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|[+] natural building » Enclosing structure on piers, want to do earthen floor (Go to)||Elyse Guarino|
I'm not entirely sure what kind of construction style you're actually aiming for with the floor.
Is there any way you could show some drawing diagrams of what you're envisioning, or describe it again in a different way?
What do you mean by 'Natural Floor'?
Because right now it sounds like you're building pier-and-beam, which generally comes with a crawlspace.... but later you talk about filling up that space with insulation and asking if stone infill is a support structure... and then talk about burying floor joists?
This is what I picture when you say you have piers:
^ There's the deep-set piers that go at the 4 corners, and sometimes around the outer perimeter of the house. You can add a stone/masonry wall around the outer perimeter to stabilize, and then there are smaller piers just sunk a bit into the earth directly under the house where frost (usually) can't reach, which supports the other floor beams.
We were thinking of building a stone and lime mortar “Walls” connecting the piers and putting our base plate on top of that
The base plate should be braced primarily on the piers themselves.
If you want to add walls, or solid footings to help support the base plate beams to prevent future sagging, that's good! (see pic above) But, the primary weight bearing should be on the Piers. That's the point of them.
Do we need to dig a trench for the stone walls and do gravel first as a drainage solution if we have good berm and slope away from the exterior on all sides?
ALWAYS have extra drainage, regardless of other berm and slope. Under-house drainage is often for water pressure pushing water up through the earth, not just direct rainfall from above. Make sure the grading of the under-house earth also slopes toward whatever drainage channels you have, so water won't pool if it does get under there.
Adding well-draining stone, proper under-house grading and some drain pipes/channels to divert water to outside is essential, yes.
Is using the existing piers and essentially stone “infill” beneath the base plate an acceptable support structure if there will be windows and strawbale insulation
What stone infill? I thought you were building stone walls.
If floor joists of some kind are necessary to tie the walls to one another, would burying them in the earthen floor be acceptable?
You don't want to bury wood as a general rule, and you want to minimize dirt-to-wood contact. Timber is usually up on steel or stone/concrete to keep it off the ground, with a barrier between wood & cement to reduce water wicking & rotting, if you want the build to last a very long time.
As I said earlier, the area under your house can become wet because of hydrostatic pressure - nearby rainfall pushes water through the earth sideways, not just down - and so it can seep under your house and into any dirt it touches. This is why cracking or poorly sealed basements can leak water during rainfall - the entire earth is getting filled with water, and the walls need to resist the immense pressure of thousands of gallons pushing sideways against it in the earth. Like a reverse-pool.
Moisture wicking into straw bales MUST be avoided at all costs with straw bale construction - they rot easily, and the heat generated by the decomposition process can get intense enough that it reaches the ignition point for straw - lighting the walls themselves on fire. Barn fires are often started because someone took wet hay or straw and piled it with the dry stuff.
I am not finding info on building walls on this type of timber framed “porch” that don’t involve building a deck. A deck would also tie the walls to each other. But we are hoping to do a natural floor and avoid a wooden deck/floor structure
This doesn't make sense to me. Deck and porch are the same thing. Please explain, or use different terminology.
strawbale insulation ( these will be cut out of 9 inches not 18)
^ That's not going to work. Cutting the bales in half lengthwise will make them fall apart instantly. That's not suitable for building a wall.
For areas with lots of windows, you can use Leichtlehm, or “light clay.” It's basically straw mixed with clay mud, which is applied into a form and tamped down like a less-intensive rammed earth. (Rammed straw?)
It can be used to create thin exterior or interior walls, insulation and ceiling panels between rafters, or insulation below adobe floors. The straw/clay provides less insulation than bales, but offers greater flexibility in constructing walls of different widths
|[+] cattle » Miniature Zebu in the Northern US? (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
I do not have experience with Zebu.
I do have some experience with highland cows!
They're not as TINY as Zebu, but they're way more manageable compared to a longhorn, angus, hereford, or other standard cattle breed.
Proportionally smaller pasture requirements,
They have a wonderful temperament - very friendly toward people, clever, and easy to train. Almost never aggressive.
All the highland cows and bulls I've worked with have LOVED getting brushed and groomed, though brushing their winter fur is not usually necessary as a health measure.
They're also very expressive, so in the rare instance that they are annoyed, they communicate it clearly.
They're very suited to colder climates like Delaware with their shaggy winter fur, and are generally low-maintenance (except for their hooves)
They also do very well in low-input and organic feeding systems: primarily pasture works just fine if you want to raise them for beef.
Well-suited for pulling small carts, tbh they're my favorite kind of cattle <3
I may be biased, but there are some cons:
- Does not like confinement. They really need a pasture to roam around in, and get anxious & stressed if you keep them in a barn stall for more than a few days. Some are more sensitive to this than others.
- High maintenance hooves. Their breed is used to rocky mountainsides and hardpacked earth. Walking on very soft and loamy pastures all the time can mess up their feet.
- Trouble with ticks/lice in the summer. Thick fur means pests have an easier time getting established & are harder to get rid of.
- Poor tolerance to heat. Even their summer coat is pretty thick. Delaware summers should be totally fine tho, I'm used to Kentucky summers.
If you're dead set on the miniature cow, I believe there are miniature highland cows.
|[+] soil » Improving clay soil on the cheap (Go to)||William Bronson|
TIMEFRAME is important.
In permaculture, we usually look at our soil amending plan on the scale of years, not just a couple seasons.
Like Lila said: Fast usually isn't Cheap. Additionally 'Cheap' doesn't mean 'Low Effort' - Doing something in a short amount of time isn't quite the same as doing it 'easily.'
You mentioned leaves & rotting logs. Both of those are high-carbon and decompose slowly. They help soil structure and water retention and make healthier soil in the long run and ARE important, but if you ONLY put carbon in an area, and not corresponding nitrogen to help break it down quickly, it'll be sooooo sloooowwwwww to decompose.
They need other good rottable stuff to go fast. Stuff that turns sludgy and nasty smelling when it rots. That's the green stuff you gotta mix with your browns, so your soil can feast as fast as it can.
It's about feeding the life in your soil - not feeding your plants. You feed the soil, the soil feeds your plants.
The soil life is what eats rocks and slurps up organic stuff and poops out nutritious plant food.
Feed the worms, the fungus, the beetles and protozoa. Feed the bacteria!
Your friends in the soil enjoy manure. They LOVE decay and fermentation. They feast on things like rotting meat and plants.
Make them a cozy home for them with a big pile of woodchips - it's insulated from the cold and scorching heat, and holds the moisture in after it rains, so they don't shrivel up.
Cultivate your soil ecosystem - spoil them with rottable goods like you'd spoil your pets with treats!
Get a big barrel, fill it with water, and let green weeds FERMENT for weeks, then treat your soil to some tasty sips!
Rotting meat and spoiled leftovers? Bury it.
Found a dead animal? Bury it.
Stale dogfood? Bury it.
Rain-spoiled hay from a local farmer, coffee grounds from a local cafe
Your neighbors left out leaves and lawn trimmings? Swipe them, chop 'em up, and bury them. Or just pile them in a big heap where you want to garden. Turn the whole garden into your compost pile for a year.
Become someone who LOVES seeing rot and fungus and decay, because that means you found something you can feed to your yard!
Congrats you've adopted several trillion individual life forms. They're your pets now, and they have a nifty side-effect of making plants grow real good.
Feed your babies.
|[+] rocket mass heaters » Rocket Thermal mass heater using cinder blocks for tubes (Go to)||Nate Nute|
Continuing off the idea of a 'flooring or whole wall as a RMH':
Since the outputs are Heat, Steam & CO2... and the mass is supposed to be absorbing the heat, water can condense out from steam at around 212 F (100 C)
So, with that in mind, could we design the mass in such a way that the further-along, cooler areas would have some sort of method to collect the steam?
Like, terminating the outgoing chimney with a purposeful water-condensing (a la water distillation) setup.
Collect the steam, let the CO2 escape, funnel the water drips somewhere that won't degrade the cob, or produce mold.
If you did that, you could even keep an eye on the water condensed out, and test it for impurities to see if you're having above-average creosote formation, or if everything's burning properly.
|[+] rocket mass heaters » Rocket Thermal mass heater using cinder blocks for tubes (Go to)||Nate Nute|
I edited my post to add a few more thoughts about long-term maintenance of a heating system & the cleaning requirements for it.
I don't mean to be excessively critical, I understand this thread is just brainstorming & troubleshooting =)
When I'm trying to design my own builds, I usually start with "How are all the ways that this could go terribly wrong?" - reflect on them, and then figure out ways to mitigate those things. (Thus, the initial dump & then coming back after a while of reflection & further research to add final thoughts)
So, batch-dumping criticism in this instance really was done in good faith, I promise!
I do love the idea of a thermal mass heater somehow taking up a whole wall!
Especially a bedroom wall, or somehow make the entire home's ground-level flooring into a big mass heater - that sounds so cozy.
My brain has been chewing over the idea of building a cob home for the last few months, so the suggestion "install a rocket mass heater in a wall" immediately launched me into *handwave to prior post* - all that.
"Creating a piped system of any design without cleanout access is a very poor idea."
Yes, agreed - that was my conclusion as well.
I'm really curious about how we COULD make a whole wall, or a whole flooring area into a mass heater. Heated floors are usually done with electricity, but if our goal with the RMH is to heat the house ANYWAY....
|[+] rocket mass heaters » Rocket Thermal mass heater using cinder blocks for tubes (Go to)||Nate Nute|
My biggest concern for a design like this (zig-zagging pipes) in a permanent structure is: How do you clean it out?
Chimneys are supposed to be cleaned out 1x per year.
This is because Creosote builds up in the chimney flue during use.
Creosote being the various tars and charcoals from burning plant materials like wood. If smoke exiting a chimney is cools to below 250 degrees Fahrenheit, the gasses liquefy, combine, and solidify to form that tar compound.
While /theoretically/ A properly functioning RMH won't create much Creosote, there are a thousand little ways that dimensions can be off, or someone uses wood that isn't completely dry, they let the embers smoulder as they go out instead of extinguishing it right away, or just the trace amounts that happen during the normal start-up period before the 'rocket' part kicks in fully. There's a bunch of other what-if scenarios that would result in Creosote forming inside the RMH and pipes despite our best efforts, during habitual use.
Creosote, even only 1/8th of an inch (0.3 cm) of buildup can ignite at temps as low as 451 degrees F (232 C) and burn at temperatures in excess of 2,000 degrees F (1093 C) those high temps can melt mortar and damage even firebrick, which is only meant to withstand temps up to 1,700 degrees F. (926 C)
The primary Anti-creosote / creosote-removing product that I know of uses acetic acid (you can dehydrate it out from vinegar), which is highly corrosive to metal, including stainless steel. It's fine for brick, but would not be friendly to rocket-mass heaters which use metal components. Additionally, its use requires the user to reach in and manually scrub the Creosote to remove it, after treatment. Having tight elbows & long channels would make cleaning very difficult.
