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?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Building new Top Bar Hives

I have started building a few more top bar hives for the coming season. If all of my 6 colonies survive the winter I will need at least 6 more bee hives to make new splits in May, probably more. I might set up a few as swarm traps. So far I have 5 new top bar hives.
The new top bar hive body. This kind of beekeeping is also known as the Barefoot Beekeeping or Natural beekeeping in Top Bar Hives. One needs no money to build these hives. I use reused pallet wood as main material. They are simple to build and are very much bee friendly.
For those of you interested in my Top Bar Beekeeping journey please subscribe to my bee blog;
5 new top bar hives

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Time to plant Lettuce, Radishes, Spinach and Mizuna

You dont hear often of people growing vegetables in the greenhouse or cold beds at the end of February. At least not in Scandinavia. Since this winter is very mild I decided to try with the ones most tolerant of cold temperature; radishes, spinach, lettuce and Mizuna kale.
I made a mini-polytunnel within the greenhouse raised beds and planted all the seeds mentioned above
I covered the tunnel with clear plastic. The winter Sun is warming up the tunnel which will encourage growth I hope. At least that is the theory. If all works as planned I will be harvesting already in April :) If not ... well. at least I tried.
I must complement Mr. Cock :) he sure is looking after his little flock very well. When I shift through the compost I usually find insect larvae which I feed to the chicks. Even though he takes a larvae into his beak he never actually eat it. Instead he calls for his ladies and as soon one approaches he drops the larvae in front of her to eat it :) what a gentleman indeed :) I love him to bits!
The hens have increased the egg laying. Now we get 2 eggs per day :) 
Home grown food yum yum ;)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Top Bar Beekeeping course in Holma Sweden Sabotaged by Conventional Beekeepers

I cant't explain how sad I feel today :( I was invited by Holma Forest Garden to hold a two days course in Top Bar Beekeeping (previous blog post) First day theory and second day work shop, building top bar hives.

After they have sent out the newsletter to their members about this course, they got many calls from their members which are also conventional beekeepers and  members of their local conventional bee club. They said that top bar beekeeping will only spread Varroa and other kind of disease! This is non-sense! How can they claim such things if they never kept bees in top bar hives???!!!

Holma Forest Garden organizers felt confused with these complaints and decided to cancel this course until they discuss this matter further. They didn't know Top Bar Beekeeping course would cause so much controversy.

It seems conservative/conventional minds have won this battle, battle against new possibilities :(
Very sad day for the bees ...

As Gandhi said; First they ridicule you, then they fight you and then you win!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Chop Wood Build Greenhouse

We have 4 large Pine tress growing in front of the greenhouse. I started cutting off all the lower branches to open it up a bit. There is lots of timber for winter :) I discovered one 2 meter tall Horse Chestnut in between the Pine trees. It didn't receive much light before but now I removed all the shading branches. Chestnut is a great source of pollen and nectar for the bees.
I'm building a second greenhouse. Not really ... this green house part is connected to the main green house. This part is more for the Kiwi trees and Grapes which are already there. I will also plant a few Fig trees I think. I did not spend any money so far on building this greenhouse. The previous owner left lots of stuff behind. That said, we will have to buy the corrugated plastic roof. Im counting to find enough second hand windows to cover the walls. Lets see how this goes. I must hurry up though because the season is around the corner :)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Forcing Rhubarbs

Rhubarbs have started poking their noses out of the soil :)
Covering Rhubarbs with a black pot will is speeding up their growth
Soon enough Rhubarb Pie :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

No-dig gardening

I dislike digging gardens. Not just that digging, rototilling and plowing involves much work and petrol but it also disturbs the microbial balance withing the soil levels. Soil is a very delicate Super-organism. I know some of you might think Im crazy but soil is not inert as some might think. It is teaming with myriads of microbes.

Thanks to those microbes the soil keeps healthy and in balance. Plants growing in such soil are less likely to succumb to disease.
I decided to create raised garden beds with this no-dig method;
I am making 16 raised beds, each is 2 square meters. I will simply lay newspapers and cardboard on top of the grass and then a 15cm thick layer of compost soil which I plan to get from our local recycling plant for free. All the paths between the beds will be covered with thick layer of seasoned pine needles. 
The green house beds are filled with composted horse manure

"Simple Beekeeping more on Bees Terms'" 2 days course in Holma Höör (1.-2. March 2014)

I was invited by the "Holma Forest Garden" in Höör, Sweden to hold a 2 days course in Top Bar Beekeeping.
1st day (March 1st) is theory about basic Honeybee biology and general about Top Bar Hives and how to keep bees in such hives. Also what are the differences between conventional and natural top bar beekeeping which are many.
2nd day (March 2nd) I will run a workshop. We will be building another top bar hive for Holma Forest Garden and all interested can bring materials to build their own top bar hive.
More details here (in Swedish)
Last year we have build Holma's first Top Bar Hive :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sowing Tomato, Paprika and Chili seeds

