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swinging off of the "doubts about Sepp Holtzer thread"..

Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
I posted how we all make mistakes on the doubts about Sepp Holtzer thread..and I wanted to mention something here.

I had been purchasing some fruit trees for my food forest gardens over the years from a mail order catalog.. They seemed to have fairly good quality trees and a one year warranty..I've had successes with them for many years, and a few failures.

Well I had 3 pear trees that I bought from them several years ago ..and rabbits ate them really bad ( i posted about how I cut them up and used the tops as bud grafts on other pear trees in another thread).

I had left the rootstock in the soil and I wrote them a nice letter to ask them what the root stock of each of the pear trees might have been (as I am aware that some pears are grafted onto Bartlett Pear stock). I asked them about the rootstock so I would know IF I left the rootstock in the soil to regrow that possibly I might get some decent pears like Bartlett..all I asked was for the origin of the rootstock.

I told them in the letter I did NOT expect replacement of the trees.

I got a note from them a week later telling me to expect replacement of the 3 trees this spring for a $3.25 shipping fee.

Wow, now that is customer service (still don't know what the rootstock was, but leaving it in the ground in case it is Bartlett pear, even if it is just quince it will make animal forage or firewood)

So some of us have disasters (like in the Sepp Holtzer thread)..however, if you just move on, often providence will come through and make your disasters right again.

Better to move on than to complain and spend time writing a book to cut someone down in my humble opinion...what a waste of time and spirit.

Any one else have such an experience?


Bloom where you are planted.
Kay Bee

Joined: Oct 10, 2009
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
glad to hear you are getting some new trees! The old rootstock may also be OHxF (Old Home x Farmingdale). It is a pretty common rootstock for European type pears. However it works out, you could turn them in to a stooling bed, which would be quite handy.

I agree that it is often better to just move on when a project goes south. It happens all too often on homestead type projects where there is experimentation involved. Lots of things cost way more money and take a lot more time than I would have liked...

Sometimes I learn important things about what I DON'T want to do, which saves time and money in the end for the next project. For instance, I will NEVER hand mix and pour a patio slab again. I lost a whole spring to that project, one year.

"Limitation is the mother of good management", Michael Evanari

Location: Southwestern Oregon (Jackson County), Zone 7
Fred Morgan

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 972
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
Interesting Kay, we mix and pour concrete by hand all the time (granted, now we rent a mixer, but we used to do it by hand). Or should I say, my workers do.

I have a software background. I can't tell you how often you need to rip something out and rebuild it. One of the things I loved about software was that there was no material costs... just time. And, in the early days (and now), my time doesn't cost anything.

The truth is, I have more failures than successes. But, hardly ever are they noticed because they are small experiments. Rarely do my experiments work the first time - but I learn enough from them to succeed on the next try, or the one after that.

I will admit to have been for a long time scratching my head about PDC. I just couldn't figure out how a design would work the first time, after just taking a class. I could see it after having a lot of experience, but just after a class.... The thing as well is that a permaculture system needs to grow up, most of the successes I have read about took years to achieve. I think the danger that permaculture faces is people think that it is like doing a garden. No, you are evolving into something permanent, and that is going to take time.

By the way, I was at one time a chief software architect and after that, a director of hardware and software in some very technical stuff. I have never seen a design for anything large that wasn't adjusted, sometimes repeatedly. Why do you think software has versions? It isn't only for new features.

But, sometimes I do something by accident, and it works out incredibly. Like Acacia Mangium as a pioneer species. I was given 200 seedlings by a nursery (I had bought 14,000 that year) and so I just planted them in the worst place imaginable. Well, they thrived, and whatever else I planted next to them thrived as well. Now we are into harvest and it is very good wood too. Though there are better trees for flat areas, for acidic soils and steep slopes for the tropics, I have never seen anything like them.

But a failure was Cuban mahogany, and I ended up replacing all of them that were planted (over 5,000).

