If you only need a bit, there is often a layer of clay silt underneath the sand in the water on a shallow lake beach. As a kid, I LOVED diving for it, digging it out, and making mud figurines. Might not be ideal for pottery.
Otherwise - most soil (unless specifically manufactured and cleaned) has SOME clay- even if only 3-5%. For your purposes, you could make a small grizzly - basically a screen on an angle. You dump dryish soil slowly onto it. Stuff that is smaller than the screen (maybe use hardware cloth?) Falls through. The gravel bounces off to the side and makes a pile that can be used for other projects. This would give you maybe 10-20% clay, depending on what percent gravel you had. 20% clay is more than enough to exhibit clay-ey properties.
You can buy bags of bentonite chips or ground bentonite. They are clay, but a special expansive super slime clay. Kids would have fun with bentonite, but it's not really representative of most clay.
I think your kids are still too young, but you can do some great science/math problems with a scale and some different sized sieves (if they are doing algebra already- let me know and I will give you ideas)
I am trying hulless oats this year, have read mixed reviews on how well they hull. I think I saw hulless barley also available, Kate?
I will also be planting flour corn, which should be relatively easy to process ( probably wont nixtamalize) , and am trying quinoa and amaranth, maybe millet, and some beans. All of these are things I use as 'flour'.
Just a little of each to see what grows well and how easy it is to process.
How did it go? I’m especially interested in the hulless oats. Also- what are your growing conditions like?
Unfortunately, I ordered them in the COVID crazy time, and the oats arrived far too late for planting oats in my climate, took a few weeks to ship and more than a month in the mail. This year I have grown corn - easy, but being eaten by animals- and amaranth (gorgeous, great germination, but hasnt dried down yet so dont know if it will be easy to thresh, drought tolerant, love the taste of the greens so ate the thinnings). Quinoa didnt sprout outdoors, and I refuse to grow a grain I need to transplant. Didnt try millet, dried beans had not great germination, soybeans didnt germinate. I find with a lot of things they grow better for me on the second year.
I am in Ontario- last frost was late May, then followed with a bad and unusually hot drought from early June to July, quite unusually wet all August.
Mushroom propagation is .... scary. I have looked into it before, and it's either "buy this expensive kit and grow one batch" or "by this culture, have a sterile environment and a ton of specific equipment and a bunch of weeks process and then ....(not sure).". I glance, get overwhelmed, and stop looking.
But- my mom wants to grow mushrooms, so I have been tasked with making it happen. Theoretically, I have the lab skills to do it, probably, but having to do things completely sterile sucks some fun out of it.
I think what we want is to have an outdoor bed of woodchips that fruit mushrooms.
1) How do you inoculate a bed of woodchips? Any good species?
2) Are they perennial? Able to handle very cold temperature over the winter?
3) Do you need to keep buying mushroom spawn?
4) Is liquid culture an appropriate starting point?
5) can you have multiple types of spawn in one bed, or should you seperate them?
6) does the mushroom bed need to be kept weed and vegetable free?
7) Are woodchips with significant "green" materials (chipped branches) appropriate?
8) Can you start in the fall, or do I need to wait for spring?
Any resources you can throw at me are more than appreciated!!!
Rob Lineberger wrote:Pine trees, tulip poplar, and persimmon all seem eager to announce themselves. Running cedar moss. Laurel bushes.
You made me think about tulip poplars which I haven't in years. Good memories!
Funny you should mention memories. I have noticed that when I identify by smell, rather than sight, there are far more
memories attached. Place memories, usually. An apple tree brings me back to my childhood yard, labrador tea ro a particular camp site I went to as a teen, etc. I dont have those same connotations when I identify by sight.
I am really enjoying seeing the wide variety of plants recognizable by smell here!!!
An interesting experiment might be to pick two dandelion leaves, or plant identical patches of lettuce. One in purchased potting soil or heavily ammended/mulched soil, one in native soil and see if both have the same taste to you.
I largely agree with you - though I love rhubarb. I even eat a stalk or two raw, pluck and chew, tart and wonderful. Perennial vegetables are more of a short seasoned novelty in my garden than a staple.
I have had some success with perennials that other cultures actually regularly eat. Chinese culture/cuisine has some good examples.
Do you like stir fries? Hosta shoots and unopened daylily flowers are both good in stir fries. Fiddleheads are tasty, though ephemeral. I like purchased bamboo shoots, so if it was a tiny bit warmer, would consider planting bamboo to eat. Grape leaves used to wrap meat or rice are delicious.
