Kim Goodwin

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since Jan 27, 2014
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Native of Oregon, misses the forests, but now staying warm and dry in the desert.
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Recent posts by Kim Goodwin

This is for emergency reference only.

I've treated a 2nd and 3rd degree burn with immersion in ice water, then cover in honey, then immerse in ice water.  The honey will come off and the water heat up, and we re-applied it, over and over all day and night long.  This is an exhausting process.

The injury was on the back of the hand and up his arm to the elbow from a gasoline explosion.  His face was also burned and his eyelashes singed off, but that was thankfully minor.  After a couple days of the honey/ice water treatment, the skin all peeled off in patches. He had some scarring later, but it was a faint soft mottled pattern.

This is of course, at one's own risk.  This was a boyfriend of mine who had an incredible pain tolerance, beyond most people's.  And this injury tested his self control to the max.  He absolutely refused to go to a hospital.  I learned good deal of emergency medicine in that relationship, as he was an adventurous dude who'd dealt with a lot of injuries in his young life.  Risk-taker type.

I learned the honey method reading about how hospitals in China treated burns.
2 weeks ago
I'm going to add a few more options to this thread, hand pumps that work with deep wells.  Each one has its own little pluses and minuses, and the cost variation is huge, as well.

Before I do that - there are three considerations that I think are critical in picking a hand well pump:

1. How many strokes/gallon of water - in other words how much labor does it take to produce X amount of water.  Contrast that with how much water you want to use daily.
2. Do you want a pump system that could work in tandem with solar power should you be able to upgrade in the future?
3. Consider water storage as a part of the cost of the hand pump.  Without water storage, pumping water becomes someone's almost full-time job.  

(Note: The most affordable water storage option I've found thus far are 50 gallon drums that were used for food transport.  You can get these in metal or plastic, for about $15-20 from some natural food distributors.  Second most affordable is likely DIY ferrocement tanks.  All water storage options have contamination issues to consider, except possibly stainless steel drums.)

So just above are Simple Pump and Bison Pump  - two good options, but pricey.

Flojak has some much less expensive options: Flojak hand well pumps

EZ Hand Pump is cheaper, but totally looks it.  PVC based, and they look pretty much like many of the DIY tutorials I've seen online.  The website looks very spammy, but someone in Permies has ordered this before and said they received the product.  EZ Hand Well Pumps

Pre-made well bucket - this is very inexpensive, it's the type that some of the DIY videos above show how to make and I can only see it being useful for a major emergency situation.  It would be miserable to use something like this for any other reason, but if your system went down, and you had no water and no rainclouds in sight...   PVC water well bucket for emergencies - similar to DIY ones described above

And here is the "Cadillac" of hand well pumps.  It has the big advantage of pumping a lot of water per stroke.  The Waterbuck hi-flow rate hand pump

I only read about this type this year.  Yes, it's spendy (though it's in the range of the Bison and Simple pump costs).  But it moves water more easily than the others I've looked at.  Here's how it works:

And here's how it works with a solar pump.

I'm not promoting any one over the other - I'm still in the place of trying to choose which makes the most sense for us per the cost.  I hope some people with these installed will see this thread and *ahem* pipe up with their thoughts and experiences.  

2 weeks ago
I have an idea... but I'd need to see what the roots/rhizomes look like.  Also, are there any seedheads laying about in the duff there?  You took a lot of great pictures showing the setting and structure.  But grasses can be tough to ID when they aren't flowering.  The rhizomes could help.

Oh, and one more possible hint - do you know any local farmers with grazing animals?  They likely know what it is...

Great thread!  I love plant ID threads.  I learn so much from them.
1 month ago

Chris Sturgeon wrote:

Kim Goodwin wrote: I found that little gem of info on Youtube, by a guy who had a ton of clips about building computers, and one little video - with barely any views - on his experience making mortar out of just Type-S lime.

Kim, this has been a little while, but do you think you could find a link for that video, or remember a name/title? It is indeed hard to find good info on this subject!

