Crunchy Mama's Urban Homestead

Come learn about awesome plants on my homestead

Onto our new and exciting journey in Michigan

A warm greeting from the Mitten!  We have been in our new home for 3 months and things are going wonderfully.  We actually really love our new area, even though we are in the heart of the suburbs.  It may be big and traffic might be awful sometimes but I like to look on the bright side.  There are a lot of very interesting places to visit and a lot people with similar interests here: Permaculture, holistic living, etc.  With the help of Facebook and Meetup, I have joined some homeschooling/unschooling groups and Permaculture groups and have made friends quickly.

Now that the craziness of moving, settling in, and the holiday season are just about over, I am really looking forward to increasing my knowledge base through reading.  Thankfully, Michigan has a similar inter-library loan system to what Ohio has and I have requested a slew of books on Permaculture and related topics.  I plan on sharing my thoughts on the books as I read through them.

I also have been able to go to several in-person workshops (or skillshares) hosted by the various Permaculture groups that I participate in.  In November, I attended two different workshops: a rocket stove workshop as well as a “making hard cider” demonstration.  In December, I attended a meeting wherein three presenters presented their craft in short demonstrations: carving wooden spoons, making paper and wool felting.  I was really intrigued with the wool felting.  The presenter said that she doesn’t like knitting or sewing but really found that she likes wool felting.  I am not enthusiastic about knitting or sewing either.  I prefer other crafts such as soap-making, growing plants, and cooking.

In November, a co-leader of my county’s Permaculture group put a call out to invite people to present a skillshare at future meetups.  I offered to present on seed sprouting, soap-making, and baking artisan bread.  She took me up on my offer.  In a few weeks, I’ll be presenting on sprouting seeds for eating (not gardening) and then in March I will be presenting on cold process soap making.

alfalfa seeds sprouting in a sprouting tower

alfalfa seeds sprouting in a sprouting tower

In preparation for my sprouting presentation, I am doing a lot of researching — revisiting what I already know but also expanding my knowledge base and my experience (by sprouting a larger variety of seeds).  I am really, really glad that I am.  I am learning so much.  I have also improved my previous sprouting techniques.  So, I plan on posting a series here on the blog about my adventures in sprouting seeds for eating.

There is more to write but I will save that for later.  Happy New Year to each of you!

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Geoff Lawton’s FREE video series on Permaculture

Greetings, friends!  I mentioned this video series in my post on Jack Spirko’s video series on permaculture.  At the time, I had not watch the entire series by Geoff Lawton.  Now that I have, I highly recommend his video series.  They are more of an overview of what can be accomplished with permaculture design rather than a specific “how-to” video series.

The first video is called Surviving the Coming Crisis: Designing your Way to Abundance by Geoff Lawton.  The titles of the other videos are at the top of that webpage.

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Another great free video series on Permaculture

I just came across another series on Permaculture.  This one is produced by Midwest Permaculture.  It has 18 videos and they are great!  I love hearing about Permaculture design from different perspectives.

The first video of the series is here:

If you missed my post on Jack Spirko’s video series on Permaculture you can find it here.

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Homesteading Word of the Day — plant guilds

Greetings!  I hope that this post finds you happy and healthy!

Today’s Homesteading Word of the Day (or rather PHRASE of the day) is “plant guilds.”  Plant guilds are groups of plants that grow together and support each other in various ways.  In nature, many plants grow together in the same area.  In gardening and homesteading, we can choose plants that will actually help each other grow instead of compete with each other for the nutrients in the soil and for the sunlight needed for photosynthesis.  Many plants will actually share the nutrients that they acquire from the soil with other plants

I came across this webpage that has a great explanation of plant guilds or permaculture guilds: http://www.neverendingfood.org/b-what-is-permaculture/permaculture-guilds/

Here are some of great excerpts from that webpage: “Permaculture is based on natural systems like those that we see in forests.  In a forest system, there are multiple layers of vegetation growing together in a very diverse setting.  We see many types of trees, shrubs, plants, insects, animals, and various other things all living together in a system that continually strengthens itself.  All of these components of a natural ecosystem serve a function (or several functions) that support each other like the strands of a web.  One strand on its own may be weak, but the combination of all the strands together add to the overall strength and usefulness of the web.”

“A good Permaculture guild generally has seven components: food for us…food for the soil…diggers/miners…groundcover…climbers…supporters…protectors.”

PLUS at the bottom of the page there is a free one-page illustrated download called Permaculture Guild.  From that download: “A “guild” in Permaculture is a system of efficiently grouping different plants together in order to use everything to its fullest potential.”

And here is a free ebook on plant guilds by Midwest Permaculture http://midwestpermaculture.com/eBook/Plant%20Guilds%20eBooklet%20-%20Midwest%20Permaculture.pdf

Want to see all of the Homesteading Word of the Day posts?  Scroll down and look for “Categories” on the right then click on “vocabulary” or just click on this link: https://crunchymamasurbanhomestead.wordpress.com/category/vocabulary/

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Homesteading Word of the Day — pollard

Greetings!  Yesterday’s homesteading word of the day was coppice.  Today’s HWOTD  is related — pollard.  They both mean cutting back or pruning trees or shrubs but the height at which the cuts are made are different.  Generally speaking, coppicing occurs closer to the ground and pollarding occurs higher up.  Obviously, there are reasons for each methods.