Walking onions are pretty pungent, and arent all that productive for me. Chives I make a lot of use of in the spring though.
I happened to go out early this morning and caught one of the pests in action - a plague of black birds.My dog had fun running them off (they landed in the garden next door).
However, I am pretty sure they are not the only pest - there was some wild shaking of a bush behind the patch as I approached that looked like a small to medium sized animal, plus my neighbour claims she saw a raccoon with a cob hiding in her cedars.
I would believe squirrels, too, they definitely live in the shed and plant walnuts in my garden.
Who knows? Maybe I have a trifecta (or more) of hungry pests chewing my corn.
Next year, I am going to fence my garden.
Mark - I like your idea, but I have bean plants tangled in with my corn, so it would be challenging to extract them. I might try it next year though.
That's a huge relief to know. This is my first year with flour corn/dry corn so i am prety clueless. All my googling could find was "wait until the husks are dry to pick", which would be lovely, if the local wildlife allowed. I will pick more tomorrow then.
I sometimes wonder if most internet garden writers have actually grown the plants they write about, or just regurgitate other articles, with all the top resulfs having almost the same info.
I may only get 30 or 40 cobs off my experimental patch this year, with many plants not producing ears, so each one feels precious.
I am picking them slowly, as the cobs start to have even a touch of brown. It's too early, some of them are still sweet tasting and I think the auleurone isnt quite formed based on colour, but the raccoons or whatever are getting more bold. I am finding munched and spat corn cobs all over my yard and the neighbours.
The picked corn is pretty though - here is what I picked today.
I have no experience with livestock guardian dogs, though we owned one when i was small. But for dogs in general, the time prior to 16 weeks, and preferably prior to 12 weeks, is when dogs are the most able to be sociazed to new things. Cats, other dogs, kids, farm animals, the vet, town, human visitors, car rides, etc. There are socialization checklists online.
Yes, I know most livestock guardians aren't supposed to be too friendly, but I think it definitely allows them to learn good judgement and discretion about normal vs not. There are many checklists online if you search "socialization checklist". The idea is to give many positive or neutral experiences - not to stress the puppy. They don't even have to interact with the checklist item - just observe from a distance. A confident, discerning dog with good judgement is a wonderful partner to have.
The old fashioned way to iron and not scorch, which I still do because my hard water breaks the steam setting on irons and I am impatient and distractable, is a press cloth. Find an old antique smooth linen tea towel (linen handles heat better), dampen it well and put it on top of the fabric you are ironing. Re dampen as it dries. I think in 5 years of my teenaged self ironing weekly, I scorched one tea towel, and didn't scorch any clothes or the starch I was using. Before I got into that habit and just used the steam setting? Oops. No one will notice that off white spot, right? I also use a press cloth by for anything that is polyester or fine. Not great for careful seam pressing, but great for flattening large areas or making folds/creases.
I also ironed with no ironing board, just a sheet and a thin cotton towel on my desk or kitchen table for all of university. Works great and far less likely to knock it over than an ironing board.
Well.... neighbour came over. "Is this yours?" Holding a corn cob by the husks....
Turns out they (likely racoons) are nibbling on a few, and filching more. I picked a couple of the driest, they are still not at fully bright/dark colours.
There is an old building next to the garden we would love to tear down. Wondering if the racoons, squirrels or whatever that live in it think they have landed in a bed and breakfast!
Would really like a reference for when the starch changes from sugar to starch as I want to use these for flour.
Something is eating my Painted Mountain flour corn on the stalk, ripping open the husks and nibbling. It's just past the milky stage, most of the husks ae still completely green. They seem to be wrecking 2-3 cobs per night, and I have less than 100 cobs.
Can I harvest them all now? Would they still be good for flour?
My #1 tip for warm feet are over large clompy boots with lots of toe wiggling space.
I own workboots rated to -100C. No, thats not a typo, they have more than an inch of thick foam. The first time I wore them, my feet froze at -20 because they were too tight, and kept my toes from wiggling. Now, with some wear and compression of the foam, they are too warm above -25C or so.
I typically wear uninsulated boots one size too big with a sheepskin insoles for all but the coldest days. Inside, I wear thick wool socks with lots of fluffy to them (J.B. fields Icelandic are my favourites). If it's extra cold, I wear a thin layer of wool or polyester socks underneath, as always, making sure my feet have lots of space to flex.
