Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Lifetime of Quiet Adventure

Well it's official. I completed my permaculture design course! It was such a rich, full course with fantastic instructors and a great group of fellow participants. My brain has a lot to digest over the coming months and years. I recently heard permaculturist and author of Edible Forest Gardens Dave Jacke say in relation to the practice of permaculture that, "we have a lifetime of quiet adventure ahead of us." How lovely is that? A lifetime of quiet adventure. Yes! Bring it on.

Now that the course is finished I finally have time to do all my fall gardening, foraging and harvesting. Everything's getting done in much smaller chunks now that the days are rapidly shortening, but I like the pace. It means I'm home with plenty of time to make dinner and can also spend some time catching up on chores inside the house. Things tend to descend into a state of organised chaos during the summer months when most of my free time is spent outside, but come fall I like to fluff up the nest and give it a thorough cleaning in preparation for hibernating.

I'm planting garlic right now and I'm so grateful for the mild weather we're having. We'd like to double our garlic harvest next year, so the 140 bulbs or so are going in 20 or 30 bulbs at a time in various patches throughout our four plots. In true permaculture fashion I'm stacking functions by harvesting dandelion roots at the same time.

Yes folks, it's dandelion season! I harvest roots in the early spring too, but I find the fall roots have a richer flavour. It's a good time to harvest leaves as well, as the frosts will have taken some of the bitterness out and sweetened them up a bit. For me though, I'm all about the roots. I love roasted dandelion root coffee, and this year I want to harvest enough to last me all winter.

My method is pretty simple. If I see a dandelion growing in my garden beds, I welcome it with open arms and give it room to grow. I'll harvest flowers and leaves and if it starts taking up a bit too much space, I might cut it back once or twice. I make sure to let some flowers go to seed, ensuring a continual crop. Some dandelions I leave for a season to get nice and big. But when it's time to work and plant a bed (like I'm doing now with garlic) I harvest any dandelion roots in the bed by gently loosening the soil around the roots with a garden fork and pulling them out of the ground.

Yes, washing, chopping, drying and roasting is lengthy and labour intensive, but I find it enjoyable work and I know the rewards will be great. Amazing even. It's that good. Here's a nice description of the process.
And some more sources on the awesomeness of dandelion:
Steve Brill on Dandelion

Dandelion: Unsung Heros of the Plant World

Mother Earth News

Speaking of quiet adventure, I borrowed a friend's van and the ADG and I went out last night and liberated about 40 bags of "yard waste" from the neighbourhood and brought them to our plots where we'll use them to mulch beds and create leaf mold. Hopefully, one day I won't need fossil fuels for the job, because the food forest that is in my future will generate its own!

I hope you all are having many wonderful, quiet adventures!


J.Garlough said...

Congratulations on completing your course!!!

Please do send me your consulting rates.

(Note: If the fee for an initial back yard permaculture design consultation is a half-pint of horseradish infused with local cider vinegar then sign me up!)

Anonymous said...

How wonderful, many congratulations to you! I'll very much look forward to reading more of your quiet adventures with the permaculture principles.
I have done various intro and permaculture gardening courses but haven't been able to commit to the full design course yet, though it's something I am very keen to do.
Nice to hear you are having fun with the dandelions too.
Love Lucinda x

Amber said...

J! I was totally going to email you and see if you were interested in a design. And yes, I will for sure take some horseradish in exchange! Let's talk.

Thanks Lucinda. I've very excited to have many quiet adventures that I'll gladly share. :)

Dmarie said...

wow, that course should serve you well for a lifetime! wish I had managed to get some garlic planted this fall. hear it repels Japanese beetles, that are eating up our fruit tree leaves. hope to get some garlic planted in the spring.

Andrea C. said...

I absolutely LOVE planting garlic. Instead of grieving the end of the growing season, you get to think about the next one and calculate how many bulbs you'll get from the number of cloves you plant. It's such an exciting activity!