It definitely works. I just can't remember from last time how hot the temps were meant to stay over the whole 18 days (the composition and turning is what keeps the temperatures high). Was hoping there would be someone here who had done it a few times. Thanks though.
Angelika Maier wrote:Is that what your really want such a high temperature? I don't know.
Yes, in the 18 day compost method (aka Berkeley method) you ideally want the temperatures between 55C and 65C. This is part of why the composting happens so fast (plus as James mentions, it kills seeds so you can put all sorts of things in it that you can't put into a cooler compost). I'm just not sure if I am meant to keep it that high all the way through the 18 days.
I figured that is what happened too. My questions is more about how important it is to keep the temp up to 55 - 65C throughout the whole process. It's sitting 40 - 50C at the moment. I will add some grass clippings in the next turn, but I am still curious if it matters. Does the lower temperature mean it will take longer, or is it going to fundamentally change how the composting happens?
I'm in the middle of an 18 day compost. It's been turned 4 times so far, but more like every 3 days than every 2. The start was a good hot temp but too much nitrogen (smelly, white powder) so I added a bit of peastraw. That's settled down and it's looking really good with no smell now, but the temperature has dropped and isn't coming up between turns. I can't remember what it's supposed to do in the last week of turning. Should I still be getting high temperatures all the way through?
At the start it was 60 - 65C/140 - 150F. In the past few days it's 40 - 50C/105 - 120F. It got turned yesterday, today it's 40C/105F. Should I add some activator in the next turn? I won't have manure for that one, but could get some for the one after. I have fresh comfrey, urine, some really old liquid compost (probably comfrey but can't remember) etc.
Thanks Travis. I'm actually wanting something faster than that, so don't want to do a cold compost. Am hoping someone has figured out a happy medium between hot and cold. I have a pretty good range of materials, green and dry.
I can't make an 18 day compost at the moment (don't have the time to commit to the every 2 days turning). But I have a bunch of materials sitting around and would like to build a compost in one day and then maybe turn it occasionally. In the past I have had bins and I would let the compost sort itself out over 3 or 4 months. I don't have bins now, so will build a round pile. I'm wondering if there is a mid point between a hot fast compost and a slow cooler one, and what the optimal arrangement is.
I generally don't need weed seeds killed but there is probably grass seed in this lot so it wouldn't hurt to have it well heated a few times. Am thinking that if I turn once every few weeks and add grass clippings or manure slurry to the mix that might reheat it? We're going into winter and it would be good to have the compost ready by the spring.
I also found this, which is relevant here because of the frost. I'll keep an eye on how the shade is at different times of the year:
Apricots are much hardier than most people think. The dormant trees tolerate cold temperatures as low as -20° F, or a typical USDA Zone 5 winter. However, because they have a low chilling requirement (400 to 900 hours), they respond to any warm period in late winter or very early spring by bursting forth with blossoms that are then easily killed by a frost. The longer you keep the trees from blooming, the more likely it is they'll escape a late frost.
Make Them Bloom Later
To encourage your trees to bloom late, plant them where they'll stay cool in the spring. The north side of a building is a good location. Set the tree where it is shaded in the spring: as the sun gets higher in the summer, it will get plenty of light. You can also delay blooming by mulching the roots heavily in late winter so the soil will thaw later. Some years it may be too cold for bees to be out pollinating when apricots bloom, which could limit the crop. Some smaller insects do come out and pollinate blossoms whenever temperatures rise even for a short period. Because these insects don't fly very far, you may consider planting a few apricots closer to each other than the 25-foot distance usually recommended.
how much to water is very dependant on species, size of tree and weather you want survival or rapid growth........and the time of year.
at the very least dig down a bit once a week to see if still moist.........if you want growth i would aim for 50 liters per week per square meter of dripline area in the summer.....if the tree is huge the amount of water could be large so just go with what you can.
also micro swales could be used like feeder channels to fill the holes when it rains.......use a bit of slope......not on contour.
the problem with sawdust in a deep hole could be things getting anaerobic (no air) wood chips are nice and chunky and let air down the hole.......lets say no more than 10% mixed with chips
a smaller auger may be easier to use just use more number of holes.
