What is in the CV-19 Vaccine and Why 7-22-20

I usually don’t post things on this blog site that are controversial or have negative information, but when I see something that might harm people, my friends, my followers, or that have great impact, I am remiss in not at least giving you the opportunity to inform yourself.

The subject of mandatory vaccines for CV19 has come up broadly and we are told it is going to prevent people from getting sick or will be the solution to the pandemic.

I’ve followed the subject of vaccinations for about 30 years and have seen the whole science of it and the creation of them changed from an organic process of using horse antibodies from living animals turned into totally unnatural and unhealthy laboratory substances. Laboratory vaccines now contain virus, aluminum in the form of nano-particles (which the body can’t detoxify as it’s too small, and which will pass thru the blood brain barrier to your brain – now being found to be a major reason for the increase of brain disorders including Alzheimer’s), and a number of other very potent toxic ingredients.

The old method actually helped people and prevented some disease, though the research I have read states that the lessening of disease of the kind usually vaccinated against such as childhood disease, polio, etc., has been impacted mostly by better hygiene, better sanitation, more thorough and available nutrition, etc. than vaccination.

Yet vaccination as a process has become a hugely profitable industry. Interestingly enough, the most patents held for them is the private corporation called the CDC, yes it is a private corporation, not a gov’t agency so much though there are major links between gov’t. and the CDC.

Bill Gates, who is a lifetime eugenicist (https://www.newsbreak.com/news/1541212472125/eugenicist-bill-gates-demands-digital-certificates-to-prove-coronavirus-vaccination-status  https://tottnews.com/2020/04/09/gates-family-eugenics-covid-19/) which is a movement in back of the NAZI party’s genocide of the Jews and Hitler, and is also a Marxist (Communist), has been pushing to force everyone to be vaccinated with the soon to be released CV-19 vaccine.

The Bill Gates Foundation has made it a major mission to vaccinate huge areas of 3rd World nations (to a eugenicist’s viewpoint – useless eaters, a prime target of depopulation), and has been behind the push for vaccination as a ‘solution’ to the pandemic – spelled ‘depopulation’.

He has stated vaccination is the way to depopulate the world, and he’s in his glory now, trying to use CV-19 as a vehicle to force everyone to be injected either with needle or ‘patch’ with this ‘solution’ – which the Nazis called the Final Solution (which also killed gypsies, old people, retarded and mental patients by the millions, not just the Jews) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Solution

So, I was sent this video from a blog with a video of a long time researcher, nurse, who thru a lot of connections and research found out what is going into these vaccines and why. I consider this vital information for people, especially who are naive enough to think vaccinations are there to help you.

I think you would want to know what they plan on putting into your body before you blindly walk into something so hard on your health and your future. Do your own research but according to the nurse who made this video within the video, you will be hard tested to find anything as it is a very well kept secret. Make up your own mind about this. Liberty is about choices.

CV Vaccine genetically altering human genome and AI tracking all our data https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kpJESKPqCo&feature=youtu.be

How to handle this? Refuse to be vaccinated, don’t allow your children to be vaccinated, and organize with people who are like-minded because the forces pushing this are very well organized, and an individual has little chance against it without help. Just sayin.

Once vaccinated your body’s genetic makeup will be permanently altered, the genetic alterations include setting your body up for cancer, and the nano-computer chips in the vaccine allow your every move to be monitored. Plus, since you are now a genetically modified organism, your body is now the property of the nano-chip created corporation, just as the corn in a field of GMO altered seeds is the property legally of Monsanto or whoever is the current owner of that genome. That’s how the laws have been set up to pull this off.

So, don’t get vaccinated!!!!!

I will follow this blog with more information about growing your own un-modified foods, how to make your own unaltered and natural medicinal herbs and remedies, and everything which leads to health and good living. All real solutions to our changing world.

Remember, there is always something you can do about it. We don’t have to buckle to this craziness, especially if we communicate with others of like-mind and are willing to protect ourselves and our families. Price of Freedom: Constant Vigilance, Constant Willingness to Fight Back.

A bit of history – President FDR in his first inaugural address said:

“Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”

We are being constantly confronted with things to make us afraid – afraid of being made sick, afraid of our family dying, afraid of upsetting others, leaving our homes into an unsafe world, breaking some kind of regulation or other, and offending someone.

But if we are to survive these times, we must be courageous, think for ourselves, be causative, be organized, and not let others rob of our freedoms under the Constitution.

Our future is at stake.

Millions of Americans have given their lives to keep our freedoms, now is not the time to hide in our homes shaking with fear and letting the powers behind the chaos get the better of us.

Mr. Trump has been working hard to drain the swamp of the people behind the pandemic and all the losses of freedoms, so let’s reelect him now before the Marxists make this into a communist country.

Winston Churchill said during WWII at the height of the hard times:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

“The true guide of life is to do what is right.”

“Nourish your hopes, but do not overlook realities.”

We are at a crossroads. Vaccines are just one manifestation of this and we must know enough to stay strong.

Diann Dirks  7-22-2020

You have my permission to share this with anyone you think can confront what is happening. Don’t use it to frighten people who can’t handle a harsh reality. We need brave people to know what is happening.


Posted in Coronavirus, Emergency Preparedness, Life's Lessons, Planet restoration, The future, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Trees – the beneficial giants and their value as living resource as well as wood.

A big birch tree split in the edge of our back property forest. A huge section came off and hung up in a neighboring tree, leaving the top of the poor tree split and dying. We arranged to have it taken down and every part of it used.

So it got me thinking about resources and opportunities.

I love every tree and hate to loose them. But we can’t save that tree and it represents a LOT of firewood and other uses. We also have a dead tree out back and a huge oak branch that is kissing the back of our house (not good because in the wind it bangs on the siding). So it all needs taking care of.

We have gotten a number of wildly differing estimates for taking these trees down. It’s about a $900 spread! That’s why we always get multiple estimates. And that doesn’t include cutting up the wood for firewood or splitting it or stacking it, just taking down the trees and branch.

We burn wood in our fireplace all winter to defray the cost of heating with electricity. It makes quite a bit of difference in cash outlay having a fire, and it’s so much more pleasant than turning on the furnace. So, enjoyment is one of the ‘yields’ of the fireplace.

As a Permacaulture Designer, I’m always looking for ways to increase yield in everything we do. Being efficient and using resources the best way has a lot to do with making it or not making it not only financially, but having a better imprint on the environment. We try to get as close to zero waste as possible. That’s a Permaculture goal as well.

The tree itself, being a living thing, is in itself a resource beyond it being cut down and used. Alive it gives us oxygen and holds in (sequesters) carbon from its carbon dioxide use.

Its roots are connected to the fungi network below the surface of the topsoil, and as such is an outpost of the entire network of nutrient transport and information sharing among the plants. This is a bigger deal than most people even realize because without fungi, our plants would have to rely solely on the soil just around its immediate roots.

With the transport of nutrients afforded by the fungi, it has access to all the nutrients in a very large area, often quite distant from its own little part of the soil. This make it possible also to share its production of sugars created from photosynthesis, and enables exchanges which benefit all the plants in the network. These networks can range for miles!

So, taking down a tree that is especially large, called a ‘mother tree’ which actually mothers the smaller trees around it and acts as a feeding station via the fungi network deprives all the younger trees around it from the benefits of protection and food. Amazing heh? Yes, that’s how nature works.

Mycorrhizal fungi are a specialized type of fungi that acts like a connector between roots and the general fungi network. It actually grows inside the root strands and transports the sugars from the tree to the fungi, and receives the nutrition from the outside system. It exists in nature in every junction between fungi and roots. But you can add this as a powder inoculant to your soil to increase the activity in less established beds or plants/trees. It will increase the nutrition and input of most plants.

As far as using resources available, when a tree does have to come down, or has blown over, or is being removed for some other reason, always consider how long it took nature to build up the carbon in that tree to make it upright and strong. Consider it is a kind of solid sunshine since the carbon is only built up when sunshine and photosynthesis work together to capture the carbon out of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

It is a very long term project by nature and should be respected. When we cut down trees we loose the workings of it to make rain thru transpiration, soil stabilization, transfer of nutrients through the soil via fungi, and the inter-workings of the microorganisms in the soil which bring this all into harmony.

