Friday, December 2, 2016

More Trees

Since I finished fall tree planting with some time to spare, and since I had a spot in mind to try a pear tree, I recently planted one.  (And because, pears.)
What made me think of this location for a pear?  1) It's perhaps the coldest part of the yard in the winter.  2) It's a good location to get rainwater, and air conditioner condensate in the summer.  3) A tree here will help shade two north facing windows during summer mornings and afternoons.
A couple things you'll notice in these pictures: 1) A purslane is growing between the tree and the sidewalk.  There are several places at Sage Garden Ecovillas where purslane likes to grow every year (as volunteers, or weeds).  Mostly I see horse purslane (Trianthema portulacastrum), but this is one of the few locations where common purslane (Portulaca oleracea) grows.  I'm hoping that by preparing this area for the pear, and giving it consistent water in summer, I'll encourage the purslane to spread out and act as an edible ground cover in the summer.  2) I dug quite a few rocks out of this area, so I used them to make a spillway toward the back of the well.  This is the direction rain water will enter from.

I've also been thinking about tree planting for next spring. I'd like to plant Afghan pines as part of an arc around the north part of the yard.  This arc is designed as sort of an outdoor passive solar arrangement, shading the yard during summer, and allowing the sun in during winter.  Afghan pines (pinus eldarica, also called Eldar pines, Mondell pines, or desert pines) are perhaps the best-adapted pines for this climate.  They use little water, grow fast, tolerate poor soil, stand up to strong winds, have a pleasant fragrance, and at a mature height of about 40 ft, offer a moderately high canopy for shade.  These trees are often sold in the Phoenix area as live Christmas trees.

Friday, November 25, 2016

My Way - Three Stories

“I did it my way” says the song.  It's a song about individualism, and the protagonist believes the way he's singing about is his own, an inherent and absolute property of himself.  But to ascribe the way in the song to the individual is to fall under an illusion, a trick of the mind's eye that accentuates the contrast of what is relative and mutes the absolute.  The protagonist's perception of his own way is dependent on the norms of his context and how they differ from his way.

If there were no prevailing ways to serve as a backdrop, there would be no "my way" to sing about, and unless the "its" that "I did" were common enough things for people to do, there could be no prevailing ways to do them.

My point here is not to deconstruct a song (if instead of "I did it my way" the lyrics said "I did it a slightly peculiar way that seemed special, but only in contrast to the way other people were doing the same thing," even Frank Sinatra would have had a hard time selling it) but to remind myself of the derivative, contingent quality of my own ideas and opinions about how to do things, and to introduce a personal story that begins with an insightful question once mused by a giant:
Which way is my way?

Good question, Fezzik.  The personal story I referred to is actually three simultaneous stories - a small one, a medium one, and a large one.  The small one is a sketch of what I call the regenerative business philosophy I'm developing at Sage Garden Ecovillas.  The medium one is my method for answering Fezzik's question.  And the large one is about creation and the creative impulse.  It starts like this.

Once upon a time (well, more than once, and all the time) the world of ways to do things is formless and void.  And we say, "Let there be doing.  Let us do."  And then the world is no longer void; it is occupied by doing.  But it's still formless.  And sometimes the story ends there.  But other times we gain skill, we learn HOW to do, and we separate right ways from wrong ways.  And sometimes the story ends there.  But other times, when we've seen the right ways and that they're good, we ask, "But which way is my way?"

When I moved into Sage Garden Ecovillas (here's the medium story), all I saw at first was the "right way" to do business, but as I continue doing, I see hints of ideas flaking away from the whole of business as usual.  So I pull on those ideas to see what else comes with them, and that's how I find my way.  Say the idea is a belief; it may bring with it some values, priorities, or practices.  Or a practice might come with some attitudes, values, or other practices.

One of the first flakes I saw was the idea of valuing the well-being of people over the well-being of the organization.  It's tempting to think that if an organization (such as a business) thrives, so do its members.  This is not always true, and standard business practices nurture the business at the expense of the people.  Another flake I saw early on was the idea of working cooperatively and not competitively with other businesses, clients, suppliers, and everyone.  So I pulled on those flakes.

It's tempting at this point to criticize the standard way, but the standard way is perfectly valid.  It's self-consistent.  It yields long-lived organizations.  It's a step in the right direction from no way.  It's just not my way.

