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Welcome Anna Hess blogger at The Walden Effect and author of The Weekend Homesteader

Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4531
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
173
This week Anna Hess will be joining us to answer questions and join in discussions about homesteading.



There are up to four copies of her book The Weekend Homesteader up for grabs.

Find out how to get the book in this thread or the Kindle edition in twelve monthly excerpts from here.

From now through til Friday, any posts in this forum, ie the homestead forum could be selected to win.

To win, you must use a name that follows our naming policy and you must have your email set up in Paul's daily-ish email..

The winners will be notified by email and must respond within 24 hours with their snail mail address.

Anna is a well-known blogger on her website The Walden Effect.

Full details of the rules and how the promotions are run can be found here.

Posts in this thread won't count, but please feel free to say hi to Anna and make her feel at home!


What is a Mother Tree ?
David Hartley


Joined: Mar 23, 2012
Posts: 258
Welcome!
Anna Hess
Author


Joined: Sep 17, 2012
Posts: 28
Location: Southwest Virginia
    
    1
Thanks!


My trials and errors:
WaldenEffect.org
Alex Ojeda
volunteer

Joined: Oct 20, 2010
Posts: 290
    
  24
Anna, do you have any ideas for growing grain in a small space? I actually use my yard from between the sidewalk to the street to grow tall grass and then scythe it down to make hay for mulching, but growing say, Amaranth might be an issue since you want to wait for it to go to seed. My neighbors seen to be able to take "that crazy guy" letting his grass grow to a point, but I'm not sure about letting it sit out there for a whole season. I scythe real early in the morning since I'm worried that my carrying around the scythe will prompt a call to the police!

Thanks for doing this BTW. I have more questions, but will only hit you with one at a time
Rocket Mom


Joined: Nov 20, 2012
Posts: 1
Okay you got me at free book.
Anna Hess
Author


Joined: Sep 17, 2012
Posts: 28
Location: Southwest Virginia
    
    1
Alex --- Feel free to throw out any more questions you think of!

We've done a bit of experimentation with grain, but it all came to a halt a year or so ago when we decided to boost the protein levels in our diet. That has largely cut grain out of our meals, and made it a much lower priority in the garden.

I had great yields from amaranth the one year I grew it --- http://www.waldeneffect.org/blog/How_to_thresh_amaranth/. The only really tricky part was getting it to sprout --- if I tried again, I might try starting it inside. Amaranth isn't a grass like the true grains, and there are even ornamental versions, so I wouldn't be surprised if your neighbors didn't know what you were growing. The downside of that is that you don't get the same straw-like mulch you do from the true grains.

Buckwheat is another not-really-grain that's awfully easy to grow. We use it as a cover crop, and occasionally I've let it go to seed and harvested the whole plants to put in the chicken coop (refreshing the deep bedding and feeding them at the same time.) If I were harvesting the seeds, though, it might be tougher than a traditional grain since you mostly just strip the seeds by hand.

Of the traditional grains, the only ones I've tried were hull-less oats (much less hardy than the hulled oats I've grown as a cover crop) and wheat (tough to grow in our area because you have to plant late to skip the Hessian fly.)

On the other hand, root crops tend to be very easy (in my area, at least) and give you just as much food per acre as grains. Sweet potatoes do wonderfully for us, and although their vines aren't straw-like, they do make a top-notch mulch for trees.

I hope that at least semi answers your question.
Randy Bachman


Joined: Aug 13, 2012
Posts: 15
Welcome. Any thoughts about homesteading in a beach environment? My wife longs for a house by the sea (gulf of Mexico) but I want a small fruit forest. Not sure if these can be reconciled-is the problem the solution?
Anna Hess
Author


Joined: Sep 17, 2012
Posts: 28
Location: Southwest Virginia
    
    1
Randy --- I haven't had any experience homesteading near the shore, so I can't really answer your question. I've only got two tidbits of data:

* The Nearings moved to a seaside location for their second farm and it seemed to work for them.

* Seaweed! I'm so jealous of folks who can just gather seaweed off the beach, wash it, and use it as high quality mulch.

