Jen Gira

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since Oct 17, 2015
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dog trees books chicken bee solar greening the desert
escaped from new york, attempting create my own high desert eden, in an adobe home originally built in 1660, in northern New Mexico. Beginning Permaculturess, lots of failure(s), lots of mini-triumphs, lots of laughter that only the trees and my trusty dog Freyja can hear (as I work my acreage)

I mostly despise social networking, but I LOVE this site. -Currently listening to the 200+ podcasts, configuring a greywater system, a passive solar greenhouse/adobe extension, and greening my own desert (which was overgrazed ....150+ years ago, but is in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley and the land is magic)  I gave up my "white collar" (::chuckle: job in the antiquities/film industry to chop wood with a hatchet, grow my own Chile, and decided I like going to bed at 8 pm (to raise by 5 am) to nightclubbing (but I still love Iggy Pop) and "networking" (at least the corporate kind)

Eager to meet others who enjoy the changing seasons and living a "simple" (but often much arduous) sustainable life.
Northern New Mexico/Heart of Espanola Valley
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Recent posts by Jen Gira

Lisa Gergets wrote:Well, I'm not sure where this topic goes, so I'm just going to smack it down here, where all my other questions reside.

We are very close to making an offer on a 5 acre piece of property. The thing is, there is still at least two feet of snowpack still on the ground, and that land won't see the light of day again until late May/early June.

There are several neighbors on this private road...this is the only land for sale on the road. So clearly, the land is buildable, right?


This land is...well, have you ever fallen in love? It was like that when we went to visit this parcel. It is everything we want and nothing we don't.

Would we be making a huge mistake by making an offer when we can't truly see the layout of the land yet? My instinct says, mistake. My heart says, do it.

Do not let your love or heart determine a real estate purchase-especially if you have a goal to make it a lifetime home, and also if you plan to do permaculture/farming.
I am not sure what the price of the parcel is (nor do you have to state but I searched for 1 1/2 years to find a place in the arid southwest.

If you are looking with a realtor, ask the realtor to inquire if you can take a soil sample. follow soil sampling procedures and bring you snow shovel. get the soil analyzed. A thorough analysis will run you from anywhere 40-250 (a USDA extension is cheapest to a professional agricultural lab) trust me it is worth it.

Besides looking at aerial photographs. Search the area around your parcel for past sold plots of land. often sites like Zillow or LandsofAmerica will have past sale information. If you find a parcel within a mile or two of yours, dig into the information provided and you will often find great tidbits on the type of land you are looking at. (this can vary but it is worth the 'googling')

You should be able to call your local housing/county authorities and find out your building code(s)- a must.

I would, even if you planning on making/building a tiny house. Call a licensed contractor, (even better if the person seems into natural or sustainable building, but any licensed and bonded contractor) and explain your situation, and offer to pay them a small consult fee to come to the land and talk to you about building on it. I had 2 contractors meet me for free on land I was interested in purchasing- both to discuss renovating old farm buildings, and also to discuss building on the terrain. Many individuals will do a free consult-or charge a nominal fee. (I paid one world expert on adobe building/restoration $250 to look through a detailed PDF on the condition of a home I was looking at- money very well spent) There would be nothing worse than buying the land and then finding some weird problem (and trust me they come up) and going bankrupt and losing a dream because most of the homes on the private road suggested you could build.

I sound like a cranky granny, (ha! but truly I am sending good loves and optimism) but it is important when you are making what might be one of the most important purchases of your life-to carry out due diligence. I do not regret any of the consultations I received. (I also hired hydrologist, had both my wells looked at prior to buying, etc) None of these things were required in the real estate sale/contract, but I would advise against purchasing any property in which the person who owns it has any problem with you doing these kind of tests- especially when it concerns water, or the ability to build. I probably spent a total of under 1000.00 for what will be my home for life-it was worth it. It helped me avoid making mistakes that you can miss in the "my heart tells me yes" moment- (because you want so much to have your own land, your own home, to grow food /homestead and you've been dreaming and thinking about it all the time- trust me. I was there!)

good luck.
now make some phone calls!