So: great idea for something with only 1 bend, where each length of tunnel can be accessed from either the entrance port or the exit chimney, but more bends which are inaccessible to clean /when necessary/ would make me leery.
Short-term use structures would also be fine, but I wouldn't want to make a wall of my house out of a bunch of zig-zagging no-access tunnels.
Edit to add:
From Peter van den Berg's posts about using a batchrocket heater, he had a chimney sweep come and clean it one time after 7 winters of using it. He reported the chimney sweep said the amount of creosote that was cleaned out was "not much for a whole burning season"
So, cleaning would still be necessary for these systems, even if it's very infrequent. (once every 5-10 years).
This is an excellent maintenance timeframe for a home heater, but a wall of multiple zig-zags would still have to be dismantled somehow to properly clean it.
I see the claim "There is no creosote deposits from rocket stoves" - but this is demonstrably not accurate.
There is a much smaller amount of creosote buildup compared to a regular wood stove / fireplace, but it is not 'nothing'. It still requires routine cleaning to prevent an internal fire, when the creosote actually does ignite & starts melting things.
Kinda like how the ductwork in your home HVAC system needs to be cleaned every 3-5 years or so, even if you have good filters. No system is perfect.
It is low-maintenance, but not 'No Maintenance'
So, accessibility to clean is something to take into consideration when installing.
|[+] ponds » Pond-friendly U.S. states (Go to)||Eric Hanson|
https://www.energy.gov/eere/femp/rainwater-harvesting-regulations-map <-- this map is created by the US Department of Energy, and includes a visual guide to strict/loose/no restrictions, and if you click the state, you can view the precise laws regarding water harvesting in that state.
Out of the lower 48 states in the U.S., Colorado and Utah are the only states that are currently heavily regulated to keep homeowners from harvesting and using the rain that falls on their property. Many states DO have a 'Gallon Maximum' that you can harvest and store, keeping it out of the underground aquifers and other natural river systems.
Many states also have laws against the COMMERCIAL harvesting of rainwater.
Keep in mind: there are generally 3 categories of laws that restrict water use in the USA.
1) Groundwater - How many gallons can you draw up from the underground aquifers in certain time-frames?
These laws are generally done at a local level - in towns, cities, and counties.
2) Rainwater harvesting - How much water can you harvest, from rainfall that lands on your property?
3) Surface Water Rights - How much manipulation can you do to existing bodies of water, moving rivers, springs, and temporary (seasonal or storm-event) surface water flow?
These laws are ALSO usually done at a local level - in towns, cities, and counties. Sometimes these laws vary by the body of water, by city zoning, or by the property itself.
Building a huge pond could potentially be affected by all 3 of those types of laws.
- If you planned to use well water to help fill the pond, you may exceed your maximum allowed gallons-per-month drawn up from the groundwater.
- It may exceed the maximum allowed gallons of rainwater you can harvest and store for personal use. (However, check the time limits on these - some are gallons-per-day, some are per-month, or per-season
- Depending on the location of the pond, some states may fuss if you catch significant seasonal storm runoff that otherwise would have gone into the local rivers & downstream watersheds.
Your best bet is to narrow down your search to a couple states, and look up THESE SPECIFIC TERMS:
- [State] Water Allocation Laws
- [State] Laws Manmade Lake
Kentucky, for one, has a lot of areas with no Zoning (so you have a lot of freedom with how you build your house & use your property) and no regulations or laws regarding rainwater harvesting. In a lot of the state, it's pretty straightforward to get a USDA Rural Development loan for a homestead.
The absolute ownership doctrine in KY permits the landowner to extract an unlimited amount of water for use on overlying or distant lands regardless of injury to other users.
The kentucky extension office even offers advice on how to build small manmade lakes & stock them for fishing and aquiculture.
|[+] plants » Can liquid clay sediment be used as a plant feed? (Go to)||Brent Bowden|
Love where your brain is going with this! Let me clear up the chemistry/physics a bit =)
So! Clay, Sand, and Silt are all 'the same' in that they are made of insoluble minerals: Primarily quartz, zircon, garnet, monazite (a source of rare-earth minerals), and rutile (titanium dioxide)
You may have noticed that none of these minerals match our lists of 'what plants crave.'
Insoluble means they don't dissolve in water. So, plants have absolutely no way to suck them up & use them.
The only textbook difference between Clay, Silt, and Sand is particle size.
Clay particles are smaller than 0.002 mm in diameter. Some clay particles are so small that ordinary microscopes can't even see them clearly!
Silt particles are from 0.002 to 0.05 mm in diameter.
Sand ranges from 0.05 to 2.0 mm.
Most soils contain a mixture of sand, silt, and clay in different proportions - along with organic fragments & living organisms.
The size of soil particles, and the ratio of those particle sizes is important. The amount of open space between the particles influences how easily water moves through a soil, and how much water (and nutrients) the soil will hold.
If a soil is overwhelmingly clay, with very little of the other particle sizes, and not enough organics, the soil will be very slow to take in water - and very slow to lose it.
Clay has the highest ability to retain water, AND retain nutrients that is suspended in the water. It expands when in contact with water, and shrinks when it dries out. Compared to sand particles, which are generally roughly round, clay particles are thin, flat, and covered with tiny plates.
But - Overwhelmingly clay soil ALSO has the problem that all the tiny particles pack together extremely tightly and fill in any air gaps as soon as water can move it around. Since plants need air reaching their roots to survive (and waterlogged roots leads to rot), pure clay is very hard for most plants to grow in. The clay suffocates it.
Since clay takes in water so slowly, a clay-heavy soil is more prone to flash floods - the water will slide along the top instead of soaking in.
Bigger, coarse particles like sand will pack together more loosely to create little geometries in the particles in a way that still allows airflow and water to flow through it.
If a soil is overwhelmingly Sand, without enough of the other particle sizes or organic material, the water and air flows through TOO fast and the sandy soil quickly dries out - shriveling up & killing the microbes that need humid environments to live & move around, and killing the plants as they have no water or nutrients that they can reach.
Silt has many of the same problems as Clay - because it is so fine, it become a smooth mud with water, and easily washes away.
"Loam" is a mixture of clay, sand, and silt - along with 2-5% humus.
Soil that is 30% clay, 50% sand, and 20% silt is a "sandy clay loam"
"Humus" is compost. Compost is Humus. Same thing, different words. 'Compost' is generally deliberately manmade while Humus is formed where decaying things naturally fall & gather - like around trees, in ditches, and around a forest floor. Both are just decomposed organic materials.
Agricultural soils are usually 2% organic material by weight, while in a forest the soil is usually upward of 5%+ - along with a thick layer of humus blanketing the surface where plant matter, dead animals, insects, and manure are decaying year after year. That humus gets mixed downward into the soil by burrowing animals, insects and microorganisms.
Alongside clay, that organic humus can also hold onto water like a sponge, and it's MADE of nutrients.
The humus is broken down.... and broken down... and broken down... until all that's left is small molecular chains, which get broken down into even smaller molecules, and digested and turned into other molecules by mycorrhizae and protozoa, and THOSE molecules are the ones that plant roots can suck up as nutrients and use to create energy.
So, the humus/compost seems to 'disappear' after a while because it ends up being broken down to its base molecules, and turned into plant tissues.
Plants use SOME silica, from the quartz content found in sand/silt/clay. Plants also use the calcium from limestone. Sulphur can also be used by plants.
There's also Mycorrhiza which can chew up the sand & clay & silt into bio-available states, but that happens very slowly.
Aside from those, most inorganic (mineral) soil amendments are not used as plant food - they're used to change the soil structure, to change how water/nutrients are held inside the matrix of the soil, or to alter the pH.
So, why would your suspended fine-clay-in-water help your plants?
1) Your soil is very loose/sandy and doesn't have enough organic material in it - so adding clay is helping your soil retain water & hold onto nutrients, to keep feeding/watering from the soil longer after your initial delivery of it.
2) Your clay has leftover nutritious organic molecules suspended between the clay particles, or a soluble inorganic mineral like calcium or sulphur, and by soaking it in water, you're pulling those nutrients into the water and delivering them to your plants.
In New Zealand specifically, y'all have trouble with soil fertility, and the makeup of your soil particulates is often very specific to your little niche on the island. Harsh storms and landslides have stripped a lot of the topsoil off, which means the removal of ancient humus & all the molecular nutrients that went with it.
The coniferous forests create a layer just under the humus called 'Podzol' - basically, the acidity of the needle-based humus dissolves the clay minerals entirely, creating a band of sandy-textured soil that is entirely infertile, lacking in most plant nutrients, with poor water retention. (Because the sand doesn't hang on to any of it, the nutrients just drain away.) - usually with an iron-rich band of soil right below it, which is similarly poor in nutrients, and deceptively humus-rich loam right at the surface.
Podzol bands on New Zealand is usually due to the coniferous forests. Kauri pine, and Rimu often create podzolized soils. Areas with deciduous trees like false beech, tawa, and taraire will have very high fertility in comparison, because their decomposing leaves are not as acidic, and so do not leech at the soil so harshly to make that sandy 'dead' band.
High-acid soils can also be difficult for young plant roots to grow in.
If you live near a coast, you could also be getting salt deposits in your soil from blown-in seawater, from storms or just from strong winds. The salty water can be carried as a mist on the wind.
Areas with natural limestone deposits in the subsoil also don't have the problem with acidity as much, because the lime will raise the pH and neutralize the acid.
There are some studies going on with deep-soil remediation in New Zealand and Australia: basically, digging up the soil to a depth of 2-3 feet, and custom-mixing the soil to be friendly to agriculture, using things like crushed shells, sulfur, sand, clay, compost, manure, kelp, etc.
Thanks for coming to my TED talk lol
|[+] trees » Why won’t cedar tree grow where old one fell down? (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
So, if the roots are still in the ground and have not rotted after 15 years - yes, the old roots are still alive, and are still taking up nutrients that the young tree would need to survive. It might also be putting up small sprouts?
If that's the case and you want a cedar in that location, keep an eye out for sprouts and let one grow from the roots. It'll grow much faster & heartier than any transplant.
Fun Fact: The fungus and microbes in the soil create a network with living tree roots. The living tree would give the mycorrhizae sugars and and other nutrients, and the mycorrhizae can give the roots those things back. So, it's actually quite possible for roots that lack a tree trunk or leaves to remain alive underground for an astoundingly long time - subsisting off the nutrients that their mycorrhizae network gives back to them. Tree roots are able to keep growing for at least 7 years after the tree has been cut down. (And that's just the duration that's been recorded!)