After seeing some Danish people starting to sow Tomatoes 8 days ago I decided to plunge into it myself :) The planting season has officially begun! Yes! I've got some sowing soil and plastic propagators, very cheap.
I have planted Marmande, Black Cherry and Money Maker Tomatoes,
De Cayenne chili and California Wonder Paprika
Covered propagators in the window seal. Now Im patiently waiting for the
seedling to pop up :)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Raised beds filling up with gorgeous compost soil

Even though my right knee is hurting I could not resist but go out and gather compost soil for our green house. I was at the doctors and apparently I have some issues with meniscus. Im to take some meds for 10 days and if that doesnt help they will operate the knee :( I need my knee now since this is the season of gardening and not to mention we are to start rebuilding the whole roof. Well, well, thats life.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Growing Acacia, Siberian Peashrub, Quince, Japanese Quince and Maple from Seeds

I just LOVE starting plants, bushes and trees from seeds :) It is mesmerizing observing a tiny seed turning into a large plant :)
One doesn't have to wait for the Tomato season to start planting seeds :) One can start already in January with cold stratification and/or scarification of various bush and tree seeds.
Acacia seeds need no cold stratification. Instead they need a heat treatment. I simply put seeds into a glass and pour hot tap water over them. I let them soak up the water for 2 days. After that I planted them into sowing soil and placed them into an empty aquarium with lights on to keep the seeds warm. They sprout very fast. As you can see in the image above they are almost ready to be transplanted into individual pots.
From left to right: Quince, Maple, Japanese Quince
Quince and Japanese Quince need cold stratification. I simply took out the seeds from quince fruits and placed them in between two paper sheets of kitchen paper which I soaked in water (excess water is poured out). Then I either seal them in a bag with holes in or into a plastic jar with a few holes in the lock. I stratified them for 3 month inside the fridge (not freezer).
The maple seeds I collected from outdoors. They were stratified naturally during the winter.
Soon to transplant them into individual pots :)

Denmark is a country with very little forest. Only 11% of this country is covered in forests. This is way too little to support wild life in my opinion. The whole country is covered in mono-crop fields which are no more but deserts for insect life. If insects dont thrive birds dont thrive etc ... its a chain of life.
So I think we, the people, can do our small part in bettering this ecosystem by creating small wild life friendly zones :) My plan is to start planting lots of flowering bushes and trees around my locality. I even got the permission from one of my neighbors to plant trees and bushes on his land :) 

The importance of eating and growing local food

As you can see in this documentary about slave children working on Cocoa plants we can not trust the Corporations feeding us. The corporations involved in most food production will hide dark side of their business because of their very nature = PROFIT !!! A profit orientated mind is always first and foremost concerned with making more money.

This film made me decide to stop buying chocolate and all cocoa products from now on. I just cant trust the companies anynmore. Ikea of Sweden is clear-cutting old Russian forests to make cheap furniture and they used to deny this until the journalists uncovered the ugly truth. Pesticide companies like Monsanto, Bayer, Singenta, DOW and similar are doing much lobbying to keep their bee killing pesticide and GMOs on our fields saying their products are harmless yet bees are collapsing. Oil companies are willing to drill for oil in Arctic eventhough this brings the whole planet in danger.

The bottom line is; PROFIT is BLIND!
I can not trust the profit orientated corporate mind anymore! You make your choice.

The only way to get out of this corporate picture is to reclaim the soil and get at least 30% of population back to small-scale organic farming based on biodiversity and local distribution. This involves eating seasonal of course.

Please take time to see this documentary about slave children making our chocolate;

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Spiral Greenhouse

The raised beds are raised :) I decided to build the beds in a spiral form. Now its time to cover the old soil with newspapers (mostly to add more carbon to the soil than weed control) and then to top the beds with composted horse manure (top soil) from my neighbors horse farm.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

New Danish friend ... with green eggs!

Apparently we are supposed to get some kind of storm with lots of rain, but instead I enjoyed the sunny day outside building our greenhouse. As you can see in the pic bellow I have started building raised beds.
We had a visit today from yet another friendly neighbor :) . Actually 3 of them! Maria came with her 2 daughters to say hi and welcome us into the neighborhood. I gave her some Jerusalem Artichokes for planting and she gave us a few green eggs. I find it funny that I came from Sweden to Denmark and I keep Danish Landrace Hens and she is Danish keeping Swedsih Landrace Hens :) By the way Maria has an interesting blog (in Dansih)
Green eggs from Swedish Flower Hens

Friday, February 14, 2014

Preparing the greenhouse for raised beds

Can you see this pile infront? That was in the shed which is to be our greenhouse! Lots of crap!
The greenhouse ground is cleaned up and ready for creation of raised beds
Stay tuned more to come ;)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Forest People - English subtitles

I met Sebastian Kirppu in Kretsloppshuset in Värmland Sweden during my 8 month long cours in Self-sufficient Homesteading. He is a fascinating forest protector :) He talks about how important forests are and how Swedish forest industry is destroying forests of Sweden.

