Edible “forest” garden “layer” example

It’s another rather cool & somewhat cloudy morning here on the homestead. Yesterday morning we had a bit of drizzle.

We didn’t do the hoof trimming on the goats as we had planned on Sunday because their hooves didn’t really need it yet with all the walking they’ve been doing. However, we figure sometime this weekend it needs to be done, since it’s good practice to get in a routine of hoof trimming every 6 weeks or so.   Besides hoof trimming, the goats (and all the animals) have to be put on a regular herbal worming schedule. Blackberry was wormed before we brought her home; however, Fairlight was not and needs to be de-wormed, hence the cause of the runny stools last week.   We were in such a hurry and exhausted on our“goat buying day/adventure” (see May 10th post), we just assumed that she would have been wormed. Unfortunately, this was not the case.   Lesson learned: Next time we’ll have to make a note to ask the owner beforehand; we just figured it was (is) common practice. So, we’ll be administrating a de-wormer and have to watch her carefully for signs of anemia. Also, the whole animal enclosure  and temporary goat shelter will have to be cleaned daily while she eliminates them.   OK, enough of that before

I ruin everyone’s breakfast.

The goats like to play, so in the animal enclosure we’ve put two old chairs, an old metal bucket and three hay bales for them to do their gymnastic twists and jumps on. The love to leap from hay bale to the bucket and back again doing twists in mid air. As you can see, these kids are sure full of energy.   The love doing tricks and keep practicing them until they get it right. They also enjoy sliding down the hay bales – just like human kids. Jordanne is keeping an eye out for an (free) old plastic kiddie playset – seems that goats kids like to play on them.

Our husbandry skills continue as we take on raising this small livestock in our own backyard. Our wisdom to date on how to raise goats is (as a fellowagrarian blogger recently commented about his experience with chickens): “First you get yourself a pair of [goats].”  

Of course, he mentioned chickens, but we agree with his simple, yet wise, conclusion. As with any such “farm animal” fowl or livestock, to really learn, all you need to know about animal husbandry is to take the step in raising them. Such hands on experiences are valuable and will teach you more than any book would ever do. There are some things you just don’t learn by reading books or going to workshops.

We like to see our urabn homestead as a real life class room. Here we learn all sorts of subjects – the list is endless. We are “enrolled” in the school of life here on the homestead and no amount of fees or tuition could pay for the learning that we get each day.   And what tells us that we “graduated” or “passed?” – not some piece of paper.   It’s the fact that we are still here, today, and that our talents and skills get better each and every day. ” The proof is in thepudding” as the saying goes.

Everything in the garden is growing like gangbusters. The front yard looks like “forest garden” with its many layers of plants so close together, forming one massive edible forest. Almost everywhere you look in the front yard, you can see at least four (sometimes more) different plant layers. 

Here’s an example of one section of the front yard’s layers:Canopy: Pineapple GuavaUnderstory (low-tree layer): Dwarf, weeping mulberryShrub Layer: Moujean tea, roseHerbaceous Layer: Collards, kale, eggplant, arugulaGround layer: Chives, thyme, mint, Rhizosphere: Burdock, onionsAbove the heirloom tomato patch in the middle of the backyard, it “looks like” we are also growing bamboo. We like using bamboo for trellising – versatile and light and, every so many years, we order in bulk.

With the constant flux of temperatures we experienced a few weeks back, there has been considerable fruit drop by the avocado tree.

Jules has been sketching up some ideas for the greywater system, but will wait till after roofing the house to tackle the many waste and water projects that we wanted to do this year. One of the many projects to tackle this week is fixing up our homemade solar oven we built a few years back. The reflector panels need replacing and the guys hope to get to construction of the new reflectors sometime this week. Unfortunately, the last few days it’s been too overcast to do any serious cooking in the solar ovens – but that’s about to change!

Jules has been working on a convenient feeding station for the goats. One down so far today, for their minerals, and two more to go for their grain and hay.

No Comments

  1. Joanne Poyourow says:

    Solar oven … didn’t you used to have a solar dehydrator, too, for drying produce? I thought you tried the version with the chute out the front to capture heat and make airflow. Would love to hear your experiences with that. I’m thinking of trying the cardboard box version at this year. I’ve tried rack versions which don’t have a “collector” to create airflow, but our peaches ripen when it is too humid for those to work well.

    Your description of your front yard layering was very enlightening. How tall are your guavas now, for all those other plants to fit beneath, and did you prune the guavas into trees?

  2. Kat says:

    Your blog and your efforts are inspiring. I have compost, grow most of my own veggies, xeriweeded front yard. I live on the other end of Pasadena (I think) and enjoy your very local take on things. I’m expect you’ve addressed this questions–is it ok to keep chickens and livestock w/in Pasadena? And bees? I’d love to but had heard it was not city code. I had rabbits, but coyotes got them last year….Anyway, terrific terrific inspiring work, you guys.

  3. Wildside says:

    Hope I wasn’t too obnoxiously rude with my exhuberance over your mention of Jordanne’s book idea or my goat/dog questions the other day… If so, truly sorry about that.

    Really have to conclude that goats will not be in the picture at least for us for quite some time. We just don’t have a satisfactory place for them to be happy and safe here as yet — much less worrying whether or not all the neighbors (whose view is into our yard) would approve or complain to the powers that be. Still can’t stop thinking it over, how it might work to have them here, whenever there’s a chance!!! Fun for me, I guess.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your stories!

  4. Anais says:

    Dear Wildside

    Of course not, please don’t think that. You were NOT at all rude!

    I have to apologize … for not responding to your comments/questions sooner.

    These last few days we’ve been so busy, we just haven’t had time to respond to all the comments.

    Jordanne assures me that she will personally address your questions and really appreciates them! We love hearing from you and what you have to say.

    Please keep up your wonderful enthusiasm ! 😉

  5. Anais says:

    Hi Kat

    Thanks for your email and positive comments. Regarding animals in Pasadena, here’s the link to the city code/ordinance on keeping of animals:

    You are legally allowed to keep certain fowl and goats and there are certain restrictions, of course. We are fortunate not to have any neighbors on 3 sides of our property.

    We’ve had several city officials tour our place and not one of them voiced any concern over our animal situation. I think it’s because we basically consider our few animals pets. They are not a public nuisance and the animal enclosure is properly maintained.

    About bees, Jules did keep bees here ~20 years ago, but currently we don’t have any bees. We did call a city official and he said that they are actually prohibited, but he went on to say that there is a “loophole.” You would need to register your hive with the LA Agriculture Extension where they regularly inspect your hives — and of course, if your neighbor’s don’t complain. This is what he said, so I am just taking his word for it. But as you know with any city you have to be careful and aware of problems that may arise. It’s absolute that you maintain a good relationship with the community and be a responsible backyard animal raiser.

    I hope this helps.

  6. Wildside says:

    Thank you, Anais! Checking in again today…

    Sorry, sometimes I just have too many exclamation points (I can get very excited over things as you already know)and I’m afraid I may well overwhelm other people.

    To be honest, I don’t know how you keep up with it all — and do such a good job!

  7. Jeff S. says:

    If I may ask, where do you purchase your bamboo in bulk?


  8. Anais says:

    Hi Jeff

    Thanks for your question. Always glad to help. We purchased the bamboo from a local supplier that supplies nursery outlets. They deliver locally.

    I am sure if you did a Google search in your area you may be able to track down local wholesale suppliers.

    Good luck!