If the roots are in the ground and HAVE started rotting, it could be a matter of: The high-carbon roots are taking up all the nitrogen in order to decompose. Additionally, the big tree likely sapped a lot of micronutrients out of the soil - which were then stored in the body of the tree that fell over, not necessarily in the roots. So, those micronutrients are now gone. One way to amend the soil would be to dig REAL DEEP, and crunch up the rotting roots & any rotting branches from the old tree with some plant-based compost, wood ash and manure in a very big hole where you want to put the new cedar tree. I'm talking AT LEAST 3ft diameter by 2ft deep, or bigger hole if you can.
Let the compost & ash & manure & ground-up wood and dirt sit for a couple seasons to grow some mycorrhizae, THEN put the new tree in that spot.
That way you'll have enriched the soil a ton, and your new sapling should have a very easy time getting established & healthy.
It's a long-term treatment, but IMO it's better to do 1 single high-effort planting rather than 3-4 low-effort plantings over several years which all die.
Remember to water young saplings frequently. Transplants are very vulnerable to drying up & dying.
|[+] grapes » Do You Choose the Right Grape Growing Bag？ (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
Any plant can be grown in a bag if it can be grown in a pot - the bag you linked to is to hold the root ball, and some soil medium around the roots. They're popular in hydroponics and growing stuff on your porch.
What I'm talking about, and what I think OP is talking about, is....
After you've grown the grape vines in whatever medium (straight in the ground, in a pot, bag, or planter), and the grape vine has flowered and started to set fruit... you can tie a bag around the grapes that are growing on the vine, to protect the fruit from disease and animals/insects who would eat the fruit. The bags tied around the growing fruit could also protect them from harsh weather like hail.
But, some fruit requires a certain amount of light to hit it, to help it ripen properly & get nice and sweet. So, if you're going to put a bag around the ripening fruit, you have to be aware of its light requirements.
|[+] trees » Type of maple? Help please! (Go to)||Drew Leather|
Anne Miller is correct ^
All types of maple can be tapped.
However, I also believe you have a sugar maple tree.
Identifying maple trees purely from their leaf shape isn't always accurate - there are other ways to tell them apart.
Silver/Water maples have a silvery or pale pastel underside to their leaves (very dramatic color difference), and they tend to grow with multiple trunks connected at the base.
Sugar maples tend to have upright single trunks. (Though may have multi-trunks if it regrew from a stump when younger) and the underside of their leaf is only very slightly lighter than the top.
Black maples have petioles (the stems that connect the leaf to the twig) with very fine hairs, like fuzz. Sugar maples have smooth petioles.
Red Maple have a very similar leaf shape to Sugar Maple. HOWEVER! Sugar Maple has smooth margins between the main points, and smooth u-shaped regions between lobe tips. Red Maple leaves have a lot of fine irregular serration around the leaf edges. (your pictures lack this)
Norway maples and Sugar Maples can have VERY similar leaves, but Norway maples have milky sap in their leaf petioles when plucked off the tree. Sugar maple lacks that milky sap.
So, I think you have sugar maple.
If you want to double check, go out and check:
1) if the underside of leaves still on the tree are dramatically lighter than the top. If yes, it may be a silver/water maple.
2) If, when you pluck a leaf off, does the leaf stem have white milky sap? If yes, it's likely a norway maple.
If you answered 'no' to both questions, it's probably a Sugar maple.
|[+] cooking » How to make winter squash molasses? (Go to)||Jay Angler|
Does anyone have an apple grinder/crusher & cider press?
You could slow-boil the squash down like Barbara described, to get that soft buttery mash, then run it through a cider press to forcefully extract the liquid & leave the dry pulp behind.
This guy DIY'd a cider press out of a car jack & a wood frame:
And if you wanted to grind down the squash before simmering to make extraction easier, maybe DIY a fruit/vegetable grinder?
|[+] grapes » Do You Choose the Right Grape Growing Bag？ (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
"The bagging cultivation of grapes"
Are you talking about bags that you put over fruit to prevent insects/birds from eating them while they continue to ripen on the vine?
If you're in a greenhouse, would bagging the grapes even be necessary?
I suppose if the greenhouse is having a disease outbreak, or isn't kept closed during the day and bugs are freely allowed in & out...
I figured using an organza wedding-favor style mesh bag, or a nylon stocking was good enough for most fruits, including grapes.
Just slip them over the bunch, tie a string around the top and wait it out. Both are reusable.
Or a waxed bakery bag if you're worried about fungal/bacterial diseases.
|[+] homestead » Air Well - collecting water from the air (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
Actually, if it's solar-powered, they could TOTALLY just be running a little refrigerator-style condenser inside there. A single solar panel has the kilowatts to run a medium-sized fridge, so if they just packed a minifridge worth of cooling-and-heating, then forced air through the cold pipes with a fan, they could use the temperature differentiation to condense water out of the air.
Then just let the melted water trickle down through a filter & mineralizer and pow! Fresh water!
That's a lot simpler then my Calcium Chloride + osmosis idea, haha~
|[+] biochar » Your handy guide to charcoal, biochar, and activated charcoal (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
I wouldn't worry too much about activating your charcoal for something like Biochar - especially en-masse!
Normal charcoal will work just fine without spending extra money and time prepping it. You can use that time creating more charcoal instead of activating it.
For making your own water filtration media, or keeping it on hand for emergency poisoning situations (Especially useful for people who keep grazing livestock and might have poisonous plants that they haven't been able to clear entirely out of the pastures) - I think having Activated Charcoal is preferable. It's more thorough, and in the case of poisoning will buy you more time in an emergency situation to get to proper medical care.
|[+] homestead » Air Well - collecting water from the air (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
My bet is a a regular filter on the fan that's drawing air in, tbh. Probably several layers of different-sized filters. It's solar-powered, so they could have additional static forces to prevent dust from moving too far down the air intake, or some sort of self-cleaning function where it exchanges the old filter for the new one, and like... vibrates the old one clean, or something like that.
They also likely have some sort of regular cleaning or filter replacement schedule you have to do to maintain it, just like any fan that brings air inside from outside.
From their explanation & diagram, it looks like The Source Global water collector is a solar-powered fan that blows across a chemical dehumidifier, plus a mini pressure-driven reverse-osmosis system (or ion-exchange filter) & mineralizer.
^ The 'water vapor condensing' part of it basically a fancier one of these, which you can buy at Menards for about $5. It's made of a top chamber with Calcium Chloride, and a fine mesh between that and the bottom chamber, where condensed brine is stored.
Calcium Chloride is deliquescent. If exposed to air, it will absorb water from the air to dissolve - becoming a clear liquid brine.
You can pull the Calcium Chloride back out of the brine using a pressure-driven filtration system through a semi-permeable membrane - a very very fine filter. This is called reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis is one of the most effective methods of removing dissolved salts (like calcium chloride) from water. The filter is so fine that (almost!) only water molecules can pass through.
It's also possible they're using an Ion-Exchange filter, using resin beads that are charged with static to exchange ions with salts containing chloride - The chloride sticks to the resin beads, and leave only the water behind. Ion-Exchange filters are found in water softeners, to remove salts and minerals from household water & replace them with sodium or potassium.
Periodically, the resin beads would need to be 'recharged', and the minerals washed off. Inexpensive initial expense to produce, but high operating costs over long-term because you need to keep buying caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) to regularly regenerate the resins...
but the reverse-osmosis filtration system would also have its costs, replacing filters & engaging a pressure pump to push the water through those fine filters. RO tanks usually operate with a pressure of 40-80 PSI, which would need the solar energy to keep up.
Could be both! Reverse-osmosis to do most of the work, the ion exchange could do the rest - both systems could fit inside that structure, since both systems also can fit under my kitchen sink. Idk the energy requirements of running both, tho.
So, once you've spent some of your harvested solar energy by turning a fan to blow air across your calcium chloride to condense.... and maybe spent a little bit of energy doing the ion-exchange electrical-driven harvesting... or perhaps spent a bit of energy to really push your brine through the RO filter.... all that's left is to mineralize!
Well, any type of heavy-duty filtration & water-purifying treatment like that is going to leave you with ONLY water molecules. It's like drinking a glass of distilled water - it'll pick up the flavor of whatever you're using to hold & transport it, or if it only touched glass it'll taste like absolutely nothing. It's bizarre. Even distilled water from the store has a faint plastic taste from its containers.
When you mineralize water, you add some minerals and salts back into it, at very small doses to add flavor (ward off plastic pipes flavor). The amount of minerals in mineralized water is negligible, and any decently varied diet will supply far more to you. It really is just for preference of taste, not health.
Just eyeballing it, I figure they probably blow the fan until all the calcium chloride (or whatever other deliquescent material they're using) is completely brined, then engage pressure (via air or a manual piston - probably air compression) to shove the water out through the RO filter, leaving the calcium chloride behind to re-crystalize out of its supersaturated solution.
Now they have pure water in a reservoir, and calcium chloride left behind to gather more water, then release the pressure and let the fan blow more air on it.
From the reservoir, the water (somehow) has some minerals added to it (And probably has a UV chamber to kill any unwanted bacteria/viruses/fungi) before it's pumped out to a storage unit for drinking.
Oh! Plus a battery, so it can charge up enough power between cycles to activate that PSI increase, and to keep the fan blowing & UV chamber lit.
Really, it's a cool device! If I had a better head for how to do math, I'd love to try to make my own from that outline. Electricity, voltage, amperage... how many batteries do you need to run an air compressor!? The numbers get garbled up in my head every time I think about it too hard. I've got a lot of physics concepts down for how it works, but I can't keep track of the numbers.
The gods handicapped me with Dyscalculia, else I'd have dethroned them by now. =\
Wise of them, I suppose.
|[+] biochar » Your handy guide to charcoal, biochar, and activated charcoal (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
Hello, fellow fans of burning stuff to make it useful!
This is meant to be a comprehensive guide to to Charcoal, Activated Charcoal, Biochar, what it all means and how to make it.
Charcoal vs Coal vs Charcoal Briquettes vs Lump Charcoal, what’s the difference?
Charcoal is the result of burning carbon-rich vegetable matter in a high temperature and low oxygen environment. Good charcoal is almost entirely pure carbon.
Coal: A combustable black or brown lump material that is mined from the ground. This coal is mostly carbon, along with various other elements like sulfur, nitrogen, and hydrogen. Coal is formed when dead plant matter decays into peat and is converted into coal over millions of years inside the earth’s crust. Coal burns very hot and is often used in metallurgy (though chemical transference from coal into the metal is a risk), but its use and extraction is extremely damaging both to human health and the environment at large.
