After more than a decade of trying my hand at different types of agricultural styles, I’ve finally settled with one- Syntropic Farming. I’ve tried my hand at growing conventionally, organically, using permaculture, and dabbling in biodynamics. None, however, can seem to touch what I’ve been learning about Syntropic Farming/permaculture.
I started having this feeling that our land and gardens could produce more abundantly if they had perennial plants and trees in the system. It was a reoccurring concept that wouldn’t go away. I knew there must have been something to it for the thoughts to not go away. I blame our elder beautiful live oak trees, Elsa and Agatha…they whisper to me their thoughts all the time. So, I can’t really take the credit for perennial plants in the gardens. I only started to have those thoughts after we bought our land.
Anyway, as the plans started to form for creating a perennial market garden, I started searching for something that seemed to be missing from my overall plan. And I found it!
Syntropic Farming and Permadynamics sent me down a rabbit hole…forever!
I’ll never look at gardening and farming the same again.
The concepts are easy to grasp and if you’ve practiced permaculture you’ll get that ah-ha moment.
I used to view how I grew a garden as someone who tended to the system. I was the one who planted, watered, fed, pruned, harvested, cleaned it up, helped to create abundance. But I never considered that I was a vital part of the system like the honey bee. I can get so caught up in doing that I forget about being.
Here is a definition the syntropy:
From Greek syn=together, tropos=tendency. It was first coined by the mathematician Luigi Fantappiè, in 1941, in order to describe the mathematical properties of the advanced waves solution of the Klein-Gordon equation which unites Quantum Mechanics with Special Relativity. As noted by Viterbo, syntropy is “the tendency towards energy concentration, order, organization and life” (http://www.syntropy.org/). In contradistinction to “entropy,” syntropy is a result of retrocausality leading to persistent and more complex organization. This is akin to the concept of dissipative structures developed by Ilya Prigogine, expostulated in Order Out of Chaos, by Prigogine & Stengers (1984). Buckminster Fuller developed a definition in relation to “whole systems” as “A tendency towards order and symmetrical combinations, designs of ever more advantageous and orderly patterns. Evolutionary cooperation. Anti-entropy” (http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Syntropy).
I love that syntropy is described as “the tendency towards energy concentration order, organization, and life.” It is the opposite of entropy.
As I’ve grasped some of the concepts of syntropic permaculture, what stuck out the greatest for me was how the use of grasses and perennials when pruned sends out hormones to other plants to invigorate the growth of those plants around them. Things are planted densely in guilds where each plant helps the next in cooperation. It isn’t about competition in the system.
The next important thing is that the ground is always covered to protect soil organisms and life that are extremely light-sensitive. Even all the walkways are covered in a thick layer of mulch.
Our perennial market garden is ground zero to start making beautiful mistakes. I’ve had to throw out much of what I’ve known about gardening and farming in order to make way for syntropic agriculture. I have to put away my impulse to rip weeds out of the ground and instead chop and drop them so as to not disturb the soil as it comes into balance.
It’s exciting! This weekend we got started with our second market garden bed. Dom and Noah have been working on the perimeter of the market garden for weeks, fortifying the fencing, adding taller posts and stringing wire. When they’re done, there will be 8 foot high posts attached to the existing posts we have and then strung with wire to prevent the deer from jumping in and eating our garden.
A 2′ high chicken wire is then put along the bottom of the fencing to deter bunnies from getting in.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done about the mutant squirrels that live here. Some are as large as a cat.
You can never trust a squirrel.
The area pictured above is our second market garden row. The first one we created a few weeks earlier.
This second row will be planted with:
- Four apricot trees
- Five black locust trees
- Artichokes between the trees
- Hairy Vetch
- Dutch Clover
- Sudan Grass at the edge
Amazing that so much can be planted in just one row, right? I found a nursery in Silver City and I was finally able to get apricot trees. I searched high and low for apricot trees for months. Most places online are sold out, Home Depot and Lowes didn’t have any, and I thought for sure I would not get any this year and then I found a nursery hiding in plain sight!
There’s a new carwash in Silver City and as Simmi and I were getting our car washed, I noticed a greenhouse and trees and roses. I couldn’t wait to get out of that carwash to see if it was actually a nursery.
