Actually, the "scatter some seeds and see what does well" method can work quite well If you notice something doing particularly well, take a picture and post it. I'm sure this group can help you i.d. some things.
This might be completely unhelpful, but some plants parasitise grass. The two examples I know are yellow rattle (or hay rattle) Rhinanthus minor and eyebright Euphrasia spp. Would using a plant like this to suppress the grass give the plants you want to grow more of a chance? Or is this cheating, and the only solution is to say "why is the grass succeeding at the expense of the comfrey, how do I improve conditions so they favour comfrey" and if the only answer is "comfrey requires more shade" you will just have to wait for the trees to grow?
sorry i misread on the drainage. that makes sense as i remember seeing gravel on the floor of the greenhouse in your homegrown food summit presentation.
nice idea on the sealant & inner fill.
thanks a bunch for answering my questions.
we have a porch in which your concept would work perfectly.
have a few questions regarding roof slope to maximize solar gain in winter/minimize in summer:
--- are there are any hard & fast rules re: figuring out the optimal angle? i realize everyone is different depending upon latitude and individual site parameters, but how does one determine what that angle is?
--- slope & building codes: i think that most building codes (based on IBC) require a roof slope to be 4 inches per foot. this may or may not be optimal for solar gain depending upon individual parameters. any creative ideas on how to design in case that it is not?
Yes the slope does depend on a lot of variables... my roof panels are a double walled polycarbonate and they can withstand a substantial snow load...you can even walk on them.
In terms of roof angle, I just tried to maximize my height on the front and in the back (house side) of the greenhouse, so that I could have 8' in the front and the height in the back basically was as tall as I could make it without interfering with the windows on my second floor.
interesting factoid: When skunk cabbage leaves decompose, they don't dry up and crumble; they dissolve. With few fibers, they consist mainly of water and air, as do the spathe and flowers, and disintegrate into these elements. Harder fibers are only found beneath the ground in the roots.
we've been experimenting with harvesting cabbage leaves and mixing with shredded leaf mulch to make a compost. no cabbages were harmed in this experiment. results TBD.
hi Ross, you mean the dreaded black knot, yes? it's been decimating the plums & cherries around here as well.
from what i've read, the only way to mitigate the spread of it is to bury the infected wood is it travels by air. don't burn it!
i didn't know that it spread to apples, but what i've been using on the apples for the cedar apple rust is a trick learned from Michael Phelps, nettle tea foliar spray.
it seems to be working so far to improve the trees' vigor, but this year will be the tell.
i'm going to try it on the cherry sucker from the tree i had to cut down this month due to black knot.
got nettles? if so, stick some in a 5 gal bucket and drop some sugar/molasses in it with water, seal the lid and let her ferment for a bit. i've been using a paint strainer to strain the brew. i also spray on the ground around the trunk.
as always, try a small section first to make sure the brew's not harmful instead of helpful.
My acres are in town and straddle a county road, and everyone knows all that fill dirt that showed up in the last two weeks is for a walipini, so I guess I will just have to go with a mean dog, some seriously thorny hedging, and practicing my aim. I am dealing with a high water table so building upwards with a huge berm and lots of thermal mass items (urbanite, people are loving I am taking concrete as long as it's busted up into football sized or smaller chunks). I do plan on adding a few bits to allow that in case of bad times I could move in there... earth bags, urbanite, just bought a backhoe, and hope. I learned from Y2K when my better half got all wound up, on how to build hidden food storage areas, will just have to do the same again. I also like to grow the insanely hot peppers, nice idea Rick Austin had about them, though I have some moral about it, on the making that stuff into defensive spray.
I think I need to dig twice thinking about it. Put in my walipini and hide myself a bunker I can hole up in. Around here we have enough power outs during cold that disguising a place as a stack of wood would get you found out when people start looking for burnwood. So that is one drawback to disguising your place as a cord of wood....
the VA Dept of Forestry lists Russian Olive (and Autumn Olive) as invasive and is pretty anti-planting of it. [Insert whole “if you fix nitrogen, please invade me!” thing here]. Black Alder seems to have been introduced in Colonial times, so it’s quasi-native at this point.