So I pulled on those two ideas, and some others started to peel away with them.  One was the idea of inclusivity.  The standard way is for organizations (such as businesses) to have discrete rosters and a clear division between members and nonmembers.  That's fine, but the way I would prefer is to have a fuzzy boundary, where the level of participation can vary.  Another idea was valuing the well-being of all, not just of the decision makers (or oneself, in the degenerate case).  Yet another was to give more emphasis to motives and less to methods, or to subjugate the how to the why.  In this case, it's easy to see the relative nature of "my way."  Both how and why are important.  What I observe in business as usual is a certain proportion of attention paid to tools and methods as compared to motives.  It's not that NO attention is paid to motives (every successful business has a charter or mission or vision statement, even if it's stale and lifeless).  And my way is not to ignore methods - it's just to devote a greater proportion of my attention to motives.
(To be continued - probably as long as I live)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Fall Tree Planting Part 2

We added six fruit trees to the eastern walkway this fall.  First we designed the layout.  In this picture, the proposed locations of the trees and benches are marked with yellow stakes.
Marking the locations like this made it easier to check the overhead clearance (both now and when that mesquite is fully grown) and to check the sun exposure (for all four seasons).  The mulberry, curry leaf, and plum will get the full sun they like for three seasons, and the plum (a Burgundy, which may grow up to 30 ft tall) has plenty of headroom.  The avocado and guava will get partial shade in summer, and we located the apple where cold air will sink in winter.  By the time the picture above was taken, we had cleared away the rock and grass.  The plan included a berm around the trees on north side of the sidewalk (in the foreground of the picture).  The berm isn't for irrigation (all six trees will be drip-watered), but just to keep the mulch from scattering.  The whole section of yard on the south side is already mulched, so no need for a berm on that side.
After clearing the rock and grass, the next step was to run irrigation tubing on the north side.  Once that was in place, we dug the six holes. 
Half of the dirt from the holes was used to build the berm (and this is why we ran the tubing on the north side first, so it would lie under the berm).  The other half of the dirt was mixed with some compost that has been aging since this spring.
Look at the beautiful black compost in that shovel.  Kitchen scraps, fallen leaves, and shredded junk mail.  This mixture is for backfilling around the trees once they're in place.
We dug the holes twice as wide as the pots and placed all six trees (pot and all) in their holes for a final visual check and some minor adjustments.

After running the irrigation tubing on the other side of the sidewalk, we popped the trees out of their pots and filled the holes with the dirt / compost mix.
Then we spread mulch and set up each of the trees with a set of drippers "tuned" for the size of its root zone.  The tallest ones (the apple and the plum) have 3 drippers @ 4 gal/hr; the medium ones (the mulberry and avocado) have 3 drippers @ 2 gal/hr; and the small shrubby ones (the curry leaf and the guava) have 4 drippers @ 1/2 gal/hr.We left crucial parts of the drip system unburied until we were ready to test it out.
And that's all for today.  Now these trees are ready to spread some roots and rest up for the spring.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Fall Tree Planting

Seems like fall weather has taken its time coming to central Arizona, but it's finally time to plant deciduous trees.  Our docket this fall includes an apple, a dwarf mulberry, a moringa, a dwarf avocado, a curry leaf, and a pineapple guava.

These trees will line the walkway to the mailbox, leaving room for two rocking benches, one on each side of the sidewalk.  (One will go about where the chair is in the picture below.)

I have a sheltered location picked out for the avocado, where it will be shaded by a mesquite in summer and by an olive and an orange in winter.

I was pleasantly surprised this year to find desert hackberries at Boyce Thompson Arboretum's fall plant sale.  These are native bushy trees that produce a striking orange (and edible) berry in the fall.  Yes, you can have fall colors in the desert.  I've picked a location for one of these near the northeast corner of the house, where eventually it will give summer shade to that corner and part of the sidewalk.

The other will probably go somewhere in the "sonoran biome" region of the front yard.

Elsewhere in the yard, the luffa vines are sprinting up one of the olive trees.  Today I found a flower 10 ft off the ground.

And the bananas and peanuts are still doing their thing in the chunky monkey patch.

Monday, September 19, 2016

September's Olive Harvest

The recent olive harvest event at sage garden ecovillas was a success on many fronts.  I learned a lot from it, and really enjoyed the chance to meet and work shoulder-to-shoulder with some local gardeners and urban farmers.  I think everyone had a good time, and hopefully took away a little deeper appreciation and feeling of connection with the olive trees and the ancient practices of harvesting and preparing olives.

