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Mike Peters

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since Feb 28, 2014
We'll get to this in a bit.
Eugene, OR
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Recent posts by Mike Peters

That's great! What other sorts of polycultures do you plan to bring in?
1 day ago
Welcome, Zach! How did you come into this line of work?
1 day ago

Diane Kistner wrote:
I'm wondering what the best way to handle the seeds might be, in terms of being able to watch them over time to see what arises. I'm in zone 8a, so I hope it's not going to get too cold for the MCs to survive.

Diane, your tree collards should do pretty well. I haven't grown any from seed yet ( I propagate through cuttings, and receive them as gifts from friends), but I can say that they grow very well here on our farm in Zone 7b with no protection other than a deer fence. The only problem we've had was a gusty day that kept blowing the collards down. They're okay now, but will be transplanted soon when we remodel the garden area.
As a landscaper, I use a single-wheel wheelbarrow and a mutli-tine fork. A regular pitchfork won't hold chips/compost, and a shovel moves remarkably little for how light mulch weighs. Ensillage forks work well, but are pricey. A 10-tine is what I use.

I use the single-wheel wheelbarrow for its maneuverability, and the narrow pour mouth is useful in tighter areas.

Pro tips:

-When filling from an open pile, set the wheelbarrow on its side and scrape in mulch. It goes so much faster than shovelling/forking, and is great if you can right the barrow without injuring yourself.

-When dumping a full wheelbarrow, do not shake from side to side. Instead. Tip the wheelbarrow vertical, grab the feet, and pull sharply backward and upwards. All of the mulch will come out in one go, guaranteed.

-Load your barrow evenly! Left/right balance is crucial, and if you are carrying heavier objects, distribute a little more weight forward of the wheel. It will take advantage of the fulcrum of the axle, and make your load lighter and easier to dump. Don't overdo it, though! Spilling a load can be frustrating, especially if you have to do it and start again on a slope.

-Make lots of little piles while dumping, start from the farthest point, and work in sections. The little piles make spreading/estimating depth easier, and working in sections from the farthest point helps to prevent walking back over your work while reducing compaction.

- Lay down plywood paths for heavy loads to reduce compaction. For a large open area, make a branching structure like a leaf if you are able to!

I wouldn't be caught dead without a barrow on a job site, and I never use buckets unless there is no way to get a wheelbarrow in, or to replace or repair it. They are an indispensable tool for both my business and my farm.
1 year ago
Hey M,

 I'm curious if the design for your vermicomposting toilet is effective. It definitely raises an eyebrow, and I wonder whether or not the solids are processed enough to remove human pathogens. If you test your finished "compost" please share the results!
 I don't see any issues with having a mycelium mat on the surface. Try digging deeper with a shovel and sterilize it afterward. As secondary consumers, worms love eating the fungi, bacteria, and actinomycetes that break down our poo. As long as conditions are favorable for the worms, they will stay and eat through that mat.

Can you post pictures?
1 year ago
Sweet! Pen Pals! The next poster will receive a hand-written letter from Oregon, USA.
1 year ago
As a wildland firefighter and a landscape constructor/maintainer, I feel that I am qualified to be considered a professional digger. For the better part of the year, I use a shovel multiple times a week, and the other part my shovel does not leave my hands unless I am eating, sleeping, or running a chainsaw. I've used many different shovels, seen many break, and even broken a couple myself.
 I will break this down into a few categories: steps, footwear, and handles. I will include brand recommendations in situ.
 Steps are ALWAYS  the way to go when you have the option. The only exception I can think of is while mopping up a fire, as the step may impede stump hole penetration in narrow situations. The shovel my crew uses is the Jackson PONY Forestry shovel with a narrow point and tempered blade. I've seen a Stanley with a built in step, but the wonky shape and serrated blade makes me doubt its capabilities. The best shovels I've used in landscaping have got to be Razorbacks. Well-made with great warranties, and the majority of their shovels have steps built in. A lot of their handles are fiberglass, which is a great segue into handles.