Thanks Karl. I think I need to do some more observation about what is happening in various rainfalls. The trees are a couple of metres high, I want health over growth, esp health for the soil so that other things can grow there. They're fruit trees, planting in lawn, and need to survive on their own later without watering (which is what they have been doing). I'm thinking a couple of buckets of water a week at the moment ie summer (so maybe 20L).
Climate is hot and dry in summer, and frosty in winter. Shade is to the north (sunny side) and west, from trees that lose their leaves in winter. So the shade will be there in the hottest part of day at the hottest time of the year. It's got a decent amount of light (I grow veges and herbs there currently). It will be well sheltered from the prevailing hot wind too.
The tree is grown from seed and is root bound in a pot currently. Not ideal, but just wanting to get it on the ground so it can get on with it. It's never fruited but has flowered in previous years. Probably 5 years old.
Marco Banks wrote:Heavy mulch for several years will dramatically help your soil. Worms and other biota will decompact the soil for you, but you'll need to crate a habitat for them to thrive in. A foot or so of wood-chip mulch, spread widely from the trunk outward (at least to the drip line) will hold moisture, cut down on soil irradiation by the sun, provide habitat for worms, promote fungal growth, and provide a source for soil carbon accumulation.
Mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch, mulch.
And then wait.
Also, stay off it when it's wet.
I don't have several years! I might not be here next summer, so the plan is to get enough established before then so that anything planted around the tree will survive without watering (no idea if that will work tbh), and that the mulch and compost will sustain itself.
I'd hazard a guess that even a foot of wood chips here would dry out, although it would definitely provide a barrier for the soil. Do you use fresh or aged?
Which brings me to a question I suppose. Most of the rain we get doesn't go far into the soil (a day of gentle rain the other day went in about 1 cm, and that would evaporate out again in a day or so of wind), so are trees like this not living off that rain? Or do they take it in via their leaves?
i have a similar issue at my parents place where they water and water and the trees are not looking very happy.
because they're not permaculture minded and only tolerate token mulching i have been trialing the following.
with a hand auger (post hole digger) dig about 4 holes as deep as you can around the drip line. with mine the handle is about 800mm-1m.
now fill all these holes with 100% semi rotted wood chips. if you only have fresh wood chips just avoid allopathic stuff where possible.
mix in a generous scoop of blood and bone or other slow release fertilizer as you fill each hole with wood chips.
when watering fill each hole just until overflowing. my 8 inch dia auger at 1m has a hole volume of 60L so with chips i guestimate about 30L
you could even use all your other methods on top of this just make sure you water in these holes as all the microbes and worms spread underground from these holes.
i call it vertical swales or stealth swales.
This is a great idea, one I will try on another tree on its own I think (have to find an auger to borrow, and then see if it will work in this soil). What do you think about using sawdust from a urine toilet instead of woodchips? How often do you water the holes?
good idea! We have Marasmius growing in the lawn already. Not sure how they would do buried deep. This makes me think I should put some well saturated cardboard down. And get some mycelium from under the mulch of local trees.
How would you suggest making a slurry? From the fruit body? It's mid summer here, so not a huge number of mushrooms around.
I need site-specific suggestions for amending very compacted, dry soil around an existing tree. The soil is compacted because it's been lawn that's been mowed very low, plus hot temperate climate with drying winds and semi-drought summers apart from this year. Soil is silt with some organic matter but not much clay (I can do a soil in a jar test if that helps).
