FOREST OWNERS’ FIELD DAY AUGUST 25

We are proud to host the WSU Extension’s Forest Owners’ Field Day here at Thornbush.

The Field Day workshops will focus on island-specific forest stewardship issues using local experts. Learn about current San Juan forest health issues, fire protection, mushrooms, Garry oak restoration, and much more. The Field Day will also feature exhibits by local agencies that assist owners of forested property.

I will be conducting tours of Thornbush, and showing off my sawmill and biochar operations. wooded

Workshops Offered

These are the different workshops that will be offered throughout the day:

  1. Biochar and Sawmill Demo – See how you can make custom lumber and soil-building biochar with wood from your property.
  2. Fire Prevention – Wildfire risk is high in the San Juan Islands – learn to protect your trees and your home.
  3. Forest Health – Learn about current issues, mortality trends, and what to do.
  4. Garry Oak Restoration – Learn about bringing back this historic denizen of San Juan prairie ecosystems.
  5. Invasive Species – Learn how to identify and control aggressive, non-native plants that damage the local ecosystem.
  6. Measuring Trees – Practice simple techniques to measure your tree density and see how big those trees really are!
  7. Property Tour – Join the property owners for a tour of this unique farm.
  8. San Juan Forest Soils – Learn the unique soil types on the islands and what it means for your trees.
  9. Shiitake Mushroom Culture – See how to grow these gourmet mushrooms on logs on your property.
  10. Thinning and Ecosystem Health – Learn how to choose the right trees to thin out to restore the health of your forest.
  11. Tree Planting and Seedling Care – Plant trees for the next generation! Learn how to do it right so they survive and thrive.
  12. Wildlife Habitat – Learn about the wildlife that call the San Juan Islands home, and simple, effective strategies to improve habitat for on your property.

Gates open bright and early at 7:45AM on Saturday August 25, with the orientation at 8:45AM. Looking forward to seeing you here!

Schedule_of Workshops

http://forestry.wsu.edu/nps/events/sanjuan/

 

 

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NEW FARMERS MARKET SEASON!

Welcome to Thornbush!

Saturday April 7 is the first day of the 2018 Farmers Market. We are planning to have eggs, biochar, and fruit trees for sale.

Railroad assisting with the bare root trees.

Bare root trees  $24 each:

Apples: Akane, Enterprise, Gravenstein, Harry Masters Jersey (cider apple), Frequin Rouge (cider apple), Zestar, Honeycrisp

Cherries: Lapins, Montmorency (pie cherry)

Plums: Methley, Italian

prune, Shiro

Apricots: Puget gold

Peaches: Frost

Seascape everbearing strawberries in

single biochar for web

bundles  of 25: $18

Raw Biochar pure charcoal soil amendment, 2 gallons: $12

See you at the Market!

Roger

JANUARY 2018 NURSERY PLANT LIST

Apples: Akane (semi-dwarf), Enterprise (semi-dwarf), Gravenstein  (mini-dwarf) Jonagold  (semi-dwarf) Melrose (mini-dwarf), Zestar (semi-dwarf)

Apples for Cider: Harry Masters Jersey (semi-dwarf), Frequin Rouge (semi-dwarf)

Apricots: Puget Gold (semi-dwarf)

Aroniaberry: Aronia melanocarpa

Ash: Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia)

Barberries: Darwins (Berberis darwinii)

Blueberries: Bluecrop, Northland, Patriot (and more…)

Cherries: Lapin (dwarf), Montmorency

Chestnuts: Layeroka, Belle Epine (and more…)

Dogwoods: Cornel (Cornus mas), Kousa (Cornus kousa)

Hazelnuts: Jefferson, Lewis

Honeyberries: Borealis, Tundra

Lindens: Bigleaf (Tilia platyphylos), Littleleaf (Tilia cordata), Basswood (Tilia americana)

Maples: Bigleaf (Acer macrophyllum)

Mulberries: Russian (Morus alba tatartica)

Peaches: Frost (semi-dwarf)

Pears: Chojuro Asian(semi-dwarf), Hosui Asian (semi-dwarf), Orcas (semi-dwarf)

Plums: Italian Prune (semi-dwarf), Methley (semi-dwarf), Shiro (semi-dwarf)

Quince: Pineapple

Red-flowering Currants: King Edward IV (Ribes sanguineum)

Strawberry trees: Arbutus unedo

 

BOILER REBUILD AT THORNBUSH

We had a leak in our boiler this past summer, so had to come up with a solution before heating season started again. Here’s what I came up with: a “sand boiler”.
The boiler was drained, pipes were laid next to the firebox and fire tubes, and the boiler was then filled with sand. The pipes carry water from a new water tank, through the boiler, and back to the tank.
So far the system is heating the house and creating charcoal, but the heat of the fires is warping the steel fire tubes and now creating “sand leaks”. I’ll be switching to a brick system next. Stay tuned!

