Tuesday, February 26, 2008

native flora and fauna

Last Saturday I went to a conference on native flora and fauna called Through the Eyes of Nature:The Birds' View of Landscaping

It was pretty interesting. I could sum it up in a few sentences. Basically it's all about providing the basics of food and shelter in as many ways as possible to attract the most species of fauna as possible.

1. Native plants don't need as much maintenance as exotics. They are genetically programmed to thrive on tough conditions.
2. Native fauna enjoy living and eating in pockets of native plantings.
3. Birds in particular like a variety of native plants, from the tall oaks, to the medium birch, to the low juneberry, to the small bearberry. Most birds like trees under 15 feet tall or so.
4. You can attract twice as much species of bird if you add a water feature to your landscaping, twice more then that if your water feature flows or drips in some ways.
5. Dead trees and brush (snags) provide sanctuary and food to birds.

A lot of this repeats many of the lessons I've learned form Forest Gardening and Permaculture principles.

Landscape architecture is extremely important for overyielding polycultures. Perennial polyculture patches of native species of various heights and structure fill various niches that are necessary to provide food and shelter for the most amount of fauna species as possible.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

my grandpa's dad

Was apparently a goldminer in the 1890's.

Carl E. Peterson

My grandpa

My grandpa died last year. Not exactly unexpectedly, but then again death is never really expected. I didn't know him that well, but out of all the members of my family, I am probably most like him.

I wish I would have gotten to know him better, but just when my own sense of identity began to become clear and I started a long journey to make peace with myself, he began a slow decline into ill health. My grandma began to develop Alzheimer's, and one day she mistook my grandpa for an intruder and brained him with a frying pan. He required hospitalization and many stitches and he couldn't talk for a long while. He looked absolutely terrible with a shaved head and giant stitches, filled with frustration at the inability to talk. I gave him my first and last adult hug at that hospital in St. Cloud. Meanwhile my grandmother didn't even know what was going on. I felt utterly unable to even attempt to establish a connection with her.

He got better and I did see him once more at Christmas, where he seemed to take some joy in interacting with Maya, my sister's young daughter. He talked about his new invention with me and my partner, a vertical windmill. He even sketched out a plan.

But then his health failed and he died.

Here are some of his inventions:

Opposing Piston Engine

Animal Watering Apparatus

A machine for injecting fluid chemicals into the ground attachable to the lift arms of a farm tractor

Rotatable Heat Transfer Fan

An automatic plowing apparatus having a self- propelled vehicle carrying facing plows guided by a cable extended across a field

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

seed time

It is seed time, and all through the house, not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.

God, it is so exciting to peruse the seed catalogs in late winter. The brainstem is lit up like a christmas tree.

I have bought and used seed from these quality seed companies:

Seeds of Change
Johnny's Selected Seeds
Seed Savers
High Mowing Seeds

And I have heard good things about these companies:

Fedco Seeds
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

So far I wouldn't hesitate to say that Seed Savers seed is reliable, and Johnny's Selected seeds are quality as well, perhaps because they are in more northern clime then Seeds of Change. Just not a lot of luck with High Mowing for some reason.

The other ways we propagate plants is by attending the Friends School Plant Sale which is always fun and a great deal if you get there early, but the plants are sometimes lackluster.

The best plants you can by in Minnesota are here:

Outback Nursery
Glacial Ridge Growers
Landscape Alternatives

The best gardening store in the Twin Cities:

Mother Earth Gardens

I also check out Linders every now and then for the big nursery experience and to buy the odd plant:


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Michael Pollan: The omnivore's next dilemma


wahoo it's spring (almost)

Woh. All of a sudden spring is leaping up at our toes with the insistence of inevitably. My mind races with ideas and plans. The cold dark death days of winter seem bearable.

Time for poring over seed catalogs. Permaculture designs for home and zones.
Memorizing natives. Latin, Spanish names.
Making a growlight stand. Start seedlings.
Tap trees for maple syrup. Maple syrup party?
MLS listings for land. Financial considerations, budget, loans, taxes...
Still have to plan and cook meals. Sustainable local diet. Food is life, takes up time.
Skiing when snow arrives...just found out skating is fun.
Local Roots fliers, ads, ideas.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Friday, February 01, 2008

life goes on

The dark winter months are hard. I want to be alone, then with everybody I know. I get way deep down depressed, then lighthearted for no real reason. Everything is bleak and cold, then ever so slightly bearable. I really need to be as busy as possible in this kind of weather.

My health seems okay. I feel like my breathing is easier and my sense of impending doom has lifted slightly. For a moment there I thought I was at the end of my rope. Little pleasures help a lot. Relaxing the body helps, and realizing that I am not my moods is good.

I went to see a chiropractor and she was very helpful. She lifted my spirits and helped soothe my body. I'm going back to the clinic next week to get a physical, just to see if everything is alright in the old body. I haven't really utilized the myriad of health resources out there, and I feel like it's a good time to get into more of a health schedule.

So yeah. I'd like to hang out and connect and talk about stuff and play games if you're up for it.

Permaculture News