Last Four(!) Weeks at the Institute — Jul. 1–28, 2018

Our busy mid-summer has taken me away from institute business, but nevertheless, things have been moving along with a well-like workshop this last Saturday and the launching of the Sustainability Skill Share.

Research Projects

It is the slow and steady part of our potato study. The plants are plenty high and most participants report good growth. Some folks have had trouble with voles, but luckily (and knock on wood) few have had to battle the dreaded Colorado potato beetles.

I recently split the hives from our mite-resistance-breeding project. Another neighborhood resident has volunteered to host the bees. I planned to pop them into full hives a few days later, but unfortunately I lost a bearing in my table saw and I can’t finish the hives until it’s fixed.


On Saturday, we hosted Kelly Larson, an artist from St. Louis, who taught a workshop on traditional indigo dying, known as shibori. I’ll do a full post on this colorful and fun day.

The Sustainability Skill Share was announced and volunteers sought for the steering committee. This event will take place in late spring 2019 and will offer dozens of classes in a wide variety of topics, from gardening and carpentry to fiber arts and discussion courses. Send us an email if you’re interested in helping out.


I worked with a local beekeeping colleague to cut a hive out of a house in a nearby town. These bees had built an extensive hive in the walls and it took us much of a day to cut most of them out. While she took home the bees, I got the honey and wax, out of which I’ll make mead and candles.

I also goofed around with weaving a willow basket, but realize I probably need some guidance on this skill beyond YouTube videos.

The chicken coop is now covered in its first layer of plaster. I did a full post about this two weeks ago, so check that out for more details. It’s starting to look like a real building.

We’re waiting on tomato season to start. Our plants have nice green fruits set, but they’re tantalizingly slow to redden. It has made me critically evaluate our sunlight and shade situation and conclude that a few trees will be coming down this winter, once the ground freezes. We are battling Japanese beetles with traps and hand-picking.


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