Tag Archives: garden

Vegetable Stock


I got this tip from the Check out clerk at Publix, a nice smart older lady… when I was telling her I wanted to make Vegetable Stock she told me to save all the stuff you would throw away when you are cutting up your vegetables- carrot tops, celery leaves, onion skins, and this one had the beet greens ( I would have eaten them, but my husband was making root vegetables, so they weren’t a root…) Anyway, we keep a gallon zip top bag in the freezer and add the veggie parts until it is full. Then you dump it in a large pot…”stock pot” and cook with some salt and pepper and several hours later on low heat. I let it cool and then get a large strainer and pour it through to get just the liquid. Put in clean glass jars or plastic containers. Then you have vegetable stock that you can pay around $3.00 a can for 15 1/2 ounces. I just made about 8 cans of veggie stock with free ingredients $24.00. You could can them, but mine go straight in the freezer… Warning… this is an ingredient for soup, not a final product… you will be disappointed if you try to eat it plain. But it’s a good for adding to a recipe that calls for vegetable stock, or substituting for chicken or beef stock if you are vegan or vegetarian. The cooked mush goes to the compost pile for the worms and bacteria to enjoy. One more thing…use organically grown or home grown vegetables as you are probably getting all the pesticides that are on the veggies when you do this.

Remember the 3 R’s Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Spiral Ridge PDC Day 4

Dinner at Spiral Ridge

Dinner at Spiral Ridge

This is the account of my adventure at the Permaculture Design Course at Spiral Ridge in October of 2013 http://www.spiralridgepermaculture.com.

My notes are somewhat muddled about Day 4, and I think they crammed some of the things from day 3 into it, which I already talked about. Our group decided to do the area around the proposed house site, and we were to use an already developed base map. But the base map was not too good so we spent a good piece of the morning messing around looking at the land and trying to get the map right, Actually a fairly useful real life exercise. The maps were posterboard about 2 foot x 4 foot. The base map is black lines showing existing structures that you then use tracing paper to make overlays of the various things that exist on the land…our goal was an overlay of each of the scale of permanence which I talked about last time… Climate, landform, water, etc.

Climate is a piece you look up on the internet, from various government websites. Since the government was shut down, so were the websites. So we copied the information from previous PDC classes. I tried to do some climate research this morning, and found it is interesting and challenging because there is so much information. The lecture was not too useful, partly because the lecturer ( I think it was Jessie) was not wanting to delve into controversy. I think it might have been interesting, because the group was fairly open minded.

We had a lecture about water and Landform next. Landform is contours, slopes, etc and how to visualize on paper. I think they talked about swales some. A swale is a trench on the contour.

Using water in a tube to find the Contour of the land along a swale

Using water in a tube to find the Contour of the land along a swale

The major purpose of a swale is to manage water flow. Cliff has a series of swales to manage the water flow through the top part of his land- I’m guessing maybe only the top 2 acres. I think there will be more swales built as he goes along, or maybe as he moves the pigs and goats along the land ( They graze in patches along contour, so I think they keep track as they go down.)

The other part of Water management is ponds. Permaculture practice likes ponds, because they are excellent ways to store water high on land. But they are also tricky to manage. They leak. Only the very small pond at the top of the land didn’t leak, I suspect they had used that pond fabric in it, but that is expensive to do in larger ponds. I think they are hoping that the other 2 ponds will eventually stop leaking when enough clay sediment collect in the bottom of them. A goal is to build key line dams on contour and create storage ponds. A significant goal with water is to slow it, spread it and sink it onto the land, and not let it run off like the “Grand Canyon” thru the lower part of the Quinn property. Some of the case studies we reviewed showed local increases in the water table due to permaculture practices.

The afternoon lecture was about Terra- Aqua culture…using land and water together… The Austrian Sepp Holtzer uses a series of ponds high in the alps to grow fish and then water the land, but his techniques have not been easy to reproduce other places. Two other models that might be easier to use… Viet nam jungle villages were they use Bamboo, pigs, ducks, fish ponds,crops on contour, the crops are at the bottom of the hill and they are fertilized by the pigs, ducks and fish higher up the hill. Another model would be the Aztecs in Mexico who created “Chinapas” fingers of land made out of willow branches and sludge into the water to create tiny inlets to catch fish and then grow crops on the fingers sticking out into the water.

That evening we were invited to a lecture on the state of the Climate at the Eco-village down at the Farm ( the place I was staying). Attached to the dorm I was staying in (which I would guess was about 20 years old) was a new conference center space which is partially completed. (Cliff says it will never be finished) It was completed enough that it could be used for lectures, but it has no doors, just flaps of plastic where the doors should be. Inside the walls were partly completed with straw bale construction.
Ecovillage inside
At the time the lecture was supposed to start, Miriam and I and the speaker, Albert Bates and 2 other people were there. We indicated that a few others were coming, so they waited about 15 more minutes for the rest of our group to arrive (they were lost or couldn’t get in the gate… another flaw of living at the farm. Albert Bates is a long time resident of the Farm (arrived in 1972, he joked that he was a latecomer) and the De-facto force of the Eco-village. He hired Cliff to run the Ecovillage sometime back, but I don’t think he let Cliff do anything, so Cliff moved on, but they seem to coexist. I also do not think they replaced Cliff when he left. However, the lecture did proceed after everyone arrived. The lecturer was a very young man from a Environmental group in Washington who had a power point presentation, which was followed by a brief discussion. He suggested maybe we could use non-violent techniques like the civil rights movement to mobilize people to march on Washington DC. He pointed out that Washington could easily be shut down. (For a while perhaps) He though we should shame our legislators for their inaction about the Environment. The assembled group was polite but I think we are more motivated to grow food than to March on Washington, who won’t care anyway. Afterwards Miriam and I had wine and ice cream with the Lecturer, his friend and Albert Bates. After about 30 minutes, another elderly hippie named Frank showed up, apologizing that he had missed the lecture. He had been talking to some folks from another town about mushroom gardening and had just returned. He talked at length about his calculation that we could stop global warming if we could sequester enough carbon by planting sufficient number of trees. He had calculated that there was enough arable land to do this on the planet. This was intriguing to me… I remembered the miles of medium strip I had passed a few days before when I drove up to Tennessee.

Fibonacci Sequence

In 1202 Leonardo Fibonacchi published a book called the Liber Abaci (Abacus Book or Book of Calculations) which proposed using Arabic numerals instead of Roman numerals and mentioned a sequence which he did not discover, but brought to European knowledge, now known as the Fibonacchi Sequence 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 2+1=3, 2+3=5, 3+5=8, 5+8=13, etc. If you stack the numbers correctly, they look like fibanocchi

This is not just an abstract mathematical construct, it is found all over nature, the most obvious being the snail shell or the chambered nautiluschambered nautilus

I suspect that it is probably a direct result of cell division in a confined space, but it is still amazing and mystical, and we humans in our desire to find patterns in everything, can find this one fascinating. Note that there are 13 notes (include the sharps and flats not just the whole notes) in a musical scale, flower petals usually come in 3,5 or 8…pine cones and tree branches and storm clouds and nebula and sunflowers…


If you count any given spiral in the sunflower it will probably be a number in the fibonacchi sequence. Biology begats math and physics or is it the other way around? And I’m thinking there’s a spiritual element to this too, but maybe I’m thinking too hard.

I give credit to Wikipedia for information about Fibonacchi and of course my friends at Spiral Ridge who taught me about this…http://www.spiralridge.com. Go to their next permaculture course, you will be glad you did.

Spiral Ridge PDC day 2 Oct 1,2013

This is the account of my adventure at the Permaculture Design Course at Spiral Ridge in October of 2013 http://www.spiralridgepermaculture.com

Day 2 started with hearty breakfast…scrambled eggs, oatmeal, yogurt and assorted nice things to add to that like nuts, raisins, honey, jam etc. We also had coffee around the campfire every morning.

They assigned chores- animal care, working in the green house, and more boring stuff like dish washing and wood chopping. Some of our crew cheerfully volunteered for stuff like dish washing and wood chopping. Some of our crew cheerfully volunteered for humanure duty- which meant emptying the bucket into the humanure pile, which must cook for a year before it can go out as fertilizer. They don’t put it on vegetables. They cover each poop with cedar chips from an Amish saw mill. This was not a required duty.

Site Tour- we walked the upper part of the Farm…it was so interesting that we only got around to the top half. Some highlights…Water cistern attached to the Well- covered in insulation. and attached to a solar panel. Whenever the sun shines, water pumps into the cistern (5000 gal) which is used for clean drinking water and other uses. They also collect rain water from roofs, and grey water from washing and showers which is funneled into tanks and a pond.

We saw the herb garden next to the Cabin which contained some herbs I knew, and a lot I did not know, There was lots of blooming stuff including milk weed, so all week the Monarch butterflies stopped by for a snack on their way south for the winter. There were stinging nettles which are edible, but also have medicinal uses, Comfrey planted for it’s deep root that brings up nutrients, the leaves can be used as mulch. Yarrow and plantain are nutrient accumulators, There was a small Curly Willow next to the pond which can be cut down and will grow back from the roots (coppiced) There was a water plant in the pond… The herb garden area was a meandering Keyhole garden to improve edges and supply many different plants- there were about 100 different plants in about 100 sq feet- and room for more. The Cabin had 2 vines…a kiwi on one side… that was loaded with kiwis, and a hops plant on the other. There was also a fig tree that had ripe fruit on it.

There is a 50 foot green house that has baby trees waiting to be planted, a large overgrown basil (maybe left over from the winter- I saw it outside as well, A barrel full of duckweed to restock the pond in the spring, a greenhouse inside that was insulated for warmer space- it was currently empty. There was a large metal tub which they us to mix up planting medium, which they make themselves from 3 or 4 ingredients.

We saw the rabbit hutch which fertilizes the worm composting operation, where they add coffee grounds and egg shells. They have 1 buck and 2 does, which can supply you with a rabbit every week if all goes well and you don’t name them. We fed the rabbits greens from the garden and rabbit kibble.

Next to the rabbits was the gate to the chicken house where they had 17 chickens one of which was a rooster. There was netting over the chicken house, probably to discourage hawks. The chicken house had 3 nesting boxes, which were accessible from outside, so you could open it to collect eggs. Ducks from the duck pond can come into that area, as well as the chickens can out into the duck area. Cliff doesn’t like the chickens too much, he thinks they scratch too much, he is planning to phase them out in favor of the ducks…but then they will have to hunt for eggs.

The Vegetable garden was below the greenhouse and was mostly finished with the summer vegetables, There were still lots of tomatoes, and comfrey was planted there as well as huge marigold plants. The water from the upper herb garden drained into the vegetable as well as some irrigating with a hose…which they also use to water the animals.

Lunches were generally soup and salad- They came up with amazing soups, and I loved all the salads. Jen made several different fermented sauerkrauts, but sometimes green salads and coleslaw, and always interesting dressing and condiments.

Wild design- only noted 2 things in my notes- but both are interesting. “Nothing in Nature is random- all is in patterns- based on energy flows” “By recognizing patterns we can manipulate and enhance energy flows. And one that is not in my notes. The answer to very many permaculture questions…”It depends…”

Patterns in Nature- One of my favorite classes. Dendritic patterns of trees both in the branches and roots…It reminded me of Antoni Gaudi and his amazing cathedral in Barcelona, Spain. Hexagon as in honey bees. Nesting patterns of tree rings and rainbows, Lobing as in flower petals and pine cones. Spirals…ahh the amazing spiral. Start with hair swirls and finger prints then move to zinnias and hurricanes. Then consider the Fibonacci sequence which is found all over in nature…it can be a whole blog in itself. Stars for explosions and dandelions, Snowflakes. And finally Overbeck Jet which is like breaking waves, and mushrooms and atomic bombs and bones connected, and musical frequencies. Imposing squares and rectangles on natural patterns creates problems- poor wind and water flow and less edge effect. Natural patterns are more harmonic.

After a delicious dinner, they set up the computer and we watched case studies on u-tube…Sepp Holtzer- the wild permaculturist in Austria, An edibile food forest in a Davis, California subdivision, Geoff Lawson an Australian permaculture guru talking about urban permaculture and several more. Totally exhausted, Miriam and I were both staying at the Farm, carpooled back.

Before Permaculture

I got my first permaculture design project, unpaid of course


This site is a long 8 acre lot with a small 1960’s ? ranch style house. Most of the lot is forest. When the previous owner died, the property was given to a nearby church. The church decided to give the lot to their Boy Scout Troop on a temporary basis, and if they are good stewards, they will get it permanently. So my brother is the current Scout Master, and my Sister in Law asked me if I would like to design a garden for the property. So I went to Florida last week, and looked over the land, made plans for a garden and a supply list to get them going. I think the front 1/2 acre would be ideal for a annual garden and a bunch of fruit trees. So far it has been fun to get to design a real site.

The Front lawn is large, with good sun, so we agreed that a vegetable garden would work out well there. After looking at the soil, I observed that it is very sandy, so to conserve water, I think the best way to proceed would be to dig out about 8 inches of the soil and fill the space with rotting logs from the back of the property. This would serve as a sponge to hold water. Then put a soil mulch mixture on top- as deep as possible- 12 inches would be great, then mulch on top of that. Plant the seeds in the soil/Mulch mix. My SIL got a grant from Seed Savers and received a nice package of vegetable seeds, which should be enough seeds for the entire troop to grow vegetables. They also have a Scout father who is a plumber, so I suggested they install a sprinkler system to water when they are not there. There is already a spigot at the garden, and the Church will pay the water bill.

There is also a Bee keeper in Pensacola who will give you a bee hive… and maintain it for you…so I said go for it.

There is bamboo on site, so I think trellis’s made of bamboo and lashed on the front of the sad little brick house would do wonders to hide the look. Then plant Kiwi and in a year or so, they would have a wild jungle look that is more in keeping with the Boy Scout mystique than red brick.

My nephew known as the “Yellow headed Kid” and I did the “Jar Test”… you collect some soil from your site, and put it in a straight-sided jar, fill it with water, shake it up to mix, then let it settle for a week and observe the layers of sand, silt and clay. The preliminary results are mostly sand. The Jar Test came from Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier’s 2 volume book Edible Forest Gardensedible Forest Gardenshttp://www.edibleforestgardens.com/files/image_bookset.gif

I am working on a drawn design, I will post that when it is complete.


Dr Quinn Medicine Woman

Dr Quinn Medicine Woman When people find out my name is Quinn and I am a pharmacist, they say “Oh like Dr Quinn Medicine Woman”… Well not quite, my real name is not Jane Seymour and I did not star in a TV show…

But I have thought about it a lot. I have thought about the degree that entitles you to be call Doctor. You see I have a bachelor of Pharmacy degree which you completed 5 years of college to obtain. The year after I graduated (1990) all other graduates got that PharmD degree in 6 years and could called Doctor. But since I only completed 5 years , I would then have to go back for 3 more years and pay about $30,000 to obtain that title. If I had received that title I could expect only a modest pay increase, so would I have earned back my investment?

Now as I contemplate my next move, I am very interested in plants as medicine, and food as medicine so I think I will pursue more education in the more informal world and take classes in herbal medicine to add to my “formal” education. Big Pharma is not doing very well at keeping up with good healing, they are more interested in stringing the American Consumer along than providing healing medicine.

A nod to my fellow blogger for a great video series about Goldenseal- a woodland plant with powerful antimicrobial properties. It looks like a wonderful plant for the future without antibiotics…see forest farming at extension.org.

Observe and Interact

January 3rd, 2014

24.5 degrees before sunrise

The sun is shining but it is very cold 27 degrees at 7am  probably the coldest day this winter, the weather people are promising colder days ahead– the cabbage is still okay but the lettuce and collards look despondent. Pippi dog agitated to make me go out for a walk and take on one of my New Year’s resolutions to observe and interact-  the first permaculture principle.

Yesterday I tried to buy daffodil bulbs (Yes I know it is late, but I had not gotten around to it earlier)  I found a bulb rack with 2 hand lettered signs one said  “50% off” the other said “Daffodils are toxic to deer and rodents” Do you think  deer will eat them if they know they are toxic… or maybe that is a selling point? Anyway, there were no daffodil bulbs left, but I bought crocus which may work for my purpose to plant around my apple trees as guild plants… and they were 50% off!


Who am I? and Why am I Blogging?

I am Kathy Quinn…a fifty-something age person who got dumped out of the pharmacy corporate culture sometime last year and has no desire to go back. I live in Prattville, Alabama in a wonderful house in 3 acres of woods. So at the urging of my counterculture son I traveled to Tennessee to Spiral Ridge to take a 14 day course in Permaculture. There I learned that I still have a passion for living on our planet with all its tree, plants, animals, water, soil, fungi and vistas.  I have been writing and reading about it ever since, as well as getting a little dirty in the garden. I am especially interested in Fruit trees ( I have 7) and now medicinal herbs which I think may play a more important part of healthcare in the future.

I have also gotten involved in how to live more healthfully without pharmaceuticals…that means good eating, exercise and better thinking… Which has taken me down the roads of organic food, fresh fruits and vegtables, running for fun, yoga, and prayer and meditation.

Permaculture is a study of Ecology to use in our lives…can we mimic what the natural world does to be better humans.  It is obvious in gardening, but it could be used in all aspects of our lives.

I would love to connect with fellow Alabamians or others from around the world who are interested in Permaculture, Medicinal Herbs, yoga, running, gardening and meditation.


Lasagna Gardening

cropped lasagna garden
Lasagna Gardening…
Using guide from book called.

I started building a garden for spring last fall by driving around the neighborhood and collecting leaves, which I piled on top of collected green stuff which I gently pulled up from a neglected garden site. On top of this I put some manure( donkey) and some cotton seed I covered with black plastic to cook till spring, which hopefully it will cook down into good soil.