More seriously, I'd think a beach would be no worse than a desert, and I've seen some amazing forests being built by permaculture folks in deserts. So, maybe?
dan Vamos


Joined: Nov 20, 2012
Posts: 1
Interesting topic. Many of us aren't able to devote full-time efforts to homesteading, so this subject hits home for me. I hope I get a copy, but I'll try to get one nevertheless.
Tim krabec


Joined: Nov 20, 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Zone 10a/b
First of all, welcome to the forums (from the guy who just registered to post this)
Secondly how do you have any tips on limiting bug damage?
I'm trying to minimize pesticides, and have had a major problem with vineborers/stinkbugs. What trap crops/more natural pesticides have a staying effect. I've tried neem oil, but that does not seem to work on these critters.
John Saltveit
volunteer

Joined: May 09, 2010
Posts: 684
    
  21
Anna,
Are you able to gather many wild fruit and berries where you live? It seems that both pawpaw and persimmon might be wild in the area. Any interesting berries? Do you have methods of preserving them?
Thanks
John
Hendrica Regez


Joined: Jun 11, 2012
Posts: 2
Hi Anna! Do you have any advice for growing my own chicken feed? I'm growing corn, sunchokes and stinging nettles, but I was wondering about other native plants that can be used for feed. I've heard that locust beans were also used at one time, do you have any experience with that? And I do grow comfrey too... Thanks!
Willliam Seward


Joined: Feb 20, 2012
Posts: 7
Location: Bastrop, TX
Welcome Anna. I enjoy the parts of your book I've seen. I think my biggest challenge is trying to balance all that I want to do with what I can actually accomplish. I finished my Permaculture PDC with high hopes. We took on a 5 year project for a friend, living and working on her future retirement property. We're a year and a half into that and it's becoming more and more daunting as time goes on. We've been trying to meaningfully schedule the work out, but are constantly stymied by other things stalling us, weather, finances, something. Any comments?
Jennifer Whitaker


Joined: Jan 10, 2012
Posts: 43
Welcome Anna! Do you talk about the discipline that it takes to make homesteading work? I always start out with great ideas and then work gets in the way. I need to learn to devote a certain amount of hours to work and a certain amount to homesteading


"Life's a daring adventure or nothing." ~ Helen Keller
Kenneth Schmidt


Joined: Nov 08, 2012
Posts: 1
Really enjoy all the books written by authors such as yourself. If I end up not scoring one for free, I'll end up buying one. Just the way it goes. Here's to good permieing.
David Goodman
volunteer

Joined: Dec 14, 2011
Posts: 328
Location: Zone 9a/8b
    
  13
Welcome, Anna!

"We've done a bit of experimentation with grain, but it all came to a halt a year or so ago when we decided to boost the protein levels in our diet. "

We're in the same boat - my wife and I cut out almost all grains and starches a couple years ago, then got lean, mean and healthy. Now we're trying to raise our protein creation here on the farm. Have you any simple ideas on easy-to-raise protein?

Right now we're hoping to fatten up chickens on root crops, and I've considered rabbits, mealworms, apple snails, tilapia and ducks, but many of these projects would take a lot of time, bought-in feed and infrastructure. If you've got tips or hands-on experience, I'd love to know it! Now I'm off to read your blog... forgive me if you've already answered my question there.


Permaculture, bio-accumulators, rare plants, tool reviews and lots and lots of gardening inspiration - a new post every day: http://www.floridasurvivalgardening.com
Alex Ojeda
volunteer

Joined: Oct 20, 2010
Posts: 290
    
  24
Tim krabec wrote:First of all, welcome to the forums (from the guy who just registered to post this)
Secondly how do you have any tips on limiting bug damage?
I'm trying to minimize pesticides, and have had a major problem with vineborers/stinkbugs. What trap crops/more natural pesticides have a staying effect. I've tried neem oil, but that does not seem to work on these critters.


Tim, I live in North Florida and I just can't grow most cucurbits. Everything else is fine. I have a polyculture established and the balance of insects is perfect. Now, I leave a lot of the weeds and tend them like herbs, so I get better insect attraction than most people trying to use cultivars to do the same thing. In my book, NEVER use ANY pesticide. If YOU are killing an insect, you are on the wrong path. If you let your coveted insects do that job, then you will succeed!