3 years ago
Thanks to all who responded regarding my seeding 'adventure' ( I like that terminology btw!!)

I was outside doing work on my drips and pipe irrigation and pulling weeds and I feel like I'm going to d-i-e, but I wanted to say thank you to everyone to responded. After a meal, and some sleep, I will respond with specific questions to each poster who was kind enough to offer advice. I am going to try all your ideas. I have nearly 3 acres to experiment on, so I'll give everything a go, and I can also share pictures from 1 year of reclamation/revegetation efforts on almost completely barren land. (Tyler, Joseph- remember my post last year that was called "Water to see what grows??/strange advice") (regarding being told by Plants of the Southwest to irrigate, and "see what came up") I have come a long way, especially in the sloped areas. Until I upload the shots I took today, enjoy a shot of my German Shepherd herding chickens w/ her "pacifier" (a toy, yes I trained her to do that and not attack them-operant conditioning works!) (and some grass! that with the magic of chicken poop and some water) has appeared in the brown dirt. -I just need more. a lot more.
3 years ago

Thank you Jen, your support is much appreciated!

I just hope others bite the bullet, enter the ring, smackdown, etc.
ha ha.

my best
3 years ago

Does anyone have any strategies for the broadcasting of grass/cover crops in areas with high winds.... and lots of birds

I purchased "binder" from Plants of the Southwest, which once wet, is supposed to help hold the seed (and of course compost, top soil, or straw) to adhere to slope and resist the wind.

Any other ideas? I am planning on erecting some kind of rube goldberg-esque perimeter to keep my chickens away (they free range during the day) and I am going to set up some monofilament w/cds, (and am, although I feel kind of dumb maybe buy one of those plastic owls?) but I would love any additional advice from anyone who has successfully gotten some "stuff" to take on a barren, not so cooperative slope-y, centuries overgrazed area- especially if they are in the southwest or arid climate.

My plan was to prep the area, disperse my seed, cover with light mixture of topsoil/straw. I'm in new mexico, and it is not THAT windy yet, (but it is starting to get so, and in a few weeks forget about it) I just invested in some pricey seeds/cover crops and if anyone else has some magic kind idea to help me not feel like it is all for naught- I'd appreciate it.

I noticed some growth from last year, but even without my birds-I think a lot of it did not bind to the ground, and just blew away- ($$$ huge loss ) I am concerned about covering it too much, as that could hinder germination. Any advice greatly appreciated!

3 years ago
Ok. Put my money where my mouth is and became both a Patreon Patron of Paul and I purchased Josiah's video presentations on PermaEthos. Chances of getting into log in live are slim to none, (HA!) but hopefully I can sometime soon. Good Vibes are Great, and Can do a lot, but a little bit some other green substance helps too. Off topic, but I was really happy to see how popular the PDC coming up is, and the funds it has raised. I do think that if more folks, even if it is just $20 a month, contribute to the community and community members-more individuals can see growth, and more aspects of the population can embrace some/(or hopefully a lot) of the concepts.

I am noticing some happy growth in social media, and was utterly and wonderfully shocked, when a musician friend post to her FB page about attending a permaculture workshop in New Orleans. With a reach of about 25,000 folks (or more) even if 50 googled "permaculture"- or checked it out themselves- that's a great step forward.

I'm only posting this to *encourage* others to do so. -Giving Paul some $ a month (you can even cap what you contribute, so it works with a budget) and subscribing to Josiah's video series (and others), cost me about the price of one nice dinner out.

-I can cook like a banshee, and so that "dinner.drinks out" was definitely better spent elsewhere. In my mind that green stuff just kind of goes, so when I feel I have some control over where it goes, I put it in places that I think matter. It still seems to go, fly away, (and laugh as it flies) anyways.

