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Posted by on Oct 23, 2015 | 0 comments

My Herb Spiral Garden, One Season Later

My Herb Spiral Garden, One Season Later

In the spring, I wrote about my first attempt at creating an herb spiral, a permaculture structure created of stone or brick in a circular pattern. As a reminder, here is the “before” shot of the garden. How did it work? Take a look! Overall, I’m pleased with the results. Parsley was the clear winner, but sage, cilantro, and dill also did well. I noticed that placement of the herbs seemed to affect growth — the herbs on the sloping side of the spiral thrived, but thyme and rosemary on the top seemed to struggle. I may move these herbs to a different spot next year. One issue I had was with the soil at the top settling — after a watering a few times, the soil sunk into the structure. Since I had already planted the seeds, I didn’t add soil. At the end of the season, I added more soil to the top and I will do so again in the spring to ensure that there is...

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Posted by on May 18, 2015 | 0 comments

Creating a Permaculture Herb Spiral

Creating a Permaculture Herb Spiral

Herb spirals are a permaculture structure, created of stone or brick in a circular pattern. They provide micro-climates for different types of plants and they are habitat for beneficial insects. I learned about herb spirals from Michael Judd’s book Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist. The idea of the herb spiral is to create a type of raised bed where the bed rises in a spiral rather than being flat. I made my herb spiral with bricks because I had a lot of them from the former homeowner’s landscaping. I placed cardboard at the bottom since I was working on grass. Then started to lay the bricks. I will admit that it took several tries to get the spiral just right. At first, I made it too narrow so that the internal swirl was too close to the sides. I had to remove several layers of bricks and start the outer curve over so that it was wider, leaving more room in the middle. Once I got the first...

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Posted by on May 5, 2015 | 0 comments

Growing Mushrooms at Home

Growing Mushrooms at Home

Growing mushrooms is a relatively easy project. I learned from a friend named Mary who hosted a mushroom meet-up here in Lynchburg. While there are many nuances to growing mushrooms, here are the basic steps. Step1: Gather Supplies Mushroom plug spawn (check out http://www.sharondalefarm.com/) Food grade cheese wax or beeswax (also available from http://www.sharondalefarm.com/) Log(s) Drill with 5/16 bit Hammer Heat source to melt the wax Brush to wipe melted wax onto the plugs A shady ideally north-facing space where you’ll keep the logs Step 2: Prepare Logs You want logs that are about a foot and a half long so they are easy to move around and soak later in the process. Each type of mushroom does best in certain wood. For the Pearl Oysters, Sharondale Farm’s website says they do best on Tulip Poplar or Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) logs. Mary had cut some Tree of Heaven logs for us since they are invasive species and this is a good use for them. Drill holes the...

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Posted by on Jan 30, 2014 | 5 comments

DIY at the Alpaca Farm

DIY at the Alpaca Farm

Today we welcome Del Ray resident Jen Wills to the blog. Jen’s trip to an alpaca farm is full of DIY inspiration — raising alpacas, spinning yarn, and making beautiful textiles. There are lots of Alpaca farms in Virginia. In fact, one of them, the Heartline Alpaca Farm, is only an hour from Del Ray, an easy and fun field trip for the whole family. Recently, my family visited an alpaca farm in Brandon, Vermont called Maple View Farm. The farm is not just a place to raise animals, it’s also a mill where owners Ed and Debbie Bratton make wool from start to finish and sell beautiful knitted scarves, hats and blankets. We met Ed and Debbie in the barn where the alpacas are housed. Some alpacas came up to us, others watched from a distance. Some didn’t bother to even come inside for a look. During the tour, I learned a bit about alpacas. They are like cats in that they are curious, but only approach on their...

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