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Jerjoboch Permaculture Learning Center


Here are the first of the sweet potato slips that I recently transplanted from the ice cream bucket in the same photo. So far I have four plants and they are growing.

As many of you know, I am moving out into the country to my homestead this spring. I talked to my son Jeremy the other day. We discussed moving my trailer onto my land. Unfortunately, the ground there is still too wet to move the building, but it is not too wet for me to start planting  garden transplants indoors here in Springfield.

Sweet Potatoes

I actually started the weekend after Thanksgiving when I planted a single sweet potato in a container in my kitchen. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure that it would grow because the sweet potato had been scrubbed so much that some of the outer skin had been scrubbed off. However, the sweet potatoes did grow. It grew so well that last week I separated some of the first of the slips (the green leaves, stems and attached roots) from the sweet potato tuber and planted them in soil. Some gardeners place slips in water, but I believe that the slips will transplant into the garden better if they are planted in soil rather than allowed to root in water. I left one green leaf on the tuber so that more slips can grow from the tuber.

I just started these last Wednesday (2/5/2020 and I already have Winter thyme, cabbages and onions starting to sprout!

Onions– This year I have two kinds of onions that I am starting from seed. One is yellow Spanish sweet onion and the other is a Red Florence which is an heirloom variety. I planted about four seeds in each cell. The reason I did this is so that when the time comes to plant the cell, I’ll simply pop the cell in the ground and I’ll have four onion plants to work with rather than one. This means that I will be able to plant much more quickly and I won’t have to deal with one single skinny little plant.

Chives– I only had a few chive seeds left so I planted them in a couple little cells. When the chives reach size, I will either transplant them into a larger pot or directly into the garden.

Asparagus-Though not usually as successful at starting from seeds as they are from crowns, I have started some plants from seed. Asparagus is a perennial vegetable that once established in three years should give me at least 20 years of production. I’ll probably be picking up a couple of crowns too. This way I’ll be able to get harvest a year earlier than I would with just the seeds.

Lavender-Lavender is another plant that is easier to grow from a plant than it is from seed, but again I am going to give it a try. If it doesn’t get started by the time spring comes, I’ll pick up a plant or two from the plant nursery.

Parsley is also an herb that I am growing that can be difficult at times to get started. To assist me at getting this plant started, I put the seed packet into the freezer and then stored it in the refrigerator until I was ready to plant. From what I understand, deep chilling the parsley before planting encourages the plant to sprout.

Basil-This is sweet basil that is specifically designed to grow in a container. I planted a few plants now, but I think I might plant more when I plant my tomato seeds for transplants. This herb is considered annual in temperate climates is actually a tropical perennial. If I can grow a couple plants of this herb in a container, I may be able to maintain this herb fresh all winter.

 Oregano-Oregano is a very common herb used in Italian cooking. It is not just a common herb, but it is also perennial.

Winter Thyme– This plant is also a common perennial herb that grows like a low growing ground cover. It can be grown between rocks in a walkway or patio and will give off a pleasant scent if stepped on.

Lemon Mint-This lemony member of the mint family is often grown for drying to make a tea. It also is a perennial.

Cayenne Peppers-I’ll probably get a few other hot pepper plants as plants, but I am going to try to grow cayenne from seed this year. I will be able to dry the seeds and dry the flesh separately. The flesh I’ll dry and grind for cayenne powder. The seeds I’ll dry and use whenever I want to add a little more heat when I’m cooking and to save for seed to keep the variety going every year in my garden.

Sweet Peppers-I’m starting my peppers a little earlier than my tomatoes this year so that perhaps I may be able to get peppers and tomatoes ripening at the same time. Sweet peppers are one of the key components (along with tomatoes, onions, garlic, oregano, thyme, and basil) in my home canned tomato sauce. They are also a key ingredient in pickle relish and my homemade salsa. I’ll also enjoy eating them fresh and freezing them in various forms in the freezer to enjoy next winter.

Newly germinated cabbages

Copenhagen Market Cabbage-Since I will be able to put out cabbage about the same time that I put out the onions, I planted a few cells of cabbage. I have other members of the cabbage family that I will put out as the season progresses, but I thought that a few cabbages grown early would be a nice to have in the garden.

Potatoes

I have a few small potatoes that I have been over wintering in my refrigerator with the sole intention of saving as seed potatoes that I will be planting this coming spring. They are of red, white and blue varieties. Back in the fall I wrapped each individual potato in brown paper and put them into a paper sack in the refrigerator. I pulled them out and looked at them a few days ago and not one of them was rotten. About two weeks before I intend to plant them, I will be taking them out and sprouting out the cherts at room temperature.

