Chop Wood Carry Water Plant Seeds is a blog about Self-Sufficient Homesteading. How can we live by creating a sustainable bio-diverse world, instead of by consuming and destroying the only one we have? What kind of teaching have you got if you exclude nature?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Plant Seeds at Last!

It has begun! The time to start planting the seeds of life :) So tiny the seed is yet such lush life comes out of it!
Black Cherry Tomato seeds
I have placed the seeds of Siberian Peashrub and Black Locust into a glass of warm water. They are to stay in there for 24 hours before planting them in the cold greenhouse. I will grow Siberian Peashrub for its edible lentals-like peas and for its flowers which give lots of nectar and pollen to the bees as is the Black Locust.
 I planted 2 sorts of tomatoes; Money Maker and Black Cherry. I have placed them into my empty aquarium which is placed on the south facing window seal. 
Both Allium ursinum (a perenial garlic) and Lavender need to be placed on top of the potting soil and then covered with 0,5mm of sand, sprayed with water and then sealed in a see-through bag with some wholes for air circulation.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Apple tree pruning continues

When cutting off a big branch I do it in 3 stages so it doesn't peel off the bark when it starts falling down;
I first cut into the branch from underneath making sure not to cut all the way through but only 1/3. As you can see I start cutting away from the left branch ...
... then I move the saw 10 cm upwards from the undercut and cut off the branch entirely (make sure it doesnt bounce at you and that no one is under the tree when it falls). The falling branch will only peel off the bark to the undercut line.
 The rest of the branch is not heavy enough to peel off much of the bark and one can hold it with the other hand so it doesnt peel off anything. Note how close I cut the big branch off from the remaining thiner branch. The less of the old branch one leaves the better the tree will heal that cut point. If that old branch is cut away from the remaining branch the tree will get infected with rot.
 All (but one) apple trees are infected with Apple Tree Rot and most of their branches have these cancer knots which I tried to cut off.
 ... making sure not to fall down. 4 Apple trees finished 3 to go.

The War on Slugs - Slug Killing Nematodes

Slugs are prey to not just frogs, hedgehogs and birds but microscopic bacteria and nematodes that live in soils.

It’s these nematodes (microscopic eelworms) that gardeners have been buying as a form of biological control since the early Nineties. They really work on those slugs that you don’t tend to see, but which do a lot of damage to underground shoots and potatoes. In a garden, micro-predators live in symbiosis with their slug hosts and only significantly dent the population when slug numbers become disproportionately high.
The mail-order sachets of nematodes infected with deadly mollusc-killing bacteria temporarily raise the proportion of nematodes and brings down the slug population. I’ve been an advocate for years.

However, there is also an allotment-owner’s trick for making your own slug-killing nematode potion, using nothing more than a bucket, some weeds, tap water and the slugs from your own garden. If you are already used to killing slugs by drowning them in a bucket, you’ll find this method right up your street.

How to make your own slug killer;

In any average garden some slugs will be carrying bacterial diseases or be infected by nematodes, but their low density means that they won’t devastate the rest of the population.
But, catch and confine the slugs and, if the disease or nematodes are present, you can concentrate these micro-predators and harness their natural slug-killing power.
Collect as many slugs as you can find in a jar that has a few small air holes punched in the lid with a hammer and nail – and a few weed leaves for them to eat. The best time to hunt for slugs is after dark. In the gloom, slugs become quite brazen and eat on top of leaves as opposed to holing up in cool, dark and damp places as by day.

If stumbling around with a torch is a bridge too far, look for slugs during the day in the drainage holes of pots, beneath stones and hunkered in long grass. If they evade your efforts, set traps. A classic that works brilliantly for hard-to-find small ground-dwelling slugs is to place the scooped out half-shells of grapefruits near the crowns of vulnerable plants.

Come dawn, the slugs make for the damp yellow domes, as they love to chew the pith inside. Slugs also make a beeline for cardboard. Lay a sheet on the ground among long grass. Check your traps daily and gather your slimy harvest into a jar.

