Enjoy these images of the land and projects. They will give you an idea of what is possible with inspired commitment and a catchtail attitude!
Our story begins on January 30th, 2002...
The 3 acres were flat and empty... a lonely red 'house' and an old barn were the only reminders that someone once lived here.
Full of abandoned belongings, no electricity, no water or heat we had two months to breathe new life into this smelly old building before move in.
All in two months... with an amazing group of friends and family, we can do anything!!!
Ahhhhh.... home sweet home.
Now the garden began to call. The land had been sitting idle for almost 20 years (according to long time neighbors) Old Man Cook had done nothing but mow every year with his trusty old tractor. So the soil was just full of worms and minerals... So to get started we got woodchips, straw bales, cardboard and a (new) tractor...
We built a garden path with cardboard, woodchips and logs (for mushrooms)
A parking area....
And then bamboo & an arbor....
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In February, 2003 we began a small food forest
just south of our new parking zone, and just east of where we plan
on building our future home.
First things first... underground irrigation (this is where tractors with trenchers come in really handy).
We are on a corner and although we love our neighbors, we also love a bit of privacy. So in order to counter the "fish bowl" effect, we planted a timber bamboo wall which should fill in solid with in 18 months of planting... stay tuned for the results.
...Then 12 months go by...
...And then 24 months later...
... Where did the house go???
Now back to the house...
We put in new electrical through out the house,
new copper plumbing, new front deck and insulated the attic.
We also needed an office/art studio for Deborah...
Finally, it was time to reclaim 'Ed's room' (the former owner) and make it our own, 'Mediterranean style'...
And back again to the garden...
In our second summer, only 18 months after purchasing our 'farm,' all of our home cooked meals consisted largely of food produced in Catchtail Gardens... and all that from 200 sq. ft' of garden beds and 2 laying hens. It was more than we could have hoped for...
Chickens & Kittens...
The winter of 2003/2004 was rapidly approaching
and we wanted to catch the rain water moving across and past our
land. With the tractor, we dug out some catchments which will slow
the water flow, allowing for sediment to drop out and keeping it
out of the salmon streams and which will infiltrate rain water for
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We have created a beautiful mandala garden. Sixteen vegetable
beds like sun rays from the center of one of our fields...it is
beautiful and growing abundantly!
To see the step by step process of building the Mandala
We have also added a puppy dog, Rosa, and bee hives to our farm
And a fence for our entry, built of recycled redwood
and bamboo in the Japanese tradition...
Our' well house' that needed some love. We rebuilt it with
(almost) entirely recycled wood...
Yes, we were part of history. In the last
hot dusty days of August 2005 hundreds of people descended on
the oldest blueberry farm in California to dig up the 54 year
old bushes. All of the 500 bushes were rescued from the bulldozer
and planted at their new homes in more than 300 gardens around
the west coast.
We were able to get 10 of these to plant
at Catchtail Gardens. We can only hope they survive the 90 - 100
degree F temps which have been scorching us every day since.
Finally we are installing our new septic system... 3
years in the making!! First step is the big hole for the septic
& sump tanks... our next door neighbor Gary helped us with
the backhoe in exchange for a home cooked meal (we love our neighborhood)
stay tuned for the leach field and hook up...
After the septic tanks were in place we had the perfect spot
to build our first GREENHOUSE (notice the tank lids in
the first photo). We used UV resistant materials for the frame
and skin so it would last for years...
The swales we build the first year worked so perfectly
we wanted to expand on them... we dug the existing ones much deeper
using the soil we had collected (from last years silt load) to
feed the garden. Then we used the bulldozer (from digging in our
septic tanks) to dig the last two GIANT swales in the south east
corner of the property... This year we had more water birds than
The birds we saw using the swales for food, rest and
shelter included... Mallard Ducks, Canadian Geese, Egrets, Green
& Blue Herons, Red wing Blackbirds and a Kingfisher!
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In early 2005 we connected with a local Jewish community
group looking for a place to plant trees in honor of Tu B’Shevat,
the Jewish New Year for Trees. About 20 people came together at
Catchtail Gardens to plant over 60 redwood seedlings along our
south-east property line. It was a great day!
As 2005 moved forward the projects mounted...
although I have no pictures of it I spent almost 4 months replacing
the gasoline engine in my Toyota 4 x 4 truck with a diesel engine
(from South Africa). We want to lower our use of gasoline so between
our 45 mpg Honda Civic and our ‘BIODIESEL’ fueled work
truck & tractor we are on our way.
In order to not only lower our gasoline
use we wanted to increase our energy production by installing a
5200 watt (5.2 Kw) ‘SOLAR ELCTRIC’ system (photovoltaic)
So we’re not sure if you noticed but
we left you hanging last year with the septic system installation.
We installed the tanks and still had yet to build a leach field.
The type of leach field we built is a 6 bedroom class 1 mound system.
In other words a big pile of sand and gravel where the waste water
We then had to remove our old redwood septic
tank and hook the house up to the new system.
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Well here we are in our fifth year...
We started the year in Berlin Germany with Deborah's
family... what a party! We even had a white x-mas.
We went to a Bee keeping museum, then a
few days in the Austrian Alps... to Poland for a bit... and here
is Deb w/ her Sister.
more to come...
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