Catie George

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since Oct 20, 2016
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Recent posts by Catie George

I think red pine is pretty commonly used for log houses -but I think it does discolour quickly if not finished.

I wonder if whitewashing would help increase the lifespan? I know lime is drying and also discourages bugs so I wonder if white washing the inside of the coop might be worthwhile (and affordable).
Welcome to Permies, Donna!

Usually worms only try to flee the bin if they are unhappy - for me, it usually is a sign the bin is too wet. I would open up the lid and leave it off, and maybe add more bedding material.  Worms don't like light so that will help keep them in the bin for now and speed up the drying out. A  second bin night be a good idea if you have a lot of food scraps, more than a single bin can handle.  

There are many ways to seperate worms from the castings. I often start a new bin with half of the material in my original bin, then let the remaining half sit for a month or two while the worms finish digesting everything. Then I use it on my garden. You end up with a lot of worms in the finished compost, but I think they are helpful in my heavily mulched outdoor beds too.
1 week ago

Anita Martin wrote:

As an innocent European I thought the topic was only about pretty edibles and not ones you could sneak into your flowerbeds because where I live there is no need to sneak anything anywhere. Of course I get that you might want to mix something unexpected into your ornamentals ;-)
Apart from the edible flowers mentioned already I think most of my vegetables are beautiful - as beauty lies in the eye of the beholder I just have to think how good they will taste and they instantly become very attractive to me!

This question is a mix of things,  thankfully HOAs are very rare here in Canada, and a piece of land being in a restrictive covenant reduces it's price, and properties sit on the market forever even in a hot market - no Canadian wants our neighbours to tell us what to do! Zoning bylaws are bad enough, thank you very much! But I know many Americans have to deal with HOAs, so I did think about them when I asked this, as I know many things I plant my neighbours are shocked to learn are not just decorative.

Still, there's this idea we shouldn't put 'food' in our front gardens. Partially for ornamental reasons, and partially because people in busy areas are known to steal things like tomato's and peppers as they walk by, which can be very frustrating!

And there's an idea that you can't have both beauty and food, that I wanted to challenge.

And part of this question related to just the sheer joy of having something beautiful to look at. Mixed colours, foilages, shapes, textures make a vegetable garden lovely to hang out in and ornamental, not something to be hidden.  We have a bench on the edge of our veggie garden so we can look over it and admire it in the summer.
2 weeks ago
They look awesome!  100 peppers seems thoroughly reasonable to me.

I get very few peppers per plant, and absolutely love fermented hot pepper sauce and paprika. If I had more space, I'd probably grow a similar number.

June 1st for last frost here... Very impatiently waiting.
1 month ago
I realized I never updated this experiment.

Unfortunately, like many great scientific experiments before this, the results of this experiment were made significantly less meaningful by a factor I did not control for.

The Cat.

The cat knocked over a bunch of things as they were sprouting.

I can, however report that sprouting of the clipped seeds was significantly less than the heat mat seeds. And took longer.

Most interesting, and the reason I didn't repeat the experiment with clipped seeds when I planted more peppers, is that the leaves on the plants are about half the size as the leaves on the plants started on heat mats.

The seed stores food for the growing plant, and I removed some of that food. It's been over a month, and the clipped seed plants have not caught up to the size and vigour of the heat mat started plants.

Also, starting seeds 20 weeks before last frost  so far seems pretty successful! I have the plants in Solo cups, and I anticipate they will be pretty much ready to set fruit when I put them in the garden.

Attached are pictures of Marconi Rosso and Gypsy Hybrid starts with a clipped seed (small) plant compared to a heat-mat started plant (big). Notice the difference in leaf size, which seems to be persisting.

1 month ago
I love French drains. The one I am proudest of has made a huge difference in how wet my mother's yard and basement is in the spring and after a heavy rain. It's about 8' out from the house on one side, and 3' on the other side. 6' would be better, but it's at the edge of the property line.  

