By Heather Jo Flores
Broccoli is one of those crops that a lot of us have trouble with. Sometimes you get a great head, sweet and delicious. Other times you get a bunch of bolted shoots covered in aphids. So what's the trick? Broccoli has some special needs, and a basic understanding of what to do, and what not to do will make a big difference in how well your crop turns out. Here's the rundown:
Choose a reliable variety for your area. In temperate climates, most of the Romanesco varieties do well. Also try Calabrese green sprouting, early purple sprouting or Waltham. All of these are available through Baker Creek Seed Company, which specializes in varieties for the region.
Start your seeds early. Anytime between late February and mid-April is a great time to start broccoli from seed. Sow in a flat under a cold frame, in a sunny window indoors, or directly into the garden.
Make sure you are planting starts in good soil. Broccoli needs well-drained soil with a good balance of sand and loam. Your pH is also important, and should be between 5.8 and 6.5 for best results.
Give baby plants more than enough room to grow. A lot of seed packets say to plant broccoli 18 inches apart but I find that a spacing of 3 feet is much better. Air circulation is very important, so keep the beds weeded and don't allow any other plants to crowd out your broccoli.
Water evenly and intentionally. Try to stick to a regulated watering schedule. If you let them dry out too much, the plants will likely get covered in aphids. If you water too often, or too much at once, they will turn yellow and mold.
Fertilize. Broccoli is a heavy feeder. Amend the soil with a good 5-10-10 organic fertilizer, or use your richest, blackest home-made compost, before transplanting the starts into it. When the heads are just starting to form, fertilize again.
Be meticulous about slugs and snails. Mollusks especially love baby brassicas! Don't give them a chance to eat your plants. See my article on natural slug and snail controls ("Happy Trails," Dec. 24, 2015).)
Grow cauliflower too. I don't know why, but cauliflower is much less likely to bolt and be problematic than broccoli. This is especially true if you have marginal soil or if your garden gets a lot of direct sun. Most cauliflower varieties take much longer to mature than broccoli, but the heads can get huge and the flavors and nutrients are quite similar.
Try to grow broccoli in the hot season. Broccoli is for spring and fall only. If you try to grow it when the weather is too hot, you probably will not have much success.
Get greedy. If your plant has a nice head on it, harvest it. Keep watering and you will probably get some smaller shoots to eat later on. But that head will most likely not get bigger if you wait. Once the head is basically formed, the plant wants to bloom, and your flavor will get more bitter and astringent from there.
Neglect young seedlings. Don't let the baby seedlings get too hot and don't let them get too big before you plant them. Any stress, especially getting root-bound in the starter pots, will cause your broccoli to bolt early.
Transplant carelessly. Don't transplant seedlings too shallow in the garden. I bury them right up to their necks, so that the cotyledons are underground and the first true leaves are just above the soil surface. Tamp the soil down around the transplants so they are firmly held in place and won't get disturbed by heavy rain or watering.
Bring in tough competition. Don't plant any other brassicas anywhere nearby. Also don't plant broccoli next to Nightshades like tomatoes or potatoes. They don't grow well together. Try beets, onions and garlic instead.
Grow brassicas in the same spot every year. Cabbage worms, one of the worst pests for brassicas, lay their eggs in the soil below your plants. Make sure to rotate your broccoli crop into a new area each year, an area where you haven't grown broccoli, kale, cabbage or any other brassicas for at least the two years prior. For best results, plant broccoli in a spot where you had cover crops the year before.
OK, that's it! Follow these simple guidelines and you'll have the most beautiful broccoli you've ever grown, I promise.
#permaculture #freepermaculture #permaculturewomen #growyourown #foodnotlawns #DIY
Tincture making is an ancient art that has been passed down through generations, usually from mother to daughter, around the globe.
Tinctures involve soaking herbs in a liquid — typically vodka, brandy, apple cider vinegar or vegetable glycerin — to extract the medicinal properties of the herbs. Alcohol tends to have a long shelf life so the tincture will last up to a year. Vinegar and glycerin tinctures have a shorter shelf life and may need to be refrigerated.
The liquid used in tincture making is known as the menstruum. The standard ratio for fresh herbs in tincture making is 1 part fresh herb to 2 parts menstruum. The standard ratio for dried herbs is 1 part dried herbs to 5 parts menstruum. Typically the herb will rise to the top of the jar, above the liquid surface. To prevent this from happening, weigh down your herbs with a crystal (be sure to sanitize the crystal first). For advanced tincture-making, 190-proof organic alcohol works best. Different herbs require varying concentrations of alcohol.
Herbs and flowers of your choice
Mason jar with lid
Alcohol (organic vodka or brandy)
1) Label your jar with contents and date.
2) Fill jar ¾ of the way full with herbs.
3) Fill jar halfway with alcohol.
4) Fill remaining space in jar with water, leaving one inch at the top of the jar.
5) Be sure your herbs are covered. If they are not, tamp them down with a spoon.
6) Shake vigorously for 1–2 minutes.
7) Store in a dark, cool, dry place.
8) Shake daily. Medicine will be ready in two weeks and will last up to one year.
#tincture #herbs #herbalremedies #wellness #freepermaculture #permaculturewomen #DIY
Permaculture is about designing the world we want while acknowledging the realities of the world we live in.
I love so many aspects of permaculture: the delicious food produced by permaculture gardeners, the sense of global and local community it fosters, the sustainable changes it has supported me to make in my life and the beauty in the nature it helps me see. At a more pragmatic level I also know that permaculture gives individuals, households and communities the tools, attitudes and skills we need to design abundant, inclusive and resilient futures.