We look at trees for what we can get from them. But we often do not look at them for how they work in the overall balances which make life possible on earth. When we cut down vast areas of forest we get climate change. It isn’t from burning of fossil fuel, it’s from taking out the oxygen engines of trees, of the climate stabilization of trees, of the rain making of them causing the weather systems to stabilize and bring rain and oxygen transfer to vast areas of the planet. We need to consider those things.

Here in Georgia, as I have seen in many areas of the world, a tree is seen as a weed when it gets in the way of someone’s plans. People have long since (with a few exceptions) forgotten that they are part of nature, that nature isn’t something to conquer out of ambition or the idea that they must conquer nature in order to survive.

Being causative over nature is important but not the suppression of it. When we don’t work with it, we are up against a few billion years of wisdom that have kept this ball of rock able to sustain life. A lot of what we use chemicals for is because we are fighting nature, not working with it.

So, when we have to fell a tree, look at it respectfully and use it wisely.

I love the use of trees for building, for making furniture, for burning as fuel, for use in medicine (bark is often used in medicinal preparations), for making useful implements for living, for paper, for art, for landscaping, for wind suppression, for erosion control, for creation of useable forest agriculture to benefit man and wildlife, for production of fruit, medicine, shade, as fencing, as wildlife preserve, and just because they are beautiful and their energy is so beneficial for all life.

They aren’t weeds, they aren’t nothing but impediments, they aren’t a problem that needs to be solved by bulldozing vast expanses like is being done in Brazil. In Japan when a tree is cut down, 3 are planted, that culture reveres trees.

If you have land, always reserve a percentage of it for nature, for the habitat of wild life (in Permaculture we call this a Zone 5 reserved for bio-diversity and the protection of our wild species both plants and animals), and for the overall protection of nature.

Did you know that plants get 80% of their nutrition from the atmosphere, not the soil?

And under every leaf is pores that open and close, letting in atmosphere for food. What opens those pores is the sound of song birds (and the music of Bach, but we’re more interested in the natural side).

When we remove trees, we take away habitat for song birds. Then we have to pour poisonous chemicals onto our food to make it grow. It makes it harder for plants to get enough nutrition without those pores opening and closing, and the carbon in the carbon dioxide isn’t being absorbed as well.

We took out the wind rows of trees our ancestors wisely used to surround all their fields, after WWII, to make room for the huge agricultural machines, and not to ‘waste’ farmland. Instead we got so much top soil loss we loose thousands of tons of top soil every year to erosion.

And we destroyed habitat for bees, songbirds, and many other beneficial life forms that we have had to replace with more chemicals. As a result we are poisoning our food, leading to cancer and diabetes epidemics and the untimely death and suffering of millions. Let’s bring back the wind rows and natural green belts throughout the farmland. Or dedicate intermittent areas of every farm to green belts.

One proposal (and workable technique recently being introduces in some areas) is to plant strips of wild flowers in every crop to bring in bees to pollinate. Why not also grow rows of trees there too.

n Iowa in the early years, in order to establish a homestead and get free land, every homestead had to have a wood lot. Driving through the Midwest you still see these blocks of forest in many farms.

But as the small family farm has been replaced by mega-corporate-farms, these have slowly disappeared. They need to be replaced or in some way restored or reestablished in some form so we have their benefits. They are a resource from which the wisdom of nature should be respected. They contain a great deal of bio-diversity, and harbor important wild life.

Perhaps planting 3 or 4 tree bands of trees along every freeway and major road could help, in about 50 feet from the road beds. This could also help overcome the polluting effect of gasoline and diesel emission, help keep big winds from toppling big rigs, and hold down dust storms as well as the transpiration of them helping to bring in rain.

Using the resource of trees has even become a new kind of agriculture – Forest Agriculture. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_farming  The canopy of forest is being used for its shade value and for the use of forestry to produce valuable products such as shitake mushrooms, ginseng, and other herbs and mushrooms.

It is also valuable for growing some livestock sustainably such as is used by Polyface Farm (United States): Joel Salatin, and a number of others https://foodtank.com/news/2020/03/28-innovative-livestock-farmers-who-are-shaping-the-future-of-protein/ where animals which are particularly happy in the cool forest environment grow especially well. In this way the benefits of cooler landscape, and tree products like acorns, are used by the animals in a sustainable and interactive way, with both benefiting.

If you only have a subdivision plot of land you can still make use of the benefits of trees and use them as a valuable resource. A big shade tree with the canopy growing over the roof can keep summer air conditioning costs way down. A row of trees along a property line can keep down winds in windy areas, or act as a fence to keep in (or out) wild life or critters (even pets).

A few fruit trees in the back yard can produce delicious food which can provide really fresh nutrition, unlike store fruit which can sit in a warehouse for weeks loosing nutritional value.

Depending on the area or growing zone, apples, oranges, grapefruit, peaches, figs, cherries, avocados, almonds, elderberry, just to name a few can be grown and harvested in a relatively small space depending on your climate and the variety of tree. These then harbor birds, beneficial insects, give shade for backyard pets and children playing, lower the heat factor in really hot areas, and are beautiful.

If you have a lot of land, and you have livestock, having some shade trees out in the pasture are good for the animals keeping them cool in summer, and acting as wind barriers in the cold winters if there are enough of them. I’ve so often seen a bunch of cattle in a large pasture all huddling in the shade of a couple of trees by the fence line. That is telling something.

Traditionally in parts of Europe, sapling trees were often planted very close together on an angle, along a field perimeter and kept pruned to form a living fence which when kept properly maintained have lasted hundreds of years and are almost impenetrable. A pruning every year or so keeps them under control, the pruning providing forage, sticks for rocket mass stoves:  http://permaculture-podcast.com/free-stuff-27/RocketMassHeaterPlans-Annex6.pdf

The sticks stand straight up. Only the bottom ends of the sticks burn. The fire burns sideways. Since the heat riser is insulated, it gets freaky hot. This causes a strong convective current. When the hot gasses hit the barrel, it gives off a lot of heat, which cools the gasses which get much smaller and easier to push around. The gasses that exit are usually just carbon dioxide and steam. Notice the fuel source is just sticks. Not big logs. Very efficient, and can be used in green houses, homes, barns, etc.

It doesn’t necessarily mean huge amounts of wood need to be used to heat a space. Saving cuttings from such a fence, or cutting suckers off of the stumps of living root systems with the main tree removed, can provide all the fuel needed to provide warmth, cooking, etc.

All these ideas and techniques to use this remarkable resource of a tree make for creative living, sustainability, and long term survival for us and the planet.

Next time you have to decide to take out a tree or not, consider these options, and make the best of it, whether the tree goes or stays. But try to keep as many of them as you possibly can. That tree was nature’s investment in the future. Planting a tree likewise is an investment for your grand children and their world.

Diann Dirks  7-8-20

Certified Permaculture Designer, organic gardener, herbalist, researcher, educator, artist

HillsideGardens, Auburn, Ga.

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Posted in Adaptogenic herb, bio-char, bug repelling in garden', compost/manure/herb teas for fertilizing, Gardening, Herb gardening, organic gardening, Permaculture, Planet restoration, Recycle, repurpose, reuse, Self-Sustainability, Soil fertility and yield, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting the Most out of your Garden – i.e The depth of Resources around us. 6-13-20

Permaculture Design follows the natural laws discovered by its founder, Bill Mollison, an Australian guy, now passed on a few years ago, who spent 4 years observing nature in the outback of Australia. He was looking to understand how nature maintained itself without or in spite of human interaction, and these tenets or basic laws became Permaculture Design.

One of the tenets (law or principal) is that ‘every element in a design must have more than one function or yield’. And corollary to that is ‘all needs have multiple solutions or elements’.

Some gardeners will put an element in a landscape that is just pretty or smells good. Those aspects are considered a yield in Permaculture. But if there aren’t any other yields, that element would be passed over for a more productive element – like a plant that did more things or could be used for other things.

Here at Hillside Gardens, in Auburn, Ga., which is a demonstration garden, I have put a lot of thought and research into every plant and element in this 100 bed and food forest environment. What I have discovered has been mind blowing to say the least. Every plant I consider planting, or in the case of wild plants, allow to stay in the garden, has been studied and researched – well over 600 species of plants.