Charcoal Briquettes: This is made from a combination of several materials. Generally, wood particles, sawdust, and chemical additives like limestone, starch, sodium nitrate, paraffin wax, and petroleum solvents. These all help with ignition, binding ingredients together, and artificially whitening the ash left behind. Match-Light or Instant-light varieties of Charcoal Briquettes may also have a hydrocarbon sprayed on the surface to encourage quick ignition. If you’re trying to be organic or ‘permaculture’, this is not what you want.
There ARE some options for “natural” briquettes that use hardwood sawdust and cornstarch as a binder. You gotta read the ingredients list & pay attention to what’s inside.
Briquettes are generally square, rectangular, spherical, cylinder or pillow-shaped.
Pure Wood Charcoal, also called Lump Charcoal: This is just chunks of plant material that has been made into charcoal through heating. The wood is unprocessed (not sawdust, no binders). It’s normally more expensive than Briquettes, but you can make your own pretty easily, through the methods described below.
For the rest of this post, I will be using the word “Charcoal’ to specifically mean ‘Plant-based Charcoal’
Burning Wood vs Making Charcoal
While burning wood in a regular well-ventilated campfire, oxygen enters and oxidizes the carbon, turning it into ash. Ash is primarily oxidized carbon.
At high temperatures, violate compounds such as water, methane, and other molecules are also oxidized (broken down), or are evaporated out. In general, an organic molecule will break down & oxidize (burn) at a lower temperature than pure carbon.
Even heavy metals begin to vaporize & become airborne at temperatures where charring occurs, so if you know you’re dealing with material that has been treated with lead, cadmium, mercury, etc, please DO NOT breathe in the smoke of vapors of that fire. Many substances have a vaporization point (becoming airborne in vapors) at a much lower temperature than its true boiling/evaporation point. (Where the material itself turns from a liquid to a gas.)
So, if you want to make CHARCOAL instead of ASH, you just need to take plant matter, limit the amount of oxygen that can touch it while hot, and get strong fire going around it for about a half-hour.
While it's experiencing high temperatures and low airflow, the carbon doesn’t oxidize. It doesn’t turn to ash. You still want to allow a little bit of air to escape, so those expanding gas compounds of non-carbon material wiggling free of their bonds due to the heat can get out as smoke and steam. (And not explode your container)
Charcoal can be made by making a pile of plant matter and covering it with a layer of dirt before igniting.
It can be made in a specialty kiln.
It can be made by placing a metal barrel of wood (with a few holes punched in it) inside a bonfire.
It can be made by putting wood inside a metal lidded pot, and put inside a small campfire.
Charcoal can be made with any carbon-rich plant material. All of these materials can be made into charcoal via the methods described above:
Hardwood or Softwood split logs, dry pine needles, pinecones, seed husks, branches, twigs, shavings, woody vines, reeds, raspberry canes, dried stems, dried leaves, corn husks, dried corn cobs, coconut shells, dried grass clippings, dried moss, peat, dried palm leaves, quite literally any plant that is considered ‘brown’ for the sake of composting can also be made into charcoal.
(Note: please don’t burn or char poison ivy, poison oak, or other obviously-poisonous plants. Just like heavy metal and herbicides can become airborne with heating, so can the rash-causing compounds. You don’t want to breathe in aerosolized Urushiol (the chemical in poison ivy that gives you a horrible rash can also be carried & affect you through the smoke & vapors).
Heat required to turn plant matter into charcoal
In Feurdean’s experiments on charcoal production and the effect temperature had on biomass loss during charring; Leaves, sphagnum moss, and tree trunk wood produced the lowest amounts of charcoal per unit biomass during charring, and lost their mass more rapidly with increasing temperatures. Leaves of heathland shrubs, forbs, and ferns, as well as fern stems with leaves produced the most charcoal per unit biomass, and retained the greatest mass at higher temperatures.
Fuels rich in cellulose and hemicellulose, like leaves and ferns, were able to turn to charcoal at lower temperatures on average, BUT had a narrow temperature range before turning to ash. (200-400 degrees Celsius / 400-750 degrees F)
Fuels rich in lignin (like wood), turned to charcoal at a wider range of temperatures. (160-900 degrees C / 320-1,650 degrees F)
So, if you want to turn non-wood plant matter into charcoal, you'll want lower temperatures & careful temperature control - while wood charring is far less fussy.
Source: Experimental production of charcoal morphologies to discriminate fuel source and fire type, by Angelica Feurdean from the Department of Physical Geography, Goethe University, Germany. (Revised January 2021)
Because of the low temperatures required for grass & leaves to turn to charcoal, and the ease of acquiring those things throughout the year, it could be an attractive source of charcoal to create biochar for a home gardener, or otherwise a useful way to put huge piles of dropped leaves to use.
It can also be a reliable source of charcoal for crushing & turning into your own custom briquettes, by adding a binder. (You can mix flour & water with crushed charcoal to make a thick paste, then put into a mold or an egg carton to make DIY briquettes.)
What about Biochar?
There are two commonly-used definitions of 'Biochar'.
The first, used by many gardening folks & seen here on Permies, is 'Charcoal that has already been inoculated with nutrients, so that as it breaks down in the soil it acts as an organic slow-release fertilizer.' This can be made by dumping charcoal into compost bins, into compost tea, or mixing it with manure.
Basically, treating charcoal or activated charcoal as a molecular pantry.
You 'Charge' it, or 'Stock' it, and turn it into biochar by soaking charcoal in nutrients that microflora crave. Those molocules adhere to the porous surface of the charcoal, until the charcoal breaks down.
This stockpiles nutrients in a place that won't rinse away as easily as free-floating molecules would.
The Other Definition
The other definition... actually means exactly the same thing, but approaches it from the opposite direction.
Instead of "Charcoal or Activated Charcoal that is inoculated for use in soil amendment" being the definition, professional biosystems engineers, and plant & soil scientists separate Biochar from regular Charcoal by 'Intended use' and 'material origin'- that is, because the charcoal is intended to be used as a soil amendment AND it is purely carbonated plant matter, it is biochar.
Wood Lump Charcoal, Charcoal made from coconut husks or other plant matter, and Biochar are all carbon-rich solids from plants that are put through pyrolysis. Chemically, physically, they are the same.
The main difference is LINGUISTIC.
Most people think of wood-based charcoals when you say 'Charcoal', and 'Biochar' more broadly includes other plant matter.
Additionally, 'Charcoal' colloquially includes items like charcoal briquettes, which may have petroleum additives and are not appropriate for soil remediation.
So, the difference between 'Biochar' and 'Charcoal' is not a chemical one, but rather a language choice for clarification & specification: Biochar is purely carbonized plant matter (charcoal), which is intended to be used in soil remediation.
Biochar is NOT charcoal briquettes, or any other charcoal-based product which includes processed fillers or synthetic additives.
This version of 'Biochar' does not imply that nutrient inoculation has already been performed, only that it is intended to be used for that in the future.
What about Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is to Charcoal is like popped popcorn is to corn kernels. It’s more porous, ‘fluffier’, and has a larger surface area.
Activated carbon is a much more powerful molecular binder - while Charcoal is a magnetic pantry to hold onto molecules, Activated Charcoal is more like a supermagnet with an attached garage. It is more aggressive about sucking up other molecules & has more storage space to keep them held.
Note: Charcoal and Activated Charcoal/Activated Carbon ADsorbs things. It doesn’t ABsorb things.
When something is ADsorbed, particles stick to the surface due to molecular forces like positive/negative charges. A magnet ADsorbs iron particles.
When something is ABsorbed, the particles are soaked into the matrix of the material. A sponge ABsorbs water.
How to Activate Charcoal
Activated Charcoal (also called Activated Carbon) is made by EITHER heating charcoal in temperatures exceeding 600 degrees C (1,100 degrees F) while in a no-oxygen environment (This requires using a special chamber where you can heat up your charcoal in the presence of something like Argon instead of a regular mix of air to prevent any oxidation), OR crushing normal charcoal to a powder, adding an strong acid, strong base, or salt, then heating it again to temps between 250-600 C (400 - 1,100 F) <-- much more accessible!
Recipe for activating charcoal:
> Pickle Crisp - Calcium Chloride - a type of salt. You can buy it in big tubs at most places that sell pickling materials.
Step 1: Make charcoal. Then powder charcoal by smashing with a hammer or using mortar and pestle.
Step 2: Be careful, this step generates heat. In a STAINLESS STEEL (not aluminum) bowl; Make a 25% solution of calcium chloride with water, at a 1:3 ratio.
If you have 600 ml of water you want 200 grams of calcium chloride. You want to make enough of the solution to completely cover the powdered charcoal.
Using tapwater is fine, because the amount of trace minerals in tapwater is basically nothing compared to how much the carbon can adsorb.
Step 3: Add your solution to your powdered carbon, a little bit at a time. You may not use all of your solution - once it reaches a thick paste consistency (like peanut butter), stop adding more solution and just mix the paste until smooth. Get out all the lumps.
Step 4: Cover the bowl with a towel and let it sit untouched for 24 hours to allow the chemical reaction to continue.
Step 5: Drain off the liquid using a coffee filter or very fine muslin cloth. Put the sludge back into your metal pot.
Step 6: Take your pot of nearly-activated-carbon, put the lid back on, and put it into a fire that exceeds 200 degrees C (400 degrees F) - a normal campfire should do the trick. Keep it on the fire with the lid on until it stops steaming, and then take it off to let it cool - don't open the lid until it's completely cool.
Congrats, you’ve activated your charcoal!
When ingested, Charcoal and Activated Charcoal will ALSO bind to medicines in your gut, along with helpful vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from our food instead of letting the body absorb it. Our bowels pass the charcoal much faster than the charcoal takes to release those nutrients and medicines back to us.
DO NOT ingest activated charcoal within 48 hours of taking, or expecting to take, any type of necessary medicine. Especially antidepressants and anti-inflammatory medications. The charcoal will likely deactivate & adsorb it - or at the very least make it less effective than that dose should be.
Charcoal and Activated Charcoal is not absorbed by the bloodstream. It stays in the digestive tract until excreted via bowel movement. This means it has no ability to remove alcohol from the bloodstream.
Well, under what circumstances CAN I use charcoal on people or animals?
As of July 2022, there are no scientific studies that support the use of charcoal or activated charcoal in facial care, beyond its exfoliant (rough texture) properties.
Its ability to ‘remove toxins’ has been studied several times, and there is currently no evidence to support that property when used in topical skin creams.
There are also no published studies that support the use of charcoal in whitening teeth. (But there is evidence to show that the black powder can settle into tiny cracks and pores in the enamel and darken the tooth)
Charcoal is not a cure-all. It can't cure or clear the effects of acid, iron overdose, lithium, alkali, alcohol, or chemicals from gasoline.
