Friday, July 22, 2011

Permaculture Skills Workshops

Permaculture is all about learning to work WITH Mother Nature, not against her. This, of course, is the basis of all “green” gardening.

The Heathcote Community website defines permaculture as:

the conscious design of sustainable human habitats. The design process of permaculture offers practical ways to increase the abundance of natural systems and improve the efficiency of human activities. Rooted in the careful observation of the natural patterns characteristic of a particular site, permaculture applies techniques and principles from ecology, cooperative economics, appropriate technology, and sustainable agriculture with the wisdom of indigenous people to heal the earth and our selves. Permaculture is a powerful tool for redesigning our lives as well as our landscapes!

Permaculture is a system of designing ecologically inspired landscapes that integrate food production, water management, renewable energy and shelter which can help people live more sustainably and protect the Chesapeake Bay!

Heathcote Community offers workshops on many topics related to sustainability, cooperative living, and social justice. Several courses on permaculture are available on their summer schedule:

Sunday, July 31, 9 am – 12 pm

Soil and Water Management:  A Permaculture Perspective

This workshop will include a summary of the basics of soils–composition, texture, structure, and a few soil science basics–but will focus primarily on the practical aspects of soil management with a view to establishing and maintaining healthy, living soils as the basis for all life in our environment and as the medium for healthy plant growth and healthy human beings. This will connect directly with a discussion of proper water management for efficient, sustainable water use and enjoyment. The format will include brief lecture, a tour and discussion of relevant aspects of the gardens and other parts of the property, and a considerable hands-on component. This is about dirt, so come prepared to get dirty!

 Saturday, Aug 6, 9 am – 12 pm

Sustainable Plant Health Maintenance:  A Permaculture Perspective
This workshop will focus on strategies for enhancing and maintaining healthy crops of all kinds, including a review of relevant aspects of soil and water management, crop rotation, companion planting (including "guilds"), species and variety selection, foliar feeding, botanical and mineral sprays, sanitation, pruning, and more. Healthy plants for a healthy you!

 Saturday, Aug 13, 9 am – 12 pm

The Fall and Winter Garden:  A Permaculture Perspective
We will discuss and demonstrate selection of crops and various modes of crop protection for fall and winter gardening. We will discuss and where possible demonstrate the types of task and projects that can best be carried out during the cold seasons. We will show how preparation for next year's main growing season begins in late summer the previous year, followed directly by a discussion of multi-year crop planning. You should be able to get those delicious, healthy greens all through the year, and watch how your health improves!

Hosted by Heathcote Community and School of Living
21300 Heathcote Rd, Freeland, MD  21053

Tuition:  Sliding scale $20-$50 for each individual class. Or take all 3 classes for $50-$120!!

Registration is required. Register online by the Wednesday before each class by clicking this link:

Heathcote will be having  more extensive, 72 hour permaculture training, beginning on September 10th.

Extreme heat makes garden chemicals more dangerous

Hot enough for you?

I always get a kick out of it when I go to a doctor and she asks me if I get hot flashes. Hello!! It's over 100 degrees outside. Who in the heck could tell if they were having a hot flash in this temperature!!

Anyway, it shouldn't be news to anyone that it's unbearbly hot outside. And yet, the heat is BIG news. Newspapers and news site around the globe (not just the U.S.) are talking about the heat in D.C.

This article on Forbes blog entitled Mr. Heat Comes to Washington seems to sum it up the best. No matter how hot it is across the rest of the country,  "Any weather anomaly in our nation’s capital acquires cosmic significance."

It's a good article with all sorts of interesting facts about heat records in the country, including tidbits about a scorcher in the 1930's that caused things like : "30 rattlesnakes ravaged a farm in Michigan, attacking turkeys for their blood."

I did learn a few things from these various articles, though, about how heat affects us, our gardens and the planet.

First, I read a post the other day about how 76-year-old Loretta Lynn had to be taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion because she was gardening in 100 degree heat. Loretta's quote was: "There ain't a tomato worth it." It reminded me of my mom, who used to garden well into her 80's. And it also reminded me of the importance of NOT overdoing it outside in this heat.

I also learned something new from an article called The Heat Dome Continues on NBC Washington. The article states that the heat combined with the air quality in the area, is making the air unhealthy to breathe, which can be made worse by applying lawn chemicals or lawn mowing. Although I can't imagine ANYONE trying to mow their lawn in this heat, there may be some people who might think applying lawn chemicals is a fairly non-strenuous garden activity.

Along with the heat and humidity, the region also has to deal with poor air quality. The breeze helped out Thursday, but it will not hang around for Friday, meteorologist Chuck Bell reported. A Code Red air quality alert will be in effect Friday. Everyone should limit strenuous outdoor activity because the air is unhealthy to breathe. Turn off as many lights and appliances as possible, don't drive if you don't have to, do not apply chemicals to your lawn or garden, and avoid mowing. 

The heat can affect lawn chemicals in other ways, too. A document on the Virginia Cooperative Extension website says that: "Temperature extremes can cause physical or chemical changes to pesticide products. Such changes may make the product ineffective and/or cause plant injury. Heat makes chemicals more volatile and unstable."

Just more good reasons to ditch the lawn chemicals and go green in your garden.

The only other new thing I learned from my heat-reading this morning was that potted plants and raised beds get hotter than plants in the ground. I found that info on the Virginia Cooperative Extension site. That sounds like something I should have already known but just in case you didn't know it either, I'll pass it on. Maybe the heat is affecting your brain the same way it is affecting mine!

More info: How to properly dispose of lawn chemicals.

Website by Water Words That Work LLC