It felt so odd typing 2020 into the title. Can you believe we are almost at 2020? That is amazing. I am excited to enter this new decade in our space, expanding and honing our vision for this land.
This is the time of year where any spare time is spent looking throughout seed catalogs, comparing the seeds I purchased last year with my notes on how things did where, seeing what I still have some seeds for, and what I need to purchase. We had so many things do so well last summer, and we had a lot of new things go into the ground we won't see a harvest from for several years. Some of our woodland medicinals fall into that category as they take several years from seed - and we have some from bare root and some from seed. We may not see Goldenseal for awhile, but we know it is there.
The plan for 2020 is to expand all of the garden areas, increase the forest guilds, plant around the whole back garage building, plant more natives and water loving plants in the moist areas, and more drought tolerant natives where it is dry. I love posting my lists to the blog because is it a great thing to have when I look back next year, comparing notes and memories. It also makes me feel more accomplished when working on a few acres, because when you don't plant in rows, sometimes it looks like not a lot is there, when in actuality it is a vast amount of plant materials, but spread out over land as plant do naturally in the wild.
2020 Medicinal Perennials
It feels like we have a small part of the acres planted, but when I look at that list I feel pretty satisfied that we have been working forward in our 15 months living here. One thing we are working towards is creating a botanical sanctuary space where we can give plant walks and where we work to preserve wild plants from our region and county. We are lucky to be very near a large state wildlife area that is several thousand acres with no trails, no parking (other than a few gravel spots on the highway). In studying some of the rare Wisconsin plants found in that area, I am able to focus also look to grow some of these endangered plants that are found within a mile of our land. Our area is a part of the wetland drumlin complex left when the Wisconsin glacier receded, and we have tamarack and mixed deciduous forest, drumlins (our house is along the edge of a drumlin), and the wildlife area even has a tamarack bog. Yes, I am a botany geek. It has so many unique grasses, sedge, and plants such as sensitive fern, marsh ettle, bellwort, bloodroot, blue cohosh, rue-anemone, canada mayflower, and even a rare bog rosemary. Wisconsin even has an orchid species, that has been reported in that area. We know that area also has muskrat, otter, mink, deer, cranes, wood ducks, fish, and many other animals and species that reflect how amazingly diverse this area has always been. If we can plant and diversity even a few acres of land, we will have a pretty spectacular place here. Big goals. One step at a time.
This has been our first growing season at this property. It was a good idea to start smaller, and build a few garden areas first, and see how the wind, water, sun, animals, and insects are. Some things did amazingly well - we still have tomatoes up to our eyeballs in late September - and some things, meh (beans? where are the beans?). The medicinal herbs bed was a good start as well. It was enough to manage 5 different locations of herbs as I went through a summer finding an amazingly wide variety of medicinals growing wild on our land or road.
As we wander towards October, things are winding down and and yet we also still have so much happening. I love the location of the main food bed, and it will be easy to expand along down the side every year, and to slip a greenhouse in that area as well. I can tell what herbs I need to grow more of next year, what I should pull, and where to transplant out some of the bush seed starts that will be ready to upgrade to their own areas next year (St. John's Wort!).
Draper, our dog, and I, have walked miles and miles this summer on the land. My step tracker says I hit 40-50K a week, and that is mostly here. Back and forth, up and down, side to side, all the way around. I am so happy at how many medicinals and natives we have growing here, and am pretty happy with the start of both the front and back orchards. We had one tree seller that had a horrible die rate (and a really ridiculously work-intensive hoop jumping return guarantee), but other plants have all done really well. WE have apple, plum, peach, pear, cherry, elderberry, nannyberry, aronia, goji, raspberry, currants and more - all that will hopefully have fruit by next year.
I am especially happy that I still feel good here, like walking, rarely see another person, haven't had any issues with animals, only minimal insects (deer flies in July - I'm talking about you - and I haven't missed since you disappeared). It still feels right and good. And beautiful and big. The views are still wow, the smell of the air and the wonderful blue skies and light breezes are amazing.
We will now start thinking about prepping the chicken coop and run for winter. I have some ideas that I need to test out - I want some areas sheltered from huge snowdrifts, but also want to still be able to see them so if anything gets in there with them, I know. I want to rig an insulation panel system that uses velcro for panels that go up and down for ease of cleaning (and there is rafter ventilation). The solar light system is good, and we had an outlet put along the back wall so we can run a water de-icer out there and a light for winter. We have great motion sensor lighting system, but want more inside the coop light. My husband wants to move them against the house for winter, but I don't want mice and think they should stay where they are, so we shall see.
I can't wait to pick all our pumpkins we grew, see the leaves change, and pull in for fall and winter. I am in need of a nice winter of fireplaces, baking, and working on my writing projects. Here is to a good first year. xo
Summer has been in full force here. Record breaking heat, storms, winds, sunsets. All spring it was a lot of work, but also a lot of discovery. We first looked at this home last July and moved in September, with only a few hours on the property in between. So, it was a guess about the land, the plants, the soil. We have been really happy to find so many natives and medicinal plants growing here. For awhile it was a daily discover, and now in peak summer, I have identified a lot of what is growing here. We have been very lucky to find (I'm sure I am forgetting a few):
sThere were also many garden plants in ground besides the trees including asparagus, raspberry, and strawberry.
We also have been working to plant a lot of food and medicinals. We started by creating a few beds in one primary area and widening a few existing beds. We got a lot into the ground. We started a beautiful triangle medicinal bed and a strip along the food bed for plants that can be moved out into more of a permaculture guild design ongoing - including wormwood, anise hyssop, tulsi, skullcap, brahmi, calendula, white horehound, dagga, echinacea, milkweed, lemon balm, spearmint, peppermint, St. John's Wort, mugwort, hyssop, clary sage, elecampane, Moldavian dragonhead balm, lavender, agrimony, thyme, sage, evening primrose, and a bunch more. We also got plants such as rose, valerian, solomon's seal, black cohosh, american ginseng and a few others into the ground, but it will take a few years to see anything. We also have about 50 pots with herbs on our deck and stairs in back that includes rosemary, fig, lemon, lime, passionflower, and more culinary goodies that like heat. We installed a few flower cutting beds as well, to have fresh flowers all summer - which is nice. We have also been preserving and pickling away from our food beds.
I feel like there are not enough hours in the day, but that is the nature of working a few acres, homeschooling, volunteering almost full time, having a mentor, volunteering in clinic, taking several classes, and trying to have a life! I am enjoying summer as much as I can, while also starting to look forward to autumn and winter for downtime (ha!).
All of that and I have not even mentioned our dog, chickens, or bees. We not only got a new house, we got a whole new life.
More later. Because one thing I have noticed is that I mess the blogs of the 00's. When we would write, share, read, comment, and have actual conversations. I feel overwhelmed by instagram and facebook a bit. More of a throw everything at the wall and see what sticks endeavor, not conscious thoughts assembled to share connect. I mean, I suppose there are people trying to do that, but the more "popular" one is on social media, the more it is just posting to get everyone to tell you how amazing you are. Not anything that benefits the relationship between the two or the reader/viewer. Mostly a poster ego stroke, and I am just not into that. I feel like I want to get some of the old engagement and conversation back. SO, I will be writing likely to myself, for myself, with only myself to read it, but ... it is time to take back this space. until then.
I am a certified aromatherapist, clinical herbalist, organic gardener, plant conservationist, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, permaculturist, health justice activist, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled boys in south central Wisconsin.