Orchard in the Sun – Horizon of Diamonds

"Orchard in the Sun" - Soergel Orchards - Wexford, PA

“Orchard in the Sun” – Soergel Orchards – Wexford, PA

Blue skies stretch from horizon to horizon…
Morning air is clear like a flawless diamond…
Prepping my gear surrounded in swallows…
When the fog clears the noon sun follows…

No finer place to be than in the summer breeze…
Another day spent among the old apple trees…
Soon the sun will be in the middle of the sky…
Alone in this orchard my lifted spirit will fly…

At the top of a tree sits a lonely bird nest…
My role in the canopy is as a humble guest…
I climbed up here from the ground down below…
Each time I climb a tree my little spirit grows…

By the end of the day I touch every tree in sight…
I thin all the fruit so the apples ripen in light…
A few more months and the season will be done…
Another day in paradise in an orchard in the sun…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Hanging in There – Metamorphosis

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“Hanging in There” – Keystone State Park – Westmoreland County, PA

Hanging in there… That’s how I have felt for the past five years… Not good… Not great… Just hanging in there… Every day the same… Weeds… I pulled so many weeds in fact… That I felt like a weed… A weed in a beautiful garden… A weed waiting to be pulled from the earth…

After many years of self employment… I have taken a job working on a local farm/orchard/garden center for a family I already know and love… Soergel Orchards in Wexford, PA is my new home… It is my new school… The thought of the learning possibilities on this farm makes my brain tingle… The fresh inspiration makes my pen drool… My camera… Myself… My well-being… As far as my heroes are concerned… This family is only below my own…

I am a caterpillar… But soon… I will be a butterfly…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Reflections of the Past – Money or Freedom

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“The First Rays of Sunlight” – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Cairn of stacked stones on Nine Mile Run… I like building these stacks because they require me to zone out… To me… This is meditation… I can’t wait for it to warm up enough for me to return… Maybe then my positive poetry will again outnumber the negative…

The following poem contains a bit of vulgar language… If there is even a slight chance that will offend you… Move along… This poem is not for you…

We are reflections of those we have met in the past…
We are nothing more than mirrors…
We are love… We are hate…
We get classified based on our mental state…
Classification is the mark of the beast…
Governments say comply while they fucking feast…
Non-profits say give while they get retreats…
Take massive pay checks while volunteers clean the streets…
There has to be a better way than this…
Drug abuse is rampant the streets are filled with whores…
Bad people rule the world while the good people are poor…
People stand in line with signs fighting over church and state…
Border walls answer the call for someone to segregate…
Why do we let others choose our fate… Why do I…
Why can I not let my baggage go…
Why do I not feel worthy…
Why do I feel my past classifies me as worthless…
Because it does…
So fuck your classification system…
Fuck your records and your tools…
My life goal is to make the doubters look like complete and total fools…
I will make you tools because I have no other option…
History so bad the background check cautions…
So I’ll have to make my own way…
A green thumbed vagabond… You have no idea…
Look up fucked up that’s me in the encyclopedia…
Thank god for art… Thank god for poetry…
Thank god for the possibility of a god…
Thank god that we can be…
Anything we want to be…
As long as we pay taxes on our property…
Not to mention a flawless history…
The secret to anonymity is now but a mystery…
We are all marked… We stand in line…
Comply unconditionally or pay the fine…
Monetary loss or loss of freedom…
Then add-on charges if we try to impede them…
We are nothing more than products on the grocery store shelf…
We are products trained to work…
We work hard so more hard work is expected…
And then we work some more…
We work to afford these modern conveniences…
We have replaced life with labor…
Experience with degrees…
Reality with… Whatever you call this…
This joke we think is normal…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Individuality – Make Your Own Way

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“SOLO – Almost Floating” – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA – Sculpture of stone… Free standing cairn…
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A gift to the stream…

The day of the individual has come and gone…
Now were programmed to be corporate pawns…
We will work until were blind dumb or dead…
Fighting for crumbs while the big wigs break bread…

There will always be someone just a little bit cheaper…
Computers replace man like the fucking grim reaper…
A corporate soldier that’s been assigned a code…
So the company can determine your financial load…

This is not a world where I could coexist…
I’m too much of a shit that just wants to resist…
I ask too many questions and look for blame…
At minimum wage we are one and the same…

Resistance is futile and our futures are bleak…
The only hope is the independence we seek…
Depending on nature is depending on your self…
Not paying the standard rate for food off the shelf…

Stand up for your most basic of human rights…
Food in the cupboard and children’s night lights…
Anything extra is for the corporate class…
Lack of food is one way they own your ass…

