In my experience, Biochar works just about anyplace you put it as long as you give it a good soak in some bioactive such as manure tea or a tea made of crushed up mushrooms or spores. Once the biochar goes into the ground, these treatments get the microbes going. If you already have good beds with active soil microbes they will find that biochar quickly on their own.
I have a pile of biochar that sits on a part of my land that is full of spawn and other good microbes. I turn this pile when I need to make additions to a space that is going to be used for planting crops or trees.
I also make biochar on a regular basis for now since I am still doing some clearing of land for orchards. I use the "junk" trees and blackberry canes I have to cut down for this. The hickories get used for more useful purposes. I keep all the white oaks growing since I only harvest them when I need barrel stave material, and then I only take out a small quantity.
Rob Breeden wrote:So I was wondering if anyone has experience in inter-planting other species with tomatoes such as in a guild; ie. to help with nutrient balance, attracting pollinators, pest control, etc. Thanks.
I find tomatoes are by far the most difficult plants to plolyculture-
while I can take a guess at their mature girth depending on whether they're staked, sprawled etc,
once they get going they grow so fast, and messily...
That said, I usually plant fast-growing things like lettuce and coriander between the young tomatoes.
They'll mostly come out before the toms get into the 'swamp everything' stage
I recently broadcast a mix of buckwheat, lupins, short sunflowers, cosmos and a few other bits and bobs in one tomato patch.
I don't care at all if the tomatoes overwhelm nearly everything,
but my tomatoes are planted early and take a while to take off-
I'm not risking them getting pushed out by the support plants!
I find insect pollination isn't an issue with tomatoes as they're generally wind pollinated.
I grow my tomatoes in more-or-less the same places every year:
my garden is very small, and appropriate spots are limited.
Aside from the year of the late blight apocalypse, I've been ok.
I add plenty of compost and seaweed.
How big are these saplings you are transplanting? Are they bare root or come with a root ball on them?
With bare root trees I dig a hole that is a bit bigger than the roots when set on the ground, and I dig it deep enough to put the tree's at the same depth it was in the nursery but with a built up mound of soil to rest it on.
With root ball trees, pretty much the same and then I cut the ball with a sharp knife to release the rootlets.
Dirt from the hole - I don't care what kind of soil I plant in, I always take all the dirt from the hole, mix in composted steer manure and peat moss at a 5:1:1 mix level of soil to the other two. I also will punch into the sides and bottom of the hole if the soil is heavily clay based - this gives the roots a path into them and they will continue the break. Back filling - like I said above, I'll put a mound of soil in the bottom to lift my sapling to the right height, settle the roots into place, lightly water the area, put a few shovels full of dirt down, lightly tamp, and continue to fill it on out in that manner. Finish off the top with a peat/composted manure mix and water it is well, which usually means a five gallon bucket of water into it. I will stake them with rebar and hay twine equidistant around it to keep the roots stable from being wind blown and give them a chance to stabilize and mate with their new location.
Transplanting larger saplings is bit of work, small slips can be easily inserted into harvested areas with a digging tool and the like. To have success with saplings - no easy method that I know of that works consistently.
ETA - don't forget a cage/fence around it to protect it from critters. They do love that soft bark.
Leila - we spent a Christmas in Auckland where we went to the Domain to see Santa arrive by a sleigh moving through the crowd on a cherry-picker while shooting fireworks out its tailpipe. That's where I first learned of pimms and pavlova
CJ - both those latkes sound wonderful. DH's family tradition has Polish potato cakes, plotsky, but we have no recipe, only his memories.
What's always bugged me about tiny homes on wheels is the shape more than the size. Long and skinny doesn't get it for me. I've always wondered about buying two trailers, each of which has half of a tiny house, that could be pulled up parallel to each other and joined. Of course moving would be more difficult but how often is that done? You would need temporary bracing to move half a house though.
John Pollard wrote:
Get gravel on our road/trail.
Finish electric easement.
get as much growing here as possible aside from the existing oak/hickory/dogwood.
Get some chickens for meat and eggs
Build my shop
Well, I didn't get any gravel on the driveway but it is wider and longer.
Electric easement is done
Grew a little garden and some grass grew in places I cleared.
Got some laying hens
Got half the materials here for the shop
Gravel and shop will get finished in the spring with tax money, meat birds are now on the 2015 list, I did get more trees out of the way to let sun in for a bigger garden and started on raised beds, The rest of the materials for the shop are in two different places, each over 100 miles away and each requires multiple trips. Now that gas prices are down, it's more feasible and we did make a few trips this year.
So many different ways of seeing things . I like Mike Pilarski's approach, which seems to be that you get your plants established enough that they just take over, and you make your way among them as best you can I do not know my plants nearly well enough for his seemingly chaotic and random approach, but he does, and for him it is tremendously productive with a minimum of effort. Paths need to be maintained, after all, and they don't produce anything per se
Salatin is not particularly running silvopasture, but his specific techniques are not the point so much as his approaches to the problems. He puts an enormous value on his forest land, whethe his cows graze in it or not
When you go to deal with all that "junk" remember to evaluate it for usefulness in what you are trying to do. I recall Peter Bane in a book including as part of his design a "supply storage area", which he acknowledged might well look like junk to other people and might be made up largely of other people's junk. Thing being that lots of things that are no longer good for their original purpose may still have lots of potential for other useful applications. Clean up, but don't clear it out before you consider potential uses.