At first when I was an ordinary organic gardener for about 45 years, I’d have a standard garden with beds and paths, a few trees, and a set number of kinds of plants I wished to grow. Mostly they were annual vegetables and about 40 perennial herbs and trees, and some flowers or flowering shrubs. Everything else got pulled as a ‘weed’.

When I came to Georgia 14 years ago, being in a totally different growing zone and ecological environment than Southern California, I tried to grow the same way. But the soil was different, we have 4 seasons as opposed to ‘cool, and warm to hot’ of So. Cal. and very hard red Georgia clay. California had alkaline gray clay, ours is acidic. It was a big learning curve.

Gradually I learned to break into the clay with an adz after 3 days of rain, added organic material and compost, and grew what I thought would grow here. But I didn’t really design anything, I just had some beds at first surrounded by rocks and built to handle the very steep hill our land is comprised of (thus our name Hillside Gardens, it’s no joke).

But I hooked up with a great group of people who were interested in sustainability about 2 years into being here, and ended up taking a walk in the Appalachian Mountains with a well known herbalist – Patricia Kyritsi Howell – with that group up in the high mountain area. We walked along this trail thru the woods and meadows and Patricia pointed out plant after plant naming it and giving its medicinal and edible properties. I was astounded to discover that about half of the things I thought were weeds in my garden she was describing as powerful medicinal and edible plants.

I bought her book “Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians” and a couple of field guides for identification (her book doesn’t have pictures, only information) and the adventure began.

When I was in California I realized that many of the plants and herbs I was growing did have medicinal value and often I’d make up tea or eat things for various needs, and shared them with my friends, and I had good results for minor problems. I grew about 40 different herbs. My life at that time was running a business so my time for this was very limited, and my garden and whole property, plus house and driveway, etc. was only 5000 sq. feet. The plants I was using were all cultivated, not wild.

When we bought our house in Ga. on .7 acres, with a woods in 1/3 of the back of the property, it seemed huge to me. And the whole area in NE Ga. is so much greener and abundant in plant life, I was enthralled. So as I started my garden in a small way, I had so much to learn. After the walk with Patricia Howell, I started also to study and research after ID’ing every plant in the space. I realized I needed to respect the plant life here, which was much more beneficial and varied than anything I had encountered in California. Plus this is a rural area as opposed to the tightly suburban place we had there. There is so much more to see and understand.

Patricia stated that the Cherokee people were masters of herbal medicine and environmental understanding, and they had isolated, ID’ed and used over 1500 (not a typo) species of plants in Appalachia and foothills surrounding it.

Instead of just pulling anything I didn’t recognize or had planted like before, I’d let the un-identified plants stay until I could identify them and see what they had to offer.

When I got to 500, I quit counting. I actually have no idea how many plant varieties I grow or allow to grow here but it’s massive. And also wonderful and magnificent, and mind boggling the treasures of plants that grow here.

So at first I only concentrated on things medicinal or edible. That seemed enough to keep me busy for the rest of my life. Because after so much study, I started to take classes in herbal medicine, another from Patricia, but others. And I put a lot of time in on thoroughly researching the medicinal plants here, my cultivated ones, and the wild crafted ones.

I have an internship program for Permaculture Design and organic gardening here that is in its 10th year this year, and one of my early interns, Stephanie Coile, is a certified herbalist and wise woman*.

She learned from me how to grow the herbs she uses, and I learned how to process them into medicinal applications like tinctures, salves and ointments, teas, powders and capsules, etc. So gradually with her inspiration and that of Patricia, I have added to my knowledge. As a result my knowledge of the plant life and its uses in this area has grown and I am surrounded now by a garden that is so rich in medicinal and edible plants (and some mushrooms) that people come for tours, sometimes classes, and my internship program. My intention is to share this wealth of knowledge and to inspire people to understand the world we live in, be more self-reliant, and respect nature.

So, as I have studied these plants and with the above tenet about multiple uses and yields of every element in the garden, the yields of the garden have taken on other dimensions.

I am a fiber artist, a traditional artist, a basket maker, a living historian of the late 1700’s (a time in which in this area people had to know how to use natural resources to survive), and I have a real love of nature. So, as I have studied all these plants I have discovered many other treasures they provide. I see the plants around me as a terrific resource for creative endeavor and play.

Did you know that many of the plants in our region can be made into dye and ink? Poke berry, black walnut hulls, and a number of flowering plants can and have been used historically and currently for coloring cloth, decorating homes, and to communicate. During the Revolutionary and Civil Wars the soldiers made their own ink writing home to their families, from these plants. They also used the black walnut to stain furniture and dye clothing, as well as other plants coloring their creations.

But Black Walnut is also a powerful parasite cleanser for people and animals when made into a tincture. Multiple uses again.

Poke berry juice can be made into four kinds (and colors) of ink; fermented, iron gall, vinegar based, or alcohol based versions. I have made them all and love the colors from almost black to a vivid purple. Here are some of the recipes: http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/225870-pokeberry-ink/ However it isn’t a strong long lasting dye for clothing. It looks nice at first but fades to a dull gray. The ink eventually fades as well, usually to gray or sepia, but it is beautiful. The original documents of our country were mostly made from these inks, though India Ink was also known and used, just more expensive and having come from far away.

Baskets can be made from so many of the plants that grow here either wild or cultivated. I have made beautiful baskets from green briar (aka smilax), iris leaves braided to form strands, grasses, long pine needles, curly and straight willow, Japanese honeysuckle, native grape vines, and other flexible tree and bush branches. We really don’t have large native bamboo, though there is a small version that looks more like tall grass that is native here. But people grow the oriental versions of bamboo in groves and they are often easily accessible, which also can be used for basket making. Some barks have good basket making properties and even strips of thin wood. The Appalachian people have made basket weaving an art in some areas from all these native plant sources.

Fibers for fabric and other uses can be gleaned by more than just flax (linen), and cotton. Hemp when grown for the fibers makes wonderful soft fabric. One very nice thing about hemp for fiber is it doesn’t take a lot of equipment to process it. It’s a great homestead based fiber. https://youtu.be/7Q68945QDuA Video for the home processing of the fiber. https://morningchores.com/growing-hemp/

Dogbane, Nettle and Milkweed to name a few are also valuable and can be harvested to make fine fiber.

Fibers can be useful for a number of other applications besides making cloth, and can be grown (or foraged in nature). https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/ethnobotany/fibers.shtml

Here are a number of  plant sources: Western Red Cedar, Broadleaf cattail, Paper Birch, Banana Yucca, Stinging Nettle, White Spruce, American basswood, Small soapweed, Alaska cedar, and Indian hemp. Of these and other fiber sources come:

  • Paper
  • Cordage
  • Textiles: clothing, sewing material
  • Baskets
  • Brushes, brooms
  • Mats, rugs, bedding
  • Building materials: roofing, caulking materials (usually between logs in log buildings called ‘chinking’).

Many of the things that we take for granted because they are commercially created for us and can be purchased in a store used to be made by people in our earlier history. One of my favorite is cordage. I took a class one year at a Permaculture gathering in North Carolina by my friend Zev Friedman (a master forest agriculturist). We made very strong cordage out a number of plants – probably the best one was the basswood – which would have been used as string and other handy uses but still can be made handily just sitting someplace and using your hands once the fiber is processed. But many of the plants in my garden can be used to create cordage.

Another favorite of mine is the making of paper. Besides making it from wood fiber as commercial paper is made, it can be made from a number of sources of plant material. Here are three sites which you may find creatively interesting – making paper from plants, weeds, and even invasive weeds. How cool to turn lemons into lemonade. Paper from plants: https://www.paperslurry.com/2014/08/20/hand-papermaking-with-plants-illustrated-infographic/, paper from weeds: https://psmag.com/environment/a-new-leaf-making-paper-from-weeds-4194 , and from invasive plants:  https://makezine.com/2015/04/16/making-paper-invasive-plants/ . I find it particularly interesting because many of the plants used are found right in my own garden.

Who would imagine gathering a bunch of spent iris leaves could make a basket, some cordage, or some paper. Besides being a beautiful flower, and the darker flowers can be made into colors for paint and other uses. Again, multiple uses.

