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Becky Proske

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since Jan 16, 2013
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Participated in a restoration agriculture PDC at New Forest Farm (6/2013).
Wisconsin, USA (zone 4b)
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Recent posts by Becky Proske

Have you ever thought about terrariums?

They are a great, low maintenance way to keep a few houseplants. I love the look of ferns, especially maidenhair ferns, but they can be hard to keep when life gets busy. Terrariums work great for such plants that appreciate even moisture. A terrarium in medium, indirect light can go for months without watering, provided it wasn't over-watered when first planted. It is fun to reuse glass canisters, cookie jars and candy dishes for terrarium gardens. My rule of thumb is the container has to be large enough to fit my hand inside, or else I won't bother. Old aquariums make awesome terrariums too. A piece of plexiglass cut to size can work for a lid on a 20 gallon fish tank.

I'll share a few photo examples of what I'm doing with plants and terrariums right now. First photos are my gotu kola, a tropical herb I grow outside in the summer garden. It likes moist soil. I discovered that it does pretty good indoors under glass and this is how I maintain it through the winter. This plant is in a large glass vase and is covered with an old casserole lid that I found at a second-hand store. I have another gotu kola plant that is not under glass and I've wilted it several times now.

The last photo is a classic terrarium in a candy dish with a rabbit's foot fern and oak leaf miniature fig Ficus pumila 'Quercifolia' I just planted this a few weeks ago, so it's still rooting in, but will be fun to watch grow.

Another houseplant stalwart that I don't see mentioned here is peperomia. They are vast genus of plants with lots of variety. They will do fine with less light and infrequent watering. We have a peperomia obtusifolia at work that is no where near a window and yet it has remained green for years. There is also a Marble Queen pothos in the basement office that has not seen real sunlight in 3 years. Granted, these plants don't really grow much in these locations with artificial light, but with a little water, they keep living. I've been amazed by their steady presence.  Philodendrons are similar to pothos and make good houseplants for easy care in my opinion. I love my philodendron 'Brasil'. I'll also vouch for the peace lily. In my experience, the Domino variety seems to be more resilient than other peace lily plants and it's rather pretty with it's variegation. I've wilted my plant a few times this past spring and it has bounced back beautifully (luckily) and still blooms!

One of my favorite youtubers on this subject is Summer Rayne Oakes of Homestead Brooklyn. Her youtube channel is a wealth of information and a great source of inspiration.

Leslie Russell wrote:Does anyone know a natural remedy for receding gums?

Earlier this year, I came across the suggestion of applying bovine colostrum powder as a paste to the gums. It prompted me do a little further searching to discover why one might consider colostrum for healing in this way.  Apparently it is nutrient dense and contains a large spectrum of growth factors that can support regeneration. Not surprising since the first milk is known to strengthen/establish the immune system of the newborn. Bovine colostrum is listed as a superfood in Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions cookbook and "was highly prized in traditional societies."

Here is a product that I am trying.

I am not super diligent with using it as a paste, but I do kinda think it could be helping. My recent dental checkup showed some improvement in pocket measurements from last year. However, I think many other factors are playing a role here too, like consistent flossing, oil pulling, mindfulness with diet and switching to a homemade tooth powder.

I also use an herbal mouthwash, which I make from calendula flowers, chamomile flowers and plantain leaves. I brew them together as a strong tea (long infusion) and swish a small amount after flossing/brushing. I'll make about a pint of this tea at a time and keep it in the fridge or make a larger batch and freeze the extra in ice cube trays for later use. Somewhere in all my herbal readings I learned that calendula and chamomile where both supportive to gum health by firming up the tissue (gentle astringent qualities). They probably provide some good antibacterial qualities too. I like to include plantain for it's ability to draw out and release toxins from tissues. Again, I'm not super diligent with swishing this mouthwash all the time, but I like the taste and it does make my gums feel good. I'm sure one could add a little mint too, if they preferred.
3 months ago
I am still new to the Bates Method of vision improvement, but the few times I've tried the long swing, I was surprised at how it immediately eased my eye strain. The idea is to trick your eyes into focusing differently for a moment through movement. This will use different eye muscles and allow others muscles to relax. Here is a video demonstration of the exercise:  

The Bates Method also stresses an importance on looking into the distance periodically or at least 10 minutes a day. Here the objective is take a break and look at movements in the sky or landscape no closer than 40 yards away. Remove your corrective lenses and really give your vision a break while looking into the distance, if it is safe to do so. For anyone who is interested in exploring more about natural vision improvement, Nathan Oxenfeld youtube channel is a good place to start. I picked up some useful tips in his daily routine video:  