Honorable Harvest

I have found gold !!!

:) Yes! I have found a gold mine! My neighbors Berger and Ellen have 7 race horses and they have huge amount of horse manure :) Pure gold it is for any farmer! So I made some space on my land for them to unload all future horse manure they would like to get rid off. I started moving the huge pile of manure from their land onto my plot. I will soon start using it in my kitchen garden and greenhouse.
Pure gold

I made a new friend in Denmark

I've got a visit yesterday :) Sophie which lives a few kilometers away from our farm decided to welcome us into the neighborhood. She is also very much interested in my small scale organic gardening plans. We had some coffee and talked about everything concerning Homesteading.

I showed her around The Willow Farm. We looked around our forest garden area and something fascinating happened!!! She discovered that we have huge amounts of Jerusalem Artichokes :)) I didn't know that the previous owner planted them there. I knew about all the Rhubarbs but not about Artichokes :) So cool! Thank you Sophie for this great present! I would never ever guess that those 2 meters tall flowering plants are Artichokes. I know my bees will love those flowers :)
Large patch covered in dried long Artichokes stems
The edible Artichoke root
Second patch covered with Artichokes

Monday, February 10, 2014

What a glorious day!

Ah :) what a beautiful sunny day :)) I think this is the first sunny day since the beginning of December. I so need Sun! Did the Spring arrive early this year?
Eranthis blooming
... and so are the Snowdrops :)
our forest garden looks amazing in this glorious weather
Even though my knee is hurting alot I could not resist but go out on this sunny day and start taking down all the ugly metal plates from our shed which will be turned into our Willow Farm Shop.
The plates will be used as roofs for my bee hives and for covering grass areas which are to be turned into permanent deep beds for growing vegetables.
I've found this amazing apparatus in a second hand shop :) It measures moisture in the soil! I will so use this all the time especially because I over-watered my Cucumbers last year (which died). It measures moisture in the root zone. I have 6 Green Tea plants in pots and this meter shows the soil is dry in the root zone, so I watered them today. I keep the Green Tea plants indoors in the workshop where it is cold but frost-free. I will place them into the green house as soon its built.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Planting seeds has officially begun

After almost 3 month of stratification I decided to plant the Quince and Japanese Quince seeds. I could see a few seeds germinating which was a clear planting sign. I also collected a few Maple seeds from our only Maple tree beside the house. Those seeds had natural stratification and some have already started sprouting.
I placed the seeds on the North window to protect the seedlings from direct sunlight. As soon they develop a few leaves I will have to transplant them into individual pots.
I am also preparing Black Locust (Acacia), Kolkwitzia bush and Siberian Pea Shrub seeds by soaking them in warm water for 48 hours. These seeds need no cold stratification. Instead they need warm conditions to germinate.
Even though I have collected various seeds last year I ordered some new. All organic seeds from Lindbloms Frö Sweden.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Walls are down

Its a gorgeous sunny day today which gave me extra energy to take down the walls from the shed I plan to turn into a greenhouse
Im sure you can see the shadow from the Pine trees which are in front of this greenhouse. I will have to cut down a few lower branshes which are the ones casting most of the shadow.
I will use these planks to rebuild another shed we have in front of the house which is half rotten. Nothing goes to waste :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Project Greenhouse

Can you imagine a household without a greenhouse :) I can't!
The previous owners have build a shed behind the workshop used for storing the trailer (too big for just one trailer if you ask me).
This shed is facing South so it is on the perfect spot ( I just have to remove a few trees which are creating too much shadow). I decided to keep the same shape/size. I removed all the dangerous Asbestos Roof Plates! I'm not happy working with asbestos I can tell you that! Apparently wet weather is best to work with this dangerous material because there is no dust.
Taking down asbestos roof plates is not fun work
protection mask of course
All plates down, next is to take down the walls and then decide on the material
for the greenhouse walls and roof.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Walking the Forest Path

Snow time at the Willow Farm
My wife asked me why don't I blog more often and the truth is there is not much to blog about at this winter time. For the last few weeks I have been painting the walls and redecorating our new home so nothing interesting really. I don't think people are interested to see how our home looks. I would not mind showing it if we had an old style home with old table, chairs, kitchen etc ... Our home looks very much "modern" kind of.

Any way, today I did decide to go into the spruce forest of ours to clear a walking path. The forest is maybe 20 years old at most and there is no way one can walk through it. The lower branches are way too dense so I cut a path by removing side branches. I did not cut any trees.