Being a lover of history, especially the 1700’s in this area of Georgia, I find it fascinating how the people solved the problems of living. Containers are always needed to store things, transport or hold things made on the homestead or by an herbalist or artist. They might have had some glass containers in the form of bottles, but that would have been expensive and hard to transport. Instead they made baskets, pottery from the Georgia clay, wove bags from fibers grown or foraged, or another of my favorites. Gourds!

I grew some ‘Bushel Gourds” a couple of years ago that would hold 2 to 3 gallons of liquid (if lined with bees wax or pine tar), or half a bushel of grain or dried food. Smaller gourds when dried and processed correctly can hold what a quart jar would hold now. Using bees wax or pine tar, they could have even been sealed for long term storage. There are a number of handy shapes of gourds which can be crafted into bowls for eating or storage. And one variety actually is grown to make bird houses – called appropriately “Bird House Gourd”.

The native people used gourds for cooking. They would drop a hot rock into a cooking gourd filled with water and soup makings instead of holding the container over a fire. The rock would be replaced with another hot one a number of times until the cooking was complete.

In the pumpkin patch it’s easy enough to grow a few different sized gourd seeds, harvest them in the fall, dry them out, and in the winter clean them up inside and out, and drill holes in them for stoppers, cut them into bowl shapes and decorate them if it suits, use some leather straps to make a canteen out of one for hiking, or any number of uses. These are crafty uses but could easily be incorporated into a little business, an art form, a survival use.

We have gatherings of living historians at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Ga. every spring. One of my favorite living historian camp sights feature these gourds with big corks or beautifully crafted bowls and scoops instead of spoons, all made from what he grows in his garden.

Another amazing property of some plants is the ability to attract beneficial insects. Butterfly bush, milkweed (Aeschlapius tuberose), flowering plants all bring in pollinator insects which benefit plants by pollinating them. But there are other plants that support insects that do other amazing things like kill off bad bugs and other things. Here is a great site naming them. https://www.permaculturenews.org/2014/10/04/plants-attract-beneficial-insects/?fbclid=IwAR3XYsxXVnwe0oZrg4Sjc7QZpwgHoWEcnPbs6gIg1SwUE8nvRKWAeL9cjxE

When planning a garden for greatest yield and protection from pests, in Permaculture we combine plants that help each other in a number of ways. This adds to the ‘yield’ because by combining ‘companion’ plants, it cuts out a lot of hard work by the gardener. It also cuts out the necessary use of chemicals which are toxic and kill the predatory insects which are needed to keep the bug population under control.

By planting nitrogen capturing legumes near another plant, this lessens the amount of fertilizer you need to put in the soil. The plant gathers nitrogen out of the atmosphere, deposits it in little nodules on their roots, where other plants can utilize it when the original plant dies and the roots break down in the soil.

By adding some plants that gather nutrients deep under the top soil and bringing it up into the leaves, this further feeds the other plants as the plant matter containing these nutrients break down. One of my favorite such plants is comfrey. It’s loaded with minerals. It grows quickly to 3 or 4 feet tall, and can be harvested by ‘chop and drop’ where the upper parts of the plant above one foot above the soil are cut off and placed around the roots of trees and vegetables. It also can be added to liquid fertilizer making (see compost tea below). It’s also a terrific medicinal herb for ointments and salves because of it’s bone healing qualities (it’s also known as “Bone Heal herb”).

Interestingly enough, another one of these kinds of plants which bring minerals and nutrients up from deep under ground (as much as 30 feet) is the humble dandelion. Dandelions were originally intentionally brought to this continent from Europe because it has so many edible and medicinal uses. It kills me to see people spraying their lawns with toxic chemicals to kill off these beauties because they are considered ‘weeds’. They are some of the first plants in spring to feed the endangered bee population. Their flowers when soaked in olive oil for a few weeks and strained out make a wonderful massage oil for sore muscles. The leaves make a great mineral rich salad or ‘pot’ herb (for soups). The milky substance in the stems when applied carefully over time will get rid of warts. And the tough roots break up hard clay. Even the roots themselves when roasted make a delicious coffee substitute. It’s even used to combat cancer. I let it grow big in my vegetable beds and when they are big and healthy, I harvest the roots and leaves. Talk about multiple yield and uses. Dandelion roots were used during the Civil War when they couldn’t get coffee so it’s even historically significant. And delicious.

A guild is a gathering of various kinds of plants which are mutually beneficial when planted close together, and is a technique used in Permaculture to alleviate a lot of extra work, letting the plants help each other.

One such component in such a ‘guild’ of plants growing as companions is bug repelling or protection some plants give to others. Marigolds protect, from under the soil, pathogenic microbes affecting tomatoes, potatoes and others in the ‘nightshade’ family. Nasturtiums attract aphids which otherwise would attack vegetables. The nasturtium plant is considered a sacrificial plant because once it is overrun with bugs, you gently bag it and throw away the plant and bag, and replant. There are several such plants but my favorite is nasturtium because it’s pretty, attracts bees, and can be eaten in salads if not covered in bugs.

Borage and tarragon can be grown around the garden to in general help the growing process of many of the plants, improving flavor and in general helping the health of the environment as well as being edible herbs. Borage flowers added to a salad add a beautiful blue color of decoration. Tarragon added to stews and soups improve the flavor as well as being very healthful medicinally. Pot Marigold, aka Calendula, is a bee feeding flower, is beautiful, and is one of the best herb for the skin in ointments and salves. It also has been used as a tincture in alcohol for many healthful benefits. When planted in beds of vegetables it also brings in the pollinators, and protects the plants nearby.

There are many such relationships in plants that help each other, all adding to the solutions of a better more productive garden. Basil when planted next to tomatoes improves the flavor for example.

Weed Tea – We make our own fertilizers to make healthy nutrient dense food from the plants we grow. We don’t use commercial chemical fertilizer here because it kills off the vital micro organisms in the soil ecology. But we make our own using what is at hand and re-purpose otherwise low use organic matter.

We save the weeds we cut, that have gone to seed, in big barrels with rainwater, where we let the plant matter soak for several weeks until they rot the seeds which would otherwise go into the compost, only to grow weeds in the garden beds when used as soil building. The ‘weed tea’ water can be used directly as it is loaded with the minerals and nutrients in the weeds, but it also goes into other bins with bags of compost and manure with some molasses and with a bubbler (like found in pet stores for fish tanks) for a couple of weeks to make great liquid fertilizer. Nothing gets wasted. Once the weed tea is separated out, the spent plant material goes into the compost piles and feeds worms. We call this Compost/Manure Tea and it can be sprayed on the leaves of plants to be absorbed directly, or used in the soil around the roots.

We save the cuttings from trees and bushes, run them thru a big chipper, and make our own mulch. We save the tall dried stems from the Jerusalem Artichokes (aka Sunchokes) for starting winter fires in the fireplace – makes great kindling. And we use small branch tree cuttings and prunings likewise in the fireplace.

Organic matter is a key element in the success of a garden and is critical for the holding of moisture in the soil, and the feeding of vital earth worms. Unless organic matter has been contaminated in some way chemically or otherwise, we try to make use of it either as compost, mulch, fire starting, or in the case of branches, as supports for climbing plants.

We also make our own charcoal from dried wood chips from the chipper to make biochar which greatly increases the fertility of our soil. We take the liquid fertilizer above and soak the activated charcoal, ferment it under some compost for a couple of weeks, then dig it into our beds to greatly increase the beneficial microbes. No use in burning all the wood material for heat.

And lastly, is the concept that you can grow your own trees for wood, buildings, furniture, boxes, and all the lovely things that we use wood for. Even bamboo in the right hands can be made into marvelous things.

Resources for living can take on a new meaning if you think outside the box. I have been totally amazed at all the uses I have found for the things I grow in this little .7 acre piece of land.

From it all is a restful and happy garden where I find peace and tranquility from a crazy world. I give bees, butterflies and other pollinators a safe place to do their buggy duties. The birds find food in seeds and the fruit I leave for them and don’t harvest all of for ourselves. Besides the usefulness of having about 150 medicinal plants growing of which I make medicine for myself and my husband, my cats and upon need could help friends, many of them are also spices and flavorings for the food we eat. We drink tea from delicious plants I dehydrate in our dehydrator. We flavor kombucha tea and water kefir with the aeromatic herbs like Perilla, various sweet mints, oregano and thyme, and even some of the flowers growing here like Japanese honeysuckle or elderberry blossoms. We grow about 300 kinds of edible annual vegetables and fruit as well as about 40 fruit trees for elderberry, pears and a bunch of other goodies.

