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Andrea Locke

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since Aug 25, 2019
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Gulf Islands BC (zone 8)
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Recent posts by Andrea Locke

I think it depends on how you want to use the clover - whether you are planning to till it in or if you want to grow it as a ground cover. You might not have enough time to grow it to a size to be tilled in and then plant your spring crops. If you are growing as a nitrogen producing summer ground cover that would be a different story. We're planning to plant several kinds of clover in spring here in coastal BC, but as a permanent ground cover as part of a chestnut-based polyculture. We also encourage clovers to grow between plants in the vegetable garden.

According to the planting calendar in my West Coast Seeds catalogue, alsike clover could be planted as early as the start of February but it looks like most of the others should be planted early March. I assume that timing would be for Vancouver. Depending on your elevation etc in Oregon you might be similar, or a little earlier?
4 hours ago

Sadb O'Conner wrote:

tel jetson wrote: goats would probably be a decent biological control if black locust suckers and seedlings start getting out of hand. one place there aren't any little locusts is in the long-term goat paddock. there are three big trees, but no seedlings or root suckers. there are poultry in there, too, and so I guess there's also a chance they're eating the seeds.

Yep! Like yours, our goats LOVE black locust. They'll strip the bark from BL saplings even up to 5" diameter trees. The bark changes significantly when the locust gets older, and at that point the goats will ignore it, but until then they act like it is candy, and will run straight to the locust stands in each pasture as we rotate them through. They'll eat locust leaves and bark here even before they eat the grass, and at the same rate as multiflora rose and autumn olive.

Black locust does seem pretty resilient here in USDA zone 7, and it definitely responds to cutting/pruning by growing suckers all over the stump and surrounding roots, but our goats sure can kill it. Their bark-stripping work is the only reason we even have pastures at all, and not just locust groves. So long as the locust is young (under 5" diameter), and the goats get access to it at least twice in a year, it only takes a couple years to kill the tree. Maybe the bark-stripped trunks and branches keep demanding energy from the roots, and use it up, killing the roots instead of promoting suckering from them.

Of course, here in Virginia, there are always more locusts being planted; the seed pods are very popular with wildlife, so we always get new tiny seedlings popping up for the sheep and goats to munch on. Maybe we just need more chickens!

This is interesting, as I've just been reading about black locust toxicity to goats and had concluded it was probably not a good idea to plant it because of that. What I read was that the leaves were ok when green but toxic if wilted from frost or on cut branches. I also thought the bark and wood were toxic - the only part of the tree that was completely safe being the flowers (which I have eaten as fritters, years ago).

Sounds like your goats are safely eating green leaves, bark and wood of young trees. I think also new twigs of larger trees but not the bark of larger trees.  I may have missed it but what about wilted or dead leaves, and pods? Do those seem safe for goats as well?

4 hours ago
Plums and cherries can handle a fair amount of shade too. I assume when you said 'cherry' as a species in your coppice you meant the native black cherry? You could also consider planting sour cherries, perhaps focusing more on bush cherry varieties or smaller tree cultivars if you want them as understory.

You mentioned a wetland nearby, so maybe you have enough moisture in the ground for paw paws.
1 day ago
Fruit crops for shade, not necessarily trees - Gooseberries, red white and black currants, haskaps, goji (vining but use existing trees as supports), raspberries, tayberry, loganberry

In clearings or edges - serviceberry (Saskatoon), strawberries
1 day ago
Comfrey is probably my main chop and drop and I've been scrounging from other gardens to get more. I have self-seeding kale and anything that self-seeds where the goats can't reach it may be fair game for chop and drop if there's more than I can use as food. As well, there is a dirt pile near the bottom of my driveway where the neighbour dug out an area and installed a culvert - that grows lots of huge mullein. In a previous garden I had an enormous patch of ancient and very vigorous rhubarb that produced the most enormous leaves used as chop and drop, also burdock. Some annual flowers make good bee plants and produce large amounts of leafy biomass that can be good chop and drop at the end of the season - phacelia in particular, borage, cosmos, sunflowers.

At the new place, we'll be seeding clovers and field peas and beans in the tree alleys for purposes of chop and drop. Last week, on my birthday, younger daughter and I went to a feed store we'd heard good things about but never visited, and among other things that are not carried at our regular store we bought a 50 lb bag of something called 'maple peas' also known as 'Carlin peas' which will be part of this soil-building mix.

Since your area is wet and if you have the room, perhaps planting alder or willow would give you some good soil-building biomass, as well as taking up some of the water (assuming one of your goals is to dry it out a bit). There's a lot of nitrogen in alder leaves and wood.
1 day ago

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

I keep the purslane completely weeded out of most of my fields.

I'm curious to know what evil thing purslane does at your place to have gotten into that small group of must-be-removed weeds, Joseph. Since it is a good edible and barefoot-friendly?
2 days ago

Eric Hanson wrote:It blows my mind that comfrey is considered to be a weed.  I went way out of my way to plant it.  In fact, my very first Permies post was about how to plant comfrey.


I'm not sure I was justified in calling it a weed, but I am aware of several spots here where it has gone feral and is growing in ditches alongside roads. So by that definition at least it is a plant that has escaped cultivation.

I am very fond of comfrey and recently went to the homes of two other gardeners to dig several big bins of comfrey from their gardens to add to mine. This in addition to the 30-ish plants I already have :) I'm aiming for every planted tree to have its own companion comfrey.
2 days ago

Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Andrea, to me the creation of biochar is for making habitat for the microbiome, not mineralization. Biochar is not going to hold onto minerals, it does hold water and microorganisms. I love the use of seaweeds for mulching since that gets the minerals where the microorganisms can uutilize them or store them for plant use.


Thanks for that clarification, Redhawk. I will stick with adding seaweed as mulch - I find that is quite effective.
3 days ago
Oh, and another thought. What if I added dried seaweed in the barrel with the wood to be burned? Thus incorporating it as part of the charcoal from the beginning. Would that add useful minerals or would a lot of the good stuff burn off or be converted to less usable forms?
3 days ago

Bryant RedHawk wrote:indeed you do have to activate with minerals and microbiome organisms, how you do it can be simple or you can do it in steps as you laid out John.

I have an old water trough that holds about 100 gal. of water that I use for charging fresh made char but I do a one step inoculation of my char.
I fill the trough about half way with char then dump in two coal scoops of finished compost then I add water to cover the char and compost.
That will sit for up to two weeks then I suction off the liquid and use it on garden beds, the char is mixed with compost and spread where I want it.
I like your plan, adding minerals is never a bad thing as long as you know the starting point.

Note: most microbiologist consider additions of minerals mostly unnecessary because of the mineral content of soils is considered by them to be already present but unavailable without the microbiome.
My personal take on this is that you will not find a complete mineral base (complete meaning 97 minerals, soils tend to only have 74) on dry land (not ocean floor), so I think we need to make sure our soil has all minerals available to the microbes.
Most here know that I use Sea-90 for mineral additions since it has the 97 minerals I want available to my plants.


I have access to seaweed from the beach and have been using it directly as a mulch for decades. There is usually lots of cast up detached seaweed in the intertidal zone after storms. I am trying to decide how best to use fresh seaweed to inoculate biochar to get that more complete marine mineral profile. I think it would be a choice between soaking the biochar with fresh slightly decomposed seaweed versus adding the seaweed to the compost pile and using the finished compost as Redhawk describes above. Has anyone tried this? Any thoughts?
3 days ago