I find it very interesting that in mammals and birds in the wild, many species have social or other methods of preventing inbreeding, sometimes at the cost of number of offspring. This implies to me that, although not always immediately harmful, there is strong selection pressure against extensive inbreeding.
Typical social methods are either dispersal of young, avoidance of known kin, and other methods include avoidance of animals with similar phenotypes.
On the farmyard- most long term farmers I know take great care to swap in "new blood" from afar. I have one friend who talks about trading barn kittens with distant farms to prevent genetic defects and the more insidious "lack of vigour".
Swiss chard is indeed pretty. Now if only I would actually eat it :)
Sionnain - I would love to see your variegated tomatos!!! What is the variety name?
Skandi- the cardoons are lovely! I am considering trying artichokes here as an annual, they are marginal and need a lot of care but I love the taste...
I found this photo from earlier this spring, rhubarb, hosta, chives, columbine, and iris. All but the columbine and iris are edinle, and they look quite nice together.
You definitely can do one of those fancy rolled hidden seam things for a princess seamed shirt. My fanciest/favourite, a Anne Taylor wool thrift store find has this. I know my mom, who learned to sew on a straight stitch only machine will increase the seam allowance if she doesnt plan to finish the edges. One other option is what she calls "stitching in the ditch" which is where you iron the seam to one side, and then sew over it at like a millimeter offset to hold the seam in place and together. Pinking shears are another thing she does for unfinished wide seam allowances to prevent a thread from catching and pulling.
I really like that shirt, and am hoping it goes well, so I can buy a copy of the pattern!
If it was me, I would probably do the pinking shear version for now, to see how the fit is, then a fancier version if you later decide to make the pattern again.
I like to put edibles in my flower gardens, intermixed with flowers. I love when there is an edible plant that is stunningly beautiful that I can sneak in - and get compliments on!
My favourites are:
-Amaranth- red leaves provide a lot of interest and food early in the season, and the bright red heads are stunning. Planning a much bigger patch next year.
- Rhubarb - the red stalks against the green leaves are pretty striking as a foliage plant with hostas (which are also edible).
- cabbage. Honestly, I am a little obsessed with the grey green ball shape of cabbage. I consider my two rows of cabbage some of the prettiest in my veggie garden, andthey provide a lot of visual interest.
- cherry tomatos. When they start ripening, they add a lot of interest to the beds.
- Various herbs - lavender, thyme, mint, etc have lovely flowers. Sage adds texture and colour as a foliage plant.
Most tent pads I have seen are either basically a slightly raised wooden deck (which might work well on your sloped land ) or a raised area of crushed stone or sandy gravel with a ditch around it to redirect water. If you are doing hand tools only, I might be inclined to do the deck approach - it can be a porch on your future building maybe?
I recently had a vet bill after playing in grass in front of a public building with my dog which had been treated with iron chelate (Fiesta) the day before. It was evening, I didnt see the sign as it was hidden discreetly, and I have genuinely never seen anyone treat lawns with herbicide here so dont look for signs.
I threw her ball on the lawn a couple times as we walked by. Found the sign 2 days later when I retraced the route. 2 days later, as the dog continued to vomit bile, wouldnt eat, wouldnt drink. Yellow liquid from both ends, where she popped it singed the grass. Syringing water and electrolytes into her. Ended up at the vet, who said her pancreas was near failure, treated with pain meds, anti nausea meds, bentonite. The other dog who just walked on it briefly threw up once and had bad diarrhea.
Anyway- the fact sheet says it's safe after drying, but after that experience I have extreme doubt, and cant in good conscience recommend Fiesta. The vet said it can be absorbed through the paw pads, in addition to whatever got on her ball when I threw it. She also said the LD50 is a pretty high number, but toxicity dose is way lower. I personally hate LD50 as a measure of safety- fairly quickly killed 50% of mice, fish, or whatever at this dose per kg doesnt say anything about long term survival or other toxicity effects.
John C Daley wrote:They are shown being driven by a jackhammer, which may work for very hard conditions.
I ask, is there ground that does not heave with the frost?
We dont have that problem in Australia, so I find the whole issue fascinating.
Hard is fine, its hitting a cobble or a big piece of gravel that I think might be an issue.
Yes, there is ground that doesnt heave- either low fines, or no water.
So the trick with frost heave is that its water based.
You either need to :
-Get the foundation below frost depth (typically 2-3.5m here in Canada) so its founded on something that doesn't heave
-Or found it on non frost susceptible soil (down to frost depth) - less than if I recall, 6% silt and clay- interestingly, silt is actually worse for heave than clay because it lenses.
