you wont get rats in those. if they dig holes underneath youll know where they are and do battle with them. easily managed. Ive never had problems with mine.
One thing you might want to consider is putting smaller diameter wood on top of that so youll get breaking down goodness quicker. If you top that up with soil from there to the top that's a lot of soil and the roots wont get anywhere near the rotting wood. To get maximum benefit you need that rotting wood to be incorporated in the root zone. You only need about 5-8 inches of soil on top as most vegies have pretty shallow roots. Then time it so when the upper wood is rotting down quite well, dig it to incorporate it with the soil. Otherwise, you'll still get many benefits, but the wood will rot away and go downwards with gravity and your plants wont be able to get to it - all the goodies will leach out, eventually.
If you keep putting compost on, youll be surprised how little the beds will subside as wood rots, I noticed none at all on mine after 5 years, and not a sign of wood remains, but i used much thinner wood than you have used.
Yes you can use it but probably not yet, it will need to rot down a lot more most likely. When it gets to a loose fibrous more dirt like substance, you can use. This may take a few years yet.
The reason why is wood will cause a nitrogen deficiency until it breaks down, from which point it will swing back the other way. If you want to use it more quickly, spread it about as a mulch on perennial territory and nature will do the job.
If you want to speed up the rotting mix it with dirt, but that's a lot of work.
You did good not throwing it away, the worst thing you could do. Never throw out plant matter, its the gardens fuel, in any form.
R Ranson wrote:Okay guys, before we advocate killing cats and risk upsetting more people, I've asked our Mother Tree to have a look at this thread. We seem to have gotten away from the original topic which was...
ANy in general comments about the northern fence lizard and gardening? How about dealing with dense growth, snakes and 2 year olds?
Is there a way we can help the original poster with her problem without picking on felix?
Yes there is. Ive addressed lizards enough but here is a list of tricks:
- Have a mulched lawn, lizards love to shelter and lay eggs in it,
- always try and have soft soil as they lay eggs in it,
- have lots of debirs about for them to hide or raised walkways about the garden
- No need to build a lizard park, they are super resilient, generally.
Snakes and lizards like similar environments so you have challenges as you want to encourage one and deter the other? Therefore, keep your lizard shelters small. If you have snakes Id avoid raised walkways or anything large for snakes to hide under. No wood piles lifted slightly off the ground or up against walls.
If you’re concerned about snakes, you basically need to make the environment less suitable for them or ….kill them, your choice. Mind you, kill and don’t fix the environment, they’ll come back. To alter environment get rid of extensive thickets and get plants up off the ground. That area you fenced off might be the worst thing for you.
Snakes hide under any flat sheets on the ground. You have chickens, and snakes love chickens and eggs. Have nothing in chicken pen snakes can hide under, eg broken slabs of cement, but theyre coming for those eggs I guarantee you. I had a chicken pen and ended up lifting it up well off the ground and had barbed wire over everything that went vertical to stop them crawling up. It worked well.
Sometimes, snakes are just endemic and numerous and you won’t get rid of them. There are snake repellent in ground solar thumping devices if you want to repel them, theoretically. They make them in Australia where we have real snakes and people swear by them. Put them about lawned areas where your kid plays and you don’t want snakes, as snakes like to sun on a lawn.
If you’ve seen snakes, they aren’t going anywhere, and you have to address the fact if you don’t want them, otherwise do nothing and learn to love them – not my thang, but where I live snakes are so potent they will and do kill, and I don’t tolerate them. Many permies do, but I won’t. I had a tiger snake in my yard and I simply killed it and cleaned things up a bit. My yard had got way too feral. No snakes since, but hey werent comon to start with
Better still, have faith in your cat. Cats are good snake deterrents. If yours is too soft get a tough one. Mine was so good I’d put him up against anyone or anything. Less rats, less snakes, as snakes love rats as we know. I felt safe when he was around and had no rats in my roof. But the lizards are so resilient they will be fine, don’t worry about them Get rid of your snakes.
.....humans have made sitting ducks out of creatures that evade predators in their wild state. Thus, it is the human who must protect them. In the second, humans support an unnaturally high predator load that captures wild prey. In this case, it's our job to control the cat.
