Thursday, June 20, 2019

Environmental Working Group

Are you curious about how healthy the products you use in your home are? Do you keep up on the latest news with Monsanto, or care about how much Round Up might be in your cereal? The consumer guides by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a great resource to learn about the safety of a variety of products.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Book Recommendation: Gaia's Garden

If you are interested in learning more about Permaculture, let me introduce you to my favorite gardening book of all time. Gaia's Garden was written by Toby Hemenway. This book introduced me to the concept of Permaculture. I found it while browsing the gardening section of a local book store. I ended up buying the book and reading it, cover to cover, multiple times. The book went on vacation with me once, and I thought I left it behind, so I bought another copy. Of course, after purchasing the second copy, I found the first. I don't mind owning two copies of this extraordinary book - it's THAT good! Learn more about Gaia's Garden here:

Gaia's Garden

What is Permaculture?

"A sustainable system is any system that, in its lifetime, can produce more energy than it takes to establish and maintain it." ~ Bill Mollison, co-creator of Permaculture

"Permaculture is really a design system about sustainable land use and sustainable living." ~ David Holmgren, co-creator of Permaculture

Hello, welcome to my blog. My name is Renee Clark and I have been a student of Permaculture since 2009. Through the years, I have been able to establish many aspects of Permaculture on a very small scale.  I remain a student of this brilliant system of design and dedicate this blog to continued research, study and implementation.

The concept of Permaculture was created in the 1970s by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren.  The idea of a sustainable system that lessened the impact of heavy resource use seems to be a modern concept by environmentalists, but this idea originated years ago.  As society moved toward the factory farming model, a model that relies heavily on petrol, we lost ability to care for ourselves.  We became reliant on others, and big oil, for our survival.

Core tenet: Care for the earth.

Permaculture is a system that increases one's ability to reduce reliance on corporate farming.  The system is designed to care for and nurture the earth.  This model of caring for the earth also cares for the creatures that we have been blessed with.  Permaculture takes care of the bees.  Permaculture takes care of the animals that are often mistreated by the factory farming industry.

Core tenet: Care for the people.

Permaculture teaches people how to care for themselves.  Permaculture works by reducing reliance on corporate farming, and increasing ones ability to produce food for themselves.  It is a concept of living simply.  It is a concept of creating a system where each part plays a role for another.  It is a concept of reducing waste.

Core tenet: Fair share

In the permaculture model, we govern our own needs.  We use what we need.  We share what we don't.  One system shares to another - we use the waste from one system and recycle it to care for another.

When I began this blog years ago, I was tracking what I was doing in my home garden.  My children were young.  As I studied and learned I implemented many systems of permaculture.  I had some issues with my health and wasn't always able to maintain it, but the system remained in place.  This season I have brought all systems back into play, and I continue to study to work toward the goal of achieving the tenets of permaculture.  After many years of neglect, I am reviving this blog with the goal of teaching what I have already learned and will be learning along the way.

I welcome you, once again, to the Imagination Garden.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


There's a lot going on in the Imagination Garden.  First off... the chicks are growing quickly!  Last night we moved them to a 2.5 'x 4' crate that we had for our old French Brittany, Max, who passed away at the ripe old age of 15 years.  I also built them a short "roost" so they can learn to sit on one.  In the garden, I have cleaned up a lot of weeds, disposed of over 100 slugs, built and planted an asparagus bed, built a stand for a rain barrel, begun work on flower border, and transplanted quite a few seedlings.  There's a lot more to do, but I'm pleased with the progress.

The chicks in their new brooder.  They love all the space.
The cage wire is surrounded by Plexiglas and cardboard
to make it a safe place for them to stay.

The chicks are getting used to their new "roost".  I built it out of 2" x4" wood
so they can lay down and sleep on it.  So far, the Americauna (left) and the
Light Brahma are the only chick we have seen use it.  The Rhode Island
Red doesn't seem to know how to get up there.

The new asparagus raised bed was double-dug to a depth of 12" below
the base of the planter and screened of all the rocks.
The addition of 8" of soil above ground should give the asparagus
ample room to spread it's roots.  The fencing is there
to keep my children from accidentally stepping into it.  The bed is surrounded
by Marigold plants that I started from seed.