Biodiversity of plants is in itself a kind of yield because on a planet going through a climate change, growing a large variety of plants with various temperature and ecological needs will find some that will survive even if some don’t. We started out last century with a rich diversity of edible plants. We have lost 90% of them to industrial farming and poor management. It’s the little gardener who saves seeds and keeps a number of them viable who will eventually save the day. When we share those seeds and have seed swaps among other similar gardeners, we have a future for food varieties. Besides, seed grown heirloom varieties are so much better tasting!

I make baskets from a number of the native and cultivated plants here where I display them in my house as art or usefully for harvesting and transport of things. I have a spinning wheel and a drop spindle for the fibers I spin from plants. From the yarn I knit and crochet or weave fabric or make garments.

I have the capacity to make paper from the plants and by extension books or other uses for paper. I haven’t made paper yet but it’s in the future. I have made books from scratch before and love hand writing with the inks I make.

We protect the beneficial insects and birds with the plants we grow, and promote protection for endangered butterflies like the Monarchs, by growing milkweed. We purposefully grow lots of flowers that feed these insects throughout the year as much as possible. Insects are highly beneficial for plants and vice versa. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

We make containers with gourds. We save the hollow stems from Jerusalem Artichokes and Milk Thistle to make homes for the native bees in Mason Bee houses. https://blog-yard-garden-news.extension.umn.edu/2018/04/building-better-bee-home.html

All these solutions from what is grown go way beyond just picking the tomato or snipping some oregano for the spaghetti sauce. That’s the beauty of being curious and doing a little research. I would say I’ve gone down the rabbit hole here in this rich bio-diverse space in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. But if I had known what I know now, I would have been doing this in California when my garden was producing all kinds of known and unknown plants. And I would have had a much richer life as a result.

All eco systems are inter-related with the plants, animals, birds, insects, microbes, and can be learned like an encyclopedia because without these interaction nature would not survive as long as it has for billions of years, through changes in the climate, the location as the earth moves, and all the other visitudes (changes) life on planet earth challenges life forms with. Somehow things have kept living thru all of that. It’s awe inspiring to me. The more I learn, the more I am in love with this planet.

I encourage you to check out some of the books that have inspired me.

Patricia Kyritsi Howell’s book Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians is just one of some other great books. My favorite publisher of books related to these subjects is Chelsea Green Publishinghttps://www.chelseagreen.com/?s=permaculture&post_type=page , but other publishing companies include Storey Publishing, Botanologos Books – botanologos.com, and New Society Publishing –  https://newsociety.com/products/9780865716667 . And of course there is the wonderful resource of the internet. I love Gaia’s Garden https://www.amazon.com/Gaias-Garden-Guide-Home-Scale-Permaculture/dp/1603580298 , The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-one-straw-revolution-masanobu-fukuoka/1111615945 , and Permaculture In A Nutshellhttps://www.amazon.com/Permaculture-Nutshell-3rd-Patrick-Whitefield/dp/1856230031 .

I wish for all of you to revel in the rich resources of nature, utilizing but also protecting our world for your own survival and that of others. When we waste nothing, we want not.

Diann Dirks, Certified Permaculture Designer, 50 year organic gardener, artist, educator. Auburn, Ga.

A Wise Woman: a designation of herbalists who work and learn together many of them tied to Patricia Howell and Susun Weed and other master herbalists of Appalachia and Traditional Chinese Medicine – most of the medicinal herbs being the same as in the mountains of China, since geologically they all were part of the same continent millions or billions of years ago.


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Sky Water 6-10-2020

Water, a natural resource:

If you want to catch rainwater for your plants, and don’t have a rain barrel set up, you can gather rain water very easily.

You can purchase a stack of big aluminum roasting pans at the grocery store, set them outside just before it rains, and collect the water for your plants that way. Roasting pans are ideal because they are cheap, light weight, can be cleaned easily, and can be used over and over again. When they get too nasty they recycle.

I save the water and fill containers by cutting a liter plastic bottle of soda or vodka (I make tinctures with my herbs) so the pouring end makes a funnel, and the bottom part makes a handy scoop. Then I save my cat litter containers and store the water in them. But you can save your liquid detergent containers, cleaned out if you don’t have a cat. It’s easy to put the funnel end into the mouth of the litter container (I like the kind with a handy handle and a 2″ mouth with screw on lid), and use the scoop to put the water in there. When it gets light enough to lift, it’s easy to pour directly from the roaster.

The cat liter plastic containers also make great storage for my manure/compost tea for the plants.

When the roasters are empty, they stack neatly out of the way till the next rain. I can get about 5 gallons from half an inch of rain. Yesterday I got over 2″ in the roasting pans and filled up all my empty containers.

Some places like HOAs don’t let you save water with a rain barrel, but they can’t stop you from covering your patio with roasters. The filled litter containers can be moved around easily to your garden areas or inside for house plants or your little green houses. They store nicely under decks, in the garage, or behind a bush.

Rain water, especially from thunder storms, is loaded with nutrients from the atmosphere, like nitrogen. Lightening fixes the nitrogen to the water which is why the lawns green up so nicely after a thunder storm. They are being fertilized. And rain water doesn’t contain chemicals like chlorine, chloramine, fluoride or other nasty stuff. Plants love it.

Did you know that 80% of what nourishes a plant comes from the air? Only 20% comes from the soil. But city water doesn’t contain as many of the nutrients that make plants thrive so rain water is so much better for them. It’s more trouble, but worth it. It’s also electrically charged so it gathers what is in the atmosphere as it falls. You get many of the benefits of the air nutrients with rain water. When city water is processed it still contains the energetics of the pollutants that are dissolved in it, i.e. the frequencies, but distilling in the clouds clears those frequencies out.

From a survival standpoint, if you had a water filter that took out particles but left in the minerals, you could drink the water you collect in this way. It isn’t coming off a roof which may have mold, and chemicals on it. Just collect the water right after the rain stops to avoid any possible aluminum from leaching into the water (it takes quite a bit of time for this to happen, and only in acid rain, but just sayin). Then filter out any particles. Delicious. It makes the best tea and coffee, soup, etc.

Diann Dirks, Certified Permaculture* Designer, Hillside Gardens, Auburn, Ga.

*Permaculture Design is the premier scientific environmental design system based on the laws of nature, and an ethic – Care of the Earth, Care of People, Equitable and fair use of the abundance thus created.



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Beginning Gardener Mini-Tutorial 6-8-20

We are facing increased prices at the grocery store and some things aren’t always available or at all. For food security, grow your own food as much as you can or have space for. Here is my little mini-tutorial.

These reasons are why it’s important to dig up your back yard lawn (or front lawn if you can get away with it) and start growing some vegetables and fruit. It can be done tastefully if you include flowering plants throughout your beds. If you have an HOA which forbids vegetable gardens, plant colorful vegetables like colored Swiss chard, colorful lettuces, make pretty supports for your tomatoes and beans, and add aesthetic elements to make it look like a flower garden in and around your ornamental plantings. But you can do it and still feed your family.

Get to learn how to sustain yourselves so your kids eat no matter what is or isn’t in the stores. During WWII 40% of the food grown in America was grown in family plots called “Victory Gardens” and was encouraged by the government when our men farmers marched off to war. The women did most of this and got darned good at growing, preserving, and preparing home grown food at a time when rationing would have kept them from eating enough food.

It isn’t as easy as putting a seed in the ground, but the skill may just be life saving soon. Raised beds take less time to create than trying to dig in and plant existing compacted soil, and provide enough good root space for most garden needs. I suggest 2×12 untreated lumber floor-less boxes which lasts about 5 years, or cinder blocks which last indefinitely but are more expensive.

Plan your garden space:

Locate where you want to put your garden. It doesn’t all have to go in the same location. Small beds here and there where there is space or sunlight works fine too. Lay out where you want to put your beds or containers or straw bales, lay down cardboard in the overall space, and mark out where the beds will go. I like to lay the beds so they catch the best light if you have trees, and don’t plant too close to big trees because their roots will find your beds and invade them. At least 10 feet or more from trees if you can.