It's a bummer - I don't know where video went.  Maybe it was taken down.

Please keep us updated if you are able to move forward with your project.  MY husband and I still have our buckets of lime we made, that has now been slaking for a year.  We haven't had a chance to test it yet, but will, and I'll share what happens.  Our intent is to apply it to concrete block interior walls.

Good luck!
1 month ago
My husband and I discovered that St. John's Wort tincture - applied directly to the recently chiggered area on the skin - kills them and also stops the inflammation. You need to apply it as quickly as reasonably possible after getting some on you.  It seems to work if you use it within about 5-10 minutes.

We haven't had to dig any out for this reason.  Maybe the alcohol kills them?  St. John's Wort tincture topically is an excellent anti-inflammatory on it's own.  It's not a preventative, though.  We haven't found any natural preventative that works for them yet.  The standards for ticks like rose geranium and lime don't seem to help with these mites.

We are in the very southern NM desert.  Locals have said it's been quite a bad year for chiggers here.  I'm from Oregon and had never experienced them, but my husband grew up with the little pests.  The St. John's wort works really well.
1 month ago
There are a lot of great suggestions here, my two cents would add in potato onions (multiplier onions).  They are easy to grow in most areas, and are said to be about the second most productive crop.  (Supposedly staked tomatoes are most productive.)  Here's a thread all about potato onions:  Potato Onions

Potato onions also store well, and of course, are easy to propagate.  You can eat the greens or the bulbs.

I particularly like root crops that essentially perennialize  not only because most of them are delicious and relatively carefree to grow, but also because some of the roots or tubers always seem to escape harvest.  I'm rather thorough, but I've rarely been able to get every potato, oca tuber, sunchoke/sunroot, etc out of the ground.  So if one was worried about, say neighbors raiding their garden - these are great crops for making sure there are leftovers.  

(Unless your neighbors are voles, in which case, good luck.  haha!  Voles ate 1/3 of our 200 head garlic crop before my husband was able to catch them all.  There was no sign they were going to stop eating the garlic, either.  We know they were voles because my husband did manage to catch them, and after they were all caught the garden raids stopped.)

To me, the neatest thing about foods that multiply like potatoes, potato onions, sunchokes/sunroots, green bunching onions, sweet potatoes, oca, yacon, ulluco, chufa, etc is that they are things that provide more than just a meal.  Foods with those characteristics plus a little instruction basically fulfills the "teach a man to fish" concept. I think that's a way to build real security and local resilience.

Thanks for starting this thread.  There are so many thoughtful ideas in here!

I'm also interested in propagation of specific varieties, so knowing which is which is helpful for me, too.

My solution is I make maps of the property/garden areas.  Just hand-drawn.  I find this a very fun thing to do on a winter evening.  :-) It helps me learn and tweak our permaculture design and notice patterns and successful/unsuccessful plant groupings.  Also, this helps me to keep rotations going of annual plant families for disease prevention.

I also keep a file of plants I purchase, as a backup reminder in case I can't find my maps.

Though some people use actual tree tags successfully, I can be too forgetful about them.  It's to easy for me to forget about it and the tree to outgrow the tag and let it get embedded in it - yeah, not good.  Maps and lists work better for me.

In her book on seed saving, Suzanne Ashworth suggests keeping a card file where you record the variety of plant you are growing, the year, maybe stick a photo, and also write in where you obtained the seed from.  You could add a location of where it's planted. And you could obviously do this digitally rather than analog by making a list or table or dataset on your computer.

What do other people do?
1 month ago

Caroline Metzler wrote:Here in southwestern New Mexico I'm growing the following drought-tolerant plants with success: Giant Sacaton (grass, edible seeds), Tepary Beans, Metcalfe perennial beans, Agave, spineless Nopales, and Golden Currant. These are recent experimental plantings, but I'm encouraged with their growth and productivity. The nopales and agaves are super easy. And the Tepary beans are showing a lot of promise — very productive and heat tolerant. Another plant that's doing great, albeit with water, is Styrian Pumpkin. That's the variety that is grown for the seeds, as they're "naked". Another new plant for me, but one that's showing good promise is millet. It's a fast grower and producer, and doesn't need much water. I hope this post adds value for others growing under our harsh desert conditions.

