Category Archives: Strawberries

Dried (Really) Goods

thereachThe food dehydrator finally arrived. We’ve been researching the best methods for food storage and it has quickly become one of our favorite tools for preserving the harvest. We can now make jerky, fruit leather, and dry fruit, veggies, and herbs to store for months.

You can even dry sauces and soups for later use (a helpful tip for avid drytomcampers/adventurers).

I wasn’t sure what the kids would think – Would our dried apples compete with the store-bought variety? If the toddler had anything to say about it, I think they exceeded all expectations.

I normally buy dried tomatoes – I love the flavor and texture and it sometimes makes a decent meat substitute. Not only do the tomatoes dry really well, they’re something of a work of art when finished.

applebottomBuying fruit leather at the co-op is a bit costly for this family. Making our own is not only fun, but a healthy alternative. We use a bit of honey to add some sweet to match any tart flavors on part of the berries and can now make good use of all of that autumn olive at the farm.

leverI don’t normally do plugs for commercial products but in this instance, with the limited number of options in our region for food-safe dehydration, this product makes a really nice (and quiet) addition to your food storage arsenal. The Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-5A is one of the higher end models at the lower end of the total wattage spectrum. It’s a smallish unit with stackable trays (up to 12) and very quiet. Highly recommended, if solar isn’t a good option.


Healing Tree: the website

I’ve been brainstorming ideas to make this blog more effective and I’ve decided to build a website around topics discussed on the blog while maintaining the blog as a central forum for discussion and ideas.  The website will offer resources to folks new to permaculture and also those more familiar with the “do no harm” approach to farming, including helpful links and articles written by me and those more familiar with the process.  

Since we’re landless, we’ll be propagating a new kind of garden – with vital seeds of change – online!

Surviving Cancer

My resolve is strengthened to grow cherries without chemicals by the lengthy health-related stumbles I’ve taken lately.  Though I’m in remission, I’ve been experiencing the residule affect of chemo and radiation on my body.  I’m not allowed to drive at this time as my doctor beleives I may have experienced a series of mini-strokes and this gets in the way of my independence a bit.  Not to fret, we will resume next week with the help of my dear husband and another load of manure.

The strawberry beds are looking good as is the blueberry bed.  We’ll prep the blueberry bed with a layer of peat moss, mulch, newsprint and straw this fall.  Planting will begin in May after the danger of frost has passed.

For now, I’m drinking loads of water and enjoying the huge influx of birds we’ve seen since Healing Tree was established just two months ago.

Strawberry Beds

Lucy and I completed the strawberry beds this morning. They’re now thick and rich with composted hay and manure, awaiting next year’s plantings. Lucy watered while I did finish work.

We have six guilds ready and waiting with nine more to go. The remaining guilds will be smaller (we can easily add diameter later, if necessary) to conserve on materials and time. I decided to add the additional guilds because I felt it would serve our purpose well to experiment with as diverse a group of fruit trees as possible (accounting for appropriate pollinators). This diversity will allow us to see which trees flourish or do poorly and why. It also creates a more diverse habitat for birds, insects and microbes and with increased diversity, we fill more niches and expand on our eco-web; maintiaing a good balance always in our garden with minimal effort from a single source (i.e. the toiling gardener).

Mulberry Guilds and more

I’m working this morning on building the mulberry guild(s). We picked up some manure yesterday, but in the heat and without the tractor, we ended up with a very small load mostly made up of sawdust and ash. I decided to use this for the trees that require less fertility and perhaps some of the strawberry beds, if there’s any left. We’ll return for more manure next week (hopefully in some cooler weather).

In the meantime, we’ve compiled a list of fruit trees on order for fall/spring:

  • Golden Sweet Cherry (1)
  • Rainer Cherry (1)
  • Montmorency Cherry (1)
  • Ulster Cherry (2)
  • Hedelfingen Dark Sweet (1)
  • Gala Apple (2)
  • Honey Crisp (2)
  • Golden Delicious (1)
  • Bartlett Pear (1)
  • Methley Plum (1)
  • Red Mulberry (2)

These varities may be purchased at the websites listed beneath “trees” and “seeds” to the right.  Our bulb order must go out in September for fall planting and the guilds must be ready by the time they arrive. We’ll likely have a bulb party!

Welcome to Healing Tree Farm!

Healing Tree in the Fog


A fog fell over the land yesterday morning. We have nearly finished the blue berry bed (see photo). It took a full trailer-load of composted manure to cover most of the bed, but we have another load coming and will finish the remainder of berry beds.

While out yesterday, I purchased three butterfly bushes, three catmint, and a daylilly for the beds. We also put up additional bird feeders to attract a greater variety of birds.

T/N Farms has provided the farm with enough hay that we may not need to purchase additional bales. Thank-you T/N!

Dandelions and CO2, Farming

NPR reported this morning on the increase in dandelions (and other weeds) and rising CO2 levels. With more CO2 in the atmosphere, dandelions are “bolting,” or producing seeds earlier than normal and growing larger, stronger. For those never-ending green lawns, this could be problematic, but for the edible forest, it just signals a response to our environment, larger and deeper roots to open and aerate the soil and a larger, prettier bloom in the summer.

If we want to solve the problem of rising CO2 levels, we need to think differently about what we call “weeds” and begin to appreciate the response from nature to the largest of invasives, or opportunists: the human race.

In other news, we’re picking up a load of black dirt tonight and an additional load of hay for the guilds. We’ve finished two in as many days and plan to finish the girl’s guild this morning. As of later today, we should have five near-complete guilds with five or six to go (unless we receive additional funding and then we’ll tack on an additional three guilds).

Farmers have been wonderful in contributing time, advice, resources, etc. Northstar Organics (organic cherry growers out of Frankfort, MI) offered the use of their dump-truck to pick up the black dirt donated by T/N Farm. And Sandy Rennie made some recommendations on sweets and sour cherries. We are grateful and humbled by the enormous amount of support this project has received already. Thank-you!