I've peeped up a few times ( and yes, sometimes to not most polite responses honestly) to grumbling ( and being empathetic-perhaps understandably struggling in some way) organic, permie, biodynamic-y folks, trying to buy their own land-y folks, broke and ornery folks-
You don't have to be rich or flush to contribute- Just Forgo 4 of those large growlers of beer for two weeks, and help build an *infrastructure* of not only good souls- but competent to teach and expand the skill set of others. (IMPORTANT) I guarantee every cent I put forward to good things/good people- I got back 100fold.

3 years ago
Last Week, I had to leave home to do my other job (costume designer/wardrobe stylist) and, as mother nature would have it- I got stuck in that large Blizzard that completely stopped NYC for a couple days.

No big deal, I understand mother nature is angry with us.

I was delayed a day, and had my flight re-routed, and to my delight, and for no reason, (other than I think, I was perhaps, the only person at the boarding gate- who was:  a) not manically texting or using some device b) antsy and irate at the poor airline employee who was not at fault for a blizzard and c) smiling- my super last minute ultra cheap seat I bought I received a completely bizarre and nice upgrade.

I found myself sitting next to a very interesting woman, and we began to talk, and she informed me that she owned a very small company in Bali that makes artful candles out of natural bees wax.

Only a few minutes ago, I had the time to check out her work, and I was floored. !!!

Not only are the things she does absolutely gorgeous- but I know that she is doing this with a very small group of committed people in her community, who are not only doing it so they can.... (surf and live in a beautiful place like Bali and earn a living?) but also because they are passionate about saving the bees of Bali.

I sort of fumbled on where to post this! (Bees?! Art/Decor?! Cottage industry?!) - as the company is all three- successful, serious and committed to helping the bee population on the island, as well as doing something sustainable, helping local farmers, and acting as advocates.

I thought I'd share this, as I thought it would speak to and provide inspiration to take whatever they are doing out on the homestead to the next level to help earn $$ (and still live remotely!) as well as benefit their community and natural landscape. (!!)

article I found below:

Published on September 22, 2016
Do: Save Bali’s Bees

written by Green by John

Save the bees of Bali
Kelly Marciano is on a quest to save the bees of Bali. As the founder of the Natural Light Candle Co, a company that makes pure beeswax candles, she understands what a world without bees and beeswax means. She has founded a new initiative called the Ratu Lestari Alami project, or Queen Bees for Sustainability. She recently went to Kalimantan, traveling 17 hours in a truck to meet the people harvesting wild honey. She found out they usually threw away the beeswax, never thinking they could sell it. She’s now going to put up 200 beehives at Hatten vineyards, at Green School, Bambu Indah, and Green Village. She has a goal of having over 2,000 hives on Bali. She gets the wax and you get the honey. An amazing program, check it out.


Here in Indonesia the bee population has been drastically affected by the practice of slash and burn agriculture. As a result, vast areas of the rain forest have been destroyed. The majority of Indonesia’s honey and bee-keeping activities are in the forest. It’s time to get busy and save Bali’s bees!

About Bali Bee Week (September 2016)

A full week of conferences and educational talks in combination with an educational display on the topic of the declining bee populations and its effects on Bali and Indonesia is taking place this week. The aim is to create awareness and promote solutions that individuals, companies, and communities can take to repopulate the Island with bees.

The goal of 2000 Hives for Bali by 2017—a volunteer initiative by Ratih Nurruhliati and Kelly Marciano—will present research findings, strategies and information on beekeeping, creating permanent education displays at Hatten Wines’ The Cellar Door, and undertake initiatives to help repopulate Bali’s bee colonies.

About Ratu Lestari Alami

Queen Bees for Sustainability is a new CSR initiative of Natural Light Candle Company. Ratu Lestari Alami is the Indonesian community name.

The Queen Bee mission at Natural Light Candle Company is to support sustainable beekeeping within Indonesia with a global view of world-wide honey bee decline and possible global food shortages. The program collects data, conducts research, and offers support and assistance to beekeepers, honey collectors, and farmers living in bee populated areas across the archipelago.