Climbers in temperate zones - people tend to forget that squash and beans are both natural climbers. Might want to watch out for multi pound squash falling from trees though Hardy kiwi is a temperate climber that produces well for many people. Maypop, a temperate passion flower, the flowers are beautiful and unexpected for temperate zone plants. The fruit get mixed reviews and I can hardly wait to get some growing
Remember, for perspective, that permaculture begins with the three ethics - the overarching goals - care for people, care for the planet, return the surplus.
From those three, we next consider our own goals as they nest within the three. With goals envisioned, we can start considering the means of achieving them.
You already have one of the biggest hurdles for many of us - a piece of land to work with. That lets you skip some of the process, where we evaluate our options for where to go about pursuing our goals, and the land search.
When you look at a piece of land, there are techniques for evaluating the land (I think Lawton has the best information on this at I have seen). Remember as you evaluate the land to keep your goals in mind, but to be flexible enough to recognize how the land will best work with you toward your goals. For example, you have a vision of a food forest. Don't let yourself be overly attached to it being in a specific place, if that place does not look like it will make a good food forest when you do your evaluation.
Going on forever here The point being to work from the largest scale down to the smallest. Goals within the ethics, environmental factors on the land, patterns and mechanisms for achieving the goals within the environment, details like what plants and where, animals and their infrastructures. From the broad and sweeping concepts down to the nitty gritty details of which fence energizer to keep the goats out of the food forest
Rick LaJambe wrote: I've seen video of Geoff Lawton where he describes putting fish, roadkill, old jeans, leather boots, or slow moving interns into hot piles and it all breaks down. What about the bones?
I'm in the 'compost everything' camp, but mine isn't fast and hot like Geoff Lawton's piles-
it can take months to break down if I'm especially lazy.
If only I had some slow moving interns to speed things up a bit
I normally ferment my beans. I eat them usually 2-3 times a week. I usually eat a different kind each time. Originally, I put some kefir in there and they started to ferment. I think it makes it easier to digest. When I'm done with a batch, I'll put a few tablespoons of the old fermented beans in the new cooked beans.
I eat natto regularly too, but like the other John, I have to mix them with other things that actually have flavor and have a texture other than slimy. There's an extremely healthy powder called amla-indian gooseberry. Powder + slime = no longer too powdery and no longer too slimy. I usually eat them in nori wraps with walnuts, olives and other flavorful items.
I also think it should also go beyond acreage - we jumped off the cliff and farm income isn't a side thing - it's our entire focus. It's our sole source of income; that puts a different perspecitve on thing as well.
At risk of reiterating the good comments before... it depends on what the species is adapted to growing in at its "day job"
*Big seeds (chestnut) might love germinating under and pushing through a leaf mold.
*I have and no success sowing into wood chip mulch, even with native forest species.
*Straw on top can work well for maintaining dead air space that reduces evaporation, that increases chance of germination, particularly during dry season. I am talking about 50-75% coverage of soil looking down.
*Good seed soil contact (however achieved) is beneficial (I have seen grass seed germinate at 10x the rate in my footprints on a seed bed!)
*Seed recruitment is a tough business, and some kind of disturbance increases recruitment rate.
*Bird dispersed species may be better adapted to recruiting in herbaceous competition when scarified pelleted and fall spread... no experience here...
I sure wish I knew the answer to that! My neighbor has a trumpet vine growing over the fence (and knocking it down in the process.) I was incredibly angry with them when we first moved in that they would allow their plants to ruin other people's property. Not to mention the frequency with which I have to dig out the babies that pop up all over creation. Between the bermuda grass, the trumpet vine and the infant I felt like all I did was weed and feed allllll day long. haha! One morning as I drank my coffee, I thought, what a great spot for blackberries?! We took some old pallets and just leaned 'em up against the fence and planted blackberries where they could ramble up against the pallet. The weight of it all propped the fence back up straight and I didn't have to build a "real" trellis in our super annoying clay. Winner winner!! "The problem is the solution"!! Now I look at the vine and see a wall of beautiful flowers. If it is a nitro-fixer as well, woohoo! Don't know why I didn't think to run it over the pergola. That is a great idea. Thanks for the suggestion.
The pergola with the trumpet vine is almost identical to yours, Genevieve. Maybe a little more slender. But I can see now what you were getting at. You guys rock!
I will add a little bit of my lore to this thread.
I am 74 and my family has been experimenting with youghurt from raw milk since I was 10.
Goat milk is much more difficult to set firm with its tendency to have a fine curd.
The youghurt expert at the Mother Earth Fair explained that heating milk to 180F alters the protein to make a firmer curd. That of course makes it easier to drain the whey. If you are making it in one serving container batches It will be easy to spoon and you will have it eaten before you notice the whey separation. The milk needs to be cooled to about 100F before adding the starter.