There are some things I think we did well, that I'd like to do again next time, and some things I'd like to do different.

Things that went well:
1) I really like the basic idea of harvesting and curing olives as a group activity.  Of course, this idea isn't new - it's a long-standing tradition in some families and cultures.  And maybe it's something you have to experience firsthand to appreciate.
2) The popup canopy and card table worked well as a gathering point, a place for sign-in sheets and name tags, and a place to taste finished olives.
3) The comination sign-in sheet and waiver was a paper-saver.
4) Doing the processing (rinsing, cutting, pitting, curing) inside where it was cool was a good idea.
5) Food grade buckets worked well for processing.
6) The basic format worked well, starting with personal introductions and explanations, then start harvesting, then start processing, then tasting, and finally the sharing circle.
7) Finishing the olives with malt vinegar was a clear win.

Things to try or do different next time:
1) Use shoulder straps to hold the buckets while picking (thanks for that idea, Charles).
2) Leave the small olives on the tree (thanks for that suggestion, PJ).
3) Set up a number of finishing stations before the event.
4) Get more Westmark olive pitters.  The Westmark was the universal favorite, hands down.  And don't bother trying to use the Press2Pit cherry pitter to pit olives.
5) I learned that some olive afficionados really like eating their olives with the pit in (thanks, Jacqueline).

6) Abe suggested several different flavorings, including Mediterranean style, using lemon juice and jalapenos.  I did a little research, and I have some of the olives we picked finishing Mediterranean style right now.  I'm also experimenting with just substituting lemon juice in place of vinegar in the finishing solution, and using crushed red pepper.
7) Take more pictures next time.

Bottom line, this olive harvest event was a fun, enriching experience, for me, and I appreciate everyone who participated. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Gratuitous Camera Roll

Even when it's completely unplanned, it's good to see local fauna making use of the trees and gardens.  I've been seeing quite a few collared doves.  I don't know what they get out of the purslane, but they seem to like grazing in it.

I see them often in the olive trees, too.

Or perched on the shade next to this pomegranate.

We're also seeing a lot of geckos this year.
I think they're feasting on ants.  We have more ants than I want, so keep it up, geckos.  While I appreciate the ants' work in the garden, they are problematic in some places because they like biting so much.  With any luck, using coffee grounds in those places will convince them to move.  I've started collecting coffee grounds from the cafeteria at work.  I get about 4 gallons a day.

Back on the subject of purslane, we had a zealous purslane overgrowing the sidewalk, so I cut it back and blanched and froze it - mostly as an experiment to see how it would turn out.

Haven't tried it yet, but next time we make a soup or something that calls for purslane, we'll see how well it kept.

 And finally, here's a recent picture of the Chunky Monkey patch (so called because it's where we grow bananas and peanuts).  The bananas are doing well, and I'm pleasantly surprised how well the peanuts have grown (most of the ground cover in the picture is peanuts).  The taro is struggling with the heat, but I think they'll make it through to the fall.  The mystery volunteer tomato in the middle is still producing tomatoes, and the turmeric is slowly stretching up.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Preparing for Olive Harvest

 We tried our new DIY olive picker today, in preparation for the olive harvest event coming up on Sept 10.

It worked like a charm.
It's handy to have a three-person team: a "picker," a "catcher" (to find the olives that are shaken loose and drop to the ground), and a "holder" (to carry a container for the picker to empty into).

We picked some black olives (to keep them from over-ripening) and started curing them in salt.

We also picked some green olives and started curing them in water.

I'm hoping that the green olives will be ready to taste during the event.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Crop Report - Perennials

The fig trees we planted two years ago are starting to produce more than the birds can eat.

Last year, they produced what I thought was a good sized crop, but the ants and the birds ate almost all of them, leaving us with a meager handful of figs for the whole year.  This year, I denied the ants their share.  I wrapped the trunks of the trees and then brushed the wraps with a sticky tangle trap goo to keep the ants from marching up and helping themselves.  I also had bird nets at the ready, but I decided to wait and see how many figs they would eat.

Flashback: in late May or early June, we started hearing mockingbirds.  I've seen them in their favorite perches around the neighborhood, including several high points in our olive trees.  We hear their songs sporadically throughout the day, but they really seem to get going in the evening, and sing until morning.  Anyway, when I round the corner and catch birds in the act of snatching figs, it's usually mockingbirds.  So they're giving us their songs, and taking some figs.  Over the past month, we have harvested a couple handfuls of figs (6 - 12) for us humanfolk every five days or so.  I think that's a pretty good trade.  Yes, ants, I'm unfairly biased in favor of species that sing to me and make me wonder what it would feel like to fly.

