Jerusalem Artichokes, aka Sunchokes growing, harvesting, using 2-2-21

Jerusalem Artichokes are a wonderful and delicious survival food, a very abundant crop and easy to grow. They are a root vegetable and full of valuable nutrients. They are also freely propagating so if you harvest them every year and leave a few in the soil, they will reward you year after year. They can be stored in the refrigerator or root cave or cellar.

Growing them takes a little bit of planning because you’ll want to dedicate a plot for them, being so freely propagating.

JAs are a member of the sunflower family and like full sun. They also get 10 to 12 feet high so planting them along a wall (facing the sun) or fence helps to support them.

Dig down into the soil 18” and add a lot of sand (they are a root and do better in looser soil) and organic matter. You will need to dedicate the space to them because they regenerate off the smallest piece of root even after aggressively harvesting them. So, pick a spot in the sun that you will want to not plant other things in, amend the soil, plant about 8 to 10” apart (I usually do it in a grid pattern, not rows), 6″ deep.

You wait till the year progresses – they flower in Sept. usually (they make very nice flower arrangements) and the more you harvest the flowers the more they root so it’s a good thing to use them, then they die out in late Oct., early December. I cut the stems once the tops are dead, leaving 1 foot of stem up from the soil level. I do that so I can easily see where to carefully dig out the roots.

The stems make great kindling for fireplaces btw, and I cut them into 1 foot lengths and keep them out of the rain till I need them for fires.

After the first real freeze (not just frost), the inulin (sugar) develops for best flavor, and you can now dig them up and harvest the root. You can do it all at once or section at a time as they keep well preserved in the soil till you need them.

Dig deeply because they like to hide under rocks and walls and deep into the soil. That’s why 18” deep a preparation and lots of sand works so well.

I harvest section at a time in the soil to get every little bit of the smallest roots. Then I soak them in some water to loosen the soil and clean them up a bit, and refrigerate them. They will last up to 2 years in the frig.

Once harvested, save the nicest ones for replanting. Again plant them in a grid pattern about 6″ deep about 8 to 10 inches apart.

To use them you don’t peel the skin, just use a vegetable brush, clean all the soil off them so they look light tan, cut away any parts that are blackened or look not good, then use them. They grow with various bulging parts so make sure you get all the dirt out of the creases or break the bulges off to clean the soil out.

Inulin is also a wonderful ‘prebiotic’ which is a fiber source which actually feeds the good bacteria in your gut microbes – 85% of your immune system.

Cook them or steam them till they are tender, add some butter or seasonings, and enjoy the delicious flavor.

They are a terrific flavor enhancer to any cooked dish you add them to, or you can eat them fresh in salads. But realize they will cause a lot of digestive gasses if you eat too many of them. A few slices in a salad are fine or grate them. Cooking tends to handle that. I put them in soups, stews, mashed potatoes (cook them along with the potatoes), casseroles, sauces, etc. You can even grate them and add them to quick breads like you would carrots.

They aren’t actually an artichoke, just to clear that up. They tend to taste similar to an artichoke when cooked.

Diann Dirks 2-2-21

Posted in Bee haven gardens, Emergency Preparedness, Flowering plants', Gardening, Gut health, Immune booster, organic gardening, Permaculture, Seasonal gardening plants, Self-Sustainability, The beginning Gardener information, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Winter Growing in Severe Zones like Zone 3 or Colder 1-8-21

Recently a friend living in Montana asked me about growing in winter in Zone 3, and she felt she had to do a lot of study to find what would work there. So, I gathered some things that might help her and I’m sharing them with you. Here are my potential solutions:

Yes, zone 3 is pretty cold. But I know of a CSA in Alaska that has something like 50 members, growing out of green houses And at U of M near Lansing, Mich, there’s a student run CSA that has 100 families as members who provide 48 months out of the year, with double walled greenhouses. The greenhouse’s double walls are kept apart with little blowers, and thermostat run openings and closings for hot weather or cold adjustments. I think that is the answer.

I also know of a farmer in Kansas that has greenhouses sunk 6’ in the ground that grow year round as well. So, I think it’s a matter of infrastructure. Not much will grow at 20 below 0 but certainly things grow fine around 35F if protected from wind and sheltered.

Some people use either Rocket Mass heaters or geo thermal, maybe a combination:

Paul Wheaton is an inspired perma-culturist who has a lot of personal experience and does a lot of workshops. He also has a book I think, or at least a tutorial.

Rocket Mass Heater for a greenhouse Paul Wheaton

Better Than a rocket stove green house heat

Building a Greenhouse Rocket Stove

Brick Rocket Box Stove

Rocket stove for $6

Double burner rocket stove with concrete bricks

Also geo thermal is another method to keep a green house above freezing even in very cold climates.

Ground to Air Heat Transfer (GAHT®) system

A GAHT® system allows our greenhouses to provide their own heating and cooling using the energy of the sun, and the soil underground.

