Does anyone else suspect the grape cuttings may have been taken too early here? I'm a novice in this area myself, but that's the first thing I wondered. Have the grapes had enough time to go dormant up there?
Also, you might consider a bottom heat propagation set-up (after researching whether grapes respond well, I suppose). If you've got a seed warming mat, you could put a bucket of water on top of it and stick your cuttings in the water (or into floating cups of growing medium within the bucket). The difference in temperature should help to speed up root development.
Thanks Bruce! It seems to be holding up well. If we lived in a place with strong winds, I think it'd be a different story. Still, someone with more expertise could slap together something more windproof with the same materials.
This morning we had a mild frost, but the coldest it got in there overnight was 39 degrees. As I write, it's 79 in there and 55 without.
Thanks Pete! I hadn't thought about inoculating the logs, but I really like that idea! I've been lamenting the fact that those logs (sycamore and maple, I think) are going to rot away so quickly, but I might as well take advantage of that reality. In fact, they sprung up a few times with some kind of bracket fungus. Since we made our move, we've gotten really into mushrooms, so I'm definitely interested in this. Thanks for the suggestion! I'll look around for what would grow well on them.
Thanks for the tip on the fence too. Given how wild our region area is, wouldn't put it past a fox to try something in daylight. Having all that decomposing food lying around doesn't help, I suppose.
I think hedgerows are great, and there seems to be no end to what you can put in them.
I like this combination myself: Autumn Olive, Willow, Hazelnut, Mulberry, Black Locust, Spicebush, and Blackberry. The Mulberry and Black Locust might need to be coppiced/pollarded. And how about Comfrey along the edges as a root barrier to help keep things in their place?
Acanthus grass is another option I've seen used as a living fence.
George Washington advocated the use of Honey Locust for a living wall and hedgerow, but that is one mean plant to tangle with.
We seem to have survived our first summer as fledgling "homesteaders", having quit city life and made for the hills. There are a thousand projects underway now, but particularly I thought I'd share a little here about the chicken-compost-silage-wormery-greenhouse-nursery arrangement I designed this summer, as well as some ideas about where to take it from here.
It is the epitome of a work in progress (fool's errand?), so I'd love to hear suggestions for improvement, or miserable disasters you see brewing around the corner.
The coop is elevated on locust poles. It's mildly drafty but generally dry. Right now, we've got 8 chickens (layers) from the same clutch, and we'll add meat birds and more layers this spring.
I've shamelessly stolen from Sean at Edible Acres for the general plan, and I think I saw something somewhere about compost under walkways in a Colorado permaculture greenhouse, which I've borrowed as well. Even still, I think I may have incorporated some original elements as well.
Here's the gist:
The birds spend their days picking through three different piles of decomposing vegetable matter. Food scraps, fresh clippings, shredded leaves go into the "youngest" pile.
There's no electric fence, but their wings are clipped and they don't seem interested in flying the enclosure (fences stand about 4-6 feet tall). Along the fence, I'm working on growing thorny plants. I've transplanted several black raspberries, some prickly pear, and will be growing stinging nettle. Of these, only the prickly pear grows on the inside of the fence. We're in a very rural setting, and I hope that the mean old plants might suggest to raccoons and snakes that they should move along. The raspberries, cactus, and nettle will also make their way onto our plates.
Two seedling Texas redbuds were planted in the run. Back when we lived in the Republic, these trees were always loaded down with seedpods in the fall, so I'm hoping that when these mature they'll provide another supplemental source of feed. There isn't much out there on the subject, but I've seen some indications that Redbud seeds can supplement chicken feed. Eastern Redubds grow in abundance around here, but I think the Texas variety produces a heavier crop. We’ll see.
Before I let the birds out each morning, I'll throw a handful of whole corn onto each pile to encourage scratching. As the piles decompose, I move each one down the line to the pile I keep under this cattle pannel arch. This is the pile I put their evening meal onto (fermented feed). I've also transplanted yellow dock around the skirts of this pile hoping that the roots will draw up some of what is leeched out. My chickens go wild for dock, so I keep it fenced in. As it grows, they can reach the more mature leaves. I'm trying the same with dandelion.