This is a new raised bed that I'm putting in for flowers.  I have quite of few
flower seeds started in the greenhouse.  They should be pretty here.  I still
have to level the base stones, and then I will build the bed up with 1 or
2 more rows of stone.
My husband and I built this heavy-duty stand
for our Rain Barrel.  We still have to attach the faucet
and connect it to the downspout.  We used old wood that
had been lying in the yard.  After that wood dries
out well, I'll paint the stand.
There are hundreds of new seedlings growing in the greenhouse now.
The strawberry plants are beginning to bloom.
This rhododendron is always the first to bloom each year.
Our other rhodies are budding out, as well.  Soon, our back fence will
be full of color.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Chicken Coop Designs

We're in the design phase of chicken coop construction.  Below are a few that I like.  Our local feed store builds an ark chicken tractor similar to the one below for a decent price.  While I like the coops, an ark chicken tractor may be what I end up with.

Of all of the coops I've seen so far, the first one pictured below, "Our Coop Adventure" is my favorite design.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Today we bought three "city" chicks.  For the past few years, I have wanted to have city chickens, but, unfortunately, our city had not become progressive enough to allow it.  Last year the city finally did a study due to the public's requests and, in December, 2011, changed the zoning laws.  We live on a lot that is slightly larger than 10,000 square feet, so we are allowed to have up to six chickens.  Smaller lots of 6,000 square feet can have up to four chickens.

We almost didn't go through with the purchase this year, even though I recently read two books on raising chickens and had attended a class.  It was fun to read about, but making that leap into unknown territory still felt a little daunting.  Today, we went to the feed store and I fell in love with the little Rhode Island Red.  She was the last Rhode Island Red, and was chirping up a storm because she didn't like being left alone.  After that, we picked out the other two with the help of the store personnel.

I came home, set their box, food, water and light up.  Then I was "blessed" with the experience of bathing our little Americauna who came home with a pretty serious case of "pasty butt".  She was pretty messy on the backside and was squawking and jumping around.  The other two kept nipping at her little vent.  Shortly after I got her cleaned up, she was able to pass a lot of poop and now seems to be just fine.  I'll be keeping an eye out for any more pasty butts!

I still find myself wondering if we should have have purchased more than three chicks, considering chicks are flock birds.  When my husband and I discussed it, he only wanted two because he didn't think we would eat through the eggs fast enough.  I didn't want to start with two, so I purchased three.  I'm tempted to go back and get a fourth to prevent "odd man out" behavior.  I'll think about it this evening.

The light yellow chick is a Light Brahma.  The black and reddish chick is an Americauna and the reddish chick is a Rhode Island Red.  They are all 3-4 days old.  Now that they are settled in their box, they seem to be very content and chirping softly.

Now I need to settle on a coop design.  There are two that I like.  I think I'll need to price the wood and supplies and let the price help me make that decision.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tent City

I have my own little tent city of sorts.  The early spring plants are quickly being planted out throughout the gardens and seem to be adapting well to their new homes.  Since I grow organically, I take every measure that I can to ward off the pests that are attracted to the garden.  It's a little more work growing organically, but it is worth it knowing my children don't grow up playing in a yard full of chemicals.

Three of the side yard 4'x4' raised beds have covered wagon-style frames
made out of PVC pipe that enable larger plants, such as broccoli,
to grow unhindered.  I built them a few years ago and they have
held up very well.

The peas and Swiss chard were transplanted yesterday.  They are perking
up despite the fact that they were becoming root bound.

Broccoli happy in their covered home.

Cauliflower looking strong and healthy.

This is my "trap" garden this year.  What is a trap garden?  It is filled with
mustard, broccoli, cauliflower and marigold and is left uncovered
in hopes that the pests will congregate here and leave the covered gardens alone.
As plants become infested, they will be pulled out and burned.

The mustard plants (in the middle) were planted by my three children during
VBS (Vacation Bible School) last summer.  Those plants have been transplanted
a few times throughout the garden and are still growing strong.

The prize of the garden.  My seven-year-old son planted
these beans at school.  He's so proud of them. 
When I was talking to him about the beans yesterday, he emphatically said
"Mom, it's not just a bean - it's a broad bean!"

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