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Chicagoland Permaculture at Townline Design
Chicagoland Permaculture at Townline Design
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Waukegan, IL, US
Climate zone:
Cold Temperate

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Grant Van der Merwe Kelly June Hutcheson Nancy Schilli Tycho Huussen

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Spring update

Project: Chicagoland Permaculture at Townline Design

Posted by Daniel Brown almost 10 years ago

Slow, cold, miserable, and somehow still busy.

With a tightening budget and an extremely late winter, we weren't able to erect a greenhouse, delegating all of our transplants to two small cold-frames.  They did not perform well to say the least, so we're off to an even later start than last year.

We did manage to get a couple of langstroth beehives set up outside, and I baited them with lemongrass oil.  Now that the bees are out collecting pollen, I'm hopeful that the next colony to swarm will find it's way to one of our boxes.  Package bees are in very short supply this time of year, especially due to colony collapse.  This winter was also particularly brutal, with beekeepers reporting losses exceeding 60%.  These italian honey bees also come from Californian almond orchards.  So, rather than buying in bees which are not hardy to our climate and notorious for colony collapse, I've elected to simply attract the bees which are already living here comfortably.  If they can survive a winter here by themselves, they could only do better in a well maintained hive.

The earthworks last year were a partial success.  The swale works great, but the lack of established roots and pressence of heavy clay soil make drainage a slow process.  We've had multiple overflow events, but the spillway is working as intended with minimal erosion.  Our raised beds, on the other hand, are a bit too high and drain too quickly, requiring fairly consistent watering throughout the summer.  The cardboard and woodchip mulch in the footpaths has done a superb job of keeping the weeds away.  Using wood chips as mulch in the beds was probably a mistake, but we had no other suitable material at the time.  The problem is that the mycellial growth in the soil is making it compact and difficult to plant into.  Fortunately, the soil food web is off to a great start with plenty of small insects and large worms.

For now it's just sowing/transplanting, watering, weeding, and mulching while I prepare other developments. I'm going to dig another, smaller swale. I plan to feed this next swale into a retention pond, which will be another new experience to check off my list. I'm also trying to get in touch with several people about applying for a grant or some other kind of funding so that we can build this greenhouse already.

2014 05 15 19.43.38 2014 05 29 19.24.32 2014 06 11 18.57.46 2014 06 11 19.02.56 2014 05 27 15.41.40

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