Thursday, May 12, 2016

Valhalla's first Tree House -- save the lemons, please!

The Tree House currently contains three citrus, one fig, and two flowering
trees. We'll need at least five more citrus trees in the coming months.
Valhalla's very first Tree House is probably not what you'd expect. It is just one more "small" project in the much larger quest to provide top-quality, nutrient-dense gourmet foods for at least some of America's post-9/11 combat veterans. 

Grass fed beef and lamb, as well as wild hog and venison, and also free range poultry and their eggs are already harvested right here on the Valhalla Project property. Then there's our neighbor Paul, who provides raw fresh milk as well as very excellent pork from pigs that roam across his farm nibbling on wild herbs and grasses all day long. 

So why a tree house? Because citrus trees are needed to provide lemons, oranges, and limes for countless recipes -- and they are very difficult to grow here in the Ozarks. 

A few of the lemons growing inside the Tree House.
They must, at the very least, spend every winter inside the Valhalla Main House (or perhaps, for some others, in a heated greenhouse -- which is entirely beyond Valhalla's current annual budget at this point). In the spring we wheel them out on carts to the front decks. However, our own free ranging turkeys had the nerve to systematically pluck some of our small potted citrus trees literally to death after we brought them out into the spring sunshine. Protecting them with 48" high pet fences still didn't do much good, since Sadie and Loki (the Livestock Protection Dogs) crashed straight through them while playing and accidentally overturned the innocent little trees.

So this year, to protect the citrus trees that are needed for the supper table, we went hard-core by building an 8'x4' house for the trees. It was made with chicken wire and ordinary 2x4 lumber stained to match the decks. Small flags on top help to prevent the turkeys from jumping up and roosting on the top; plant stands inside elevate the trees for maximum sunlight above the deck rails while providing storage space underneath.

The new Plant Garage has four doors across the front for easy
access to the plants inside.
Of course every house needs a garage, so building a Plant Garage on the second deck seemed like a good idea. 

Flats of seedlings and plants waiting for transplant into the main gardens are protected from the dogs and poultry, and it's easy to toss a shade cloth over the top on particularly hot days.

Speaking of seedlings, a potting station was definitely needed so we set one up just outside the Tree House. 

The potting station just outside the Tree House.
It has a peg board organizer and strip of hooks for hanging various necessities. Instead of installing regular plumbing we keep a bucket under the utility tub, and then reuse the gray water for watering plants.

The potting benches match the plant stands inside the Tree House, which led to yet another idea: create a small breakfast bar within the remaining space on the lower deck, with nesting tables to match the potting benches. 

The small breakfast bar can only seat four to six Valhallans at a time
so a much larger outdoor dining room will have to be built
on the second deck next to the Plant Garage.
The deck isn't particularly level so it was necessary to bolt the tables to the deck railing and to each other. However, the bolts are easily popped out so that the tables can be reconfigured and locked together into a small dining table. 

It's a nice little space for a few Valhallans to enjoy, yet a much larger outdoor dining room to seat up to a dozen people is obviously needed. There's plenty of room for exactly that on the second deck, and perhaps it will be done sometime this summer. 

Shade sails help to keep the decks cool in the summer.
* * *
The Valhalla Project needs your 
help and support!

We need YOUR help to keep Valhalla functioning efficiently - while at the same time expanding vitally important programs to assist post-9/11 combat Soldiers and war zone civilian workers to transition back into the civilian world. 

KK the cat dreaming of fish while napping on the
new breakfast bar under gently flapping shade sails.

The Valhalla Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity recognized by the IRS.

Nobody, including cadre or board members, draws a paycheck here, nor will they ever: we simply give everything we have to make Valhalla possible. 100% of your donation via Paypal will go directly to program expenses, period. 

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