Large scale geothermal in greenhouse growers

Inspiring system in Holland

So, of course you’d want cultivars that grow well in cold weather already – Brassicus, parsley, lettuces, roots like carrots, beets, garlic, onions, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips etc., Swiss chards, other brassicus like kales, cabbage broccoli, etc. and lots of oriental greens like bok choy and Chinese cabbage. Here’s my favorite Asian seed company: But I also love Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Starting off with things that already like it cool then providing them with environments that hold in as much heat as possible, it works. But then I also take care to order from reliable and non-GMO and non-Monsanto seed companies.

In France I think it was during Louis 16th’s reign, they had gardens that provided the court with luxurious warm weather crops all year  More gardens in France grew with building long rows of heat sink walls with overhangs or large areas of small walled- in gardens out of bricks , which caught the heat and held it, even growing citrus and many warm weather crops. They did a lot to provide year round out of season food.

Some of those ideas could be converted into smaller applications.

If you were to take a likely piece of land in your ranch area there, and started building some infrastructure like a sunken greenhouse, walled in gardens, or regular greenhouses with rocket mass heaters, I think you could actually convert some of the resources of the ranch into agri-tourism and a demonstration garden, giving classes and workshops in the winter, when the tourism ranching is low. Just a thought. We really need to start looking at ways to bypass the insanity right now being generated by the political situation, teaching people how to feed themselves and their families in crisis times. It’s what I have been working on for about 12 years with my demonstration garden and internship program. And my blog

We are in zone 8B here so we don’t have the severe cold and weather conditions like in Montana, but we do get below freezing off and on all winter. So, here I lay my summer tomato cages on their sides alternating direction down my beds and cover them with 3.5 mil plastic weighed down with single cinder blocks, and grow all winter. This makes the beds protected enough while also growing cold tolerant varieties that I get more food production in the winter than in the summer. Mostly because we don’t get bugs in the winter. And with the crazy weather changes we’ve been having in summer here, growing has been particularly difficult the last 5 or so years. But in our little ‘tunnels’ under the tomato supports, it’s quite nice. When it’s really cold things grow slower, but in general, we get a steady flow of salads, greens, and other vegetables. It just means we have to keep track of the weather, and make sure we cover the beds when it’s below about 28 F, and uncover them when it gets about 45 F for several days. I open it up when it’s going to rain and cover them when I see snow in the predictions.

Diann Dirks 1-8-21

Posted in Gardening, organic gardening, Permaculture, Seasonal gardening plants, Sustainable and safe seed companies, The beginning Gardener information, Uncategorized, winter gardening | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review of new book “Wild Eating With the Forager Chicks

XMA Header Image
Wild Eating With The Forager Chicks

My dear friends Anne-Marie Bilella and Denise Hardin just released their new book Wild Eating with the Forager Chicks, and I wanted to share this with my friends who are foragers, gourmet cooks, off the grid people, survivalists, homesteaders, chefs, wild crafters, preppers, and adventurers who love to try something news. They have combined the expert knowledge of what’s for dinner in the wild, and recipes that bring the culinary experience to a new level. Anne Marie is a certified wild mushroom forager and between the two wonderful cooks, they have come up with this wonderful book. I highly recommend it. You can purchase it thru

Wild Eating With The Forager Chicks

I had a chance to review this wonderful book recently. These are my observations: First, it’s a beautifully presented book, Martha Stewart quality (top of the mark), layout professional and aesthetic. The pictures are beautiful, on fine matt paper and very enticing, you want to eat off the page. Second, the recipes are well thought out as to ingredients, directions, and for a forager, it’s a Godsend because it gives gourmet quality uses for those things you bring home in your foraging bag. Third, it’s brilliant because at a time in history when food has become a critical issue, eating wild crafted foods which tend to be more nutritious than cultivated food grown in worn out chemical laden soil, is healthier. The timing is impeccable for future survival. I think this is a perfect companion for many people in groups – homesteaders, foragers, wild crafters, preppers, off the grid living, campers, or people with families who want better food for their kids and their health. Well done to Anne-Marie and Denise. I have no financial interest in this book, I just loved it so much I had to give you the scoop.

I’d love to hear from you about this book if you are lucky enough to get a copy and read it.

Diann Dirks, 12 – 23 – 20

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Making Your Own Herbal Pills for Self-reliant Health 12-4-2020

Recently on a FB group post from Europe someone asked how they could take turmeric living in Portugal where they couldn’t get pills and they hated it in a milk mixture. I sent them this article with additional information from my own research:

Mix the powdered turmeric with about 10% black pepper so it is absorbable in the body, or if you follow Ayervedic medicine, also add cumin, fennel and coriander to lessen the strain on the kidneys. Then put it in empty capsules. Or, barring that, make pills the old fashioned way.

MAKE YOUR OWN HERBAL PILLS – I have done quite a bit of research over the years on making my own medicine, including various ways to make pills. If you can get empty glycerine capsules, you can purchase a little device from Mountain Rose Herb Company to fill them, about $18 USD plus shipping and handling. I get my empty Capsules from IHerb site using NOW brand capsules – usually in “0” or “00”size.

But if you can’t get empty capsules, then you can make little round herbal pills yourself. More labor intensive, but a way to get the herbal medicine you make yourself in a do-it-yourself way. This actually is how 100 or 200 years ago, apothecaries made their pills for dosing individuals. Then capsules and pressurized tablet machines came along. But tablets made under great pressure often don’t dissolve in the stomach and are defecated out without benefit. And sometimes you can’t get empty capsules. So, with a little practice you can make your own pills with the formula and technique below:

“Herbal pills are an easy-to-make, practical way to consume medicinal herbs.”

(Parenthetic words are my addition to this article.)

“If you are used to taking over-the-counter pills for a headache (or other conditions), there’s no reason you can’t make your own headache (or herbal) pills as a replacement.

Making herb pills is easy for anyone who’s ever played with modeling dough. Make them any size you like, noting appropriate dosing details for the herbs used. Store them in the fridge so they stay soft, and make them with any spice (or herb) you like. Do you like chocolate? Roll your headache (or herbal) pills in cocoa powder. We don’t have to step completely out of your comfort zones to live naturally.

(Make small batches. Honey is anti-microbial so it is a kind of preservative by itself, but it will stay fresher if made regularly.)

1. Start with a blend of finely powdered herbs. (Turmeric usually comes as a powder as does pepper so you don’t have to have a spice or coffee grinder but other herbs you probably would need to powder if they don’t come already powdered.)

2. Add a dollop of raw honey and enough water until the mix resembles bread dough. (I like to work my ‘dough’ in a small glazed ceramic or silicone bowl.)

3. Split your dough into two or three pieces and roll them into a thin rope.

4. Cut the rope into small segments.

5. Roll each segment into pea-sized balls or smaller

6. Coat each ball in a powder of your choice (cinnamon, cocoa, etc.) and refrigerate in a glass jar until needed. *

Learn more about building your herbal apothecary in The Home Herbalist’s Local Apothecary.

This URL also has a picture of the final product which wouldn’t reproduce in this post.

*I thought of another way to take them but haven’t tried it myself. It’s how my mother used to get us to swallow pills when I was a kid. Before adding a coating of powder, or if you find it hard swallowing a powdered covered pill, put the rolled pills in the freezer, and on a spoon (probably a good thing for children – or with animals wrap the pill in a bit of cheese or meat) with a bit of honey or jam on it, put a frozen pill together with the honey and swallow. Let me know if you find this a good way to take your herbal medicines.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Tonight is the first big freeze of the year here in NE Georgia. 11-30-20

It’s 45 F now, very windy, and I’m wearing layers because it’s also 88% humidity. That’s the kind of cold that cuts right to the bones.

My winter garden is mostly planted now but with the freeze upon us, I must protect the tender seedlings in the annual garden, and prepare the perennials for the winter.

The herbs that can’t withstand the freeze will be harvested, dried or otherwise preserved. But the perennials that need protection need mulching, or wrapping. Depending on what zone you are in, we’re in 8G here, you may want to tour your garden, assess what needs help or harvesting, and act quickly.

The annual beds have seedlings that are tender. For the annual beds we lay our empty tomato cages sideways down the beds alternating direction, then clear or white 3.5 mil plastic sheeting is laid over them, weighed down with cinder blocks, rocks or other weights, and if we are expecting wind, we lay some other weights like lengths of rebar over the tops to keep them from sailing away or flapping.

Here are a couple of good sites that cover what needs protecting and how – herbs, perennials, annuals, bushes, etc. For our east coast friends. For our west coast friends.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Growing a fall and winter garden 10-5-20

Here in NE Georgia it is definitely fall weather.

Many of us have gardens and farms. Do you know you can grow year round both food and medicinal herbs?

I’ve heard people say “I garden in the summer – tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, etc, but we don’t do it in winter”. But we here in NE Georgia we grow almost more volume of food in the fall and winter than in the summer here.

The cool and cold weather is excellent for lettuces, Swiss chard, spinach, garlic, beets, carrots and other root crops, kelp, broccoli, and other brassicus like collards, Italian flat leaf parsley and many other greens. If the freeze isn’t too low, spinach, parsley don’t even need to be covered as they are really cold hardy. In the fall cool weather, peas do well.

Even if you don’t have a green house, you can do this. To keep the soil fertile and productive we always do another few layers of ‘sheet mulching’ aka Lasagna Gardening techniques before planting, where you layer organic matter and composted manure to enhance the soil. We add crushed granite sand (Home Depot sells it as all purpose sand – Quikrete brand, mixed with hardwood ashes from the fireplace (about half an inch layer), and layer kitchen waste, fresh grass clippings, autumn leaves (we like to chip them up first) and chipped up summer garden debris like tomato vines etc. Then we give it some compost tea.

To plant seeds or seedling plants, make a little hole in the new mulch layers, put a couple handfuls of compost or top soil, and plant in that soil. Put a bit of light mulch around the soil but don’t smother.

To protect your new babies, I lay my tomato cages on their sides, alternating direction along a bed to raise up and cause an air layer between clear or white plastic sheeting. This keeps the plastic from smashing the babies into the soil, and also forms a little green house heat holder in cold weather, making a 10 or 15 degree difference from the outside air.

Also having a goodly layer of mulch over the soil holds in the heat in the soil for the roots.