The goal is to help farmers in Indonesia, so that they can continue and grow their beekeeping activities in a sustainable and economical way that directly benefits their families, the farming community, and the honey and wax industry, as well as, having a positive impact on Indonesia’s natural environment and food resources.

3 years ago
-just wanted to say I am enjoying these a lot. I'm dancing as fast as I can on my own permaculture project (nightmare?heaven? ha) and I am hoping to find time in the next couple evenings to further support both projects (Patreon, and the Permaethos) even if I can't participate all the time. (I've already bought stuff that I've watched (or really wanted to watch) but in my opinion, sending a few extra dollars someone's way doing something (and putting in the great effort) is worth the $$, even if I am too exhausted at the end of the day to watch/listen. ha

I am unsure if the consensus of the live podcast viewers was on the name, but I like "smackdown"- it reminds me of that hilarious "punch out" nintendo game that kids played when I was very small, except in this circumstance, you're launching flowers and hairy vetch at each other digitally-seems a good upgrade from the 1980s version.

this post had no point except to send good vibes.

thanks for all the hard work

3 years ago

I have been so busy with "permaculture world" here at  my home, I haven't been too active on the permaculture forums (bad me! need to make more time!) That being said, I stumbled upon something today, and I made a point to post this-since I wholeheartedly support

I wanted to let the empire know that your awesome article about LAWNS- has quite a few of the affiliate links- not working. (I know because I was clicking through to buy items-and hit on "unavailable" or an error page from Amazon) I know that affiliate links help in terms of commissions (albeit small I know) but since I was looking up lawn related advice (trying to fall sow here in new mexico) and came across the article- loved how it was written, and I got lots of great info- I wanted to bring it to the attention, as even though I am a permies "person"- I click on the "lawn care for lazy people" during a google search for "fall sow lawn, organic lawn tips"- so perhaps there are others out there like me who have this on the autumnal permaculture brain.

** a lot of the items listed weren't totally unavailable, they just had links that were broken- an example would be Yarrow seeds- It came up defunct, but then I searched "organic yarrow seeds" and another supplier came up. I figure that by clicking on that new link, I would effectively severe the affiliate link commission for Paul- (so I haven't ordered yet! because I'd love for Paul to get a commission on those seeds, and that lawn mower!)

My Best, and to spongey comfy feeling under the feet lawns!

4 years ago
I cruised through this site, and smiled, seeing familiar sources of GREAT info (Thanks Joseph, yet again) John, etc.  I am beginning my permaculture journey in a "serious" (i.e., I finally bought my homestead, have a few acres, etc- not that my uber intense urban permie in a year rube goldbug maximize your gardening space erector set plant utopias weren't "serious" or anything (or to anyone who does it on small scale) and though I have been a little off in space (err, off the internet, outside, FAILING (ha) fighting insects, trying to irrigate, trying to grow things, trying to make compost, blah blah blah) despite the first growing season of mostly "fail fail fail"- I wanted to chime in, that a lot of the opinions expressed on the crosses being better (especially if they are local landrace crosses) I feel to be completely true. This is especially true for me in the high desert of New Mexico. I read every book on "growing things in the high desert"/permaculture in the desert" etc etc and I saw the caveat about "What you thought was gardening disappears when you move to the high desert", but because I was so studious, (er insane) I just thought "Well, I am going to make it work-whatever!" I definitely saw what was being written, and this was shocking to me since I was creating my own soil, amending with everything good under the sun (and spending some $$$) doing it, buying plants/seeds from top notch companies we all know and love (or most of us, but that's another thread) and still, utterly failing, due to insects, high winds, bizarre drought microclimates, equally bizarre wet (mushrooms?! on my land?! wtf (but I thought "hey cool, it's damp there-wonder what I can do there?!") -It was truly mind blowing when I wasn't retiring to my bedroom for a feeling sorry for myself nap- or in tears. (looking at my credit card/checking account for all the great stuff I bought and had such high hopes for)

