As I mentioned in the OP, leaf mold is terribly overlooked and is in dire need of more attention. I must admit to being a Purist when it comes to production methods. I shall strive to be more open minded.
I started making leaf mold about 12 years ago. I had a huge volume of leaves available. When I added them to the compost heap, the heap cooled down. I was trying to put together a big steamy pile. Hot composting was the objective, getting the C:N ratio right so I could have compost ready FAST. I was tossing the hot heap every couple of days. I drove over to my brothers house one day. On the way I came across a huge pile of bagged leaves by the road which I simply HAD to have. It took several trips with a 5x10 trailer piled high to haul them home. With all those bags of leaves there was no way I was going to put them all in the hot compost. I figured I'd pile them in the corner, letting them rot slowly on their own with no attention. I could draw from the leaf heap as I needed more browns. Then spring came and I had even more leaves that had to be stolen. The pile got bigger. After a couple of years I got into mulching. Sure was handy having all those leaves. As I dug into the pile, I found the leaves were breaking down beautifully, even without the steamy goodness of the hot compost heap. I figured I could save myself a lot of work if I had enough material piled up ahead of time to keep my compost pipeline full. I started heaping up even more leaves and studying up on compost. This led to my thinking that rotten leaves, all by themselves, was a different animal.
1 Pay off the house. It is an obsession at this point. I'm so close right now I can taste it. March is possible, May is certain. With the mortgage gone I have the ability to flush the job. After 47 years, I'd like to be debt free. I'll have new doors of opportunity open up when I am able to seize control of my time.
2 Make The Natural Growing and Small Farm Reader a reality. This project has been gaining momentum lately. This project would provide a residual income stream for me and a hundred other people. The stage would be set for moving ahead with more projects.
Magnus Fundal wrote:
Don't mind if I make my own observations, then.
By all means, I welcome it. Anything that adds to the body of knowledge of what is going on and how this stuff does whatever it is it is doing will touch many lives. There is much more to it than meats the eye.
If I'm right, leaf mold is an abundantly available, mineral rich resource that also serves as a nutrient trap. Identifying it as a separate and distinct product would open the doors to an entire industry, and a local one at that.
I have no references or sources to offer other than my back field and years of personal observation to support my conclusion that compost is different from leaf mold.
It is my understanding that bacteria can not produce lignase. Nonetheless, leaves will break down in a compost heap. Fungal decomposition is a slow, cool process which would be a challenge in a hot, active compost heap. That heat is gonna cook the fungi. Something else is happening. In a rich, diverse, steamy compost heap I'm sure there are all sorts of things going on with environmental factors, organic acids, enzymes and stuff I never heard of which can aid in decomposing lignin without participation by fungi. It's a different process with different results.
In the finished product there is a recognizable distinction. Leaf mold is spongy. The texture of compost is more like dirt, kinda flat. The smell is different. Leaf mold has a simple woodsy odor. Compost has a different odor depending on what went into the heap. Wet compost has the texture of mud. Wet leaf mold expands. I've seen remarkable difference in the soil. Beds treated with compost separated by a 2 foot wide path from beds treated with leaf mold grow different weeds.
Leaves. Only Leaves. Really.
Pile them up, walk away. If you want to encourage bacteria, do it in the compost heap. Leave the leaves alone.
I want to read more about how and why.
Me too. Can you send me a copy of your thesis when completed?
"Organic" labeling is an artform. If the product can not be labeled as Certified Organic, simply use the word as part of the Brand:
"Organic Traditions" All-Natural YumYums
"Organic Delights" Hair Conditioning Rinse and Styling Gel
"Fresh Organics" Gear Lubricant and Engine Degreaser
I've found a wide range of misunderstanding of what 'organic' and 'natural' means to people.
I spoke with an Amish farmer a few years back asking if his produce was organic. His response has been stuck in my head ever since. "It sure is. It's organic. But I won't lose a crop. I'll go to the spray if I have to ."
I asked a landscape guy if his compost was organic. He said it was. I asked if he had the Certifying Documents. He had no idea what I was talking about.