To my surprise, I have had so much trouble with growing beans in the desert.  I'm in SW New Mexico, too. Every bean of every type I've put in (except two plants this year) were eaten by something early on, I think a rodent.   They would be gone in the morning.  I tried using little cages, but nothing worked well.  Packrat? Kangaroo rat? Mice? Does anyone else have these problems?

Carolyn, if you have time, can you talk more about Metcalfe beans? I've never heard of them.  How do you use them?
1 month ago

Beth Wilder wrote:
That's so strange. You're on the east side of the Chiricahuas? Family and friends I've talked to in Tucson, Camp Verde area, Flagstaff, and the Four Corners have told me they're having no monsoon to speak of there, like here. But we often see clouds above and on the east side of the Chiricahuas; they just never seem to come down to us in the foothills here.

Beth, I think I jinxed our region. Argh. :-D  We had decent rainfall in July and the first day of August... then it turned into non-soons (no rain , but some clouds) for the next three weeks.  Sigh.  It sure looked like it would rain again.  It kept sprinkling.  Now it's just been hot, but the evenings are finally cooling off.  Most of the local "Old-timers" who grew up here or just have been here a long time said this is the hottest summer they recall.  And now dry.  The plants aren't thrilled with this heat and dryness, but at least our tomatoes have started ripening and are doing well.  The Sunchoke/sunroots are in full bloom now and butterflies are loving it.

Beth Wilder wrote:
[RE: Prickly Pear]  We've found lots of difference in taste, too. One that grows just on the south-facing slopes of what we call the tobacco hills that extend out to the southwest of the Chiricahuas (sorry, I can never remember their real name, I think it's something-back) has the most incredible fruits that taste just like a cross between strawberries and cherries. But we discovered this year that they're only good fresh! The jelly is almost tasteless. The fermented juice has a strange savory quality to it that isn't pleasant, and it stays too viscous (other varieties' fermented juice is delicious, and the viscosity usually dissipates during fermentation). The really deeply colored, juice-dripping ones seem to taste much less intense fresh but make much better cooked and fermented products. Experimentation seems to be the name of the game!

That is fantastic to learn that the viscosity or sliminess usually goes away with fermenting. (Except in that one variety you found.) I would like to try some kombucha.  I've just been juicing and drinking the pears to help restore magnesium and potassium balance.  I looked up their nutritional content and they are like a desert electrolyte drink!  Prickly Pear fruit nutrition data  

We just picked the last batch of prickly pear for the year.  They are falling off the pads at this point and rather overripe.  Not my favorite, but I used the pulp and seeds and some whole fruit to spread them around our property for hopefully a future generation. When they are this ripe I've found the acidity is almost gone and they have that taste you described as "savory"- yes... exactly.  It's like vegetal; it's sort of like a root vegetable or something.  I looked it up and the red coloring in Prickly Pear is supposedly the same as in beets.  Maybe that's it?

I learned from a local that the prickly pear plants here are suffering from a fungus that is wiping out many mature plants.  So it seems like a great time to spread the seeds around and get our own food forest started.

1 month ago
Fantastic thread!  I love seeing all the tips and pictures.
Beth, I'm constantly blown away at what you manage with just rainwater collection (am I remembering this right?).  It's so impressive either way, because you clearly are working with the land in a very sustainable manner.

My husband and I have irrigation from both our laundry greywater and a well. Plus roof and driveway runoff to our garden.  For some reason, this monsoon season has been decent here in our section of the SE Arizona high desert.  Last year was a "non-soon" which was pretty miserable, but this year there was enough rainfall for the toads to spawn and multiply.