- or insulate to reduce the frost depth (often done for slab on grade or areas with 3+m frost depths
- or keep it completely dry and drained to frost depth (no water = no heave)
Frost heave is neat because its progressive weakening and settlement year by year, and also because the max heave is actually in early spring, just before you get above zero temps again (I always find this fascinating). Its also bloody difficult to estimate the max heave because of this and because of the lensing that can happen if their is a source for water - so everything tends to be designed for 0 heave even if some heave would be ok.
For example, there is a maybe 30 yo outhouse at my dads that failed a few years ago in March. 15 years ago- it was almost dead level. 5 years ago- it had developed a noticeable tilt. 2 years ago- it heaved enough and the wood had rotted enough it completely broke, roof and all. Where he lives, it's common to have extra supports in the centre of wood sheds, lean tos, rtc. In the summer they are loose and seem silly, not supporting anything. In the winter, they are not loose at all, and support the roof during heave. You can get away with tolerating heave for a non critical structure like a woodshed, but not for a house etc. Roads are the other place that having is an issue - potholes everywhere in the spring in wet areas.
The whole decomposed rock thing you guys have in Australia is what I find fascinating- all of that was scraped off 10 000 years ago here, so residual soils are a mystery to me.
I have no idea about what file size is permissible.
If you do need to reduce it and created the slide show in power point, it is very easy to compress all the photos in a presentation and severely reduce file size. PowerPoint stores images really inefficiently and if you have a bunch of high res photos from a good camera, it can eat up space fast.
Here's the first how to link I found...
If someone uses the diamond piers in a cold climate, it looks like they will have to insulate or watch out for frost heave/adfreeze. But I suppose that's the same for almost any foundation. They claim it works for gravels, having tried to hammer thin metal rods into gravel, I would be pretty skeptical. Likely wouldn't work well anywhere with glacial till, either.
My grandfather owned 2 100 acre properties within easy walking distance of each other. One was all swamp and gravel hill, grazed by cattle, trees wont even grow on a lot of it despite not being grazed or cut for 40 years. The other was a productive and fertile farm good for growing corn, soy, hay, etc. There might be somewhere better nearby?
I would personally prefer to own 5 acres of decent soil than 40 acres of difficult soil.
Also - I hear you about everything dying. The house i grew up in had maybe an inch of topsoil over maybe 1 ft of orangey subsoil over hard granite bedrock, 100 acres of rock and scrubby pine trees. Everything died, things froze, late frosts, etc. Dad grows nice tomatos... in pots. The apple trees are 12 + and have never produced anything. If I were you, I'd consider one or two nice raised bed for veggies, and stop stressing over growing anything outside of those beds.
I pity the original farmers, who left no sign of their presence other than a few incomplete rock fences.
I know someone who has one. She reportedly is followed around outside by her husband, carrying a pail of water lest she light the house on fire (and she has come close).
That being said, her yard is pretty weed free and she has a lot of fun...
I can see the appeal as a fun way to get rid of driveway weeds, but would balk at the price. Plus, ergonomically they look not great to me.
If I were market gardening, I would invest in a few loads of woodchips or other mulch instead, and well composted manure. Keeps the weeds down and makes them easy to pull, reduces watering needs, keeps the soil more consistently moist, etc. Maybe a wheel hoe and some good standing weeding tools/hoes.
Welcome to Permies! That sounds like you have done a lot of work!!
I am personally a "leave it be" kind of person for forest management - a strong weedwacker a few times a year on the edges, a sharp set of long handled pruning shears and that's about all, unless there is dead fall or a tree that is a danger. Others are far more ambitious :)
What are you trying to accomplish on your property? Just control of the blackberry and poison oak, or do you have other goals? I have to admit, I think of Himalayan blackberry as a very tasty problem to have, though I have seen the damage it can do.
Someone linked this company in another thread. I am considering trying to sew something of theirs - I love that they draft their patterns for 3 different bust sizes/size and pants to two different hip waist ratios. I love the look of their button up top, as I cant find any that fit me well in store, and some of the tanks would look nice under a work blazer. They are pricey patterns but look really classic to me - easy enough to look fresh with a different fabric, or keep timeless with plain or neutral fabric. Wish they had more pants and fewer dresses though!
Most years, my cucumbers suck so i pickle zucchini. This year, my zucchini didnt germinate, and my cucumbers are trying to outrun me.