Sometimes people don't know what they are eating. I overheard a young lady talking about Celiac's disease: "That's why I don't eat Wheat. I prefer to eat Grain."
Organic produce is not supposed to have pesticides, but once it leaves the farm there are plenty of places for contaminants to be applied. Makes it hard to trust the label when at any step along the distribution chain the food can be adulterated. I've used compost made with supermarket produce. The stuff did the job but included in the heap were countless rubber bands, stickers, tags and pieces of plastic bags. What a mess.
The amount of compost produced by a sack of spoiled vegetables may not seem like much. What is important is not the volume but the quality and richness of biota that comes with it. It's the microbes. Bacteria, fungi, protozoa, yeasts play a key role in the soil. They do the job of chelating the nutrients: altering them into a form the plants can use. They change the soil structure, holding it together when its loose and breaking it apart when it is hard. They convert lignin into hummus. All too often the microbe populations have been destroyed or radically altered by the previous use of chemicals and the effects of repeated tillage. Bare soil allows the destruction of microbes by UV sunlight. Even small applications of herbicides and fungicides can wipe out entire species of microbes, tipping the balance in favor of less desirable microbe populations.
It's getting hard to find land that has not been paved, covered by a house, used as a dumping ground or previously used for farming. Remediating soil that has been anthropomorped or is marginal to begin with is well served by adding compost. An inch thick layer is a start. You can turn it in, but if left on the surface I find it will be mixed in by bugs and worms. You'll probably see an improvement the first year. Next season, add more. Keeping it covered with a thick layer of mulch is probably the best thing you can do to protect that soil once you've put that work in. Amending soil is a process. Give it the time and effort, you'll see the results.
After many years I grew out of the booze. A worn out body and a demanding job don't leave much room for it anymore. Mostly I wail the coffee, although once in a while a glass of wine or some #7 tea.
This one is frugal, tasty, and hits the spot on those sunny Florida summer days.
I get gallon pickle jars from the big jobs at work. The company pays for a few things like peanuts (salt), and pickles (acid) to keep the guys working without turning into a pickle in the heat.
I put 5 tea bags in a gallon pickle jar, leave it in a sunny spot, head to work. Let it brew all day in the sun.
When I get home it's ready, but still pretty warm. I've measured 110 degrees.
Take out the tea bags (add to compost).
I add about a half a cup of sugar to sweeten it up. Honey is excellent in there, perhaps a splash of lemon juice. You have to add the sweeteners when the tea has cooled or it tends to ferment.
It's not really an Adult beverage, but I know a guy who brews some of that Backwoods Old Time Recipe #7. Comes in a ball jar.
Pour a tall glass of tea, add a splash of #7, take off your shoes because you're gonna lose them if you don't.
Christmas is coming and most some of you are away from family. While you probably have plans for a good meal and some fellowship, I thought it might add some fun if you had some gifts to share.
Over at thriftbooks.com they are having a holiday sale. Buy 5, get 1 of them free (the lowest priced). Seems a shame to miss out on that, and you folks seem to enjoy reading material.
Here's the plan:
Put everyone's name in a hat, everyone pulls out a name. Get your own name, try again.
You will be the Secret Santa for that person. Pick out 5 books for them. (Figure about a $5 average price)
PM me with your selection. I'll see to it they get sent out.
You have until Saturday Night to get your PM to me. Sunday morning at the latest. Sunday afternoon at the very latest. Sunday evening starts to really push the envelope.
What are you waiting for, do this at once!
These books come from different locations and will arrive over the course of several days.
They'll be in mailing envelopes and it will not be possible to tell which books are in which package, so you'll have to open them Christmas day and split them up accordingly (read: fight over the spoils).
This should be enough books that, once consumed and reviewed, you may be able to engage in some book swapping.
I've been a strong supporter of organic growing in the past, and I still am. Organic growing is a gateway to permaculture, but the grower has to make the effort to keep on going to get past the organic method, otherwise it's essentially the same situation as Green Revolution Agriculture, but without the synthetics.