Leave 18″ between beds. Choose a place with at least 6 hours of sunlight in the day, and a nearby water source like a hose for municipal water or rain barrels, or even better, a well.For a family of 2 kids, 2 adults, I suggest in my consultations to have at least 8 beds 4×8 or 4×10 with good organic garden soil.

But if you don’t have your own space, see if you can find someone to partner with who does have land. Mini co-ops are popping up all around the country. Some having several families using someone’s unused old farm or large property to grow food, raise chickens, have a milking cow or goats, and share the produce on a good working schedule. You can also join a community garden if one exists in your area. These too are popping up all around the country.

Here’s how to start:

Mow your lawn close, cover with 2 layers of cardboard, overlapping 2″ at each margin, set down your boxes or cinder blocks, fill with soil, cover the 18″ pathways with about 4″ of wood chips or 2″ of gravel (keeps the weeds from invading your soil and easy to walk on). Add composted manure, compost (available in bags at a nursery, or a friendly farmer), and some crushed granite sand (Quikrete all purpose sand from Home Depot is crushed granite, loaded with minerals for your plants), and fill the mixed soil about 1″ from top of the boxes.

Container Gardening:

If you don’t have enough space in the sun for raised beds, you can get 5 gal. buckets with lids at Home Depot or sometimes local soap or bakery making places will give or sell cheap the used buckets. Drill 1/4″ holes in the bottom of the buckets, 10 or so, and use the lid as a saucer under the bucket. Fill with potting mix soil and add some sand or tiny pebble gravel for drainage.

These can also be moved around to find the perfect growing place. If you don’t like the look of them, you can spray paint the outside with terracotta colored paint or whatever you think is pretty. Give your kids that chore and watch them have fun. You can grow a lot of food in a bunch of these buckets. But you need to make sure you water them more often than a regular bed. Don’t paint them black, they get too hot and kill your plants. Light colors!

The book “Square Foot Gardening” will tell you how many plants of various kinds you can put in each bucket as one bucket is about 1 sq. foot of bed space, just round not square.


You can set up a drip system in containers (or raised beds). Just place them close enough to have a row of the drip hoses span the buckets. Otherwise you will be hand watering. Start out with that if a drip system is too expensive. I still hand water my entire garden of over 100 beds. It takes time, but I also use that time to observe every part of my garden, and can pick up problems quickly that way.

I have seen successful gardens made from milk crates lined with weed fabric instead of buckets, and you can stack them so they are easier to work with. They just take more water. Whole urban roof gardens have been grown this way in NYC and other places successfully, providing loads of good food. They placed them in rows two crates high and two crates wide and 50 or more feet long on roof tops (the site below uses more crates wide but 2 are easier to work with). Amazing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZofiDfzs-nY   https://www.timeout.com/newyork/things-to-do/the-best-rooftop-gardens-in-nyc

If you do this on a roof though, make sure it is strong enough to bear the load because these can get heavy in large numbers.

Another strategy for a quick garden is to purchase bags of garden soil, lay them on cardboard in a sunny spot in rows, slit the tops or cut individual slits for plants and plant them directly. Poke some holes in the bottom of the bags to release excess water. These will do until you can set up something more permanent. Drip systems work best to keep them watered. But you can hand water too.

Or look into straw bale gardening. It’s a quick way to get started though it takes a bit more planning. https://www.saferbrand.com/articles/beginners-guide-to-straw-bale-gardening

Plant your plants, then mulch well with shredded autumn leaves (save them in the fall in Hefty contractor black bags) or unsprayed grass clippings, or unsprayed straw (not hay, loaded with weed seeds), or Timothy grass. Water when the soil is dry 2″ down or set up a drip system. Mulching is important because it feeds the good worms, and holds in moisture so you don’t have to continuously water in the hot weather. It also breaks down eventually and adds to your top soil.

I recommend only planting heirloom, heritage, or open pollinated seeds so the seeds can be saved to plant next year. Hybrids don’t breed true and are waste of garden space I believe.

As a rule I never use chemicals in my garden because anything you put on your plants you eat and it’s mostly all toxic unless it’s specifically OKed for organic growing. I use fish fertilizer liquid to feed my plants, or I make my own compost/manure tea. https://oldworldgardenfarms.com/2020/05/21/use-compost-tea/

I hand pick bugs (and feed them to chickens if you have them), and tour my garden every day looking for yellowed leaves, bug holes in the leaves, drooping leaves (needs water), dead plants or dying, and figure out how to handle them. Love the internet for answering questions.

Don’t be scared to start out by buying plant starts at the local nursery. Later when you get more confidence, you can start your own seeds. I prefer starting my own seeds because I get a better variety and more bio-diverse that way. But usually when it gets too late in the season for everything, I usually break down and buy some marigolds (protects plants in the garden), dill, or other plants that look good and if I have open garden space for them. I also like planting zinnias, calendula (pot marigold), and other flowers around the garden to attract the bees so they pollinate my flowering vegetables and fruit.

Growing flowers in the garden not only feed the bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects, but somehow I just love how it looks.

Some of the flowering plants are also useful herbs for health. Calendula (pot marigold) is a medicinal herb, so I pick the flowers and dehydrate them for use later on. I also love red clover for the same reason. There are a number of otherwise useful flowering plants which dove-tail use-wise in a garden, but those are my favorite. Regular marigolds are edible and the bees love them, and they keep some of the bad soil microbes out around your tomatoes. I also like growing borage, tarragon, and chives (not with beans though) in amongst my vegetables here and there as they are healthful for the vegetable plants. Their flowers cheer up the beds as well.

Don’t be afraid to mix plants in each bed. I like to mix plants to confuse the bugs. All one thing in a bed makes the bugs live’s easier. I like to complicate it for them. Use the technique called “Companion Planting” to be sure to mix things that like each other. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUQSZ_4rXn0 video to watch about companion planting for beginners. For example you wouldn’t grow onion family plants in with beans as they are antagonists. But corn, beans, and squash or pumpkins love each other. (Called the Three Sisters companions).

The Square Foot Gardening book mixes plants in square foot units but you can also mix plants in a raised bed without the square foot idea, or in containers. Just look up the plants that like each other and try to pair the ones that do for better results.

Starting Small:

Look into this blog for more adventurous knowledge about sustaining you and your family. But start small and build confidence. You don’t have to start out with a 5 acre farm to give your family good organic delicious nutritious food. A couple of raised beds, some container beds, or planting some tomatoes in amongst your ornamentals is a good place to start if you are just learning.

A Starting Resource Library:

A few good books to purchase used on amazon: Gaia’s Garden (a wonderful book about small scale gardens), Square Foot Gardening (a very good tutorial on starting out growing your own food), Carrots Love Tomatoes (all about companion gardening), Lasagna Gardening (a wonderful tutorial on creating your own soil using layers of organic matter, cheaper than buying bags at the nursery), and for a truly amazing experience “The One Straw Revolution” by Masanobu Fukuoka about the least efforting way to garden, but also a wonderful story. https://www.amazon.com/One-Straw-Revolution-Introduction-Natural-Classics/dp/1590173139

Many of the seed companies offer free catalogues which you can gaze at longingly over the winter, or spring, and figure out what you want to eat. Then either purchase the plants at the nursery, purchase started seedlings from a local gardener, or start your own seeds. Here are a few of my favorite seed companies that offer free catalogues (or you can go online too) – Bakers Creek Heirloom Seed Company https://www.rareseeds.com/, and a few other good ones from Mother Earth News – http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/best-vegetable-seed-companies-zm0z11zsto.aspx#ixzz3A5bO8C7b  I like to use catalogs for inspiration too because they make me so happy, and I get reminded of how much I love doing this.

Later this summer I will be offering my own book on early garden starting. Watch this blog for it. Follow the adventure. 🙂

Just as a final piece of advice. Purchase actual books, not kindle or electronic books. They are easier to take with you, they don’t go away if we loose the electrical grid, and you can physically book mark them for easy reference with stickem tabs.

Gardening is a wonderful hobby, survival tool, and health promoting activity that we have lost to a great extent because our grandparents who knew how to do it, are all dying off. But they had the wisdom to know how to do this because you never know when the grocery stores will empty or your favorite produce is replaced with limp, ugly junk. Most of the food these days from the grocery are tainted with chemicals or genetically altered which affects our own genes (and our children’s) adversely. So, when you know you can grow your own food, you are empowered, and you can pass this on to your kids so they too can survive anything.

