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?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wood Chip Gardening at The Willow Farm

I have talked for so long about starting with "Wood Chip Gardening" one day and that day is finally here :) I ordered 30 cubic meters of wood chips and it arrived yesterday.
Feeling like a little boy inside a sand box :) 
Note the variety of materials!
It is important to mention that there are wood chips and then there are THE wood chips :) For kitchen gardening purpose you want the wood chips composed of all parts of the trees and bushes like leaves, needles, hard wood and bark from various bushes and trees and not from only one kind. 
Like this you get a good balance between the Nitrogen and Carbon needed to aid the decomposition of the wood chips into a lovely black compost soil :)
This is the decomposed wood chip compost :) Black Gold! Gorgeous!
The pile of wood chips is teaming with all sorts of creatures but these were the largest ones. Im not sure what they are but I welcome them to our farm anyway.
Im using the straw bales to define the garden area and they will act as a weed barrier too.
Im applying 5-6 cm tick layer of wood chips on top of the soil. Its important for the layer not to bee too thin otherwise weeds will easily penetrate through ti and will defeat the purpose of covering.
Clean wood chips are not free in Denmark. This particular kind, which is considered waste and untidy looking was for "free" but I had to pay the freight. 

By covering the soil with wood chips I don't need to:
- Plow - no need for tilling since weeds can't grow well when covered
- Harrow - the soil becomes very loose thanks to all the earth worms under the wood chips
- Water - wood chips are great at retaining water/moisture. Naked soil dries out quickly
- Fertilize - the wood chips decompose which turns into fine black compost. I will add some chicken manure because we keep chicks and probably Nettle water to top up the fertility.
- spray Herbicides - weeds can't easily penetrate through wood chips and hence no need to spray herbicides.
... and the soil can't compact when walking or even driving over it because the wood chips.

So I dont need:
- Tractor/ or Rototiller
- Plow
- Harrow
- pesticide spraying equipment
- irrigation system and wasting water
- chemical fertilizers
- petrol and oil for the tractor/rototiller

It seems to me that wood chip gardening saves lots of money and water, it is environmental friendly and creates a superb quality soil which can support the soil food web (all the microorganisms which create healthy soil).

For those of you interested in wood chip gardening please see the Back To Eden documentary for free HERE

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August update

The greenhouse has been a success so far when it comes to tomatoes and cucumbers. The paprika is not growing that well and the chilies are not giving much fruits. The "naked seed" pumpkin is also growing well but not many fruits on these huge plants. Anyway I will have enough seeds for the next season.
We have lots of grapes but they seem to be a bit sour. Im not sure they will have the chance to ripen totally because the weather has turned a bit cold and rainy :( Still we try to eat them and give some to the chicken (they love them)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Newly fanced duckling-run is cat-safe

I have build a new duckling run between the stable and the workshop building. Now the ducklings can get outside the stable to get fresh air and stretch their legs under the blue sky without being in danger from our cats or our Bailey the dog. Now that the fence is up Bailey seems to be less excited and is only sitting there and watching at the duckling. I make sure to reward him when he sits there calmly. I will keep the duckling contained in this run until they are at least 4-5 weeks old.
We have a pair of Swallows nesting in the workshop and today I saw the new babies learning to fly for the very first time :) May they be out of harms way.

Monday, August 11, 2014

This might be the last Butterfly in Denmark

This might be last Butterfly in Denmark! Maybe there will be no more Butterflies next year? I was talking to one person and she told me that she saw no more than 5 Butterflies this year! I too didn't see many varieties but some did find refuge in our pesticide free forest garden. According to Danish biologists there is less Butterflies with each passing year because mono-crop agriculture is expanding fast and more poisonous killing the bio-diverse wilderness! 

Governments seem to be ignoring this issue since I don't see any radical changes implemented! I also don't see Danish people protesting day in day out in front of the government to invoke change! They too seem ignorant!
Is this lack of compassion for other beings, hate towards nature? Maybe people dislike those darn buzzing creepy insects? Or do people actually find mono-crop agri fields beautiful? A very uniform fields maybe neat in their eyes and hearts? For pollinators they are no more than a desert leading towards their extinction. FULL STOP

For the first time outside

It has been 1 week since the ducklings hatched and we made a decision to let them out for the very first time and see how it goes with our dog being around. It didnt go so well because our Bailey Lagotto dog went overly excited when he saw the ducklings. He doesnt chase grown ducks and chicken but the little one do make him excited for some reason. I had to hold him. I was trying to calm him by staying calm myself and by gently masaging his chest but to no avail. So we closed the mama duck and her kids back in the stable for at least 2-3 more weeks until the ducklings are bigger.
They are incredibly cute :)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Vandana Shiva: Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Forest

