Brian Rumsey

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since Jan 29, 2015
Cedar Falls, Iowa
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Recent posts by Brian Rumsey

About retaining walls and complexity/maintenance/failure: this is a concern of mine too. I'd most likely hire pros to do it in hopes of greater durability. Also would hope that being relatively short (<3ft) would help.

Good points from Rob. The spaces is approx. 60x90 feet. Part of the reason I'm thinking of the terracing vs. planters and beds is I love the look of terraced hillsides. The cost is definitely high and it would be hard to justify from a productivity perspective alone. But if I go ahead with this I am expecting it to be very esthetically pleasing as well at least to my tastes. At this high a cost, I appreciate all the skepticism that might be thrown my way to make sure I think through things.
6 months ago
Thanks Eric. I'd mainly think of taking this approach on the garden terrace due to the compacting/subsiding issue. I've already got a mound of them in my yard so I've been watching the compaction too.
6 months ago
My back yard slopes, not an extreme slope but enough that it's an issue for gardening. I'm looking at close to a 5 foot drop over 120 feet. I'm thinking of creating two terraces, an upper "yard" terrace and a lower garden terrace, supported by retaining walls. Each retaining wall would be approx. 2.5 feet. Rather than simply level my soil, I'm thinking I'd rather add new, because under a thin layer of decent topsoil, I've got heavy clay.

The obvious option is to have soil delivered from a local company, but that's a lot of soil and cost. By my calculations about $10,000 of soil per terrace for screened topsoil. I might go this route despite the cost but am interested in alternatives and/or cautions about the idea. One possibility I thought of was to do most of the leveling with wood chips that tree services will provide for free or at low cost -- perhaps something like hugelkultur -- topped by a layer of screened topsoil. But I'm thinking as the wood chips decompose, they will subside and require additional topsoil to be added. This could be a problem if I don't want large machinery driving on my ground every year or few years.

Does anybody have other ideas, or affirmations of either idea I've mentioned above? Good sources to look at for further info?

6 months ago
I made this a few days ago for the first time. Delicious! And so simple! It's going to be my go-to tomato sauce recipe moving forward. If only I could scale it up to make a full rack of quart jars at once, but my oven isn't really large enough.
1 year ago
Boosting an ancient topic here, it appears. I like to grow a large tomato patch but have limited space to move it around from year to year, so I was googling to try to find out whether I might be able to get away with using the same spot repeatedly. Lo and behold, I discover there's actually a school of thought that it is beneficial! Anybody have further experience to report, or other helpful information?
1 year ago
Thanks for all the ideas, everyone. Sounds like leaf mold is a great thing to work on -- thanks Michael for tipping me off to that thread. Sounds like some people in that thread are finding ways to deal with many more leaves than I have. B Beeson, great tips -- the new place is actually in Iowa and I've updated my profile to reflect that. A little cooler, a little wetter -- better conditions for making leaf mold, I would think. I have a shady spot that would be great especially if I can fence it in a bit to keep leaves from blowing away. Jonathan, haven't gotten to watching the videos yet but thanks for the link.
3 years ago
I'm wondering what tips people might be able to share about what they do with large amounts of leaves fallen from trees. I live on nearly an acre, in an established older neighborhood, with several good sized trees. This is a neighborhood where people take pride in their nice lawns. I'm not interested in living up to that exact standard, but I still want to be a good neighbor and not have leaves blowing everywhere. We just moved into the house last summer and so far it's pretty much all still yard although we've got big plans for the long term.

Something needs to be done about the leaves -- if I just leave them there to decompose, they'll continue to kill grass (not the biggest deal in the world) and blow into neighbors' yards. The main options I can think of are make a big pile in an out-of-the way corner to decompose, which would still leave them vulnerable to blowing, or take many truckloads of them to the city compost dump site, which would be lots of extra work and would rob the soil of organic matter that originated there. Does anybody have tips to share on how to deal with large volumes of fallen leaves, ideally in a way that they can eventually be beneficial to the soil, but at least that won't bother the neighbors too much or necessitate truckload after truckload of hauling away?
3 years ago
I've grown a lot of passion flowers/fruits and have had some fruit in containers. I've only ever had them fruit in containers when outside for the summer, not plants that are grown exclusively indoors. They don't have to be all that big (or heavily fertilized) to set fruit, but plants in small pots simply won't set a lot of fruit.

I've unfortunately never had much success with the standard edible passion fruit, P. edulis. It's never bloomed for me. I've gotten lots of fruit from maypops, P. incarnata, though never in pots. The variety that has most frequently fruited for me in a container is a hybrid, P. "Blue Eyed Susan." Its fruits are often not filled very well with pulp, but the taste is very good.

So, in short, I think it's very possible. Might work well with P. incarnata -- I've simply never felt much need to try because I could overwinter it outdoors. You also have to have at least two different clones or varieties blooming at the same time, in my experience, for pollination.
4 years ago
Howdy, Jeff! I have an upcoming trip to Puebla and was doing a little searching on plant/garden-related things to see while there, so I was excited to find this post. Are there any such sites you'd recommend?
Thanks for the feedback. It's good to hear I'm not the only one who is in this boat. And good point, Rose, about the ripeness not being quite as important when making cider.

Feeding the rejects to pigs is a great idea. Now, I just need a pig. Someday...
5 years ago