I haven't seen from the thread, (and I apologize if you're regularly on the site, and I haven't seen your familiar "face" and you're doing Permie stuff all the time, or have been doing it for a long time-or you're kinda "new" like me) but all I can offer to you is this : I live in the area of New Mexico (at least in my state, though "The Three Sisters" has/is done worldwide) that is "known" for prowess, even when everything else died-period) for growing.  This year was brutal. I am the intern/volunteer for Flowering Tree Permaculture (ongoing)- hopefully forever (you might have read about flowering tree in Gaia's Garden, Roxanne is an amazing woman, and so kind to me) and I was out in the fields with Roxanne, learning from her and Rose (her daughter, also on the board of directors of flowering tree) and I'll leave all the Flowering Tree info and updates to the lady in charge (via her Facebook, and website etc) as it's her wonderful 35 year creation- (and she's really busy, but regularly updates the Facebook page, etc) and the news in the fields, and other things (like building Adobe Ceremonial houses!) are hers to share- but of course, because all Permaculturists (for the most part! as we know from this great site!) are generous, after my periods of education/work/intern-I often get little gifts of seeds or other things to try at home. I also find that after spending a long day in a field, or building, it does really help to go home and try to do it again, even on "mini scale"- Anyways, not to divert from the thread-

But, All I know, is that, this year was really rough for the Southwest, and according to Roxanne, it was in comparison to other years in terms of crops, and insects. I wouldn't speak for her, but she has lived in my area of Northern New Mexico her whole life, and had FT for 35 years as her permaculture site. It's great that others here, have insights for fellow permies on their experience, since I was so, so, so so so rarin' to go on my land (even after working 8 hours in 102 degree heat with flowering tree) that I was truly, devastated, (and starting to wonder if I just "sucked" at permaculture) that things were failing-crops, insects, I couldn't get things irrigated evenly- so it was soothing to hear this info from a person who has worked the land season after season. I hate even mentioning "climate change" (because it terrifies me to the point of wanting to put my head in the sand like an ostrich-despite my own personal efforts to offset my contribution to it) but It can't be ignored.

hopefully this tome isn't making anyone's eyes glaze over, but here were my own impressions, including my own miserably failed squash. I have been planning a blog, but isn't everyone who likes permaculture and doing it, "planning a blog", or "meaning to update their already up blog" (wink smile)

A) Insects (especially grasshoppers where I am, which is kind of up on a mesa top mixed with agricultural land within 3000 feet of the rio grande) were out of control. Last year, I was told the area got record rains- I also think New Mexico is getting record rains this year. This is good and bad, but when I was lamenting my failure to grow anything (basically) Roxanne said that high rains in the high desert, can often equal lots of bugs and insects,and though water is life, despite the aquifers getting refreshed- growing things can be really horrible. It seems like the normally, tough as nails weeds (that grow, even in areas where there is no soil, or water) just go gangbusters- I have weeds that are seriously 4 ft tall, and got that way, in a matter of weeks.
the hoppers- and squash bugs, and other insects, breed and love this damp cool shade, and even if you are cutting them down, and spending $100s of dollars on Semaphore- they laugh at you.

B) Since I live in an area that has been farmed (and still is, but many of the farms are 10 acres of less, or (inspiring) the individuals who have this land, farm a small portion out of respect for their history-especially when it concerns Chile, melon, the three sisters, etc) I watch every morning with horror as I sip my coffee on my back porch (remember I am high up on a bluff looking down at the river a few thousand feet below me) my neighbors, out on their little tractors, or walking on foot- SPRAYING SPRAYING SPRAYING SPRAYING.  Yes the acequia is there, and that irrigates the land, we have lots of water where I live (probably the only place in New Mexico, which is why the land is expensive, and never is for sale (I lucked out) but despite all the heartwarming traditional methods and "respect for the land/cultural history"-  IT seems that stops with pesticides. Until I set up a little perch/ chair/ thrifted coffee table on this back porch, I didn't always notice the goings on of my neighbors, (other than the light whir of their small, often 50 yr old tractors milling about in the mornings) and I have to say, this was kind of disturbing to me. Luckily, the topography is on my side in terms of my own land, and I hope there isn't too much spray spread reaching where I am growing things- but I think it would be wise to look into the history of spraying near you, on your property (even if you don't do it yourself and haven't for a few years) as I think, (WAIT WE KNOW) this glyphosate poison- lasts, decimates the natural order of things, and I think that some aspect of things being so "out of whack" on my land- had to do with the rampant use of this product (in certain areas) on the property by the previous owners (yep found the good old roundup and other horrible things left in the shed when they vacated the property-sadly, I think they thought they were being "nice"-at least I was able to know for sure without a soil test)