Home Depot sells both white and clear sheeting in either rolls or bags of 3.5 mil plastic (it can be used for several seasons). Lay the plastic over the planted beds with tomato cages once it gets cold (don’t do this in warm weather as it will cook the babies) and give it some water or let it rain on the beds. When the temperature gets close to freezing, cover the beds. Once it’s cold, the moisture stays in the soil so you don’t have to keep watering. Every 3 weeks or so, you can sprinkle the beds with more compost tea – I dilute it with rainwater.

You will have harvestable food all winter and into the spring. It may take a while for some of the crops to get big enough to harvest, and cold weather everything tends to slow down growing, but be patient. We plant in September if it isn’t too hot. Now it’s early October and we’re starting seeds in flats to transplant when they are large enough to go in the garden. We usually start earlier but it has been unseasonably hot this summer and lasting longer. It finally cooled down enough to not cook the seedlings.

Once it’s time to cover with plastic sheeting we weigh down the sides of the plastic sheeting with single cinder blocks, rocks, or other heavy things. You might want to put something over the top of the sheeted beds to keep the plastic from blowing off the beds. I like rebar laid carefully over every 6 feet or so if it’s high winds.

When it warms up during the winter, lift one side of the sheeting to harvest or keep it from cooking. Cool weather plants don’t like too much heat.

I recommend this book: Four Season Harvest Organic Vegetables Garden by Eliot Coleman. He uses green houses but much of what he recommends can be utilized in this system of little covered beds.

I know how important it is in these troubling times to have food security not only having food available, but having food free of chemicals, toxins, poisons, and food that is actually nutritious from good quality nutrient rich soil. It can mean the difference between health and illness.

So, please share this information with others and encourage them to at least grow some of their own food.

One way to get someone started on the road to self-reliance is to grow food in 5 gal. buckets with holes drilled in the bottom to let excess water escape. Use the lid as a bottom tray. Fill with good potting soil, and plant them.

One of the benefits of this kind of growing is that they come with handles and you can move them around for better sun exposure, protection against wind, or into a little mini climate area, or even move them inside if it gets extremely cold below the planting zone of the plants being grown. These work year round.

I started my neighbor (who thought she couldn’t grow anything) with a pot with a tomato plant years ago. Now she has a nice garden in her yard in Michigan after she moved from Georgia. She now has the confidence to do this on her own.

When I hear of possible food shortages, I think, but people can grow their own food and not worry. Pass it on.

BTW often you can get free buckets by going to soap making businesses or local bakeries. Home Depot sells their buckets if all else fails. But look around for free ones. Make sure the things they had in them were food grade, not chemicals. I use a drill with a 1/4″ drill bit to make about 10 or so holes in the bottom for good drainage. You will have to fertilize bucket planters like the in-ground beds using compost tea or liquid fertilizer (use organic fertilizer not ‘commercial’ ones because they aren’t so intense and don’t act like steroids to plants). And when it gets hot again watch for moisture levels because containers tend to dry out faster than in the ground planting areas.

Good growing.

Diann Dirks, 10-5-2020

Posted in Emergency Preparedness, Gardening, organic gardening, pest management, Recycle, repurpose, reuse, Self-Sustainability, Soil fertility and yield, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 3 Comments

The Individual and the Group

badge icon

A friend of mine wrote this essay. I found it very insightful and wanted to share it:

An essay By Carlos Gamez

Our country has lost its vision, lost sight.

It has forgotten the Individual man.

Politics says it cares, but it is actually oriented to groups not individuals.

The earth is inhabited by Individuals. We are born individuals, we die Individuals, a woman feels the pain of birth as an individual, a young man dies alone on the battlefield. (‘The battlefield’ a group generated concept.)

The group is a construct, a union of individuals. It is important and fundamental to life, but a group while necessary, and having its own existence and dynamics is yet not as basic, legally or politically as the individual. Groups will change only if its individual members change.

Politics, while in this country, was originally born as a tool where individuals could meet and form “co-operative” groups, to push forward the dreams and purposes of good people, has now failed us.

Politics has now become a forum of and for and by groups, corrupt and degraded groups. And Politics being a group thing by nature forms other groups out of thin air.

Groups that do not in fact exist but that are said to exist, said to be a union of mutually organized individuals where in fact they are a mental group that exists only to give body to an idea.These groups do not exist: “All White people are Racist” “All Black people are Racist”“All policemen are Racist “All Rich people” “All Poor people” “All Democrats”

They are concepts only.Groups have form and substance and members and leaders. It is not a made up, imagined group of people. Families are groups, businesses are groups, churches are groups, But, if we legislate based on groups we die. For it isn’t a Republican issue or a Democratic Issue or BLM or Antifa or PETA etc. etc.

Groups do not bleed they do not eat, or sleep, or get married or raise families, get cancer or go on first dates.

A group cannot think or speak or decide or evaluate or dream. Any successful group when inspected will be found to be made up of powerful Individuals, real people that get things done yet, think for themselves and do not act because it is popular or accepted.

Groups are powerful because of their members.

The evil individual, the truly bad ones, also know that they can hide within the group that lends no credence to personal responsibility and personal accountability.Life is lived by Individuals and our politics must be based on allowing the individual to live a better life.

You cannot legislate against a class of people and win. It just gets too muddy.

You must legislate toward the importance and increased ability of each and every man and woman and their right to live a life they choose.