Once you have caught around 10 to 20 slugs – the more you have the better it works – decant them into a bucket with an inch or so of water in the bottom for humidity and a few more handfuls of leaves to make an edible floating island for your catch.
With the slugs safely inside, place a concrete slab (or any firm cover) over the top to seal them in. The bucket is the perfect environment for the nematodes and bacteria to breed. Nematodes spread in water, so check regularly, giving the slugs a stir with a stick. The idea isn’t to drown them but to keep them moist so the nematodes can hunt them out.

Top tip: This is cheating a bit, but you can use a bought pack of nematodes to “seed” the brew. Tap about a teaspoon of powder into the bucket to help it along.

After a fortnight a high level of nematodes will have built up inside the bucket and the slugs will have died from infection. Now, you can dilute the brew: fill the bucket to the top from the tap and decant into a watering can fitted with a rose.
Prevent the weed and slug mixture from falling into the can with a filter of chicken wire folded over the can so it stays put while you pour.
Water the sieved brew around vulnerable plants – the raised nematode population will seek out resident ground-dwelling slugs and see them off.
Like the shop-bought version, this slug killer gives up to six weeks of protection. Save the contents of the chicken wire sieve (uurrgh!) to start off your next nematode brew.
Once Nematodes find the Slug they suck the life out of it.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Seeds of Life

The seeds arrived :) !!! I ordered both from Lindbloms and from Impecta. Now its time to start planning the garden layout! Exciting times indeed! C'mon Spring, lets hit it ;)
Seeds we have;
Purple Kale, Majrova, Kålrot, Carrots, Beetroots, Mangold, Parsley, Beens, Peas, Squash, Spaggeti Pumpkin, Salad, green house Cucumbers, free-land Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Black Cherry Tomatoes, Radish, Lavender, Thyme, Oregano, Libbsticka, Borage, Echinacea, Tagetes, Calendula, Caragana arborescens, Havtorn, Cornus mas, Lycium chinense, Mespilus germanicaAllium ursinum, Sunflower.

Still have to get a few more sorts of beans.

Second Hand Woolen Sweaters

My wife and I went to our local second hand shop and found some great stuff :) Woolen sweaters to keep us warm :) We payed 5 Euros per sweater :) I LOVE WOOL !!!!!!!! So nice and warm!

Pruning Apple Trees

Its time to prune the apple trees. Some people prune them in autumn yet I have learned from an experienced apple pruner Stig from Varmland that the best time to prune apples is February-March. He sais that the pruned trees have most energy to heal the cuts. It makes sense.

The basic rule is; cut all the branches growing upwards, those crossing other branches and growing those inwards. Remove all branches which are damaged or dead. Dont over do it! Rather prune two times a year than too much at once.

My apple trees are all old. All of them are sick trees and Im not sure how long they will live. Im not sure anyone pruned them in at least 10 years or longer. So this pruning might only help these trees.

NOTE!!! Make sure to research how to prune trees before doing it yourself because if you do it wrong you will cause your tree to rot!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Please Sign this Petition Before 25th Feb to Save the Bees

UK 'environment minister' looks like he will vote AGAINST a European ban on neonicotinoids!
Please sign this petition before the 25th February when EU will vote on Neonicotinoid ban. Save the bees, save our future! Thank you :)

David Cameron promised the British people ‘The Greenest Government Ever’. Yet we currently have Owen Paterson as DEFRA Secretary, who:
- It is reported will vote against proposed EU restrictions to the use of just 3 neonicotinoids, to ensure they are not used on crops attractive to bees(1). This is despite independent investigation into regulatory test standards and evidence from EFSA concluding that these chemicals put bees at risk.
- Has ignored the scientific evidence on badgers and TB, and plans to proceed with the cull, despite public opposition, and the fact the government’s own chief scientist has refused to back the killings(2).
- Has backed fracking despite widespread UK and overseas concern for the potential hazards of fracking (2)

We call on David Cameron to either ensure Owen Paterson revises his stance on these issues, and henceforth adapts a stance conducive to the election promise to be “The Greenest Government Ever”, or he should select a new Defra Secretary.