I could do a monocrop in the back field. I'd probably make some money, and I've been tempted. A field of just carrots or just potatoes would be mind numbing to me. I can stand a couple hundred potatoes. Several thousand, one after another after another, would quickly become drudgery. It becomes assembly line work. Plug in the seed, turn on the pumps, repeat. This is not the homesteading lifestyle I dream of, and who would want to come out to the farm if all I had to offer was a field of carrots and a shiny well pump. There's no interaction, no enjoyment, no diversity, nothing to lift the spirit. You've got one thing to look forward to: the carrot harvest, along with the carrot packing, carrot loading, and the truck turning onto the road. The operation in the video requires no skill and very little understanding. All one needs to do is read the directions and delegate tasks to the hired help. So simple a caveman could do it? How about: so simple a robot could do it.
This is not agriculture, it is not organic growing. It is a bastardization of an idea for maximized profit on an industrial scale in order to take advantage of a marketing strategy. Every problem seen in this field is a result of applying organic principles to an industrial model. The more important issues of natural growing are ignored in favor of a proven commercial process which is in conflict with the nature of these issues. I've got nothing against carrots, can't make a decent pot roast without em. But growing carrots like this flies in the face of stewarding the environment and does nothing whatsoever to improve quality of life for the people involved, other than the guy who signs the paychecks, and I question his ability to sustain his business.
Organic growing is only a start. It's Natural Growing 101. To get it right you have to move to the next level.
Yeah, you can hook up the pumps and turn them on. It's easy, cost effective, and can be done by anyone who knows his way around a pipe wrench. Of course, the soil will end up salinated and the well will run dry as it does on GRA crops which are constantly irrigated. When the Mad Hatter ran out of tea and cakes he would simply move on to the next seat. I suspect this will be the solution sought for the grower in the video. Solving that problem ahead of time can be done by reducing the demand for water to a level which nature will provide. Deep mulch, high levels of organic matter in the soil, rich hummus, and hugelkulture are all well developed ideas that have proven their effectiveness and are cheaper in the long run.
Geoff Lawton walks through a field beside the carrots. It's totally exposed to the sun and blows away with every step he takes. There goes all the work put into that soil. But the grower is not concerned about the soil, just the product. Cover that soil, the work and investment would be around to keep giving back. One more step, adding a cover of leaves, grass clippings, old hay, wood chips, or whatever is handy would preserve that soil.
This means monorisk. Bring one pest, one virus, one bad weather pattern and all is lost. Putting all your eggs in one basket is kinda dumb if you ask me. That's no way to run a business, but that's none of my business.
The grower of the monocrop is the reason they migrate. They have nothing because they spend what little they make on temporary lodging, travel, and living out of a trunk. Diversify the crop, stagger plantings, bring something to harvest regularly rather than all at once. Regular work means people can put down roots. Being around for the entire year, the people would be able to develop skills. They'll become members of the community. They'll be regular customers, no need for distribution. Their lives will improve. They'll be better people and it will show in their work. Is that too much to ask?
Organic is a start, but buy itself is an incomplete method. If you want to keep it going, you need more. Nature is complex. It all works together. Cutting it down to the basics loses the essence of that complexity and the ability of the land to sustain the crops, fertility, nutrition, people and community. In a small backyard setting organic growing will get you by because the ecosystem has not been disrupted to any significant degree. When a vast field is laid waste to support a monoculture, natural systems break down. Bad bugs are not kept in check by good bugs. Water runs off, taking soil with it. Disease has a population sufficient for an epidemic to ravage the entire field. Bare land is assaulted by the sun, wind, and rain. And the people are reduced to the value of the commodity being harvested. When the work is done, they get loaded up on a truck just like the carrots.
The grower of the crop in the video will probably be able to keep up that operation for a while. Only when his crops begin to fail will the flaws in organic growing present. When enough of these operations fail, only then will solutions be sought for problems they didn't need to be hit with in the first place.
I'm in north Florida. When I lived in town betony was all over the backyard. Pull it up, it'll come right back. Dig it out, same thing. Tilling equates to betony multiplication.
It's those roots.