We already have the following moderate to high nitrogen fixers on the property (pretty extensively in both cases)
* Black Locust
* Autumn Olive
We have some other low volume fixers in the tree and shrub realm, but I’m looking for something that would ideally give me or wildlife an edible yield. This will be going in on an eastern facing slope that is currently an open paddock that hasn’t been browsed for two years (and has pretty good grass cover).
So, QUESTION 1: should we invade with Russian Olive, knowing that it can spread like wildfire? or stick with something a bit more safe/tame/already on the property?
QUESTION 2: We had also discussed doing what I’ll call nAnP, which is using, say, a serviceberry low level between alternating Apple and Pear/Plum/Cherry. Wouldn’t have as much separation benefits as the pure NAP, but gets things tighter together.
I don't know on question 2, but question 1 prompts me to show you Eric Toensmeiers site on N fixers, native and non native, high N to low N. http://www.perennialsolutions.org/all-nitrogen-fixers-are-not-created-equal His point about non-edible N fixers is that they are supporting what should be good tasting stuff anyway. Plus, if you can use high N species, you can plant less of them in favor of better tasting stuff.
I'm glad to learn that I don't have to clear these trees out in order to get something edible to grow ... I do like them. I just want to tip the balance a little more in favor of plants that will feed us and the livestock. I would much prefer to just trim them back as necessary.
I love the idea of deer food plots! The areas in the NW corner of the property will pretty much be left to wildlife ... we are probably never going to need that space, and there are already some impressive brush piles back there. They will have access to a little piece of the creek, assuming they can convince the beavers to share. I hadn't really thought about intentionally planting for them, though. It probably won't happen this year, but I will put it on the list for next spring.
siu-yu man wrote:Walter, do you have a photo on your blog that shows your double fence contour technique? if so, could you please share the link?
I haven't made it the main topic of any article, yet, but it is discussed on the side in several articles and there are a few photos scattered among these articles that show the terrace edges, some bulldozed, some built up naturally, and the fence lines:
It is something that has evolved over the past 25 years or so here at our farm starting with the simple observation that when a tree falls in the woods and nobody's there to hear it the soil builds up behind the tree to create a little terrace, especially if the tree falls along the contours instead of across them. This lets water soak in and keeps the soil on our land. Later I added the second fence line to keep animals from breaking down the terrace edge which is what would otherwise happen in time. I then observed that this created a margin, a buffer zone, where reserves of plants could grow, kept the evil sheep off the apple trees and kept sows and boars from separate herds from fighting across a fence line. So the technique evolved over decades. We have done a little bit of machine work to build terraces but mostly it has been the contour fencing technique - slower but cheaper. With more money I would use machines more. With more time I would use fences more. The last one shows a pure contour fencing lane terrace which is about 12' wide and then there is a 4' reserve fence area up hill and another downhill of it. Sometime I'll do an article about the double fence lines as quite a few people have asked. It would be interesting to compare older and newer ones from over the decades. On my to-do list.
Having bought more than my share of equipment - the problem is that people assume they can use a piece of equipment because they can buy it, and start it. Honestly, unless you are going to use it A LOT, you are better of renting the equipment, with the operator. As your nightmare points out, it is easy, so easy, for something to go wrong, and then, hopefully, the least you will be out is money - too often, someone gets hurt, badly.
just my dos colones, only worth about 1/5 as much as two cents.
Some of these things are becoming hard to answer. Yes, we have a typical season that is wetter than others. However, it hasn't been true the last few years. Our seasons have been off I think. At this point I believe the majority of the moisture we receive is coming in the form of snow. That is usually fall and spring. We tend to get our biggest snow storm in April. Halloween is usually frozen as well. In between those it is just sporadic. I don't know. I've lived here almost all of my life and the weather is not the same now as when I was a child. That probably sounds stupid.
