ON THE HOMEFRONT


Praying for its meal. Fresh salad from the garden. Limas! Eggplant,
tomatoes.

No Rain

The 60% chance of rain that was predicted for today has been lessened to 20% – good and bad news, I suppose. Good that we don’t have to worry too much about the roof, bad in that the garden would have loved a good soaking.   The cool, crisp mornings are just the thing to wake one up in the morning while doing chores – feeding the animals, picking the day’s produce. Surprisingly, the tomatoes have sprouted new growth and are really looking good. There are even a few tomatoes ripening – don’t know if the all green tomatoes will eventually ripen as the weather gets cooler. No matter, there are plenty of tasty green tomato recipes – ever had fried green tomatoes? They are certainly a treat.

Besides the tomatoes, the peppers and even eggplant, are still going strong. We steamed one of the pumpkins yesterday and saved the pulp to make pie over the fall and winter months. The animals are certainly enjoying all the scraps and leftovers from the kitchen – especially the pumpkin skins.  

The salad crops have filled in the beds and grown practically overnight. Our clients are thrilled to have our salad back on their menus. With the recent e-coli scare, locally grown food (less food-miles) is a way to prevent the risk of contamination. If you’ve watched the latestvideo clip from ABC 7, one of our clients, a chef, proudly comments how fresh his salads are that he serves at the restaurant, saying something to the effect that: if he orders a salad to be served at 5pm (for dinner) “I know that at 3 or 4 pm that salad, it was in the ground. ”

Another comment the chef shared with the folks at ABC (off camera) was that our salad may look like other salads in the store, but there’s something different. “I don’t know what they do, but it just isn’t the same,” says the chef. We’ve heard this similar comments from many of our clients – the flavors are so intense it beats any store bought salad.

Besides being freshly picked, much of the flavor has to do with the condition of the soil (readMinerals Lost). After over a decade of improving the soil with compost, manure, mulch, etc., you can, I think, taste the healthy soil through the plants. Every year we are loosing valuable minerals in our soil, Jordanne showed me a clip from a blurb from one of theWhole Life Times magazine she kept. It said that the “number of oranges we have to eat today to get as much vitamin A as our grandparents got from eating ONE orange: 8. Sorta like that Kellogg’s Total commercial where they visually show you how many bowls of cereal you have to eat to equal “one bowl of Total.” Improving your soil not only improves the condition of your plants but, possibly, your health.

Oftentimes people who visit the PTF urban homestead question how we get such healthy looking plants, Jules’ advice to them “it’s all about the soil – healthy soil, healthy plants – simple.”

Herbs

I’ll finally be getting some dried Swedish bitter herbs, thanks to a fellow traveler across the pond! Also, another local urban homesteader combined our order from Mountain Rose Herbs so we both can make tinctures and other cold/flu fighting immune boosters (with herbs such as wild cherry, elderberry)

Fall is a great time to dry herbs, so we gals have been busy drying all sorts of herbs. This time we are using brown paper bags to keep all the dust away (especially with all the sawing and construction going on) Also another nifty herb drying necessity is a folding wood clothing rack (salvaged from a friend who was moving up to Nor Cal)


Moving the soil. Spreading it out.

Black Gold

Everyone’s still busy hauling out tubs and more tubs filled with dark, loamy and wonderfully earthy soil from the animal enclosure. So far we are about half way done removing about 2 feet worth of soil – notice the ~6′ high wall behind 5′ 6″Jordanne. The dark soil from the animal’s enclosure is being used in the garden — filling in and enriching the 15’x25′ low spot where we removed the concrete last year. This means next year the tomatoes will not be planted in pots anymore!

Removing the soil in the animal enclosure not only benefits the garden, but is also beneficial for the animals. Since our lot is small we don’t have the space to move the pen to another area (likeJoel Salatin’s method) – moving the animals helps maintain their health. Why? Because diseases live and  find harbor in the soil.  Well, we solve that, not moving the animals to another section but by removing the soil every year. So, that way, both the garden and animals benefit.  After removing the soil, we’ll sprinkle DE all over just in case there are any lingering bad bugs, lay down a couple layers of fresh straw and, in a just a few months, the soil level will start to rise.

Eat Dirt

While we are removing the soil the animals are having a blast – the duck and chickens are busily eating all the bugs and worms that are unearthed and the ducks are shoveling soil into their mouths, even the goats are eating the soil. Ducks and goats eating soil, who ever heard of such a thing? Yep, it does sounds funny but in the animal world it’s not uncommon to see animals eating dirt. As a matter of fact soil is good for both animals and humans. The goats are chowing down at the loamy clods of soil which is giving them vital minerals their bodies need and it’s good for their tummies, too.

Health Benefits of Dirt

Actually, eating soil is widespread among animals of many families on all continents. It’s also widespread among people, especially traditional tribal societies. Why should anyone—person, ungulate, or bird—eat soil?
….The six explanations most discussed among zoologists, anthropologists, and doctors are to assuage hunger, to provide grit for grinding food in the stomach, to buffer stomach contents, to cure diarrhea, to serve as a mineral supplement, and to adsorb toxins.
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or
… it is not uncommon for people in Zimbabwe to eat soil as an instinctive way of redressing dietary deficiencies in trace minerals, and that the soil also contains a treatment for diarrhoea (27 May, p 54). Given that soil bacteria from South Africa have been found to contain an antibiotic effective in eliminating two common hospital superbugs, perhaps the soil also provides such consumers with antibiotic protection from other bacteria (20 May, p 22).It seems as though the traditions of non-western societies may provide directional pointers for our sometimes blinkered, western scientific hypotheses. This may bring cheaper and faster routes to improving our knowledge bases.
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  1. Kosh says:

    I do something very similar with my animal enclosure. I get fall leaves from a family member who has no where to dump all the leaves he’s raked up. so i take the bags and throughout the fall, winter and spring spread them in the enclosure then by mid summer i dig it all out.. it makes great compost! As a lot is broken down and mixed with manure!
    I guess Great minds think alike! 😉

    Jason

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