Ian Young

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since Jun 02, 2017
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Recent posts by Ian Young

I trellis all my winter squash to save space (urban garden). I've had the same experience as others with butternut needing some assistance to climb. Butternuts sure love to sprawl horizontally--I've seen single plants trained along the edges of neighbors' garden beds for 30-40'! But I guess they don't like "up" as much as "out". Delicata has been a good climber for me. Buttercup also worked well this year. It wanted to go horizontal, but it has very good adhesion so the only training I had to do was occasionally turn the leader in the other direction so it wound back and forth up its section of trellis. Gete okosomin also climbs well, and even hung on to its gigantic fruit without support for me the first year I planted it.
Gavin, congrats! Waiting a season is a wise idea. I had a similarly-timed move that forced me to wait a growing season (albeit with a decent patch of annual veggies), and though I felt very impatient that first year, I gained a lot of value from observing the site throughout the growing season. When the next year rolled around, I had a really good plan ready to go and knew a bunch of site-specific information that helped me make good decisions.

Getting compost started is a great suggestion. Now would also be the best time to have your soil tested if you intend to do that. The other task I'd suggest is putting down sheet mulch on any areas you know you want to plant if they have sod or weeds or otherwise need help. It's possible to do this at the same time as planting, but it's much nicer to deal with if the sheet mulch has had time to fully kill what's underneath and have everything start to break down. If you get it put down in summer or fall, by spring you'll have a lovely bed ready to plant. Plus, giving stuff time to break down in place is like free compost that you don't have to turn or haul around.

I have a couple book recommendations. They're both focused on North America, but I think a lot of the information (and certainly most of the design advice) still ought to have value for you. Gaia's Garden is a classic and a really nice readable introduction to permaculture concepts, if you need that. If you want to get really serious about planning, Edible Forest Gardens Volume 2 is an incredible resource. Volume 1 is more theory, which is good if you want it, but is not entirely necessary to take advantage of the practical advice in Volume 2. Volume 2 not only has extensive and detailed information about useful plants, but it also walks you through a comprehensive design process that can be as detailed or as simple as you want to make it. As someone new to landscape design, I found it hugely helpful in giving me tools to think about my site, my wishes, and how to develop solutions that fit both.
11 months ago

Caleb Mayfield wrote:Ian, what Iron Rangers are you looking for? What size?

I really like the copper color, though I'd probably settle for one of the other browns if the right one came along. The plan is for these to work as fairly-dressy shoes but also be ones I can wear outside in the terrible MN winter conditions.

I'm not sure about sizing. I typically wear US 9.5 but it sounds like Iron Ranger sizing can vary quite a bit from normal. I tried some different Red Wing boots on in a store a while back and they seemed fairly true to size, but I don't know if that carries over to the Iron Rangers.
1 year ago
It seems like folks on Reddit are still pretty positive about Redwing's quality, but I don't have any firsthand experience. I'm still waiting to find some Iron Rangers as factory 2nds so I can pay $200 for 'em instead of $400ā€¦

Lineman boots would be a good avenue to explore, since from what I hear those guys are harder on boots than just about anyone in the world. Just make sure you understand the tradeoffs you're making. My experience with those sorts of specialty products is that they tend to be highly optimized for just a few variables. Lineman boots might be a bit heavier, less comfortable, and less fashionable than other boots you could buy, and they might not even be the most durable in absolute terms, but they will probably be the most durable per dollar spent! So if all those other things aren't important to you, they might be a great choice.

I bought a pair of classic Blundstones after scoping out what our guides were wearing when we toured a working organic cocoa farm in Australia. I figured anything good enough to be a daily driver there would be good enough for my non-jungle-based garden needs šŸ˜†. They've been great for me so far, though I'm just an hobbyist so I haven't really put them through the wringer. There are some complaints around about Blundstones' quality since they offshored manufacturing, though it's hard to tell what proportion of those complaints are about the boot quality vs. sour grapes over Blundstone laying off all their Australian workers.
1 year ago
I'm no expert, but as a fellow amateur I can offer a couple thoughts:

1/2000 is a pretty dang fast shutter speed. If you bring that down (maybe like 1/500? or even as low as 1/80ish) you can probably dial your ISO way back down. The super fast speeds might matter if you were trying to catch "action" shots like flying, but for chicken glamour shots, you can get away with a much slower shutter. Maybe you have it dialed up to mitigate camera shake, in which case a tripod will solve that problem for you. Segue to...

Some tripods (I have one like this) have a pivoting shaft that gives you options for getting the camera real close to the ground. Unfortunately, a nice tripod is a bit pricey, so it depends on how much you want to invest in your camera stuff. A Gorillapod would also work if that's more use to you. The really cheap option is probably to figure out what size bolt the camera mount takes and mount a bolt in a piece of wood, although you wouldn't be able to control tilt then. Maybe you could scrounge a ball mount head and fix that to a piece of wood...
1 year ago

Michele Sundholm wrote:Hello Michael!  I haven't taken time to research a paw paw tree.  Hardy in Iowa?  Just moved to an acreage and am trying to implement permaculture into our landscape.  Any fruit trees would be welcome.  I'll do my research - in the meantime, yes to Iowa and it's frigid winters??

Definitely! Most cultivars are listed as hardy to Zone 5, and the species is native to Iowa as well. I'm hoping to plant a couple in my urban lot in Minneapolis (hello from your northern neighbor!).