Anyway. Thanks Zach! I believe I'm just going to have to do a bit of everything and see what works the best.
Fred Tyler wrote:<snip a cool entrepreneurial endeavor>
If you want to get a good sap flow, the hole should be made at the beginning of the syruping season (late Feb to early March). Some of the massive operations have to tap so many trees they start drilling holes as early as January. Towards the end of the season as the weather warms fungi, bacteria, and yeasts interact with the sap inside to form a gummy substance that blocks further sap flow. So, if you tap too early you may miss some of the late flows. At the end of the season, the hole you've drilled for your spile should be left [b]open after removing your spile. Nothing we could put in the hole can be guaranteed to be sterile and is more likely to be a source of disease.[/b] A healthy tree should close the hole within two years. The trees i've tapped in Minnesota healed within one growing season. When you drill your new hole make sure it is at least 6" laterally from a past hole and at least 4" vertically. Over the years you will work your way around the tree with holes. The most productive taps are on the south side of the tree above a big root or below a big branch. Because of this, you may not want to stray too far, but if we concentrate our holes in too small of an area our flow will be reduced trying to get sap through scar tissue and damaged xylem and the tree may have a hard time trying to heal our damage. If you are putting a hole directly above or below a past hole, it should not be within 2ft. By limiting the number of taps (see chart in link below) and moving them yearly a tree can stay healthy and be tapped for many generations. We use 5/16" stainless steel spiles (the smaller size helps the tree heal faster). They are easy to sterilize (boiling) before use, and easy to clean after use. If you are going to use homemade wood taps, i would not recommend that they be reused, as they can harbor diseases that could infect the tree.
I would also caution against making the syrup indoors. Unless you are doing a very small amount this could have disastrous results. The average gallon of maple syrup started out as 40 gallons of sap. That means you will have 39 gallons of water vapor in your house. Your drywall will soak this moisture out of the air and can get moldy. If you have wall paper, it can start to peel off.
Thanks for that bit I bolded and italicized, Fred. My knowledge of that is anecdotal from a friend I knew up in Alaska who tapped birch trees. I am sure your statement is true for all trees, and his was likely second hand information as his family hadn't done syrup in a long time.
I really liked your spirit and drive to make syrup even without a forest of your own to do it in. Awesome.
We maintain our roads with a box blade and a back blade. The back blade is best for getting the road in shape. Put it at an angle and do what you've got to do. The box blade is best for annual maintenance aka smoothing.
I'm crap at reading maps so I'm no help there but our road gets the most runoff from our property and our neighbors as well. I've dug several "wildlife ponds" (Don't call it an erosion control anything or you'll be regulated to death) and have put swales right up to the road which have helped mitigate all the water problems caused by us.
Hi Ann, one of the best uses for distillery effluent is to grow Wasabi in a pond fed this byproduct. Since Wasabi is a water plant, and likes fairly acidic conditions, using a ditch/artificial stream fitted with flow breaks and arrowroot, cattails and other aquatic plants will help reduce the acidity just enough for the Wasabi to grow well in the pond at the end of this ditch/stream. Wasabi is a great cash crop too.
I cut off all of the branches and just used the log. Usually, logs that are 3 to 8 inches in diameter are recommended, so usually a bigger tree is better. They tend to be bigger at the base than at the top of course, so one would have to take an average. I cut off and distributed the branches around the yard. The log seems to have been inoculated but I can't verify that it is with the Phoenix oysters I drilled it with. I wouldn't use Cedar (Thuja-Juniper), redwood or pine. Aromatic oils fight fungus. I would and did use fir more than douglas fir, and I think spruce should be fine too. Most mushrooms won't grow well on conifer so check the species you're trying to grow.
siu-yu man wrote:so it behaves like the beech without the suckers but with possible supposed alleopathic qualities (further down in article). what i don't understand is, if both species produce a monoculture if left undisturbed, why the beech is okay and the amur is not okay, other than the beech is "native" and amur is "exotic".
