Our property at Cedar House Inn is not known for good soil for growing flowers or gardening. We have planted over 250 trees and shrubs since we purchased the property and struggled with digging each hole. First we have a very thin layer of top soil, then hard clay and finally a rock layer. To have a viable garden we have no choice but to haul in or make our own dirt.
Rather than hauling in dump truck loads of top soil I decided to make dirt the way mother nature intended. Down by the yurts we have a forest of trees and layers of leaves under the trees that have accumulated for many years. Raking back some of the leaves you notice decomposition of the organic matter. Worms, insects and fungi are all doing their part in breaking down the leaves. Could I use a similar process to make good dirt in areas where only rock and clay exists? I read about Permaculture (sheet mulching) and Lasagna Gardening that explains just how I can do that.
Last Fall I identified where I wanted the vegetable garden to be. I then took large sheets of cardboard and placed them on the ground as a weed barrier. The cardboard decomposes over time like the layers of leaves in the woods. After watering the cardboard sheets I hauled many loads of leaves to place over the cardboard. Next I added wheat straw, then more leaves. This created a “lasagna like” layer. Some beds were covered with black plastic to help the composting process. When my wife had vegetable scraps I dug a hole in the bed and bury the scraps. I also buried rotted wood to add other microbes and insects to assist in the composting process.
One bed has a worm tower that I made. The tower is a 5 gallon plastic bucket with holes the size of a pencil that I drilled. We add vegetable scraps and red wiggler worms to eat the scraps and make worm castings and tea.
I have read that by Spring if the organic matter is not fully decomposed that is fine. I can dig a hole in the garden for the plant, add some top soil in the hole and plant. This type of gardening also requires no weeding which I like.
We are looking forward to growing vegetables using this simple permaculture gardening method. Be on the look out for more posts about how our garden grows once planting season arrives.
The main problem we have now is that our trees have grown so well that we have too much shade for some vegetables to be productive.
Several years ago I read about the problems restaurants faced with the disposal of used vegetable oil from cooking. If you have ever parked behind a fast food eatery you may have noticed a dumpster area for trash disposal as well as a container for storing used vegetable oil. The area is often tucked away behind the building to prevent the public from seeing and smelling the waste. Restaurants pay companies to haul away the solid and liquid waste.
I also learned many years ago that the diesel engine was invented by Adolf Diesel to run on peanut oil to help farmers with an affordable fuel source. Most diesel fuel now is petroleum based. Individuals can still run their diesel vehicles on vegetable oil by using a Grease Car type system or by converting the vegetable oil to biodiesel which requires a process and equipment using chemicals. I have always wanted to convert my VW diesel to veggie oil. Imagine free fuel that is also good for the environment and your exhaust smells like french fries.
Recently I have been thinking about generating electricity with used vegetable oil from restaurants using a diesel generator. I was surprised to see that a company has developed such a product for restaurants to generate electricity and hot water from used oil. The unit even filters the waste oil prior to using it to generate electricity and hot water. The product is called the Vegawatt Power System. For more information visit web site.
We do not use used vegetable oil at our inn to power the structures or heat water but we do utilize many eco-friendly methods.
The North Georgia mountains around Dahlonega have been a long time favorite of tourists who want to enjoy beautiful mountains. In the past several years the area has also become a favorite among road and mountain bicyclists. Dahlonega biking is a big thing!
Over the last six and a half years we have been open as a bed and breakfast inn we have seen first hand the popularity of these beautiful mountains with bicycle riders. Often we see them slowly climbing up the mountain in front of the inn on US 19. Below is a map showing the route (loop) from the inn to the north in the mountains.
There have been cyclocross races scheduled at Montaluce Vineyards in the past. Cyclocross bikes are a cross between a road and mountain bike. The races typically require riders to complete a course with off and on road as well as areas where the rider gets off the bike and carries it. It can be exciting to watch.
We also have seen a resurgence in interest in the mountain biking scene. Nimblewheel gap is a favorite. See our related post about mountain biking near Dahlonega. The Fools Gold 100 and 50 mile mountain bike races are held during some summers.
In September we have the 6 Gap Century ride across the mountains. Many riders participate in the event. Its a favorite Dahlonega biking event.
In past years we have also been host to a leg of the Tour de Georgia road bike race. Lance Armstrong has ridden in front of the inn a couple of times. The race was cancelled several years ago due to funding. Many of our guests returned every year for the event. The downtown finish line area is always festive and exiting. We hope it returns in the future.
If you would like to stay at our inn and ride your bike up through the mountains check out our web site.