A Cold And Wet Autumn
Winter Solstice 2018, Microstead Report
With the recent winter solstice, I wanted to do a quick check-in about the projects happening here at my home microstead.
While at autumn equinox I had planned to do a cover crop for green manure this winter, I wound up planting a quick experiment to see how much the growing season here can be extended. Unfortunately, rather than the mild, sunny days of winters past, we were treated to a cloudy and wet autumn that has significantly stunted—if not entirely halted—the growth of my experiment. My beets, garlic, and onions continue slight growth, but my cabbages never seemed to take off.
20”+ Above Our Average Annual Rainfall
And it’s raining again today.
One source of frustration has been this sort of mass psychological denial to climate change. For example, when looking ahead to the forecast this autumn and winter, I tried to acquire rain barrels from the local hardware stores that sell them earlier in the year, and was generally met with laughter about how those are for the springtime when it’s raining. Since then we’ve had more than a dozen inches of rainfall and over a foot of snow between all that.
Similarly, information on how seasons in the area may be changing is still ‘too radical’ or ‘out there’ to find in concrete terms. I’ve heard that this is the second wettest year in North Carolina on record. The dramatic increase in rainfall follows years of average temps in the low 70s at this time of year. We are not just talking about global warming, nor are we talking about future climate change. The climate here has changed.
And this continues to inform my work. Permaculture cannot afford to dig roots in romantic or oblivious fantasies. Our survival depends not just on re-learning and teaching traditional living skills, but on adapting to the world we now find ourselves in. To this end, one of my goals for the coming season is to research wetter climates and consider potential adjustments to the work I do here. I also want to commit to my awareness this idea of climate as more chaotic than a few years of data. Just as this year’s weather changed from years past, next year could be different. How do we adapt to that? How and where do we stabilize?
Other Goals & Challenges
Another challenge has been recognizing my own labor capacity. Unlike other permaculture projects, I’m not a team of people. Everything I have accomplished so far has been by myself or with the help of my grandfather. The way forward with that is either to more realistically take on projects I can accomplish or be more pro-active and reciprocal about engaging neighbors in similar projects. The latter may be the way I choose as several of my neighbors have taken to talking to me about growing food, planting for pollinators, and other related subjects.
My last stop for this post is to lay out some goals to achieve by the vernal equinox. From the goals I picked out at the autumnal equinox, all that remains is to continue producing video blogs and to get a rainwater collection system established.
Goals for Vernal Equinox 2019:
Establish rainwater collection system
Get to local seed library and pick veggies that can form a meal together to plant in secondary bed where no growth as happened yet (thinking: okra, tomatoes [container], cucumbers, …)
Research wetter climates and make a list of potential plants worth experimenting with here as climate adapts
Check-in with neighbors and proactively invite them to tag along to seed library or to get sprouts started for them (reach out to local anti-capitalist, mutual aid, and interfaith groups for same)
Put out some new wild bee advocacy materials (blog/zine discussing interactions between honey industry and wild bee health, bee hotel models) as early as January; network to get others in community excited about advocacy
Collect objective soil health (and biodiversity) data and design way to make this information publicly available so that anyone can follow along with how my design choices are affecting this ecosystem
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Pat Mosley (NC LMBT #16882) is a licensed massage and bodywork therapist in the Winston-Salem area. His work is rooted in compassionate touch, permaculture, and deep ecology with the resilience of all Earth's children in mind. Connect with him via email to firstname.lastname@example.org