Betony forms tubers on the roots ranging from a fraction of an inch to several inches in length. It's called Rattlesnake Weed because of the size and shape of the tuber. If the tuber breaks, it's still viable and can grow another plant from a piece only a fraction of an inch in size. The roots also grow horizontally, propagating by rhizomes. If allowed to bloom, the plant produces an abundance of seeds the size of dust which further spread the plant. Persistence is the enemy, and this plant won't give up.
The strategy I've employed works well with raised beds. Clearing the bed of all traces of roots is easier down here with the loose sandy soil. Rather than pull the weed I follow the roots to get every last bit. It's a chore. Miss a piece, it'll come back. The removed roots will grow quickly if composted. I have piled it up to dry before composting, and the water stored in the tubers keeps it alive. A steaming hot heap will knock em down. The sides of the beds need to be a solid wall extending below the ground surface. I've used ceramic floor tile, but the gaps between the tile allows the roots to get through and the plant comes back. I've used lumber, but as the lumber decays, the roots grow through it. My best defense was some scrap concrete fiber panels sunk into the ground about a foot. This made a continuous wall which made it hard for the plants to dive deep enough to get under the barrier, but not impossible. It still came back, but it takes a few months.
I can get the weed out of the beds, but if the weed is outside of the beds, the roots find a way in. I ripped the stuff out of the paths and mulched the paths. Again, more chore. Any plants that bloom a few feet from the beds and mulched paths would produce seeds to blow back into the beds.
Eradicating the weed is a battle of attrition. Pulling them up when you see them is the easiest method because you can see the plant. The roots are not strong so the top will pull easily, but always leaves something behind. Pulling is only a temporary measure, but keeps the plant under control with the least effort. You'll need to keep the area in and arou6nd the gardens clear of visible weeds, and the effort is continuous. Start in the center, work your way out. This will give you an area that is mostly clear of the weed for a longer period.
That's the best I've got for you.
Out here in the woods I have not yet found the weed. I am thankful.
Aaron Festa wrote: On a bigger topic anyone have ideas that a newbie can make using a coping saw and some files and chisels?
Intarsia is a form of woodworking which fits coped pieces to form the piece. Colors are handled with different species, but can be polished, stained and painted. The basic tools for this artform is a coping saw, some files, and chisels.
Welcome to Permies.com. From what you describe, you're in the right place.
Speak your mind, get feedback. That's pretty much how it works around here.
So far it sounds like you are off to a fine start.
There is a slight risk of financial calamity which would wipe out the value of your savings, but the chain of events which would leave you in a desperate situation are highly unlikely. There is always inflation, but from the sounds of things, you have a buffer against that. Inflation is most volatile in the food and energy sectors. Since you are able to produce some of your food and have the bike/carpool in place, you are in a good position. You are also internalizing skills which will always be valuable. You'll find these forums to be a goldmine for finding and learning more skills which will further your pursuit of ascetic resilience.
Jonathan Overlin wrote:
Your house and land are paid for
you have 78 acres of mostly wooded land
you have a loafing shed, some paddocks and an old tractor
you also have 100k to invest in enterprises
What would you do?
My house and land will be paid for in a few months
I have 3.7 acres, mostly pasture, some woods.
I've got a garage, a small livestock shelter, and a lawn mower.
I have a few dollars that I have not yet spent.
I would do those things which I enjoy doing and which generate enough income so I can keep doing it. It may not be the Most profitable, but it can provide a comfortable living. If I like what I'm doing it's not really work. If all I do is pay the bills, I can break free of the bonds of employment. This is about 500/month for me. I can grow vegetables and sell them right from the field. I'd like that. About a half an acre should be enough for me to reach financial independence, accounting for taxes, and some extra to develop other projects. Those other projects can be whatever strikes my fancy.
Without that job thing, my time belongs to me.
That's what I would do: buy my independence.
If money is what you want, you can make lots of it, more than you can spend. Go get it.
I can use more money than I have, but I also want to do things that have nothing to do with money.
I would get some ducks. I like ducks. I think this place would be more fun with ducks around. And some chickens, maybe some turkeys.