The answer is you and me and her and him. Real people that lead real lives and participate in real groups. And Create real Solutions.A friend of mine wrote this essay. I’m passing it on because I found it very insightful.

You can give him some feedback at: Carlos Gamez <>

In these turbulent times, we need to stay analytical, have common sense, and not just react emotionally when our buttons are being pushed by this side or that. Our country is a precious thing. For almost 300 years we have struggled to keep freedom for the individual where the rest of the world is built upon the value of only one or a small group of people in the feudal system (king, aristocrats, elite), the party (communism where the individual is nothing, the party everything), Elite rule (like feudal system based only on profit), or warlords (chaos and violence).

There are those now who have planned to create chaos to force civil war or turn our precious republican (based on the concept of a republic where we use representation to hold the form of the Constitution) form of government to a totalitarian state where the individual is just a pawn, a slave to the will of a small group of sociopaths bent on lowering the population by a great deal by force or forcing a way of life we will not thrive or prosper in. This is how 30 million people were eliminated during the Stalin regime of communism in Soviet Russia in the 40s and 50s. This is left out of the history books but it’s the true color of communism. Anyone who protested or even was thought to be against communism was eliminated. Whole villages were systematically wiped out. Whole groups of people were likewise murdered cold blooded by the communist thugs.

The Constitution and rule by law is what has protected our individual rights in this country. It has kept us from totalitarian rule where the whim of a few individuals rules with no recourse on people’s part impacting our lives and the lives of our families and communities.

We live free. If you have never spent any time in a communist state, you would not know this. You would possibly buy the idea that Socialism is good because according to the rhetoric, everyone gets a fair share. This is a lie. It is all paid for by every person. In places like Sweden, a socialist state – 60% or more of a person’s wages are taken by the state, replaced by a lousy health care system, huge numbers of regulations and a contained way of life. If a person is an entrepreneur he has to effort hugely more and it isn’t easy.

You wouldn’t know what it’s like to always have to look over your shoulder when expressing yourself, worried that someone would report you, ending you in jail or worse, possibly your whole family from a few words of dissent.

I have friends who lived thru the soviet state, personal experience. Make no mistake, this is what is happening now in the cities where chaos rules. It’s a revolution in the making and our freedom is at stake.

So, please think of this when you go to vote in November. Look at the actual intentions of the people in all levels of government and don’t buy the socialist rhetoric. Keep your guns because the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution was there to prevent despotic government, that means your personal freedom. Without the 2nd Amendment we would already have a despotic state a long time ago. Even during WWII, when the Japanese were all set up to invade the west coast (my grandfather was a deputized sheriff combing the High Sierra mountains, where they found caves loaded with Japanese uniforms, ammunition and weapons, food, everything to support an invading army). They didn’t invade because they realized every household was armed to the teeth and people knew how to fight and use that protection.

So, let’s not be namby pamby full of indecision about our freedoms, our liberties, and our responsibilities to maintain them for ourselves and our children’s children into the future.

God Bless the United States of America and all of the citizens who defend the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and those rights.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making the Most out of your Organic Matter for Weed Tea, Compost-Manure Tea and Biochar 8-17-20

Having sufficient soil nutrients for fertility is always an on-going challenge when growing plants for food and medicine. Likewise keeping the soil texture light, good drainage, decompressed so the roots can negotiate around in the soil and absorb those nutrients is a very important part of a healthy and productive garden or farm.

Here at Hillside Gardens we use a lot of various techniques to keep our plants happy, productive, and strong, so they pass on to us all the good things we need for health and nutrition. These techniques include waste free gardening, organic growing, Permaculture Design, Korean Natural Farming, and Biochar. Articles on these are available in the archives of this blogsite and doing a little Google research (which I think you wild find interesting and helpful).

Weed Tea

It is late summer here in NE Georgia, and as always because our soil is so rich, it is also a terrific place for volunteer plants (sometimes called weeds) to grow. This presents a challenge in terms of maintenance. Many people with organic gardens just throw these used plants on their compost pile or God forbid, in the trash. But here in our garden we don’t waste organic matter unless it is so infested with nasty bugs (nasturtiums are the sacrificial plants here that attract aphids which we don’t want in our compost, so they get tossed) that we can’t afford to reinfest.

But what about when those weeds are loaded with seeds. If you put them on the compost pile, unless you get and keep the pile at 150 degrees F, those seeds will wait for the perfect conditions and germinate, in your beds. I try not to be a grower of weeds if I can help it as it means lots of extra work. But often those weeds can be a significant volume and I view the product of weeding as a resource. “The problem is the solution” is a Permaculture saying. If you have a problem it contains the solution so in this case, using weeds to make for a better garden is just a matter of how you look at them. Those weeds contain an awful lot of good minerals and plant chemicals that new plants need to grow, why waste them or not make the best of them. After all, they are already at hand.

Solution: Weed Tea.

We have a dedicated 55 gal. barrel, food grade plastic, where we toss all the weed bearing plants we pull out of the beds and pathways. Into this we siphon rain water from the rain barrel next to it, then cover it closely and put a cinder block on top. We fill these barrels pretty full and the weeds can get quite buoyant and float enough to push the lid up allowing mosquitoes in. This becomes a major nursery for the buzzy little critters so you have to weigh down the lid sufficiently to keep a good seal on that barrel.

