It’s been a good past couple days down here in Paraguay.
On Tuesday I had a real aty hape (meeting) my Site Presentation, where one of my directors comes down and officially presents me to my community and explains what Peace Corps is. Although it’s more of a formality and reiteration in an attempt to explain what the transplanted Norte Americana is doing in their community claiming she’s going to live here for two years, it felt really good to have a coordinator here with me, if only for an afternoon. I had spent several (very hot) mornings walking and biking around the community inviting people I knew and introducing myself to others, and it was rewarding to see a room full of people that made their way over on yet another oven-like afternoon to meet my coordinator. Thank you, all of you wonderfully caring people.
This past Thursday, we went to an all-day presentation by David Jacke who co-authored with Eric Toensmeier, the two volume set, Edible Forest Gardens. In was a very rich and full day and Jacke is an dynamic and organized speaker. Apparently, the group of +150 people was larger than his normal size group but you’d never know from the way he presented. But this post is not about the presentation which would be impossible to recount without a recording to help. This post is about one word that David mentioned a number of times: patches. I’m not going to talk about how he used the word but rather what it sparked us to think about in our orchard.
We have been planting as many types of cold hardy herbaceous perennials as we can to attract as many insects – pollinators and predators – as we can. The pests will come because we planted fruit trees to invite them. We’re looking to create an environment where there’s enough balance that the insects are the caretakers. We started out by just keeping a log of what we were planting but weren’t focusing on design other that to have something flowering from last frost to first frost. We basically took the approach of loading as much in as we could. That works and doesn’t work. We got an incredible range of plants going and we could see & hear lots of activity. But as we grew with the orchard, we realized that we needed more than what we were doing. We knew that we were planting a lot of diverse perennials and the results were clear but it seemed to me that I wasn’t seeing as many plants as we had planted. I began to suspect that some were not making it through the winter. But I didn’t know which or where.
We needed to do some design where we were the beneficiaries.
I want to replace large swathes of my lawn with something lower maintenance. And ever since I’ve been introduced to the idea of the “mowable meadow” at Permies.com, I’ve been inching forward like a slug gathering tidbits of information here and there.
A more accurate title for this post would be “creating the mowable meadow using information gathered and glued together from multiple sources on the internet and then testing it for my climate zone and reporting back on the results.”
So I’d like to make this post a group project of finding all of the possible plants that will work for our climate zone. There is actually a company I just found creating bags of seeds for this kind of project- http://protimelawnseed.com/products/fleur-de-lawn.
Some early candidates I found to enhance the “lawn” were:
CROCUSES: These flowers pop up in the spring while the grass is still dormant. They’re done blooming long before the first mow. These are bulbs that are planted in the fall. Go ahead and plant a few dozen right in the middle of your lawn.