Kris Thompson

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since Jan 20, 2012
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Recent posts by Kris Thompson

Charles Kelm wrote:I wouldn't use either of them. No conifers at all, or eucaplyptus, black locust, honey locust, walnut (I believe), fresh willow - I may be forgetting something.

Why not the honey locust?

We put honey locust towards the bottom of our berms. It seemed the best way to safely dispose of those nasty thorns. Out in the open they can remain uncomposted and dangerous for many years.
8 years ago
The only two good things in my life that came from honey locust trees are

1. They make EXCELLENT firewood and kindling. If they don't tear up you or your saw in the process! The branches in the box are dry honey locust that I gathered last year for starting fires in our wood stove.

2. After the second time I got one embedded in the bottom of my foot (thorns pierced the soles of my boots), I went out and bought my first pair of Red Wings--hard-bottomed and steel-toed. Love those boots.

Other than that, we are striving to eliminate them from our acres. They are a significant hazard to humans and to tires, as well as being a large potential legal liability if someone gets hurt. The thorns can remain dangerous hiding on the ground for years even after the tree is gone. We have just one large mature honey locust (that I know of) left to deal with, and I am not sure how we are going to bring it down without hurting anyone.
8 years ago
Like everything else in life, one needs to learn how to use a greenhouse.

Clearly the people who were going to build a greenhouse in the dense shade of evergreens weren't even competent gardeners in the first place. A greenhouse is an advanced gardening structure, and people should be competent gardeners before undertaking the additional complexity of growing under a permanent, weather-altering structure.

I'm loving the *@#$& outta my 20'x24' hoophouse. I was an experienced gardener to begin with (and I put it in a sunny location!) but it's still a learning experience....

How to deal with burrowing varmints (shrews, mice, voles)
dealing with insects--aphids, cabbage "worms", cutworms, cucumber beetles...
dealing with heat in summer (venting ain't enough in Nebraska). I bought shade netting late last year to try out this summer.
managing the soil for maximum production
VERTICAL GROWING!!! (just installed aircraft cable runs midsummer)--it's a revolutionary improvement!!!
how to space your growing beds, when to plant, how to water, etc....

I'm deliriously happy with my hoophouse. I don't think I'd ever want a glass greenhouse--they present additional burdens like building permits (and the additional real estate tax) in most areas, and though double-paned glass can be an adequate insulator, the effect of the sash DECIMATES insulation values. Why pay the additional costs then?

No, it's a hoophouse for me, now and forever. I want nothing more.

It's only my third winter with the house (the first winter was largely lost since the house got installed the last possible moment before snow flew). So that winter it just overwintered some kale, parsley, and perennial cutting starts. Plus, I had to compost away all the tough turf grass that was under the hoophouse.

First summer was spent largely dealing with the tough turf grasses and green manuring. The tough grasses were layered over with corrugated cardboard and mulch. Areas that were soft enough to be turned (not many in the clay soil) were succession-planted with buckwheat to break up the tough clay. A few monster tomato plants also grew there and produced bountiful harvests.

By fall some areas could be planted for a few overwintering crops--onion family, Egyptian walking onion, more perennial holdovers, kale, parsley, etc.

Last year the soil was finally ready for large-scale planting. Basil, lettuce, kale, kohlrabi, spinach, turnip greens, peas, cucumbers, gobs of tomatoes, green beans, and very happy pepper plants. We are still harvesting carrots, daikon radish, parsley, green onion, and kale. Next winter we'll add more root crops and spinach (this year we had too many tomatoe vines to plant the winter crops).

It's all an intense learning experience.

Oh, and I live in zone 5b, Nebraska. It's a sunny 20 degree day outside, and in the hoophouse the temps are in the 50s. (On an overcast day, there is not quite the same heat gain of course!)
9 years ago
I think I'd just go ahead and eat 'em.

About seven years ago I found the book "Gardening with Guineas" and decided that they would be awesome. We built a chicken coop and got some chickens and guineas.

Guineas is CRAZY. They're noisy, flighty, cantankerous and plain nuts.

Over the following months there was attrition due to predation, and perhaps due to neighbors (I'm sure that if I hated 'em, the neighbors didn't care for them either). And the damned things wouldn't stay on my eleven acres--they had a path they liked that took them off the property every day.

The last one that I had cornered and savagely attacked the sweet-tempered black Australorp rooster. That guinea was stew the following weekend.

I don't think that I'll ever keep guineas again. The chickens (particularly the Plymouth Rocks) are extremely independent-minded and jump out of the run in order to forage and chase bugs every day that there isn't snow on the ground. They do a good enough job, and they aren't a fraction as noisy or plumb crazy.

9 years ago