For some people who are more sensitive to it, or if you take a very large dose in a very short time, charcoal can cause vomiting & constipation. While there is no 'toxicity', you can have adverse effects from administering it. (In the same way a glass marble is not poisonous, but if you eat several marbles your gut may feel uncomfortable until they pass out the other end)
Other Uses for charcoal
Activated Charcoal filtering chlorine, heavy metals, and other substances from tap water.
Whole charcoal sticks can be used as a writing utensil.
Powder-ground charcoal + Drying Oil (like linseed) = Black oil paint.
Powder-ground charcoal + water + Vinegar = Black Ink (For use in calligraphy or watercolor. Shape before using)
Powder-ground charcoal + sulfur + saltpeter = Black Powder
Charcoal + compost/nutrients/compost tea/urine = Biochar. ← if you want your biochar to be able to hold way more nutrients, then use activated charcoal instead of normal charcoal.
Note on Calcium Chloride regarding its use in organic farming & activating charcoal:
You can extract Calcium Chloride by applying hydrochloric Acid to Limestone.
Stomach acid (found in mammalian stomachs) is hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid is also naturally occurring around volcanoes and hot springs, as a result of hydrogen chlorine gas dissolving into water. So, it's also possible to find naturally-occurring Calcium Chloride where volcanic-produced hydrochloric acid meets limestone.
Calcium Chloride is commonly used in canning foods to keep them crunchy, as an electrolyte in sports drinks and bottled water, and in cheesemaking to restore the balance between calcium and casein protein. It is used in marine aquariums as a bioavailable calcium supplement for carbonite-shelled animals like mollusks.
However, major manufacturers of Calcium Chloride use several different synthetic chemicals manufacture it en-masse. Because of this, NOSB voted to allow Calcium Chloride ONLY if natural food-grade sources are used, OR it is used specifically as a foliar spray at minimum levels to treat calcium deficiencies.
Since I am recommending using food-grade sources, and only small amounts are used, this should be in accordance with NOSB guidelines.
(Source: National Organic Standards Board Technical Advisory Panel Review from 2001, page 2)
|[+] biochar » pyrolysis as remediation of persistent herbicides (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
To get you started: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/81/Processes_in_the_thermal_degredation_of_organic_matter.svg
So, when you light something on fire, there's a bunch of chemical mechanisms happening that are driven by application of HEAT and whether or not there is an OXIDIZER present.
Evaporation/Vapourization is entirely driven by heat. When matter is heated enough, the bonds between the molocules (and eventually the atoms, hello Magma) wiggle free and turn it into a liquid - and then a gas. They float away on the wind.
Oxidation is when oxygen can attach to the molecule & alter it. Oxidation is a big driver of decay, even within our body. "Antioxidants" are important in our diet because it fights off oxidation of our essential molecules and cellular structures. This is the same for any organic matter. If you apply enough oxygen & heat, then not only will the molecules/atoms become wigglier, but oxygen is able to attach to it easier.
When a house burns down, aside from the heat itself, the airborne evaporated vapours and the gaseous oxidized chemicals are the most deadly and cancerous things a firefighter can expose themselves to.
MOST organic molecules will break down or vapourize at the temperatures required to create Charcoal from organic matter.
Salts and Minerals will take a higher heat, OR will require the application of an alkelai or an acid + heat to chemically react with it & change the bonds. (Vinegar or Lye)
Acids & Alkelis are harder to apply to material in-bulk, but they can be made organically (Vinegar from fermented fruits, Lye from hardwood ash boiled with rainwater).
The long-lasting herbicides you're worried about are probably only long-lasting in normal outdoor conditions. Applying heat, or heat + big pH change should be able to do the trick. If you give me some names, I might be able to help you track down more specific info.
I do know that glyphosate, Roundup's key ingredient, is violate when exposed to heat & would readily break down if you charred it.
Other salts, like Aminocyclopyrachlor Potassium Salt, I have to look up.
It looks like it isn't reactive enough to degrade completely in a hot-compost pile, though those generally only get up to 105-115 degrees F. Charring temperatures greatly exceeds that.
According to the safety data sheet for Aminocyclopyrachlor, when it's on fire firefighters are advised to NOT spray it with a water jet as it will spread the fire. This tells me that, at high temperatures, the chemical becomes reactive to water. http://cdn.chemservice.com/product/msdsnew/External/English/N-13826%20English%20SDS%20US.pdf
The 'Initial boiling point and boiling range' is set at 810 degrees F.
Charcoal is formed at around 750 degrees F, upward of 900 degrees. Past 1,000 degrees F, the char itself can ignite.
The Safety Data Sheet also shows under 'Incompatible Materials', Strong Oxidizing Agents are listed.
One example of a strong oxidizing agent is hydrogen peroxide.
Check the Safety Data Sheet of each of those herbicides. They should have things like boiling point (the temp where evaporation/vaporization occurs) and materials that could possibly react violently or significantly degrade the chemical's efficacy.
It also lists if it's explosive, and if the vapors or skin contact is harmful.
You'd be able to get rid of Aminocyclopyrachlor specifically using charring-levels of heat, BUT you'd have to remain VERY FAR AWAY from that fire, because the vapors are going to be toxic as hell.
You could also try dousing it with BULK amounts of hydrogen peroxide, OR dump the soil into a huge tank of water & run an electric current through it to promote rapid oxidation.
I haven't crunched the numbers to see what chemicals you'd get off those reactions, so I don't really recommend them.
In conclusion: Yes, charring the cow patties properly should create herbicide-free char.
HOWEVER!!! Do not breathe in the smoke or vapors, and thoroughly wash yourself with soap after exposure to the smoke/vapors if you have serious concerns about herbicide being present.
|[+] gardening for beginners » Vegetables for Learning Gardening (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
Beans are always my go-to beginner gardener plant recommendation.
I recommend Pole-style Pinto Beans because I like the 'surprise them with overwhelming success' for someone who is just starting out and has no idea what they're doing.
Find a spot in full sun: that is, for at least 6 hours a day, there are no shadows being cast on that spot from roofline, trees, fences, etc.
Build or find a sturdy trellis for the vine to grow up.
In a deep pot with holes in the bottom, or a hole you dug in the ground, fill it to the top with a mixture of 1:1 dirt and compost
Put the trellis next to it.
Plant 3-4 beans, so that they're 3-4 inches apart and about 1 inch down in the soil.
Stick your finger in the dirt every third day. If it's dry up to your knuckle, water the plants.
Easy, straightforward instructions.
Pole-style Pinto beans tend to sprout fast, get a lot of vegetative growth, and then spit out waves and waves of pods you can eat right off the vine, stir-fry, or let sit on the vine until they're naturally dried & ready to store.
You can also harvest the fast-growing young vines, and stir-fry or roast them like asparagus. The leaves are also edible when cooked, tasting akin to kale.
|[+] gardening for beginners » Shade- tolerant veggie varieties (Go to)||Anna Morong|
Anything which you primarily eat the leaves or roots of, instead of the fruit. Fruit-producing is what usually needs the most sun.
Salad greens: Arugula, lettuce, sorrel, endive, spinach, collards, kale, mustard greens swiss chard... any of those 'mixed greens spring mix' seed packets.
Roots/Stem Base: Beets, Carrots, Potatoes, Radishes, Rutabaga, Turnips, radicchio, Kohlrabi
Flowers: Broccoli, Cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage
Herbs: Mint, chervil, chives, coriander/cilantro, oregano, parsley, thyme, oregano
Rhubarb and Asparagus also seems to tolerate partial shade/dappled shade, but they will be slow to mature and so you may not be able to harvest from them for a few years, until they get well-established.
While none of them like DEEP SHADE, I've had decent luck with most of these growing under the edge of a tree canopy.
|[+] seeds and breeding » Extracting apple / pear and fig seeds (Go to)||Gemma Boyd|
If you can get your hands on cider press, you can smash & grind apples and pears in bulk to make into cider - drink it fresh or ferment into hard cider.
Cider presses have a very rough/loose grind - it very rarely damages the hard seeds.
To harvest fig seeds, acquire a fresh fig, cut it in half, scoop out the pulp and seeds, and soak them for a day or two. Potentially viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the container. The rest can be discarded. The viable seed has already absorbed moisture and will be ready to crack and germinate quickly.
Most of the fresh figs bought in stores or produced by backyard orchardists have never been pollinated and do not have viable seeds.
remember: Seeds from fruit trees will NOT be a replica of the parent plant. They will be a mix of the parent & whatever cross-pollinated with them.
If you want a copy of your trees, you need to take cuttings & root them.
|[+] introductions » Greetings from southern Maryland (Go to)||Kim Goodwin|
I was about to add that, yeah. Since bamboo grows so fast, AND it doesn't re-sprout from the cut stems (looking at you, Wisteria), leaving an area to grow for regular harvesting of leaves & woodchips could be very helpful for mass composting & mulching. Bamboo has much lower nitrogen drawdown compared to wood, especially when applied fresh.
In another thread, some folks were talking about the solid protein content in Bamboo leaves, and how the leaves are pretty decent evergreen forage for several domestic animals overwinter.
Dried & split bamboo also burns fast & hot. It's excellent kindling, and can be harvested in bulk very quickly. Turn your bamboo forest into a massive firewood stockpile.
Regarding Harvesting: most people I've observed who work with bamboo full-time prefer to use a machete or loppers. Fast hacking cuts just to topple the culm, or a rough snip, and using a saw for later precision work turning it into something. Less work per-stalk, since you have to go through a LOT of culms to clear bamboo
If you're just looking to enrich the soil & chop down the bamboo, you COULD mulch all the culms you cut down, and make the whole place a giant pile of bamboo mulch haha~ Get a few truckloads of manure in there, and you've got yourself a lot of compost!
Cons of keeping the bamboo:
Thirsty bois. Bamboo thickets tend to smother out other plant life within the root zone, not just due to the shade and thick mat of roots, but because they're aggressive water-suckers and other plants can't keep up.
Fast & invasive growth - you probably have running bamboo. True clumping bamboo wouldn't have spread like that unless it had decades and decades. So, if you don't get rid of it entirely, you're going to keep dealing with it year after year.
So, for this specific type of bamboo - getting rid if it all is probably the best choice in the long-run, BUT you still have lots of options to put it to use as you tear it down =)
|[+] biochar » Bamboo As Feedstock? (Go to)||Phil Stevens|
Bamboo is great for making compost from the leaves, and timber from the canes. It would also be an excellent source of charcoal.
Bamboo is notoriously low in nutrient value from a digestion standpoint, so would be considered primarily 'roughage' for most agricultural animals - not something that they could survive off of easily.
|[+] cooking » What can I make with green tomatoes? (Go to)||Luda Lavrentyeva|
Green tomato curry.