I would like to build some solar equipment with which to experiment. I've built dehydrators and box heaters. I'd like to try out different solar cookers.
I would like to establish a berry patch. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries all grow well and are so tasty.
I would like to build a kitchen, get it licensed for commercial production, and put the unsold vegetables and berries to good use. While I'm at it, I'd like to teach classes (I can cook!) in that kitchen for others to learn how to can, dry, pickle, and prepare all that good stuff. I would make some videos about cooking, and canning, and growing vegetables, and doing the things I want to do. I can probably make some more money doing that, which I could put back into doing more things that I want to do.
I would like to set up some tanks for raising catfish. Catfish, potatoes, fresh peas, and strawberry ice cream makes for an awesome meal.
I would like to get some help. With so much going on that needs attention, and with the bills covered, and with plenty of food around, I could offer someone the chance to get involved, learn, and become prepared to start their own farm. If my help is working hard, learning, and mastering skills, I'd like to help them get what they want.
With some help around here I could do even more. I could spend more time writing about stuff. These forums have a wealth of information, but we've barely scratched the surface. There is more out there to figure out, and sharing what is learned gets more people involved so we can figure out even more stuff. Some of this stuff can be used to make a little money. If we figure out enough stuff, lots of people can use the information to do those things they want to do.
There's a lot to read. In an earlier post I explained the reason for interest.
Setting up as a For Profit Company allows virtually unlimited discretion as to the use of the fund as well as options for raising the funds. I am able to engage in whatever enterprise I see fit without the risk of being injoined by a lawsuit for unfair competition which could instantly wipe the entire project off the face of the world.
Let me allay the notion that I will make a big sack of money from this project.
-Even in it's infancy this project is eating a little bit of money in the form of documentation fees, mail, and website charges.
-Income Taxes will eat a third of the interest income as well as income from fundraising projects.
-If I solicit donations to the fund, income taxes will eat a third of the donations.
-If the fund grows to a point a staff is needed, it would take the interest income of several funded proposals just to cover the payroll.
-I draw no salary from the fund. I make a few bucks on the proposal fee (section 5.2), much of which which would be used for public record, credit, and criminal background checks, as well as travel to the site and real estate investigations.
-A single default would wipe out the income gain from several successes.
-If the Fund is a raging success, those mortgage payments go right back in to replenish the fund and get another farm going.
-I lined my pockets where?
There is a vast amount of investment capital out there. The amount of private investment capital blows the doors off what is available through non-profit organizations. Getting that money invested into farms is the task at hand. If done right, the Farmland Fund serves the purpose of offering the opportunity for people to get started and draws attention to those who have proven themselves.
A guy is at the casino with a bucket of quarters plugging them one at a time into the slot machines. Cherry-Cherry-Lemon. He keeps at it. 7-7-Banana, Clover-Clover-Zap. His bucket gets lower and lower.
Finally he reaches in for his last quarter...Bust. He's got nothing left.
He's been playing so long he's gotta go to the bathroom but finds the bathroom stall doors in the casino are coin operated. This guy has to go BAD. Another patron sees this guy in his anxious state. Understand the urgency of the predicament he hands the player a quarter and walks off. Just as he is about to put in the quarter to open the door, the fellow in the next stall finishes his work and opens the door. 'What Luck' the guy says as he pockets the quarter and makes use of the facilities.
With his gift quarter he tries one last time on the slot machine...JACKPOT-JACKPOT-JACKPOT
As a matter of fact it's such a huge jackpot that sirens sound off, balloons and confetti tumble down, the casino manager offers him a suite, and the champagne flows all night. Being the largest jackpot in a long time a news reporter interviews the winner. The new gozillionaire tells his story about the bathroom, and the quarter and the lucky break with the next stall.
'You must be rally thankful for the guy giving you that quarter" says the reporter.
'No' says the winner, 'I'm thankful for the guy who opened the door.'
I invite anyone to form a non-profit organization to help folks get a farm of their own, bring in a grant writer, charge zero interest, do whatever you think is right. Let my Fund be an inspiration for others to duplicate or emulate. As long as it helps bring people and land together, I'm all for it.