If I were canning figs, though, I think I would net the trees.  Here's why: when we share figs with the birds, we get small harvests - no more than a dozen figs at a time.  The birds seem able and willing to eat about 90% of any given fig, but if an untouched fig is just as accessible on the tree as one that's, say, 50% eaten, they seem to prefer starting in on the new one.  So when I wait longer between harvests, I seem to get no more figs for myself, but I see more half-eaten figs on the tree.  So what I've been doing as I harvest the untouched figs is picking off the almost completely eaten, dried out figs to throw into the compost, but leaving the ones that are easy for birds to reach and barely pecked at, with the idea that they will finish those off, and let ripen the ones that are harder for them to reach.

One of the pomegranate trees we planted two years ago is maturing, too.  Last year, we picked maybe five pomegranates.  This year, it looks like we'll have about a dozen.

We'll have a lot more olives this year than last.  The olive trees were already here when I moved in 2013, and we've had a modest olive crop every fall.  Starting this past spring, I've been deep watering the olive trees to see if I can get them to hold more of their fruit until harvest, and I've been keeping a closer eye on them to see if they're dropping any.  I would say they dropped 1% - 3%, which I hope will leave us with a couple gallons of olives for this year.  If you're interested in seeing how we cure olives, look for our olive harvest(s) in late summer and early fall.

The native mesquite we planted two years ago is also starting to produce.  We recently harvested our first batch of pods, and experimented with several ways of making flour.

The winning method we settled on was to grind them briefly in our Vitamix blender and then sift out the chaff.  We also tried using a flour mill, but our Nutrimill isn't designed to separate the mesquite chaff, so we ended up with fine-ground flour plus coarse-ground chaff, which was poor quality and hard to separate.  The flour that came out of the Vitamix seemed just as fine, but the chaff was much larger, which made it easier to separate.

What I like about perennials is the input-to-yield ratio.  Plant once, harvest many times.

What could be better?

Well, to un-rhetoricalize that question, volunteers could be better.  How about plant nonce, harvest many times?  (OK, "nonce" isn't a word, but neither is "un-rhetoricalize.")  Some plants at Sage Garden pop up on their own, with no planting effort, and then we decide to tend them, or just politely ignore them and let them thrive.  Most of these are native "weeds" like purslane, which proliferate for a season, give us a few salads, and then subside.

Or a leftover seed from last year will decide to germinate, like this honeydew melon, which started growing beside our newly planted peach tree.

Mesquite trees will often pop up in less-than-optimal locations, but the one in the foreground of the picture to the right happens to be in just the right place for a shady, 15 ft tree in the middle of our future food forest.  And the fact that it fixes nitrogen in the soil is a bonus.  With some pruning and training this winter, it will be a real asset to this area.

But I can't leave the topic of volunteers without mentioning the tomato plant that mysteriously appeared in our Chunky Monkey patch (where we're growing bananas and peanuts).  I'm still baffled how this one showed up in this brand new plot, before I had planted a single tomato plant anywhere at Sage Garden.  Look for the pear-shaped yellow-orange tomatoes in the picture.

If you don't mind me getting metaphysical for a sec, I think there's a spiritual lesson in volunteer plants.  Anyone who relates to his garden as a thing to control will kill all the volunteers, because they are always unplanned.  And his garden will grow only "through painful toil" and "by the sweat of his brow will he eat his food" (Genesis 3).  Only someone who is willing to flex his plans (like what I call "this-or-better planning") and surrender to what his garden is doing on its own can reap the benefit of voluteer plants.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Search for a New Manager

I'm planning to start a new ecohousing venture in 2017 that will differ from Sage Garden Ecovillas in its vision and business model. When that venture starts, I'll move out of Sage Garden and turn over daily operation to a new on-site manager. There are many things I'll miss about living here: talking with the residents and neighbors, checking in on the trees and other plants, thinking about systemic suburban issues and solutions. But the time is coming for someone else to get the firsthand experience of managing this place, time for a fresh pair of eyes and fresh ideas, and time for me to start learning secondhand the lessons this place has to offer that I couldn't see firsthand – the forest for the trees, and all. In the meantime, I'm collecting logs of the kind of work I do here on a regular basis. This will help me find the right manager and define my expectations. Having a clear definition of expectations will not only help the new manager to succeed; it will also be an opportunity to put some cooperative agreement concepts into practice.