I don't know where your garden is, but I shot photos of areas in which I was aware roundup was being used (or other pesticides) not to grow things- but mainly due to former residents wanting to have some kind of suburban "lawn" in the high desert, playing "god" what have you, I don't know. - In these areas, there were definitely MORE weeds, MORE insects.  So I guess the point in this "illiad" of a bullet point is : maybe where you are growing has a history that isn't conductive to what you're trying to do. I am learning this slowly, just watching the life/death/ cycles of plants, insects- as days go by. This doesn't help you eat, or have a market garden- but just in a conservation/ecologically conscious way- It is both enlightening and sobering.

C) I completely agree with Joseph on the landraces and his thoughts. I had tons of cool heirlooms from upstate new york (where I relocated from) that I had saved seeds from my favorite organic farms there- very few, even the ones that I protected like a hawk from the insects- seemed to even "like" it around here climate wise. (That's pretty well known of course) The thing that surprised me, is this "landrace" "preference" shown of the plants- seemed to stand true- even if I had containers filled with the most expensive, fabulous, organic soil and soil amendments-and put them directly facing south, and played "god" myself with drips, etc- The jury is out to why that is, since obviously, greenhouses and the like grow all sorts of things in completely non-hospitable (in their natural state) environments- but that is how it went for me, and it was flummoxing, and my checkbook is SAD. (and I have no yummy veggies so -yeah bummed)
However, There was a light for me, in education- as I saw, that the plants that did SURVIVE, (but perhaps, had their leaves all eaten, or didn't get to bloom, etc) were ones that were local landraces- all of em. Even the ones that grew and then were eaten (due to the crazy weather and insect issues this year) showed they would thrive in even drought conditions- and those were ancient Pueblo corns, native berry bushes, and trees that had been nurtured and cultivated for 20 years to survive and thrive in our climate by Gordon Tooley of Tooley's Trees in Truchas, NM (look him up, he's great and so is his wife Margaret- if you like trees, they offer a serious internship through the Quivera Coalition (that is also listed on Attra)

but even a couple, (and I am looking forward to meeting with Gordon and Margaret, and have him come to the house, and see what "happened" with the ones that aren't thriving-probably tell me what I did wrong, ha- and also discuss why certain varieties, (I saved up and purchased about 400.00 in trees from the Tooleys-) are doing well.

This has to do of course with our own individual microclimates, and our own individual screw ups (ha), or other factors-that I find interesting since I want to do permaculture for the rest of my life.

Accepting that insects ate everything (or whatever) and things failed, is not so hot when you are trying to live off the land, or start a cottage industry/market farm, and I know that such acceptance can be devastating if you want to earn an income to support a family, or help your dream of living off grid work, what have you. Trust me, i could not articulate in type the level of disappointment and frustration when I compared hours of interning/volunteering/visiting local farmers, 14 hour days trying to get zone 1, zone 2 into "shape", saving and budgeting for materials/tools, drips, etc- But in the end, nature is nature, and then there are our- and others (like with the roundup "festival" of spray going on around me) mistakes.