There you have it. The start to my garden, especially my herb garden. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be starting other plants for transplanting including my tomato plants. More on those and my garden’s progress later.

Are you thinking about starting a garden this year? My book Simply Vegetable Gardening is full of tips to help you have the best one possible!

(Makes a Great Gift for any gardener in your life too!)


Ten Tips for Starting Your Permaculture Kitchen

Last week, I talked about how it is that we live on planet earth and that there are things that we can do to help ourselves protect our planet earth. Most people don’t want to be eco-activists. I don’t want to be an eco-activist. I don’t necessarily agree with everything many suggest. I am not a vegan. I believe that a little meat in the human diet is a good thing and good for the environment. (More on this in a later post). However, there are things that we can do to help sustain our planet that I think do make sense.

One concept in permaculture, is to view our space on this earth in six zones, zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 0. Today we’re going to be talking about zone 0, and zone 0 can be a lot of things. Zone 0 is where a person lives. Zone 0 can be that person’s house, but it can also be that person’s mind. In this case, we’re going to refer to zone 0 as the house, and in this article, our focus in zone 0 is the kitchen.

Start Here

The kitchen is a good place to start permaculture. The reason is that, though not everyone has land, just about everyone has a kitchen or can create the components of one in their living environment. One of the ways that we can start permaculture in our kitchen is by learning to utilize what we bring into the kitchen to feed our families. It also is the place where social permaculture occurs most regarding human beings.

One of the first steps we can help sustain our planet and keep it healthy is to carefully determine what we bring into our homes. Do we really need to bring those over-processed, overly packaged, plastic covered foods into our homes? Nutritionists tell us that we’d be healthier if we ate a simpler diet like the Mediterranean diet which includes whole foods and if we ate more fruits and vegetables and fresh herbs and consider meat more as flavor enhancer. As much as possible, we can buy foods that come in their natural packaging like vegetables not in plastic. We can buy grains, nuts, beans, and dried foods in bulk and store in reusable containers. It is not only good for the environment but saves money too.

The Kitchen’s Waste Stream

Another way we can help sustain our planet and keep it healthy is to learn how we can deal with the so-called waste stream from our kitchen. A lot of what comes out of our kitchen can be used as a supplement to our animal feed or fed into our compost piles. The paper products can be fed into our wood heating stoves for heat in the winter or added to our compost piles as a wonderful carbon source. This process is an example of a permaculture strategy called stacking functions. By taking the waste of one process and using it for another function within our own property, we slow down or even eliminate waste disposal at least for a high percentage of our kitchen wastes. Instead of taking out a bag or more of garbage every week, we can take out a smaller bag of garbage once a month!

A good place to start is to reduce the amount of food that you throw away. Did you know that forty percent of the food the average American brings into their homes ends up in a landfill? A good thing to do to avoid buying food you won’t eat is to do meal planning before bringing food into the house. Don’t bring anything into your house that you know you won’t be able to eat before it goes bad.

Tips to Get You Started

A few ways that I have dealt with kitchen wastes this past winter.

  1. Bread-whenever I have bread that is going stale (but not moldy), it doesn’t go into the trash, instead I throw it into a freezer bag and into the freezer. Whenever I want to make bread pudding or stuffing, I take what I need out and cube it and make the dish. If there’s too much in the freezer and I don’t plan to make either, I dry the bread crumbs in the oven and then when the moisture is completely out of it, I put it in my food processer and make panko that I can keep in my cupboard. Whenever I want a breading to make meatloaf or meatballs I add Italian seasoning, garlic salt and pepper to the panko. Whenever I want a breading topping for a casserole (like macaroni and cheese), I mix the panko with a little garlic powder, salt, pepper and butter and put over the top. Whenever I want a breading for fried or oven fried meat, I mix the appropriate seasoning for that too. It may not seem like much, but over a year, the cost savings can add up.
  2. Vegetable Scraps-I have learned to scrub my vegetables before peeling them so that when I finish peeling them, I put the vegetable scraps—celery, carrots, onions, potatoes– in a freezer bag in the freezer and save them up until I am ready to make broth.
  3. Animal bones-I do the same with animal bones that come into the house. For instance, this past winter I cooked two turkeys (at different times). When I was ready to make broth, I took the turkey bones out of the freezer and threw them into my canner along with my freezer stored vegetable scraps and cooked for a couple of hours. I took that broth and canned it in pint containers (the stuffing recipe I use requires 2 cups of broth so they are perfect) I also had enough to can turkey soup base with pieces of turkey and lentils. The bones weren’t yet falling apart, but I had canned all that I could that day, so I allowed the bones to cool and put them back into the freezer for another couple of weeks until I had time to cook down the bone broth. The bone broth I stored in the freezer until I was ready to use it.
  4. Leftovers-I know a lot of people who eat leftovers for lunch the next day. In addition, I know others who divide out their leftovers into individual serving containers so that these leftover meals can be used later. Leftover meat and vegetables can also be converted into soups, stews and casseroles. For instance, this weekend I made chili and am using it to make a Mexican style rice casserole with some of it. Some of the rest of it will just go in the freezer for later meals. There are so many ways that leftovers can be used.
  5. Onions, peppers, and celery left over from meal prep that you don’t plan to use fresh can be cut up, put in reusable containers and put in the freezer to add to future cooked foods like soups and casseroles. If you have a lot, these can also be dried in a food dryer for a longer shelf life.
  6.  I throw whole unpeeled, overripe bananas into the freezer and use them in my morning smoothies, but they can also be used in making banana bread or cakes. To get the peels off, I zap them in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
  7. In addition to freezing, onions peppers, celery, carrots and the like can be dried in a food dryer and added to long term storage. Bananas can be dried in a food dryer as banana chips.
  8. Rather than letting greens like spinach or kale go bad in the refrigerator, dry them on a food dryer or cook them and put them in a reusable container in the freezer to later for nutritious dishes.
  9. Foods like cabbage and carrots can be fermented to incorporate as a side dish in a later meal.
  10. Coffee grounds-no, not for eating, but you can use them in the refrigerator instead of baking soda for getting rid of odors. What I do is I put a quart container in my refrigerator and then when it’s full I add the contents to my garden pots.

Now its your turn. What do you do, or can you do to reduce the garbage that goes out of your kitchen?


A lot has changed for me personally during the past year. While I was writing the blog posts about novel editing, I started watching YouTube videos related to prepping. It started out as sort of an exercise about what I would do if there was an EMP (Electric Magnetic Pulse) and power was out for the foreseeable future. I thought about preparations that I could take. I had talked it over with my husband and he suggested that he would just go out into the woods and live in a tent somewhere. I didn’t see that as a viable option. I thought about what I would do if I stayed here I determined that in order to truly be able to survive, I would need to be part of a community and if that happened today, I would have to organize neighbors.

This goes back to a scenario that we used to do when I was in school. This scenario was called “lifeboat”. In lifeboat, you had to decide who of a group of people would live and who would die. Everyone had positive attributes and also had negative ones. Personally, I always tried to sidestep the scenario and said that I thought that everyone should live until they died naturally. It should never be in the hands of a human being to determine who lives and who dies. Those who were meant to live would live and those who were not meant to live would not.

During the process of thinking about the possibility of an EMP, I realized that if anyone were to survive, that person would have to learn to cooperate with nature. We are all already on a big lifeboat and that lifeboat we call earth.

As I continued watching YouTube videos, the information of the videos that I watched bounced between prepper and homesteading and permaculture content.

The Collapse of American Civilization

When you read the above headline, I bet you were thinking that I was referring to something that will happen in the future, but in fact, I am referring to a period before Columbus sailed to America.

Prior to 1300, there were several great civilizations on the Americas. There were the Olmec, Teotihuacan, Maya, Zapotec, Mixtec, Huastec, Purepecha, Toltec, Mexica/Aztec, and the Cahokia. We don’t know exactly what happened, but before the Spaniards came to America, millions of Native Americans who had lived in large cities died off. Some think that it may have been because of the diseases that the explorers brought with them from Europe. Others think that the mini-ice age that occurred during that time caused the Americans’ food system to collapse and millions died. Still others think that the civilizations began to encroach on each other’s territories, and they killed each other in war.

Whatever the case, the surviving peoples gathered in smaller tribes and began living in harmony with their surroundings and were dependent upon one another for survival. The systems that they lived in were based in permaculture.

Permaculture in Action

When most European descendants think of Pre-Columbian Native Americans, they think that they were all hunter gatherers, but that was far from the truth. These people lived in villages and many grew crops especially maize, beans, and squash, a grouping they often referred to as “the three sisters” (read my article on Hubpages about this subject on Hubpages).