Design considerations:

1) Make sure the ground slopes towards the French drain ( sounds obvious, but it's a reminder.).
2) try to end it well beyond where you need it
3) Ideally put a bit of a slope in the drain towards where you want the water to go.

Do you need filter cloth?

Yes. You need geotextile between the native soil and the gravel - the cleaner the gravel you can get the better. Why?

Imagine a plastic bucket with a hole in the bottom. Fill the bottom with a few inches of clean, washed gravel, then a scoop of your native soil. Drag out your hose and fill the bucket. What colour is the water that comes out the hole in the bottom? Muddy, because the native soil washes in. Now put a layer of filter cloth in first. The water should run more or less clear. But in real life, in a frnehc drain, the mud that enters with the water never leaves, it just settles into the gravel, reducing permeability with every rainfall. So, unless you have the kind of soil that doesn't need a French drain, for longevity, line the trench with filter cloth.

You have two main options for design:
- Yes, the perforated pipe works well.
- So does digging a bigger hole and putting in more clean gravel, and no pipe.  

Personally, I tend to chose no plastic thingy that may break with holes that may clog, and just go with bigger hole and more gravel. If your space is more limited, the pipe makes more sense.

- I like to also cover the top of the drain with landscape fabric, and then put a few inches of mulch  or even soil or grass on top, making sure the drian is still a slight depression. This keeps soil from washing in to the gravel, increasing longevity, and, IMO looks better. You can do this under gravel driveways too.  It does make it slightly slower to begin working in the spring, but I have not seen this being an issue in our yard or in practice, the snow above the French drain tends to be the first spot to melt.

- You can put a filter sock around the drainage pipe - or not. If you use a less clean gravel or don't wrap the top of the gravel with filter cloth, it's probably a good idea. If you use a clean gravel and burrito wrap the landscape fabric around the gravel,  (purpose made geotextile intended for filtration is better!)  It might not be necessary. They make purpose made filter socks and those definitly shouldn't clog up and reduce flow.  I probably wouldn't use a thick layer of landscape fabric.

Anyway, sorry for how disjointed this is. But that's my experience with french drains.
1 month ago
I like my silicone, but had to learn not to grease it. If I grease it, it becomes really hard to clean and seems to stick more.

Jury is out on if it is nontoxic, but my other muffin tins were inherited from my great aunt who died before I was born, and I worry about heavy metal leaching.
3 months ago
Funny that this thread popped up. After years of requests, with hinting turning into literally handing me old t-shirts, I started making another twined rug last night.

I used an old bedsheet for the warp, and for the initial weft, and am now using t-shirts, though I may  add in a few pillow cases.

My other mats are over 5 years old, heavily used, washed multiple times, chewed on by several puppies, and used mixed material, including everything from jeans to t-shirts to curtain material to old socks. I even use the seams. The only material I don't recommend is jeans, particularly Jean seams.

I made a new frame and used screws as pins. The last frame I found challenging because with the tension I put it under the nails started to pop out, so far the screws are working better.

If you are careful with tension, it works fine to use both woven and knit material.  I tend to twine on an angle, and then beat down so I am not tugging the edge.  Sheets are easier to tear into strips, t-shirts are nicer to work with while weaving.  

Warning - these things are addictive.  It's hard to resist 'just one more strip' even as your back starts to ache and you discover one more strip turned into 3 more rows!
3 months ago

Logan Byrd wrote:Catie, have you looked into or tried growing pepper plants indoors? I know they can be grown indoors, and you can even get a great number of peppers off a plant that is pruned to a very small size, as the concept of Bonchi trees demonstrates.

I am still trying to figure out how to grow plants indoors organically, but I have friends who have grown large pepper plants with nothing more than a sunny window, a large pot, and some toxic ick.

Those look awesome!  I had no idea pepper plants could get that tall, I have never even seen one reach knee high.