D)  I post, and I smiled when I was Tyler posting on this thread, since the last time we interacted was on my CHICKEN TRIUMPH. But my "permaculture insect control"- that kicked ass (pardon my little swear, but I was BLOWN AWAY) was getting chickens. I now have 20, and I will probably have 50 by years end. Even as small pullets, they took to the grasshoppers and nymphs (and carpenter ants, and grubs) with wild abandon. I barely have to give them any store bought feed, they free range, and have free range shelters (that I built from discarded stuff I found, or dead logs, sticks) and I thought perhaps this was the universe giving me a small "bone"- for all the effort I put in- as the chickens saved many of the plants-hopefully they can rebound and grow something next year-but without them, I would have lost everything.
I cannot remember, (and I apologize if it was a permie member) I read in a forum, about someone creating a "Barrier" for the pests with chicken paddock areas around their vegetation. I tried this, in my own way (I am still figuring this paddock system out) but it worked.( "worked" is of course I didn't lose the 50.00 apple tree, though right now, it is barely out of the ICU) So- if you can somehow have your garden in an area that you could do this "Great Wall of Chicken" barrier- I suggest it.

E) Another strange thing, that I had wanted to share on here, and I guess I will here, since it applies is that I used DE- a lot, but the weird/cool thing I had wanted to share with everyone, is that, it is commonly thought usually that chickens don't like some bugs (like carpenter ants, or other ones that chew) because of their bitterness. I had one squash (that sadly didn't give me anything, but is still alive-) and I put DE all over it, and then spritzed diluted peppermint oil all over it, even directly on the bugs that were on or near the plants- Well this seemed to provide some kind of "candy coating" and the bugs that the chickens weren't interested in AT ALL, all of a sudden became delicious treats and they were fighting over the bugs, (and had no interest in the veg whatsoever) I will definitely use this little method again. I think I had a little bit of orange oil I added as well.

F) I noticed the squash bugs near me, will investigate the old cornmeal trick. (eating it and then their guts exploding or whatever) I have no idea, or the science/etymology background to say that this is true for their digestive tracts as it is, say, ants- but all I know is I have put out little capfuls (the caps on say, pasta sauce that I am reusing) of blue corn meal, in little strategic areas- There are dead squash bugs belly up nearby, and even other pests dead nearby that seem to have sampled this natural trick.
maybe try dusting your squash with it- or leaving out a little dish. It at least saved my squash from totally dying and I have something green in this sea of desert brown.

So the jist of my treatise, is I think Permaculture insect control works very well, but I think, as others have expressed, (and with much more brevity than I, ha ha!) I think it might be helpful to dig deeper into some of the ideas expressed with permaculture, and focus on landraces, squash that grows, or has grown, or has been nurtured and naturally selected by people like Joseph as ones that thrive and survive- for your area. Get some birds, if you can't deal with birds, encourage the ones that are already around you, with little capfuls of water and some wild bird seed (that helped too, and I have a wonderful bird utopia now, so many cute nests and happy animals, and yes LESS BUGS)

I also think it would be good to consider moving (if you can) where you planted your squash, due to the soil comments/roundup comments expressed- and just the differing microclimates one can have in one space of yard- shade from a tree, or a garden patch near your fence that borders a vacant lot (oh the grasshoppers and other bugs LOVE vacant overgrown lots, yes I'm dealing with that too, I think my husband and I might just...... buy the land, it is so annoying)

any who, ten brownie points to anyone who actually read all this, and I hope some of my blather helped you at all.  It has been an interesting and somewhat humiliating first season, but I am undeterred because of the little triumphs.

Joseph, I had meant to contact you (in some way) because as another experiment, I am going to try to grow a "Lofthouse grid garden" with your plants, and mimicking the way you grow in Utah. I am at nearly 6000 elevation and my climate is somewhat different, but I thought it would be a) a good permaculture experiment b) you would be interested to see how it goes here c) I could learn and then start to use my own adaptations and "hacks" and continue the genetic and regional diversity of landraces in areas that aren't always hospitable to growing (like the high desert)