By the end of the day, each pile has been completely knocked down. When the chickens turn in each evening, I'll spend 15 minutes rebuilding each pile. I had wondered whether this complete cycle of destruction and rebuilding would keep the bacteria from heating things up sufficiently, but the stuff is still steaming away well into the evenings.
At this rate, a pile moves through the three spots over the course of about 5 weeks, though I expect this to slow down soon. After it has broken down in the last pile, I'll put it under the walkways in the hoop houses to become worm castings for springtime garden use. One of the three hoop houses has red worms working the stuff over, and I'm debating moving some into the others in the spring too. I intend to get some residual heat from the decomposition of the compost through the winter to bump up the temps in the hoop houses. I understand vermicompost to be typically cooler, so I'm trialing both kinds this winter in separate hoop houses.
The bottles you may see strewn about in the pictures are filled with water for the purposes of passive solar heating. It’ll be marginal, perhaps, but I guess not negligible.
The hoop houses are also situated within the chicken enclosure to help keep the pest pressure down.
The birds also help to keep the pest pressure down on vegetable seedlings. This summer when we started seeds, I set their trays onto these hardware cloth "platforms" hanging in the greenhouse cattle pannel or the exposed one above the compost (shaded with a sheet). The seedlings went totally unmolested by pests thanks to their elevation and the chickens.
Along these lines, I'm also keeping bags of silage, covered together under a tarp, among them. I haven't seen much on silage for chickens, nor much on small-scale silage, so we'll see how it goes. In short, contractor trash bags are filled with densely packed lawn clippings (about 30 lbs each), to be distributed bag-by-bag two or three times a week starting in December. We'll see how it goes.
I'm holding out hope that I'll be able to optimize things to the degree that I'm eventually feeding birds for free using things grown on site (redbud, yellow dock, comfrey, nettle, and possibly a stand of poplars and paulownia trees coppiced for fodder), as well as scraps and other resources harnessed from local waste streams (yet to be established). I considered working BSFL into the system too, but I can't see how the economics work out, especially if I can't breed and overwinter them here.
We're going to get bees this spring. The more I see how well the chickens keep pests at bay, the more I'm thinking about situating the beehives (3 of them) in the run as well, along the run's perimeter facing outward. This also means we're keeping them behind a fence and close enough to the doghouse to dissuade nighttime predators. My cursory research suggests that, surprisingly, bees and chickens can coexist peaceably.
I want to also raise some tree seedlings in air-pruning boxes in here, again situated such that the chickens will keep varmints from bothering them.
So, with this context in mind, I'm hoping to invite ideas, suggestions, and critiques from the creative folks around here. Do you see any missed opportunities in this "system"? Are there any more key "functions" to stack into this set-up? Can you see any low-hanging fruit that we could add here that would particularly leverage things?
We're cheapskates, so while it's convenient that there's a Venn Diagram out there where stinginess overlaps with principles of sustainable agriculture, we're also just plain "limited" when it comes to projects with price tags.
For what it’s worth, I’m aiming to feature this work-in-progress in my next post here, where I’m trying to capture my plans for our developing homestead and synthesize other half-baked ideas about living the way we’re trying to live. I had hoped to work out some kinks and brainstorm with y’all before I did.
Melville: Like most of what I've got going on around here, it's stolen shamelessly from Sean! Mine is a little different than his: I'm using some salvaged plastic food-grade pallets lined with landscaping fabric on the bottom and sitting on concrete blocks for air circulation. I wanted to save my hardware cloth (I'll still need some over top) and find some use for these pallets.
Once I've got some dirt in them, I'll add some pictures.
I don't see why this wouldn't work, but I'm taking it to your wisdom because I'm often wrong about what I think is plainly right. I've set up some raised air pruning beds, and I'm thinking I'd like to just drop my seeds in there now. It seems to me that those needing stratification will naturally stratify through the winter (Zone 6b) and come up in the spring according to the dictates of their natures.