At least when you grow it yourself, you know what is in it. And you can be proud of serving such treasures on your table. You won’t believe how much better a garden carrot tastes than one from the store, even the organic ones. YUM!

If you know how to do it, you can teach your neighbors too. Crying starving children make parents do mad things, and if you can teach neighbors to grow their own food, you don’t have to feed the neighborhood out of your little garden. Just a thought.


On a more positive note, in any area there will be people who are good at gardening who can help you succeed. I look for homestead groups locally, or on the internet. Here is a wonderful group I have happily belonged to almost since it started about 10 years ago: National Ladies Homestead Gathering https://ladieshomesteadgathering.org/ and for their chapters: https://www.ladieshomesteadgathering.org/chapters

Another great resource is your county’s Extension Officer who is there to give you advice and help you. Look up your County’s services.

Seed companies all have technical staff who can answer your questions about growing plants.

Your local university or college can help if they have a horticultural department. Sometimes they allow public non-students to monitor classes, and the professors can often offer advice or even suggest internship programs or other hands-on programs for you.

Future Farmers of America (FFA) organizations are located all around the country. They usually are there for children, but the people running the groups are experienced growers and usually will be able to answer your questions. If you have children there are also great learning programs for them. If you want to put in a garden in your local school, check out FFA or look up “Farm to Table”, or School Gardening programs on the internet. These vary per area so I can’t give you links directly, but google it for some help.

If you live in NE Georgia, you might be interested in my internship program. Contact me personally at didirks@comcast.net if this sounds good to you.

Go to the archives of this blog for more information.

Good luck.

Diann Dirks, Certified Permaculture Designer, 50 year organic gardener, consultant, author, herbalist, Hillside Gardens, Auburn, Ga.




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Hot Weather Protection From Over-heating DIY Gatorade 6-3-20

I have an internship program which runs thru the hottest part of the year. It’s NE Georgia where it gets very hot and humid. People who have never really worked outside or exposed themselves to this kind of heat can fall out like flies. So, I created this easy to make and delicious drink we drink all summer. It also uses some of the delicious herbs I grow in the garden, and uses high mineral content salt which replaces the trace minerals the commercial product does not. When using pure water or water kefir, this also avoids the toxins in city water.

If you have kids, using un-refined sugar also avoids dependence on refined sugar which is addictive per the book “Sugar Blues”. Having a fully appreciated sugar source gives the energy without over-amping the pancrease.

Plus this combination provides Vit. C, the necessary electrolytes, and if you use water keifer, also probiotics. It also has the trace minerals we loose with heavy perspiration. It gives you energy when the heat makes you tired. It cools off the body. And you can drink as much as you want. We love it. Enjoy.

DIY Electrolyte Drink
In a quart jar, (we use a mason jar)
Fill 3/4 with pure water (rainwater, filtered water, well water, never unprocessed city water).
A couple of tablespoons of unrefined sugar – organic cane, agave, maple syrup, molasses (experiment), Sucanat, etc.
1/2 tsp Himalayan or other high mineral salt (you will be able to increase the amount as you get used to the salty taste later)
Lemon juice 1 or 2 lemons squeezed fresh
You can also use water kefir for some or all of the liquid
Stir till all solids are dissolved
For added flavor you can add fruit juice of your choice, or the bruised leaves of perilla (aka Japanese Shiso), mint (any kind you like), basil, or any favorite herb – take the fresh herbs and roll them between your hands, then put it in the liquid. Then fill up the rest of the quart with more water or water kefir and put on a tight lid. Refrigerate or serve with ice if you like.
Drink immediately or save in the frig with the herbs to steep and suck up the flavor.

I like to make up a few quarts if there are a lot of people in the house as on a hot day it will all disappear.

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Printable Constitution, Bill of Rights and others – so you know what your rights are. Don’t lets loose these precious guarantees. 5-10-20

At a time when our rights are being usurped by hidden agendas meant to strip us of our guaranteed liberties and rights it’s time everyone actually read the Constitution, Bill of Rights and some other things on this site – printable. I highly suggest everyone read these documents so you know what is at risk, and what your abilities to protect them are: https://www.printableconstitution.com/

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Protecting the Garden From Frost: Temperature Lows for Vegetables – 5-20

Here in NE Georgia I have been planting seeds in flats for about a month, getting ready to plant when the weather warrants it. Both spring and summer plants have been started. I don’t worry about the cool weather crops like the cabbage family, greens, root crops like beets, carrots, onions, garlic, and various cool hardy herbs.
We have had temps as high as 85 days and as low as 35 nights with 20 or more degrees divergence from day to day. It’s crazy to try and predict how to protect the babies on the deck and plants in the beds.
To get tomatoes and the other nightshade family plants big enough to do well, they too are out there on my deck getting big enough when it warms sufficiently to put in the ground. Also, started are curcurbit family plants (gourds, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, melons) which are heat loving, corn and other summer plants. They love heat but don’t appreciate the cold.
This because a problem for some of my friends who have farms in nearby areas who invest a lot of time and money growing food for farmers markets, CSAs, local restaurants, and their own uses, so it’s important not to loose whole plantings or seedling beds to cold weather. One sent this article which I wanted to share. Because if you have a garden, and want to ensure food safety and security in these troubling times, this might mean the difference between food and no food this spring and summer.
I have been covering my deck with old tarps which allow moisture and air through and even light, but act protectively to insulate and keep hard rain from destroying delicate seedlings. In the beds, luckily I haven’t planted anything too heat loving yet because something has told me to hold off. But I have at hand white cloth row cover fabric in case we get a late freeze. One year we had snow in March here. It is April now, but with the changes in weather and climate, I’m not taking chances.
If you save seeds and do most of your planting with seeds rather than nursery plants, and like me don’t have a green house or cold frame for this, I recommend you find a location that is protected as much as possible from heavy winds and cold pockets (areas lower than surrounding areas where cold air is trapped or flows over it from cooler areas) with water handy and some coverings when it gets cold, and don’t get over anxious about it. Watering your seedlings and small plants gently before a cold snap also helps to insulate them.
As a note, right now seed companies have been overwhelmed with demands for seeds for vegetables, fruits and herbs. People are waking up to the desirability of having a family garden and growing at least some of their own food. I heartily support this idea and have encouraged people to be self-reliant food wise for a very long time.
This is why I save my heirloom seeds (I don’t grow any other kind), do seed swaps, purchase seeds from reputable (non-Monsanto related) seed companies like Bakers Creek Rare Seed Company (there are many out there but do a little googling to make sure they are reputable) when they have seeds available. And please keep your seeds protected and not out in the hot garage all summer. 🙂
Now would be a good idea to join a community garden or local homesteading group if you need help in learning how to grow your own food or need a source of seeds. I recommend, if you are a lady, to check out National Ladies Homestead Gathering, an organization of homesteading women started in my county of Ga. but now national. https://ladieshomesteadgathering.org/
Good luck with your gardening and be strong.
This is a well written and encouraging article I wished to share with you because sometimes you just need someone else’s expertise.
Protection Tips and Temperature Chart
May 8, 2020
Seedlings and Frost Cover

Planting seedlings of peppers in the soil in the spring with frost cover for protection.


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Here are tips on how to protect your garden from frost and design a garden to reduce frost damage—plus, a handy chart listing dangerous temperature lows for vegetables.

To know when your area typically gets frost, see our Frost Dates Calculator.

Whether you are waiting to plant in spring or those late fall days are getting frosty, it is important that frosts will not hamper your efforts.

When to Protect Your Plants

If temperatures below 32°F (0°C) are predicted, protect your plants! A moderate freeze with temperatures in the 25–28°F (-4 to -2°C) range can be widely destructive to vegetation.

Frost protection is especially important for tender plants such as geraniums, begonias, impatiens, peppers, and tomatoes.

