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Spring 2014 Learning Plan Goals

Two months into the next three month period of my Learning Plan and I’m finally getting my goals posted. Thankfully the delayed posting doesn’t mean that I haven’t been getting things done.

My goals for the first six months were far too ambitious, and in hindsight, read more like goals for the next year or two. This list feels much more realistic to me — plenty of things to do, but plenty of room for unexpected opportunities as well. Also, planning for only three months, rather than six, worked much better for me. Season by season.

April

  • Build water garden.
  • Install beehive.
  • Learn to use the dehydrator.

May

  • Get bees.
  • Finish Master Naturalist Training.
  • Install washing machine greywater system.
  • Build new chicken coop.
  • Install chicken coop rainbarrel.
  • Harvest and dehydrate herbs.
  • Spread warm season cover crop seeds on Cosmo’s garden.

June

  • Install rainbarrel on garden shed.
  • Dehydrate backpacking food.
  • Build greywater basins.
  • Can fruit.
  • Get a chest freezer.
  • Experiment with rotating chicken ‘paddocks’.
  • Start a plant specimen book with pressed plants from the house and farm.
  • Hands-on Top Bar beekeeping class.
  • Cistern install workshop.
  • Read Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land.

Borage — It’s Pretty Awesome!

Borage blossoms and seeds

Borage (Borago officinalis) blossoms and seeds

Edible, medicinal, an excellent companion plant, and a favorite of bees, borage (Borago officinalis) is quickly becoming one of my favorites too. In the same family as permaculture favorite, comfrey, I’ve had much better luck growing borage here in SW Austin. Borage offers a lot of the same benefits as comfrey (edible, medicinal, soil building, integrated pest management), but one difference is that, unlike comfrey, borage is an annual. It self-seeds with vigor though and I’ve saved some of the seeds to spread around other parts of the yard.

I plan to spread some seeds in with the strawberry plants I put in a couple of months ago. I read that borage and strawberries are a particularly good pairing since the borage attracts insects that predate on most strawberry pests. It is also rumored to improve strawberry flavor and yields.

But strawberries aren’t the only plants that benefit from being planted with borage, it will help any plant that it’s planted with by creating a living mulch and cycling trace minerals back into the topsoil as its leaves decay.

Borage plant (on left), with Bock for scale.

Borage plant (on left), with Bock for scale.