It has been a couple of weeks since the last post. Many amazing insights have come to me. I am digesting and allowing my inner processes to reveal all into the blog; new videos, consulting for urban property owners in the Reno area, and an Urban Farm Project web page that should hit the net this week! Big changes here, as it all unfolds for the highest and greatest good. Just know there is more to come, my readers, more to come. I started classes on biodynamic farming and wow! wow! wow! Can I just say my life will never be the same?! I am gearing up to bring you new truths about the world in which we live! Now to the blog!
In this blog you will find before and after photos of an urban city domain that I have been renovating for 2 1/2 months.My focus has become about edible and medicinal plants as companion plantings. The before shots were taken 2 1/2 months ago. We are going to just look at the beds outside of the fence, the front street beds, the inner part of the yard is another blog down the road!
When I began working on these beds there were many obstacles. Reno is a desert… very demanding of the farmer. The house was built in 1905, which means a number of things: too much soil in the beds, mostly sand; no nutrient in the soil (pretty dead and lifeless); the dirt was hard as a rock and the cherry on top was that the yard sat on an old river bed full of those great round river rocks! yippeeeee
The front beds were more like enemies, they were armed and ready for battle. I was going to have to use those present moment techniques I have learned to stay in the game. My mental chant “Carry Water and Chop Wood” breath, breath, breath……..
The first tasks on the list was to remove soil? How much soil? I discovered that you can read books but in the end it is the land and you. This can lead to situations in farming that you’re lack of experience creates confusion. However, you are the only one who can appropriately make decisions it in order to grow and provide food and herbs to sustain and heal. What needs to be done should be based on your eyes, ears, smell, feel and, ultimately for me, intuition.
The depletion of the soil was so extreme the only sensible measure I could take was to remove 6 to 10 inches of soil. I hit those river rocks at about 4 inches, and I suspect the people across the road heard a few cuss words!
My Dad always taught me to do a job right. How I feel inside about what I am doing is how to do the job right. I see why so many people take the easy way, the short way and are angry, with an unsuccessful result. I was going hold fast to ”doing the job right the first time.” In order to do it right ,I must dig the soil all the way out. The front beds found my weaknesses, but in the end, helped me recapture past experiences and recover energy that had been blocked. Energy blocks that I now realize had kept me repeating cycles of frustration, giving up on myself and blocking my own life’s energy.
While I am engaged in the practice of urban farming I always offer gratitude. Always thank the water, the soil, the earth for helping you to clear any energies. These energies can stand in the way of your life. Farming has given me my life back with great respect to all things, even myself. I had many a prayer smoke with the greatest thanks to the great spirit, during the renovation of the front beds. I became always thank you no matter what!
I shoveled the old dirt out and wagon’d it to the back into a pile. Later, when I have a chance, I will turn it into a compost, regenerating and using it in the future on other parts of the yard. When all the dirt was out I applied a new top soil. I made this top soil from 1/2 completed compost, fir mulch and a potting soil. I mixed them all together and filled the long beds. Later on, as the plants in the beds grew, I applied another inch of fir mulch and kelp meal. Here in the Reno area we have alkaline soils, with alkaline water. We need to add in much needed acids to get the balance so plants will grow. Just like the human body: too much alkaline and the heart will stop and too much acid and the heart will stop. We are so similar to soil and plants in what we need to grow, seed, bloom and bear fruit. Since we eat the plants, does it not make sense that they need to be perfectly balanced to give us the proper balance. Kelp meal is the most amazing nutrient! If I have time in the future I will blog just about kelp meal!
I am becoming a bit of an old school farmer. I do not want to buy what I can make or cultivate from my own yard or someone else’s. The first plants I planted were yarrow. Yarrow is my friend… what I do learn about it and from it blows my lid off! You can use yarrow blooms to create nitrogen preps for soil. You can mow it creating an herb lawn that mulches itself, thus adding nutrient in the long-term to soil. It holds water and can be planted around sensitive areas that need to be cooler. Yarrow can bring ancient nutrients up from the depths of the earth to feed and nourish other plants. You can make ales out of yarrow for stomach ailments. Yarrow gives and gives. I prefer the wild yarrow that is a non-hybrid. It has white flowers. Yarrow grows wild! Dig it up and plant it where you need it most.
Next, I found a large area of penny royal in the yard. I love penny royal. It has a great smell and bees love it. It helps, like yarrow, and attracts bees to your yard. This is necessary for growing a deluxe garden. You can rub it onto the skin as a natural bug repellent. Penny royal grows fast and is a good ground cover, helping to cool down areas for trees and plants that enjoy cooler moist climates.
Then, I planted onions, every kind of onion i could get my hands on. There are large white and purple onions, shallots and green onions. Remember I am gathering all of these plants from other people and places. My first choice would be from a bio dynamic farm…d plants have a vibration of love.
A serious issue of domain was the bugs. Sugar ants, carpenter ants, earwigs…….. Creating a front bed barrier to new bugs migrating in was imperative, the onions have done a master job in creating this barrier. When the onions move in the yarrow and penny royal literally sang. I had no idea what great companions onions would be and no idea what companion planting can really bring to the table until I felt the perfection.
Lastly I direct -seeded calendula, and with the right soil and the companions already the calendula has grown so fast! It’s beauty has warmed the cold heart. I am looking forward to using it in healing balms. If there are any words I could write to express the glory of growing herbs, it is in the moment when you have a need for them and you can go pick them, your own medicine, and make it up right there. Last night our doggy, Gin Gin, came home from the vet. She had her lady parts fixed. The razor the vet used to shave her left burn marks. I went out picked a few leaves of comfry, mashed it up, added a bit of grape seed oil and applied it to her burn areas. The results were nothing short of perfection. The best is that if she licks it no big deal!
Maintenance: I cultivate the soil in the beds once a month, water and will be putting a layer of chips and mulch and inch deep over it for winter. Everything will reseed and be big and thicker next year. The front beds have become a slice of heaven for all of us; the grower, the owner, the people walking and driving by. It is like a hope, a dream for a better day, a sigh of relief in a world of stress, pain and frustration. I have created an energy of delight to the senses…the eyes, smell, taste and touch. Peace surrounds me, from the plants, from what I am doing, and why I choose the methods I use. People drive by, turn around and visit the yard. Maybe the real change we need has to do with the plant and tree world. It appears to me that they create life, which is love, respect and reverence . I am finding that I just need to be aware, give them nourishment and love. This way the green world will teach me everything i need to know.
In the near future I am teaching classes on medicinal plants and planting with harvesting for healing as my goal. For now I am just listening to them and and allow the teaching they offer to me to make me whole.
This week the Urban Farm Project had it’s first job and is launching a traveling consulting company, specializing in edible and medicinal plants in urban areas. You never can tell where life will lead you? You never know what you will do or how you will do it? You never know until you learn to Chop that wood and Carry that water, which means to just focus on what is front of you, learn about it, immerse yourself in it, be it, and become it!
Grow Food, Be Free & Live for a Living!