Below is a motive map outlining the “whys” I just mentioned for defining expectations. (For an explanation of motive maps, see the earlier post called “Meet the Motive Map,” although there are some interesting differences between this motive map and the ones I talked about in that post, which I promise I'll go into before I end this post, because I can't resist talking theory.)

The white nodes outlined in dashed lines above are imported from the latest motive map of all the ongoing programs and practices at Sage Garden Ecovillas (the whole map is shown later in this post). By the way, the “RBP” in the rightmost node stands for regenerative business practices. The blue nodes are objectives that apply specifically to preparing for a new manager, and the black nodes are high-level tasks, which I'll decompose into more detail later.

As I think about moving out of Sage Garden and look over the motive map above, I can think of some other things I want to do while I still live here and have the opportunity to learn from direct experience. So I'll add them into the motive map like so:


Now that the picture of the whats and the whys is starting to develop, let's make a schedule to show the whens. The schedule will include the high-level tasks (the black nodes) from the motive map, and while I'm at it, why not include the motives that are directly connected to them? Let's see what that looks like:

The rolled up task called “Motives” contains motives as milestones, and their (schedule) predecessors are the tasks motivated by them. Yes, it feels a little weird to include motives like this in a schedule, but then again, 1) seeing them alongside the more conventional schedule elements makes it easier to decompose those high-level tasks in a way that supports the motives, and 2) as new information emerges and the schedule changes over time, these embedded motives will serve as reminders of what is important and why. Here's an excerpt of the next draft of this schedule, where detail has been added, as guided by the motives.

This schedule isn't complete yet, but you can start to see how the motive map and the schedule work together as complementary planning artifacts. As I round out the schedule, I'll add details that have more to do with the new venture than with Sage Garden Ecovillas, but that's a blog for another time and place.


I said I would show the latest version of the complete motive map for Sage Garden Ecovillas for reference, so here it is:

The nodes in brown are values, those in green are objectives, and those in white are programs or practices.

You probably noticed some fundamental differences between the motive map of preparations for a new manager and the motive map of Sage Garden Ecovillas. Some of these differences are due to the nature of the operation being mapped. The preparation for a new manager is time-bounded, while the operation of Sage Garden Ecovillas is perpetual. That's why in the former motive map contains tasks (the black nodes) which are inherently terminating, while the latter map has programs and practices (the white nodes) which are non-terminating. That's also why some of the objectives in the former map (the blue nodes) are bounded, while all the objectives in the latter map (the green nodes) are unbounded. For example, consider the objective “Reduce Consumption.” No matter how much we reduce our consumption at Sage Garden, we'll never be done – we'll always have the objective of reducing it further.

Here's a summary comparison of the two kinds of motive maps pictured in this post.

Preparations for on-site manager motive map Sage Garden Ecovillas motive map
Time-bounded operation Perpetual operation
Associated with a schedule Not associated with a schedule
Nodes in map:
- imported nodes
- objectives (bounded and unbounded)
- tasks
Nodes in map:
- values
- objectives (unbounded)
- programs / practices


Do you have any critical comments or suggestions about anything you see here? Or any questions? If so, let me hear them by commenting below.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Biomimicry in Business - Part 1


If you research biomimicry (aka biomimetics - the application of biological models to artificial designs), you'll find innovative gadgets, head-turning architecture, organic shapes that put a new spin on an existing mechanical designs, advanced materials, and all manner of tangible products whose designs have been informed by "solutions" in nature.  What you probably won't find, unless you really squint and use your imagination, are examples of biomimicry in the development of less tangible things like business practices.

Let's change that.

It's tempting to romanticize the wisdom of nature and indiscriminately apply biomodels just like Maslow's hammer to any business problem we can conjure into the form of a nail.  Let's not do that.  Let's look at an actual business problem, and see if biomimicry can shed some light on the problem and suggest solutions.


Many businesses generate unwanted by-products.  Landscapers' customers expect them to dispose of yard waste, so that yard waste becomes an unwanted by-product of their business.  Coal fired power plants generate CO2, NOx, ash, mercury, and a host of other unwanted by-products.  Why is this a business problem / opportunity?
1) Disposal can be expensive.
2) The potential conduits for disposal may limit business growth.
3) Government and other regulatory bodies may impose fees or other penalties.
4) May lose goodwill with customers, suppliers, or partners who see the unwanted by-products as pollution.