  • In the spring, use row covers if you have tender vegetable seedlings and transplants. Row covers or garden fleece can also be used to help create a warmer environment beneath them. You’ll need to use posts or bamboo to create space for the plants to grow, then drape landscape fabric or plastic over the posts; weigh down the edges with rocks or bricks or pegs so the covers do not blow away.
  • Alternatively, you can recycle clear plastic drinks bottles as plant covers or “cloches.” Simply cut a bottle in half using sharp scissors, then place the top half over your plant. Keep the lid off on sunny days, or screw it on when cold weather is forecast. Keep your bottle cloches from blowing away by pushing them into the soil or by holding them in place with a cane.
  • Cover other established plants with frost cloths or other insulators including newspapers, straw, old sheets and bedspreads, or evergreen branches. Cover the whole plant; you’re trying to retain radiated heat.
  • It’s best to have all covers in place well before sunset. Drape loosely to allow for air circulation. Before you cover the plants in late afternoon or early evening, water your plants lightly.
  • The plants should be mulched, but pull the mulch back from the root of the plants.
  • Remove the covers by mid-morning.
  • In the fall, the first frost is often followed by a prolonged period of frost-free weather. Cover tender flowers and vegetables on frosty nights, and you may be able to enjoy extra weeks of gardening.

What Temperatures Cause Frost Damage?

Designing Your Garden to Reduce Frost

Here are different ways through which you can reduce the amount of cooling in and around your garden.

  • Your garden will warm up more during the day if it slopes toward the sun. Residual heat in plants and soil may determine whether your garden sustains frost damage during the night. Cold air, which is dense and heavy, will flow away from plants growing on a slope—what the experts call “drainage.”
  • A garden on a south-facing slope offers two advantages: more exposure to the Sun, and better drainage of cold air. In deep valleys, nighttime temperatures may be as much as 18°F lower than the temperature on the surrounding hills.
  • Trees surrounding your garden act like a blanket and reduce the amount of heat radiating from the soil, perhaps keeping the temperature high enough to protect your plants from early fall frosts. Plants themselves can modify cooling. Place plants close together to create a canopy that entraps heat from the soil (though the tops can still suffer frost damage).
  • A garden wall benefits the garden by acting as a heat sink, absorbing warmth from the Sun during the day and radiating it slowly at night.
  • Water in a nearby lake or pond (if it is one acre or larger) will also act as a heat sink. A cold frame can be heated with an improvised heat sink: a dozen 1-gallon jugs of water. They absorb heat during the day and radiate it at night.
  • Moisture also determines whether frost will nip your tomatoes. Condensation warms and evaporation cools. When moisture in the air condenses on plants and soil, heat is produced, sometimes raising the temperature enough to save the plants. On the other hand, if the air is dry, moisture in the soil will evaporate, removing some heat.
  • Good soil, full of organic matter, retains moisture, reducing the rate of evaporation. Mulch also helps to prevent evaporation.
  • In early spring, warm up your soil faster by covering it over with plastic, row covers or garden fleece. This technique is particularly useful for heavy or clay soils that retain a lot of moisture. Lay the plastic over the ground at least one week before sowing and soil temperatures will rise by a couple of degrees, making all the difference for early sowings.
  • Of course, raised beds will warm up more quickly thanks to the free-draining conditions within them, so if you have raised beds, start your first sowings here.

Design your garden with the Almanac Garden Planner which uses averaged frost data from nearly 5,000 weather stations across the U.S. and Canada. To benefit from this, consider a free 7-day trial to our Almanac Garden Planner!

Predicting Frost

When the sky seems very full of stars, expect frost. –Weather Lore

If it has been a glorious day, with a clear sky and low humidity, chances are that temperatures will drop enough at night to cause frost.

Find out how to predict that a frost is coming!





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The Importance of Small Farms & Urban Agriculture   The Stats by Rashid Nuri – an inspiration 4-29-20

Dear friends, I have long admired Rashid Nuri of Truly Living Well organization in downtown Atlanta. I met him a number of years ago in Atlanta during a summit of local agriculture, and found him to be a wonderful speaker, humorous, and very wise. And I have kept in touch with him since. We face in this world food that is modified in labs, on soil that is poisoned by chemicals and depleted by overuse, shipped long distances while loosing nutrition, and grown in a way that looses the life force that we need to sustain ourselves. Then people like Rashid have come around to change our thinking and doing something about it in a major way. He is worth promoting and helping.
View his TED talks on this subject:

He is the founder of several farmers markets and the local urban agriculture movement with several farms within the urban area, and internship programs, etc. which turned a food desert into a rich environment for whole fresh food in the inner city.
He recently turned all of his local hats over to his organization Truly Living Well which he built up, and is now out in the world promoting local agriculture and self-reliance in his new enterprise – The Nuri Group. Here is his recent blog which I felt was worth passing on to you:
April 29, 2020 Blog by K. Rashid Nuri
In May 2020, I am starting a series of on-line lectures on the Importance of Small Farms and Urban Agriculture and the urgent need for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support its growth. Here are some of the facts and statistics on which I am building the curriculum.
  • 82 percent of Americans live in cities or suburbs
  • Most have limited familiarity with the production and source of our food
  • Few know what the food looks growing
  • Seasonality and fluctuations in crops
  • Commercial agriculture emphasizes efficiency and quantity rather than on growing quality food and protecting natural resources
  • Most American food travels an average 1500 miles before it reaches the home dinner table
  • Transportation accounts for 70-80% of total food costs to the consumer
  • Transport adds to the nutritional loss in food Agriculture impacts energy use and the environment: (Source of 20 to 25 percent of the annual U.S. annual energy budget)
  • Up to 40 percent of that energy is used to produce artificial fertilizers and pesticides
  • Chemicals reduce minerals, vitamins and trace elements that create flavor and nutrition
  • Studies show that poor food quality contributes to rising rates of obesity, vitamin deficiencies, and food-borne illnesses
  • Fresher, healthier foods support healthier consumers
  • At the 1996 U.N. International Conference on Human Habitats in Istanbul, urban agriculture was formally recognized for the first time for its contribution to the health and welfare of fast-growing urban populations worldwide
  • Urban fields bring fresh vegetables to consumers within 24-48 hours from harvest
  • Food close to harvest is highest in nutrient value and better tasting
  • Increases exercise by encouraging gardening and other outdoor activities
  • Consumers are encouraged to eat in season
  • Improves mental health
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves social skills
  • Increases self-esteem
  • Reconnects people to their food and the land
  • Provides horticultural literacy
  • Promotes family and community bonding
  • Promotes sharing
  • Increases collaborations across gender, racial and economic barriers
  • Provides beautiful, peaceful environments
  • Increases food security
  • Creates jobs
  • Supports small farmers
  • Democratizes food industry
  • Increases access to affordable locally grown produce
  • Prevents erosion and stormwater runoff
  • Reduces fossil fuel dependence
  • Increases carbon sequestration
  • Reduces heat island effect
  • Increases pollinators and biodiversity
  • Maintain healthy soil: feed the soil, not the crops
  • Increase soil organic matter every year
  • Manage crops for highest profit per acre
  • Plant permanent crop beds
  • Use biological pest control
  • Protect pollinators:  honey bees, native bees, wasps, yellow jackets, dirt daubers, butterflies
  • Attracts beneficials: bats, birds, toads, spiders, garden snakes, frogs, lizards, grasshopper mice, prairie deer mice, white-footed mice, ladybugs, and others
  • Use drip irrigation, and it works best
  • Use open-pollinated, heirloom seed
  • Plant trees: fruit, nuts, etc.
  • Use perennial cover crops
K. Rashid Nuri grows food, people and community. http://www.thenurigroup.com Purchse Growing Out Loud Growing Out Loud Follow Rashid on Facebook at K. Rashid Nuri
The Nuri Group, PO Box 91726, East Point, Georgia, 30364, USA
Author of Growing Out Loud: Journey of a Food Revolutionary To purchase Book visit: https://www.thenurigroup.com/book

Rashid Nuri

Rashid Nuri observed local food economies around the world while managing public, private and community based food and agriculture businesses in over 35 countries, including Southeast Asia and West Africa. He now lends his experience to urban areas, promoting good nutrition, health and economic development. Rashid obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Harvard and a Master’s Degree in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Massachusetts. Following graduation, Rashid journeyed to Georgia, where he managed 13,000 acres of farm land for the Nation of Islam. Later, he managed operations in Asia and Africa for the Cargill Corporation, a global agribusiness conglomerate. Following nearly a decade with Cargill, Rashid returned to the U.S. to become a Senior Executive in the Clinton Administration, serving as Deputy Administrator in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Senior Advisor in the Department of Commerce.

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