Tag Archives: gardening

Nurse Plants in Your Landscape?

11 May

At Cedar House Inn we utilize permaculture and sustainable principles throughout the property. Onecomfreynanking09 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.

What’s a Swale?

29 Apr

Many of our guests have been interested in how we practice permaculture on our property. Wenewdugswale 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.

Why have swales you ask?swalewithwater

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.

Dahlonega Thanksgiving in the North Georgia Mountains 2013

16 Nov

We have decided to accommodate guests for the evening of Thanksgiving Day 2013. Normally we have closed for Thanksgiving Day to spend time with our family. This year we have already booked other guests for Thanksgiving Day with check in after 6 pm.

If you want to enjoy Thanksgiving in the North Georgia mountains please consider staying with us.

Check our web site and availability calendar for what we have available.

Where to eat Thanksgiving Dinner in Dahlonega?

At this time we know of three options that are shown below. We will be adding additional places for Thanksgiving Dinner when they become available to us. Check out our Facebook page for future additions.

  • The Smith House offers Thanksgiving Dinner each year.  Call 706-867-7000 for more information.
  • Yahoola Creek Grill is also having Thanksgiving Dinner– More Information on Menu and pricing is shown below the Montaluce Winery Information.
  •  Montaluce Winery is offering Thanksgiving Dinner this year. Information is below:

front for fall

From Their Harvest to Your Table

Montaluce & Le Vigne Restaurant will be offering their Family Style Thanksgiving Lunch that will including fresh produce from their first harvest of the new Garden at Montaluce.

We were there a few weeks ago for a Sunday wine tasting and to enjoy live music at the winery and saw their mini hoop houses set up on their grounds with a large variety of vegetables happily growing and protected from the recent cold weather.

Time: 12pm-3pm
What to Expect:

  • First Course – Seasonal Soup
  • Second Course – Organic Garden Grown Salad
  • Third Course – Family Style Thanksgiving Favorites.
  • Fourth Course – Mixed Seasonal Pies and Desserts
(special exceptions may be made for any food allergies)

Price: $70 per person

To make your reservation, call 706.867.4060 or email info@montaluce.com

  • Yahoola Creek Grill Thanksgiving- 11/28- 11 am-5pm

Enjoy all of Chef Rick’s Holiday Favorites!
$28 per adult, $10 per child

(age 11 and under)
Served Family StyleMain Entrée

Traditional Roast Turkey with Gravy
Brown Sugar and Honey Glazed Ham


Creamed Corn
Buttered Carrots
Brussels Sprouts
Green Bean Casserole

Side Dish

Sage Dressing
Creamy Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Mushroom Risotto

Dessert (choose one)

Warmed Ellijay Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream
House-Made Pumpkin Pie with Fresh Whipped Cream

Spots are filling up fast… make your reservation today by calling Yahoola Creek Grill at  706-482-2200

Tomatoes: July to January

4 Jan

With smiles on our faces and tears in our eyes, we said good-bye to the last of our raw 2010 home-grown organic  tomatoes tonight. It adorned our salad adding a pop of red to our plates and a burst of flavor to our tongues.  How exciting to think that it grew from a plant we put in the ground in April and that it’s sisters and brothers were picked as early as July. We ate them green – both fried and in chocolate cake, red and raw in gaspacho, salsa, and salads, and cooked in pasta sauce, stewed tomatoes, chili, and more. They were gifted to friends and guests, and even traded for pasture raised eggs. Good-bye summer tomatoes!

24th Annual Mountain Flower Fine Art & Wine Festival 5/15-16

27 Apr

Like This!

Come out and enjoy over 70 artists of all varieties and even watch some of them as they create their art on the spot. From pottery to two-dimensional art to photography, there will be something for everyone.

Along with all the fine art, there will be the Garden Expo located in Hancock Park.  This is produced by the Master Gardeners of Lumpkin County along with the support of MFAF. The Expo will include large plant and seed sales, as well as speakers hosting programs on a variety of garden related topics.  A demonstration garden featuring native plants and wildflowers will be on display.

New for this year, will be the Georgia Temptations Wine Garden, a sampling of the best wines in Georgia. The Garden will be located in the Park Place Pavilion. You must be 21 or older to enter. This is a wonderful way to sample a variety of our Georgia grown and produced wines. There will be a minimal entrance fee to enter the Garden. The Garden hours are Saturday: 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. and Sunday 12:30 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.

The Dahlonega Farmer’s Market kicks off its season this weekend in Hancock Park. Locally grown vegetables and fruits along with homemade jams and other items will be available for purchase. The Dahlonega Farmer’s Market will be open every Saturday and Tuesday mornings.

On Saturday, there will be a 5K race benefiting the Free Clinic of Dahlonega. For more information on the race and to pre-register, please visit www.active.com.

Parking is free and located around the square and just off the square. The parking garage at North Georgia College and State University is also available for $5 per day. The Dahlonega Merchants invite you to enjoy a weekend of fine dining, shopping, art and wine!

This year’s festival is produced by the Dahlonega Merchants Association and sponsored by the Dahlonega Arts Council. For more information, please visit: www.dahlonegamerchants.org.

Building Permaculture Swales to Conserve Water

23 Apr

Like This!

We built a permaculture swale above the vegetable garden and blueberry bush area to capture the rain to prevent runoff and conserve the water for future use. Swales have been proven to retain water by forcing the rainwater into the Earth down to the impervious layer of soil. The water then travels under the surface and provides plant roots with needed irrigation. Such water can travel great distances and be stored for extended periods of time. Swales conserve valuable rainwater that normally runs down slopes and eventually ends up in driveways and storm sewers. They also help reduce evaporation of rainwater.

We built a swale above the garden to capture water running down the hill from the north end of the property. The swale is approximately one foot deep and 16 inches wide. Swale depth can vary depending on slope of hill and soil type. For example we made the swale shallower but wider in areas with rock closer to the surface which made digging more difficult. The swale at the top of the hill provides water for the peach trees, blueberry bushes and concord grapes. Decomposed leaves are placed in the swale to help retain water. Wheat straw covers the leaves and swale berm to prohibit erosion.

Another smaller swale was dug at the bottom of the hill using the same technique. This swale catches additional water for the vegetable garden. We are considering the addition of strawberries on the berm portion of this swale since they have deep roots and will help stabilize the berm. Not to mention fresh strawberries in the future.

Additional swales will be built on the property in the future.

To see a video of our swales visit video.

Geoff Lawton is a renowned permaculturist and did a great video on how swales work. Visit his video by clicking how swales work.

Video Update of Permaculture Vegetable Garden

30 Mar

Like This!

We filmed a short video today showing the progress made on the garden area using a permaculture sheet mulching technique. We also cleared the hill above the garden of the pine trees and planted peaches and blueberries that will provide breakfast ingredients in the future. The pine trees were used to make a living fence to keep out larger animals and to provide a habitat for birds. In the future we will provide more video updates.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 56 other followers

%d bloggers like this: