bob day

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since Apr 07, 2013
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Central Virginia USA
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Recent posts by bob day

There are lots of variations on the overarching theme of hugelculture. and using wood of any kind /size will use nitrogen to break it down.  Even in a more normal hugel culture with sizeable chunks of wood, there will be a breaking in period where the soil will be providing nitrogen and bacteria / fungus to decompose the wood.

I think about hugelculture when I have what might normally be used as a burn pile and then bury the wood out of sight recycling the wood in a less destructive way, getting the wood out of sight  with the future plan of coming back to the area with better soil and a bed to grow in.

An ongoing business producing a "waste" stream starts to look more like a permaculture opportunity where I would think a little longer about other possibilities.

depending on quantities of sawdust, type, etc, there might be other more "profitable" ways to use the sawdust, mushroom growing being the first possibility that comes to mind .

If you do just want to get rid of the sawdust, remember that oxygen, water and nitrogen are key ingredients in the breakdown process,  Large compost piles, frequently turned with manure added and fine topsoil and heat coming out as a product might also be a way to go.  

Again, it depends on the specifics of your situation, but hugel culture with large masses of plain sawdust dumped as a lump and then covered with soil sounds like a losing proposition. At least mix the sawdust in with the soil as you refill the hole so there is some air and water penetration, through the whole thing - some nitrogen waste will speed up the rehab process.
3 weeks ago
When it comes to birds, there's lots of ways to attract them-suet through the winter to attract and keep insectivores, then stop feeding after the birds have settled in.   Just routine seed feeding is more for a hobby bird watcher, since seed attracts rodents and is not particularly specific about attracting the bug eaters

just a regular T  pole where ever you want extra fertilizer-- birds will perch there while they survey the ground for predators and food, then poop as they take off--T pole  can be moved as needed

Don't forget bat boxes and  bird baths, but keep an eye out for predators possibly taking advantage-- snakes can be a real issue
2 months ago
Two nice articles to help solve the juglone mystery

Another couple facts that may help

walnuts and grass get along, grass is pretty hostile to most fruit trees,  grass prefers  a greater bacterial content in the soil---bacterial content in the soil usually indicates  lower ph-higher acidity

most trees thrive in a more fungal soil,

black walnut is a primary anti fungal herb medicinally--useful for athletes foot, candida, parasites--- also as a spray for different tree diseases--generally attributed to it's high iodine content

note that i did not refer to juglone specifically, but in reading through the "growing..." link, it appears that there may be other compounds besides juglone responsible for some of the observed effects

another fact that Bill referred to was the ability to use mulberry trees as an intermediary tree between walnuts and other trees that might otherwise not grow in the vicinity  of walnuts

2 months ago

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Koi (disambiguation).
Koi fish
Conservation status
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Cyprinidae
Genus: Cyprinus
Species: C. carpio
Variety: C. c. var. "koi"
Trinomial name
Cyprinus carpio var. "koi"
Linnaeus, 1758

Koi (鯉, English: /ˈkɔɪ/, Japanese: [koꜜi]) or more specifically nishikigoi (錦鯉, Japanese: [ɲiɕi̥kiꜜɡoi], literally "brocaded carp") are colored varieties of the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) that are kept for decorative purposes in outdoor koi ponds or water gardens.

Koi is an informal name for the colored variants of C. carpio kept for ornamental purposes. There are many varieties of ornamental koi, originating from breeding that began in Niigata, Japan in the early 19th century.[1][2][3]

Several varieties are recognized by the Japanese, distinguished by coloration, patterning, and scalation. Some of the major colors are white, black, red, orange, yellow, blue, brown and cream, besides metallic shades like gold and silver-white ('platinum') scales. The most popular category of koi is the Gosanke, which is made up of the Kōhaku, Taishō Sanshoku and Shōwa Sanshoku varieties.
Carp are a large group of fish originally found in Central Europe and Asia. Various carp species were originally domesticated in China, where they were used as food fish. Carp are coldwater fish, and their ability to survive and adapt to many climates and water conditions allowed the domesticated species to be propagated to many new locations, including Japan.

As far as humanure, it should be either well composted in a hot pile with frequent turning, or left to stand for two years to get rid of any possible disease organisms. humanure handbook and videos

3 months ago
The Pond Guy is a great resource for ponds.

It has turned into an addiction for me so be careful :-)

caution ponds and fish are addictive

I have actually been playing with biofilters now for a couple years and a few fish a couple small pumps no mosquitoes.  The link is intended as a research starter,  have fun and don't feel obligated to spend lots of money, there's all sorts of work arounds.
3 months ago
Mosquitoes do not like moving water, the larvae eat algae. Also a key food for tadpoles, so you already have some competition for resources.
Lemon scented plants seem most effective at repelling adult mosquitoes. lemon thyme, lemon sage, lemon grass, but the disclaimer is I don't know what the effects on frogs might be but I suspect minimal.
there are nice little submersible pumps for 10-20 bucks that run on 12 volt dc current if you want to entertain the possibility of a waterfall or fountain.

The aerator mentioned earlier is also one way to keep the water from being stagnant.

There are diy traps that use a black sock and soda bottle half full of water.  I'm a little rusty on the measurements etc, but the idea is to cut a hole in the side of the bottle, cover the whole thing with the sock, and push the sock into the hole so the water level is right about at sock level. mosquitoes lay their eggs, larvae swim around inside the bottle but then can't get out when they turn into adults.

Here's a link that has a version of the bottle trap as well as a couple others.

mosquito traps

3 months ago
Hi Christine,

My best guess would be not to mess around with earth bags as a structural support. A normal concrete foundation, then adjust the exterior containment membrane to the height  required.  A cement dome of this size is a lot of weight, Uneven settling on top of earth bags could be a serious problem re: cracks and stability.

If you then wanted to add insulation with earthbags they could be laid against inside or outside of dome.

If you wanted to just use the concrete dome as a roof structure, that's a whole other animal, and likely better served by more conventional solutions-joists or trusses. The attractiveness of these domes is the simplicity and relative structural integrity/ durability all in one, when you start mixing and matching structural elements you lose the formulas that make it work in the first place
4 months ago
Hi There,

I've been growing taro/ elephant ear for several years now -here in VA, zone 7 or so, bringing it inside for winter. obviously this is labor intensive, and I mostly have found it will grow inside if I remember the water. Trying an experiment this year, leaving one of the taro plants outside in the biofilter to see if it will survive, I doubt it will, but i have a bunch of plants to play with, so we'll see.

Also, I have even kept azolla alive outside one winter in a semi protected small pond with some shade cloth over top of the whole mess and lots of decaying organic matter around--a general mess in other words, but it survived there, winter outside, zone 7.  the next winter was not as kind, but some did manage to make it through in a more exposed situation, but  I brought in as much as i could find outside at the end of this summer, and need to keep it away from the fish, but with occasonal inputs of fish nutrient water.

One of the tricks with azolla is nutrient in the water. one summer I raised it well, but found toward the end of the summer it started to turn color, and I think that was a result of nitrogen deficiency.  The taro also does much better when it is helping purify fish waste in the water stream.

I've been working with koi and biofilters, and taro just fits in nicely.  I'm also growing  tumeric and ginger as well as some more cold hardy plants in the biofilters, and it seems that nutrient rich water is loved by all plants.  I know there are thousands of species of alocasia and colocasia and I like the idea of the 6 month ripening Japanese varieties. our oriental stores around here sell taro corms pretty cheap as a food, They even fit the description of the araime, and a quick experiment toward the end of this summer proved them viable, so depending on how things develop, that is a seed option for next year if I choose to go that way.

Of course the other alternative, rather than importing exotics is the idea of local plants like cattails, I put a few in the biofilter two springs ago, and had to pull them out of the biofilter because they were crowding everything else out in the biofilter.  I moved them down to act as a filter plant at the head of one of my gully ponds, and expect in a couple years it will be a major crop with very little care on my part.  I also started some arrowhead from a plant  at the nearby river, and two years later it has multiplied many times over as well.

