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Ben Zumeta

pollinator
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since Oct 02, 2014
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dog duck hugelkultur
Redwood Country, Zone 9-10, 60" rain/yr,
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Recent posts by Ben Zumeta

Denise,

Regarding your question about bringing the wheelbarrow upright, I put my foot at the downhill foot of the wheelbarrow and pull it up. If its too heavy, figure out how much you can lift and fill accordingly. It is also vastly easier to move a naturally stable full 2-wheel barrow than a single wheel which requires balancing the load. Its also better to move a half load all the way to its destination than a full load half way.
4 days ago
I have spread hundreds of yards of wood chips in the past couple years at home and for work on food forests, and I use:

- A 8cu ft two wheeled barrow, ideally with solid tires (one I have at home has them). I have tried to design so all pathways are wide enough that a single wheel would be unnecessary, as I hate those wobbly bastards. I can take a much large load and move a double wheel with one hand if necessary, and I don’t have to work to balance it. I would bet it reduces the effort by up to half
- A cast iron bedding fork (an awesome old tool given to me by a neighbor) with a 16”wide x 12” deep head. This is perfect for wood chips, probably 3x as fast as other forks I’ve used
- a McCloud for raking in chips into wheel barrow on its side
- my small pickup for longer runs and where I can pull it right up between hugel beds to unload directly. I will be getting an automated unloading device when possible. I can hold about 2.5yds when it’s piled high as is safe
5 days ago
I would give aerated duck pond water a shot for hydroponics, but it could have sanitation concerns. Duck manure is generally better balanced in NPK and micronutrients than fish, which is very high nitrogen and can produce lush leaves but not flowers or fruit. I have had  great results in soil and “soil-less” gardening with duck manure and supplemental micronutrients from kelp. I hypothesize ducks have coevolved with aquatic plants for symbiosis, much like fish.
Hi Andrea, is the shade from a structure or an evergreen, or a deciduous tree? Does its shade vary due to seasonal variations in sun path? I have a greenhouse that got shaded before I got my place by a big maple to the north that reaches over it and shades it in partially in midsummer, and a barn to the south shading partially in the winter. It did not make sense to have a greenhouse with plants  there with no more than 3hrs of direct sunlight per day. However its temp ranges worked well as a chicken and duck house, with a run with more light outside and several hugel bed gardens for them to rotate through. I have considered trying to grow citrus, tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse,  but that would require supplemental light to get much fruit and that seems inefficient. How much light do you get and what are your max-minimum temperatures in the greenhouse?
1 week ago
Anyone know much about those neonicitinoid treated citrus from the big box stores? Do they stay toxic to bees their entire lives? I was given a couple and am wondering if I should just compost them.
1 week ago
I think you would have better efficiency pulling the air than pushing it. I’d also consider drilling numerous holes in your container. I would also wet the whole batch down to the point where it runs off slightly at the beginning, then adding moisture only as needed thereafter.
1 week ago
I may have missed it posted already, but have you tried using a black “chimney”, with perforations in the section in the pile? The black heats up in the sun, when ventilation is most beneficial, and a thermosyphon passively ventilates the pile. This is just an adaptation off the classic design for ventilating a house passively, and since any heat loss is escaping within your greenhouse (ideally into a thermal mass like you are doing in your soil), it would seem to be worthwhile to me.
1 week ago
It seems to me you’ve done a lot of things right, and many of my first ideas have been mentioned already. The only things I can think of as possible problems in your system
- are contamination from biocides in the chips or other additives (a risk I also accept when taking arborist chips)
- the metal container itself possibly being coated in a biocide
- a non permeable container restricting air flow

Someone called the fire department on my woodchips pile last month after I had been taking from it for mulch and left it steaming. Nothing had been added to this pile of pine and fir. Everyone in California is terrified about fires with all those going on in southern and central CA.

I have had good results from putting duck pond water over woodchips and seeing it heat up to the point of feeling hazardous to climb, and then it developed nice fungal hyphae.
1 week ago
I agree with Tim’s approach if you have the mulch available (I use arborist woodchips, spreading about 14yds this week). The chopping might help in how it slight pulls at the roots, loosening the soil underneath like an herbivore can when grazing, but I think it’s not necessarily worth the effort if smothering with deep mulch.

The main benefits of chop and drop in my opinion  are:
- retention of as much organic matter as possible
- a proportional amount of the root system dies back, effectively injecting compost into the soil with minimal disturbance and oxidation/nutrient loss
- protecting the soil and its ecosystem. If we think about a habitat as food-water-shelter-space, debris/mulch of chopped and dropped plants provides all these requirements for diverse organisms and the succession of the soil ecosystem
- the relatively stable habitat within the mulch (temperature and moisture are moderated greatly) allows for this ecosystem succession from bacterial Ky dominated and less diverse dirt towards fungally dominated (fungal species increase exponentially over time without disturbance, but bacteria also diversify just do so with a more linear increase over time).
- this succession is where disease and pest resistance comes from. The decomposition cycle is a little microcosm of evolution, with abundant species of pests or disease being consumed by their predators or control species. If we just leave well enough alone and have enough diversity around us in healthy ecosystems, we will inevitably see natural controls for our plant problems.

Success with succession!