These natives worked together not only to provide for their culture, but they did it in a way that was less harmful to their environment. When they hunted, they learned to use every part of the animals from the hide to the bones. They saved for the future by drying the meat and making pemmican. They stored their maize, beans and squash so that during the lean times they could eat.

Long before Europeans came, they had an integral trading network.  after their civilizations collapsed, they finally recognized that it was the earth that gave them their sustenance and they learned to get in touch with the natural forces around them. They had something to teach the Europeans when they came, but the Europeans had their own agendas.

Lifeboat Earth

I recently heard that one of the reasons that some people are so intent on getting a commercialized space program off the ground is so that we can find another planet to live on when we finally destroy our earth. It is sort of the same mentality that Europeans used when they came to the Americas. Sadly, it doesn’t have to be that way. We can clean up our lifeboat. We just have to change our paradigm about it.

What’s the first thing you will do to make this a better world?


We don’t need a crystal ball to know that we are not leaving things as good as we found them.

A Legacy of Pollution and Waste

Often when I moved out of a place where I have lived, I tried to make it look better than I originally found it. I would like to do that when I take my final breath, but I am realizing that that might be an arduous task.

When we burn fossil fuels, we release a variety of chemicals into the atmosphere. Since we have to breath air to live, the air that we breathe affects our health. The polluted air we breath puts us at higher risk of respiratory diseases including asthma. Scientific evidence shows that 6-7 hours of exposure to ground ozone, a healthy person’s lung function decreases. Air pollution is mostly carcinogens, therefore, living with pollution increases our risk of cancer. Air pollution also damages the immune, endocrine and reproductive systems. It has also been associated with higher incidents of heart problems.

Toxic chemicals are released into the air and settle on plants and pollutes water sources. Animals eat the contaminated plants and drink the water. The pollution harms our food chain. One of the worst culprits is plastic. Since the 1950s over 800 billion tons of plastic has been created worldwide and only about 9% of it has been recycled. 73% of the beach pollution is plastic and 1.1 million birds and animals are killed annually by plastic. You are eating about 70,000 microplastics every year.

Rainwater and snow can cause water pollution if it is contaminated by chemicals on rooftops and lawns Not only does air pollution affect water, but also sewers empty into rivers, chemicals from farms run down into water, and factories dump hazardous waste into waterways. Dumping trash into waterways has a negative impact on the health of the water and the creatures and plants that rely on it.

The same sources also pollute the land. In addition, in order to artificially increase production, farmers are encouraged to pump chemicals into their fields often at detriment of their bottom line and their own health. These same chemicals erode soils draining it of nutrients. In many cases, modern agriculture has caused the food we eat to have half the nutritional value of the food that our own grandparents ate.

Desertification is a type of land degradation involving loss of biological productivity induced by human activities. Deserts emerge due to the rampant and unchecked depletion of nutrients in soil that are essential for it to remain arable. In just about every case, soil death occurs which traces its cause back to human overexploitation. Desertification is a significant global ecological and environmental problem with far reaching consequences on socio-economic and political conditions and has been the cause of the fall of every major civilization. Today’s forestry and agricultural systems are such that these forms of desertification are accelerated.  

The way we plow the ground destroys microbial soil life and creates a hardpan just a few inches beneath the surface. We pump irrigation water from deep aquafers that cannot be readily recharged and will eventually run dry if we continue at our current rates of removal. In addition, the water we bring up is rich in alkaline mineral salts which get trapped in the hardpan creating a toxic layer that will eventually render the soil unproductive.

Animals are kept in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) spew toxic wastes This manure became toxic only because humans mismanage it.

There’s Still Time to Save the Planet, Save Your Family, and Even Save Money Doing It

Even if our government is more interested in serving the desires of special interest groups, we can all make a difference on the grassroots level. The first thing we have to do is be willing to educate ourselves and educate our families about the problems we face.

Second, we need to protect our families from the effects of the problems we face. We need decrease (or eliminate!) our use of plastics. We need to recycle everything else. We can filter our drinking water. We can get our food locally or grow it ourselves.

In addition to reducing our use of plastics (which are made from fossil fuels), we can reduce fossil fuel usage by learning to conserve energy. Some ways cost considerable amounts of money, but a lot of them just require a little human ingenuity. Doing things like turning off lights when you leave the room, batching errands you run when using a car or using mass transit, air drying dishes in the dishwasher rather than using the drying cycle, using bulk beans and cooking at home, or buying local fruits and vegetables in season, if done by the major population, will do a lot toward reducing air and water pollution.

