May 2018 – Native Plant of the Month
Monarda species – Lemon/Horsemint, Beebalm, Wild Bergamot
Scientific names: Monarda lindheimeriani, Monarda fistulosa, Monarda citriodora, Monarda punctat.
Family: Lamiaceae, Mint family
May 2018 – Crop of the Month
Sweet Potato – Scientific Name: Ipomoea Batatas
Family: Convolvulaceae, commonly known as the bindweed or morning glory family
Sweet potato is the crop of the month because May is when sweet potato slips become available in most plant nurseries. Bill Mollison spoke highly of the sweet potato. Its edible leaves and edible tuber are a reliable source of food. The tuber can be stored in root cellars for months through the winter.
In warmer climates than here in Central Texas it is a perennial food crop. At our latitude of thirty degrees, however, it dies back in the winter and many of its tubers begin to rot in the ground.
Sweet potato should be planted after the last danger of frost and cold, wet spring weather.
The slips are sold in bundles of 50 or so, for about $10 or $12. Plant them quickly after you buy them about 24 inches apart. The sweet potato’s tubers will be ready to harvest in 90 to 120 days.
It’s satisfying to watch the dense leafy coverage of the sweet potato vine do a good job shading out Bermuda grass in and along the edge of your garden beds. Watch out for rabbits and other rodents, though, because the leaves are very tinder and palatable and once rodents, especially rabbits, find a patch of sweet potatoes they will eat them all.
Good luck growing your sweet potatoes!
Permaculture Design Course at Texastopia Farm near Blanco, Texas
2018 05 12
Earth Repair Corp’s first Permaculture Design Course recently began along the headwaters of the Blanco River at Texastopia Farm, on April 14, 2018. During this course Pete VanDyck and I have been teaching about design systems for sustainable living, as well as how to create agriculturally productive ecosystems.
The 72 hour class has more or less followed Bill Mollison’s “Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual”, chapter by chapter.
Here’s the progression of the course’s curricula so far – that is six days (or 48 hours) into the class.
What is permaculture design? The history of permaculture design, the state of the world, permaculture ethics, permaculture principles, the methods of design, the function of design, patterns in nature, patterns in design, the natural regions of Texas, ecological restoration, climate, trees and their energy transactions, soil and water conservation, earthworks, soil science, design projects, mapping, and regenerative grazing.
So far, we have had 3 terrific guest speakers.
Jaime Braun spoke to us on April 28th about regenerative grazing.
Gary Freeborg spoke to us on May 5th about soil science, and elemental balances and ratios in soils.
Adam Russel spoke to us on May 5th about conservation terraces, the key line chisel plow, and compost teas.
Our next guest teachers on May 19th, Tina and Orion Weldon, will be discussing small animal systems, and farm to market business management strategies.
Though all of this information might seem overwhelming, the desired outcome is not that students remember every bit of information taught, but that we experience a paradigm shift edging us closer to designing sustainable human settlements, and assembling beneficial relationships.
Stay tuned for a schedule and location for our Fall 2018 PDC.
Earth Repair Corps seeks to create abundance through good design.
Kirby Fry, Earth Repair Corps’ Founder and President, gave an overview of permaculture to a permablitz group in San Antonio at Roots of Change Community Garden.
The first ten minutes is an overview of the ethics and principles of permaculture. The remainder of the video is specific to the pond installation that was underway at the ‘blitz.
Pete VanDyck, Tony Truong, and I have been working with Randie Piscitello in Leander, Texas getting ready for our upcoming permablitz this November 18th.
Anyone who has land in the Georgetown, Leander, Liberty Hill, Cedar Park area could learn a lot about what to do with an eroded hill side covered with cedar trees.
This permablitz is a textbook case of how to install a terraced orchard in the Hill Country, enrich the local forest, and stop soil erosion.
This 25 degree sloped hillside must have been cleared 20 or 30 years ago and then either grazed by goats or completely abandoned. There is absolutely no top soil remaining, and the only place organic matter is collecting is underneath the larger cedar trees.
We have opened up 8 strips on contour each about 120′ long where we will build conservation terraces with an excavator, and install a perennial food garden as well as attempt to enrich the local woodland with farmers’ trees and native fruiting trees.
There are about 960 linear feet of terraces that we are about to construct and then plant with 48 fruit trees and 16 farmers trees, and then irrigate during the next permablitz.
This may be the most exciting design that we install this permablitz season.
Please come if you can. We will absolutely need all of the help we can get.
Earth Repair Corps Resumes Natural Building Project in Hotchkiss, Colorado
Last Saturday, Lacey, Carolyn, Tony, Randy, Kimberly, and I converged on our sister site between Crawford and Hotchkiss, Colorado (AKA Crawkiss) to resume work on the Casa de Guadalupe outdoor kitchen.
We managed to put up a 5/8″ OSB roof deck, run 4 courses of earth bags along 2 sides of the building (approximately 16″ tall), and 12″ of cob on top of the earthbags with a wooden 2″ x 4″ frame embedded onto it.
Photo’ 1) Tony and I setting the 5/8″ OSB roof decking.
Photo’ 2) Lacey and Carolyn completing the earthbag counter top / wall.
Photo’ 3) Randy and Kimberly finishing up the 41″ tall earthbag and cob wall. We also installed a 2″ x 4″ wooden frame at the top of this wall system that will help to mount a marble counter top on top of.
Photo’ 4) I have to say that we enjoyed cobbing more than earthbagging, I believe that Tony would agree as well.
Photo’ 5) Our farewell picture with Kirby, Carolyn, Kimberly, and Randy.
After evaluating so many of our gardens, I’m seeing a need to plant a more hardy native perennial understory.
Below are a couple of photographs I took of a highway median between an over pass and the access road in Bastrop, Texas along US Highway 71. Someone in the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has their shit together. Read More
Several of us spent about 5 hours yesterday helping to lay out the Festival Beach Food Forest earthworks. The heavy equipment will be showing up no later than the 17th of October, our permablitz there will be on October 31st and November 1st, and the big Tree Folks planting event will be on November 7th. Stay tuned everyone! Read More
ERC Permablitz Garden Monitoring and Maintenance Program
2015.08.17 | Report by Michelle Hernandez
The gardens are doing well and producing in this summer heat.
Irrigation System: 2 separate systems of drip line on timers, run for 1 hour every other day early in the morning. The 2 systems run in alternating days. As a very rough estimate of water usage, we use 461 gallons of water to run all the berms. (length of berms x # of drip lines x distance of emitters on drip lines x emitter rate/hour). Read More
Dana and I just filed the Earth Repair Corp’s (ERC) Certificate of Formation with the Secretary of the State of Texas. Then, just moments ago, Dana filed for the ERC’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue… Read More