If you don’t have rain water, fill your barrel half way with city water, cover with screening fabric and let it outgas for a few days to let out the chlorine which kills off the good microbes. And keep some rainwater handy to fill the barrel as it needs more water.

The plant matter needs to be in there long enough to rot down pretty well, killing the seeds, and releasing the nutrients in the leaves and stems into the water. We usually keep it in there a full season, adding to it as we weed the beds but making sure we keep the lid well sealed between opening it.

After a few months the plant matter actually ferments, further being of benefit to the soil as the microorganisms in the ferment help build the beneficial microbe population. The microbes in good soil are required to break down the minerals there so they can be absorbed by roots.

Once the decomposing process is complete, we usually use a pitch fork and lift the matt of plant matter that has risen to the top and deposit it directly in the compost pile nearby. There will be some loose plant matter in the water but not much.

You can use this “Weed Tea” directly on your beds as it is now loaded with the minerals and vitamins that are dissolved in the water and of course a little debris won’t make any difference if used this way. You don’t have to dilute it.

But if you want to go further with it, and make spectacularly nutritious liquid fertilizer (and you will because the next step is amazing) and want to spray it on the foliage of your plants for uptake directly (where it also can be used as bug protection or anti-mildew), it has to be cleared of debris.

I discovered a little trick to filtering out the debris and any mosquito larvae that manage to get in there when it comes time to use it. I’m an herbalist and I use a lot of vodka in plastic quart bottles. These have handy indentations on the sides for easy gripping when pouring. If you cut the very bottom off, leaving the majority of the length of the bottle on, it is a perfect funnel shape for volume pouring.

Sherwin Williams paint stores sell white inexpensive filter bags for paint in two sizes – 1 gal. and 5 gal. – which have elastic around the top. These are very handy for a number of uses in the garden. Taking the 1 gal size, setting it inside the inverted vodka bottle funnel, folding the elastic top over the rim (the bottom of the cut vodka bottle) and securing it further with a rubber band, it makes the perfect filter and funnel when transferring the weed tea to another large container. When the bag starts to fill up with debris, it’s a simple matter of holding the neck of the bottle and whacking the bag down releasing the debris. If it fills up too fast and won’t flow, just grab a little edge of the filter in the funnel and lift, letting the liquid flow thru.

We use 33 gal. kitchen waste bins for making our fertilizer. We use enough of it to need two of them.

Making Manure/Compost Tea fertilizer and serum


Instead of using a commercial 10-10-10 fertilizer that is basically dead chemically and which actually can decrease the microbe population, to build true soil fertility it’s important to make an alive organic formula solution and build a healthy microbe population because these babies are critical to the uptake by the plants of nutrients. Not only do they affect the breaking down of organic matter in the soil for good texture and drainage, but when hard minerals present can’t break down into organic forms, they aren’t up-takable. Think of trying to eat a nail. Then think of iron in food that your blood needs to be red. That’s what microbes do to help us.

You can just simply use rain water but you get more cluck for your buck if you use the weed tea as the base of your M/C Tea. The minerals and nutrients in the plant matter from your garden then get recycled.

Don’t use city water with chlorine immediately. You have to let the chlorine and other volatile gasses out or they will kill your good microbes. It takes about 2 days open to the air for chlorine, chloramines and other of the chemicals cities put in water to sanitize the water for consumption to escape. If your water smells like bleach, it’s not ready, and won’t be for a couple or three days. But be sure to cover your water with permeable cloth or screen material so the mosquitoes can’t get in there while the out-gassing is occurring.

We siphon the weed tea out of the bin thru the vodka bottle filter gizmo into buckets and transport the weed tea over to the kitchen bins, filling them about ¾ full.

Now here’s where those paint filter bags come in handy again.

They make perfect giant tea bags for the nutrient rich compost and other ingredients for your super fertilizer.

Here’s the recipe:


1 shovel full of well broken down compost. (You can use commercial compost but home made is better) in a 5 gal. bag, tied off with heavy twine (we use the orange twine they tie off bales of straw and pine straw because it doesn’t rot, and we like to use everything a couple of times and repurpose stuff where we can). Tie them off with a slip knot so they are easy to open later. Leave a long tail that is long enough to reach out from the bin and down the side so it won’t fall in, requiring you reaching down in this stuff once it’s done. You’ll thank me later.



1 shovel full of fresh manure – this is a great way to immediately use manure that you don’t have to compost for 6 months. Because you dilute this, it won’t burn your plant’s roots. We use horse, cow, chicken, or pig manure (the ‘hot’ kinds of manure i.e. very high in nitrogen in the form of ammonia which will burn roots unless composted). Finding manure in a city situation may be hard but if you can get it, it’s powerful fertilizer. Out here in the country someone will trade you poop for something if you don’t have your own from critters. You can also use alpaca, goat, or sheep manure but you can immediately dig those kinds into the soil and they aren’t ‘hot’ so we usually just use the ‘hot’ manures instead of waiting 6 months. We don’t use cat or dog poop because it may contain parasites. Using a 5 gal. bag as above, tie it off with a slip knot. Long tail.

