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Rick Valley

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since Mar 12, 2012
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Recent posts by Rick Valley

You could try- design from observation! (it's a permaculture design methodology) Look around and see what the bees like in your zone. No Nationwide habitat list is going to have many of your native plants. Like, maybe you can grow Fuchsia if you take them in in the winter- or buy new ones every year, and build a shade structure and put a constant water drip on them...
If you want a reference, try the Xerces Society book Attracting Native Pollinators. (not that all your bumblebees are going to be natives, but they won't care) Washington resident Robert Pyle founded the Xerces Society, (for invertebrate conservation) and they do good work. Start by planting any part of the area that you aren't putting immediately into specific perennials into annuals. Lupines for instance, fix nitrogen and are good pioneers for other plants to follow, and I've seen bumble bees on them.
"This author is unimpressed by native plant enthusiast's views of native landscaping" about sums it up for me, speaking for myself, IF I pick and choose my nativists. I read one's description of what he was doing- very proud of the native landscape he had on his barrier island off the coast of W. Florida! While eating a standard American diet, thereby reinforcing the agricultural degradation of the world, he was feeling puffed-up with pride for growing native on an ephemeral sand pile doomed to become ocean sediment in our lifetime as Florida becomes the smallest state in the Union due to rising tides. Monoculture of the imagination. If anyone does not understand that permaculture is about localizing and limiting one's impact, well, in the words of a N. Floridian speaking through the voice of Cool Hand Luke's warden, "What we got here is a failure to communicate" which is as much the fault of permaculture authors as any readers. There IS a tendency of permaculture books to mention mainly world-known agricultural species- the sort that get lumped into "Bioimperialist" lists. But the early permaculture literature has plenty of references to "Bush Tucker" (excuse my 'Strine, er, "Australian English": in 'Marekin' or US English, it'd be "wild food" ) In this day and age if you're not increasing your species diversity to increase habitat plants for native arthropods (for example) you are putting the noose of pollinator and beneficial insect extinction around your own neck. This is being taught in conferences and workshops, mainstream. Get the books on Amazon. I do have the benefit of knowing Tao Orion, and she has done a fine job of getting to know the restoration world from the inside, and has listened to my rather caustic caricatures of some nativists, and she's done a good job I think, of pointing out that massive use of herbicides doesn't have successful restoration as a certain end result. Ecology is a new science- and "the book hasn't been written yet" that can really show what has results in all cases. Permie Michael Crowfoot paraphrased "not only are ecologies more complex than we think, they are more complex than we CAN THINK" and any restorationist or permaculturalist who doesn't agree should not be allowed in the sandbox to play with the rest of the kids.
2 years ago
Sounds like the needed action! And it sounds like you have a knowledgeable local resource in the proprietor of the garden shop. I have said I use Sluggo too; I in fact took serious notes when I attended Soil School this year, (Soil School is an annual thing staged by the NRCS up near Portland; I needed some Continuing Ed credits for my license, but it was worth it even without that pressing need) and I now sprinkle it around my sensitive seedlings rather than make little piles- apparently the slugs aren't drawn to it as much as they merely snarf it when they run into it. Once my plants are big, if they are drawing slugs and snails I simply mark those plants as stops on the slug patrol route, as I gather treats for the chooks. And- have you talked with the Hidden Savannah Nursery folks or played about on their site? IMHO they have one of the most awesome selections of native plants in N. America, and if they can't match you up with a short list of natives compatible with your agricultural aims and apt to further beneficial insect habitat, I don't know who could. "Michigan Selections" they say... Tell them you're going to see if you can do the Xerces Society thang and recruit some aid from the Hymenoptera, Diptera and the Coleopterans too... and maybe get some Lepidopterans hanging out just to impress folks with the show. I know it's a "Bedouin Scene" for you as a renter, but once you have some "regulars" of the native plants, it's pretty simple to propagate them as you wish, and when it's time to move on to the next, they can come along. (speaking from experience)
2 years ago
These modern times, pennies are a mere copper veneer over a zinc core; an actual copper penny has more than 1 cent's worth of copper. The zinc/copper sandwich pennies, when exposed to prolonged moisture, corrode rapidly because of the different metals in close contact. I'm testing whether it is possible to kill a plant by pounding a few pennies into the trunk "with the grain" since quantities of both micronutrients are toxic to plants.
I feel toxics are very short-term solutions to pests; habitat for the pest's predators is more properly permaculture, as is regarding the pest as a resource (my mollusks are quality chicken feed) But yes, I do use small quantities of iron sulfate slug bait around Hi Priority plants, like newly seeded flats of veggie starts. And as I am told to do, I scatter the bait because it doesn't work unless the slug runs into it and eats it- they won't track the bait down.