This is a good point and what most of us environmentalists think. My experience in all matters environmental management is, you're better to work with nature, not against it.
Using that philosophy, best not to fight cats but improve the environment so it is able to accommodate a predator, and nature is extremely good at doing this. To fight the cat, you have more chance fighting ISIS, i.e a very difficult path, non pragmatic and likely to fail and cause great frustration.
To solve the cat problem we could kill all cats. This is what I once wanted to do, have them outlawed, de sexed and slowly wipe them out. Firstly, how evil and authoritarian is that? Its appalling. How impractical is that? Very. How incendiary is that? Very. My aim of course was to sustain wildlife, but I found working with nature, increasing the productivity of the ecosystem, as a far more workable management program to reach my goal, and hey presto, it works.
If one thinks killing a persons pet cat is a viable form of control - and no im not saying you do but environmentalists like to do it - one has a problematical moral dilemma there. Cats are loved by people, like children are, and thus killing loved pet cats is basically the same as human murder from a moral perspective.
R Ranson wrote:
There are some great ideas in this thread already about design options for protecting pray. I'm sure we could move this discussion back to that kind of topic.
I agree completely. I'd love to hear some more permaculture ways people have protected local prey from predators including but not limited to cats.
Its very easy, you just need a garden, and a house generally provides great shelter too. Being a permie, your garden will of course have lots of undergrowth, leaf, stick and wood debris. Lizards are extremely good at seeing these as shelter and hide everywhere. Therefore, there is no need for complicated structures and such. Nature does it all. In a garden that replicates a more natural environment, loads of shelter is provided already. To be more specific, lizards need a place small enough that the big lumbering cat cant get under. Any low lying wood of any structure or form will do the trick. I have wooden walk ways that they hide under for example.
The other question is, why do you want to starve the predators? You're a predator, and predators have just as much right to food as the prey do, when they are in fact a predator. Provide shelter for the prey, and the predators will appreciate it as prey numbers will increase, the prey will appreciate it as it gives them a fighting chance and ability to prolfierate. If predator gets a prey, so what? Everyone wins, and its so easy to do, just have a multi layered garden, and animals will hide within that.
Remember folks, the buddhists make the promise "not to kill a living being" as an on purpose impossible conundrum to find oneself in. Find the answer to that and you will achieve enlightenment
Now, I have to go and kill some rats, as since the cats have gone the rats returned immediately. I am going to kill for FUN. I will NOT be eating the rats. If cats were so effective at killing wildlife, there would be no rats in suburbia, but there are.
Without getting deeper into the pro versus anti cat debate, the original topic is how to maintain lizards etc with cats. The answer is just provide them shelter.
To provide shelter you just need a garden and your house. Lizards will find many things to hide under that you can’t even see. The more complex your garden infrastructure (layers) the more wildlife you’ll have. Simple. Let nature do the rest.
Cats love to catch lizards, and they will, but lizards are also usually in large enough numbers to survive the predators habit, and they also adapt their behaviour and start hiding quite well. Lizards are far less visible when a cat is about. Take the cat away and the next day, yes literally, lizards were out having sex on the steps – right in front of the children. They know what’s going on and adjust behaviour accordingly.
Here's how I judge environmental impact - on this and most topics.
When I came to my place 15 years ago, the block was grass, 100%, very little suburban wildlife. After 10 years it was a complex garden ecosystem with lots of suburban wildlife. I then introduced two key predators. Now this is the important bit: the wildlife equation was far in the positive as compared to when it was 100% grass, so despite introducing predators into that, nature is still way ahead from the human suburban wasteland it was before. Crying about a caught bird and lizard is pointless.
So the equation is thus: as long as you have added to the environment, it’s cool to keep cats, as nature still wins.
So chill out and leave the cats alone. Cats are super cool beings, so cool that if you’re into meditation or a path to enlightenment, you need to study and learn from our feline brothers, they’ve got it down pat baby, zen style - apart from the little inherent overwhelming anxiety problem.
