What a week, with the passing of Bill Mollison over the weekend, an unexpected loan of a critical piece of equipment, my birthday, an apple pie and coffee celebration, meeting with a local start up, and ultimately “finishing” the branch clean up.
Monday began with the news of Bill Mollison, cofounder of Permaculture, passing away in Tasmania. His death marks a new era in permaculture’s history and deserve some pause. What better way to celebrate his life’s work than to plant trees in his memory, as he wished. So I made arrangements to drop by a nursery on my way back from Helsinki with the vermifood. While in Helsinki, I had lunch with an old friend who volunteered her late husband’s chainsaw for some work on the farm. As soon as I have some safety gear (chaps, helmet, etc) I’d be able to start making mushroom logs and moving the trunks around much easier.
Below: super active mushrooms putting what looks like rust colored spores all over the place, morning view, early afternoon at the restaurant’s seaside door, and the chainsaw.
Deciding which trees to purchase in Bill’s memory was actually rather easy as the farm is in need of quite a few pioneer species. I already had the beginnings of one of my hedgerows started in the warmest microclimate, so I decided to pick up a black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) and Siberian pea shrub (Caragana arborescens). Black elders are a risky crop in Finland, but the microclimate created by the thermal mass of the factory and the southward facing bowl should lend it a helping hand. Of course, it needed a companion, so the Siberian pea shrub will serve to help a bit with nitrogen on an continual basis. If the sunchokes survived, they will grow next to the elder and the Siberian pea shrub already has the company of some horseradish. Each got about 7 or so liters of vermicompost that’s been produced with regular additions of biochar and kelp along with a very small dose of organic, broad spectrum fertilizer.
From Tuesday-Thursday I was cleaning up the last of the big trees, the three willows in the future forest garden. I’m sure I posted of it before, but I’ll say it again, those willows are a treat to work with. For the main species I’ve had to work with so far, I’d say from hardest to easiest is: Spruce, Birch, Willow, and Poplar. Willow definitely grows a bit less straight than poplar and the branches hang onto the main stems- you know, bending like willows are wont to do.
In the first two photos you can see the old apple orchard, which is north of this space, that suddenly has more autumn light than anytime in the previous 20 years I’d say. Although this was one of the best years for apples on record, I think that with the addition of a full’s day sun in the early spring and late autumn, the trees will bounce back from their planned appointment with the saw. Yes, more sawing is due. But this time to take out dead, dying, and the worst of the crossed branches. The trees will also see some patch mulching from willow chip (see the third photo with Kaius for scale) and maybe some leaves from the yard too.
Transitioning the old orchard into a forest garden will take some time. The first steps are as outlined above, with more observation of the soil and chop and drop during the first year. Unlike hedgerows (of which there will be plenty on the other side of the property), forest gardens take a bit more time to plan. Bed shapes, species composition, outdoor living spaces, management strategies, all become a bit more tedious when things aren’t all lined up.
In addition, there is the social aspect to consider in greater detail since the trees are a community resource. There needs to be clear signage explaining the changes and what that means for future harvests. So a lot of work remains. Good thing there is plenty of time over the winter to get that “done.”
Kaius joined me again on Thursday to help finish up the smaller poplars in my most regular of shaped areas on the farm: the 300 or so square meter rectangle adjacent to the factory. This space has a great microclimate, is mostly hidden from view of passerbys, and- perhaps most enjoyably- there is much less road noise here due to the topography and buildings. So not only are the physical features (like sandy soil and aspect) in favor of high production, but the soundscape will also help with boosting output by making the work a little more relaxing.
Thursday afternoon Päivi treated us to apple pie and coffee, along with some ghost stories about Lillklobb. Turns out the place isn’t so idyllic. Anyhoo… Friday saw Kaius and I meet with the folks at Helsieni – a fungi startup – to talk about some things. Quite a nice afternoon with fresh oyster mushrooms, home made apple juice, and talk of the local food movement.
Let’s see if I can get some work done of the backstory post while waiting for the sun to burn the frost off the ground.