LJR Enterprises

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Category: Progress

Frost Seeding

by Robinson

Improving pasture without fancy equipment.

Iowa State

University of Wisconsin

Hatred for the Vegetable Garden

by Scott Smith

I hate my vegetable garden this year. I really do. I think it’s because I worked so hard on prep this year, knowing that my time in the garden would be limited by the fact that I’m working full time at an office job now. I weeded and weeded and then weeded some more before laying out my mother’s extravagant gift of that black, fabric weed barrier. I carefully laid it out, secured it with the earth staples, planted in careful rows. The most magical thing about the fabric is it’s ability to levitate. The weeds raised the fabric, pulling the pins clean out of the ground. So, now weeding is even harder because I have to move the fabric out of the way in order to do it. I’m crushed and my produce sucks.

However, Barb! saved me from my black mood by sending me an email full of links to the concept of the ‘edible forest.’ I’ve thought about edible landscapes but the edible forest takes this to a new level that hadn’t occurred to me, although I realize it’s been going on for a long time. You basically use plants that produce foods that you like (and that do well in your area) and lay them out in a way that borrows from the structure of a ‘natural’ forest. Some of the plants produce food for the gardener, others produce food for the other plants, and of course all of it feeds nature by attracting birds and a healthy balance of insects. I’m thinking about planting cherry trees around the existing tree in front of the barn, black raspberries around the edges, comfrey for ground cover (and food for the chickens apparently), and I’ll figure the rest out from there. I might even get really ambitious and inoculate some wood with mushroom spore.

Next year, the formal vegetable garden will be given over to the asparagus (which I hope to expand), and lettuces, tomatoes, peppers and zucchini will be planted among the perennials, and somewhere there will be a strawberry patch. I’ve had it with fighting the formal weed vegetable garden.

The fabric won’t go to waste. It will be used for paths… I’ll lay down cardboard, a sheet of killing compost, the fabric and then a nice thick layer of mulch. We’ll see what the weeds have to say about that.

A couple morel links:

MSU Student Organic Farm
Oikos Tree Crops

Good News

by Scott Smith

Lake Michigan from Space

I signed an online petition, which is not really supposed to be an effective tool for change, however, I did get this update on BP and the Great Lakes:

On Thursday, CEO Bob Malone announced that BP was reversing its decision to increase dumping in Lake Michigan. This is a watershed moment for the Great Lakes and for all of us who have fought to protect and preserve Lake Michigan.

I’m not going to post the entire e-mail because I don’t want to give the impression that I support any particular political party or that I believe that the two politicians who organized the petition deserve as much credit as they are claiming. Whatever changed BP’s mind, I’ll take it and be happy about it.

Science Shows Organic Foods ARE Better for You

by Scott Smith

“The levels of flavonoids increased over time in samples from organic treatments, whereas the levels of flavonoids did not vary significantly in conventional treatments,” said the researchers in a recent issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Alyson Mitchell, from the University of California, and her co-authors say this is because of ‘over-fertilisation’ by conventional farmers. Flavonoids are produced by plants when they lack nutrients so for those crops given a large supply of nutrients in the form of fertiliser, there is little need for the natural production.

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Barn chores

by Scott Smith

When we moved to Hickory Corners, the barn was used by the previous owner as a pool hall. There were booze bottles stashed in mouse-infested cabinets, and broken glass littered the goat-shit-encrusted barn floor. And, for some strange reason, dozens of matchbooks.
Robinson and I decided to clear space for the first stalls. Armed with shovels and a power washer we dove in. Old hay becomes solid after who knows how many years; it’s like trying to dig through OMB boards. The power washer, which I resisted using at first, made easier work of the hay removal. It broke up the layers just enough to allow me to dig.

After many hours and cart loads, we have half of the first stall space cleared. This was a good day. Hard work, yes, but I didn’t end up flat on my back from working too hard — although, my legs were rubbery. On Wednesday, we’ll finish this up and get to work on building the stall.

I did end up hurting my back: At work, I reached for my coffee mug and something popped in my upper back. The irony of getting fit for farm work is that my body can’t handle all the sitting.

Before & After

by Scott Smith

farm.jpg

The image above is from the fall of 2005.

scott-hogpanel042006002.jpg

Here I am on April 20, 2006 surveying my fine hog panel installation.

Workin’ hard

by Scott Smith


Robinson had me working hard on Wednesday and Sunday. An old office worker like me shouldn’t be raking and moving heavy concrete and cut logs. Oh, the logs.

The power company outsources tree trimming. These guys are yahoos. While walking Meg, I heard them cheering and grunting like half-naked-painted-football-fans in December. Our property fronts Kellogg School Road and Hickory Corners Road. The portion that juts out, fronting Hickory Corners Road, has an abandon barn (partially on our property) and what’s left from a burned-out house.

The tree trimmer yahoos decided to work the tree-line separating my property from the abandoned lot. They chewed-up a dozen trees for a day and a half. Most of it unnecessary: why would a power line going to an abandon house be hot?

Fine except for the large amount of tree detritus and the logs. Some of these logs are not movable by Michigan’s offensive and defensive lines. I loaded my little cart and made several hauls to the other side of the property. This, will take a few weeks.

Most of the day Laura and I cleared several years worth of leaves from our front yard. It looks much better. She also mowed about an acre today (note to self: change oil in garden tractor), and trimmed and cut down small bushes and trees.

We are taking back the land one small chunk at a time.