I first learned about this topic by reading the book: Vision for Life by Meir Schneider Vision For Life Ten Steps to Natural Eyesight Improvement

I have also started to use Iris software to adjust blue light and reduce computer screen flicker.
I really like Iris Pro for the features it offers, like a built in timer, but Iris Mini is extremely simple, does the trick and can be downloaded for free.
7 months ago
When I discovered the kickstarter through the daily-ish email, my first reaction was similar to Sue's. This kickstarter follows to closely on the heels of the Great American Farm Tour done by Justin Rhodes and lacks a sense of originality because of that fact, even though it is a great idea. And I've already acquired many of the add-on bonuses through previous kickstarters with a paul wheaton connection.
2 years ago
Hello Aida,

This sounds lovely and I'm willing to give the penpal idea a try. I'm a self-taught artist and use to make my own greeting cards at Christmas time. I painted with acrylic for a while and once experimented with natural plant powders for homemade water colors (spirulina, turmeric, beet, etc.). When I wrote cards and letters to friends and family I'd sometimes include a little hand-drawn art on the pages too. It might be nice to do this again and exercise my creative talent in this way. I might enjoy the challenge of reading cursive too. Such penmanship seems to be a dying art, I'm afraid, in this age of emogis and net-centric abbreviations. I'll warn you though, my handwriting is not so cursive anymore. I've lost some of it over the years. But at any rate, I think we might get along So send me a purple mooseage if you want to exchange addresses.
2 years ago
Burnt Ridge Nursery in Washington offers a selection of rootstock by the piece. They also have a nice variety of scionwood.

I've also seen rootstock available through local orchards that do their own grafting and buy rootstock in quantity. Sometimes they are willing to sell just a few to the homestead hobbyist. Only need to ask or do a little search.

I bet you could sell those extra M111s on Craigslist or something and recoup some expense.

Good luck with your grafting! It's always interesting to see what works out.
I'll echo the brand Kamik, I have a pair of their Hunter boots and I am pleased with them. I've had them for a couple of years and they are holding up well, but they might not be receiving the same level of wear as mentioned by others. My Kamiks are insulated and I wear them mostly during chilly spring and fall wet weather. I have worn them through summer but only briefly to do morning chores. The boots where stiff and uncomfortable at first when brand new. But thankfully that changed over time with wear. They now bend adequately and I find them comfortable for walking great distances over uneven terrain.

I understand the frustrations of finding a durable pair of muck boots that will last. I've spent some time researching brands before I bought my current pair. Here are my top reasons for choosing Kamik.

- Removable, washable liner, (in fact I think this will be the first thing to wear out, but super easy to mend or replace)

- Kamik has a recycling program for their boots. Okay, so I might have to pay a bit to ship them to Canada. But the option is there. I'll gladly support a company that shows responsibility for sustainability. At the time I bought my boots, I found a list on their website of boot styles that are recyclable (not all of them are). I simply choose one from this category that met my needs. And the best part is, I discovered my local farm supply store stocked this very brand and boot. No need to buy online.
3 years ago

Sk Patel wrote:Once you have root growth, do you do anything special when planting out the rooted cuttings?

Once I saw roots on the stems I planted them into pots with good soil that remained light and loose but held moisture well (like a seed starting mix). I waited until the roots were several inches in length before I did this. The mobility of pots allowed me to keep the cuttings out of direct sun. The roots will need to adapted to the soil. I imagine that it's possible to transplant the rooted cuttings directly into the ground, so long as they receive plenty of water afterwards. Water might be need on a daily basis in this situation depending on environmental variables. Some protection from full sun (and wind) would also be beneficial for the cuttings to get rooted in their desired location. Personally, I recommend transferring them to pots with soil (especially if it's just a small quantity of cuttings). Once the stems show new growth, they are ready to be transplanted to their permanent homes.

There are many ways to root plants by stem cuttings. Youtube is where I originally looked for some tips when I first thought about propagating mulberries. Here are a couple vids that I think offer some good visuals on preparing the stems.

4 years ago

In the spirit of Micheal Grab and Gravity Glue, I've been stacking stones in certain places where i walk around the property. The rocks are smallish in size, not very big. My favorite place to put them are on top of fence posts. The birds sit on them, the wind or cattle knock them over, but usually one or two remain. I restack them a little differently each time i pass. It's an easy, interactive and enjoyable form of art in the landscape. I see it as an opportunity to pause, balance and enjoy the view around me. Mini retaining walls, pathway edging and stepping stones are other ways we've made use of rocks in the garden.
4 years ago