Saturday, May 17, 2014

Visiting N.D. Chapter #3 & #2

N.D. #3
     Max and I arrived at Sandy's place about 15 minutes before the other class members.  His 160 acres of breath taking beauty was enhanced by its many spring fed ponds; it was so captivating it kept our eyes glued to the scenery round about rather than what we should have been focusing on.  The garden location next to his house sets at an elevation of around 1500 feet and this sizable little valley was surrounded by thick forested mountains giving him an extraordinarily good micro climate for growing his food in.  Sandy stated that he receives just as much sun (when it is shinning) in the winter time as he does in the summer.  

     As we toured his orchard I noticed that there was an old apple tree that could rival many of the oaks I've seen in Idaho County (maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but it was huge!).  

This old apple tree has seen many years of production

     He had drastically cut the tree back the year before but looking at the size of the trunk one would have to agree that it must have been a beast.  There was a great number of new shoots springing from its trunk and lower branches.  Sandy said that although they were a small to medium apples they were very tasty.  
     Sandy told us that a cherry tree (below) died and had grown back from the root.  Yes even the part to the right that looks like the parent tree was a sucker. It had plenty of beautiful blossoms on it but he had not tasted the fruit in any of the previous years.  

What seems to be the tree with suckers is actually a sucker itself

     Looking at the body of his orchard it was ascertained that once he places 8 inches of chips around the trees he should plant a ring of chives a foot away from the trunks which would assist in repealing most crawling insects.  Also if a ring of comfrey were to be planted at the drip-line of each tree they could be cut several times a year for fertilizer by just letting them lay, but remember it is more productive as a fertilizer if the comfrey is cut prior to flowering.  This would give needed nutrients to the trees eliminating in time the need for commercial or animal fertilizers.

Just a few of the trees in his well established orchard

     There were about 5 or more Hazel nut trees that had been cut down to about 4 feet tall.  Each had twenty or more trunks making it look more like a hedge than a tree, the excess trunks needed to be removed  so the trees could produce sizable fruit.  I found several nuts still clinging to one tree which were no larger than an eraser on a pencil.   

I didn't know what kind of tree this was until I found a couple of nuts on them

     Max explained the importance of dormant spraying of fruit trees and recommended that it be applied twice, once in the fall (after going dormant) and once in the spring before budding.  This procedure will help protect trees from bugs and disease.     

     It was also noted that the pond near his home could support over 2,000 pounds of fish annually.  We discussed the benefits of raising yellow perch verses bluegill or large and small mouth bass.  The yellow perch is a more hardy cold tolerant fish that seems to be very prolific.  The question was posed as to feeding or maintaining that volume of aquatic life without the benefit of store bought food.  The simple answer was to grow comfrey along the banks of the pond so it could be cut periodically through the spring summer and fall for food, comfrey is high in protein plus it floats and fish love it!

     It was also discussed how to construct a pond that would allow the dead bottom water to be released first so as to retain the fresher more oxygenated water for healthier fish.  That would involve placing a six inch pipe across the dam at the desired water height with a pipe on either side of the dam connected to it following the contour acting as a straw to relieve bottom water first.  One would still need an over flow pipe of trench. 

  • Sandy then showed everyone his nursery and the garden kit he is using to spray his garden. 
  • He showed the class his potting soil derived from Johnny’s Selected Seeds
  • He showed off his brand new BRIX meter and measured a random plant for sugar/mineral content.
  • The class sat in the comfort of his home and talked of preparedness issues.  Other sites that were discussed: Natural NewsDoom and Bloom
Next meeting:
  • Pat Threewit will teach on the basic herbs for survival.  He has a book he will share on the subject.
If you know of others in the area that might be interested in attending Neighborhood Dirt #3 meetings please pass this on.
We meet at (430 Cedar Creek Rd, Kooskia) at 6:30PM every other Thursday.
  • On June 12th there is a planed aqua-ponics tour for all Neighborhood Dirt members at 6:30 PM at the north end of the Kooskia High School. 
Of course every member of Neighborhood Dirt knows that the focus and purpose of these classes are:
  1. To get to know your immediate fence line neighbors for better relationships. Good neighbors during good times are always desired, but good neighbors during bad times are essential. 
  2. Sharing knowledge on gardening and related subjects, learning how our ancestors survived on what they produced. 
  3. Plus, just having some good old fashion fun!

Sandy said:  "Since I myself am a beginner gardener I can only share what I have read not what I have done but others attending have years of experience"  

Meetings will continue through the summer or until demand falls off.
If you would like to be added to (or taken off of) this email list, please let me know.
Sandy Staab


N.D. #2

     Max and I next visited Andy and his group.  By spending the lions share of our alloted time with ND#3 we only caught the last half hour of the class.  Before we arrived they had toured Andy's garden discussing Hugel Kultur and related subjects and then returned to a neighbors house where their meeting continued.

     Much was discussed about soil and companion planting.  Andy sent this chart to help those who didn't get enough time to examine it during the class.  all in all Max and I had a great time with like minded people.

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