This is the folly of fundamental statements like Bill made here. There is no right or wrong answer that applies to every situation. It became normalised thought that cats are always bad somewhere in the early 90s I believe, that if you're an environmentalist you must accept this dogma. It’s the environmentalist bigotry. Bigotry never dies, that’s one fundamental rule I believe in, it just changes colour.
Environmentalists love biological control done by scientists - even though success is extremely rare - but for the oldest one known to man, that cats biologically control rats, it is despised. I don’t understand that really.
Green Change wrote:Philip, you seem to have a lot of knowledge in this area, are happy to share it, and don't appear to have any particular axe to grind or product to sell. I want to commend and thank you for that! It's very much appreciated by all of us.
My question - have you seen or used this type of termite detection/killing system before?
From reading their stuff it all sounds logical and plausible, and developed by an entomologist with pest technician experience. They're not claiming to be 100% effective (who can?!), but it seems to me to have a pretty good chance at success.
I'm looking to find ways to minimise the risk to my house and shed, on an acre in a termite-prone area (Jamberoo NSW, if you know it).
Well yeah I know Jamberoo, I live just around the corner kind of. I even make loud guitar noises in those valley hills occasionally / regularly.
This stuff is called termite baiting. Its a generic thing / form of termite control these days. Ignore the big claims of professionalism, this is marketing hype trying to make it look unique. I hate that stuff, sorry.
The system you are looking at there is nothing unique. The commercial bait has been around for about 12 years now. Theres been this recent thing of these people actually supplying bait with it, whereas previously this was the domain of the pest controller. Im not sure what the active ingredinet is in the bait they supply, but commercially it is an IGR type chemical (insect growth regulator).
Aside from buying these things with all the generic advertising gunk attached to them, you can actually go even more authentic DIY, just stick a couple of timber stakes together into the ground. Thats all a termite lure - which is the pole plastic thing there - is, a bit of timber, termites quite like it. Old fence pailings are the best, groups of three, into the ground about 20 cm and 5 cm sticking out. Keep in mind, termites dont like plastic and thats basically what you are buying there. The plastic stuff is totally unecessary. Nor do you need some 'fancy' termite indicator thing like those ads always seem to blow the horn about, its very easy to see if termites are in a lure.
But overall, its not a bad system that particular one. Much better than the others there. The big fault of all of them is lack of actual lures. 6 is not enough. You need at least 20 - 30 getting about generally. Its just like fishing, more hooks in the river the more chance you have of catching a fish. The other big thing is the price. DIY is much much much cheaper. I even supply and install 20 - 30 of them for less than their 6.
The other big problem with all this is it aint as easy as the glossy pictures make it look. Trust me on that one. Ignore those testimonial things. Termites can be fickle little buggers and not play by the rules.
basically i could rave on for hours about baiting its pros and cons, but I'll try not to. take this information - stick some loosely coupled timber stakes in the ground about your structures, about 2 metres apart as a rough rough guide, and check to see if there's mud between the timbers every couple of months or so.
Then what you do from there is another story.
Also bear in mind, termite baiting is in no way some fix it all solution. You really need to know what risk your house is proposing - and reacting appropriately via management through that analysis- rather than just having some termite lures about. But monitoring for termites in the ground is a pretty wise start.
Also ignore that 10 year protection tick they put on there- what nonsense. Basically, these things are pretty bad value, you can do it yourself pretty easy, but then again, I pay a mechanic to change my oil in my car when I could easily do it myself I guess. Then again, to have it done professionally if everything goes all sweet and hunky dory like it syas it will on the glossy brochure, you'd have it done for less than $1000 of their 'big daddy' system there. Even though you're in my target area there, I have no axe to grind at all. I'd rather make hugelkultur beds than chase termites and Im the worse business person in the world - thats why Im not flogging the same thing on the internet.
It looks to me like the best/only hope for subterr. termites is to break the ground connection (or using it to distribute effective poison) while keeping the building normally dry. Easier said, of course, but conceivable I think. Because no fix is in any way permanent, even expertly applied poison; this means inspecting regularly from now until you and the building part company. And giving yourself a chance to actually do a complete inspection would greatly benefit from building (especially the earth contact areas) with termite inspection (and exclusion) specifically in mind.
