Lila Stevens

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since Jan 08, 2013
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Recent posts by Lila Stevens

Thombo Corley wrote:

john muckleroy jr wrote:I know all the banana trees always come back after a cold winter.Will a Moringa tree come back after a cold winter?

Hey John, I'm just south of ya outside of Lufkin. I started my moringa trees from a baker creek seed packet I think 5 years ago (maybe 4). To my recollection it was labeled "dwarf moringa". And to my surprise, 3 of mine come back every year with little to no care at all. They're in full sun getting cooked like the rest of my garden. They're around some other plants, some grass, and other young trees... with a little wood mulch around the base of em. This year has been their worst year with all these 100 degree days but they're still alive and my biggest one even put a few flowers on the top. My biggest two have made pods most years, but I haven't started any from the seed from them. They didn't make pods this  year. But nothing really made anything this year with this midsummer oven we've been in.

If for some reason you don't have luck with yours, I've split my trees by root division and given one to a friend who is also having success with his so I wouldn't mind doing the same for ya. I don't do anything with them other than munch on the leaves from time to time, feed some chickies and occasionally huff the flowers. I do find time to marvel at them when they're at their peak most years giving my garden shade, covered in drumsticks, flowers, and huge bumblers that seem to be attracted to them. They die back every year to the roots but the trees will remain standing til the next year if you don't chop em down. I lay the big trees from last years dead growth around my garden. They're a soft wood so in a years time they're pretty broken down. Moringa is a great tree. Anyone from zone 7 down should be trying to grow moringa in ground. Just my humble opinion.

TL;DR - YES, I think with a little love in the form of mulch, a Moringa tree will come back in zone 8.

That is great to know! I am a few hours SW of you guys, in Rockdale. I got some seeds from Baker Creek too, which I haven't planted yet (planning to in spring) I thought I would have to plant them as annuals or in large pots to bring inside. Good to know I can plant them out in the garden and probably have them come back. And anything to give some shade in the heat of summer is a good thing!
10 months ago
That's an excellent idea. I like that you can do it sitting comfortably at your kitchen table, rather than bent over a garden bed. Thanks for all of the great photos you provided. I am sure your methods result it much more uniform germination than mine as well.

Thinning large beds of carrots definitely is time-consuming, as I learned this year. I have goats and bunnies though, who love the thinnings, so I will most likely just continue over-seeding and giving the thinnings to the critters.
1 year ago

Cristobal Cristo wrote:I'm in a completely different climate than yours, but for the sake of sharing experience I want to say that EVERYTHING that I planted later than first half of May did not survive due to heat, no matter how much I watered or cared.
So for me the quality of the late sale barefoot would be a secondary factor.

Yup, here in central Texas, it's recommended to plant trees and perennials in the fall, so they can get established over the winter and spring, before the heat really hits. Much as I would love to take advantage of sales, I am trying not to plant anything like that past February. Though I did plant a few fruit trees sometime in March or April this year, because they were such a good deal at our local health food store. They're close to the house where I can baby them, and it thankfully hasn't gotten truly hot yet here, so hopefully all will be well.

james cox wrote:

"You might be thinking that Blossom End Rot is a calcium deficiency, but that is not correct. The rest of the plant can have lots of calcium, and Blossom End Rot can still develop. More recently, scientists have had a closer look and found that the problem is one of moving calcium around inside the plant, not necessarily a shortage."

well don't leave us hanging christina, how do we get the calcium flowing through the plant? happy face on my tomatoes getting their calcium

or anyone else can answer that  knows, would love to not have blossom end rot in my tomatoes.

cheers    james

I've heard of epsom salts being recommended to prevent blossom end rot. The idea, I believe, is that the magnesium helps the plants move calcium around in the plants, as it is supposed to do in the human body as well. A quick Google search is a bit confusing though. One source says that too much magnesium can actually block the absorption of calcium by the plant.

Probably, as with most things, a rich, living soil is your best defense against blossom end rot. That always seems to be the best bet for covering all bases so plants have what they need, and the ability to uptake it.
This question has been answered very well by previous commenters, but I just wanted to expand on a few things.