Pay a living wage to make sure we get to work…
Eat with your hands because a fork is a perk…
Subsistence pay is a form of human slavery…
But in the corporate world it’s a sign of bravery…

College degrees in hand like the soldier boy…
Sent out across the land like the generals toy…
Don’t be another fool or a disposable tool…
Our lives depend on principles that each of us rule…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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The Guerrilla Gardening Guidebook – Long-Term Maintenance

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“The Garden Table” – Rebecca Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – This is my last project… Not so much a guerrilla garden as we have a ten-year lease on the property… But urban none the less… No budget… All recycled and salvaged materials…

Long Term Maintenance

This post is part of a larger body of work titled ”The Guerrilla Gardening Guidebook”. For the introduction and table of contents please click here

Long-term maintenance is the killer of most guerrilla gardens. ALL GARDENS REQUIRE REGULAR MAINTENANCE! Whether organic or chemical, food or ornamental, water or soil, privately owned or guerrilla, no garden is completely sustainable without maintenance. Way too many people plug “no work” gardening into Google and find themselves reading my blog, there is no such thing as a completely work free garden… Actually… I take that back… If you are searching the internet for no work gardening… Then you need to pay someone to install and maintain your garden, because essentially, that is what you are asking for… And that is what myself, as well as many others like me do for a living…

With that said, a garden should not be all work. I find all too often that the general public sees gardening as nothing but work. There are some steps you can take to cut down on the amount of maintenance that will be required over the life of your garden. The solution can be as simple as digging a small canal from the downspout of a nearby vacant building, to as complex as soil nutrient alterations in an attempt to discourage a certain type of weed. I find all too often most problems can be solved with minimal work using nothing more than your brain… If you only learn one thing here I would want it to be “work smarter, not harder”…

Litter is a constant problem in my neighborhood, people throw their shit everywhere. When the wind blows that litter around, it will usually stick to anything in its path… Often it will be your garden… You can look at this one of two ways… Either you can get pissed off about all the litter, and subsequently give up gardening in disgust… Or you can be happy over the fact that your garden makes litter removal a little bit easier… I am saying this because I truly believe that if you are going to guerrilla garden on someone else’s land, you should maintain that plot of land as if it were your own… And that typically means cleaning up trash and litter that you had nothing to do with…

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“Daylily before Blight” – Rebecca Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – Daylily make great guerrilla garden plants… Extremely hardy and tolerant of the harshest conditions… They require division every once in a while… You can see this as work or as a cheap source of plants…

Organic debris like leaves and grass clippings are very valuable in the guerrilla garden, they can provide a good percentage of the nutrient needs of a garden. Grass clippings are one of the most versatile materials available in urban environments, landscapers are often happy to part with them.

Many of the herbaceous perennials grown in formal gardens are cut back in the fall, most of these plants can be left through the winter. Winter weather breaks organic material down quickly, what is left of these plants in the spring quickly gets covered by new growth. A growing plant mines nutrients from the soil, nutrients that are stored in the leaves, these nutrients will have to be replaced if the organic material is removed so it is often best practice to leave the plants as they are.

Garden debris that is created can often be simply buried in the garden. Trench composting is a style of composting that involves digging a hole and filling it with whatever scrap organic material is available. In the case of a small guerrilla garden, any organic material you come in contact with can technically be buried. I do suggest sticking to smaller pieces in miniature gardens, digging through a layer of woven sticks and grass can prove to be impossible. Remember the bigger the material, the longer it will take to break down.

Guerrilla gardening is an opportunistic activity, sometimes soil, mulch or plants will suddenly become available… Successful guerrilla gardeners are always ready to take these items… Sometimes you will have to take some crap in order to get some good, beggars can’t be choosers… Vacant lots and guerrilla gardens provide unlimited opportunities, any free resource available to you should be considered. Oftentimes, the same things commonly thought of as only being found in high-end formal gardens can be available to the beggar who is willing to wait… Or willing to learn how to propagate plants… Which is the route I took… Now I can propagate just about anything…

An established guerrilla garden requires minimal maintenance. Occasional weeding and yearly mulch can keep a perennial guerrilla garden going for years. Guerrilla gardeners tend to be transient people, very few seem to stay in one location for very long and because of this vacant guerrilla gardens are becoming a normal occurrence. I find it funny that an activity that is commonly used as a protest against blight, could some day be considered a form of blight.