Yes, the idea of having a long term property is a great idea for a permaculture experiment, and often rented land will just return to its previous state after it is left behind, and looking back at my youth I put lots of energy into short term stuff that was lost in time, experiments that partially worked whose primary function was my instruction. Still, we have to be careful about the wish to do things differently  IF.....   Those thought experiments just are to confirm that we know more now than earlier,  not that we didn't gain valuable perspectives from the "right" choice at the right time.

Note to self:Making the best choice I know how to make is always a good idea, regretting a past decision in light of new information is mostly unnecessary self flaggelation.

Remember, if you're not having fun you've got the design wrong:-)
Hello again, everybody.

Yep, still kicking, may even get my divorce finished soon. my soon to be ex stbe:)  wants me indebted to her forever, I'm hoping for a real short prison term --none at all, preferably, I feel like I already done my time. I had a little money from my mom dying, and paying lawyers 1k$ at a time is no fun. I've been scrounging used materials all my life, anything for a buck, so this just blows my mind.

Of course the land here is protected from her (I think), so with a little luck I will continue my life in paradise, but it would be a bummer if i ended up having to go back out to work.

My koi ponds and biofilters are working pretty good--finally, water actually clear enough to see the fish, and plants grew like crazy during the season-- been thinking more about wasabi growing, and with luck will get something going next spring. My first attempt was pretty half assed, and I've seen some recent utube content that may help.  of course it may be just a little too cold for having the wasabi as a perennial outside--time will tell, it has been getting warmer.

I have been thinking about biting the bullet and buying real store bought lumber for a greenhouse. Ideally I would make it bigger and attempt a design I had worked out years ago that would use a solar stack, underground heat storage, and a rocket stove setup that would keep up temps year round, but likely this will just be 12'x16', have a small pond and wetland/biofilter) and maybe a table and chairs with other plants for occasional outings in the winter --sunny days in winter can really be pleasant in a greenhouse.  This will have regular house type walls with insulation on three sides, and glass on the south--roof will be solar panels. but will likely wait to see how rich I feel after this divorce is final.

Anyway, I was still setting up the biofilters this spring when the koi were spawning, and the bigger koi were desperate trying to find some shallow water to lay their eggs, so the one pond got fresh reeds planted in the shallows, and the upper pond got lots of shallow edges added, reeds etc installed, so with luck, next spring the adults will have better accommodations for makin whoopie and the kids will have good places to hide.  Oh, I did kill about three fish eating water snakes that invaded, a male, female, and baby. I generally don't like to interfere, but i did notice all or almost all of the 80 or 90 goldfish in the wild pond disappeared, I'm guessing those snakes were responsible, of course most likely there will be some little gold fish hiding out that will replenish the population, but it's such a drag when mother nature sends in free loaders to help themselves to my fish.

The butterfly koi added about 5 to their numbers, and I thought I saw one small one up with the big koi but so far the only obvious ones are the same 6- time will tell though. The butterfly pond hides the babies well, and it seems like there are actually two or three generations represented in the few extra fish, some almost appear to be carry overs from last year, hardly seems like a 6 inch fish could come from this years spawn, but hey, I'm not complaining--actually pretty glad they can hide so well, less danger from predators.

Planted a bunch of trees last spring, red buds around the catfish pond--they theoretically attract caterpillars that will help feed the fish.  also some plums and persimmons--nothing fancy, just the native varieties.  The paw paws I planted the previous year mostly survived, and the biggest issue was just manicuring their spaces so there is easy access for watering, and the weeds don't get too crazy-- I tried planting a few tomatoes around in between some of the seedlings, but the deer really  are a problem, and the general soil is clay and rock, so cultivating a garden will also foster enriching the soil. So i really didn't expect much this year anyway (and I wasn't disappointed:)

The open pit gold mining that was a possible threat last year seems to have petered out, and with democrats in house and senate in va, we probably will have a better try at getting some good regulations, although the republican governor may block any active environmental protections.   Still, the original hype about the rich veins of gold seems to have been a sales promotion for aston bay trying to profit, and local talent says it would be too expensive to exploit the veins with tunnels and the open pit idea is equally problematic because of the pattern of the veins..

So for the time being  at least this land may be spared. Think a good thought.

Anyway, that's all for now, and remember

If you're not having fun, you've got the design wrong.

6 months ago