I'm adding a mulch basin. The plan is to use materials I have to hand to mulch on top, with a good layer of vege scraps and other organic matter and tiger worms underneath, but I feel like I need something else right on the soil to help that process of restoring the microbia. It's been forked to put holes in it but not very deep because the ground is hard, and watered well. It has couch root in it so eventually the couch will grow again. I'm not too worried about that, couch will help, and I'll be planting other things. I'm in two minds about laying cardboard/newspaper due to the risk of it drying out and becoming an impervious layer to water.
I don't want to buy in any amendments, but can utilise what is in my area as well as what is on site eg bring in animal manure. I have some half composted humanure too, that's had worms and vege scraps in it.
Peter Ellis wrote:
As for the OP's question(s) a) most cats will only go for baby or juvenile rabbits. Adult rabbits are too big for a domestic cat to bring down (typically, please no stories about pet cervals or such. Domestic felines are not normally going to take adult rabbits)
b) reducing their food may encourage them to be more aggressive hunters, or it may encourage them to go find new humans to feed them. c) efficient killing the rabbits yourself? Grab by hind feet and head. Pull sharply. Rabbits have weak necks and it is easy to fatally dislocate their necks in this manner. While efficient and probably easier on the rabbit than bashing them on the head, I won't try to say it is easy on you.
Thanks Peter. Not sure I am ready for the hands on kill yet. Might work up to that.
My question now is if they bring in a dead rabbit and don't eat it because they're not hungry, what's the best way to store it for them to eat later? I'm ok with butchering, but not very skilled yet. I'd like to leave the skin on, for them to eat, and to keep the rabbit as close to their kill as possible. But what should I do if I want to leave it over night or until their next feed? Gut it? Hang it? Is it ok to leave it in a bucket (easiest way to keep flies off it if I've gutted it). Leave it whole and open it up just prior to them eating?
Should I be checking the rabbits for disease or poison?
Lynn Garcia wrote:Having had cats for most of my life I can tell you the most likely reason your cats aren't killing and eating their presents to you. Cats don't naturally kill, they LEARN it, from their mothers. This learning begins early but they don't usually really learn the lesson until around 8-12 weeks of age sometimes even later. So if you want a mouser you need to let the mother teach them, which means not taking the kitten away before 12 weeks of age. Also this is further complicated by whether the mother is a mouser. IF the mother has learned to hunt and kill she will train the kittens properly. IF she has never killed AND eaten anything she will not teach the kittens properly. That said it is possible that a cat who did not learn in this time frame can learn it later, but it will probably have to be taught by example from another cat who DOES kill and eat their prey. Further complications are that some breeds of cat have lost the hunting instinct. Best bet is to get from a farmers mouser litter after 12 weeks.
Best of luck!
PS. Also as far as rabbits go it depends on where you are living if the rabbits/hares are small enough for the cat to even kill. The various Cottontails of North America are easily within the size that a cat can and will kill. The larger species of rabbits and hares have as much chance of killing the cat as the cat has of killing them.
Thanks Lynn. That matches what is happening. I had always heard that cats have an instinct to hunt but that eating the prey was taught. I've just found one of the cat's rabbits dead but not opened up. I gave it to the cat I haven't seen eating a rabbit yet and she played with it but didn't seem to know what to do. Neither cat was particularly hungry. I cut the rabbit up and fed her bits - she eagerly at the kidneys, liver, small intestine (not large), and had a fair go at a leg. I think next time I will just cut the skin open a bit and let her figure it out. I agree with what others are saying too, that if they were hungry enough they'd get there, but am not willing to starve them to do that.
These cats came out of the wild as older kittens. Not tame then, and I'm guessing they'd never had to kill anything larger than mice, skinks etc. All the rabbits so far have been young ones.
I agree with John. If you kill all the pathogenic bacteria and mould you are still left with the toxins from that.
I don't think leaving food out in a bag for 3 days until mouldy counts as fermented. With ferments you want to create the conditions whereby the beneficial (to human gut) bacteria and yeasts are given priority over the pathogenic ones. There's a grey area between that and food just going rotten. I'll eat some foods when they are turning, but I draw the line at mould unless it is only on the surface and can be scraped off easily* eg jam. Usually I go by taste and smell and whether my body finds the food appealing.
