To Convert an Orchard to a Food Forest, Start with the Soil

Orchard path at Barbolian FieldsWe have this old orchard on our homestead – how old is anybody’s guess. The house is over 100 years, so perhaps the trees are as well? How long do they live? It comprises 9 trees (apples, pie cherries, and an Italian prune), and despite its age, produces more than we can use, but not really enough for any kind of commercial enterprise.… Read more

Garlic Planting Conundrums – Part 3

This is my final post in this Garlic-Planting Conundrum series – and by now you probably think I am beating this whole thing into the ground. But I wanted to share a few practical things about figuring out your space needs and preparing the planting area, particularly under less-than-ideal conditions. 

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Food Forest Beginnings and Fall Tasks in the Orchard

Fall applesI have to confess, when it comes to the orchard, other than pruning, I’ve pretty much let the trees fend for themselves. This is a disgraceful admission, being as I spent many formative years in eastern Washington, arguably the apple capital of the world.  … Read more

Permaculture by Nature

Paul Gautschi
Strong, expressive hands – huge spirit – Paul Gautschi shares his love for God and His creation.

Paul Gautschi is not a big man in stature, and one cannot help but notice that just walking is difficult for him, as his body is quite crippled from the ravages of Agent Orange.… Read more

First Sprouts of Garlic!

Sprouts of Chinese Pink, a Turban variety of garlicRussian Giant Garlic SproutsGreat news! Garlic is up all over the garden and it is looking strong! Of course, we would expect a good showing on the Chinese Pink, a Turban variety, known for maturing early. This is our first year for growing this particular variety, and we are looking forward to it being ready early in the season, right about the time when we are ready to trade our first-born children for fresh garlic.… Read more

Lasagna Gardening and the Great Mulch Cover-up

Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza
Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!

Seems like everyone has already read this book – except me. I put off reading / buying this book (I hate to admit this) because I figured I already “got it.” I mean, c’mon – “lasagna” is a perfect description for layers – and “lasagna gardening” immediately conjures visions of several good things layered on top of something relatively flat, the strata are repeated, and lots of garlic is infused throughout – so how can you go wrong?… Read more

Garlic is UP! and Much about Mulch

“The more one gardens, the more one learns; and the more one learns, the more one realizes how little one knows.”  ~Vita Sackville-West

Siberian Purple Stripe garlic sprout in mid-FebruaryStatus report: Mid-February and the garlic is up and growing strong!

I am doing a few things differently this year than last.… Read more

How to Plant Garlic Bulbils

The weather can get seriously nasty in November, but if you have a few garlic cloves left, you can still stick them in the ground.

I laugh as I read that sentence, which I wrote after I got the main garlic crop in the ground and also – and this is key – an experimental crop of bulbils, those tiny seed-like things in the mature scapes.… Read more

Pull Back the Mulch and Feed the Garlic!

Garlic stands a good 1 1/2-ft tall in late March
German Extra Hardy is looking strong! (Ruler is 15" tall)

Garlic goes through four stages in its life: a dormant stage over winter when it conserves energy and growth is slow; a spring spurt when growth is rapid; a flowering stage in June when energy is directed at producing scapes, bulbils, and seeds; and the bulbing stage, when it sends the last of its reserves toward growing a bulb that can split into cloves and carry on in the next season.… Read more

Garlic Is Coming On Strong!

February update here at Barbolian Fields: The garlic is growing strong!

Gosh, it’s great to see those shoots coming up again! I mean, we always know they will, but somehow there is always this little voice that says, “what if they don’t….”

One thing I did differently this year than in previous years is that I put on a heavy layer of straw mulch.… Read more