Midwest Permaculture’s website has a very helpful post on the similarities and differences between the two methods as well as the reason why you would want to do either.  Here are a few helpful paragraph’s from the post.

Coppicing and  are two methods of wood pruning that allows us to continually harvest wood from the same trees while keeping them healthy for centuries. They produce a sustainable supply of timber for many generations while enhancing the natural state for wildlife and native plants.”

“The main difference between the two methods is that coppicing occurs at ground level while pollarding is done 8-10 feet high to prevent browsing animals from eating the fresh shoots; typically, coppicing was done to manage woodlands and pollarding was done in a pasture system.

Coppicing a tree produces multiple stems growing out of the main trunk — suitable for firewood, fencing, tool handles, and many more woodland crafts. A properly coppiced woodland, harvested in rotational sections called coups, has trees and understory in every stage and is a highly effective method to grow a fast supply of naturally renewing timber. By working on a rotation we are assured of a crop somewhere in the woodland every year.

Pollarding (from the word “poll,” which originally meant “top of head”) has been used since the Middle Ages — in fact, there are still stands of continuously pollarded trees that date to that time. Today, it is a technique that can be used in very urban environments to prevent trees from invading utilities or sewers . . . but its historical use of a wooded pasture system also fits into a permaculture method very well — stacking functions to get more yield out of one area.

What makes these methods so appealing is that by keeping the tree in a perpetual juvenile state, they actually extend the life of the tree by hundreds or sometimes even thousands of years. Diseases rarely have time to take hold of the young growth and weather elements do not affect trees of short stature so they live much longer than their unpruned counterparts. ”

I highly encourage you to visit the webpage, especially if you are a visual learner, because it has some illustrations and photos of the methods plus it goes into much more details about the benefits of these methods.

Lastly,  in regard to the pronunciation of the word pollard, the stress is on the first syllable — PAH lurd.

Want to see all of the Homesteading Word of the Day posts?  Scroll down and look for “Categories” on the right then click on “vocabulary.”

Thanks for visiting my blog.  I hope that you have enjoyed this post.  Please consider subscribing via email or in your favorite reader.  I’m also on Twitter and YouTube!  Have a great day!

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Homesteading Word of the Day – coppice

I was reading a post in a permaculture forum and the post wrote that he coppices his trees at 10 feet.  I imagined that that meant that he cut them at 10 feet but I wanted to be sure.

From http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/coppice, as a verb, coppice means “to trim back (trees or bushes) to form a coppice.”  It can also be used as a noun.

See also how http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/coppice defines it.

Pronunciation: the stress is on the first syllable — KOP – is.

Be sure to check out my post on a similar pruning technique — pollard.

Want to see all of the Homesteading Word of the Day posts?  Scroll down and look for “Categories” on the right then click on “vocabulary.”

Thanks for visiting my blog.  I hope that you have enjoyed this post.  Please consider subscribing via email or in your favorite reader.  I’m also on Twitter and YouTube!  Have a great day!

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40 hours of free permaculture lectures (college course at NCSU)

I have not yet watched all of these but wanted to post them here for anyone interested and also for future reference for myself.

This is a college course by North Carolina State University called Introduction to Permaculture (Instructor Will Hooker).  You can listen to the podcasts or watch video of the lectures.

http://www.permaculture-media-download.com/2011/09/introduction-to-permaculture-40-hours.html

Enjoy!  And thanks to NCSU for making this freely available to the public!

 

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An easy-to-understand video series on Permaculture

I just want to give a big “THANK YOU” to Jack Spirko of www.thesurvivalpodcast.com for doing a video series on the basics of Permaculture.  It helped me (a visual learner) immensely.  I really appreciate his take on it.  Here is his first video in the series.

Most of the videos in the series are 5 – 12 minutes long — great bite-sized chunks!

I am very excited about learning and incorporating permaculture design/principles into my garden next year.  I’m glad that I have a few months to plan before spring arrives so that I can get a plan together!  It will be quite a learning process — one that I am very excited about.

And, once again, thanks, Jack for the video series and for mentioning Geoff Lawton’s video series which I am currently enjoying immensely.

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One of my favorite things about winter is…

…expanding my knowledge of growing plants and animals!  I have to admit that sometimes I prefer to read and watch videos learning cool skills than actually doing those skills.  I feel like I just can’t get enough knowledge!  Well, in winter, I don’t have to feel guilty because my garden is under almost a foot of snow!

December Sunrise

I have been watching some very informative videos on permaculture and I decided that I’d go ahead and start blogging again on this blog (my last blog post was in August!!!).  I hope that you gain some great knowledge along with me.  I will most definitely NOT be the expert on this topic but I’m blogging about it to share with you in case you are interested in learning along with me.  Of course, if you are more knowledgeable on the topics than me, PLEASE share any thoughts or tips!  That would be awesome!

I hope that you have enjoyed this post.  Please consider subscribing via email or in your favorite reader.  I’m also on Twitter and YouTube!  Have a great day!

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