Biological systems on every scale (from intracellular organelles to vast biomes) thrive when 1) their inputs match the outputs of their environmental context, and 2) their outputs match the inputs of their context.  For a basic example, animals need oxygen in the air they breathe.  That's one of their essential inputs.  Plants produce oxygen as an output, so animals and plants thrive together.  Some animals also require fresh water as an input, so they thrive in a context where fresh water is an output.  Other inputs include specific plants or animals for food, specific dietary nutrients, materials for building shelter, water or air currents to aid migration, ... You get the idea.

When a system's inputs match the outputs of its context, and vice versa, we can call this a "closed loop."  It's easy to see from the diagram below why that name fits.

Now, the name "closed loop" and the idea of applying the closed loop model to solve human design problems is nothing new.  Walter Stahel applied the closed loop model to businesses in the 1970s.  Environmental economists Pearce and Turner applied it on a larger scale and called it a "circular economy" in Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment in 1989.  (Interestingly, they cited biomimicry as a key approach for achieving a circular economy, but they didn't - to my knowledge - consider the circular economy concept itself to be an intangible application of biomimicry.)  Mollison called it "Energy Cycling" and applied it to site design in Introduction to Permaculture in 1991. 


What strengths accompany this biomodel?  The idea of balancing inputs and ouputs with the context might seem so obvious that it's hard to imagine a relative framework to measure it against.  But often it's possible, using natural conduits (like a river or air currents) or artificial conduits (like waste management services) for business decision makers to ignore imbalances temporarily, even if the use of such conduits is unsustainable.  And it's also possible to expend considerable energy to "mine" (sometimes literally) from the context materials that aren't readily available.  Pearce and Turner contrasted their circular economy with what they called the "take, make, dispose" model.

With the take, make, dispose model as a backdrop, it's easy to see some strengths of the closed loop:
1) synergy with the context,
2) scalability,
3) stability, and
4) environmental health

What are the limitations of this biomodel?  Some business decision makers don't value sustainability or synergy with other elements of their context (such as natural elements, people, and other businesses) as highly as, say, short term profit.  In such conditions, the closed loop biomodel may not offer compelling benefits.


In some cases, the closed loop model can be applied to an established business to reap the accompanying benefits.  The landscaping company in our original example may find some local gardeners who value their yard waste as mulch, thereby saving disposal cost, reaping goodwill, and improving the health of the local ecosystem.  But in some cases, this model can only be applied in the initial decisions at startup, or during decisions to scale up.  In the example of coal fired power plants, the take, make, dispose model may be so central to the business that when the public becomes aware of the mounting deleterious affects of unbalanced by-products, and national governments start making global environmental agreements, it may be too late for the business, or the whole industry, to recover.


The closed loop model is an example of a relational model.  Besides relational models, biosystems can provide structural models (including most if not all applications of biomimicry to date), developmental models, and functional models.  In part two, I'll give more examples of other biomodels and discuss a systematic approach to practicing biomimicry in business.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Garden Report

Time for an update from the garden.  Let's start with the established trees.

The early crop of Black Jack figs is tapering off, and you can see the trees are loaded with fruit that will ripen later this year for the main crop.

The olive trees are looking generous, too.  I'm deep watering all five of the olive trees this year, hoping they keep all their fruit until harvest.   So far, the outlook is promising.

Here's one of the Wonderful pomegranates that is starting to produce this year.  The fruit may be hard to see in the picture, because they're green right now, but it looks like we'll have a small crop of pomegranates.  The other pomegranate trees (another Wonderful and two Kashmir) are still getting acclimated.

I'm hoping for some elderberries.  After I planted this poor elderberry last year, I realized it was in the wrong place, so it got a double dose of transplant shock.  But it kept a good attitude, and it looks like we may get a few berries this year.


Here's the baby almond we planted just this spring, with its sentinel of scallions.  And for fun, there's a close-up of its buddy, the comfrey plant.  The orange and peach trees we planted about the same time are also looking strong, although we won't get fruit from any of them yet this year.


Check out the Chunky Monkey patch!  This bed is mostly banana, peanut, and taro.  I saw my first-ever peanut blossom (close-up above).  Know what's weird?  The blossoms smell like peanuts.  I guess I should have expected that.

That's all the pictures for now.  I'll have a post coming out soon about biomimicry in business.