Institute of Urban Homesteading
March 2013

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Hello March!
Daffodils everywhere and streets lined with plum and cherry blossoms. My pluots, year four, have finally figured out to bloom at the same time instead of 3 weeks apart (they are intended as pollinizers for each other) and, as every year, I am hopeful for apricots. At least it didn't pour as soon as the flowers opened. And speaking of rain--pray for some! We got off to such a great start with the early and plentiful Fall rains and now we need a little more to boost these spring gardens. At IUH we wrapped up our Winter Session just yesterday and are looking foward to seeing you at the start of the new season--March 30th! Thank you to all those who are already signing up for classes, we are excited for another year of learning and abundance.

Work Days Program
Our work days program has launched! The work days program seeks to connect willing worker/learners with experienced homesteaders to the benefit of all involved. This years hosts include some of our most broadly knowledgable faculty including Jim Montgomery, Deepa Natarajan, Jennie McKenzie, Tamya Stiller, Molly Bolt, myself (Ruby Blume), and Anders Vidstrand. If these are people you have wanted to learn more from, consider joining in. The progrm offers maxiumum flexibility in participation--we only ask that you RSVP for a minimum of 4 work days through the season. To be added to the list and receive work day invitations, fill out and return this form to us:

Annual Yelp Review Drawing ~ Write Review, Win A Class!
Write us a review between now and April 1st and we'll enter you in a drawing for a free 3 hour class of your choice. The odds on this drawing are always pretty good and it helps us a lot to have recent reviews. We especially love reviews from folks who have taken a number of classes from different teachers at different locations and success stories of how you have used the skills you have learned. Here's the link to our yelp page:
Yelp does not include full names or email addresses with their reviews, so be sure to let us know you have posted the review so we can enter you in the drawing.

Make Your own Seed Starting Mix
March is the perfect time to start seeding in six packas and flats. For best results make sure your pots, flats or six packs are clean--if you are reusing last years six packs, wash them in hot soapy water before planting. Seeds will start best in a fine absorbant medium that gets good drainage. Pre-mixed seed mediums are expensive and it is so easy to mix your own.

Here's how: 3 parts fine cocnut coir, 1 part perlite. 1 part worm castings.

Traditionally peat moss was used rather than coconut coir. But peat moss is non-renewable while cocnut coir is a product rescued from the waste stream. It is available from many local nurseries and also online. Be sure to get the fine grade--it also comes chopped coarsely and in that form is an excellent mulch. Cocnut coir is the part of the mixture that holds and absorbs moisture so your wee seeds don't dry out. Perlite, also available at nurseries is a volcanite glass. It helps with permeability and drainage in the mixture. If you wanted you could just mix these two together 3:1 or so. But you would need to start fertilizing your seedlings with a balanced dilute fertilizer once they have their first leaves as neither cocnut coir nor perlite contains any nutrients. Another option is to add one part worm castings or well aged compost to the mixture. There is some danger of introducing pathgens by this method, however it also greatly increases the seedlings strength and immune system.

Permaculture Principle #12
Creatively Use and Respond To Change
“Vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be”
The image for this principle is the butterfly, which starts as the humble catepillar. Change is inevitable. Through careful observation and knowledge we can intervene creatvely and have a positive impact on the outcome. Some change is predictable, such as the changing of the seasons or the stages of growth of a small organization or the way we age. By studying ourselves and the world around us we can peer into the future and make choices in the present that will influence a good outcome. This principle can be applied in the planning of your annual garden for crop rotations to work well with the changing seasons. It requires you to understand the changing seasons of your bio-region--perhaps through prior experience and good note-taking, or by speaking with others who have been gardening in the area longer. It can be applied in the way you site permanant features in your landscape. You know a tree will grow and with a little research you can predict what it might look like in 10 years. Use this information to place it in a way that it will have enough space when mature and not interfere with other features in your design. You know as well, that eventually you will age and want to retire--how can you creatvely ensure that you will have your needs taken care of at that time? Something like this may seem daunting in todays economy, but new and creative solutions are being developed all the time. This principle does not ask you to predict the future, but to study the past and the world around you.

Classes are Online!
Here at the Institute fo Urban Homesteading, we believe that knowledge is power. The more you know and understand processes and techniques, the more you will be able to ride the wave of vast changes that are coming. Small skills and understanding systems like soil, water and fermentation can have a great impact on the quality of our lives and our ability to care for ourselves, our families and the planet. Please join us in 2013 to learn something new and expand your capacity for resilience and responsiveness to change!

If you have not yet checked out our 2013 offerings jump on over to IUHOAKLAND.COM. Many of our popular classes are already filling up and there are many new topics and offerings this year to choose from. Please remember that if the class is greayed out on the calendar or class description, it is not yet open for registration. Greyed out classes are often repeats which have an earlier session open. Check for that earlier session and if that is not a date you can come, we'll be announcing sessions in the newsletter as they open.

Secret Seed Giveaway
I will be giving away my entire collection of bean seed, plus other garden annual seed and flower seed at a time and location TBA in March. Please email me if you would like an invitation. Put "free seed" in the title.