Green tomato-based salsa
Fried green tomato
Make green tomato jam
Make pasta sauce with them
Anything you can do with tomato, you can do with green tomato - the flavor palette is just going to be more on the side of sour&acidic rather than sweet&acidic.
Adding sugar to sour green tomatoes is quite tasty imo
|[+] straw bale house » Hay vs Straw - Why we use straw and not hay for building things. (Go to)||John Duffy|
I see the question a lot 'can I use hay instead of straw?' or 'WHY do people keep saying to use straw instead of hay?'
I figured I'd do a write-up.
If anyone want to add to this, please feel free!
I am defining 'Hay' here as 'Grasses and other green plants that were cut own while still green, left to dry, and then gathered.'
I am defining 'Straw' here as 'Grasses, usually cereal grains, who were allowed to mature and dry while standing - the stalks are cut, seeds gathered from it, and stalks left behind to be gathered.'
Properties of Hay vs Straw (in consideration for use as building material)
Timothy Hay & Straw may be made from the same plant, but they're gathered at different points of maturity, so they have different strengths/weaknesses.
Higher nitrogen content - if the hay gets wet (even from dew condensation) they will begin to deteriorate much faster than straw.
Contains edible softer green tissues - animals like rodents and bugs will burrow through it, seeking food, defecating, initiating decomposition.
Edible to larger animals - horses/cows/goats WILL try to eat it, if it's exposed.
Since it was collected green, the grass stems in hay have thinner walls and poorer tensile strength, compared to straw.
High non-grass content will lower building material usefulness. The long fibers in strands of grass create a sturdier woven internal structure compared to the snap/crumble breaking pattern of legume plants.
High-quality hay is cut while still green, and BEFORE it has gone to seed, so good-quality hay should have very few, if any seeds. However, if there was plentiful growth of other species of plants throughout the field other plant species may have already gone to seed, so weeds will happily sprout when conditions are favorable. (This is why some people get LOADs of weeds sprouting in their bales when used as mulch, while others don't have that problem)
Modern hay is often collected with a machine that roughly chops down the blades of grass. This method creates many uneven pieces, and packs them together with twine.
These smaller pieces are more malleable than straw, so when baled, they will be further warped/crushed.
Baled hay is more likely to collect water, rather than let it run off, compared to scythed hay or baled straw. Collecting water = decomposition. If enough hay is stacked then decomposition creates heat that cannot escape, and the rising temps = hay combustion & fire.
The grass is allowed to grow tall, and then cut at the base with a scythe, so only 1 cut on the stem is made.
The hay is allowed to dry, and then used loose or bundled so that the stems are oriented in the same direction.
Or tossed up into haystacks, where the long strands are angled downward around the outside to help water run off and not penetrate much deeper into the stack.
Thoroughly dry hay can be somewhat hydrophobic, but it will begin absorbing moisture FASTER than straw.
This is the most-similar to straw, and can be used as thatching in a pinch, but is still weaker than straw, since its stem was not allowed to mature/thicken and dry before harvesting. The insides were still soft, thin, & transporting plant juices when cut.
Low nitrogen, high carbon/cellulose.
Allowed to grow to full maturity, seed, and then die back, straw stems empty of plant juices on their own and leave behind thick, hard structures of dry cellulose.
This means straw has more tensile strength - it resists breaking & bending.
This also means straw is more hydrophobic, being completely dried out already. It will shed water from its surface more readily, rather than soaking it up
The seeds have already been removed, so mice/bugs are less attracted to burrowing through it (aside from the insulative properties)
Larger animals are not attracted to eating dry straw, due to the toughness and low nutritional content.
Because of the low nitrogen content, decomposition is more likely to be fungal - not bacterial. This is much slower, and mycelium may assist in preserving the structure for a little while longer, even as the straw itself begins to fail.
If you can scythe your straw instead of cutting it with a combine, the fibers will be longer, and you'll have fewer smaller pieces creating weak points.
Check out historic thatching in Britain for ideas on outdoor-stored hay and straw : Link
Hay makes a great compost & soil builder. It adds nutrients and soaks up water more than straw. It rots down faster to build great soil. Fungi and bacteria both love it. Hooray to feeding the soil! However, that means it decomposes quickly when exposed to small amounts of moisture, and the green stems attract things that want to eat it.
Straw makes a great building material. It's more hydrophobic, and has been used for building stuff for centuries. It doesn't break down as easily, and has a higher tensile strength. Not many animals enjoy eating dry straw.
|[+] straw bale house » Let's talk about hay bales... (Go to)||Greg Payton|
For composting : This, but as big as you want it.
Growing anything in the hay will make it decompose faster, as you need to allow water to get to the roots, to let it grow.
Adding plants and water shortens the lifespan of a wall down to 1-2 years, likely on the shorter side.
For slowest decomposition, keep it as dry as possible.
This is one option: with one layer of bales stacked up 2-3 high around the edges, and up the back. A lower roof and wider sq footage may be more effective if you have larger animals - or a few of these built next to each other in a row. (If you have wind storms, extra bracing inside the hoop may be needed)
Using a tarp directly over a haybale stack or structure is not advised, as the tarp will hold in moisture and encourage condensation.
You could also make a yurt-like structure for a wider footprint and more stable walls. Circles are less likely to collapse than squares.
These folks are installing extra drainage under their straw roundhouse so it breaks down slower, and thread bamboo through the bales to provide extra support for stacking them higher. I've also seen people use whippy sticks/unwanted saplings for this step - essentially 'sewing' the bales together.
Or you could shingle it with reclaimed wood...
|[+] finishes » Making your nice finishing oils go further with the power of soybeans (Go to)||John C Daley|
So, you've made something out of reclaimed wood.
Maybe it's a fence made from reclaimed wood, or shingles for your goat's shelter, made from free pallets.
You're looking for something to waterproof your wood, to make your shit last.
When you're using reclaimed woods, they're thirsty and soak up oils like a sponge.
Maybe... you don't want to use up all your nice oil on pallet wood.
Welcome to iodine values.
Iodine Value is a direct proportion of mono-and poly-unsaturated bonds within a fatty acid. (A fat or oil.)
IV is defined as the number of grams of iodine absorbed by 100g of fat.
It is a measure of the degree of UNsaturation.
Fully hydrogenated oils and waxes have an IV of less than 1. They're extremely stable. Even when exposed to air, they will not react to form polymer structures or oxidize.
Oils/Fats with an IV below 100 are known as 'Non-Drying Oils' - they will resist hardening, and will retain their slippery or liquid quality
Beeswax has an IV in the range of 6-16. While it's extremely stable when exposed to air, it may still harden a little over VERY long periods of time when exposed to open air. I'm talking a century or more.
Oils/Fats with an IV above 130 are known as 'Drying Oils.' - When left out in a warm place with plenty of ventilation, drying oils will react with the chemicals in the air and form those polymer structures - hardening into a solid. Drying oils are very suitable for using in oil paints - and for treating wood for waterproofing.
The initial hardening will usually take 2-5 days, and then it will continue to cure for up to 6 months. A hardened coat can be picked up and manipulated, but it should not have heavy things placed onto it until fully cured, or the oil may also stick to the heavy object.
A higher IV score means it cures faster. The oil readily reacts with oxygen and other components in the air to form hard polymer structures.
Remember: the higher the IV, the faster it hardens/cures when exposed to air & heat.
Walnut oil is sold as a drying oil, but takes a bit longer. Its IV is 132-162 - an average of 147
Safflower Seed oil is likewise sold as a drying oil. Its IV is 136-148 - an average of 142
Poppyseed oil's Iodine number is 140-158 - an average of 149
Tung Oil is 160 - 175 - an average of 167
Pure (raw) Linseed oil is around 155-205 - an average of 180
Boiled Linseed oil is 170-204 - an average of 187
Chia Seed oil is 209-211 - our highest IV oil with an average sitting at 210.
I would like to introduce:
Often sold as generic 'Vegetable oil' for a humble $8 per gallon.
Soybean oil's IV, is 124-139. An average IV of 131.5 - It scraped in as a 'drying oil' by the skin of its teeth in Iodine Values, but generally isn't considered one because the dry time is longer than a week.
Soybean oil already has an established place in the paint & varnish industry. Link Link2
While it's rarely used on its own due to the slow dry times, it was often blended with other faster-drying (Higher-IV) oils to bulk them up without reducing the overall IV much.
Making your nice oil go further
So, let's say you have some boiled linseed oil. Very nice, it cost you $45 for 1 gallon.
You then buy 1 gallon of soybean oil for $8.
If you mix them together 1:1, you'll end up with 2 gallons of oil with an IV of approximately 159
Mix them 2:1 and you'll end up with an oil with an IV of approximately 145 - an average IV that is 3 points higher than Safflower Seed's average of 142.
So, you'll end up with 3 gallons of an 145 IV oil, and you'll have only spent approximately $61 (plus tax)
Downside: That oil coating will probably take between 4 and 7 days to dry. You'll want to do this when there's no rain for the next week or so.
For VERY thirsty woods, like reclaimed woods, mixing in soybean oil could help stretch the waterproofing protection without blitzing through all your nice oil.
Now.... will these calculations hold up in real life? Will the final oil be up to your standards of dry time and curing strength?
Only one way to find out!
(Maybe try it with smaller amounts of oil first, rather than gallons at a time...)
|[+] straw bale house » Let's talk about hay bales... (Go to)||Greg Payton|
Sounds like you want to dig into making a Silage Pit.
It’s usually dug in dry, sloping land (avoiding ground where water will pool up from the water table, or surface runoff into your pit)
Once silage pit is dug, it’s covered with a plastic sheet to cap it, then covered with earth to ensure a good air seal + pack it down a bit.
Silage can be made with anywhere from 30% to 75% moisture content - so you can mix dry hay and fresh green hay together to make a lower-moisture silage.
Well-maintained, well-sealed, and well-packed, silage can last for up to 3 years.
Biggest CON with my suggestion:
You gotta BLEND the dry hay and green forage for this to work. So, you’d be taking apart the hay you already baled, scattering it in a green field and then harvesting it again - cutting the greens and packing everything into your silage pit. (no drying - you want it green, and haybale shapes would make ) air pockets inside your pit.
You may be able to scatter the hay right before a rainstorm, and gather the wet hay and green forage for a very damp material that will easily compress.
Just dousing the dry hay with water could easily lead to a spontaneous combustion fire in large volumes, since it’s hard to pack dry hay down tight enough to shift it from aerobic (heat-producing) to anaerobic (cold fermenting)
The goal is to smush the silage down and suffocate it so the aerobic composting bacteria eat all the oxygen before they get too hot, and then choke/die.
Not adding enough greens could give you the same issue with hot composting instead of a cold ferment.
So, it’s risky, and a lot of work.
