Godless in the garden


Godless in the garden

Discussing all aspect of gardening.

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Comment by Randall Smith on December 2, 2014 at 7:29am

My garden supplied me with most of what went on my post Thanksgiving, "Thanksgiving" plate last night (see Food group). I was proud of myself. I did feel guilty about using canned cranberry sauce, but I mixed it with home grown apple sauce to top my scone.

Comment by Barbara Livingston on December 1, 2014 at 10:07am

Randall, the book inspired me too and as I said I chose one of the small simple designs. Then as time went on and I read more about permaculture I learned about key-hole beds. Added to that the fact that all my straight lines would have to go - voila! a simple, but yet attractive key-hole bed with soft lines. I've been frustrated that I haven't been able to just simply go off to my garden center and buy whatever I wanted and plant it.  Now I realize in a way that I needed time to read and learn the proper way to do things instead of just plunking the plants in the ground. Amazing concept, eh? doing things right the first time and saving a bit of money. lol 

The pinwheel design sounds great - fun to put in. I'll be interested in your choice of veggies to go in it - and really would like to see progression pictures. 

Joan, Talk about making things simple, thanks for the playlist link.

I have so far only worked on adding compost and leaves to my very clay soil. I'm definitely not clever enough to work with different soil types yet. 

I read somewhere that if you have used treated lumber you should not plant edible food within 18" of the lumber.  So I'm assuming that would be the same for pesticide/herbicide use. Although I understand they can saturate the ground via rain runoff.  My neighbor on one side uses both and her bed backs up to the fence.  Given this condition I decided to plant non-edibles, Mexican Sage, Fire Weed, and a similar plants as a 3' buffer. The ones I've planted are thriving, but then I think Mexican Sage would grow in concrete. :)  Do you have any suggestions about this?  

Daniel, Simply love your description of mistakes, "little branches on a growing tree". I can apply that to all aspects of my life!  

Your experience growing fruit trees reads like a primer for me. And you are so right about our different climate challenges.  I was all set to purchase mine and plant ... well life took a turn and my refrigerator died. However, I'm lucky that my climate allows me to plant in January so I'm looking forward to it. The delay as I mentioned above really did help me learn more about which fruit trees I really want to plant.

I've been busily gathering seeds and taking cuttings where I can get them.  Since I eat sweet potatoes on a regular basis I'm cutting a piece off each potato I eat - one section for me now and one section to sprout for my garden in Spring. :)  Ditto with seeds of most things I eat such as squash. I discovered Walmart has upright rosemary growing in their shrubbery surrounding the parking lot!  snip, snip, snip. :)

Have a great week everyone!

Comment by Randall Smith on December 1, 2014 at 7:45am

Barbara, I'm impressed! 

We had a 60 degree weekend, so I was busy cleaning up the garden. I'm trying not to think about plans for next spring, but they automatically pop up in my head. I'd like to have a plot dramatically different from the normal rows and blocks. Like a giant pinwheel! I'll soon start tinkering with ideas. That book I mentioned awhile back inspired me.

Comment by Joan Denoo on November 30, 2014 at 11:16pm

Barbara, I just read your posts and I am so excited for you. You find wonderful resources to help you build your skills and sensitivity. Seeing and hearing "plant talk" takes time, and it seems your little dog helps in that domain.

I am so pleased you are doing hugelkultur and learning how to do it early on. Better to learn now than a year or two from mistakes. Please keep us posted on your progress. 

I have many playlists in my file and I think you can access them if you want to. Gardeners are welcome to use them. Here is the address:


I agree with you about how beautiful curved lines are. There are few things in nature that have straight lines and right angles. Visualization comes with practice. One of my methods is to focus on one section of the garden and imagine what I want to feel when I look or work there. Because I have my garden divided into acidic and alkaline beds, I can choose from plants for those areas. Amount of sun and moisture factors in, as well.

My west garden is acidic and growing there now: Mountain Ash Sorbus, Mugho Pine Pinus mugo, Rhododendron, Blueberries Vaccinium, Coral Bells Heuchera and some others. This is where I hope to create a water feature and bog garden.  

My alkaline soil has: boxwood Buxus, Burning Bush Euonymus, Lilacs Syringa, Clematis, Mullein Verbascum. 

I'm glad you know "The principle that 'Nature hates bare ground'"

Looking forward to more photos as you have time. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on November 30, 2014 at 8:19pm

Randy, I am passing along your experience with "put capsaicin cream on my thumb joints as a relief for my osteo-arthritis. It really works.  Get it on your lips, however, and ZOWIE!"