I have never managed to grow Chili's indoors. The house I grew up in is a bit north of me and has a greenhouse attached to it.
We tried growing tomatoes indoors and they produced nothing. I know my father brought his peppers in one year and they didn't produce anything after the initial flush from the summer. Maybe a pollination issue?  

I suspect how cold my family tends to keep our houses is a major factor, peppers seem to want a ton of heat. My house is usually 15-21C, and my father's greenhouse is usually 5C to 25C depending on which stoves are running.
3 months ago

Shea Loner wrote:What is the purpose of clipping the seed?

Theoretically, it breaks dormancy and allows the root to exit more easily.

Mark Sanford wrote:
Anyhow, I continued reading about starting seeds indoors and was considering upping my game by purchasing a dedicated shelving unit, betters light and supplies etc.  Then I stumbled across a site somewhere that recommended direct seeding and saving all of the time, hassle, and expense of indoor starts (of course this can all be a lot of fun too). The author indicated his direct sown seeds always caught up to nursery Bought transplants or indoor starts.

I’m in!  So I did not invest in new [anything] for indoor seeding and am going to try all direct seeding for 2022 just to see how it goes.  I’m a fairly new suburban permie.  One of the things I find attractive about permaculture is that the systems promise require less work over time.  Perhaps this will be a whole set of planning and chores I won’t need to worry about - we shall see.  Compost tea is another thing I was getting excited about trying, but hit the pause button on this as well.

I'm a fair bit colder and shorter seasoned than you, I think. Last frost isn't reliably until June 1, and I don't expect warm soil temperatures until July ish, and then first frost is mid-September. I have some self-seeded tomatos every year but usually they don't get past the green stage, except for a few cherries. My whole garden just starts really producing in late august... and then it's frost. My peppers just start producing at a week or two before frost. I'd likely do better with short season determinate tomatos only but I gamble with the indeterminates every year.

If I were in a warmer climate, I definitely would do more experiments with in-ground seeding. Squash is one where I find that my seedlings started in the field do about as well as the ones i start in the house, so long as I can protect them from the voles. Last year I did well starting my squash outdoors in pots at the same time as I planted out my tomatos and peppers. Squash planted earlier for me just seems to get eaten, and I seem to get the best of both worlds.

If i were to make more garden investments, it would probably be in a grow tunnel of some sort to extend my season just a little bit longer. I've had really good results with just starting tomatos and other things in a bright room, without grow lights, in trays with domes. If you buy a new dome, i suggest you look for the kind that have a moveable vent at the top. The darn peppers are the only things that don't want to cooperate!

Ralph Sluder wrote:
Several years ago my grandson helped me plant my pepper seeds.  He was small so they went everywhere.
After a couple of weeks I noticed average 50/50 germination but....
The seeds that landed in other planted seed trays all sprouted. ( on soil surface)
Now I just push the seeds of peppers down into the soil surface without covering and get really great germination rates.

I will have to try this!

Jay Angler wrote:Great experiment Catie!

FYI - As for the experiment of clipping the seed, I've never done that for peppers. However, there was a different tree seed I wanted to try germinating and it was recommended to cut the seed. My son does table top game miniatures and has a set of tiny files - skinnier by far than a fingernail file, and much finer - one of those worked like a charm. It was very easy to control how much of the seed coat I removed. I don't know if that would work better for your hands than what you were doing, but it might.


It would also be different if I was trying to grow a lot of something, but I really only need 2 pepper plants if they produce well. I ended up with 3 Thai Dragon plants last year that were super happy and I've got plenty of dry peppers in a jar to keep me happy for some time.

Thats a good idea to try something smaller - I wonder if a finger nail file might work, or even a nail clipper...  

Two pepper plants! I can't imagine! My default cuisine has tomatos and peppers in everything, and i figure a yield of about 1-2 peppers per plant, I had one green pepper that produced 4 whole peppers last year and was ecstatic.

3 months ago