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Scott Billups

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since Dec 23, 2016
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Recent posts by Scott Billups

I do it all the time here in Western Ma.

While the wet clothes are also warm, I put them outside on the line. The ice-cold air is also very dry, so while the water in the clothes is still liquid, it evaporates quickly.

Once the water in the clothes freezes, the rate of evaporation plummets. It'll stay that (whatever it is) level of frozen water in the clothes for a long while.

I typically bring my clothes back inside to thaw, and if needed, put them back out to dry more.

Sometimes, the second trip outside isn't needed (close enough to dry to leave inside to finish).

If the back-n-forth doesn't appeal to you, you can leave them outside in the cold. The sun hitting frozen clothes creates microclimate that melt & evaporate the water in the clothes, very slowly (a day or so).

Yes, freeze-drying laundry works!
5 months ago
I'm not sure where else to post this, but I came across a free webinar I think many people will be interested in.

Webinar: Farming for Biodiversity: Designing Pollination Systems to Sustain Native Wildlife

FREE  --  28-Jan-2020

The instructor is based in the Northeastern United States, in Massachusetts, and I am sure the class will be geared towards that ecosystem.
1 year ago
Hello All,

Thanks for your feedback.

Definition clarification:
I believe a berm is when I add mound of material (drop a tree, add strawbales, and pile-on some soil. No digging of a ditch/trench.
A swale is when I dig a channel/ditch/trench, and make a pile of soil on the downhill-side, to collect surface-running water, stop it, and let it sink in to the soil.

Do berms (adding material only) diver sub-surface water movement in the soil?

Here is a sketch of my situation:
Water is flowing down a gentle slope.
All water is sub-surface (water movement is in the soil).
The water pools on my driveway, freezes in the Winter, and makes the driveway hazardous.
The water also flows right at my house (basement), and I'd like to divert that.

What I want to do is drop a few trees, pile-up some straw bales, and add some covering dirt (make a mound, potential Huglemound)
Let the mound divert the water away from my driveway, and away from my house (basement).

Do berms (adding material only) diver sub-surface water movement in the soil?

The photos show how the water has flowed on to my driveway (in the rocks), and frozen. The flow is sufficient to cover the rocks and make it slippery.
1 year ago
Is there any guidance on when NOT to use swales?

My situation:
1) I live on 6-acres of forest, on an 8% slope hillside.
2) My soil is 3in of tree-droppings (loam), + 3in of black soil, + all the glacial till you could ever want (sand, rock, & clay)

My problem:
I have water running down the hill, through the loam and soil layer (not over-surface), ending-up on my driveway. In the winter, that water freezes and turns my driveway into an ice-rink. Also, this water is running towards my house, and my foundation drainage system is having to work to keep my foundation dry. I would like to divert the under-surface water flow.

1) Do swales divert under-surface water flow? Or do they only divert over-surface flows?
2) When making a swale, do I need to dig & displace the loam & soil to make a trench, or can I just build-up more soil (drop a tree, and add soil or strawbales) to do the same job?

I looked, but I didn’t see my question in any other forum.

Thank you all!

1 year ago
I just built a tiny house and I used these "AC + USB" outlets in a few strategic locations.

They are just as easy to install as a regular receptacle. If/when the USB smarts fail, they are just as easy to replace as a regular receptacle. Not a big problem at all.

The phone-end of the USB cable keeps changing (micro-USB, USB-C, or Apple's Firewire(?) connector); however, the charger-end (wall-end) has been USB-A for a long time. That doesn't seem to be changing, and even if it does, these receptacles are easy to change.

I find them really handy. I have 2 AC outlets ready to be used, AND I can charge two USB devices. That's just handy.

Note: They sell standard-charge and rapid-charge versions of the USB-receptacles. I strongly recommend the rapid-charge version.

My only possible-negative on these AC+USB receptacles is that the USB circuitry is always on, at least a little, even when in Idle (not-charging). That's a small phantom load that your cannot switch-off. THat's one advantage of separate charging bricks (you can unplug them). Is that advantage worth it to you? To me, the convenience was worth the phantom loads.
1 year ago
Style comment: Your language spends quite a bit of time demonizing the impact of humans on the living soil. While this may accurately reflect your impression, I fear using this language will turn-off (be seen as hostile) to exactly the population you are trying to reach.

I suggest language like:
"The most labor and cost efficient way of planting crops is to plant hundreds of acres of monocrops. The downside of this method is that it quickly exhausts the soil, resulting in dirt that needs the application of synthetic fertilizers, weak plants that require spraying with repellent, and eventually produce less-nutritious crops. Multicrop planting is more labor intensive, but has the advantage of self-fertilizing the soil, raising stronger plants that need less or no insect repellents, and produce much more nutritious foods".

If you change your tone to not demonize the humans, I believe more growers will be more receptive to these new (for them) ideas.

I'm eager to read the rest of this book!
2 years ago
Hi Jack,

Thanks for your reply.

Additives = manure & charcoal. (Sorry. I should have said that in my original post.)

Where = Massachusetts. Plenty of rain.

I will compost-directly-on-the-ground everywhere that makes sense. In the few places where it doesn't, I'll experiment with composting-in-tarps, and transport the soil afterwards.

Thanks again!
2 years ago