rachel johnson

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since Jun 23, 2015
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Recent posts by rachel johnson

Hello everyone, I fear my potatoes have verticillium wilt. I started the bed from scratch last fall with cardboard and lots of spoiled hay. I am wondering what I should do with the hay now. Is it safe to compost? Should I burn it? HALP
1 hour ago
I have a bunch of wild ground cherries. I can save some seeds and ship them to you.
1 month ago
Hello everyone. I have about an acre of weedy pasture (lots of quackgrass, some brambles, some wildflowers) that I would like to turn over to gardens, nursery and food forest. My plan this year was to broadcast a bunch of random cover crops + extras, harvest what I can, slash what's left this fall and sheet mulch over it. I'm hoping to improve the soil this year and obtain a yield, I don't have the time this spring to sheet mulch, but I will this fall.  

My question is, is this just a waste of seed? Stuff online says to rake first, but I'm assuming that is in garden beds - too much grass in the rhizosphere right now. I might as well till (I don't want to till). If I mow first, is there a chance that these things will come up through the grass? FWIW I'm planting buckwheat, oats, field peas, yellow sweet clover, daikon radish, cowpea, kale, and winter squash. I can time it before a rain this weekend. Any thoughts on how to proceed or is this a fool's errand?
2 months ago
IDK if you would have any interest in living up by Superior in WI, but there is a lot of great land in Ashland and Bayfield counties that are not cornfields. Bayfield and Washburn are actually in a bit of a warmer microclimate as well. I know a man up there who says he is in zone 5. We're a bit south of the lake in Ashland county, so we're zone 4a, some corn maybe a mile away, but our land is too hilly and wooded for any of our neighbors to start farming corn.
2 months ago
My last house had a garden that had a huge slug problem. They seemed to avoid tomatoes, but ate the heck out of my hot peppers. I think I got one good habanero that year. They devoured young bean seedlings and leaves, but by and large left the actual beans alone. They didn't seem to bother zucchini or bac choy, but other greens were demolished. I put down boards and then flipped them over in the morning and killed them. Beer traps were too much trouble and eggshells, copper etc didn't work. I also planted a ton of marigolds as a trap plant, which seemed to be the #1 slug food choice, ymmv. Good luck!
Thank you both so much! The drawing is especially helpful. I'll definitely use it for the posts, but the caging is actually really stuck and embedded in the soil. I think this will work for that too - THANK YOU!!!
3 months ago
I have a few apple trees that are ready to be liberated from their protective caging. The previous landowner put welded wire cages (pig or cattle panel maybe) and some t posts in the ground. I tried to pull them out but wow - they are really in there. I started to try to dig them out with a shovel but stopped when I realized I was cutting the tree roots. The part of the land they are on is not accessible with a car, so I can't use that. Does anybody have any ideas? Or alternatively, am I being too precious about the roots? HALP
3 months ago

Gray Henon wrote:Is your basement concrete other masonry?  If so, it already has a tremendous thermal mass.  In zone 4a, I'd be looking for ways to add insulation, seal gaps, improve windows, etc.

It has a concrete floor, and it is a walkout, so it is earth sheltered, with concrete block walls on the sides built into the hill. Thank you - I'll focus on those things. That is very helpful to think about.
1 year ago

Jordan Holland wrote:It could cause the metal to get too hot if it can't shed heat fast enough. If it's in the basement, it may not help heat the upstairs much anyway. If the exhaust can go through a mass upstairs it might do ok, but there would need to be a strong draft, and it would need to be a clean burning stove to prevent creosote buildup.

Thank you, yeah I was worried there might be something like that. The exhaust does currently go through a stone chimney that runs through all levels. The house has a fairly small footprint, and the floor between the basement and main level is uninsulated wood floor with a few vents near the stove. Maybe we'll just have to pay off the mortgage one of these days and do the rocket mass heater. :-/
1 year ago
I live in a log cabin in zone 4a and heat with wood. We have a wood cookstove on the main level for cooking (obviously) that provides supplemental heat, but most of our heat comes from the big daddy wood stove in the basement. We'd love to tear it out and make a rocketstove, since they are so efficient. However, we have a mortgage on the cabin and our insurance won't cover anything that isn't certified through the Underwriters Laboratory.

So, my question is whether it would be possible to just cob around the wood stove and make a big cob hearth. Has anyone done this? Can the cob come into contact with the stove itself, or might their be unintended drawbacks I'm not thinking through? I'd love to hear any ideas, caveats, suggestions. Thanks!
1 year ago