Decreasing pollution in the air and water in these ways will save us money, who wouldn’t want that? There’s nothing like a grassroots movement to make a difference, especially in our day of the world wide web, but our biggest tool in our “save our planet, save our legacy” is in education.  There are so many more things that we can do on a larger scale.

Did you know that it takes ten times less energy to raise cows on grass than it does on grain? Did you know that plowing puts more carbon into the atmosphere every spring than any other source and you can see it on NASA satellite imagery? https://climate.nasa.gov/interactives/climate-time-machine

Did you know that there are people who are fighting desertification in some of the driest places on earth (Saudi Arabia, China) and they are actually changing those climates? These and so many more ways can be used to repair the damage that our society has caused our planet. In fact, any one of two or three approaches on a large scale can make enough difference that they can reverse in just ten years all the damage done to the air and water since the beginning of the industrial revolution! Wouldn’t you like to give your posterity a future that includes clean air, clean water, and soil health?

It is possible if we decide to take action now. Research what you can do today! I’ll help in any way I can!

 


Where will the journey of the 2020s take you?

Welcome to 2020, a new year and new decade! Here on this blog I am taking a turn in my life’s journey and devoting How my Spirit Sings down a slightly different path! This new path can be summed up in one word “LEGACY”.

This brings up the question of what does legacy means to me and how will I present that legacy in this blog—How My Spirit Sings?

Back in January 2019, I started immersing myself into prepper, gardening, and permaculture YouTube videos. I realized quite early on that prepping could only take an individual so far. It’s fine for short term, limited area disasters, but if a major event crippled the entire country’s systems, we would need to involve our entire local community if we were going to survive and that community included the natural community. That’s where permaculture came into play.  

For the past three months I have been working on a 22 Lesson course called “The Advanced Permaculture Student” hosted by Matt Powers. I watched all the videos and am now reading through the book and participating in the meetups whenever possible.

Permaculture involves working with the forces of nature rather than against them and it isn’t just some throwback hippy idea either.  During the past couple of decades, many modern farms have abandoned the green revolution of chemical agriculture and turned to cover crops, compost, and regenerative grazing practices. Some, like Greg Judy of Central Missouri, Gabe Brown of Bismarck, North Dakota, and Joel Salatin of Virginia  have created highly profitable farming systems that in many ways exceed the production of neighboring agribusiness farms, at a lower cost, with greater profitability, and without government subsidies at the same time building their soils often by inches per year!

Others like Curtis Stone have taken permaculture principles and brought them into urban settings to produce salad greens and microgreens in front and back yards to sell locally and make a reasonable living.

If you’re thinking that permaculture has to do with permanent farming practices, you’d only be partially right. It is that and much more. It involves recycling and conservation as well.  It involves creating a healthy emotional, mental, physical, creative, and economical environment for the individual, family, community, nation, and even the entire world! It is about creating a legacy for not just for my future posterity, but potentially for all future generations.

My PDC project will be a design of my own land. My advanced permaculture project will be starting to create my legacy of building a permaculture homestead and The Jerjoboch Permaculture Learning Center on my place in Oregon County, Missouri. I’ll be moving there this spring. (I’ll share more about this in the coming months.) On my place, I’ll demonstrate the rudiments of the practices mentioned, but other concepts as they relate to living in harmony with nature and other people with an eye on the future. I see it as a springboard for helping raise Oregon County from being one of the poorest counties in the state and we’ll do it by building soil.

This little sweet potato plant, like my plan for the future, might not look like much yet, but wait a few months and see what develops!

Over the past year, not only did I absorb copious amounts of information regarding permaculture, but I also started doing what I could on my patio here in Springfield. I grew tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, herbs, and potatoes. Just after Thanksgiving I started a sweet potato plant in an ice cream container that will be part of my bigger garden next year. I have regular potatoes wrapped in paper in the refrigerator and seeds in a container waiting to be planted in the ground. I have twelve flowering trees and a dozen strawberry plants waiting to be planted. I am talking with my son Jeremy and his wife about getting farm animals onto the land and I am thinking about getting an LGD (livestock guardian dog) to raise. Everything waiting for the weather to break in a couple months.

In the future, I plan to get into help others locally design their own permaculture homestead and holding workshops and other events and of course writing about my adventure. This past week, I started a new website: Jerjoboch Learning Center check it out! You can check it out here. In addition, here’s The Jerjoboch Learning Center Facebook page where you can follow my progress as well.

What are you planning to do this year regarding your legacy for 2020 and beyond?

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