Here are some of the things you might work on/participate in while visiting Earthen Heart divided by season. If you are considering a visit, please review this partial and constantly evolving list, and consider in which areas you have skill and/or interest. Feel free to make this clear in email or phone communication prior to your visit.
Keep in mind there is an ongoing, year-round need for some things such as: maintenance, cleaning, cooking, childcare and animal care.
Winter – Black to White
- The shortest/darkest days extend into longer days. The white snow contrasts the darkness. The cold asks us to hibernate, rest, stay warm, create art, take care of one another, plan for the upcoming season of growth, sort/order seeds and plan gardens, check and rotate our food and supplies.
- FIRE/WOODLOT: tend fire(s), organize wood pile
- CROPS: in late winter/early spring: tap tree sap for tonic water or boil for syrups, dig up roots (sassafras, horseradish)
- ANIMAL CARE: keep animals warm, feed them and give water.
- PRUNING: blueberries need a lot of work in late February and early March. Also various fruit and nut trees need attention.
- PLOW/SHOVEL: driveway, steps around house and outbuildings.
- PLAN: sort and order seeds, plan gardens, order trees for spring planting, plan permaculture development
Spring – Green to Yellow
- Green growth begins as leaf mulch and decay break down into soil. There is a renewal, awakening, rebirth. We observe plant growth and carefully pull back mulch, selectively till and mulch again, amend soil, direct seed plant and bring in transplants. Dandelions bring yellow and show that renewal has really begun as sunlight is converted into bright foliage.
- SOW: starters / seedlings; plant fruit and nut trees; direct seed: clover, radishes, beets, etc.
- HARVEST: nettle, asparagus, strawberries, greens of all kinds.
- SOIL MGMT / GARDEN PREP: cover crop management, observe plant growth, cautiously weed, amend soil, rotate compost piles, clear and place mulch, set up rain barrels and irrigation systems.
Summer – Yellow to Red
- The yellows have turned to reds and purples. We must nurture, water, weed, mulch and tend the gardens and prepare for the bounty that is forthcoming. This is time to immerse in the sun and receive the energy of the Universe. We must do the projects that we have been dreaming about during winter. The bounty and energy will need to be stored for the rest of the year as this is the peak of solar energy.
- HARVEST: forage herbs such as nettle, purslane, raspberries and blackberries usually begin in July, cherries, blueberries are peak in August, garlic scapes arrive in June, bulbs in July, potatoes, onions, etc.
- SOIL MGMT/GARDEN PREP: weeding, mulching, amend soils and irrigate.
- SOW: direct seed for fall greens, buckwheat and sorghum
- PROCESSING FOODS: (homestead items+cottage foods): garlic salt, berry juice, dried fruits and vegetables, fruit leather
- Construction and Landscaping: manage projects and move forward as possible (earth-buildings, outbuildings, etc.)
Fall – Red/Brown to Black
- The rich reds and deep purples are turning brown and it is time collect, share and store the bounty. It is also time to prepare for the upcoming cold months and darkness. We understand that there is much life outside our human circle that is also being sustained and we ask for what we need to live in coexistence.
- HARVEST: foraging many herbs, deer and other wild game, squash, grapes, corn, apples, pears, beans, greens, onions…
- SOW: garlic for next summer harvest, cover crops
- PROCESSING FOODS: sumac salt, herbs, veggies and fruits.
- Construction and Landscaping: clean the yard, put things in storage, remove rain barrels and irrigation systems, plan for incoming cold.
- FIRE/WOODLOT: thin forest of deadwood, chop and split wood, organize woodpile.
This is a partial list but gives a general sense of the seasonal rotation of which we are a part. The warming trends make us consider a shift from hardiness zone 6 to 5 and allow us to grow more things like okra but make growing fruit a little more risky.