Our desert gardening conditions - our garden is on the east side of the house.  My husband made us a bunch of sunken beds and he lined the paths with rocks.  We've found rocks to be really useful in gardening, as they trap water underneath.  The sunken beds seemed to do double duty - besides trapping water, in the early spring they trapped heat like a little nest on the ground.  This allowed a bunch of frost-sensitive plants to survive late freezes.  I was very surprised by this, as my guess would have been that the sunken beds could make frost pockets.  They did the opposite, as proven by the butternut squashes that came up extremely early from compost buried in the beds.  The squash plants that were about 3-4 inches tall, but were totally below the level of the ground around them survived late freezes.  The ones that poked up above the main ground level got frozen!  This was an awesome accidental experiment.

We also have a couple wicking beds.  And also, we have no fencing up and the garden has been frequented by jackrabbits.  Greywater comes from washing clothes.  Rainwater off half the house floods the garden.  I also water by hand.

So with these conditions in mind: a high desert location with late freezes, 100+ temps through much of this summer; some monsoons coming through, but supplemental water; sunken beds or wicking beds; very sandy clay soil - here are the perennials that are doing well so far for us:

  • Sylvetta/Perennial Arugula - I second Beth's promotion of this plant.  It's incredible!  This is the first time I've grown it. My husband loves it (though it's a tad spicy for me).  It was slow to sprout and I thought I'd killed it all.  But then tiny little plant-lings came up, and they were so resilient.  Some of the toughest seedlings I've ever observed.   It produced a lot of tasty leaves in the spring and then bloomed.  As summer approached, it sort of died back and I stopped watering it entirely because I thought it wasn't going to make it.  Instead, it seemed to go dormant for a month then popped back to life after the first small monsoon!  It quadrupled in size at that point and pumped out a ton more leaves.  I call it "Cousin It" now.  Jackrabbits don't seem to like it.

  • Sunroot/Sunchoke - Also seconding Beth's mention of this plant.  (I also count this as a perennial vegetable since it's really hard to get rid of once you plant it. That meets the definition for my purposes.)  Ours is going gangbusters.  It does really really like the deep soaks from that greywater, though.  It just started blooming.  It's about 7 feet tall and 5 feet wide, and that row was created by 5 "crowns" we bought from's grocery section, so I don't know the variety.  The jackrabbits trimmed the bottom branches in the early summer, but it didn't slow the plant down.  Instead I noticed it made it easier to see if a rattlesnake is hanging out underneath, so that was nice.  Obviously we haven't harvested it yet, but I've dug at the base a little to see what was going on, and the plants are sending tubers out much further than I thought they would.  There will likely be some under the pathways, I think. Also, this plant attracted a ton of beneficial insects early in the spring - lacewings and all sorts of wasps combed it's leaves.  Very interesting to watch, as there were very few pests on it.  Just one wooly aphid-type insect.

  • Green Onions - These little store-bought freebies have done really well. Those in the pictures below are just the free starts from the ends of green onions I bought in store to eat.  They haven't divided yet and I've seen someone else talk about that. This is different than my results in Oregon, where a few of the little onion ends created a seemingly endlessly multiplying patch of green onions in every type of weather.  These have proven quite drought and rabbit resistant.  Though they haven't multiplied, they really flush out a lot of leaves.  We eat them almost everyday.  In Oregon, you could brush snow off these and eat them all winter.  I am looking forward to seeing if they are that hardy in the desert.

  • Shallots - not a perennial, but self-propagating so I'll include it for honorary mention.  Shallots did very well for us this year, while our garlic and leeks bolted and died.  Interestingly, jackrabbits ate the top half of the leaves.  Shallots provided our first green onions of this year, before our standard green onion patch went full tilt.  I like shallot greens a bit better than green onions, as they are sweeter.  I was very impressed with how heat tolerant these were.