There are many different ways fo controlling termites and it all depends on what the situation both environmentally and financially is. But basically you're on the right path, yes, especially the importance of inspection access and actually inspecting. Most people do neither, and when they get them expect you to wave a magic wand around - fortunately I have one, but it mostly does black magic.
.... It sounds like the "dry nest" won't survive w/out constant and active connection with the soil, right?
Theoretically, no. But a nest cut from the ground could survive for quite some time, and will also go to great lengths to make ground contact. You cant just assume it will die at all. A nest is a significant structure and once established is quite robust. If termites are just feeding in the house - the most common scenario - the termites will die if broken from ground contact, but if the infestation is large it may also take quite some time to die. This is one of the risks of chemical barriers used as the sole control agent.
What would you consider to be "a little ways" from a house?
I say this because our last load of wood mulch from the city had a small termite nest in it. I managed to kill almost all the termites by squashing them (or feeding them to gold fish). Suspect shovel fulls were spread out very thin along the ground so they would be exposed to the sun. This was all about 20-30 ft from the nearest house. I did use non-infested mulch (we inspect every 3 shovels for trash and termites are hard to miss) right next to the house in new beds we prepared. About 3-4 inches deep of wood mulch. I've been a little worried that we are inviting trouble.
It is a good thing we are transitioning to green manures instead of wood mulch. Our garden is starved for carbon (like most suburbanites) and wood mulch seemed to be a good way to get started, but after meeting those termites we are glad its not a long term thing for us. Needless to say, I still worry about them getting to the house.
So, what are your thoughts on wood mulch near a house?
First, keep in mind Im from Australia, so different species, but I do believe the termite ecology / species are pretty much the same in north america.
Termites you find in wood mulch are of no consequence to the sound seasoned timbers of a house. Good news hey? It depends on whether your house is a high risk house or a low risk house as to thwether wood mulch near the house is okay or not. Low risk houses it dont matter a damned hoot; high risk it matters more and probably shouldnt be done really, but I never freak out about it too much.
The dangerous termites are not really interested in fragmented pieces of wood. They want the dry seasoned stuff with grain structure still in place, thats what they need to feed. The mulch tends to feed the ones that like decayed wood in little bits on the forest floor.
The termites you see in the mulch are not actually the nest. That would be extremely rare. Its just some feeding termites, and once broken up they are of no consequence at all. No need to feed them to wildlife or pour petrol on them and light them up - like many do - as they will die anyway, I guarantee you, and even if they didnt die it wouldnt really matter either.
So what constitutes a high risk situation and a low risk? Thats another story.
>> Rufus Laggren wrote: The ground bugs require water, so if you keep the house dry they won't actually live there, just eat and run. Rufus
> That is basically totally false.
According to what I read (extensively) the subterranean termites require a certain amount of water and they cannot find enough in the structure of a normal house. that means they don't colonize the house, but return to the ground to hydrate.
So enlighten me about "totally wrong". Please.
With pleasure Rufus. Termites do need moisture and do need contact with the ground for it. True. However, under these conditions they can still make a nest in your walls, generally called a secondary nest. They like to build them in between timber wall studs. The termites will have contact with the ground and have a nest in the driest of walls.
Secondly, its almost irrelevant if they colonise your house or not - by that we're referring to having a nest in your house. A termite infestation is a termite infestation, it doesnt matter if the nest is in the house or not, its just the same - same amount of termites; same amount of timber destruction.
It is a wide spread myth that people think if one keeps the house dry everything will be fine. It is not the case at all.
Other myths that exist re termites inculde: black ants will keep them away - wrong; Chooks eat them - irrelevant.
Its often a case with termites - dont believe everything that you read. Often these things are written by people who looked something up in a book, extrapolated the infromation and wrote in their book and then someone else read that book and put it in their book. And its all a little off the mark. The other source of this information is people extrapolating simplistic point form information. You will always read, keep the sub-floor area of the house dry to deter termites. This is true. You are best to try and keep it dry, it will lower the risk a little. But it will not in any way stop termites getting to the house. They leave that last part out.
Morgan Morrigan wrote:Borax powder on the dirt beneath logs?
Spray on logs?
anything that could help?
No, no, no. Absolutely no. Totally ineffective.