I'm trying out some Wisteria and Japanese Maple to intersperse throughout the property for aesthetic purposes. I'm also doing Royal Empress trees in the hope that my yet-cursory hunch that there's a significant niche market for such trees should be confirmed. (I welcome anything you have to say about Royal Empress, too). And then the Mulberries, because, of course, they're delectable.
Anyway: at least some of these need to stratify. What's stopping me from planting the seeds now, and letting nature do the stratifying?
The air pruning beds are covered and contained within the chicken yard, so birds and rodents aren't of great concern.
We've recently made a move to West Virginia to take up rural living, and we're hoping to apply permaculture principles into our set-up and daily life as we settle into homesteading. Toward that end, I've been capturing some reflections related to our getting acquainted with life out here: atewkesburymustard.wordpress.com. It's mostly to help me process thoughts and capture things for posterity, but I reckon I'd share it here too in case there are folks who could benefit from our blunderings.
Hey folks- while I haven't used the genuine article for the sake of comparison, I can say that I'm pleased so far with my hillbilly Fokin hoe, especially considering that it's free- the bracket was left over from the landlord's fence installation and had sat out exposed to the elements for at least a year.
I haven't had much use for it yet- it's seen about an hour's worth of work outside since I made it, and has kept the edge rather nicely in that time. I took the angle grinder to it first, then a coarse file, then the same kind of sharpener one uses on a hatchet.
It's just the right weight for me, and the placement of the holes already set in the bracket allows me to attach it to a handle at a 45 degree angle like the "traditional" Fokin hoe. Not bad on my back. Sharpened on the tip and the two longer sides, you find yourself intuitively and easily switch from one edge to the other depending on the space you're working with.
So far I can definitely recommend it, but it has yet to see any real prolonged application. I'll check back again in the summer if there's any substantial update to provide.
Scott Stiller wrote:I mean specific tools that wouldn’t exist without the permaculture mindset. I have a few ideas. A couple meant for suburban and patio gardeners. Buy one, permaculture only. I mostly direct seed with a heavy thought towards companion planting. I’ll hand pull some weeds to start with but the rest of the time it’s all chop n drop. So between my jungle of competing plants I need to be able to get in there and chop so my plants get a head start. I’m not very flexible either so a thought came to me......
Somewhere between a hoe and a scythe lies the Perma-hoe! A lightweight straight handle with a sharp blade at a ninety degree from the handle. The blade could be square or more of a sickle shape, I’m not sure which would be better.
I’d love to be able to stand back and take weeds down half or more with a flick of the wrist.
Does anyone know of specific tools that were made because of permaculture?
Sounds like you're talking about something like the Fokin Hoe, which appears to be used in rural Russia. Sepp Holzer seems to be a fan ( [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVct-bWc28M)[/youtube] I made one of my own a few months back using a bracket and an angle grinder to give it an edge. I use mine exactly the way you're describing it.
The hori-hori might be another tool. Maybe the principle for permaculture tools mirrors that of the landscape and plants in it-- stacked functionality and resilient versatility.
I'm passing along some details here about a recent undertaking I'm engaged in. Around my area, we've got some good native persimmons just starting to put out flower buds. Last winter, I took some hardwood cuttings of one whose lower limbs were within reach, and when I checked on them the other day, I was pleased to see that one of them has a little 2 inch root getting to work. If it survives, it'll have been my first success with hardwood cutting propagation.
A few days ago, I took some softwood cuttings from a handful of other persimmons, along with willows that were growing nearby. I'd heard willows can root in water, so I set them up in a bucket with an old air stone from my ill-advised days fiddling with aquaponics. I thought it might more closely imitate the conditions of a running stream. Funny enough, I then found this video from Edible Acres in which he tries (and succeeds) with a similar setup ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlN0318nwsw)
Of the persimmons I took (whose new growth has a thorn above each petiole, which I've never known persimmons to have), I've got half in a perlite/peat/sand mix, and the other half right in there with the willows in the water. I'm doing the same with some honey locust cuttings of about the same size.