*not for freshly cooked foods unless it is a small mount. IME, something like rice is past eating by the time mould forms.
I underfed the cats for 3 weeks and they lost weight, one of them is too skinny. Both were wild undernourished kittens with health issues so while I agree that if they were starving they would figure it out I'm reluctant to go hard core on them by witholding food drastically. In terms of ongoing strategies, there isn't enough wild food here for them to eat that daily. My guess is they would start scrounging again which is part of what they were doing when they were wild.
Plus, they do eat the rabbits they are catching, once I cut them open, so I don't think it's case of them not being hungry. I really think one of them at least is clueless on how to kill them. Maybe it's a stalemate and I will just have to kill the rabbits myself.
The cats are bringing in young wild rabbits several times a week. I'm happy about that, but they don't seem to know how to kill them. The cats are rescue cats less than a year old, and I started feeding them in the autumn (6 months ago) so maybe they never killed a rabbit before.
The first couple of rabbits I found were either dead and whole, or dead and half eaten. Not sure which cat did that. I had to cut the whole one open in order for one of the cats to know what to do with it, but once I opened up the belly he was ecstatic.
Now I'm finding them in the house with live rabbits and they're pretty clueless (the cats), which makes me think the dead ones died of shock eventually rather than the cats killing them. One they had outside the other night was screaming for 5 mins while they tried to figure out what to do, so I ended up knocking it on the head to kill it (the others I've let go). But I don't know what I am doing either and would like a less traumatic end for the rabbits (by me or the cats).
So two questions.
1. what are some of the more efficient ways of killing young rabbits, esp ones for someone still semi-squeamish? They're young rabbits with soft skulls. I looked up instructions on the internet, but would rather have a conversation with someone who knows what they are doing. I'm guessing the right tool and the right technique would help. It's late spring here, so I guess over the summer they will bring in older rabbits.
2. any ideas on how my cats can learn to kill the rabbits themselves? I've heard that the mother cat usually half kills the rabbits and lets the kittens finish it off and that's how they learn. I assume that means she draws blood and they attack the rabbit until it dies. Not sure I am up for that tbh, but open to suggestions. It's possible that if I fully kill some of the rabbits myself, the cats will catch on. I'd also be interested to know how cats kill rabbits in the wild.
This seems like an odd question but in the past I've always made compost in a bin and left it there as I used it. At the moment I have some Berkley method compost that was recently finished. I've left the cover on it as I don't need it just yet, but am wondering how best to store it. Do I treat it like an active pile (keep it moist and warm)? It's very hot, windy and dry here and it's in full sun.
Art Ludwig wrote:
• I have successfully created basins a bit at a time over the course of years, to avoid massive root disturbance
• Trees chronically end up too deep. We have an awesome new mulch basin drawing (one of several in the new edition) that shows a variety of measures to combat this...comments welcome.
Is the main reason for raising the tree in the middle to stop rot? I live in a pretty dry climate, so have thought putting the tree at the bottom of the basin best, but I don't have a lot of experience. Presumably this is less of an issue with existing trees, although the peach we just did has mulch higher than the base of the tree (am keeping an air gap around the trunk).
Hi Art, have you done this or seen it done? I live in a dry climate so like new trees to be in the bottom of a basin with lots of mulch. This is irrespective of grey water or not, but I got the idea from your book. Most trees locally are planted conventionally and I'm curious if it's possible to retro fit mulch basins and whether that's possible for small, medium and large trees.
I've just trialled it on a young peach tree I thought was dead but has resprouted from bottom but don't want to do other healthier trees if this is messing with the root system.
I've never seen them before. They cover up the other ad banner at the top, and the banner at the bottom beside the house that sometimes references other threads. They don't look like normal google ads. I think it's maybe something I was doing with my browser. Thanks.
