Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Woad! What Happened to My Wire Cutters?

We had a great day with the college kids from David Lipscomb on Monday. At first, I thought they were not coming but they had gotten mixed up with the address and were found by Sarah at a church on Indiana Ave.

They arrived around 10:30 AM and I introduced them to the farm and our mission. I knew right away that we would get a ton done. They all seemed to connect to our message and were eager to get started. The first thing we tackled were the weeds in the raised beds around the tree canopy. It was an easy thing to get started on and we talked about where everyone had come from. There was also talk of the evil agricultural giant Monsanto and how their GMO seeds negatively effect plant diversity. That conversation didn't last too long because no one wants to get to stressed working at the farm but it was good to know that people are starting to perk up about food security and abuse of corporate power.

Next we rolled out the fencing for the beans to grow on in the next couple of weeks. It was difficult to cut the wires especially when I dropped the clippers in the grass and couldn't find them for thirty minutes. I felt crazy and even went to a neighbors house to get another pair only to find that they were just lying in the tall clover. We were able to put the fence up and I learned a valuable lesson of keeping your tools in one place while working on projects.

While we were doing that the others were pulling up woad from the back of the farm that the women from Ask Apparel planted a couple of months ago to make dye with for their clothing. Woad is also used by the Chinese for tea for health reason but they call it Ban Lan Everyone was making jokes with the word woad. I will refrain from saying one because most don't translate well in this medium but it kept everyone in good spirits towards the end of the day. Thanks to everyone who came out and to the Bradley/Bellos for wire cutters.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Third Eye Has Been Opened

It seemed like every time we mentioned we were going to take a mushroom cultivation course, no matter how old, people always said, "Are you going to learn about magic mushrooms? I'd say that after this course I did indeed learn about the magic of mushrooms, but not "magic mushrooms". Out of the 100,000 species of mushrooms, we've classified 10,000 of them, and know how to grow maybe a hundred or less. To those that have "opened their third eye" from eating psilocybin mushrooms, it is only half open.

The positive implications that mushrooms can have on the world are countless. From bioremediation to the immunization building aspect of Reishi tea mushroom will save the world.

Ok, enough of the serious talk, we had a great time at Mushroom Mountain in Liberty SC even though mapquest is horrible if your not staying on the interstate. Yes, I know google maps is great too but they didn't even register the address. However, we made it and learned a great deal about using mushrooms in every aspect of our lives.

The Hansen family and I drove up on Friday afternoon and stayed the night in Greenville SC. Half of us stayed back for a birthday party and Hugh and I drove 45 minutes to Mushroom Mountain. We were greeted with tea and homemade bread and sat down on a straw bail awaiting for the rest of the students to arrive. Tradd Cotter and his wife Olga were there to provide instruction and a little comic relief. We learned that you can use mushrooms to eat paper and cardboard, which really helps with recycling. You can then add it to your lager compost pile and have perfect compost or you can use it to spawn more substrate, cool huh?

After that he showed us how to make a mushroom bed to grow Morels but if you do it it will take about a year to cultivate. It is definitely worth the wait. People have been trying to patent a good method for sometime now and this is the best one so far.

He then showed us how to grow mushrooms from logs. You have to use hardwoods and it takes up to a year to fruit but it is well worth the wait considering it can produce for two years delicious mushrooms.

Another use of mushrooms that I'm eager to try is the symbiotic use that you can use with them. If you grow them along with tomatoes you can grow five times as much and only have to water them 3 times a month. Here is a picture of mushrooms growing with swiss chard. You can't see them but the mycelium are in the wheat bales.

We had a great time at this work session and I would recommend it to anyone who likes mushrooms. It is one of the easiest things you could raise and can be very beneficial to you and the environment.

Monday, March 9, 2009

University Students Lay New Paths for NUH

We all arrived a little earlier than expected Saturday to take full advantage of the weather. We had kids from the University School of Nashville come out and give us a helping hand. They laid more cardboard on the rows for us to help suppress weeds and pulled the weeds up in the first beds before we applied mushroom compost from Nashville Nursery. We got 4 rows completed just in time for us to plant lettuce and cabbage. Most of the kids seemed to really enjoy themselves and some of them even promised to come back.

Tim and I planted onions on Tuesday of last week. We didn't check the bio dynamic calendar so we planted them on a day when the earth was exhaling. We will see how the onions produce so I will keep everyone posted on their growth. I'm definitely not up to date on my bio dynamics so if anyone has any tips let me know.

We also had three new volunteers come out. One of them raked up all the leaves herself and said that she was really wanting to partake in the bounty when it comes. Luckily, I dug up some carrots we forgot about from this past fall and was able to give her something right away. They were little fingerling carrots but we had enough to make a delicious salad.

A man from the neighborhood stopped by for the first time this summer. He asked us if we wanted to use his front loader, which is what we've been looking for for a long time. He's coming out today and I think we are going to take out the hideous compost bins that we tried but failed to establish. It would take this stuff 100 years to decompose. Thanks Norman!

Sorry I don't have any pictures up from this past week. My camera battery was dead. I'll be gone this next weekend because we are going to a mushroom cultivation course in Liberty SC. It is at Mushroom Mountain and it is going to be amazing. Thanks again for everyone's hard work. We are off to a great start.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

New Faces New Manure

Yesterday was really pretty cold and wet outside but it didn't deter new volunteers from coming out. We had three new faces whom did not object to turning the compost pile, a true test of someones dedication to the farm. We actually turned the two that are almost finished and we have a new one on the way. Alright! It really does put a smile on my face to see a heaping pile of steamy humus. I explained to everyone that the best compost piles have a 30/1 ratio of carbon to nitrogen. This lead me to believe that we should make signs that say certain instructional things like that. It lets someone know whats going on and also for people who don't speak English very well they can continue to look over it rather than relying on some redneck with a funny accent to get his/her point across...just a thought.

We also laid down cardboard between the rows. This proved to be advantageous in that we could pull weeds afterwords without getting our pants wet from the mist. I could see that everyone was getting cold but they still seemed to want to persevere. I think there is great spirit in people under such hard times to better themselves and help the community. It's something that has been missing for a long time and I can only say it is going to get better.

On that note, we had a couple come out from the neighborhood that had been to the farm before and they brought us a pumpkin plant that they had grown over the last couple of months. It was good to see them because I hadn't seen them since our spring party. I hope we can grow a pumpkin from what they gave us because they have a little boy that comes around with them from time to time that we have a picture of with a watermelon from last summer. It would be great to have a picture of him holding a pumpkin for the fall.

Thanks to everyone that came out. I hope that we can see you again next week. It is supposed to be nice and I think we are going to actually plant our cold weather crops. I ordered a broadfork and I'm eager to put it to use.