Those worms you pick up from your driveway and road edge would be perfect to add to your actual garden beds. They will do excellent work for you there, adding worm castings and aerating your soil in place. So yes, have fun picking them up from elsewhere and adding them to your garden. I would not add them to a worm bin, since they are "earth worms" and need soil, unlike the  "litter worms" you most likely purchased for your worm bin.

Also, your purchased worms will multiply very quickly, given a proper environment, so no need to add more worms anyway. I did an experiment a few months back, in which 10 Red Wigglers multiplied to become 120 Red Wigglers in just 8 weeks. In a separate bin, 10 Indian Blue Worms multiplied to become over 230 Indian Blue Worms in the same amount of time. And that was not counting cocoons or the tiniest babies that I missed. Most composting worms that you purchase will be a mix of Red Wigglers and Indian Blues, unless the seller specifies otherwise.
1 year ago
I homeschool my 6-year-old and 9-year-old, and I am seriously considering buying this book and doing a study on aquatic life. It's just so pretty! And since aquatic life is such a broad subject, we could branch out from there into different habitats or creatures that spark our interest. And then I could buy more books, haha. Our local public library is very small and kinda sad, and I was thinking after doing a study unit we could donate these wonderful books to them, sharing them with others, and still get to check them out if we wanted to read them again.

1 year ago
This book also looks great. It even has a very simple introduction to the soil food web, which is really cool. Most permie kids will already probably know as much about that as what is in this book, but it's still neat. I could totally see using this book as part of a study unit on plants

1 year ago
This "Magic and Mystery" series is so beautifully-illustrated, and packed full of bite-sized bits of info for kids. I know we have checked out the tree one and I think the bug one from our library in the past. We recently got two big books from Costco that seem to consolidate all 4 books into 2 volumes. I don't know if they shorten them down to consolidate them, though. Those big consolidated volumes were only $12 each, though if money were no object I would prefer to have 4 separate books with individual focuses.
1 year ago

J. Hunch wrote:I track laying in a spreadsheet, and I haven't noticed anything unusual about this year's egg production. I buy store-brand feed and selectively breed for consistent laying. My ideal hen lays a decent number of good-quality eggs every year for her entire 5-10 year life. I don't enjoy raising the commercially-favored hens bred to have 1-2 years of high productivity and then get replaced after the inevitable steep drop-off. I also select for winter laying when I can, but it's a hard trait to come by. A hen that lays in the winter over the age of 2 is a rare gem.

eggs collected from three 6-year-old hens over the past few days

This is so interesting to me. We don't eat our chickens, and they will continue to be pets/ bug eaters/ soil builders for the rest of their natural lives, whether they are laying or not. So I would love to have chickens that keep laying at a moderate rate for most of their lives. What breeds did you start with, when you began selecting for chickens that lay this way?

Would it be accurate to say that the ones that lay more moderately tend to lay for longer? I would love to hear a lot more about your experiences with this.

1 year ago
We LOVED those Smithsonian books that you mentioned in your original post, and I collected the majority of them off of when my kids were younger.

We also really liked Laurence Pringle's books; the two that we own that come to mind are "An Extraordinary Life: The Story of a Monarch Butterfly" and "A Dragon in the Sky: The Story of  Green Darner DragonFly". These are both long and detailed, but are realistic, interesting stories about an individual member of each of these species, as they avoid danger and complete their life cycles. They held held my kids' attention from age 5 or 6. Now that my daughter is 9, she reads them on her own from time to time.

I really liked Jean Craigshead George's books "The Wolves Are Back" and  "The Buffalo Are Back". The way she describes the connectedness of the ecosystem, and how taking out one creature affected so many others, in a way understandable to little kids, is just wonderful. However, because both of those animals were intentionally driven to near-extinction, these books could be a bit heavy and sad for little kids. Both end with an upbeat message, since conservationists did bring them back to some degree. The illustrations are gorgeous and uplifting, and overall, I think they are fantastic. Jean Craighead George also wrote a bunch of other great picture books and chapter books for kids. Some do deal with habitat loss, so you'll have to read them and decide what you are comfortable with.

Jim Arnosky is another great author of children's nature books.
1 year ago