(3) Examples can be seen at:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Seed Freedom

The story of an environmental activist (Dr. Vandana Shiva) and a farmer (Bija Devi) and their fight to preserve heirloom seeds in India amidst great opposition.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dr Vandana Shiva speaking about Seed Freedom

Dr. Vandana Shiva's talk, intruduced by Satish Kumar, was given in front of a capacity audience at Totnes Civic Hall in 12th February 2013. The event was presented by Schumacher College and Transition Town Totnes.

Vandana talks about the meaning of 'development' and its effects on its recipients, who so often become its victims: the so-called 1960's 'Green Revolution' and its deleterious effects on soil quality; the 270,000 suicides of Indian farmers as a result of their exploitation by Monsanto; the excessive deaths from cancer in the Punjab; the true meaning of soil productivity; shrimp farming and how it was once a complementary crop of rice growing, but became another unsustainable monocrop though inappropriate aquaculture; the destruction of jobs and communities; the deception of genetic engineering and the resilience of local seed varieties; the gluten allergy problem; plant patenting; why 'golden rice' is a GM con trick based on illegal trials and ignores richer sources of vitamin A; how deficiencies are created deliberately to make markets; food as the currency of life; the vital importance of micro-organisms to soil health; GM cotton and how Indian farmers were deceived by Monsanto; the wasteful 'war economy' agricultural system and how it caused most of the destruction on the planet including greenhouse gases;  how wartime explosives and poison gases were re-purposed as fertilizers and pesticides; how they made it illegal to keep your own seed; how 'plant development' destroyed flavour; how 'freshness' ceased to be a virtue; how reclaiming seed from the corporates is vital to food security; how we would all be better off without GM; seed freedom and biodiversity; seed exchanges; more people on the land; and bees!

Klick on the link below to listen to the Podcast;

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Apple Seed Stratification

My wife and I decided to grow a few apple trees from seeds. We are planning to buy a farm this year and it would be great to plant immediately on it an orchard. It does take time for an apple tree to grow so its best start as soon as possible.
Apple seeds need stratification period to germinate. I have collected a few seeds from a sort called Ingrid Marie which is very sour but that matters little since these trees will need grafting anyway and that will decide which apple sort it will be.
 Seeds from 3 apples
placed in between two sheets of kitchen towel and damped with water
sealed in a plastic bag and placed in the fridge for the stratification period of 4-6 weeks when germination will take place. Some say 30% germination is to be expected ... lets see how it goes :)
Once germinated the seedlings will be planted into potting soil.

Time to Order Seeds

I have ordered seeds for this year. I should get them by the end of February. Most seeds are orgainc and are ordered from Lindbloms Frö and Impecta.
I ordered all sorts of vegetables for both outdoors and for the green house. I even ordered flowering bushes like Caragana aborescens which is a great lagume plant fixing nitrogen and providing bees with nectar and birds with its seeds (peas).
I will be also planting some odd plants like the wild garlic which can be found in forests called Allium ursinum. Of course I will be planting all sorts of herbs and flowers like Calendula and Tagetes. Exciting times :) !!!

Monday, February 4, 2013

An inspiring talk from Incredible Edible

This is a fantastic, funny, inspiring talk given by Mary Clear from Incredible Edible Todmoren, a small town in Yorkshire whose people decided they were worried about climate change, food security in Africa and their children's future.

Mary and her friends, sitting in a kitchen with no money, asked themselves, "What can we do to create a kinder world?"  They decided to make their 'community stronger, educate their children in a different way, create jobs and have fun'. They got together their neighbours, local doctors, firemen, teachers, school children, even the police, and have turned their town into an edible landscape where the produce is freely available to anyone who wants it.

These are ordinary people, not rich, or famous or influential, just ordinary... They practise the art of 'propaganda gardening', planting up every available public space in their town, and from their efforts have sprung businesses, social enterprises, school gardens, a permaculture training centre, even 'vegetable tourism'! Their work has envigorated the town's economy and made them famous. Communities throughout the world have taken Todmorden's model and replicated it.

No one gave them permission. When asked what Mary's one word of advice was Mary said: "Just do it! The prisons in England are full. I checked. The prisons in Poland are full too. I checked. Just do it."

Filmed at the 2012 Cohabitat Gathering.