20170922_113846_HDR
BOILER IN ITS NEW LOCATION
20170922_113635_HDR
NEW WATER TANK

 

20170922_113813_HDR
PIPES TO GATHER HEAT FROM THE FIRE TUBES

BIOCHAR

I am now selling biochar at the San Juan Island Farmers Market.BIOCHAR COMFREY LABEL

The charcoal is produced from pruning and thinning of the forest at Thornbush, and then “charged” with comfrey tea to produce biochar.

CHARCOAL READY TO BE INFUSED WITH COMPOST TEA OR COMFREY TEA

The comfrey can be harvested several times each summer. The plants regrow with great vigor and provide more nutrient-rick leaves in just a few weeks.

I am clearing brush and crowded trees from the forest to create space for planting more timber trees. The resulting “woody biomass” is used to heat the house in a way that leaves a lot of useful charcoal behind.

CREATING CHARCOAL WHILE HEATING THE HOUSE

See you all at the market!

NEW BEGINNINGS 2017

A year has gone by since my last post. I wonder if I accomplished anything on my wish list from 2016. Here it is:

  • Sell more plants at the Farmers Market. In years past, I’ve sold the supporting cast of an orchard, but not the stars. This year I will have apples, plums and other fruit trees for sale at the Farmers Market in Friday Harbor. It didn’t happen in 2016, but I do have those plants on order for 2017. Really.
  • Grow more of the feed for my laying flock. The girls have taken well to sunchokes, so I will be planting more of them. I expect to be growing more peas as well. The sunchokes were a big success. And I mean big! I grew them alongside a chicken run and the tubers were enormous. Peas, as usual, failed to produce. I blame the birds.
  • Grow more cider apples. My first experiment in hard cider worked well, so I might as well do more. I planted 5 cider apples in 2016, made more good cider, and some apple wine last year.
  • Offer more fresh produce and preserves at the Market. As my food forest matures and produces more than Anita and I can eat, I will offer more choices at my market booth. The kale and chard did not sell. I’m looking forward to selling fruit. We did sell a lot of apples at the Grange Booth, but none were mine. Mine went to cider. Maybe I will have enough for both in 2017.
  • Get ahead of the firewood supply. I’m designing a firewood drying kiln to speed up seasoning and ensure that I have hot smokeless fires. Yup, I have a few really nice designs. I also redid the railroad track at the site of the kiln, so I am now ready. I did not exactly get ahead of the year, mostly because I hosted two events at the farm last year, and that meant a lot of cleaning up! The other time suck was defending my forest owner’s tax break with the county. They needed a lot of detailed proof that my pruning, thinning, trail making, brush clearing and other serious work in order to get ready to harvest some trees really counted as forestry. The jury is still out. I’ll post a proper rant later.
  • Produce more biochar. Yup. Did that. In fact, I’m planning to make a lot more as a by-product of my sawlog harvesting and sell it at the Farmers Market.
  • Extend the railway to the house. Not quite yet. I got it firmed up very nicely where the firewood kiln will be. Maybe in 2017?

A NEW YEAR AT THORNBUSH

thornbush-farm-garden-san-juan-island-washington
Early January and dreaming about my summer garden

 

It’s January 2nd 2016, the old college gang is headed back to the mainland, and I’m thinking about the year to come.

What I’d like to do in 2016:

  • Sell more plants at the Farmers Market. In years past, I’ve sold the supporting cast of an orchard, but not the stars. This year I will have apples, plums and other fruit trees for sale at the Farmers Market in Friday Harbor.
  • Grow more of the feed for my laying flock. The girls have taken well to sunchokes, so I will be planting more of them. I expect to be growing more peas as well.
  • Grow more cider apples. My first experiment in hard cider worked well, so I might as well do more.
  • Offer more fresh produce and preserves at the Market. As my food forest matures and produces more than Anita and I can eat, I will offer more choices at my market booth.
  • Get ahead of the firewood supply. I’m designing a firewood drying kiln to speed up seasoning and ensure that I have hot smokeless fires.
  • Produce more biochar.
  • Extend the railway to the house.
IMG_20130207_111455_180
Josh moving potting soil (with biochar!) through the nursery in this winter scene from the past