Tickfoot


I am an artist, low-tech enthusiast, market gardener, and homesteader with a passion for food sovereignty, nature and ecology, beauty, and slow, intentional living. My husband and I (along with this perfect angel) turned our urban lawn into a permaculture garden of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers where we grow more than enough for ourselves and others. I spend a great deal of time focused on non-monetary income, creativity, and in developing home-grown abundance.

This site serves as a reflection and collaboration point to share my projects and interests in both the garden and life. You can follow me at @tickfoot@merveilles.town.


Permaculture Homesteading

→ Permaculture Principles and Resources

"Permaculture gives us a toolkit for moving from a culture of fear and scarcity to one of love and abundance."
―Toby Hemenway

Market Garden

pollen-covered bumblebee on conflower

We grow a dense yet diverse number of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers in a no-till organic system that we designed and built to replace the pre-existing lawn. We utilize drip irrigation, rain water catchment, and natural fertilizer sources to promote the long-term integrity of the soil and natural resources.

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Vermicomposting

red wriggler worm on compost

We employ Eisenia fetida (red wriggler) composting worms to turn food and garden waste into fertilizer for our gardens through vermicomposting. We have two different bin systems that we made, one of which is a 5-gallon bin that I take to events and workshops to educate folks on the importance of returning nutrients back to our soil.

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Aerobic Composting

compost decomposing in bin

Our two-bin system was built out of recycled (untreated) wooden pallets and accommodates our limited space. We primarily use wood chips for our carbon material or dried leaves as available. This bin manages overflow waste that is too large or unsuitable for the worm bins.

Microgreens

We grow an on-going supply of microgreens for ourselves and others during the winter. We grow indoors under full-spectrum LED grow lights and experiment with different seed mixes. We harvest an average of 3 pounds of microgreens every 10-14 days.

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Coturnix Quail

partially constructed outdoor aviary

-*- COMING SOON -*-
We will be raising our flock on the ground in a contained area that provides a naturally enriching environment. They'll be able to forage, nest, and explore freely while protected from feral cats, wandering pets, racoons, opossums, and other curious predators. This winter we'll finish the roof, build feeders, and prep for their Spring arrival.

Seed Starting

young tomato plants in trays

Starting plants from seed is one of my favorite parts of gardening. On just one modest sized metal shelf I start around 650 plants; all of our vegetables, herbs, and annual flowers for the season. Sometimes I start plants for other growers or donate starts to fundraisers. We use heat mats for germination and LED full spectrum grow lights for the first 4-6 weeks until plants are ready to move outdoors for hardening off.

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Invasive Plants

young tomato plants in trays

We are working to remove all non-native invasive plants on our property. Namely English Ivy (Hedera helix), Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei), and Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica). It's a labor-intensive process but once we have it managed we'll be able to plant small native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers.

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Chickens

brown hens walking in grass

We spent several years in a 1790s farmhouse where our love for homesteading began. Here we raised a small flock of hens for homegrown eggs and enjoyment. Chickens, or at least ours, had so much personality. These ladies enjoyed daily free-ranging, dust-baths, and getting into more mischief than you'd expect.

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Small Farming

→ 2021 Small Farming Report

"To be interested in food but not in food production is clearly absurd."
―Wendell Berry

2021 Intensive

large group of vegetable beds in rural setting

After studying a great deal about soil health, regenerative agriculture, and small farming we decided to take one full year to put it to practice and see just how possible it is to make a living at. On both leased farm land and our urban lot we grew over 2,000 lbs of food which we washed, packed, and distributed.

Soil Building

pale soil with compost on some of the beds

A large part of what interests me in small farming is the opportunities it lends to improving and building soil through the act of intentional farming. This image depicts the lethargic color of the soil at the start. We built up the health of the soil with mushroom compost, mycorrhizal inoculant, and lactic acid bacteria. In 2022 it was still rich with organic matter.

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CSA

huge beets lined up on counter top in kitchen

We sold our produce through a CSA where we provided a weekly bag of mixed vegetables and herbs to ten different families. While this was a great way to predict sales, we ended up having far more produce than interested people. We donated much of the excess to a local shelter.