Was away for 3 days, came back to these monsters and a bunch of babies. Hmmm.... wonder how many cucumbers I can foist off on my neighbours??? And how many consecutive days can cucumber salad be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
Its been a wild year here in the garden. Some things are stunted and slow, some are way ahead of schedule.
I planted maxima squash for the first time, plus moshata and pepo. In previous years my squash harvesting technique had been "Oh no, its gonna frost, harvest everything".
This year, its July, and several of my maxima squadh (Sunshine F1) are bright orange and hardening already even as the first of the pepo squash are just starting to form and I am eating my first cherry tomatoes.. the one moshata (butternut) is already full sized and slowly changing colour, as is my other maxima (Blue Magic F1).
I hyper manage my surroundings. No scented products at all - not even "natural" ones (except peppermint and lemon), unscented soaps, laundry detergents, deodorants, cleaning products, etc. No carpets, regular vacuuming, and regularly changing bedding. No smoke, no campfires. No cats and hypoallergenic dogs.
Doing this, I can keep myself down to just one mild asthma med as needed and sometimes an antihistamine - without this I am not sure I could handle my asthma at all. My asthma has always been the kind that is due to triggers though, not random.
Yes, especially here in southern Ontario where the prices are asinine - you cant afford a starter house here making the AVERAGE household income with a 20-30% down payment in most places within 2-3 hours drive of the city. It already dropped here a significant amount (more than what is being reflected in the news, as people seem to be spending the same amount as before, but buying a nicer house for their money). I was in the process of buying a house in February/March, finally got an accepted offer, and crashed it due to covid worries/a poor inspection, and then stopped looking. Now, my realtor is emailing that the prices are going back up and bidding wars have started again.... and I am still holding off. I anticipate this fall is going to be hard.
They have been predicting a depression since this spring, and even last fall.... stock values are meaningless, cost of living rising, underemployment (different than unemployment) extremely high, etc. Likely food shortages in the fall, famines in Africa....
Small hoes with very lightweight handles. I have a picture on here somewhere; we have an antique one that my grandmother used into her 90s. Because the head is so light, the dowel on it is less than an inch and it only weights a couple pounds at most. I use it for weeding, making small furrows for carrots and other small seeds, and scuffling up the soil over top of seedlings. It works better than my scuffle hoe in my heavy soil.
Really nice edgers. Mine is a semi circle with a great rolled edge for your foot, and I love it for slicing turf or breaking ice in the winter. I have never seen another one like it.
Solid one piece trowels. My favourite trowel is older than me and cast out of a single piece of thick aluminum, handle and all, and is very strong and lightweight
A decent snow shovel. All I seem to be able to buy is plastic ones, and they last maybe a year or two.
Easy to use quick connect hose attachments. I have garden beds all over, and it would be so nice to be able to not drag a heavy hose through my perennials to reach my veggie gardens. They may exist, but I dream of leaving my hose in the veggie garden, pulling it across the grass, and a 2 second connection- to another end of the hose so I can water. Another quick connect to water the gardens at the other end of the house. It would make watering so much less of a chore. If I didnt have to drag 50' of hose around all the time.
Leigh- why didnt I think of that? I used to do glass bottles in my large house plants all the time when I went away on vacation.... never thought to put them in the garden. Brilliant, I should try it for my beets which hate life right now, and maybe a few of the tomatos.
We did have rain here a week or so ago. I hung laundry up on a clear day, no forecast for rain. Within 20 min there was a downpour, and we got almost an inch!!! Not enough to recharge the aquifer, but the plants got a good drink. A few tiny sprinkles otherwise.
Skandi- that reminds me of university, where I was told the biggest potential threat to humans from climate change was a large melting of arctic ice, reversing the ocean currents and causing the UK and Scandinavia to have the frigid climate of Labrador, and labrador to have the moderate climate of the UK and Scandinavia (with the rest of western Europe and eastern North America essentially switching climates as well). Having been to Northern Labrador and having Danish relatives, and personally loving the snow and winter, I hope that's doesnt come true!
Out of curiosity, where are you getting fabric from?
I think you mentioned bedsheets for muslins, but what about the finished fabric?
All I have found in Canada is fabric land, which is both bloody expensive and not always great quality and rarely has anything in natural fibers that I am interested in buying.
Also- sleeves are usually easy to shorten. Most patterns you buy show sleeves i or pant legs in 2-3 lengths. You may be able to steal sleeves from another pattern in the book, or that looks like it might make a lovely tank top.