So, for Melons, I grow an indigenous pumpkin called Seminole Pumpkin.
For squash, I grow loofah/luffa since when they are small, they are very edible. They taste like a cucumber/zucchini.

The thing for both of these plants is that NOTHING TOUCHES THEM! They are Über Soldats in the garden! They throw produce at you the whole season and when they are done, you have a load of green material for mulching back in.

I hope this helps on some level.
Anna Hess
Author


Joined: Sep 17, 2012
Posts: 28
Location: Southwest Virginia
    
    1
Tim --- I used to use organic chemicals for pest control, but have since found that 80% of the problems go away if you maintain a natural habitat (lots of beneficial insects) and keep the plants stress-free with no-till techniques (mulching, compost, etc.) For 80% of the remaining pest problems, I simply pick the bugs right when they're getting started --- in season, I go through once a day (or at least three times a week if things are busy) squashing cabbage worms and dropping Japanese beetles into a container of water to go to the chickens.

I figure that the remaining pest problems are a result of mismanagement on my part, so I research as much as I can and use the biology of the insect against it. One example was asparagus beetles --- they used to defoliate my plants until I started raking the mulch off the beds and cutting down the asparagus tops to add to the deep bedding in the chicken coop over the winter. The chickens ate any overwintering beetles that tried to fly back to my asparagus beds, and the next spring I only saw one beetle (who I squashed.) Ever since, we haven't seen any.

We can't seem to eradicate the vine borers, but have minimized their damage with a two-prong attack. First, we tested a bunch of different squash varieties until we found ones the borers don't like as much (butternuts for winter squash and yellow crookneck for summer squash.) That completely solves the problem for winter squash, but the summer squash are still bored to some extent, so I succession plant them throughout the early summer, with a new bed of squash going in every two weeks or so. That way, when one bed is succumbing to the borers, another is just starting to bear.

Luckily for us, stink bugs aren't a problem. (The new invasive hasn't made it down to us yet.)

I know it's a complicated answer, but I think it's a complicated problem with no single right answer. Each bug has its own Achilles heel.

John --- We just had some wild oyster mushrooms for lunch today --- delicious! The other main thing we wildcraft is venison, but I've gathered some herbs from time to time. Although it's not really wildcrafting, gathering apples and pears from abandoned trees was a family tradition when I was younger, but you have to know the spots and who doesn't mind having their fruits picked off the ground --- we haven't learned that in our new location yet.

I used to pick wild blackberries and raspberries as a kid too, but since we have the space, I've found that it's actually less time intensive to grow improved varieties --- much less scratchy picking time. Pawpaws grow all over, but only fruit in full sun, so they're actually tough to find in our area. (The trees are often an understory plant in floodplain woods.) Persimmons can also be a bit tricky to find --- we've planted an Asian persimmon and have some American seedlings ready to go in the ground this year to fill up that gap.

My favorite way of preserving fruit is in fruit leather. We started out dehydrating in an old car, but have upgraded to an electric dehyrater since we like the fruit leather so much!

Hendrica --- I've got a whole tag on my chicken blog devoted to our experiments with wild and cultivated chicken feeds: http://www.avianaquamiser.com/tag/chicken_feed/. We're also working on developing complex pastures full of food the chickens can harvest themselves: http://www.avianaquamiser.com/tag/forest_pasture/.

I haven't had any experience with locust beans...yet. That and a lot of other plants are still on my experimental list.

William --- I think that's the toughest part of homesteading. I wrote a lunchtime series about our techniques on our blog --- http://www.waldeneffect.org/blog/Coping_with_paradise/ (and the other pages linked at the bottom of that one.) The book also has some more polished information along the same lines. I hope it helps!

Jennifer --- That's related to my answer to William above. For us, a schedule really helps. We split up the day into segments and spend one three hour segment every day Monday through Friday on farm work. Of course, that's much harder to do if you don't work at home....

