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Hodgson Biologic
2 Klarides Village Drive
Box 205
Seymour, Connecticut


In Connecticut's
Naugatuck Valley

Late Summer 2011

Late Summer 2011
South Gardens, Summer 2011
After a lengthy hiatus, Hodgson Biologic is coming back around to bring you reports on what's happening, and ideas about what is possible for you and your gardens!

Since last year, much energy and effort has been put into getting the gardens in shape for being opened up for tours and classes. While it's not ready for prime time, it's really close - aiming for next spring, perhaps even late winter.

Here are some highlights of what's been done and what has happened:

*The ducks have grown into a fabulous flock of garden helpers! Abundant eggs and fertilizer are being produced, and the slug population has dropped precipitously! They have trained me as much or more as I have trained them. Look for upcoming classes on keeping ducks in the garden.

*A forest garden has been planted! Considering the how long it takes for a forest garden to mature, this is the height of optimism. After much consideration, we came to the conclusion that rather than expand our land holdings, we would make a change to the landscape by replacing some of the woodland with a small forest garden. This still leaves about seventy percent of the place wooded, and will add dwarf fruit trees, nut bushes and other edible and medicinal plants in a polyculture guild that grows together with plants supporting each other physically and biologically. We have already received rave reviews from hummingbirds, bees, and an eastern box turtle. (c:

*The male kiwi flowered for the first time - six tiny white flowers - and we have a few dozen kiwis growing on the female. They should ripen by October. We also had a cedar post support built for the kiwis - the female, at about six years old, is getting pretty big, and hoisting her and the male's vines up and over the cedar posts should help reduce their susceptibility to fungal infections and make it easier to gather fruit.

*The arrival of the red lily leaf beetle. Drat! Last summer was the first visit, and by the time we realized what we had, some damage had been done. On the up side, this year we knew what to look for, and with daily scouting and my loss of squeamishness about crushing beetles with my fingers (ick), we had very little damage, and not that much cold blooded beetle crushing to do. The lilies were absolutely delicious looking this year!

*Abundant comfrey now grows in the tea garden. While there is some debate about the use of comfrey internally, it is certainly a medicinal plant worth considering for topical use, as it is purported to assist healing. It is also known as a living mulch for trees and shrubs, a way to charge up the compost, and is a dandy soil amendment in the form of tea (applied lukewarm of course), which I use especially for my tomato plants. Some use it as part of their livestock forage. Note: there are different varieties of comfrey, and if not managed properly, may spread more than you want it to, so think carefully before you buy and plant it.

*We are also getting more apple mint in the tea garden, along with the bee balm and nettle. While the nettle must be minded carefully as it does pack quite a sting, these are all easy to grow, delicious and healthy herbs for tea.

To reach Raye by email, just send a message to:

hodgsonbiologic at gmail dot com

------------ A Few Thoughts About Opportunities . . . ----------

Around here, we do more and more of our projects at human scale. We rarely use petroleum-powered tools and machines. We look around the place to find materials that we can use on-site instead of hauling more in. It is far from 100%, but it has been a worthwhile effort. The effort will continue.

Our labor force is small, but our skillset is growing. In spite of that, time and energy are limited and I find myself hoping and praying that some of our neighbors be they very close or even within 100 miles will explore some business opportunities making products and providing services that would be helpful for us. In short, we cannot do it all by ourselves here.

Here is a quick list I came up with this morning, from an email I sent to a friend. Especially those who don't have a large land base may find some inspiration in these products and services, which are things I would love to obtain from the locals. Some of these are so far from business as usual that some lobbying for changes in regulations may be needed, but I'm going to include them in any case. Here's the list:

>portable composting toilets for events
>shoe making
>rope making
>raising rosy red minnows and goldfish for people's rainbarrels (they eat mosquito larvae and are very rain barrel hardy)
>managing a network of people with extra manure and people who need it
>duck and other small livestock sitting services and breeding
>fence making with natural materials (wattle fence, for example)
>garden setup and maintenance services
>cob construction services and materials
>rocket stove production
>beeswax candle making
>bucket and container making
>herbal products: salves, tinctures, teas
>soap making, including laundry, dish, shampoo, household cleansers
>vinegar making
>plant nursery where one can buy forest garden plants
>animal feed growing - field peas, dried greens, grasses, root vegetables, nuts, fish, poultry for example
>hair brushes and combs, toothbrushes
>tea (I think it could be grown in the right microclimate and shelter, such as a high tunnel)
>construction with local materials, such as poles and stones
>milk paint and natural pigments
>construction of manual food processing equipment (oil presses, grain grinders, dehydrators)
>construction of manual outdoor equipment (leaf choppers, log splitters, pumps)

I could probably go on with a little more effort, but I will post this and hope it inspires the creative energetic people who are looking for something a bit off the beaten path to pursue as a vocation or avocation.

And if you develop any of these products or services, please let me know!