My son-in-law, Larry, might find that useful. I'm passing it on. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on November 30, 2014 at 8:17pm

Daniel, have you ever created a bonsai? I never have. This pepper looks like an idea for one of the over-winter vegetables. Who would have thought of a vegetable for bonsai? 

Your "Red Portugal" will brighten up you winter days. 

Comment by Barbara Livingston on November 30, 2014 at 11:39am


Thanks for the Bill Mollison post.  I'm working my way through Toby Hemenway's "Gaia's" Garden", and continue to watch Geoff Lawton's seminars. I've also found a couple local permaculture groups which I'm sure will add to my knowledge.

The amazing thing, at least to me, is how many mistakes I made in just getting started and will have to correct.  The principle that 'Nature hates bare ground' - and will use whatever is available to heal it - wind, rain, or birds to bring in seeds was new to me. The healing is usually thought of as weeds by us humans. I thought I would do a good thing by getting all my beds ready for planting in the Spring.  

Nature didn't like my idea of just adding compost to the bare beds and leaving them to meditate over the next three or four months - we had extremely high winds and rain for two days and when I went out to look at lawn a couple days later - ALL the beds had been "healed" by Nature and all had little green sprouts in them.   Back to the drawing board. I went to local grocery and came home with a trunkload of cardboard.  This next week I'll replace the cardboard with leaves I've gathered from the neighborhood. 

One other point - Nature doesn't do things in straight lines according to Mr. Hemenway.  As I stood and looked at my backyard all my beds have nice straight lines, squared off neatly and surrounded by stones.  Ahhhhh, back to the drawing board where I will remove stones and put them back once things have been planted in a flowing natural way - if then.

I always thought of myself as missing the gene of visualization and it was damn frustrating not being able to visualize what I wanted my garden to look like.  Then I discovered the Principles of Permaculture design and NUMBER ONE on the list is - Observation. To sit, stand, walk quetly around the area.  Observe movement of the sun, wind, water, and other physical aspects over a period of time. Observe physical limitations and benefits.

My little dog likes me to go with him to do his business in the back yard ... and now I use that time to observe what is there and what might grow best in a particular area.  It's not so much about visualizing what I want to grow, but rather what will be happiest in a particular area.  Which plants will grow together in a that section of the yard, which plants will withstand the wind, which plants need shade of the tree.

I'm allergic to all plants of the nightshade family and as much I choose to ignore it from time to time, I always wind up paying the penalty for doing so. Thus, I'm giving up the idea of growing regular potatoes in a tower, and am concentrating on sweet potatoes. When I realized the benefits of doing it right I wanted to laugh out loud. Sweet potatoes do not like cold and love hot and dry- I live in hot and dry So Tx.  Sweet potatoes don't require alot of water - we are under water restrictions.  Sweet potatoes make a great ground cover - I can plant among my fruit trees and won't have to water as much as well as planting in other areas instead of growing water thirsty grass and can grow buckwheat or other nitrogren plants once I've harvested the sweet potatoes - and the best part - I love sweet potatoes and I'm not allergic to them.

I guess its pretty obvious why I've become a devotee of permaculture. I've discovered I might not be able to visualize like others, but I sure can observe ... 

Comment by Barbara Livingston on November 30, 2014 at 10:57am

Going back through posts - Ugh! many of you have nasty weather so I won't mention our sunny warm days. :)

Finished putting together my hugelkultur bed. Now that leaves are falling here in So Tx I was able to rake and stuff them into and around all the wood, and finally covering completely with compost.

Randall, I went to library to get book you recommended only to discover that I had already read it and taken from it the design for my veggie garden. First acknowledgement here of memory issues. :(

You have to be mindful of things you feed your worms. Last night I opened box to feed them and discovered 6" sprouts coming out of shredded paper. Have no idea what they are although I think some kind of bean.  

Comment by Barbara Livingston on November 30, 2014 at 10:44am

Daniel, all the descriptions of the apples made me want to order some!  I imagine the chilling hours required for each of them are pretty high, eh?  We only get 400 to 600 hours here so we are limited in varieties.  Nice post though. :)

Comment by Randall Smith on November 30, 2014 at 7:51am

"Banana" peppers aren't too bad. I think the secret, for me, is simply adding them to dishes, like omelets, not eating them plain.

Oddly, I put capsaisin cream on my thumb joints as a relief for my osteo-arthritis. It really works.  Get it on your lips, however, and ZOWIE!


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