Vidad --- We've been focusing most of our protein energy so far on chickens/eggs. We might try fattening two pigs next year as a way of clearing a bit more area that can turn into good pasture. In my opinion, the most ecologically sound way to grow protein is pastured herbivores (sheep, cows), but we just don't have grass to grow them on at the moment. Shooting deer as they try to eat the garden is a stopgap measure....
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4531
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
173
Alex Ojeda,
Your post was moved to a new topic.
Tim krabec


Joined: Nov 20, 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Zone 10a/b
Alex Ojeda wrote:
Tim krabec wrote:First of all, welcome to the forums (from the guy who just registered to post this)
Secondly how do you have any tips on limiting bug damage?
I'm trying to minimize pesticides, and have had a major problem with vineborers/stinkbugs. What trap crops/more natural pesticides have a staying effect. I've tried neem oil, but that does not seem to work on these critters.


Tim, I live in North Florida and I just can't grow most cucurbits. Everything else is fine. I have a polyculture established and the balance of insects is perfect. Now, I leave a lot of the weeds and tend them like herbs, so I get better insect attraction than most people trying to use cultivars to do the same thing. In my book, NEVER use ANY pesticide. If YOU are killing an insect, you are on the wrong path. If you let your coveted insects do that job, then you will succeed!

So, for Melons, I grow an indigenous pumpkin called Seminole Pumpkin.
For squash, I grow loofah/luffa since when they are small, they are very edible. They taste like a cucumber/zucchini.

The thing for both of these plants is that NOTHING TOUCHES THEM! They are Über Soldats in the garden! They throw produce at you the whole season and when they are done, you have a load of green material for mulching back in.

I hope this helps on some level.


I'll have to do some research on what I need then. I'm gonna plant more herbs & native flours. I tried Seminole pumpkin a few years back I'll have to try it again.
Anna Hess
Author


Joined: Sep 17, 2012
Posts: 28
Location: Southwest Virginia
    
    1
Justin --- Chickens would be number one, but since you have them and want more, I'd move on to honeybees, then rabbits. If you like birds, maybe pigeons next? None of those need extensive pastures or too much care, but if you have a big grassy area, you might choose differently.

Burra --- Sorry to let all the questions build up on this post. I know that's just what you were trying to avoid!
Tim krabec


Joined: Nov 20, 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Zone 10a/b
Anna Hess wrote:Tim ...

I know it's a complicated answer, but I think it's a complicated problem with no single right answer. Each bug has its own Achilles heel.


Thanks, it was simple, then everyone would be doing it
So more research & trial. I'm hoping to have a clutch of chickens soon, so I'll toss them in the garden to eat some bugs then hit a spring garden.
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4531
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
173
Justin Shaw,
Your post was moved to a new topic.
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4531
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
173
Anna Hess wrote:

Burra --- Sorry to let all the questions build up on this post. I know that's just what you were trying to avoid!


I'm trying to split off any that I can without messing the thread up. If possible, could people try to post their questions in a new thread? It keeps this thread easier to read, makes it easier for future members to find those questions and see the answers, and, most importantly, posts in this thread don't count towards the promotion! I'll split out as many as I can, but it's all got itself into a jumble so I won't be able to move them all...
Hendrica Regez


Joined: Jun 11, 2012
Posts: 2
Thanks Anna! Awesome blog - will take me a while to read. Hoping there is a chicken book in your future...
jason herrick


Joined: Oct 28, 2012
Posts: 27
Location: ocean view, hawaii
Welcome anna....i just want to say thank you....our method of pestcontrol is very similar...thanks for letting me know im not the only one....i live in hawaii..pests can be a problem i plant a perimeter crop to ward them off and new plantings weekly or by weekly....try to get to things before the bugs and plant around the schedual of the bugs...i dont own my own land yet...but look forward to developing a more all encompassing system.
Nj Moran


Joined: Nov 20, 2012
Posts: 3
I am afraid of bugs! Help. I've heard alot of mulching helps so I do that. I planted those mosquito geraniums with my tomato and herb plants And this did very well., I only got those tomato worms on the dill.
I'm afraid to plant root veggies because of bugs. Something is eating my swiss chard.
Hope you have info on this in your book.
Rick Roman
pollinator