  • Chufa/Tigernut/Earth Almond/Yellow Nutsedge/Nutgrass -
  • This is my first time growing these in a desert location, but since they are grown commercially in Spain it seemed worth a try.  I have them where they get flooded by the laundry greywater, like the sunroots. I put them in raised rows like I read about in this guide to growing chufa: Detailed guide on how to grow Chufa (Cyperus Esculentus)

    I'm growing this batch to expand my planting stock, as we are going to be in a new location next year. I sourced them organic by buying the Tigernut brand that is sold in many natural food stores.  Though my main use for them is to grow them in a large greywater bed that I want to use for growing our own chicken feed, we also like chufa tubers made into the raw beverage Horchata de Chufa which is basically chufa "milk".  There are lots of recipes, but the basic premise is like a nut milk - soak the tubers, blend, strain.  People sweeten it, but we find it's sweet enough for us as it is!  It's quite tasty and refreshing.

  • Prickly Pear - Just adding another supporting vote for that one!  The fruit is divine.  The variety that grows wild near us tastes just like loganberries.  There are tons of varieties in cultivation and the fruit tastes wildly different.  Some have almost no acidity, whereas others are quite tart.  Some like this wild variety on the east side of the Chiricahuas tastes like raspberries mixed with blackberries, mixed with a little banana, whereas others have a totally different flavor.  

    We've picked about 10 pounds to freeze and processed at least as many into juice.  We've found we don't need to remove all of the spines as long as we run them through our macerating juicer.  The pulp that comes out of the juicer is spiny as can be, though.  You end up with a ton of seeds that you can replant in the wild.  The other neat thing I read about lately is that the fruit is high in magnesium and a little less so in potassium - making it a great electrolyte drink! It's also very high in mucilage, like the leaves.  So it's a natural cure for the misery that comes with the heat and dryness of the midsummer desert weather.  :-)

  • Here are two more possibilities for the desert, but they can't tolerate freeze and thus would need to be brought in for the winter and they would likely need greywater or supplemental water to thrive:

  • Lemongrass - These are in our wicking bed, as I read they need constant moisture to grow well.  I started these from some bought at an Asian market.  I can't believe how well they are doing - WAY better than the lemongrass I grew in Oregon.  Apparently, lemongrass likes a lot more sun than it got in my Oregon yard.  When I move them next, I'll put them in more sun.  I don't think they needed the passionvine over the top for shade, though the galangal behind them might still.  The location in the picture is on a north and east wall, and I'm going to attempt to overwinter some in that wicking bed.  Another discovery, fresh lemongrass straight from your garden is so tender!  The main stem is tender and totally edible, unlike the stuff I would buy in stores.  The leaves are prolific and make awesome tea.  I'm also saving leaves for trying some basketry later this year.  Eight plants turns out to be way more than we can eat, but we're enjoying the tea and the other potential uses.

  • Galangal root - This is a big experiment.  It's in the shade, hidden behind the lemongrass in the wicking bed.  The house is cement block, and so the temperatures are very stable in that little corner.  There is also ginger in there, but the galangal root is doing better.  I believe this is lesser galangal. I bought it off Etsy from a person in Florida.  It had a slow start and hated the direct sun and wind of the late spring when the lemongrass was still small.  The leaves burned in the sun and wind.  But when the lemongrass took off, so did the galangal.  I'm not sure everyone would consider this a "vegetable", since it's very strong flavored and it more of a spice, but it's wonderful thing to have on hand if you like Thai food.  These plants will likely have to come indoors for the winter.  I'm not sure I want to risk any of them outside in our zone 8a..but I might experiment with one.  The growing season for ginger and galangal root is VERY long, and I probably won't have a harvest until next summer, if what I read is correct.  9-12 months growing in the ground...  Makes you appreciate buying it, right?  It's the sort of thing that's worth it if you love Thai food and want it organic.  And if you are in the low desert that rarely freezes, I imagine you wouldn't have to bring them in if you had them in a nice microclimate.

  • Thanks for starting this excellent list!
    2 months ago