Mk Neal

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since Feb 02, 2019
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dog forest garden fish foraging urban cooking food preservation bike
Torn between wanting a bigger garden and loving the city life.
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Recent posts by Mk Neal

We used red cedar for some arbors, and while the above- ground wood seems rot- resistant,  the part in contact with soil rotted out in 5 years.  We had filled the postholes with sand and crushed rock (paver base), but that was not enough to keep it from rotting.  I found out that this is pretty standard life span.
9 hours ago

Mathew Trotter wrote:People keep asking about greens, so it’s clear that many people here are too affluent to understand the problem I’m trying to solve (and I do mean too affluent, not very affluent... which is an important distinction; like the difference between first world poor and third world poor), or else have no personal concept of job loss, debilitating illness, or natural or man-made disaster. Let me see if I can create a thought experiment to help people understand (and many thanks to all of those who understand what I'm working on and have provided much needed insights.)
I get that most people in the first world are hyper focused on growing nutrition because that's what's lacking in the supermarket and calories seem so cheap and readily available, but what if they weren't? What if you didn't have access to those cheap calories (to say nothing of their quality)? How are you making it through the year? .....

THAT is the problem I'm trying to solve. Growing nutrient-dense food is an unnecessary luxury just so that you don't have to go out foraging, but that's what it is: an unnecessary luxury. Calories are not a luxury. They're the problem you have to solve before you can put time and energy into anything else.

When the universe doesn't care about your idealism, your comfort, or you regular supply chains, what do you grow?

In my professional life, many of my clients are subsistence farmers from Central America. What I hear from them is, if anyone has even a tiny plot of land, they plant corn, and then more corn, and add some beans. Corn is a vegetable and a grain. It does not spoil and (relatively) easy to process by hand. Many families live on atole and tortillas day in and day out. The other fruits and vegetables are nice extras. If you have enough good land to feed your family on corn, that is the good life, and those who don't have the land and need to buy corn instead are hard up. If you have no good land, you raise chickens or goats/sheep to sell meat and eggs to buy corn.

Totally different from urban gardeners here, where we concentrate, like you say, on the vitamin-packed "extras" like tomatoes, peppers, spinach, etc.
I like to dry apple peels (a radiator is good for this) and use them as tea.  Right now I have apple peel and rose petal tea.  Would probably be good with cardamom, too.

I have been told by Russsians that apple peel is good for the kidneys, I do not know if this is true or by what mechanism.
1 day ago
I have a close relative with schizophrenia, I do think this is one ailment that really needs modern medicine.  Other than cognitive therapy which can help a person recognize problem thought patterns (mostly useful for realizing when to seek help), there is not much non-medical intervention that helps.  When medical treatment is working, my relative is friendly, social, productive member of society. Without they are terrified, depressed, needs 24/7 care.
1 day ago
Regarding burdock, I do not have as high an opinion of it as food.  I've tried it from my own yard, and even had commercially grown roots delivered by CSA. Struck me as famine food,  skinny and stringy compared to other roots veg.  I find the taste reminiscent of dirt. But then, I'm not a big fan of artichokes or sunchokes so maybe there is something my taste buds don't get.
Perhaps the right to appeal should only kick in once a person has a certain number of BB under their belt?  Like maybe at BB 10 or 20?

Sort if like the cider press, where you earn your way in.  A person who has already completed such a number of BBs has shown that they do understand the system and they are invested in their progress, their complaints may warrant more consideration.  That way moderators are not run ragged by demands from people who are not serious.

I say this as a person who is not terribly serious about PEP. I enjoy completing BB because I am challenging myself to learn new skills,  but I am pretty set in life and do not really need my the extrinsic verification of my skills. I do not want moderators burnt out by weighing the minutiae of submissions by people like me who are just doing BBs for fun.  
1 day ago
Trace, I think Julie is referring to anti-discrimination laws which mean you cannot refuse to rent to someone because of the "type" of person they are.  The Fair Housing Act is the federal law, and then states and localities have their own ordinances also. I have some experience in this area of law, and I do not think any of these ordinances say that you must rent first-come-first-serve, just that you CAN'T turn someone down because of their race, gender, disability, national origin, or family status (e.g. cannot refuse to rent to families with kids), or because the person is or is not a veteran or some other criteria set by state law. It is true that HUD (Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) sends out "testers" to inquire about rentals, and if a company, say, to a person of one race that they have no one-bedroom apartments available, but then offers to show a one-bedroom to a person of a different race later in the day, they could be subject to a fair housing lawsuit.

This is a very interesting project you are undertaking!  For yields of sunflowers and other native American staple crops, you might look at Buffalobird-Woman's account as told in "Native American Gardening, Buffalobird-Woman's Guide to Traditional Methods," Gilbert L. Wilson, Dover Publications Inc.

She describes Hidatsa farming, storage, and preparation methods for corn, squash, beans, and sunflowers.  I am told the text is available at now as well.

I find it interesting that she treats "winter" squash as a secondary use of the crop, the primary use being dried "summer" squash used as a vegetable throughout the year.
I chose two beds where I have overwintering vegetables-- a rectangular 16ft x 5 ft bed with garlic and some fall greens, and an adjacent triangular 7 x 4 x 8 ft bed with walking onions and struggling rhubarb.  So total area about 94 sq ft.

I chopped the leaves off nearby garlic chives and peonies, and pruned the adjacent forsythia and plum trees, then used these leaves and twigs to cover the vegetable beds.

view from north end of garlic bed loking toward onion bed before chop and drop

view from south end of onion bed looking towards garlic after chop and drop
5 days ago