My goal is to make thick youghurt without destroying the raw milk enzymes. Therefore I heat my milk to 101F which is the temperature it comes out of the udder. When I had my own animals I would use it immediately after milking so I would not have to reheat it, Currently the pastured raw Jersey cow milk I get is about 6 hours after milking. When I get home I put the gallon in a water bath with a rack on the bottom and a thermometer in the top. I fill the water bath with water from the hot tap and but it on the burner at simmer to maintain the temperature. Then I prepare my culturing containers with starter. I use 1 or 2 Quart wide mouth mason jars. When the temperature reaches I pour it into the jars and tighten the lids and shake to mix the starter. Then I place a jar in each corner of my water bed which seems to hold them at a good culturing temperature for 8 to 12 hours. Then I refrigerate.
The top of the jar will be crem frech [cold cream] so I like to have a desert ready when I open a new jar. I usually get my milk every two weeks and I get the best culture by using the layer just below the cream for the starter That means my starter has been in the refrigerator three weeks with no problem. Some times by the time I get to the bottom of a 2 quart jar the whey starts to separate but that is not a problem for me because I am using it for smoothies anyway. If I am worried about my current batch I pick up a quart of youghurt that I like at the store before i stop at my Dairy Lady.
Spooning youghurt usually has at least three bacteria. As discussed above one makes a slime this tends to keep the whey from separating. One tends to form a curd. one tends to give a sour flavor. The slime dominates if the culture is too cool. the curd dominates if too hot. The sour dominates if too long. If not enough sour yest can grow and make it fizzy. That is why some batches that are mixed when too hot will ferment.
I hope this will give you some guidance to to go beyond your comfort zone with confidence.
nancy sutton wrote:
It was reading about Stefan Sobkowiak's Permaculture Orchard and Jean Fortier's organic market garden, both in Canada, where success would not be possible without judiciously using black plastic mulch, that convinced me I could use the available help :) Although, I wish that the 'problem was the solution' for quack grass ... and also bindweed ;)
Stefan also uses cover perennials like Hosta next to his trees, without black plastic. So I think there might be alternatives that work just as good if not better. I don't want to say that it's impossible to not use black plastic mulch, but I am working to do without. So far I'm pretty happy, even with the bindweed. And my chickens like to dig up quack grass, so there's that. All I have to do is throw down on top if it something they want to dig into and it is 'ameliorated' (don't want to say that the problem is solved).
Paul discusses this exact question in his podcast on Stefan's DVD.
Leila, as it happens, there's a universe of difference between a fresh water chestnut and those canned yucky ones. The fresh ones are like a sweeter and more tender jicama root, with a sort of creamy richness. I really like them. I don't know how much of that yum factor will survive candying, but I'm interested in finding out.
I have seen one (genuine) Pyrex dish explode.
That was in the early/mid 70's, so obviously the older version.
My friend had just taken it out of a 350* (F) oven, and set it atop the cutting board.
We had just made some Cuba Libres, and there was a stray piece of ice on the board.
He set it on top of this small ice cube, and KAPOW! A kazillion pieces.
The thermal shock is what got it.
Those 4 cup measuring cups make the finest emergency light:
Put a candle in one. If the candle falls over, nothing catches fire,
It is wind proof,
It is see-through for better lighting, AND
It has a convenient carrying handle!
Leila Rich wrote:
It can take at least a couple of years for everything to find a balance. When I started gardening, I had all sorts of sap-sucking insects show up,
as everything was 'out of whack'.
I was going to say something like this. Here where our gardens are on land that was bare soil, the first year of each garden plot was pretty bad, and the early years in the greenhouses were desperate with aphids though we tried all those soapy-garlicky-chilli sprays to no avail. But as a couple years pass, it seems to develop its ecosystem of predators and pests in balance, and probably the soil improves year by year with adding compost, and now we don't have serious pest problems (expect the local dzo-yaks who break the barbed wire and eat everything!). You're starting vegetables on soil that had only lawn and a few struggling other plants, so there's not much of an ecosystem. If you're able to continue on the same land, you might find that some types of plants have problems this year but work themselves out next year, and others will have problems next year, but it will get better as time goes by. So this year maybe expect to lose some plants, have some be less than perfect, and some will turn out great.
Leila Rich wrote:In NZ, canning's called bottling or preserving, and standard procedure is the overflow method:
Prepare fruit and cook in a pot with water, and sugar if desired.
Sterilise preserving jars in the oven, and lids with boiling water.
Fill hot jars till nearly overflowing and seal tightly.
It's really basic compared to a waterbath, and I'm curious to know whether others use the overflow method?
By the way, I'm ONLY talking about ACID things like acidic fruit-
if the product to be canned isn't naturally acidic, as long as enough citrus/vinegar is added to make it 'tangy' (below ph 4.6), you're fine.
Botulism must have a LOW ACID, ANAEROBIC environment to grow.
I use my own method and I call it JUICING. I utilize the whole vegetable or fruit using the method. To the best of my knowledge nobody else uses this method. Here is my 2014 effort. Incidentally, I lived in Auckland for year in 1970 and toured the country in 1985 and 1995 for three weeks each trip.