it would seem to me that, as long as one is practicing proper land management, one would want any tree sapling that isn't going to be eaten to death before it has a chance to develop into maturity. in the case of the amur, it seems that proper land management would be to harvest the females for useful purposes (of which there are many) and leave the males. at least with the amur, there is not a suckering issue, like with the beech.
riffing off of Allen's idea of fern dishes, how about wild rice as well? i believe there's a species that grows well in climates like yours (remember seeing a bunch of people selling seed from MN).
on the medicinal tip, there's jewelweed (an annual, so you have to get seed, but you may have some already growing around). also, prunella vulgaris (self-heal). btw, i have found this summer that nastertiums thrive on the wet edge. also, river oats, though not sure if they'll survive the winters that far north. beautiful plant though.
you could also consider inoculating those logs with mushrooms or better yet, just wait for the mushrooms to show up. i bet at the least you'll get some turkey tail.
awesome subject...have a good chunk of woodland wetland as well that we're plotting. hopefully others will chime in with some good ideas.
awesome, thanks for all the info!
I'll be planting a magnolia in the "island" (itll be more of a peninsula, a Florida with a swollen everglades, if you will) so Im gonna leave the hugel bed open and laid in the soil, with the pond liner wrapping around it almost completely.
So far I've got the design all planned out in my head and somewhat on paper, I just need to finalize my plans for the rest of the garden, get the budget approved and start digging! Ill post pictures when its done
These definitely will need a larger initial dose of nitrogen fertilizer. But will need less than expected overall.
I had a couple of these containers last year. They actually needed less fertilizer over the season than some regular containers.
Whenever the plant leaves look yellowish, just add some fertilizer.
Sealing the bottom drainage holes and then using holes 4-5" probably will cause a swamp in the bottom, especially if you put these in a location that gets rain.
I did this one year for eggplants (in a dry climate) they did ok, but it was clearly too wet.
Wood holds a lot of water & if you then use compost and manure, aeration will be critical.
Also if you have mold on the indoor pot soil surface, you should get a fan on it right away. This will kill the seedlings. At least it did kill all my seedlings that I planted in January, in compost, leaves and sticks.
Sidney, there is another permaculture project I stumbled across in my internet rambles that is near Sedalia, up Jarre Canyon. I can't remember what it was called, or how to get back to it, but I was very impressed with the pictures and videos and plant lists etc they had. I think I just did a google search on permaculture in colorado to find it. When I looked at it, I started wishing I could manage the travel to visit that site.
I have visited CRMPI too, and was favorably impressed--but their higher elevation with south facing, rock-edged beds is a lot different from my flat, barren piece of high desert.
This other spot may be higher as well, but not really sure. They were building swales and hugelbeds to slow runoff and create favorable microclimates. If you get to visit, I would love to hear a report on it. I really appreciate hearing and seeing reports on other pc projects.
I just looked at that Sonoran site. Unfortunately, though we also have a desert or semi-arid climate, our winters would kill most of the things that grow down there. For example, when we lived north of Silver City, NM, at 6000 ft, I was able to harvest prickly pear fruit off large leaved prickly pears. We have prickly pears here, but the pads are only a couple inches across, and the plants are less than a foot high. I have never seen any of them set fruit. I don't know if it is too cold, or the growing season is too short, or the pollinators they need are just not here.
The Krameterhof was once a spruce mono-culture. A storm blew down much of the spruce and Sepp used this blow down for his original earthworks. His original earthworks were not hugelbeds but terraces, he used the spruce in he construction of his terraces. Terraces dominate the landscape of the Krameterhof. After construction they were seeded with lots of legumes and other soil enhancing plants. In 8-10 years he had a helped create a very good soil on the terraces. This was the product of lots of green manure crops and the design of the terraces.
Judith, Johnny, Zach, and Chad - Team Holzer AgroEcology