Summer 2017 Update

We’ve been neglecting our Draco Hill site – so here are some photos and updates on the pond and more!

First, we finished the pond. Finally with a second pondliner in place, we were able to fill it and keep it full. It’s now home to a number of goldfish (multiplying rapidly) including a white one named Moby, a koi named Arnie and a number of frogs including the biggest one we’ve named Don Francisco. We’ve placed pond plants and hope to get more to help cover the surface better and keep the algae down but this could take a while.

All we need is a few more bags of rock and we’ll have the path and the area around the pond finished off. We used leftover pond liner laid out over a shallow trench for our path, allowing us to mow over the path with our flail mower.

Black raspberries

It’s been a very berry year here, lots of black raspberries, mulberries,blackberries, goji berries, blueberries and even some honeyberries from the orchard. Unlike a lot of Iowa, our area hasn’t been hit by the drought too badly, and the fruiting plants are responding well to the weather. The two big hits we took were our Reliant peaches that molded right on the tree and our Asian pears which don’t seem to have pollinated well, but we hear that’s happened to a number of folks in the Midwest.

Next up are Iowa (Bailey) peaches, some apples, Asian pears and wild plums! We’re learning how much nature can teach us from imitating the wealth she provides in her forests by using cultivars that are selected for size or taste. We’re also learning what battles it out with what in nature. For example, we planted cultivars of gooseberries in one row of our orchard, but that row couldn’t keep back the prairie that wanted to live there, at least not with our practice of “plant and neglect.” So the gooseberries lost out. Maybe someday when the fruit trees are big enough to cast a shadow, they’ll be back, able to thrive where prairie won’t.