~around the farm~ a panda in the bamboo

as i was readying my camera to attempt to take pictures of quinn chasing dragonflies, i got this “awesome” shot of my man’s elbow, and our two grubby yardwork pantlegs. sitting on the bench in the backyard, taking a break, as we do. i love mistake photos that capture just exactly how it is.

“my crop is coming in,” he says, waving his hand toward the section of lawn he purposely temporarily mows around.

then there’s his other amazing crop… have i told you about the bamboo?

that’s my hand! there are several varieties of sizes and colors, this one definitely takes the cake in terms of diameter.

he caught me rustling around in there one day when i was first checking out the stand and called out in a faux-gruff voice, “is there a panda in my bamboo?”


bamboo is considered the king of the permaculture plants. many of us cringe when we think of bamboo, because we’ve had it drilled into our heads that it’s “invasive” and will “take over” if left unattended. while there is truth woven among those fear-driven warnings, permaculture insists on one having a relationship with one’s plants, and bamboo thrives on that interaction with its caretakers. if utilized properly, bamboo behaves itself. and oh, the many uses! i ran out of pvc pipe for the watering standpipes of my sub-irrigation tomato planters…. and my panda found a very handy replacement.

a bow saw worked well for cutting the lengths of bamboo, and a tire iron (the long skinny part for prying off the hubcap and cranking the jack) was essential for the job of piercing through the sealed ends of each cell of the bamboo- it’s not an open pipeline right off the stalk, in other words. but it was fairly easily achieved with the right tools.

and there’s the queen, comfrey. accumulating scarce nutrients through its impressive root system, making more mulch that you can shake a stick at (you can hack it down several times a season, and it will just keep growing back), attracting all kinds of beneficial beasts, and providing healing remedies.

veering off topic, i took a day off work to go pick me some strawberries. not certified organic, but the right balance of weeds and slugs in the field reassured me that organic practices, or at least benign neglect, were at work on this farm just like mine. rich inspected my unstained hands (i won’t say clean, i had dirt under my nails) before i left, and sure enough, 36 pounds of berries later, they were bright red. my canning buddy and i went a bit earlier this year, since i leave in a week for a 10 day research cruise, and we want to go strawberry picking twice this year!

we made a little side excursion to collect wild rose petals for some of the strawberry jam

and scoped out the plum crop, which neither of us had located before now, in our top secret free apple-pear-cherry-blackberry-and-now-plum picking location!

back on the farm, the hummingbirds are insane. maybe it’s the magical trees like this that keep blooming in quick succession, or the comfrey plants, or maybe it’s the crack sugar water my honey puts out for them in the feeder. hard to say.

i love the way he dotes on animals. you’d know what i mean if you saw him with this pretty girl, tinker, who is not fooling anyone pretending she is hard at work hoeing weeds. i think i may have to get him some chickens, ducks, goats, and bees soon. how about it, sweetie?

and then there is this lovebug. shockingly grown, helping me spread copious quantities of sunflower seeds around the garden, saved and dried from last year’s crop, hopefully promising that this year’s crop will be 50 times as big. seed to seed, one of the many things i’ve wanted for him to experience as a child. he seems to take it in stride as just another thing people do. he doesn’t realize (yet) what a lunatic his mama is.


7 comments to ~around the farm~ a panda in the bamboo

  • mamaC

    This one made me so happy to read. Your spiral bed reminds me a lot of the layout of the student-run plot in the community garden over at the college. They collectively had two plots last year and spent lots of time in them (since summer is down time for them) and it was all kinds of gorgeous to me. Maybe they (or their sponsor, Melissa, who has a position on the college grounds crew & helped the students with planning & layout) have read the same books as you. Emphasizing "edges," I think you mentioned? My little boys loved walking their curving paths whenever we went over to work in our plot. We have two plots this year over there but haven't yet put anything into that ground. (Big plans to do so tomorrow.) I wish I had read the same books! lol

  • mamaC

    And I just noticed the changed subheading on your page! (Don't know how long ago it happened, of course.) Nice! (And I'm glad the old description survives in the "about" section, too. Also nice.)

  • Oh how I miss strawberry picking! There was a big ol' farm just outside my hometown and my aunts and grandmother and mother and cousins and I would all go picking together every year. My mother used to make jam in huge batches, I wish she'd taken the time to show me how. My grandmother had a stand of bamboo growing in her garden, they were so leafy and fresh and lively.
    Celynne recently posted..Green Green Green

    • marybethrew

      sometimes you can find agriculture extension classes (not sure if it's called the same in canada!) about canning, but freezer jam is a good gateway too- doable to learn from a book or a website. it's not as daunting. canning is nice to see in person the first time!

  • Tim

    I love seeing pictures of your garden/farm(garm? farden?)… It helps incubate my little baby dreams of doing stuff. I know of some land that rents for $25 an acre a year. You may have seen it. Maybe I should rent an acre! =)

    I have to admit though my little baby dreams aren't really that little. I have this one idea… to stack like a million functions in one, erm, bit of land. I don't know if it would work, but basically I'm picturing long narrow paddocks (for maybe some alpaca and ducks someday) separated by a combination of hedges/ponds/swales all on contour full of pondy plants and animals, channel catfish and maybe large mouth bass, fruit trees, and lots of berry brambles and pointy nitrogen fixers (pointy stuff for making it animal-proof) and maybe some logs left to rot by way of mushrooms. Oh, and the hedge/ponds would be far enough apart to leave room for some huge nut trees to grow in the middle of the paddocks (perfect land for nut harvesting… it wouldn't be so great if all the nuts fell in the hedge). Did you know Dad has a single bottom plow (it used to be in Grandma's shed)? I wonder if it could be used to plow some deep ditches.

    Of course I don't know how to get ponds to hold water and not turn everything into marsh, or anything about mushrooms (yet?) or raising non-cows/chickens/goats, but it all sounds good in my head anyway.

    So I was wondering, if comfrey is queen and bamboo is king, what does that make black locust? Dandelion? Speaking of "weeds" there are two huge thistles along the neighbor's house here, that came up right through the concrete (not in the cracks). Hehe, thistle>concrete. That's pretty cool.

    It's great that Quinn seems to really enjoy the farden. Talan loves "farming", but I think it's really the tractors he likes best. =)

  • marybethrew

    $25 an acre a year is a heck of a good deal. if i lived any closer i'd be doing that. in fact i bet they'd accept trade, they seem like easygoing folks. i love your stacking function dreams! i don't know what i'm doing either, so i say just start in. cool about the plow! i vaguely remember that in grandma's shed. glad he still has it! you need to read up on pigs being used to set up ponds- i don't know anything about it, but get on permies. mushrooms seem pretty easy once you've got the rotting logs. wish i could chat all day about all this. i love hearing your ideas! p.s. i guess locust and dandelion must be prince and princess? and yay for fardening!

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