Also you have to dig a big pit, or have an empty silage silo just laying around
And you have to get used to working with silage to feed animals.
Second option: bale planting.
Hay does compost very rapidly, and is a self-fertilizing growing medium once it starts composting.
Set aside a spot for growing a crop of food.
Pack the dry bales in wide rows, with as narrow paths between them as you can. You want to minimize airflow around surfaces, so get the bales really tight next to each other.
Soak the bales.
Once it’s thoroughly soaked with water, (rainstorms are helpful) let sit for 2-3 weeks to hot compost for a bit.
You can now plant directly in the bales, as deep as you want.
Hay composts itself, acting both as a water-absorbing mulch and fertilizer as the hay has far more nitrogen than straw.
Pros: A lot less extra processing work, and since they’re open to the air and only 1 bale deep they can’t get enough stored heat to combust.
Wherever you stick them will have AWESOME soil next year.
Perfect for an area that gets waterlogged when rainy - the crop will have loads of water as the hay soaked it up, but won’t drown, since it’s raised up.
Cons: extra airflow can make the hay dry out faster around the edges, so a drought-resistant crop is probably a good idea
Crops made EASY with hay bales as a growing substrate:
Potatoes - no digging required. No risk of accidentally cutting the potato with a spade. When they’re ready to harvest just break apart the bales and scoop out clean potatoes. Just make sure that initial sprouting potato is buried DEEP in the bale.
Pole or bush Beans - very easy to spear sticks into the bales to make no-cost trellises for them to climb.
Squash - like zucchini, gourd, acorn, winter or summer squash. I’m currently growing various squash in hay bales and they are taking over everything.
Tomato - pick a drought tolerant species, but they seem to love growing in hay. (Though they’re hungry and may need a bit of extra compost/manure on top of what the hay provides)
Sell bales at a discount on somewhere like Craigslist or Facebook marketplace, and tell people you charge x$ per mile traveled for deliveries, but they can pick it up themselves for free if they arrange a time to come over.
I’ve also seen hay used as a temporary winter shelter for livestock - stacking it up into walls, not worrying as they were exposed to precipitation because they were only 2 bales thick - not enough to combust.
Or stacking the bales up into 3 tall walls and 1 low wall - a composter. Throw your compostables in and the walls will also compost over time. You could plant the walls with strawberries or beans or something, to give it a dual purpose
You could donate the hay to a nearby rescue organization who cares for horses or cows.
Then write the donation off on your taxes
|[+] vegan food » How to grow and make tofu, seitan and veat. (Go to)||John Weiland|
Tofu is made from soybean curd which has been pressed into a block shape, then stored in a brine.
To make soybean curd:
1. Grow soybeans (A LOT of them)
2. Harvest the beans
3. Remove from their pods
4. Soak the soybeans in water overnight
5. Remove the hull from each soybean
6. Puree the bean and with clean water until it's 'soymilk' - a liquid emulsion
7. Strain it to make sure all solids are removed (in case you missed a seed hull or two) - but keep the liquid
8. Bring to a boil and skim off foam (about 5-7 mins)
9. Lower to a gentle simmer (about 20 mins), stirring gently, then take off the heat
10. Dissolve the coagulant of your choice in a cup of warm water - the MOMENT it's completely dissolved, begin pouring into the stovetop soymilk.
11. Gently stir the milk & coagulant for about 1-2 minutes.
12. Allow the mixture to sit undisturbed for 15-25 minutes.
While the mixture sits, small white curds will separate from amber colored liquid.
13. Once the process of curd-forming is complete, transfer the curds into a molding container lined with cheesecloth or a similar fabric.
14. Fold the fabric over the curds and place a small weight on top to begin pressing out the liquid. Allow the mixture to be pressed by the weight for 20-30 minutes or until it holds together.
15. Remove the block of tofu from the mold.
16. Store in clean, salty water until you're ready to eat it~
Gypsum OR Liquid Nigari / Nigari Flakes / Epsom salts (Magnesium Chloride)
Gypsum tends to act faster and results in a firmer tofu.
Freezing the tofu and thawing it again before cooking will help it be denser/meatier/absorb more flavors.
One pound of dried soybeans can yield up to 20 small blocks of tofu.
National average yield per acre is about 50 bushels per acre.
1 bushel of soybeans = 60 pounds
so 1 Acre of soybeans is 3,000 lbs of soybeans
or 60,000 tofu blocks (and a LOT of water)
If you had a 100 sq ft garden (10ft by 10 ft) and ONLY planted soybeans, and got an ok yield, you'd get about 6.8 lbs of soybeans, or 137 small tofu blocks.
(remember: husks and hulls don't count here. We're only looking at unshelled beans)
You can use soybeans, or almost any bean, grain, or large unshelled seed to make tempeh.
Making tempeh is a process of controlled fermentation. The beans are inoculated with a starter culture that contains Rhizopus mold spores (either Rhizopus oligosporus or Rhizopus oryzae), and then fermented at a warm temperature. As the mycelium grows, it binds the beans into a dense, white cake.
Tempeh should be made in a vented container with the beans lightly packed and no more than 1 inch deep. The vents must be large enough to allow for air circulation, yet not so large that the beans dry out.
In order for the mycelium to grow, the beans must be kept at a temperature between 85° and 90°F for 24 to 48 hours. If the temperature is not warm enough, the tempeh spores may not grow and you may get unwanted bacteria. Conversely, if it is too hot, the spores may die.
1. Soak the beans overnight
2. Remove the hull & split the beans in half if they're large
3. Drain the beans, transfer them to a large pot, and cover by 2 inches with fresh water. Bring to a boil.
4. Skim off and discard any foam or hulls that rise to the surface.
5. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender (about 45 minutes)
6. Drain the beans.
7. Spread them out on two towel-lined baking sheets and pat them dry.
8. Let the beans cool to below body temperature.
9. Transfer the beans to a clean, dry bowl. Sprinkle the vinegar over the beans and mix well. (to help prevent unwanted bacterial growth)
10. Sprinkle the tempeh starter over the beans and mix for about a minute to distribute evenly.
11. Put the beans in their containers.
12. Place the bags in the incubator. The temperature must be between 85°F and 90°F for the next 24 to 48 hours, so periodically check to make sure the temperature is consistent.
13. Between 12 and 24 hours you should start to see some white mycelium growing on the beans. You may want to lower the heat source because the beans will start generating their own heat as the mold grows
14. Depending on your conditions, the tempeh may take up to 48 hours total. The mycelium will continue to thicken, forming a white layer around the beans and binding them into a dense, firm cake. The tempeh is done when the entire surface is covered with dense, white mycelium (some black or gray spots are okay), as well as the spaces between the beans. The beans should be bound together firmly as a cake. You may want to slice a small piece off the edge to make sure the cake is firm all the way through.
The words "I want to make beef/steak/chicken/turkey from plants" confuses me.
You can make very savory, dense materials that you can use /in place of beef/, which can fulfil a similar role as beef in many recipes, but beef is cow muscle. You can't make beef out of plants.
It's like saying 'I want to make a solid gold ingot out of quartz' <--- you can make a quartz bar in the shape of an ingot and treat it with chemicals to appear gold, but it will always be quartz.
Are you looking for a texture mimicking? Are you looking for a similar savory flavor? do you want big crumbles or little crumbles, or a slab of something that you can sear on both sides and cut into strips? Do you want something you can batter and deep fry and douse with bbq sauce?
Those are all different requests, and will get you different answers.
|[+] perennial vegetables » I love the "idea" of perennial vegetables... (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
I love squash! I planted some sunchoke seeds this past spring, but they were from a collection that got left in the shed overwinter, so I wasn't surprised when none of them sprouted. Ah well~ I'll have to get some fresher seeds for next year. Thank you for the tip!
|[+] perennial vegetables » I love the "idea" of perennial vegetables... (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
A lot of folks are trying to find perennial greens that taste decent when eaten raw or roasted.
Personally, I'm sensitive to the 'bitter' taste of most greens, and I'm rather particular about textures in general.
Even spinach can be too bitter to eat raw if the leaf is on the mature side, and that's a very well-established 'sweet' leafy green. Kale especially just tastes like bitter 'leaf' to me - I don't really understand people's love of it, aside from accepting that some people just enjoy the taste of leaves.
Mushrooms also - While I love the flavor, I can't stand the texture of most mushrooms.
Solution? Boiling & Blending
I make a lot of smoothies & soups with my perennial greens.
Instead of adding a bunch of sugar to sweeten & overpower the bitter, I use complimentary savory/creamy/acidic flavors so that the bitter flavor is at a level that is ok/acceptable.
Creamy Tomato, Basil & Greens soup
Creamy Squash & greens soup
Creamy Potato & greens soup
Chicken & greens soup
Chicken, Corn & Dandelion Root Soup - (When Dandelion roots are minced finely, I really enjoy the texture & flavor)
The key to adding greens to many soups is blending it or mincing it up very finely, so you never have to chew through a whole mouthful of super-bitter leaves.
Basil especially can go REALLY far in disguising the bitter flavor of other leaves.
I have personally eaten very young dandelion greens, Hosta baby leaves, and plantain baby sprouts - they all share a very mild 'asparagus-salad' flavor that I could easily eat with a balsamic vinegarette, but would not enjoy eating raw, on its own.
Making sure you're actually harvesting YOUNG leaves, before the plant has gone to seed, goes a long way in ensuring it's actually palatable.
You can also pack greens into an otherwise fruity smoothie. The fruit's natural sugars and acids mute the bitterness.
I've also packed a bunch of edible greens into a soup pot along with with some oil, boiled it thoroughly, and then removed the solid leaves, using the broth left behind as a base to make another soup. It's a lot less bitter than eating the solids, and both water and fat-soluble vitamins/minerals get leeched out into the water.
You don't get the fiber content of eating the whole leaves, but you're definitely adding nutrients to your diet when you otherwise wouldn't find the whole leaves palatable.
I just can't enjoy most bitter leaves - annual or perennial. But I know they're super good for me, so I work around that flavor to make it palatable.
|[+] bugs » Bone sauce type bug spray? (Go to)||K Eilander|
Oh shoot, that's actually an awesome idea. Your friend's grandma just handed out a 10,000 IQ move.
Bugs (stink bugs included) have what's colloquially called a 'Death Stench' (lol) - which tells other bugs 'Oh shit, something poisonous/dangerous is nearby, better run away'
Biologist David Rollo discovered this when studying the social behaviors of cockroaches.
When a roach locates a new amazing place full of food, it gives off a chemical pheromone to attract other cockroaches.
But when a cockroach dies, its body produces a pheremone that strongly repels the cockroaches.
They crushed dead cockroaches and spread the body-juice in different areas - some with food, some regular corners, etc. "It was amazing to find that the ockroaches avoided places treated with these extracts like the plague."