Other optional ingredients:

1 one gallon bag with several handfuls of worm castings if you can find them, or include this in with your fresh manure.

About 10 leaves of comfrey, yarrow, if you have them growing in your garden in a 5 gal

Feeding the microbes:

2 cups molasses or organic sugar – you must include this (important).

Providing oxygen to the microbes:

Get a bubbler device from your local pet store in the fish tank department. These usually are between $15 and $20. Because we use two bins we got the bubbler that had two tubes on it. This provides oxygen to the microbes so they can breathe. They are living creatures so they need oxygen just like we do, or like fish do. Weigh down the tube so it drops to the bottom of the bin. We use a rock held on by more of the orange baling twine or feed the tube thru a hole in a brick and loosely tie it in a knot so it won’t come out. This is important because otherwise the tube will rise to the top and won’t get oxygen into the water where you need it. Lower the weights with the tubes down and turn it on to make sure it is bubbling.

Add the molasses or sugar into the water and stir to dissolve.

Now lower the bags of manure, compost, herbs etc., into the liquid in the bins. This will bring the level of the liquid up but not enough to fill it. We then add more water or weed tea to fill it about 1″ from the rim.

Cover the bins and secure them against mosquitoes. We use plastic sheeting  that covers the tops of the bins and falls down to the floor, then secure with weights around the floor so air can escape but mosquitoes can’t get in. We usually use the cover of the kitchen bins on top secured with a rock so they can’t be blown off by wind. Ours are on the bottom deck of our house and rain can come in. We would use just screening but you don’t want rain to fill the bins too much and overflow. That’s why we use plastic sheeting.

In two or three weeks of bubbling, your tea is ready.

Remove the bags and squeeze as much liquid out as possible. The plant matter is usually pretty well deteriorated stuff so if you want you can mix it up in a bucket and apply it as fertility soil dug into a bed, or thrown on the compost pile. We sometimes add crushed egg shells to this for tomatoes so they get enough calcium.

We save our cat litter containers – the ones that have a screw top, not the ones that are buckets because mosquitoes can get in the bucket type – for putting in the finished product. We again use the filter in the vodka bottles because invariably some debris gets in there as it decomposes in the bags. We often use the fine sprayer so if you don’t filter, they get clogged up and are a pain to clean out.

This yields a LOT of what is now concentrated serum tea. Keep it out of the sun, outside in the shade someplace.

To use this serum either as a spray or drench for your plants, dilute it 50:50 at least with rain water or city water (left to outgas as above). It’s pretty powerful and condensed.

If using as a foliar (foliage, leaves) spray, to keep the microbes alive, do so before the sun comes up in the morning or after sun down. Sunlight kills the microbes.

It also works as a bug repellent so you can add some garlic concentrate to this for better effectiveness.

You can also add fish emulsion – a couple of tablespoons full in the cat litter container if you want to increase the mineral content.

OK, on this one you might either laugh or be grossed out but it works: In Permaculture we are told that human pee (not poop, just pee) is an excellent source of nitrogen and other nutrients. You can collect your own in a 5 gal. bucket, with an empty plastic gallon milk inside topped with a funnel made of a plastic liter soda bottle with the top cut off, with an old toilet seat on top of the bucket to sit on to collect it, then take the seat off, replace the lid, and keep it out of sight someplace for collection. The kidneys are a very efficient filter and unless the donor is ill this is free of microbes but loaded with the cast off nutrients from the body. It’s just about the most perfect fertilizer for plants. We collect this (me actually) and fill up the gallon milk jug, to use later for fertilizer. You don’t have to do this but it’s really a super source and free. Always dilute pee 9 parts water, 1 part pee if using directly.

Ever wonder why bears pee in the woods? The trees like it. (Sorry, a little garden humor thrown in there.)

If you want to use pee in your compost tea, about ½ to 1 cup per 2 gallon litter container, or 4 or 5 cups in the finished product in the kitchen bin before bottling it.

When using it to drench, fill a watering can about 3 or 4 inches deep of the serum and the rest with water, mix it up a bit then drench around the roots of your plants. This is a good dilution for young plants. You can increase the serum amount for well established plants. But do a little test on one and leave it a day or so before increasing the solution. It is powerful stuff so you don’t have to use much.

We use the tea 2 or 3 times in a summer or when heavy feeders like tomatoes or specific corn, which like more food, look like they need a bit more fertilization. I like to water the beds first or after a rain so the soil is already moist. This will allow the tea to go further into the soil around the roots.

Bio Char

Another use for this serum is in making BIO CHAR as the infusing material.

I have written another article about making Biochar in the archives of this blogsite which you can bring up. In that article I talk about using the ‘soup’ which is basically this serum with more pee than we use for usual fertilization, to infuse activated charcoal. Then layering the infused charcoal with compost and fresh mulch under a plastic sheet for about 2 weeks to increase the microbe population. Never use activated charcoal in a bed unless it has been ‘satisfied’ by infusion with nutrients or it will grab all the nutrition in its area away from your plants. This can make it look like biochar doesn’t work, when in fact it isn’t “BIO”, it’s just charcoal. It must be fermented and the micro pockets in the charcoal well filled because activated charcoal has a negative charge that will attract the nutrients which are positive charge right out of the surrounding soil.