2 years ago
So what I enjoy doing best is steps and terrace walls; typically I use quarry stones that I select from. I use different grades, paying more for stones that have been carefully split, which is the sort of thing I'll use for stairs. Here in W. Oregon, all the sedimentary rock is young, soft and useless (ol' geezer voice over: "yep, those young'uns are!") so the rocks for building are volcanic, mostly andesite, fine-grained, hard and not bubbly. What I do for myself, or anyone who is willing to pay a bit more, and/or work with me (OSHA, I didn't say that) is mix up a fertile "mortar" of crushed rock, peat, and compost, and put that between the rocks, and in any space big enough I plant Sedums and other native rock plants, strawberries, Penstemons (humming bird's fave flowers) Makes an edible wall. I love putting curves in and creating conversation niches by making sure the top course has good "butt rocks" (not the same as "Butt Rockers") for sitting on. For me, a stepping stone path is with real flat rocks with slightly rounded edges, set in a sand bed with tops in one plane and a fertile mix as above between the stones and shy enough of the top plane that there's room for creeping thyme and things of that growth habit between the stones. That means stones which are 3' thick or so, and heavy enough that they don't jiggle about. I have a walk about to happen again- some of the stones are from great distances and I've used them before other places- and that piece of granite from Cortes Is. is one of them. Another is a piece of Precambrian white marble from Death Valley. I'll see if I can hunt down some pictures to show y'all.
2 years ago
Here's a more grounded posting I have 2 children, but the one who still talks to me left the state, my nephew and nieces are scattered all over and commencing careers that will have them careening about the world. So my partner and I are learning how to attract younger people to our places. My partner has 3 kids, one in-county, the one most sympatica to my taste is in the Bay area. Appreciating younger people and giving them room to grow is a major piece of the puzzle. But then I have always had friends of many ages.
2 years ago
Tracy;
I have a piece of white granite from Cortes, which is a perfect stepping stone. I hauled it up from a beach on the south end. I build with rock for clients- less embodied energy than concrete. I look for rock constantly; I showed one workshop participant what I was looking at: flint chips at a certain soil horizon opened by the passage of a bulldozer, and following the line I had been looking at, he picked up a perfect flint atlatl dart point. I'm now planning to build a structure in a stream- sort of a long basket of geo-grid poly mesh filled with sandstone rocks and holding some riparian shrubberies (Pacific Ninebark, Pacific Willow) to grow and stabilize it all. The shape will create a turbulence that will prompt the resident beaver family to build a dam on it. Rock ON!
2 years ago
Well. I'll be 65 soon; so far in my life every plan I've made has shipwrecked one way or another. By rights I should not have made it this far; I've been swamped at sea, done a forward 360 airborne on a bicycle after being run off the trans Canada by a double-wide, been stuck underwater in the lee of a monster boulder in a rapid, been held at gunpoint... I could go on... Last year I was reduced to gardening on all fours because of pain from 2 hernias... I took care of my second wife thru her passage out with lung cancer; now I'm in the most amazing relationship I've ever been in, with a little Jewish grandma who'll turn 70 next year; she's a double cancer survivor due to being a DES baby. I hope to make enough money this year to get back to Ecuador on a permaculture project and take a side trip to find a shaman who is a recognized ayahuasca guide; maybe that will show me a trail to follow.
So I figure anything I plan isn't going to make much difference. Judging from my family history, the money is on dementia of some sort as my end, as did one of my younger brothers a few months ago (Parkinson's with associated dementia) Fortunately Oregon went legal Cannabis last year and if it comes down to it, I won't care. I can only hope to continue to be such a bad example that some younger ones want to hang around with me and keep passing me brownies or whatever
2 years ago
Looks like a big Cassowary, mate. You had better ask a N. Queenslander what that would mean. There was a big name paleontologist who just spoke at the U. of Oregon about how to turn a chicken into a dinosaur. Didn't take too many changes. When you flush a mouse in the chicken yard, the dinosaurs get him.
I met a woman in Homer Alaska who was breeding chickens, donkeys and cattle for the north. Her chickens looked like ptarmigan of varied colors; they lived in unheated coops all winter. I thought to get some Barnevelders (A Dutch Breed) in to my flock, since the Netherlands winter must be similar to ours, but then I left the community to rejoin the land owning class on this half-acre, and I travel too much for work now to keep chickens. I'll get back to them soon.
2 years ago
Yeah- I've gardened in glacial soils before, pretty great. Gardening on an ultisol, weathered in place for 15 million years or so of heavy rainfall- well, it gave me insight into how permaculture was formulated in OZ, where ultisols are common. And I got great appreciation for how chickens can cycle nutrients, especially from weed seeds.
2 years ago