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

This site… And all the photographs and information presented within are provided free of charge by the author… I am not affiliated with any product or business… Only myself… Writing this blog takes a ton of time… If you find any of this information helpful, please consider purchasing a print from my online store… It is obviously not a requirement… But it helps…

I sell prints of my photography here – http://www.society6.com/chriscondello Or you can contact me directly at c.condello@hotmail.com for commissions or locally/personally produced prints… Thank you for reading…

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Practical Permaculture – Leaf Raking Alternatives

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“Be Different” – Hamnett Place Community Garden – Wilkinsburg, PA

Autumn, is steadily drifting towards us. The distant scent of leaves is now noticeable in the wind, signaling to me that the summer months are quickly coming to an end… A sign that my garden preparations for next year are just getting ready to begin…

During the winter months there is not enough light or water for photosynthesis to occur, trees rest and live off the food they stored in the summer months. The chlorophyll begins to disappear from the leaves as the bright green coloring fades, we begin to see yellow, orange, and even red colors. Small amounts of these colors have been present all along, we just can’t see them in the summer because they are covered by chlorophyll.

Leaves are just one example of nature’s food factories. Trees take water from the ground using roots, and carbon dioxide from the air using their leaves… When sunlight is added, the water and carbon dioxide are converted into glucose and oxygen… Plants use glucose as food for energy and as a building block for growth. The way plants turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugar is called photosynthesis. Chlorophyll helps make photosynthesis happen, it is also what gives plants their green color.

So now we know what all is involved in the creation of a leaf, and we know why they change colors. As summer ends and autumn comes, the days will continue to get shorter… And soon the leaves will begin to fall from the trees…

Knowing everything that goes into that leaf… It would be such a waste to bag them all up and send them to the landfill…

Trees mine minerals from the earth, and in exchange return starches and sugars in the form of leaf fall. To eliminate this organic material from beneath your tree will not eliminate the needs of the tree, it will increase the supplemental nutrient needs of your tree… And the gardens/lawn surrounding it.

Now, I’m perfectly aware that most of us can’t let our leaves lay on our manicured suburban lawns. Modern ordinances and neighborhood associations often strictly prohibit “yard waste” of any kind, creative thinking is often the only way around this.

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“First Frost 2012” – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA

The supreme reign of the leaf rake as the autumn tool king is over… All hail the mulching lawn mower!

I cannot stress enough the importance… And versatility of owning a mulching/bagging lawn mower… As far as shredding leaves and garden waste is concerned, it will handle anything other than woody/shrubby material… That is where my urban hugelkutur link comes in handy…

The simplest method I use, is to simply run over the leaves with a mulching lawn mower set on its highest wheel height. Depending on the amount/depth of the leaves, this can be a very slow process. My suggestion is to mow on a regular basis while the leaves are still falling from your tree, this way your mower does not stress out under the extra load of the additional material. If the leaves do not entirely disappear during your first pass, simply continue to run them over until they do. I can typically reduce a yard full of leaves into barely noticeable, 1/2″ – 1″ pieces in a few quick passes when this is done on a regular basis.

Another option I have employed in the past, is to use the bagging option of the lawn mower to collect the leaves. Patience is often required using this method as you have to proceed very slowly, move forward a few feet, then drag the mower back over the same spot. As I fill the bags up with organic goodness, I simply dump them at the base of a tree… Or in a garden… When I am finished with the job, I carefully spread it around the base of the tree. By spring, this material will shrink considerably… Spread it out around your tree and mow as usual… Or use it to mulch/top dress your garden.

Yet another option is to place the material in a pile in an inconspicuous area of your yard. Regular flipping of this pile will speed decomposition, in the spring, you add it to your gardens before you begin to plant. I personally like to cover my gardens in this material immediately, and allow it to slowly break down in place. This serves several purposes including winter weed and erosion control, protection of tender perennials, and eventual nutrients… But most importantly for me. is that it discourages cats from crapping in my bare garden soil… Which in my neighborhood… Is priceless…

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“Community Aster” – Hamnett Place Community Garden – Wilkinsburg, PA

The colors of fall are something we all see as eye candy… But once those leaves litter our yards, we typically only see them as work. I believe we should see them as a valuable garden resource that just falls from the sky. The leaves in our yards are essentially gifts from the heavens… Like manna in the Book of Numbers… Arriving with the dew of the night…

As far as many of our urban shade trees are concerned… The leaves are the only physical yield we can regularly harvest from them…

Why would we send that to the landfill? At the very least they should be piled up and composted, if done correctly a pile of leaves can be garden ready by spring. Even if you do absolutely nothing to the pile, letting it sit all winter… It will still be great garden material… And that… Is one of the physical benefits of a shade tree… Likewise, when those leaves are placed in a vegetable garden… The nutrients provided affect another physical yield… Vegetables…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

This site… And all the photographs and information presented within… Are provided free… I am not affiliated with any product or business… Only myself…

I do however sell prints of some of my photography here – http://www.society6/chriscondello… Or you can contact me directly at c.condello@hotmail.com for commissions or locally/personally produced prints… Thank you for reading…

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