We fill a large bucket or bin with the serum, pour a couple of pounds of the activated but naked (un-infused) charcoal in, let it sit about 15 minutes, then bring it up using a 5 or 6” ‘spider’ kitchen implement that looks like a metal basket on a stick found in oriental kitchen stores (for stir frying), and layered it on an empty plot with a thin layer of compost (see above). Each batch of the infused charcoal is layered until all of it is used up. You can pour some of the serum on it after layering but before covering with plastic.

We cook our own charcoal in a contraption made of metal bin, metal flu pipe, etc. and activate it by pouring cold water on it while it’s still very hot. For more information on making charcoal watch this video: Making Charcoal the Easy Way

We have found that making the charcoal with pellets that are used in pellet wood burning stoves is just about perfect if it is uncontaminated wood. You can also use dried wood chips from your chipper or fine chips from a tree service. Fine chips though, not big chunks.

When adding biochar to your soil, loosely cover a bed with about an inch layer of the fermented biochar, then dig it in with a simple shovel flip 6” deep systematically. Don’t till it, just let it get into the soil. It will continue to fertilize your soil for years. You can double dig it like in biodynamic soil preparation too. You can add more over the years to increase the texture and fertility of the soil.

It’s a great way to sequester carbon as it will not go back into the atmosphere once in this form, but it will continue to be a safe harbor for the soil microbes. Bio char in Africa and South American areas are 2000 years old, still so incredibly fertile that it is bagged and sold as fertilizer itself. Where beds of this are found, they sell for 10 times the regular price of land. It doesn’t stop being fertile.

NOTE: For those of you who don’t have all the ingredients in my recipe for compost/manure tea, you can make it with just manure, or just compost, or just comfrey and other nutritious herbs or any combination you wish, but remember to add some compost for the microbes and always give it some sugar or molasses.

If you are familiar with Korean Natural Farming techniques of adding microbial load – IMO– indigenous micro organisms – a preparation starting with soil from around a bamboo grove, mixed with cooked rice, allowed to grow white mold, soaked in milk, allowed to form a kind of cheese, and poured off after about a week. This is highly charged with beneficial micro-organisms. There are many YouTube videos on this subject. A few tablespoons of the serum from this process will charge a whole 33 gal. container of the compost tea serum.

You can make compost (or other fertilization teas) with just rainwater or get more into it with weed tea. The point of this article is that you can make your own liquid fertilizer from a number of sources, and have organically grown produce without using commercial fertilizers. By using what is already at hand, and what you make yourself, you aren’t dependent on outside sources, and in the event they aren’t available, you are still self reliant and can survive well using the organic matter you would otherwise not get as much mileage out of.

The Koreans knew 2000 years ago the advantage of making food and soil preparations by fermentation which increased beneficial the life forms. Out of this tradition came Kombucha Tea – the immortal elixir passed onto the Emperor of Japan and kept as a secret of the royal line there for hundreds of years. Kim chi, a food preparation made by fermenting vegetables which contain amazing digestive enzymes, garlic, and hot peppers is a mainstay of Korean cuisine and is responsible for their amazingly good health as a people. So, using many means to increase these microbes in the soil makes sense.

Here’s a factoid for you. The same microbes found in healthy soil are … exactly the same ones found in healthy gut microbes called the “micro biome” which we are now hearing is responsible for 85% of our immune systems. So, when consuming organic vegetables, fruits, and medicines from soil filled with these trillions of microbes actually feed your ability to fight disease and strengthen every cell in your body. The microbes prepare the nutrients in the soil to build in the food and medicine, and if you don’t use chemicals to wash off your organic vegetables and fruits, because the microbes are so small and hide in the surfaces and skins of these things, they go in and recharge your micro biome. So you’re getting probiotics with every bite. Not only that, but when you have your hands in this wonderfully boosted soil, the microbes actually enter your body and create a sense of well being per research which can lift mood and help brain function.

All because you knew how to treat the life in the soil with care and knowledge. We live in a symbiotic environment which is cross dependent. If we don’t go killing off the good microbes which form a complete eco system which we are part of (it’s called nature, and you are a member of that interdependency) it will greatly help us stay healthy and make us well fed because the plants benefit exactly the same way we do.

Diann Dirks, Auburn, Ga. 8-17-20

Certified Permaculture Designer, Organic gardener 55 years, educator, artist

Posted in bio-char, bug repelling in garden', compost/manure/herb teas for fertilizing, Gardening, Gut health, Mood lifting, anxiety, and depression solutions, organic gardening, Permaculture, Planet restoration, Recycle, repurpose, reuse, Self-Sustainability, Soil fertility and yield, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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 ( 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)

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

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.  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 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:

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.

Posted in Bees, Food Forest, Forest Agriculture, Gardening, Life's Lessons, Permaculture, Planet restoration, Planetary management using Permaculture, Recycle, repurpose, reuse, Self-Sustainability, Soil fertility and yield, Uncategorized, Wild crafting and wild plants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment