Year Zero: Serious Moment

I have a five year plan. It is not a good plan and it changes from day to day but it is a plan. Right now, I have just left year zero. January 2021 is starting a new year for me.

You may ask:

What is Year Zero? Year Zero has been my year of planning. I also went around the area and looked at local nurseries. I wanted to see what everyone had to offer. It opened my eyes. I also planned to go back to college and learn about plant things.

Why is Year Zero so important? Year Zero is my planning year. We moved in October 2019 and that only started our adventure. During this year I have walked the property over five hundred times. I have learned the land-ish. There is a lot more to starting a permaculture food forest then I anticipated.

This is where I outlined my goals. I learned my property and I planted starter plants- which I will get into later. We have a lot to cover so I will continue.

Some of the trees ready for new homes

What does having a poorly planned year zero do for someone who is just starting out? This is a tough one because I had to reset my Year Zero last year. It was insanity. I killed every plant I got my hands on because I just jumped in. I thought I could just wish my garden into growth. It was poor planning and I wasted a lot of money on plants that died. So, don’t waste money use your year zero wisely. Learn to work with your property and not against it.

Year Zero is the most important year of planning and development. This is my year of research and getting to know my property. Here I started and failed then restarted after some research. Even still I am not 100% sure that everything will work out. My year one began with medicinal plants and evolved into the dreams of a food forest. Somewhere it evolved and I wanted to have real food security.

I learned a lot about the native plants that already live here and it inspired me to start a Monarch Butterfly Santuary. I started by going online and joining many types of groups. They kind of inspired me and so I continued with my year zero goals. I did way better than I anticipated.

The reason Year Zero is important is because it lays the foundation for success but remember: you can always switch it up later if your plans don’t work out. I know it sounds crazy but a lot of people (myself including) thought they could just jump in (like I did) and fail. I’ve learned it’s only a true failure if I stop trying and so I will continue.

It took me the better half of the first year to figure out I was doing things wrong and I might need to talk to experts. That’s why I enrolled in classes but I’ll share all of that information as I get it with you.

Squash flower (I think?)

Sure, I was in the best Facebook groups. Unfortunately I hadn’t been utilizing them. So I went online and I just dove into research on permaculture, companion planting, ph levels, soil samples and I was blown away by how much was out there. I will never know everything but I had started down a rabbit hole that brought me here to this blog.

Spoiler alert: my plants stopped dying. I got better at planting the more I learned and there is this feeling of happiness when you are using your own vegetables and fruits.

All throughout year zero I sat outside my plants hoping they might grow. It does not make plants grow faster.

Now I know I need a plan and in year zero it’s the perfect time to decide what you want and where you see that going in five years. Make it fun and exciting but remember: your plan must flow with the tide. So make sure you are ready for those changes and adaptations as you go. For example: I thought I could just put seeds in the dirt and it would just grow. It doesn’t work that way and now I know thanks to countless people.

Goals for my property and my life for the next five years. This is important because it gives me a general outline to work with. Remember, I am making plans but they are like the wind- every changing and straightforward.

In five years, I want to have every individual breed of plant I want on my property. Even if I do not have every part of my land covered (Which I most likely will seeing my progress already- it is a possibility). I am not talking about a neat little orchard- I want trees and shrubs. I want to be overwhelmed with sight, smell and feel like nature surrounds me.

Keep that in mind- it is the foundation for our success. My goals are not primarily food security, even though it is a reoccurring theme, but instead a food based garden of eden, a place for me to retire my body and my spirit. So, not all of my plants will be solely food based. I am going to continue on that note, but keep your goals in your mind.

Another goal I realized: I want the species here to be closer to disease resistant and ready to produce in five years. This means that in the first few years I have to plant my trees that need to be producing as well as create a water source.

In Year Zero, I am going through plant lists to find edible plants, flowering plants, herbs, and pollinators. I am collecting seeds and planting what I like to call guaranteed success plants such as blackberries. During Year Zero I did a lot of planning but then I began planting samples.

For example: I don’t know of I even like certain fruits- this is a great time to plant one or two and try them. If I don’t like them I won’t plant more of that particular tree. It’s good to know before I make a mass planting decision.

The ones that do well and we like: we plant more of them. The ones that don’t we just move on from and don’t plant more. At least we are keeping those three blueberries (if any of them survive), but I am hesitant of planting more until we know they will survive. That is one of many examples. We keep what we like but we don’t want continue any difficult plants. If something happens we want to make sure we can take care of it. (Eventually I hope it will take care of itself, in my old age I don’t want to be chasing around a 7 acre mess)

I want to cover my entire property in plants that are useful primarily with a little playroom for beautiful things. I want to retire in my own hand made forest and I want to leave it for my kids to enjoy. I cannot wait until I make my dream come true, but Year Zero opened my eyes to the many possibilities.

Frankly, Year Zero did not go as planned and there is a good chance your Year Zero will not be magnificentbut don’t give up. I killed a lot of plants that I want to blame on bizarre seeds from China that I never received. Really it all came down to poor planning.

Year one starts now in January and during that year I have a lot of things I would like to accomplish. But first let’s talk about what i have already got started:

  • 75 thornless blackberries, three different kinds.
  • 33 grape plants, twenty four muscadine, six concord, two seedless randoms from Wal-Mart, and one Spanish grape.
  • 8 apple trees, 4 persimmons, 4 pomegranates, 5 peaches, 3 plums, 4 cherries, 2 pears, 2 limes, 2 lemons, and 2 avadaco trees.
  • Planted many perennials and failed two gardens.

Year One I have new goals.

  • I would like to plant 100 additional thornless blackberry plants. This year so far we have planted 75. We know that blackberries will do great here and we want at least 200. We want to primarily plant thornless varieties which is also why we are not dying into raspberries.
  • Set up the irrigation system that will support the amount of plants that I want to bring in. We already bought two irrigation systems. One is set up for bushes and one is set up for the trees.
  • I want to plant a minimum of 25 different kinds of apple trees, but that may not be possible.
  • I want to focus on the 41 disease resistant breeds that grow in my zone. Zone 8a.
  • Focus on filling in the spaces between my trees with shrubs and berry bushes.
  • Expanding my seed collection
  • Creating a creek system that runs through our property
  • Planting as much as I can as fast as I can and keeping it all alive with magic

So, don’t give up. Year Zero seems hard on everyone. We’ve got this now onward to YEAR ONE.

A much more detailed goal list for Year One is coming but you’ll have to be patient. I am busy looking through seed catalogs while listening to permaculture information.

Things I didn’t know… Metal pipes v. Me

Yeah metal piping is not good for your plants to grow on πŸ˜’ ignore my weird drip irrigation system.

So first let me say, I jumped into this like a kid that can’t swim. First, I decided I was going to start out with four. I bought four baby plants- I did not know what I was doing- and planted them along a metal pipe.

This is not including the six lavender plants that I murdered, just the ones that I am baking alive this summer.

Tire rims also heat up in the summer sun, no matter how easily you can obtain damaged ones

So I did not realize that I was literally baking two grape plants, a blueberry, and a blackberry plant. Honestly, the grapes and blackberry plants are not dying but these blueberries are crying. I do not want to uproot it because I am afraid I would murder it.

Those blackberries have some never die in them though

No trellises. I thought I had this. The one closest to us died a miserable death. He just got tall and tipped over- snapped in half.

Also, my dumb self did not put any supports up. Later I will take a picture of how my one living tomato plant is propped up with garden decorations and some twine. It isn’t a good look, but it worked at the time and I have not switched it out quite yet.

My friend’s amazing hobby garden that I am super jealous of. She knew what was up, I didn’t ask for help in the beginning and now there is a clear difference between our gardens. Hers is great and mine is murdered.

My goals are ever evolving right now but I really want to have a whole property covered in plants. I think it will make me happy in my old age.

The picture from the other angle. It is pretty sweet. She is amazing at this stuff with her green thumb.

End game goals: make a seasonal “witch” themed attraction during September and October. I will retire on this. My permaculture food forest will have everything I need to do a spooky trip that will be fun for all ages. I have so many ideas, but that my dears is how I plan on retiring. I want being old to be fun.

Our plants after one week vacation

Our banana tree. I will take a picture of the pup later, but this is fun.
My blue berry plant πŸ’š
Lemon tree πŸ’š
Baby blue berry
Blackberry
Bell peppers and garlic
Banana peppers
Baby fig do do do do do do
Blackberry
Sage
One is squash and one is cantaloupe for sure
Grape
(Left and up) ? Oregano and sage (Right, middle and up) rosemary, thyme, and Greek oregano or at least that’s what the tag said
Lemon balm, marjoram and something salad….
Juniper that seems to be struggling
Aloe Vera
Zucchini

Drip irrigation: After a one week vacation

So we left for vacation on Saturday, July 25, 2020. We came back just now- like magicians or in cars. Anyway, before we left we tried to find someone- anyone to water the plants that survived the first few months.

We realized some the week before that traffic cones can only be so helpful. We used something alternative later. Pictures to follow

Anyway, we have all these plants and we had no one to water my babies. Also I had just planted three blackberry bushes because I got them on sale. I am a sucker for a sale. We looked into many different systems but we decided that the easiest cheapest way was to use our old buckets and collect tidy cat buckets in order to set up drip irrigation.

We are not perfect people and this wasn’t even the ending amoung

Not going to lie, we were throwing this mess together the night before because we had to collect the materials

Into the wee hours of the night. It gets dark later during the summer. It is clearly night time.

It took quite a bit of time. We were collecting materials until the night before we left. Driving to strangers houses and asking for their little boxes the week before- to make sure we had enough. Fun Fact: we still didnt have enough.

He worked hard and tirelessly in order to the best he could with minimum light.

Anyway, it worked (kind of it turns out our neighbors will filling the buckets twice a day), so we are 90% sure we did it wrong. We screwed a hole into each bucket and the water slowly dripped out. My Aunt went back to check on her cats, so she filled up my buckets for me mid week and I thought that everything was fine.

I thought that the drip irrigation was lasting, per white bucket, 4 days, the tidy cat’s around 3.

We woke up super early to make sure

The blue berries loved it, they were looking yellow before. I think we’ll keep the buckets for our blue berries because the leaves look a lot better. I think that is because of the rain water. We need rain water collection and just found out that I don’t need to be watering my plants with tap water.

One of my daughters carrying a bucket to fill by the plants the morning before we left.

Regardless we only lost one plant the entire week because of a team effort. Now my neighbor (who I had no idea was an irrigation specialist) wants to help us.

What our almost complete system looked like. It still wasn’t the best, but we tried.

He informed me that this was not going to work for our long term plans and how water is the bones of any yard. I would need to figure that out long before I started mass planting like I want to next year.

Our one dead tree. It was still watered but I am pretty sure it isn’t going to come back.

We are going to start working on that tomorrow. This has been one heck of a learning experience. Hoping for future success.

Mimsy, our bunny chaser πŸ’š
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