This mix of sustainability and resilience is one of the delightfully simple, yet complex aspects of permaculture. A well-designed and managed permaculture system will be resource efficient, productive and may well sequester greenhouse gases, but it will also be a resilient system better able to deal with the inevitable effects of climate change such as natural disasters like floods or wildfire.
The potential for disasters happen when systems can not handle extremes or cumulative stress. One week of limited spending may be a challenge for some of us, but a medical bill on top of long-term debt and structural poverty may force many families into homelessness. Water is essential for life, but the extremes of either drought or flood-causing torrential rain can cause havoc in both natural and human systems.
Designing land, the built environment, lifestyles, livelihoods and organisations to deal with extremes as well as everyday conditions is essential for resilience. Resilience is the ability of a system to handle change. There are many ways in which permaculture design and practice supports resilience. In order for designers to design for resilience, they first need to understand what extremes are most likely to have an impact on a site. This is why careful observation and sector analysis is so important for a successful project.
In this video from the Permaculture Women’s Guild Permaculture Design Course I get really excited about sector analysis and visualised data like wind roses. Then again, I am really excited about permaculture and regenerative design in general.
Sector analysis is a critical tool for visually representing observations about identifying how a site may be affected by the “sectors” or the external forces and elements that move through or otherwise influence a project. The sectors recorded can be related to effects on the site caused by climate, ecology, geology, topography and society. For example sun paths, wind and rain patterns, invasive plants, wildlife, pollution, neighbours, areas of high fire threat, views and noise could all be recorded on a sector analysis map.
Sectors are often represented as labelled wedges, arcs or arrows representing the origin and direction of the element. However, rocky areas, contaminated soil, boggy land, or areas of flood risk are better represented as location specific patches over a base map. Some uncontrollable issues such as geological instability or limiting factors such as legal restrictions are harder to represent visually and are best recorded in writing.
In the Permaculture Women’s Guild Permaculture Design Course (PWGPDC) my colleague Jennifer English Morgan introduces the idea of Designer’s Mind. One aspect of developing Designer’s Mind is about making observations free of bias. We use Designer’s Mind when making a sector analysis as the forces we record can be both beneficial or harmful. For example knowing that dry summer winds come from the east of a site helps identify the best place to locate a laundry line or to hang produce for drying. At the same time that drying wind will quickly evaporate water from soil as well as dams or ponds. This information guides the placement of windbreak plantings or hedges on the eastern side to moderate the impact of the wind and reduce evaporation.
Used together with permaculture design tools such as zone analysis, sector analysis helps guide the placement of components so that they make best use of, or mitigate the risks of that sector. Sector analysis influences which zones are placed where, but at the same time, zones influence the strategies used to respond to external forces. In outer zones such as 3 or 4, lower cost, less energy demanding solutions such as windbreak plantings are used to slow the wind. Closer to the home more intensive solutions such as walls or use of gray water might be used to protect water-demanding plants, animals and people from a drying wind.
Permaculture designers make a sector analysis for every design project whether it is a farm, balcony garden or community project. Within larger designs, major subsystems such as high intensity vegetable beds may also benefit from their own sector analysis that includes smaller scale micro-climate influences like the impact of trees casting shade.
Working on sector analysis is a great way to review and incorporate the ideas from Permaculture Design Course modules on climate, ecology, water, earthworks, soil and passive solar building design. Knowing how and why to make a sector analysis is a first step in designing mitigation approaches for the major extremes whether they be fire, flood, drought or legal challenges.
In the PWGPDC I present an in-depth module on Designing for Resilience: Chaos and Catastrophe. I consider the social and structural conditions that make people more vulnerable to disaster as well as the design approaches we can use to make our sites safer. My final Masters project explored how natural hazards are dealt with by permaculture designers and teachers and my results showed that “designing for catastrophe” is currently focused on the physical aspects of disasters rather than the people care aspects that increase coping capacity.
Originally published at makingspecial.org on May 9, 2018.
Pippa Buchanan (MSc SA) is an Australian born resilience and sustainability educator, facilitator and urban permaculturist based in Austria. Her focus is on supporting and facilitating social learning processes which assist individuals, communities and organisations to develop ecologically sound futures and adapt to climate change impacts. She draws on permaculture design, systems thinking, informal education theories, future scenario development and facilitation approaches such as Art of Hosting in her work.
Pippa has completed two PDCs and participated in Rosemary Morrow’s Permaculture Teaching Matters course which cemented her interest in permaculture’s potential within disaster risk reduction and recovery. In 2017 Pippa completed an MSc in Sustainability and Adaptation with the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in Machynlleth, Wales. Her research project explored how permaculture teachers and practitioners consider hazards such as floods and bushfires in their design work. Following her studies, she established the Permaculture and Disaster Risk Reduction working group to support permaculture approaches to household and community disaster preparedness. To get involved with this LUSH Spring Prize shortlisted group please join the mailing list.
Pippa’s background is in informal and academic adult education, language teaching, web and games development and she holds academic qualifications in adult education as well as computer and information science. She has collaborated on several artistic projects around water management, resilience and the commons, and participated in projects led by organisations such as FoAM, Brussels and Time’s Up, Linz. Pippa is fascinated by transformational processes, whether they be the evolution of new social forms, fermented foods or the transformation of yarn into knitted items. She shares her projects and ideas regularly at makingspecial.org.
In 2019–2020 she and her partner will relocate to Western Australia. Pippa is impatiently reading bushfire building standards for fun and drawing conceptual designs that incorporate a biogas digester, sauna, quail tractor, her longed-for avocado trees and community milk goats.
#designforresilience #designforcatastrophe #disasters #permaculturedesign #permaculturewomen #sectoranalysis
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