I've goofed around with propagation enough to know some small successes punctuating otherwise consistent failure. We'll see which one this turns out to be, and I'll be happy to update folks in a month or so. In the meantime, I'd love to hear suggestions or predictions or other feedback.
Since those pictures were taken two days ago, here's how things are looking now. Less blackening than I saw on the leaves further down the tree, but pronounced inward curling. It's still getting suitable sunlight where it is. I'm thinking the tree's a goner, but I'm still eager to hear any diagnoses proposed. Thanks folks!
I'm hoping to benefit from the experience of more accomplished growers to help me ID what's ailing my apple trees here. In late January, I bench grafted 10 scions onto M-111 rootstock (my first attempt to do so-- it was fun-- some whip-and-tongue and some omega graft so I could compare). I've been pleased to see what's looking to be an 80% success rate so far.
But this guy isn't looking too good-- it's a Honey Crisp. At first it was the leaves I had left growing on the rootstock-- they turned black at the margins and eventually withered up and died. The same happened next to the next highest set of leaves, the lowest on the scion. I pruned them all off before I thought to take a picture. It's now spread up to the leaves here, which are coming out of the terminal bud. In a matter of days, I expect them all to die too, curling inward and blackening.
I fear fire blight; this first showed up after a couple days of good heavy rains, which followed closely after my application of some compost tea. Nothing else in the growing conditions changed leading up to the issue. But the damage doesn't look exactly identical to what other pictures I've seen of fire blight, and I haven't noticed any kind of "oozing" from buds.
I've moved it away from the other 9 I have potted up, and so far (about 3-4 days since noticing the issue) none of the others are showing any similar symptoms.
Anyway, I hope this is enough context. Does anyone recognize the issue, and can you help me diagnose it?
How long before you have to part ways with the elderberries? My guess is that while propagating by cutting may be tough right now, you could have success trying air layering. I fear I haven't personally air layered elderberry, but given the season, I'm thinking this could be a safe bet.
Eric-- certainly. In fact, it'd be great to have some others who could offer insight or raise more red flags.
Where we're moving to this summer, the skunks seem to really go after peoples' bees. Bears occasionally as well. I'm hoping to experiment with thorny Honey Locust as a deterrent (without any grand illusions that it'll mean much to bears), either coppicing and using the cut dead material outside a covered hive enclosure, or putting a few together as a "hedge" around it, or both. I'm attracted to the notion that George Washington promoted such a use. I don't have concrete plans to use the plant as a (possible) nitrogen-fixer or fodder provider, but I don't mind having this to think about as well.
The location of the hives is fairly remote from the house; this combined with our limited budget means we're probably not in a place to put up electric fencing or heavy-duty chainlink around the hives. Of course, among the other risks I'm weighing, I realize that the loss of 3+ hives because of a half-baked Honey Locust hedge could equal the expense of putting up a solar-powered electric fence.
I welcome anybody who would be willing to check my thinking.
I'm trying to cultivate Honey Locust for a living barrier (and nitrogen fixer, possible fodder, etc...), and given the location on the property, the thorny variety would be ideal.
I've seen helpful posts here about propagating them by seed and root cuttings, but I'm having difficulty finding them in the wild around here. The thornless variety abounds in yards. Can anybody offer me advice as to the best way to source this gnarly stuff if it doesn't seem to grow on its own around here (short of driving to a place where it does, I suppose)?
Merci, Hugo. I should have known I was premature in my confidence of their rooting. I'll be patient and watch how those leaves and flowers come out, and take care of them if the cuttings show signs of distress.
Hello folks. Back on Christmas Eve, I took eight cuttings from a Mulberry to try to root. As of yesterday, all eight seem to be budding nicely, which I take to be a good indication of root formation. I'm too nervous to try them to see if they've actually developed roots yet-- this is my first time around to root fruit tree cuttings, and I am a novice of novices.
My question is this: should I do something with the lowest buds, or even those that are higher up? Or should I be limiting growth to just the top buds since I want the cuttings to focus on root growth?