Joined: Dec 05, 2011
Posts: 442
Location: Pennsylvania Pocono Mt Neutral-Acidic Elv1024ft AYR41in Zone 5b
    
  25
I have been building a permaculture homestead for the past several years. At times, it can be a real challenge. Things like, farm income, animal feed, reskilling and getting and staying off grid are some of my topics of interest. Any educational information would be helpful. Good luck with the book Anna.
Patricia Maas


Joined: Nov 20, 2012
Posts: 7
Location: Central New Mexico
Hi Anna,
Have you worked with algae as a replacement feed for smaller livestock? I have the opportunity to experiment with it after discussing algae being used as cattle feed and would like to a bit more sustainable than already am. Have my dairy goats bred to make a decent amount of milk on native grass and weeds and supplement with a small amount of alfalfa pellets. Most give me a gallon to a gallon a half during milking season. Am thinking could dry the algae and find some way to feed it that would be palatable to the ladies and also provide them with what they need. The algae being used is local, nothing special.


Nature is a wonderful teacher. Just when you think you have things figured out, she'll show you how wrong you are...keep trying, you will get it.
Anna Hess
Author


Joined: Sep 17, 2012
Posts: 28
Location: Southwest Virginia
    
    1
Henrica --- I actually have an ebook on amazon about incubation --- http://www.amazon.com/Permaculture-Chicken-Incubation-Handbook-ebook/dp/B007QF1UME/ --- and have another one in the works about pasturing chickens. I got sidetracked with the one I'm in the middle of about living in a trailer, but should be back to work on my pasture book by winter and maybe have it out by spring if there aren't too many farm catastrophes in between.

NJ --- I've written a lot about my insect control philosophy above. The book doesn't have in-depth information about bugs, but does help you build a diverse ecosystem so they're much less of a problem.

Patricia --- Your question might get moved to its own thread, but I'll answer it anyway. We haven't experimented with algae, but did try duckweed, which is reputed to be a great chicken feed. Unfortunately, our birds turned up their snooty beaks.... On the other hand, those same birds also ignored comfrey, but some broiler chicks this spring found tender comfrey leaves growing under the peach and scarfed them down, so it might be worth another try on the duckweed.
Matthew Metzler


Joined: Nov 20, 2012
Posts: 14
Have a small pond with too many over fed fish(gold and blue gill). I do not have live stock but have watched cats eat the algie with relish and have seen no ill effects. I would not hesitate to feed pond algie to live stock.
Matt
Edwin Breed


Joined: Nov 21, 2012
Posts: 1
This sounds like my kind of book...I'll be awaiting notification that I've won a copy of The Weekend Homesteader!
Lauren Dirgo


Joined: Nov 21, 2012
Posts: 5
Any recommendations for those that rent?

Also, I'll definitely be reading your book, whether I win it or not!
Anna Hess
Author


Joined: Sep 17, 2012
Posts: 28
Location: Southwest Virginia
    
    1
Lauren --- I recommend working on your skills and learning the region. Even though you might not want to put too much energy into long-term fertility building in a rental situation, if they let you use part of the yard, it's worth trying your hand at a small garden and even a fruit tree to start your learning curve. You might be able to keep chickens and/or honeybees in a rental situation, and can definitely work on your skills about cooking with and preserving real food in season. Good luck!
William Toles


Joined: Mar 30, 2012
Posts: 9
Location: Skowhegan, Maine
Welcome, Anna! Keep up the good works!


God bless
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14987
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Running the pickwinner app ... It comes back with a list of 10 random posts from tuesday through friday ... and the first two posts are excellent. I'm going to not even look at the other eight posts. Checking the daily-ish email and ...

Congratulations to:


Mary Ann Asbill

and

Julia Winter


I am sending you each an email now. You have 24 hours to respond with the email address of the person that told you about permies (and that person will get a book too).

As for the rest of you - well, I guess you gotta go buy your own copy! If you follow the links at the top of this thread, you permies.com will get a kickback for any purchase.



sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
 
 
subject: Welcome Anna Hess blogger at The Walden Effect and author of The Weekend Homesteader
 
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