Saturday, February 27, 2010

Self-Sufficiency 2

My dream in the city:

A quarter acre, with a small house and a couple small outbuildings (shed, shop, greenhouse). Preferably within a good bike ride of the city and of work.

Rows of vegetables. Fruit trees. Berry patch. Chickens. A couple goats. A field of rice. An ornamental border.

Grape vine on a trellis. A place to sit right outside my door and drink tea and look at the garden.

A corner lot - combining a streetside stoop on one side with a big yard on the other that is visible from the street. I would like to chat with neighbors when they walk past.

A big, deciduous shade tree on the south side of the house.

Self-Sufficiency 1

Briony is keeping a great blog on all this: The Blended Lifestyle

Of particular interest is this fun post on the amount of land necessary to support a family.

.1 acre?


Refer here for the source of this. I'm doubtful. I believe a family of four could certainly grow all their produce on a quarter acre, but throw in cereal crops and animals and I don't buy it. Moreover, we need to expect certain crops to fail certain years. And, of course, we need to rotate our crops, so we should plan on having twice as much land as we need for growing at any given time (though the effect of this is offset by grazing animals on fallow land).

Early Spring, 2010

I was theorizing we were about a month and a half ahead on Spring this year. Sure enough, last week the Seattle Times quoted experts saying we were about five weeks ahead.

I am noticing that not all plants are ahead of schedule. I wonder if this is because some respond to daylight hours rather than temperature, as an indicator of when to bloom.

At this point, most spring things are blooming. The Forsythia is gorgeous, and has been for about three weeks. The plums burst about ten days ago, right in sync with my allergies. Camelias have been going for some time and look fantastic this year, though a little battered after the frost last week. Magnolias began last week as well. The kale in the p-patch is bolting.

I planted peas outside a couple weeks ago and they are just bursting through the soil, wearing their pea-helmets on their heads. I have started chard indoors.

Thoughts for green mulch: dwarf white clover. Plant some around the shrubs and perennials in the front bed and see how it does. Will it hinder the growing perennials? Will it go rampant? Also, this year I intend to leave all the cut plant material from the perennials in the bed, chopped small enough to look neat where it falls, a coherent mulch. This is what my brother has begun doing. It looks good in a very natural way, but moreover it is simple, in line with Fukuoka's vision, which I've really been appreciating. Plus, all the mulching is becoming a pain in the ass, and I no longer think bare dirt looks healthy and trim.