 Fiberglass or wood? I prefer wood, but I've really been warming up to fiberglass. As a person who has rehandled many axes, hammers, and hand tools, wood is beautiful, very durable, and comfortable to use. You can also customize it to your liking and make your own handles! The key with it is having appropriate woods and orientations. Hickory cannot be beaten and I would say black locust is a great second. The orientation of the grain should be in line with the force applied for the tool's designed function. For shovels, that is perpendicular to the width of the blade. This is probably the most important thing in any wooden handle, and almost always the reason a handle breaks from force. If you're wondering why the orientation is important, try stacking some thin cardboard strips together and bending them. Which way is more difficult? Folding them like paper? Or bending along the sides of the 'grain'?
 Fiberglass is interesting. It can bend pretty decently, act as an insulator (against electricity), and requires almost no maintenance. We have a few old fiberglass shovels that have been through quite a lot of digging, and the handles are holding up surprisingly well. They work for minor prying jobs (actual prying is where a rock bar comes in) but I've seen them snap too and it isn't pretty. I cannot attest to their strength compared to hickory, but I would say that it is decent. I like the idea of not being electrocuted while transplanting, though!
 Footwear is exactly like everyone is saying: wear solid soles. Fire and work boots are tough, so they aren't a bother. I work in hiking boots at home and professionally. Better traction on various terrain, lighter weight, and waterproof. They too are quite solid and I have no problems using them. They typically last about 2 seasons without oiling the leathers. Fire boots last me about 5, and can double-duty as farm boots, but I rarely break them out except to run a saw. Sneakers I don't use often as I wear Vivobarefoots, but I would see no problem in dry conditions with a step. I haven't found a solid-soled pair of rain boots, so I cannot recommend anything there.

Well, that was longer-winded than I thought!
2 years ago
Hello everyone,

 I am looking for some input and recommendations on shifting a commercial landscaping business from a "rape and pillage" structure that blatantly kills any and all "weeds" to one that works to build the soils, provide optimal conditions for life to grow, and through aesthetics, can draw people in and begin to form a bridge over the gap between humans and nature. Going into my fifth year of landscape and garden maintenance, I have come to the conclusion that the work that I have been carrying out with weeding, spraying, and bagging lawn clippings is doing nothing beneficial to these landscapes to help everything thrive. Killing and removing these plants and their organic matter feels so terribly wrong to me, like I am stealing from these plants and ecosystems. I feel increasingly like seeing bare ground is like witnessing a scar on the earth, trying to repair itself by growing new plants to fill the void, only to be reopened with every misting of spray, and every pierce of my Hori. I understand the aesthetics to a certain degree, giving plants isolation to highlight them and removing competition. However, these beds are not even mulched, and the soils look and feel bleh, like they are lacking life.

 I have approached my bosses a few times, indicating my interest in building the soils, fertilizing, and making a shift to organic and natural practices. The first time was well received, and I was informed about a folder labelled "IPM" for Integrated Pest Management, that basically contained a few ideas, mostly regarding organic vinegar, garlic, and eugenol-based sprays to mitigate weeds.  During the second attempt (which was yesterday), I expressed my feeling about weeding and scarring the land, and how I wanted to utlilise landscapes and gardening to really create healthy, beautiful environments for people to enjoy and reconnect with nature. It went fantastically, and my boss recommended to create a list of ways in which we can incorporate these practices into our daily and seasonal routines. We will sit down, and refine it a bit, and then take it to the owner of the company to make a pitch for the start of a transition to creating healthy happy, and profitable landscapes in the company!

 So what brings me here right now, is you folks. I know that a community as strong and diverse as Permies will have a wealth and breadth of knowledge to offer. I want to start a transition towards creating a business that is sustainable, conscious, and thriving. So tell me, what can you folks share with me, so that we can make a step towards a beautiful and healthy urban environment?

What resources can you recommend in organic, sustainable, and ecological landscaping?

Who here has experience with this type of landscaping or gardening?  

Has anyone pitched extreme ideas to your boss or authority? What did you learn from it?

Who has tips on organizing and presenting this information to a boss? Examples?

Thank you for your help, folks! This is a dream that I had when I first started using a commercial lawnmower, and I feel that it is the beginning of a change in how to professionally manage our yards.
3 years ago
As a landscaper, rose hips are definitely one of my favorite things to munch on! The rugosas really are quite nice, and I've personally found that the climbing style of roses with oblong hips are my favorite tasting. I plan on taking cuttings for my own garden one of these days .
4 years ago
This is something that I am very interested in. Building useful items from scratch with your bare hands, and really interacting with the wood. Would anyone happen to know anyone in Western Oregon who does this sort of thing? I am willing to make a career shift, and at 23, I have plenty of time and energy to devote to the craft .
4 years ago