In the 1970s, peasant women from my region in the Garhwal Himalaya had come out in defense of the forests.
Logging had led to landslides and floods, and scarcity of water, fodder, and fuel. Since women provide these basic needs, the scarcity meant longer walks for collecting water and firewood, and a heavier burden.
Women knew that the real value of forests was not the timber from a dead tree, but the springs and streams, food for their cattle, and fuel for their hearths. The women declared that they would hug the trees, and the loggers would have to kill them before killing the trees.
A folk song of that period said:
These beautiful oaks and rhododendrons,
They give us cool water
Don’t cut these trees
We have to keep them alive.
I decided to become a volunteer for the Chipko movement, and I spent every vacation doing pad yatras (walking pilgrimages), documenting the deforestation and the work of the forest activists, and spreading the message of Chipko.
One of the dramatic Chipko actions took place in the Himalayan village of Adwani in 1977, when a village woman named Bachni Devi led resistance against her own husband, who had obtained a contract to cut trees. When officials arrived at the forest, the women held up lighted lanterns although it was broad daylight. The forester asked them to explain. The women replied, “We have come to teach you forestry.” He retorted, “You foolish women, how can you prevent tree felling by those who know the value of the forest? Do you know what forests bear? They produce profit and resin and timber.”
The women sang back in chorus:
What do the forests bear?
Soil, water, and pure air.
Soil, water, and pure air
Sustain the Earth and all she bears.
Women from the Chipko Movement protecting the trees from loggers
- author Vandana Shiva

We got our field back

We have bought this farm last year in December and the previous owner rented out the field to a large scale conventional local farmer. He had wheat on it this year and thanks to the short winter and hot summer he was able to harvest it early. Today he collected all the straw which Im allowed to keep for free. About 500 bales.
I will use the straw bales to cover all the land Im not to use next year to suppress weeds. 
I will order a truckload of wood chips and start preparing a kitchen garden area which will be permanent and based on no-dig gardening using wood chips and other cover materials like hay and grass clippings. I will start small and expand some more with each year. I will plant Garlic and Asparagus this Autumn. Exciting times!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Our very first grain harvest

I almost forgot to blog about me harvesting our tiny scale grain production :) This spring I have got a few handfuls of heirloom seeds: wheat, oat and barley
I planted it all in May and now in August I harvested all 3. Of course I make sure they are dry before harvesting.
These plants have grown very well and didn't get any disease. I still dont have enough for a serious production but will have in two years I hope. I will be using the grain for my chickens and ducks as well as sheep if they want to eat them in the winter.

Plum marmalade from our organic backyard

We have only one Plum tree in our Apple orchard and are planning to plant at least 10 more in our forest garden since I LOVE Plums :) Thanks to my Honeybees this plum tree is booming with fruits!
First things first; collecting plums ...
Washing and de-stoning ...
Glas jars washed and boiled = sterilized! 
We decided to follow a Danish recipe which includes 2kg of pectin sugar per 4,5kg of plums. The cooking time is 40 minutes. There are many recipes to find on the net; the best marmalade consistency can be achieved only if cooked for 4-5 hours on medium heat. Our marmalade is a bit on the fluid side.
Its important to pour the hot marmalade into hot glass jars and immediately lock them tight. The jar will cool down gradually and at some point it will vacuum lock the lid. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The 3 Ducklings

The 3 tiny ducklings have had their first meal today and they even learned from their mother how to drink water. So cute they are :) I decided to keep them closed in for one week and then let the mother duck take them outdoors for a scroll and teach them about life. I wish all 3 are females since males cant live with one another often. Time will tell

Sunday, August 3, 2014

From the backyard to the table

So, what will we eat today? Let see whats in our backyard, shall we ;)
Nice bounty :))
Freshly harvested organic food is superior to anything we can buy in the shop FULL STOP :)
Grow as much of your own food and support local small scale farmers which grow food without pesticides

The first ducklings hatched today!

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When I went to check on the broody Muskovy Duck today I saw 2 ducklings :) I hope more eggs will hatch but lets see. I'm not sure what to do next. We have 2 cats and I'm not sure how will they react to towards the ducklings. I think I will keep them in the stable with their mother for at least a week before letting them go out. I gave them a low water dish and small chicken pellets. I hope they can eat that.