I think honey needs to be considered in the context of how much other concentrated sweeteners are in the diet. If you don't eat sugar or lots of dried fruit etc then 5 tsps honey a day doens't sound that much. But if you are eating lots of other sweet thing, then maybe.
I also look at honey from a permie perspective. To what extent is it a seasonal food? Can the bees locally produce enough honey for the amount we are eating? What if they weren't being fed sugar? A bee person once told me that humans are damaging bees as a species by expecting to have honey all the time on demand as much as we want. They're not really designed to do that. How much honey production is factory farming? These questions affect my food choices about honey too. On the other hand, it's a beautiful food and a good way to bring sweet into the diet in a local food way (compared sugar or maple syrup which doesn't grow here).
I found out this week that banana skins dry very well in the car (bonus!)
Narcissitic seems right to me too. I was wondering about the laterals on the parent plant fruiting. I always got taught to remove the laterals to get better fruiting, but if the laterals fruit how is that a problem?
I'm not sure if light is the issue or heat differences. It's only getting light from one side but very bright, and it's in a dark corner away from light at night.
Zach Muller wrote:Given the constraints of 2 weeks and 2 years i dont think you would come back to find a forest garden. But I know from experience that certain trees can establish themselves with no care. If you came back to the land in two years i bet you could find a few very hardy members that competed and got above the ground cover.
I had a small plot i did this with. There were baby pecans, baby mulberry and a small hawthorn that survived the lambquarter, chinese sumac, broomsedge, trumpet vine, mornining glory, and johnson grass onslaught. It was not pretty, and from that point it took some high energy work to get back to even being able to walk around in. But still those few useful trees did get established. I would never consider putting plants that cost any money into this scenario.
I also found that giant chard was able to compete as it was a wet season and it was started with mulch around it, before everything was left to take over.
Nice story. I was thinking about using local naturalised plants and trees to start the transition from paddock to forest garden. eg would hawthorns survive and eventually start self seeding, which provides multiple benefits (food, medicine, habitat, timber, root stock for grafting).
Aaron O'Sullivan wrote:The land is pastureland. not sure what type of grass. I thought that if i tilled all the grass under and then planted in tree's with strong cover crops and annuals that they would propagate year after year and so kill out any "weeds". Aswell as planting perennials such as sunchokes
As others are saying, the strong early succession plants (the ones evolved to come into disturbed soil and survive harsh conditions) will out compete most of the things you want to grow that are less hardy and less well adapted. You can't go from paddock to forest in one step unless you are there to intervene in the natural processes of succession.
I still like your question though, and to what extent it is possible to design very low maintenance systems that evolve. It might be worth looking at what you could achieve on the land untended for two years that would bring you ahead for when you return and can put more maintenance in.
Is the 2 years absolutely no visiting? Could you get someone else to do minimal work occassionally?
Kind of an interesting design question though. If the timing (2 weeks set up, 2 years left alone) is a design limit, how could that work?
I agree looking at the existing site, plants, climate would be crucial, and also what other resources are available to deal with the lack of attention (eg paying someone to come in and chop and drop twice a year).
Forests go from bare ground to climax without human intervention, so isn't it more about what can be done within the design limitations?
Good ceiling insulation will help keep a building cool in summer (you don't get the heat from the roof transferring through into the house). This is why I was asking what kind of summer you have, I was trying to imagine what conditions would make an uninsulated roof in summer an asset.
another way to solve the problem that Neil raises (which I agree with, "is that permaculture?") would be to see what the local ordinance actually says. For instance, can you have quail or ducks instead of chickens? (is it eggs you are after?).
Can you please describe your summers? I also think that messing with the apex is risky and the removing the bales for the summer and replacing for the winter is likely to be counterproductive, or at least I think there are probably better ways to solve the summer ventilation issue. Do you want to share what your thinking is on that part of your design?