I do wonder if paw paws, being understory trees, might be susceptible to some of the common causes of winter damage, like sun scald and desiccating wind. Probably best to give them a protected microclimate if you can. Maybe Michael's book talks about some of this! I think I'll grab a copy; good first-hand information on paw paw cultivation is a little hard to find.
1 year ago
Ah, I think we've accidentally conflated two very different methods of body "disposition" because the bill in Washington legalized both of them. There's liquid cremation aka alkaline hydrolysis, and then there's human composting, which is quite literally composting.

Exciting to hear that composting is making inroads in the US. As that video mentions, it offers the benefits of natural burial but is more practical for dense urban areas. Sounds like they give the finished material back to the family, which is great. You can have an urn if you'd like, or better yet you can plant and fertilize a tree to remember your loved one.
1 year ago

Mark Kissinger wrote:I'm interested in how the "liquid burial" concept will work in a desert rangeland setting.

According to this article, liquid cremation uses a significant amount of water but not enough that we should let that stop it from being used:

One worry might be amount of water used in the processā€”about 300 gallons per corpse. Gloria says this might be a consideration during droughts but is otherwise a drop in the bucket. ā€œIf every Californian who died in one year used water cremation, it would amount to 64 million gallons of water in that year,ā€ he says. ā€œOne L.A. [water] treatment plant uses more than 500 million gallons in a day.ā€

Of course, my feeling is that if you're in a sparsely inhabited desert rangeland, we should probably make laws that allow you to leave a body out in a quiet place in the land and let scavengers take care of it. Nothing greener or more sustainable (or cheaper) than letting nature do the recycling.
1 year ago
Liquid cremation is certainly picking up steam in the United States lately. I'm no expert, but the gist of the process is that a body is soaked in a lye bath under high heat and pressure for several hours, and what comes out is bones and a relatively harmless liquid concoction that goes down the drain. I'm not sure "human composting" is the most accurate phrase for the processā€”probably "human liquefaction" is closer, even if "liquefaction" is a slightly uncomfortable word.

I'd be interested to hear more opinions on it. It sounds like it is a significant improvement over traditional cremation. I suspect that natural burials are still a much better option in terms of impact, but cremation serves some practical concerns that are especially relevant to those of us living in crowded cities. I do wonder if the rising popularity of liquid cremation relative to other alternative burial methods is due to Americans' squeamishness around death and the fact that it fits better with the clinical approach to burial that we are so hellbent on maintaining. Pack the body off to the mortician, don't ask about what happens there, get back some sterile dust in an urnā€¦
1 year ago
I love this! I did a lot of origami as a kid, and I've been dissatisfied with my current seed envelope optionsā€”most recently I've been using #3 coin envelopes, but I don't like that they cost a non-negligible amount, nor that the only options for sealing are insecurely, or one-time use.

I went on a little YouTube bender and tried a number of different patterns along these lines. I did cut off the extra paper to make a perfect square to have a fair comparison on all of themā€”not sure if they will all work while leaving the extra paper attached as in the original video. Here are the versions I tried, ranked in my opinion from best to worst:


The original poster's version. I borrowed an image from this other thread discussing the same technique that I think makes a nice supplement to the video. This version is my overall winner. It's the easiest to fold, holds a lot, and closes well. The image suggests an option to add a couple staples that would improve sealing security (though I believe it is misleading about which layers to staple). The only downsides are that it's not rectangular, so if you're organizing in a box it might fit awkwardly, and the security of the seal is okay but not greatā€”if you jostled this around it could potentially catch and open.


The video uses smaller squares of paper, which is fiddly and produces a comically small envelopeā€”great if that's what you need but too small for most uses. But you can use the exact same technique with a full-sized square and get a very nice size envelope out of it. It's very close to the same technique as #1 but with a slight variation that changes the dimensions. I like that this version is rectangular, and I find the security of the seal to be a little bit better. The downside is that one of the steps (folding the first top flap inside) becomes a bit trickier. It's not too bad with the full-sized sheet, but it could be enough to stymie someone without papercrafting experience. And with the smaller size paper it's downright frustrating.


This version is pretty easy to fold, creates a nice narrow rectangular envelope, and seals securely. The video uses a printed template, but there's no need, you can fold with scratch paper and just eyeball the dimensions like all the other versions. Downside: having a fold in the middle of the seed pouch limits the capacity it can comfortably holdā€”if you fill a nice plump seed packet it isn't going to fold and seal cleanly any more. The result is a higher ratio of folded paper to effective inner volume, which is probably not a huge deal but bumps it down a little for me.


My least favorite. Video shows a quarter sheet that again comes out very small, but can be made with a full rectangle of printer paper. Suggests a printed template but can be made without. This version is the clear winner for secure sealing if you get the little paper tabs in right, though frankly if you need this much seal security you should maybe just consider judicious use of Scotch tape or ponying up for commercial envelopes instead. Downsides: This is the most complicated fold of any of the versions. It's not rectangular, and in fact to sit flat on end, it has to be set "upside-down". Unsealing and resealing is a huge pain as you need to entirely unfold it and the creases interfere with access. Needing to re-fold the sides to seal after filling opens you up to seeds sneaking out of the main compartment into creases and folds, to later be lost or spilled all over.
3 years ago