okay, better go check on those wonderful chickens

4 years ago
I agree with the suggestion that John made about a local recycled materials store- Another good option, (and this might sound strange to those outside of urban areas- ha!) but most municipalities have a specific day-sometimes once a month, where individuals are allowed to throw out "bigger" things (things they might have to take to the dump for instance, like....gutters (that perhaps a more affluent person is changing due to...deciding to get all new siding in the color of periwinkle... who knows. another man's trash is definitely, (at least for me) my treasure.  I have gotten some fabulous, good condition (minus some chippy paint) heavy and old single pane windows for free, pots, furniture (that might need a coat of paint- avoid mattresses or cushions (bedbugs!) and since people put these out on the corner during this day- they don't want them. Trust me, they are psyched to see you take them.......away.  I have been doing this since I was in high school (always loved thrifting and garage sales) and I have never once had a person object to things they put out on "large garbage day"- Of course, if I walk by and see an item, and they are outside, It is the right thing to do to ask- but I have even been walking to the local pharmacy, seen something cool, I luck out, and the person is outside watering their lawn, tell hem I am a neighbor and could use their windows (for my cold frames!-or whatever) and I've even had nice folks let me set the items aside and go get my car. I am not sure if you live in an area where this is a possibility, but most smaller towns have at least one or two of these "bigger trash days" on their calendar.

I also in the past have gone to various thrift stores, or (even better) a recycled materials store, and not even that long ago, I desired some building materials for some projects around the house, my husband and I had just bought our first home, and I didn't want to spend any more money for awhile- So I went into the charity, and I asked if I could volunteer on busy days (trust me they always need help) and if I could in exchange for a day of volunteering- obtain  a few thrift items. I guess that isn't necessarily "volunteering"- but the manager of this store looked like I had offered him the golden ticket. I did it a couple times, and I was able to put aside a very nice 1940s armoire that I wanted, and after 3 days, I was able to get it- This might not work if you have another job, but It felt good to help an organization doing good things, and since many folks don't want to work on the weekends, (or they are constantly understaffed with employees that they can't pay hardly at all) I was able to be useful and help sell items- and get that piece of furniture I wanted. Everyone was happy. Just an idea. You never know.

Recently, still on this, "try to make improvements for no cost, or hardly any cost" tip I am on with my house, I was cruising my local cragslist in the "materials" section. I had never really checked it out, and, of course, there are some folks who are selling their unused home renovation materials, and trying to get what they paid at Lowe's for them, (or make a profit which is kind of bizarre-but you know, people can be.... bizarre!) But I took note, that the vast majority of folks who were listing materials-just wanted to get rid of them. I saw lots of cool items, that I could make use of (but if I have any more hobbies, or projects, or "I'll use this in 6 months" items come home, my husband will KILL ME. ha ha) but there was a plethora of great things that were free, or ridiculously low priced, as another person, just didn't want to drive it to the charity or dump, and some places, (like where I live now) doesn't have one of those "larger trash days"- So I would encourage you to check out this section.

I don't have the skills to rip cedar board, build log boxes, or line with pitch- I suppose I could try, but I give kudos to those who have more handy person / construction skills than I, and just thought I'd throw these ideas your way, as I have been able to do small improvements on my home, with a little thinking and reaching out-for almost nothing. A local charity that "didn't know what to do with them" when they were donated- (awesome. It pays to your local thrift store, who you are, be nice, and leave a number, if they "get any building materials donated") perfect, 1930s era steel casement windows (huge!) that I am stripping and restoring and will eventually put into my house........ for $1 a piece.   I am really into architectural salvage and antiques is my business- so I was.... blown away. Windows like that cost around 250-400 in their size and condition.

So maybe "if you don't want to go to a store", you could adjust that, and just... go to stores, like a thrift store, or charity, and introduce yourself. I have even been given bizarre things (actually, ha ha, I think I was given a couple gutters honestly) because I had been talking about making a chicken coop, and I was trying to conceptualize a feeder DIY (so I screwed this gutter onto a board. and then used a smaller board to cover most of the gutter-instant feeder!

I wish you luck! people are mostly nice! just reach out.

4 years ago