It’s the 29th, and we’ve been hoppin’ here, all in prep for four of us leaving town on different journeys by the end of this week, which will leave Dan alone to do everything, including chickens, watering, weeding, CSA, etc. Alex left last Friday for a family vacation t Green Lake in Wisconsin (the very lake where my Kreilkamp family had an inherited cottage that we used to gather in when I was a kid; so amazing the webs we weave without knowing it) and will be back this Sunday; Rebecca and Solan both left for this year’s Rainbow Gathering in Georgia on Wednesday and who knows when they’ll return!, and I leave today for the one-day Ann Arbor Permaculture Convergence, traveling five hours each way with three young women until Sunday. (So please take note: no posts until Monday!)
Here’s the CSA distribution last Friday, first photo artfully, through fence. Dan and Solan in charge:
Wow, after only one and a half days, the new compost pile that Dan created in a single hour (including layered horse manure)
hit 140° on our new thermometer. Wow!
He and I stood there, waxing philosophical on this thermometer, which Solan and Rebecca picked out for about $18.
“The single best tool we have ever bought!”
“Yes! Not only does it measure our progress, it inspires us!”
We also checked the old compost that we built with Rebecca’s ex-husband, local master compost builder Dave, a few weeks ago. It was sitting at 120°.
We were so proud of Dan’s new compost pile. Even hotter!
Later, Rebecca told us that a new compost pile should be turned within three days, lest it get so hot that the bacteria die! 140° is pushing it. The hottest it can go is 160°. “David must have forgotten to tell you that detail. . .”
Oops! Dan checked it again a day later, and it was 155°. . . So the next morning he and friend Emily turned the compost, putting it in wheelbarrows, and then repiling it.
And wow! After three days total, here’s what the pile has already accomplished (shown partially full, with wheelbarrows more waiting).
Very impressive. Dan tells me today that the pile is at 140° again, and the older pile is holding steady at 120°.
MONDAY WORK PARTY
Rebecca and I discussed the disappearing blackberry patch, which had been one of the first plantings, way back in 2010. In that first year, we had put up a bamboo lattice structure for it, and it produced hundreds of berries. Likewise the second and third years. However, by the fourth year, I was noticing that the sunny side was producing much more than the increasingly shady side. Hmmm . . . (First principle of permaculture: OBSERVE!) And by last year, I bet there weren’t more than 30 berries altogether.
So . . . we should not have been surprised that this spring the old berry bushes started to be crowded out, by both milkweed (good for monarch butterflies) and jewel weed (good for poison ivy). By this time of course, the entire berry section was shaded by the sassafras tree, so no surprise that there is exactly one (immature, red) berry visible here:
So I went to work, easily pulling up by its very shallow roots the entire patch of jewel weed and piling it next to the machete station. Proceeded to chop it all up, and spread it on the paths, where we will trample it until fall, until we scoop up the top layers of the paths and put them on the beds, adding new chips to the paths.
Here’s what that same patch looks like now, with milkweed the dominant plant.
We’re not sure what we will plant instead of berries there. But for sure, what rmnains of this berry patch will be moved to a sunnier spot.
Here are a few more photos of people working in the garden, mainly pulling weeds. Rebecca, Christina, Andreas, Solan. Note puppy Shadow’s new haircut!
Devon and his mom came by. They had an hour to kill before going to the airport, since her plane was late. Okay! He would do the promised pruning.
Devon is a professional landscaper, in charge of the the beautiful, extensive grounds of the IU President’s home. He also taught me the correct way to cut off a branch. Yes!
And, after seeing Shadow’s new cut, his mom (damn! Can’t remember her name, she attended two recent Community Dinners with her son), mentioned that she used to cut dogs’ hair, and had they gotten the hair out of his ears? No! Hadn’t ever even thought of that! So she asked for a tweezers and sat right down and did it. Shadow didn’t mind at all.
Neighbors sharing time and skills with each other. So grateful!