecca added a gate.

new gate

Also, while I was planting the Garden Tower, Rebecca and Katarina managed to lift the big old heavy table top — one we had been scratching our heads over as how to repurpose — into place over the old tree stump. Rebecca’s brilliant idea. Prior to its new top, that stump was too sunny to grow mushrooms.

mushroom stumpNow we can grow them! And Duncan, our former podmate who just this weekend traveled to Virginia to take a workshop in caring for mushrooms, will be the mushroom man. BTW: just as Duncan and Rebecca were discussing his upcoming trip (Rebecca tole me she wanted to gift him with a scholarship to this event, so that he could further pursue his life-long passion; I said “Yes!” and paid half) — the two of them looked down. At their feet? A MOREL MUSHROOM. Sprouting up. The first of the season in this yard. Yes, the two of them did take it as a great omen.

Here’s the stump, our new, soon-to-be mushroom log, with frog on top.

mushroom log with frog

Oh yes, and Leah and Rebecca got our new clothesline up, with this contraption on one end.

clothesline contraption

Leah’s clothes, drying today.

Leah's clothesUnderneath the clothes, on the porch, Kryssa and Shadow, sunning themselves.

Kryssa and Shadow

Also, Rebecca finally cut the legs down on the Garden sign so it no longer looks like it’s going to walk away . . . and planted a few flowers that will soon spread.

sign with flowers

However, notice that the sign looks a bit pock-marked, bumpy. What? Why? She then noticed: it had been made out of particle board! And after just one rainy winter in InDiana . . . Oh well, we’ll make the next sign more permanent.

Which reminds me. We have a number of other projects that need doing. One of them, to get the water catchment tanks up on platforms so we have better gravity flow. Thomas is coming over next week to start that job.

Another: not sure what to do about the pond. Here it is, early spring (catchment tanks against house).

pondOf course the birds keep bringing new seeds for plants and pooping them into the pond. So new plants grow, and put their roots down underneath the pond liner (which is made out of three layers, old carpet, heavy plastic, and then a top layer of old carpet as well). That means that when we pull out the plants, it makes holes in the bottom, so the pond starts to drain. Not sure whether to just let it evolve into a wetland (as it wants to do), or tackle the huge job of draining it, getting all the plants (and fish) out, redoing the liner with something less likely to be punctured by plant roots). But if we let it evolve into a wetland, then what about the fish? The pond is the soul of the garden, a great attractor for birds, insects, frogs, and, obviously, aquatic plant species. It’s always humming with life. Do NOT want to get rid of it . . . Decisions, decisions . . .

And then there’s the garden itself, which awaits planting.

soon to be planted

Meanwhile, interesting that somehow jewel weed has cropped up volunteer in a big way on one of the beds.


Here’s one of the African beds with its compost hole newly opened up again, awaiting layers of table scraps and dirt.

compost hole in African bedJPG

And here’s the makeshift plastic covered temporary greenhouse that Rebecca wanted to add to the old greenhouse —

original greenhouse— since it wasn’t nearly large enough last year.

From the west towards the temporary greenhouse:

greenhouse from west

From the east:

greenhouse from east

This was another of Rebecca’s inventive ideas, and it actually works quite well! Lots of seedlings in there and all around this place. Awaiting our big seedling plant sale as well as planting our own beds. (Not until after Mother’s Day, traditional in InDiana.) We’ll remove the plastic and leave some of the trellises for vining plants. Beans? Malabar spinach?

Finally, here’s what the apple tree sacrificed for the living room, thanks to Katarina. Beautiful display, eh? Some of the pedals are already gone.

apple tree branches




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2 Responses to PHOTO ESSAY: Green Acres Ecovillage pod life: April 23-25, 2015

  1. laurabruno says:

    Beautiful! Thanks for identifying the jewelweed. We’ve had some volunteer here, too, unbeknownst to me until reading your post. I’ve been trying to grow it winter sown in milk jugs, and it didn’t take, but come to find out it’s already in the ground! We are also doing mushrooms here for the first time this year — some garden giants and shitaki. I’ll need to see if I can get enough shade going near the apple trees to grow the garden giants there, since they supposedly help apple trees grow strong and disease resistant. We’ve got dwarfs, so they need all the help they can get.

    I’ve been thinking of you, as this appears to be the year of the edge and the year of the hedge. Everything’s growing up fedges. 🙂 Arbor Day Foundation also “accidentally” gave me 26 North Privet seedlings, which they said just to keep, so our shady side by the apartments will finally have some privacy. Happy growing!

  2. Pamela says:

    Lovely. Time on the planet well-spent.

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