Basically the potential problem is creating a concealed site for a termite nest, and you must try and avoid this. Termites work in colonies, which means they have a nest as central headquarters as opposed to just running around like a gang of youths causing problems.
It's just the nest thing that you want to stop. Termites feeding on timber beneath the ground is not such a great problem really. After all, they are the greatest soil makers of all if you wnat to take a total ecocentric ethic to it. If its just a feeding site well that's nothing more than what you'd be normally dealing with anyways.
So use smaller logs, no wider than 5 inches, and this wil lower chances of a nest being made to start with. If you just used thinner branches instead of the big logs that would be better too. They will not be suitable for termites to even feed on - well not the dangerous variety anyway. If you throw big cut 1 piece solid logs on there, termites would find that the ultimate thing for making a nest.
No need to abandon your hugelkultur beds just because of termites, just be a little smart about it.
The next big rule is - never listen to what lay people tell you about termites, there's a very good chance its totally false or way out of context and will scare the pants off of you or give you false confidence, one or the other.
I havent used shampoo for on 10 years now. It makes no difference whatsoever. In fact, its better by a long long way. I'm male. Females are never going to go with that - or thats what Ive noticed. Many female hairstyles rely on that shampoo conditioner routine for that look Im afraid to say. Also, if you're male, never tell a female you dont use shampoo, especially if you are pursuing them.
I havent used soap, for 10 years, apart from the pits, where I use some basic "earth friendly" detergent. You're skin doesnt need to be soaped, simple fact.
Exceptions are if you do really dirty work of course.
You are right. Burying large volumes of timber by your house is asking for trouble. Im a professional termite person and no Im not a redneck. There is no quick explanation / answer for termite management and control, but in short, hugelkultur beds are an extraordinary increase of risk for termites. However, and just to complicate things, do I have hugelkultur thing going ? You bet I do. Basically, it depends on how your house is built as to what the risk is. basically, I wouldn't let the word termite stop you from doing Hugelkultur, but you should know what you're dealing with regards to termites.
Id have to testify to sweet potatoe. They did an amazing job on some mild to nasty clay. I poured mulch onto them a few times over a few years. When I finally pulled them out, some 3 years later, the soil was truely improved to a gorgeous deep loam, easy friable. Highly impressed.
gani et se wrote:... Felt like a real hippy rolling down the freeway with 12 foot bamboo tied to the car rack.
Cool. Bamboo is a plant from the angels i reckon. never used it, but would love too. I would be wary of the running bamboo though, Ive seen its work in the warmth and it can really get a going that I doubt eating the shoots of will control. That's all.
Yep, wood on bottom soil 'stuff' on top, awesome raised vegie bed, especially if you have to go 1 foot high.
Im surprised you say you have no soil. Im sure you do, its just sitting there beneath your feet Id assume, even if its just a thin layer, a scraping of top soil, you can whip it off and stick it up near the top.
and no, if youre planning on growing vegies, roots dont go down that far at all on most of them, so you gotta put your ready nutrients up the top.
Remember as things rot you'll have to keep putting more stuff in too.
Why I totally agree Eric. Still I think that challenge is real and shoudlnt be avoided in planning. I think abundance is the key. When there's so much available, greed tends to be naturally limited. If its the other way around, poeples behaviour gets a little odd.
I think this is great. However, the big question for me is how this will work come harvest time. People are inherently selfish, and when the word 'free' appears they translate to mean its all mine and have no repsect for it and abuse the condition.
I know many 'poor' people and this is definitely their attitude. They will not, I mean not, pay for anything on the internet and in the real world steal things without any guilt. There is no generosity in attitude. I am poor myself and am not prejudice okay, just observant.
I predict once harvest time comes people will get in there, rape the plants and run off with the produce before others can get it. Some would even then try and sell it.
However, having said that, I once lived in Darwin northern Australia where mango trees liberally lined the streets and their was no such behaviour at all. Reasons possibly were there were so many it was impossible to do it. Also, the mangoes were stringy and low on flesh, not your steroid juicy variety you see in the shops, and thus not highly desirable. I also grew up where Macadamia trees grew kind of liberally and no such behaviour was encountered.