Saturday, May 16, 2015

We Came, We Saw, We Contoured

Earlier this month a group of volunteers created swales and planted fruit trees as the first step in creating a back yard Food Forest.

Here is a video created by the generous and public spirited homeowners Nick and Kirsten that, for me, captures the joy of the day.
The site last December

Before concrete removal

This is what we started with on the day

It was the last in this series of "Seed Plot" creations offered by Benicia Community Gardens.
A load of tree chips arrive  (even before we have a place to put them)

Such is the delightful, joyful chaos of community installs

Surprise! Abandoned electrical and water lines were an unexpected twist to the morning. They were probably serving a spa, or other system, long ago before the current owners.
This swale was 15 inches deep when complete

There was a lot of love here
Nikita (Left) is designated 'Director of Cheerfulness"
Big Aeigshelski hoping to find snacks in the newly arrived chips

Aeigshelskis doing the under table clean up at lunch

Now the gloves go on!

 After lunch we might expect that the pace would ease a little. Not with this group. Lunch over the shade structure was moved allowing the marking out of the final swale. With great zeal the digging crew moved in on the thin line of flour marking the place to dig.

Digging was actually easier in the areas previously covered in concrete. The concrete acted as a form of mulch to retain moisture.
Planting Blueberries and Gogi berries

Filling the swales with tree chips

Long shadows creep over the site as we end the day. Swales dug. Seven fruit trees planted.
Were they available on the day we would have put more tree chips in the swales, which will also act as paths.
I would like to give credit to the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center with the inspiration for the title of this post. I saw an "I" version of the title on one of their tee shirts. There was also an image of an "A" frame. Great message.
There is a part two relating to this home in Benicia. Next comes a laundry to landscape greywater system. To find out what that entails please visit our friends at Greywater Action
I would also like to mention Ron's project to build a local Permaculture website. Check out Contra Costa Permaculture
And finally:
DVC Horticulture Summer Blowout Sale
Friday May 22nd
We will be blowing out our stock of Annual Edibles on Friday May 22nd from 2-5.
We have Tomatoes and Peppers aplenty, all ready to be given a good home for the summer.
Our Pittosporum, Coyote Bush, Bog Sage, Roses, and Plumbagos are also at blowout prices.
We still have some gift arrangements and rare fruits available at regular prices as well as our wonderful selection in the galleria.
We have rainbarrels for sale, use the summer to set up next year’s system.
Get information on our summer and fall classes!
We are located at DVC parking lot 9, down by the Garden.
More information can always be found on our facebook page
Enjoy the ides of May.
925 286 7225 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Doing Laundry

Here is a video of a Greywater Laundry to Landscape installation in Benicia last Saturday. Thank you Constance.
Natalie and Christina in garage classroom introducing Greywater
 Natalie and Christina are members of Greywater Action and were gracious enough to provide their expertise to the 20+ participants of the event. Their fee was covered by the Benicia Sustainable Backyard project, an arm of Benicia Community Gardens making this a free workshop to attendees.
 A little rain the night before. This was one of those "I wish I had brought my other shoes" mornings.
Digging mulch basins for Avocado and Pear trees
You might recognize this 'garden in the making' from the previous post: "How did we get to this" on 4/12/2015

This is how it looked at lunch

Discerning a path for the Blu Lock high density pipe. The walls resist collapse under foot traffic more than Black Poly Vinyl 
Pipe is 'serpentined' down the slope to slow the flow

There has been a surge in interest regarding greywater this year. One of the participants travelled from San Jose! 
Christina explains how to drill through stucco. Fortunately we didn't have to because we could run the 1" sch.40 PVC pipe through the crawl space under the house and out through an air vent.
Testing. Water flowing evenly throughout the whole system.

After the workshop. Elena and Nikita planting Tomatoes
5pm. Greywater installed and some planting completed.
There is a wealth of information on the Greywater Action site.

On another celebratory note

A Permaculturist received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in Cob!

Happy Water recycling!

925 286 7225

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day Earthworks

Before Huglekultur
This is a home in Benicia seeking to reclaim an overgrown area. An area covered in Ivy over Juniper with Yucca trees and Fruitless Mulberry, the odd Rose gone wild and some unkempt Phormium.

We are using a Cat 302.7 three ton mini excavator with a 24" bucket and a thumb.
The beginnings of a hole to bury green material. We first called 811 to have the services marked. It's free and it is a requirement.
The goal here was to keep all carbon on site, harvest rainwater and build soil.
We buried the green material rather than haul it away. Soil is layered with brush in a lasagna style. Ivy being positioned at the bottom, as possible.
Some sizable tree trunks were buried.

After Huglekultur -
This is the finished pile except for a covering of tree chips. There will not be much decomposition during the dry months, however the height will be much reduced in a years time.


A small but enthusiastic turn out to the monthly Crop Swap this evening.

 Meagan has been busy planting the raised beds.

Happy Earth Day and Happy earthworks to you all,

925 286 7225


Sunday, April 12, 2015

How Did We Get To This?

"This" is the scene at the end of the day at our latest Food Forest installation in Benicia.
 There is a video that documents the whole day. Thanks to Constance Beutel

We have swales, rainwater harvesting from the roof downspouts and fruit trees planted ready to receive greywater
This is where we started.

At least 25 volunteers helped clear out the 1200 square foot area to begin the transformation.

Flour marks paths and swales.

Our trusted A frame on the birm in the middle

Keeping carbon on site by adding trimmings to bottom of swale
Plumbing class for piping downspouts to swales

Nikita watering a plum tree that he just planted
The thrill of testing a downspout
Happy Homeowners Heather and Frank launching an avocado tree

All this was made possible by a 2014 grant from the Benicia Sustainability Commission.
This is a TIME LAPSE video of the whole day. Thank you Steve. See if you can notice where lunch happened.
So that is the story of how we got to "This" but not the end of the tale!
The trees are ready for the Greywater Action workshop on April 25th and you might like to sign up for that one. We also will be planting the other layers of the Food Forest in the next couple of months.
May we all feel the abundance of Spring!
925 286 7225