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Robin Katz

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since May 10, 2015
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Recent posts by Robin Katz

Looks just like my tomatillos but you should know fairly soon when fruit starts setting. Nice healthy plant though.
3 days ago
Thanks for the recommendation for Logees. I bought from them a long time ago but didn't realize that they had such a diverse offering of plants. I'll check them out!
2 weeks ago

Donna Lynn wrote:And yet, I just received another delivery of baby tropical plants!  Macadamia, cinnamon, lemongrass, spilanthes, patchouli, curry leaf, plus a few others.  Some don't like the environment and fail to thrive, such as the variegated cotton plant, the black pepper vine, the very tender wasabi, and a mango tree.  Others do well (like the cacao tree, vanilla orchid and pomegranate) and many just kind of hang in there...

Donna, where did you buy those amazing plants?
2 weeks ago
We have been using pine and fir wood/bark/needle mulch for 5 years and I have seen no issues with resulting growth unless it's so deep that no sun gets to the soil. We used lots of wood chips building our garden beds. We had good growth the same year we put wood chips in the hugel beds with pine and fir logs. Now the chips have broken down into soil. So I haven't seen any sign that douglas fir, ponderosa pine, and lodgepole pine are an issue. Not sure about your particular type of conifer.
1 month ago

Bethany Brown wrote:Benadryl makes me depressed as a side affect so I stay away from it.

My suggestion would be to open a capsule of Benadryl, wet the sting area and apply the powder, making a paste. Leave this on for 10 minutes. This has done wonders for me when I've been stung. I usually end up with a 5 inch area of swelling and crazy itching for days after being stung, but applying the Benadryl capsule right away the pain is gone and I don't get any of the hyper-reaction. And I don't get the sleepy, dopey reaction from taking Benadryl orally. You only need it in one small area so no reason to take it internally.
1 month ago
My basic approach to new pans that promise non-toxic, non-stick attributes is to wait 3-5 years to see how they hold up in real use by thousands of people. The product is usually off the market by then. If not, then it might be worth considering but for now the cast iron and stainless steel will have to keep doing their job.

If the marketing approach promises lots of things that it doesn't have like PFOA, cadmium (really?), then I wonder what it DOES have that they aren't mentioning.
1 month ago
If I could only graft onto pine and fir trees I'd be set. Or onto serviceberries. But that's one of those impossible dreams I suspect.
1 month ago
I have pretty much stopped buying bare-root trees since they don't do well with out hot, dry summers.

I have a 10 ft. tall apple tree that grew from seed in my compost pile. It doesn't seem to need much water because it didn't get it's tap root removed like most of the trees you buy online.  I also have 8 pear trees I grew from seed four years ago. The pears all weather the hot, dry months without wilting, unlike the sad vintage apple trees I bought from Stark 4 years ago. Those have only grown 1-4 inches in that time and two look like they'll be dead in a year or so.

You can get a variety of tree seeds from Sheffields or Trueseeds. There are other places as well but Sheffields has a good assortment. I also get a lot of my seeds from local fruit since they will likely do better than a variety that was grown somewhere else.  There are several threads about growing food from groceries that might be of interest.
1 month ago

Hans Quistorff wrote:Wasps are a vast and varied group but they are not that much for pollination.  Their  main function is predators.

Here in north Idaho wasps are our main pollinator now. Mason bees and honey bees are very rare. We do have bumblebees that are the main pollinator in the spring.

One of our most obvious pollinators is the Great Golden Digger Wasp. It is both predator and pollinator. It it not aggressive towards me.

Another pollinator is the Bald Faced Hornets. We had a lot of them last year on my fennel and other herbs. They weren't aggressive towards me but I was careful around them since they are extremely fast and you can't out-run them if they get mad at you. We don't have very many this year though. Not sure why.

There are also a variety of smaller wasps and bees that pollinate but they don't sit still long enough for me to get a good look.

I don't worry about providing homes for them since the Digger wasps make tunnels in the dirt and they're better at it than I am. We also have brush piles for wildlife and rock piles for snakes and other species. What I am doing for them is trying to keep a steady supply of flowering plants for all insects to use. One of the favorites is lemon thyme. The plant is swarming with insects every summer. They seem to like the flowers in the Apiaceae family like lovage, fennel, carrot, parsnip, parsley, etc.  They love Allium flowers too.  My leek plants were a big hit this year. Bumblebees love comfrey flowers so I let them flower then cut the stem when it's about done and use it for mulch.
1 month ago

T Melville wrote:I posted a similar image once, and learned a new word: ergot. (Ergotism) I'm not an expert, but please search that, or look in your books/ ask around before doing anything with that grain. I'd only eaten one seed before someone said that to me. It tasted bad, but I didn't experience any side effects. Looks as though the side effects are pretty serious though.

That sure looks like ergot to me. I see it only on the rye grain heads I grow. The wheat and barley don't show any growths.

The ergot fungus is in the soil and will thrive if the grain is watered or if there is a lot of rain. This year I grew a big patch of rye by scattering seeds last fall and letting them come up naturally on some disturbed, poor soil we had from some construction work. I didn't water them once and yet they produced really well. I don't know how they did it. The soil was dusty dry with nothing added to help them grow. Out of thousands of grain heads I only found about 6 ergot growths. I throw out (not compost!) the seed heads that are infected to minimize re-inoculation of the fungus in the soil.

As T Melville pointed out, the effects of ergot are very serious if enough is eaten. It is also heat stable so baking bread with it in the flour will still make you sick.
1 month ago