Saturday, February 9, 2013

Following Permaculture Gardening Practices and What it Means

Here at Windmill Farm, we use good sustainable farming practices. There is a great deal of discussion in the gardening magazines and TV programs lately about "permaculature ' gardening practices. What I see it means is for people to mimic in your garden what happens in nature, naturally in the soils.  It is a word that came up in the 1970s and is re-emerging into backyard food growing discussions suggesting people compost more; rotate crops in order not to deplete important chemicals in the soils; avoid pesticides and chemical fertilizers; companion plant.  Last year, our farm purchased 4 huge semi-loads of compost from the Recology Compost in the Butte County and worked it into our soils.   We have maintained a rotating 1/4 system of planting where we follow a balanced wheel of every year plant in a 1/4 or our growing fields.  We have always planted companion plantings.  As an example, we plant Alyssum in and around our lettuce crops to bring in good bees and insects that like to eat the bad insects that eat lettuce.  We always plant marigolds to deter insects and we plant basil near tomatoes as it is supposed to highten the flavor of tomatoes.  We rarely, if ever use pesticides and would never use them unless we are in danger of loosing our whole crop of produce.  The water is conserved by the use of the drip system and we use our tractor as little as possible to reduce tillage and soil erosion.  So in my mind, our farm is and has always used the "permaculture" beliefs and practices that are being discussed currently.

    I don't know about the rest of the world, but Frank and I seem to collect lots of items for a dump run.  We are good citizens, we re-cycle and re-use whenever possible, but in the country, there are things that seem to just pile up.  I must be a warped person, because I LOVE going to the dump.  Not that I like the actual trip to the dump experience, just the feeling when everything is all cleaned up and gone from the farm.  We were out there loading up as much as we can get into our handy Ford Transit Connect.  Our Transit is the vehicle we use to deliver our CSA produce and it is a little wonder van.  They have been out a little while, but when we purchased it over 3 years ago, we would get stopped wherever we would be parked with people asking questions as to what is it!!  It is a Ford product but made in Turkey and has been used all over Europe for years but just recently brought to the US.  Ours gets over 30-35 miles to the gallon and because it is completely flat in the back, no back seats at all, and it is tall, we can really get a bunch of stuff in there.  It is easy for me to load and unload because it is low.  And when not using it for our farming business, our dogs love to ride along in the back.  We just open all the doors and hose it out.  Sometimes I get the lawn blower and blow it out, saves me time and money instead of having it professionally cleaned!!
    After the dump run, we headed to my favorite farm store, Tractor Supply to stock up on chicken feed and dog food.  Last time we were there, they had Levi's on sale for $10!!!  One thing that is really helpful to our farm business is that Tractor Supply keeps track of all the farm feed and supplies we use and once a year, they send us a list of all your expenses, all calculated.  We signed up a couple of years ago and it sure helps with our accounting for income taxes and it also saves us some money as some items get taxed a little differently if they are related to a farm business. So when we pay for the feed, it calculates it automatically and tallys it so I do not have to worry about keeping those paper receipts all year. Slick!!    Have a wonderful weekend.

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