So far the research has found that the 'death stench' fatty acids are found in pretty much all common insects, and is a UNIVERSAL repellant for insects.... even woodlice and pillbugs.
Even though woodlice and pillbugs are crustacians, they produced the same set of fatty acids that create the 'death stench', and so were equally effective at repelling bugs when mashed.
They also found that a log treated with the fatty acids (extracted from dead bugs, not the mashed bug paste itself) repelled wood beetles in an open forest environment for a full month - even through rainfall.
Bonus: Humans can't deetect the fatty acids of the 'death stench' - it's not the same compound as what sting bugs or cockroaches give off when they die.
so if you wanted to collect woodlice, pill bugs, stink bugs - any pest bugs, really, mash them up, dilute them a little so it'll fit through a spray, and hose down your plants.... I'm almost CERTAIN that it will work!
I'm honestly gobsmacked that I never made that connection. I knew about the death-chemical and how it made bugs run away, but I never made the connection "Oh, use dead bugs as a natural bug-repellant"
I.... really want to try this, now. I'm sure I could find loads of pillbugs under various rocks. The squash beetles have arrived, and something's been chewing my amaranth and peach trees to bits.
If I could just blend up some bugs to make a universal bug-spray....if it /works/, we may have just stumbled across a solution to one of the biggest difficulties in organic gardening: How do you stop bugs from eating your plants, without using toxic gick?
Bro, I'm so excited. Please please pleast do this and come back w the results! I'm also going to go bug-hunting when I get home.
|[+] trees » Catalpa blossoms.. mulch? (Go to)||Heather Staas|
Catalpa doesn't have any herbicidal effects or toxins, as far as I know. Should be completely fine to compost down.
If you've got just flowers, go for it, no problems.
If you've got flowers mixed w/ seed pods, you'll need to make sure the compost gets very hot to kill off the seeds, or your garden where you use the compost will be full of sprouts lol. (Personally, I just let it happen, then yank the new sprouts and let them mulch down in-place. Chop & drop!)
Flowers are a favorite edible for a lot of insects, since they're delicate & easy to digest. I'm sure your compost fauna will love them =)
|[+] lawn » No Mow Ground Cover (Go to)||Mark Sanford|
Hey there! I'm from KY, zone 6B. I haven't mowed my partially-shaded back lawn in.... almost two months. It started because I prefer to mow right before it's about to rain, so the plants have lots of water to recover from the top-off, and I just couldn't get the timing right. Then the shaded areas just stopped growing taller, so I thought 'huh, ok then.' and now I'm not mowing the back because there's no need to.
Idk your opinion on how 'lawns' should look - you mentioned it was heavily mulched earlier, so you might even be dealing with more of a 'garden you can walk through' instead of a lawn.
I like my richly weed-filled lawn =P It gets a lot of pollinators in the spring, and in the summer it stays cool & lush without watering.
so! Here are my suggestions for 'plants you can walk on, and also generally seem to cap out their height mid-shin or lower'
Note: Only a few of these are USA-native plants. Most are naturalized 'weeds' from asia/africa/europe that just do very well in our climates.
Only for aesthetics - don't walk on it.
Stonecrop / Seedum - fluffy and lush-looking, low-lying, but it's a succulent so walking on it will damage it.
Good for occasionally walking on, but not severe traffic:
Good for heavy traffic areas:
|[+] homestead » Brainstorm about 8 acres with me? (Go to)||Gray Henon|
"Nothing is too outlandish" (hehehehehehe)
1. Rent a bulldozer. Form giant earthwork mound snake that might be visible from space. On your earthworks snake, seed wildflowers of specific colors in stripes, so when they bloom, your snake will become a corn snake. Make its mouth open and dug a pond there, so it's swallowing the water. If you build the snake cutting across a slope, it will double as a swale to capture rain run-off for the local water table =)
2. Seed the whole plot with hundreds of fruit and nut trees, perennial edibles, etc. Neglect the whole plot for a couple years. What will survive, will survive. Once the sapling trees wouldn't get mulched by grazing animals, let local farmers rent it to graze on to trim the grasses/plants down in cycles.
3. Fence off the whole area and farm an unusual animal that needs a lot of space, like deer or emu.
4. Contact your local permaculture/native plant enthusiast clubs and let them know that, if they give you a plan of action and can check in regularly to show that they're abiding by it, they can turn
5. Sell the plot to the federal government to turn into a conservation area or public hiking trail.
6. Build an enormous half-underground greenhouse & grow tropical fruits. Sell fresh oranges & lemons.
7. Dig an enormous pond. Like, fantastically and ridiculously huge. Basically a small lake. Put an earthwork path leading to a lone, elevated mound right in the middle of the big pond.
7.a.Plant 1 big tree there. Congrats, in 10 years photographers will FLOCK to take pictures of your tree in the lake.
7.b. Build a small castle right in the middle of that lake. Tell your local LARPers that they're free to try to lay seige to, or defend the castle from invaders.
7.c. Build some sort of network of docks around the central earth platform, plant a shitload of reeds & water plants, and let people kayak around, either just to enjoy nature or for combative water sports.
8. Build a vast network of raised bat apartments on stilts. Become the singular host to millions of bats. Plant huge numbers of night-blooming flowers. With a cleared area and a safe platform to have a bonfire, you can promote the area to pagans/witches as a place to do full moon ceremonies.
9. Connect the trees with a series of tree-houses. Arboreal camping.
10. A barn structure with electricity, and some gardens, a gazebo and small pond, flowering hedges - Barn-themed weddings are extremely popular.
11. Make some hills and ramps and a trail that winds around the property and promote it to dirt bikers. There's not many areas for people who like dirt bike sports, which doesn't interfere with hiking.
12. Rent the area to some local beekeepers.
13. Reach out to the local universities to let them know your property is available for any ecological studies or experiments they want to do.
14. Pick an endangered species that lives in areas /similar/ to yours. Optimize the land into supporting THAT species. Get a small population going and get your property recognized as a habitat for (x species) & protected. - Bonus: it means big factories & junk will have a harder time moving in, because they'd have to prove their operations would not interfere with x endangered species.
15. Make an enormous hedge maze. Like, an acres-wide hedge maze. Put Versailles to shame. Bonus points for minotaur statues & an enormous fountain/pond, gazebo & flower garden in the middle.
16. Plant trees in a pattern that will make a picture, or spell a word that's visible to people flying overhead in planes.
17. Set up an archery range.
18. Start building the walls & outbuildings for something like a renaissance faire.
19. Reach out to nearby fiber people - look for 'wool and fiber festivals' - let them know that they can rent a parcel of land to grow plants for making natural dyes. (A big problem encountered by many natural dye enthusiasts is that you need a LOT of a single plant, and many don't live on huge parcels of land)
20. Pick a couple plants that are 'endangered' or 'threatened' in states near you. Dedicate the area to growing as much of those as possible, so you can harvest the seeds, travel to their 'threatened' area, and aggressively re-seed.
|[+] trees » Willow species options (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
|[+] toilet alternatives » Swale-based grey- and blackwater treatment (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
Yep! Septic systems are pretty cool. A lot of people are surprised at how organic/eco-friendly they are (aside from the inherent 'big concrete/fiberglass tank in the ground')
I've moved the bulk of my reply over to that new thread =)
|[+] toilet alternatives » Ecological sewage treatment ponds concept (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
Adding a septic tank at the start of your pond series would, in my opinion, be a good move and make the whole system a lot less likely to start stinking, since you hold the smelliest step in an enclosed area where the smell can't get blown up toward the house, and the 'finishing ponds' only have to deal with very nutrient-rich liquids, rather than entire solids.
For sewage lagoons, I believe a key part of the system is to /not let unfinished humanure into the ground/ - it has to be processed down by bacteria thoroughly before being allowed to enter the groundwater.
By using a septic tank at the start, you're putting in a safety measure to prevent the spread of disease & smell, and what comes out of that tank would be a lot easier for your other ponds to process.
By using a series of ponds (embankments that can hold standing water for long periods) , rather than bare-ground swales, you're also adding more processing & barriers between the excrement & local animals.
Tbh, you may be able to go directly from Septic Tank to Algae Pond, then right into 'Full Plant & Fish Ecosystem Pond', without that extra dedicated 'reed and gravel' bed in the middle... or make the 'full plant' ecosystem START with a gravel & reed bed, which liquid has to flow through to get to the full-plant ecosystem. Not two seperate ponds, but an intermediate barrier.... though storm runoff/flooding may make that a bad idea, since it'll push 'less finished' waters downstream into the fish ecosystem.
Something to consider, I guess.
Check out these sewage treatment lagoon articles for more ideas:
You'll likely have to deal with fairly high-level regulations about sewage treatment lagoons- how they're constructed, and when the liquids are /physically able/ to sink into the ground. Since human waste is such a big vector of disease that can spread to very wide areas via groundwater/aquifers, many governments tends to strictly crack down on its treatment.
|[+] ponds » Natural swimming pond (Go to)||John C Daley|
It's the shape of the canoe and its rolled rim - that round 'lip' encourages water to cling and flow inward toward the outer wall. It's very useful when canoeing, but not great for a waterfall feature.
Here's an idea:
If you drill a hole in the canoe, add a gasket and spout, you can have the water flow out of the canoe (maybe close to the upper lip) and over a rocky waterfall.
You could still have the pond pump move water into the canoe, and water come out of the canoe, and even plant a bunch of water-filtering plants up in the canoe to help with water cleaning.
But it'd remove the 'Canoe rolled lip pulling water toward it instead of spilling cleanly over'
|[+] medicinal herbs » Making Mullein sun tea? (Go to)||Toko Aakster|
When making hot tea, the water temps can kill the bulk of the bacteria, so fresh leaves are no big deal.
With sun tea, using fresh leaves can be a bit of a risk, since bacteria on the plant's surface can quickly populate the warm water.
So, you may want to do something to thoroughly clean the leaves, first. Soap and water, or a scrub with lemon juice & salt, or a soak in vinegar followed by thorough rinsing in clean water.
Then muddling the leaves & using in tea. Adding citrus juice into the water may also help bump the acidity to reduce bacterial growth.
o_o I have had more than one sun tea jar get cloudy & slimy from improperly washed leaves and forgetting to drink it fast enough, so tbh I tend to do cold-steeped or 'instant' tea instead.
I prefer to crush fresh mint leaves thoroughly in the mortar along with a little sugar, rinse it into a glass, and drink it like that - make it per-glass, or just enough for a couple glasses I'll drink that day, instead of making a bunch that I'll drink later.
Regarding mullein in particular, I don't think there's anything to worry about with the leaves?
Don't eat the seeds.... but other than that, you should be fine.