Adam Klaus wrote:IMHO, 7% simple interest is too high to be realistic for a farm enterprise in most situations.
This is not a project to help people handle hundreds of acres of wheat or a herd of cattle ranging to the horizon.
It could easily finance a small home with a few acres with a mortgage in the neighborhood of $500/month. Compared to renting an apartment, this is competitive. I use my place as a reference for price, housing, utilities, and land. After that it is up to the prospective farmer to explain what he/she would do with the place and how the mortgage would be paid.
Adam Klaus wrote:Is there any way to attract investment from a more philanthropic angle, rather than a returns approach? If we could offer financing to farmers for more like 2%, then I think we could really help to move more young people onto farms.
I'm not a man of unlimited means. It has taken me a year to build the fund to $3000. Philanthropy is not within my grasp beyond a $20 kickstarter pledge. If the interest rate was lower, it could draw in folks of less scrupulous intention. I don't want to finance a home for 30 years and be left holding the bag for someone who's plans 'inexplicably change' as soon as they move in. I'm looking for folks who have every intention of making a go of it and develop an income from farming. Get your foot in the door, establish yourself, show the world what you can do when unleashed, and get refinanced at a favorable rate so the fund is replenished to repeat the process.
For this Fund to work, I will need competent people who want to own their own farm. If I had a 2nd farm being operated by people I believe in, I've got an ideal prospect for the Fund. A trained operator could start here. I'd have a vested interest in teaching them everything I know (which will take about a week), expose them to all the information possible, give them the incentive to perform, and focus on preparing them to manage that 2nd farm.
What has been emerging over the past couple years is a plan to move an individual from start to finish: Train, Prove, Own. Do it a few times and we all share in the next step: a co-op. Do it a whole bunch of times, a Permaculture Community will have sprung to life.
My home is owner financed at 7%. I expect to have it paid off before my next tomatoes start to bear fruit. I took the place in summer of '10. 5 years to pay off a 40k note is not impossible. Earning wages part time would be a challenge to pay off a note, but there are ways for people to develop income, particularly with a farm. Bringing in roommates is probably the fastest way to cut the bills. Home food production, home energy production, frugality, all contribute to making ends meet. I've been putting together an article offering ideas how A Few People Can Share A Farm. The easier I can make it for people to afford a farm, the better off we will all be.
As for paying off a mortgage early, that would be a positive thing. A pre-payment penalty is not part of the plan. The Fund would be back in action, furthering someone else's dream. The Fund offers a foot in the door. Get the farm going, develop an income, then use that success and experience when seeking refinancing. A part of the Fund plan includes full disclosure. Your progress would be in full view of the public in the hopes private investment would seek you out once you have established a pattern of success and prove yourself to be a good risk.
The farmer gets a better rate, the private investor gets a good return, the Fund gets replenished, someone else gets a chance.
There is no standard convention. We've got folks from all over the world, some have a hard time with English. There is no dwelling on the language or style or format. As long as you are able to get your idea across well enough for others to figure it out, that's good enough.
Writing and responses range from short questions and answers to in depth essays.
Everyone has value.
Everyone is free to contribute in whatever manner appeals to their own interest and ability.
The subject matter included in these forums extend over so many different areas of expertise that there is no way to be a master or authority over them all. Each of us has our own favored topics with which we have some understanding. Ideas are offered, questions asked. Anyone from novice to hobbyist to seasoned veteran has the opportunity to chime in what they think. Outstanding solutions come from people with casual knowledge in what would seem to be unconnected subjects. There is inherent ability in everyone. Around here that ability can find a means of expression. Much of the territory covered here is new ground being explored by inquisitive minds. If your ideas are sound, people will listen. There is no title or degree which qualifies one as an authority. It is the earned respect of your peers that will set you apart.
Speak your mind. Get your idea across. Folks can add to your ideas as they please. If you claim a statement of fact, you need to be able to back it up. People put out some darn good ideas. Sometimes a whisper turns into several pages of discussion. Because of the way ideas develop we strive to not belittle anyone-it serves no purpose.