They have apricots, cherries, apples, figs, and more. Not only that but they weren’t little tiny 2′ tall trees.
I purchased three apricot trees to start, and I need one more to complete the row. I would have liked it if they had at least three varieties of apricots, but two varieties will work.
All fruit trees planted become my mother fruit trees to produce more fruit trees from.
The pattern of trees will be black locust, artichoke, apricot, black locust, artichoke, apricot, until the full row is complete.
Currently only three apricots are in. Two Tilton and one Harglow. This week I’ll be getting a second Harglow.
The black locust and artichoke I’ve started from seed a little more than a week ago and they just started poking through the soil this weekend.
Thursday the fourth apricot will be planted and the bed will be seeded, then covered in a layer of straw.
I had to wait on ordering the irrigation lines because Simmi’s birthday is coming up fast and we are getting a pool for her to have a pool party. Once the pool is ordered, I’ll be able to continue ordering supplies for the garden.
To the right, you can see the first bed planted. That bed is right up against the goat pen.
This bed has been planted with three bare root peach trees, three blueberry bushes, catmint, cucumber, Blackeye Susans, and milkweed. I’ve started Sea Kale from seed and when it’s ready it’ll be planted in between the fruit trees and berry bushes.
It has taken a good long while for Dom to fall in love with the wonkiness of nature. As a builder, it was difficult for him to marry straight lines with the curves of nature. Something clicked for him last year and he started re-learning how to build with nature. I’ve loved watching the evolution of his creations. I think this gate is my favorite so far! The only thing purchased to make the gate was the hinges. The welded wire is scrap that was just laying around.
B2 and B1 contain a countless amount of black locust seedlings. I wasn’t sure how many would grow so I planted a shit ton. Haha When they get their true leaves and have doubled their size they’ll be transplanted to their own containers.
Aren’t they so cute! It’s amazing that these little babies will grow to feed all the other plants around it, but it will also create the most beautiful tree that can be pollarded and fed to the poultry or dropped on the garden bed and create a mulch. The bees are crazy for this tree, and when I plant a large area of these trees close together, they’ll grow tall in a few years and we can coppice them are create fence posts, tool handles, and use for firewood as well.
The usefulness of this tree is unbelievable. Just think…I have 5 pounds of black locust seed. Ha!
I’ve started nearly 100 Colorado Star Artichokes from seed. They just woke up this weekend. By the time we’re done installing all the market garden rows, they’ll be ready to transplant.
Ginger! I plan on planting the ginger in a shady spot of the market garden.
Six itty bitty fig trees in three pots. When they’ve doubled in size, they’ll be transplanted into a larger container, and when their garden beds are ready they’ll be planted out in the market garden. I’m shooting to have them in the ground by the first week in July. Right now their just about ready to be moved to a sunny location.
The horseradish box is doing well. I planted the horseradish last year right next to our front door. Interplanted are Chinese garlic chives. I ordered the garlic chives last week and they should start growing this week.
The goats are doing well. We’ll be taking them out on the leash into the market garden to chomp down on all the glorious weeds coming up. They’re going to love it!
The goat pen is shaded by a large tree that is kind of like a willow and kind of like an elm. We’re still not sure exactly what kind of tree it is. It’s delicious to the goats, and the horses when we had them in this area. The tree becomes a reprieve to the goats as well as the full market garden area by 6:30 pm. The sun is blocked by the large tree at that time and it cools down the market garden area giving plants a chance to recover from the long hot day of the high desert sun.
It’s incredible that by the end of September this Syntropic Market Garden will be thriving and producing for us.
This is a view outside the market garden. Along that fence line are asparagus. There are also two fig trees that just leafed out. I expect they’ll grow at least three feet this year.
We’ll update this weekend when we create the next two market garden beds. In bed three, Four cherry trees, five black locust, and eight globe artichoke will occupy that space, and in bed four, four apple trees, five black locust, and eight globe artichoke will do the job. I haven’t decided on the annual fruits and veggies that will also be planted there…yet.
All total so far that we have planted and at various stages of growth:
- 2 plum trees
- 1 apple tree
- 8 fig trees
- 3 peach trees
- 2 pear trees
- 3 berry bushes
- 95 Colorado Star Globe Artichokes
- Asparagus (not sure how much!)
- 4 varieties of tomatoes started
- Sea Kale
- Cat Mint
- Blackeyed Susan
Have a great week!
Yesterday was a busy day with Paulownia trees seedlings coming, installing weeper hoses and attempting to get everything done.
I was cleaning the duck pen and temp duck house, Dom was connecting all the hoses together.
I was exhausted yesterday.
I must say that it was actually a thrilling experience to get up and turn on the weepers! It meant that I could weed, start to work on burying the hoses and tend to the ducklings.
Everything was going great until I stretched the wrong way while burying the lines and pulled my back out. My back was in so much pain I kept dosing off while Simmi was watching Shrek today.
After putting her in for a nap, I went to lay down myself, which didn’t help much. My weeping hoses made me weep today as I laid there in pain. I’m hoping tomorrow to get the last bit of weeper lines buried.
I also have been waking up at night worried about our mulberry trees. I find it particularly disturbing that I could sleep through bombs going off, drama in the family, my husband’s alarm going off at the ungodly hour of 3:00am but nothing will jolt me from a sleep faster than worrying about plants and trees.
What the hell is wrong with me? LOL I’m just so worried about these trees. I went through the same thing for each tree and plant that has been planted. Sometimes my sleep is so disturbed I just lay there because impulse would send me right outside to check on them…thank god it is really dark in the middle of the night and my flash light doesn’t have batteries!
Here are a few photos I took this afternoon in an effort to free myself from the guilt of not doing more today due to my back hurting…okay its not work but its something right?
Three days after being planted, the mulberry trees have gone into shock. Not surprising with a lot of its root system missing and bark missing from a good portion of the trunk. This is the tree that has been keeping me up at night.
The smaller mulberry tree is having the same shock issues. I’m glad the bark on this tree is in tact.
In the foreground is our pomegranate which made a glorious coming back and is now starting to flower again. In the beginning I had a love hate relationship with this pomm.
It went into shock, dropped leaves, had me up at night worried it wouldn’t make it, and I thought it was because I was watering it too much that it was dying. Turns out I wasn’t watering it enough! It has new growth, flowers coming and is a vibrant green again. I kept saying to myself, “I’m gonna do it my way, and if I kill it, I kill it!” The reason I was saying that was because everything I read online about pomegranates said NOT to water or fertilize. I’ve done both…every other day it gets watered, and I also fertilize it with duck water poop. Does it look dead to you?
Ugly Betty we love you darling! The way you look after the little ones is amazing. You have the patience of a saint my dear. I don’t know if I could handle two little chicks chasing after me all day, pecking at my eyes, knocking over my food, stealing my sleep, and charging me like a bull.
You are a great single mother at the ripe age of five weeks old! Even though you are really ugly right now, we’d love you just the same if you stayed this way. Fortunately you will grow to be a beautiful black sex link, and you will once again be called Betty Complex….here is what you will look like when you get older:
You will be queen of the courtyard! You and your two illegitimate chicks will enjoy the courtyard even though you’ll have to duck and weave around the likes of Simone. Yes she throws little pieces of paper at you, but its only because she loves to see you run and scurry. As I said before, you have the patience of a saint. Dare I say even more patience than most humans.
On another note (I know I’m all over the place today with my writing), the tall fescue forage seed, white clover and yellow clover finally all arrived.
I’ll be treating the grass and clover seeds with the following, which I copy and pasted from the website Fungi Perfecti…even though they didn’t pay me for this plug, I’m giving it. I rarely give links, but I believe whole heartedly in these products:
MycoGrow™ For Lawns
MycoGrow™ For Lawns contains spores of 4 different species of endomycorrhizal fungi, plus additional beneficial organisms for control of lawn-disease-related pathogens. Recommended application rate for lawns is 1.5–2 pounds per 1000 square feet. Can be applied during lawn installation or aeration. Sold in one pound increments.
Note: this product cannot be shipped to Hawaii.
|Contains concentrated spore mass of the following:
||Glomus intraradices, Glomus mosseae, Glomus aggregatum, Glomus etunicatum
||Trichoderma harzianum, Trichoderma konigii
||Kelp, humic and fulvic acids, vitamins, and amino acids
This is also from Paul Stamets site (He’s one of my hero’s!)
The term mycorrhizal comes from the Greek words mykes, meaning fungus, and rhiza, meaning root. Mycorrhizal fungi are fungi that have developed a symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with the root systems of living plants, from garden vegetables all the way up to the trees of the Old Growth forests. Networks of mycorrhizal filaments envelop the seedling’s root structure, supporting the plant’s own ability to utilize water and nutrients in the soil. This relationship encourages healthy, vigorous growth—naturally.
|Local Puget Sound organic farmer John Moss performed an experiment with his crop of onions, treating one bed with MycoGrow™ to see how it would compare to his other beds. The results were impressive!
Fungi Perfecti’s MycoGrow™ products are designed for everyone from the home gardener/landscaper to the professional forestry manager, promoting faster growth, speeding transplant recovery and reducing the need for fertilizers and other additives. A number of different formulations are available, for all methods of plant cultivation.
(Please note: the mushroom species in our MycoGrow™ mycorrhizal fungus products have been selected for their speed of growth and maximum potential benefit to plants; they are neither gourmet nor medicinal mushrooms. While these species are not toxic or dangerous in any way, they are nonetheless not intended for human consumption.)
Our MycoGrow™ products contain mushroom species that are approved for use throughout the continental United States and Canada. However, our customers in Hawaii should be aware that they are not permitted in the state of Hawaii. We encourage all international customers to check their countries’ import regulations prior to ordering.
I’m trying to play catch up with my 365 Days of Planting. I don’t plant every single day right now, but as soon as the weeping hoses are installed I will get back to planting everyday. Right now the watering schedule takes up about 2 hours of my morning, which is the prime time to really plant or do any manual labor. It gets super hot out and with no rain in sight, it may turn out to be a scorcher this summer, with very little relief.
Anyway, here is a follow up of everything that has been planted since June 14th:
- Sweet potato slips (they didn’t take…all died)
- A very large patch of potatoes
- Black seeded Simpson lettuce
- Lolla Rossa lettuce
- Red salad bowl
- Royal Oak leaf
- Giant Caesar
- Grand Rapids lettuce
- Prize leaf lettuce
- Two Black Star watermelon
- Two Butternut Squash
- Six Sand cherry bushes
- Seven Fig trees
- Two- Three leaf Sumac shrubs
- Two- Fern bush
- More Mammoth sunflowers
- Desert Red Bird of Paradise
- Two Mulberry Trees
Our Paulownia trees shipped out yesterday and should arrive I think tomorrow or Friday. We’ll be planting them next week. Also, our neighbor we get all our horse manure from is digging up his mulberry trees and asked if we wanted them…we said HELL YEAH! I love mulberries.
Our property is really starting to morph into something completely new. I love it. I can’t wait till everything starts to mature and take on a life of its own.
The ducklings turned one month old today. We officially have only one duckling named. When my daughter Hannah was visiting for brunch this past Sunday, she caught the little guy in the photo to the left and started laughing as he/she peeped really loud in protest to being picked up. As she was laughing she said “I think this one’s name should be Frankie!” I asked her, “What if its a girl?” Hannah’s reply to this was “Well that is even more funny then!” So whether Frankie turns out to be a drake or a duck, the name shall stay.
Frankie will actually be a part of our breeding stock.
The ducklings are all getting so big and they are losing their peeping sounds. They are starting to quack and it just sounds so cute.
In about two weeks they will go through a transformation of sorts where they molt their baby feathers to make way for their adult feathers. That should be a treat right? We’ll have feathers everywhere and they will look like true ugly ducklings at that stage.
Betty Complex is going through a similar transformation and instead of looking like “Betty Complex” she is looking more like “Ugly Betty!” LOL
Pepper plants after being watered with duck poop soup. The leaves turned a very dark shade of green.
Magpies turned three weeks old on Wed.
This next one is a flash back when they first arrived…its so trippie:
Yesterday we went up to Albuquerque to get our dedication fig trees.
What an experience that was! First we went to see the “Fig Man” and then we went to Jericho Nursery for the rest of the fig stock.
Our visit with the fig man was filled with delight as he shared his knowledge of each different type of fig he had.
I am not usually one to listen to stories (true or fiction) but looking back over yesterday afternoon, I think I was mesmerized by the fig man.
When we first got to his home, he leads us up to the porch where he shows us this little fig tree that is from a 100 year old tree.
It was called “The Hotel Averado fig” (I’m sure I probably spelled that one wrong!)
I fell in love immediately with this little thing. The leaves were delicate and almost looked like a hand. The photo to the right is of the Hotel Averado.
This particular tree is dedicated to my daughter Hannah. Yesterday Hannah turned 21 years old! My god how time flies.
Hannah, we love you so much! I’m proud of who you are becoming and how much you are maturing.
Every time we eat figs from this tree, we’ll be thinking about you! You are as unique as this fig tree and twice as sweet. I can’t wait to see you tomorrow for your Birthday brunch.
These days I’m out from early morning till sunset doing things around the house or property…that is, unless the heat has kicked my ass, then I go in and lay down for a few hours until I feel refreshed.
It is supposed to be extremely hot this weekend, so I got a head start watering at 5:00am. Yesterday, I started at 6:00am, taking the ducklings and chicks out of the duck house at 8:00am.
By 11:00am they needed more food and water. By 1:00pm they needed EVEN MORE food and water. They are growing so rapidly that we in the last two weeks now we’ve gone through 25 lbs of starter feed.
The little feeder that I thought was so big turned out to be too small now! So off to the feed store I went yesterday to get 25 lbs of starter feed, 50 lbs. of starter wild game feed and feeder that holds 12 lbs of feed.
I think that may not be big enough for them in the next two weeks! Its not like these feeders are going to go to waste though.
When we get our chickens, we’ll need to have a large capacity feeder anyway. Anyway, yesterday’s adventures were filled from morning till night. After going to the feed store, we headed up to ABQ to see the fig man, Jericho Nursery for the other five fig trees and then headed on home.
The second fig tree we got from the fig man is called a Black Baca.
The Black Baca is from a 148 year old fig tree. I’ve dedicated this tree to Dom for Father’s Days.
The fig man told me the story of this tree, and while I won’t repeat the whole story, I’ll give you the run down in a very ‘revised’ version…basically this black baca was saved from the saw wielding hand of crooked priest.
Okay, as I said before, I’ve revised the story a bit because the fig man, while disturbed by the priests’ actions, was still filled with grace as he told the story of the white and black baca figs trees.
To know the full story you’ll have to contact him! Anyway, this tree comes from very old stock, has three harvests and I felt that it was perfect for Dom.
We need to harden off all seven of the fig trees because all of them were in green houses under filtered light.
It will take about a week for them to acclimate before we plant them. After the planting, Dom will be writing up a blog about these fig trees, who they are dedicated to and the impact each has had on his life. Right now, I’m writing about them and will touch on each person briefly…I want to leave room for Dom to blog too!
The fig trees we got from Jericho Nursery are five in all.
Three are Celeste figs and two are Italian Everbearing figs.
The Italian Everbearing fig trees are dedicated to Dom’s mom who just turned 60 years old this June (Happy Birthday again Mom, we love you), and the other Italian Everbearing fig is dedicated to my dad for Fathers Day.
The three Celeste figs that are left are dedicated to Dom’s dad for Father’s Day, Noah and Shoshie’s dad Jonathan for Father’s Day and the last one is mine from Mother’s day…we just never got around to picking it up till now.
We also still need to get a few more trees in honor of Dom’s brothers’ birthday (twins) and we haven’t decided what kind of trees they will be. June is a big month for birthdays! July is looking like another big month for birthdays as well.
Oh, I almost forgot! While Simmi was in the greenhouse at the fig man’s place, she crouched down and low and behold….COMFREY! Yeah baby! I was almost more excited about the comfrey than even the figs! I wanted true comfrey and not the bocking Russian sterile comfrey.
We scooped up two comfrey plants and I can not WAIT to plant them!
All in all, yesterday was a great day. Today, if there is time, we’ll be planting our potatoes and possibly our lettuces.