Korean Natural Farming

Lactic Acid Bacteria

jar of LAB

Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) is a beneficial bacteria that has been the catalyst for food preservation for centuries. It's the main player in cheese and lacto-fermentation. I learned through KNF how to make and use it in the garden to improve soil tilth and nutrient accessibility. I combine it with FPJ or a fish fertilizer when applying it either directly or as a foliar spray.

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Fermented Plant Juice

jar of fermenting plants

Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ) is a process that extracts the nutrients from plant matter through fermentation. Massaging equal parts plant matter and brown sugar together kick starts a frenzy of naturally occuring bacteria to ferment the material into a dark juice that is then diluted and applied to the roots or leaves of the plants. When used in conjunction with a soil test you can ferment specific plant materials for targeted nutrient application.

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Preserving

Seed Saving

cantaloupe seed on paper plate

We save seeds from any remarkable fruits we harvest - looking for the best flavors from the healthiest most productive plants. In early autumn I collect seed heads from flowers in our garden and elsewhere. I save a lot for us, share with friends, and donate to free seed banks.

Produce Preservation

three baskets overflowing with sweet peppers

Saving our homegrown foods for winter is a primary focus for me during the summer. I can, blanch, freeze, ferment, cook & freeze, and dehydrate depending on what it is I'm trying to save. Making and freezing soups is one of my favorite ways of preserving the incredible flavor of homegrown food.

Tomato Preservation

jars of stewed tomatoes

Every season there's plenty of tomatoes to preserve. I mostly prefer to cook them into a soup or sauce to freeze, but I also like stewed canned tomatoes and "sundried" dehydrated. I freeze cherry tomatoes whole which are easy to throw onto a winter pizza for a sweet and fruity reminder of summer.

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Sourdough Starter

closeup of bubbling sourdough starter

My first Sourdough starter I started with rye and built up with a local stoneground flour. Some day soon I want to try a gluten-free version with Sorghum flour.

Yogurt

jars of homemade yogurt

I love enjoying a simple whole milk organic plain yogurt. We usually have it with homemade jam and homemade granola or a drizzle of local honey and fresh fruit.

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Bone Broth

hens in a sunny pasture

I make a slow-cooker bone broth that fuels us through winter and works as a base for the many soups I prep during the summer. The bones are what remain after I slow-cook a whole chicken that we get through our participation in our friend's small farm CSA. They raise their chickens with a great deal of care for both the animals and the land while working to preserve heritage breeds and small farming sovereignty.

Lacto-fermentation

jar of fermented jalapenos

Over the last couple of years I've started experimenting with lacto-fermentation. I've been studying The Noma Guide to Fermentation and workshopping online with Sandor Katz. Hot peppers, especially jalapenos, are my favorite of the ferments I've done thus far.

Fruit Jam

hand holding jar of blueberry jam

If you need a reason to plant a fruit tree, homemade jam is it. Fig, white peach, and blueberry jams are some of our favorite local fruits to preserve. Nothing beats it on homemade yogurt or cast-iron cornbread.

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Fruit Vinegar

two glass bottles of peach vinegar

Overripened fruits make a great culinary vinegar before they head to the compost bin. It's is easy to make with a bit of know-how and time. If you don't have access to a fruit tree discounted fruits are easy to find in the grocery store and are otherwise wasted.

Medicinals

collection of tinctures and syrups

I like to dry herbs and spices, make tinctures, syrups, infusions, and teas from plants and materials we grow or source locally. We regularly keep dried culinary herbs, CBD tincture, and Elderberry syrup on hand.

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Elderberry Syrup

collection of tinctures and syrups

We have three young Elderberry trees (Sambucus canadensis) on our property that are just starting to produce flowers. In the meantime we harvest from a friend's garden and make our syrup with raw honey and various herbs depending on our needs and the season. The trees provide a great habitat and food source for birds and insects.

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Ghee

pint jar of yellow ghee

Ghee is my preferred cooking oil of choice but I like to make rather than buy it. It's much more economic and I like being able to infuse it with CBD or other herbs. In Ayurveda its a Yogavahi, an agent that carries the medicinal properties of herbs into the dhatus (tissues) of the body.

Pesto

pint jar of fresh pesto

Basil pesto is our winter staple. We make dozens of batches that we freeze into "pucks" using a muffin tin and store in ziplock bags. The ingredients are just fresh basil, walnuts, EVOO, and salt to taste.

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