Sustainable Plantations and Agroforestry in Costa Rica
Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
speaking of starting over, we have had to do it in a lot of ways..first..the first several years we lived at this property (1971) we planted gobs of trees from seedlings or acorns..marked them well and my FIL came over with his riding mower and mowed them down (we bought the property from him and though he just didn't like us planting the trees, wierd)..he did that year after year..a few lived but most died..then we put up a fence..later we found out he had alzheimers and it was just beginning to manifest with the tree mowing incident.

well after that we planted an extensive food forest of fruit trees and perennials and raised hugel beds..as well as a goodly little forest of ash and aspen..then 20 years later my son asked if he could have a piece of our property for a house, and the only space that was high enough for a house and septic and garage, was where the food forest and aspen/ash forest was growing..so that was removed..only one crab apple tree survived the dig ups.

so we started over..we also had a house fire in 2002, which required the house being removed and a new house put in..we moved 40' farther back and lost most of our plantings again at that time..so starting over again.

so losing a few trees to rabbits lately means ..starting over again..sometimes when you reach your 60's ..starting over again gets really old..but so glad we still can.
Fred Morgan

Joined: Sep 29, 2009
Posts: 972
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
By the way, I am currently experimenting with a rocket stove for a kiln. I made a six inch one, against the recommendations of Ernie and Erica by the way, and perhaps I should have gone bigger, time will tell. It is drying all all the mud (a huge mass we poured in) pretty well, and I figure the wood will be less wet than the mud was, and about the same volume of moisture, so the kiln seems to be drying out the mud, slowly over about 3 weeks, which is exactly what I am hoping for with the kiln for a load of wood (too fast is worse than too slow, hence making it smaller)

But, the kiln serves more than one purpose. Today, I built a small oven by just stacking bricks on top, and then I put winter squash, and yuca inside (rolled up in foil). I fired up the kiln for 1.5 hours (that is a normal load, and I will keep it burning all day that way.). When I arrived, I took out my experiment, they were wonderful! (the first time I dropped them in the coals, and they turned into charcoal in 20 minutes lol)

Also, I picked up a aluminum bucket for boiling water which I place above the coals when it is really going. Once it boils, if I don't use it to make coffee, I pour it on fire ant hills. Totally non-toxic, 100% effective. The best thing is, the ants don't come streaming out of the ant hill to get me... due to be cooked most likely...

I have at least 3 more kilns to make, each one will be different from the first -- as I learn more. What is very cool is I have a lot of local wood workers visiting to check it out, which I encourage.
Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
i've cooked packets of potato onion and carrot in alum foil in coals several times and sometimes they get a little scorched on one side if you don't turn them enough (lazy me) ..but generally you just cut off the burned parts and eat the rest..really yummo..

we heat with wood here so often we do that..the new stove coming (elec outage fried our other wood stove with steam build up) I don't think we'll be able to cook in it..so will have to nix that idea
Alex Ames

Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 353
A few minutes ago I received an e-mail entitled "booohooo". A few years ago on a church
workday I went over to a retired pastors home to help dig them out from under the leaf fall.

I spied a neglected bed behind their house which was visible from their back porch and through
the glass door. I took it on as a project from then on populating it with daylilies, coneflowers and
any number of other plants. I used permaculture principles and mulched it in very well. The idea
was that I would tend to it from time to time but that it was really designed to be on it's on.

The pastor's wife and I made a planting map and she would send me pictures when something
bloomed. It has been really coming on each year and this year had her excited. She spotted
some poison ivy and went out with spray for that and some deer off spray. She mixed up her
bottles. So pray for our garden she said. All I could think to say was: we have prayer and we
have more daylilies.

I don't spray anything but fish emulsion and seaweed extract and my wife doesn't care for that:
she says "that stuff smells like the dumpster behind a seafood joint on a hot summer day!"
subject: swinging off of the "doubts about Sepp Holtzer thread"..
cast iron skillet 49er

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