At Cedar House Inn we utilize permaculture and sustainable principles throughout the property. One example is that we forego using synthetic fertilizers on the fruit and berry bushes planted on our swales (see related swale post). Instead we use nurse plants.
A nurse plant is a companion plant that can provide food for humans and animals while also providing benefits to surrounding plants. Examples on our property include nitrogen-fixing plants and dynamic accumulators.
Plants need nitrogen to help grow and flourish, hence, it is a key ingredient in many commercial fertilizers. Rather than using synthetic fertilizers made from petroleum and other laboratory derived ingredients, we choose a more natural method on our property.
On our swales we have many kinds of fruit and berry trees and bushes. Interspersed with our nanking cherries, aronias, and blueberries, you’ll find nitrogen-fixing plants like autumn olive and goumi berries. Both of these plants provide nitrogen to the surrounding plants and also provide edible berries for people and wildlife.
We have also planted dynamic accumulator plants like comfrey. Comfrey (see picture) is a perennial nurse plant with a very deep tap-root. The root mines minerals deep in the ground and brings those minerals and nutrients to the surface for nearby plants to use. Comfrey leaves are also used to make compost tea. The tea is made by cutting the leaves and placing them in a 5 gallon bucket with water to steep for several weeks. The nutrient rich water can be poured on vegetables in the garden or other plants as fertilizer. It smells like rotting flesh, so be careful where you brew it.
Comfrey can also be eaten like spinach but needs to be cooked since the leaves are a little rough. Some say you should not eat too much because it may be harmful to the liver in large quantities. Opinions differ on comfrey for human consumption but it has been used as a medicinal for many years. Chickens also love to eat it.
Another nurse plant that helps improve the nitrogen content of garden soil is the siberian pea shrub. While we haven’t used that particular plant, we have planted pole beans (a legume) around trees to act as a nitrogen fixer for the trees. Come harvest time there were beans for us to eat.
There are other nurse plants that we haven’t used but would love to try in the future.
Work with nature instead of working against nature. Instead of reaching for a bag of your favorite commercial fertilizer or a can of insecticide next time you’re at the local garden center, choose some nurse plants. You will benefit from a healthier and more sustainable eco-friendly landscape.
Dahlonega has always been known for the natural beauty of its surrounding mountains and waterfalls and more recently for its wineries. The picturesque historic downtown square is known for its music, shops, and restaurants.
Dahlonega is also becoming known for its art.
This coming weekend, Saturday May 9th, artists will be working around the historic square during the 5th Annual Art Trail. They will be providing a variety of demonstrations from 11 am-4 pm. The trail can be started anywhere in the downtown area since the artists will be “ringing” all sides of the square. Painters, jewelers and fine crafters will be represented. Some downtown merchants will also be hosting artists in front of their stores. The event is being sponsored by Chestatee Artists Inc – a local art organization.
Artists scheduled to be on hand to provide demonstrations of their work include: oil painters, Wanda Smith, Carole Kennedy, Denise Roberson and Joyce Fox; watercolor artist, Oscar Rayneri; mixed media, Bart Prato; acrylic painter, AJ Wolff; Leather crafts, Tom Slavicek; chainsaw carver, Carl Pirone; folk art wind chimes, Pattie Pirone; jewelry, Paul & Florence Roberts; and stained glass, Letty Rayneri.
Many of our guests have been interested in how we practice permaculture on our property. We frequently give tours after breakfast to show how permaculture works and to help guests get an idea of how they can use permaculture principles on their own property to have a more earth-friendly sustainable landscape.
One permaculture element that is readily apparent when entering the property at Cedar House Inn & Yurts is the ditches that seem to be everywhere. Some guests have wondered what are they for? They are swales.
We began digging our swales several years ago. After strong rains we noted where the rain water travelled on the property and that helped us determine where we should locate our swales.
Swales take rainwater that would normally run off the property and send the water into the ditch to be stored for later use. The water in the ditch is slowly released underground after a rain and also helps the mycorrhizal fungi that lives in the soil. Why help the fungi? The fungi attach to the root nodules on the many fruit and berry plants we have planted and help the plants in the uptake of water and soil nutrients.
Our swales are dug on contour to catch water traveling downhill after the rain. The swales are 1 – 2 feet deep and 1 -2 feet wide. The dirt taken from the ditch is used to make a berm on the lower side of the slope that is used for planting fruit and berries as well as nurse plants. In the future we will talk about nurse plants.
Bottom line is that we think swales are swell and encourage others to add them to their landscapes. You will have happier soil and plants.
Below you’ll find the monthly brunch themes for the year. Seatings are 12:30pm and 2:30pm. Cost is $30 per person, plus tax and gratuity and wine is additional by the glass or bottle.
April – Celebration Of Napa Cuisine & Bluegrass Brunch
May – White Wine, Sparkling Wine & Seafood Festival
June – Tribute To Tuscany Brunch
July – Tribute To BBQ Of The South With Live Blues
August – Artisan Cheese & Southern Regional Cuisine
September – Country French Cuisine With Live Jazz
October – Harvest Celebration With Live Bluegrass
November – Wild Game and Red Wine Brunch
December – Holiday Comfort Food
These events sell out quickly so if you are interested we encourage you to make reservations soon by calling 706-867-9862.
The yearly celebration of the Southern Appalachian culture, including music, art and folkways. This year’s event will be the 19th annual and will be held, rain or shine.
Bear on the Square is a lively weekend of music and art beginning with pre-festival activities, including jamming on the square and a Country Auction, on Friday, April 18, 2015.
Saturday and Sunday’s schedule includes free admission, on-stage performances by well-known bluegrass and old-time musicians; a juried Artists Marketplace featuring mountain crafts; more jamming on the square; free music workshops/demonstrations; storytelling; an Acoustic Open Mic event; Master Classes for string musicians; a Gospel Jam; an old-time mountain dance and more.
Admission is free to all festival events, including the MainStage musical performances and the Artists Marketplace. The only exception is a small registration fee for Sunday’s Master Classes.
Bear on the Square was named the SouthEastern Bluegrass Association “Music Venue of the Year” in 2014. The National Storytelling Network has awarded Bear on the Square the designation as this year’s Southeastern Regional Spotlight for Storytelling.
The festival is produced each year by Bear on the Square Mountain Festival, Inc., composed of a group of volunteers dedicated to preserving the culture of the Southern Appalachian region.