I did find a worm farming forum. There's a forum for everything now days.
They all pretty much concluded the same thing, that I let me box get too dry. Live and learn. I have been watering it everyday to try and run the ants off. Before I refill it with worms I need to figure out what to do about winter. How do I keep my worms from freezing over the winter? I dont' want to put out another $50 in worms just to have them freeze and die again over the winter.
Been a while since I have checked in here. Life has been very busy the past few weeks.
I am having problems with my worm box under my bunny hutch. We set this up about 5 weeks or so ago and put 2000 worms in. Things were going fine for a while. I even noticed tiny baby worms at one point. Then all of a sudden my worms have disappeared and my box is overrun with tiny ants about 3mm or 1/8" long. Did the ants eat my worms or run them off?
Here is how things are set up. The box is approx 3ft by 8ft by 11 inches deep with a plywood bottom. I drilled 3/8" drainage holes in the bottom on a 6" grid per directions I had for building a worm box. I started the box off with a mixture of composted cow manure, topsoil, shredded newspaper and shredded cardboard. We put the worms in and topped it all off with about a half inch of grass clippings to try and help hold moisture in. I tried to keep the bed moist but not sopping wet. The directions I had said about as damp as a wrung out sponge.
For weeks i could go out wnad turn over a patch and find worms just anywhere I looked. Now when I do that all I find are those tiny ants.
I don't mind buying more worms and starting over but I need fond out what went wrong before I do that.
I sure could us some expertise of some of you worm farmers out there.
I didn't really see and appropriate place in the critters section to put this so I put it here in the general permacutlure spot. If it is more appropriate somewhere else please move it.
Here is a pic of one of the affected peppers and the plant it came off of. The leaves on the plant look healthy to me. The only thing that I can find on the plant that might be a sign of something suspect is the dark coloring at the forks where the branches and fruit sprout off but every pepper plant I have ever grown has had that coloring in the forks.
I don't know guys. To me it seems to look more like the sunburn than the fungus rot but I'm not sure. Do the pictures help ID the problem?
That sure looks like what I have Tyler. These plants have grown in this bed the whole time. I would think they would be used to the sun. Is there anything I can do about it? I pulled the affected fruit off already to prevent any chance of spread or other problems. Would more water help?
I am beyond skeptical. If this were true large industry would be buying all the technology up. They would not be offering it on the net like this.
IF it is true I say wait till the price of gold drops to a reasonable rate again from them glutting the market and it won't hurt my so much to buy it. Ya for them. I had to buy a 6' Piece of 24K 18 gauge wire and a 1"x2" 30 gauge sheet a couple weeks ago for my current project. $550 for those two little pieces. I remember when I could have gotten those two pieces all day long for $125.
Gold has no real value to me other than a material that I work with. This current market is putting the hurt on.
I wander how well this works on some of those hard to split woods like elm. Around here we call this splitting wood. Chopping is cutting to length with an ax.
I learned to really split wood from a blacksmith that lived in Potosi Mo named Tom Clark. Tom took a single bit ax and welded a 1.5 x 1.5 block on the back of the ax head and ground it to the contour of the original head. This added a weight that gave torsion to your ax head. TO use the ax you held it with the head canted about 30 degrees to one side rather than straight up and down. Tom's method made splitting wood very efficient and fast. Tom use to do local demos where he would take on a team of men using he latest miracle wood splitting gizmo. He never lost a contest. By time they got through a rank of wood he was usually way ahead.
I don't' have one of Tom's custom axes made for this but I have found that a double bitted ax gives almost as good results if held the same way. I'm not as fast as Tom was at it but it is the fastest way I can split wood myself. There is a technique to it but once you get the hang of it it is easy and a lot less physically stressful than using a splitting maul or wedges.
I don't know how to embed a video but I did find a vid on you tube of Tom splitting with his custom ax. Even hard to split hardwoods with interlocking grains would split using his method.
Today I started mapping out the sun at various parts of the yard so I know how many hours of sun, shade and, mottled sun I get at each spot. That will help with what to plant where based on amount of sun needed.
I also have things that I do need based on family and business needs. For example I have a pair of whippets that need some yard to run in. I also build custom fly rods and I need to keep a lane of yard back there for test casting rods. I have been working on that list needs and wants. As well as trying to map out the lot.
My daughter and I are taking a trip this weekend and I am taking stuff to work on my plan of the evenings in the hotel room so hopefully, I will be able to get a good portion of it done.
If it will end up being too wet for the grapes between the two sets of beds, I may move them north or up hill of the two hugel crescents. I may just trade the top set of crescents and the grapes places. That back fence is already covered with blackberries and raspberries.
Will it hurt the grapes to transplant them over the summer or should I wait until they go dormant in the fall? I just planted those this spring.
If I mulch up the inside of the crescents do you think the inside of he crescents can retain enough water to grow high water things like melons and cantaloupe?
One more question, If I move all this around how far up hill should I space the two sets of crescents? I'm thinking put the first set 10ft uphill from the second set. Would I need more space than that?
Abe Connally wrote:put worm boxes under those cages, and you won't have to worry about cleaning the litter all the time.
Awesome idea Abe. We just finished our first large rabbit hutch and are going to build a second as soon as we get back from vacation. I definitely am going to put worm boxes under the hutches. Talk about a naturally automated system. The rabbits feed the worms daily. The worms keep the stink form the rabbit poop down by decomposing them into useful compost for the garden.
Will the rabbit urine hurt the worms at all? I assume it would be a good idea to put other materials like grass clippings and leaves in those worm boxes occasionally?
I have another question about this type of mounded bed when planting it as an annual veggie garden.
How do you control erosion in the off season? If I prep the beds early this fall, could I plant white clover over the whole surface to prevent the surface soil from eroding off the hill over the fall and winter and then when I am ready to plant my seedlings in the spring just yank out a hole in the clover where I am planting? If I am catching on correctly that would also put some of the nitrogen back into the soil that would be pulled out by the first year timber rot.
Is this what you have in mind? Short 8-9' swales uphill that spill the excess water into the longer 18'- 20' swales below the grapes I like this idea. I also think these smaller ones would be easier to build. Since I live uphill from two storm drains any "loose dirt" has to be contained. They get a little protective of soil and silt washing into the city drains. The way these are set up I could easily put a landscape block or stone mini retaining wall in front of each one to satisfy city hall.
It would be nice to have some kind of water holding device like buried wood on the inside of he the swales so that I could plant high water consumption things like melons in those areas.
I can move my lettuce and such closer to the house where I have more shade during the day. In the spot I'm thinking of the greens would get morning sun from about 7am to almost 1pm then the trees would start shading the area during the hottest part of the day. By moving those plants the shade would not be needed on the swales and I could just plant it with things that thrive on a lot of sun. I could find an even more protected spot for my "cooler crops" if needed.
Thanks John, that helps me straighten out my thinking quite a bit.
Is there a guide somewhere that will help me with what partner plants to put in a veggie garden along with the edibles? or...... would I be just as well off to fertilize with manure/compost or digester waste to amend the soil? If I am able to get the digester made that I wanting I am going to need someplace to go with the "by product" fertilizer anyway.
Where do I find that kind of info. If I fertilize with digester waste or manure do I need nitro fixers. Do you have any recommendations?
I think this is a big part my problem. It seems everyone else has this info already acquired from YEARS of working with this. But I am having a problem finding a source where all this info is centralized, organized and easy to locate. Such a resource would be a HUGE help to newbies like me. At this point I feel like I am trying to put together a 5,000 piece puzzle with no picture on the box cover and all of the edge pieces missing. Its becoming a bit overwhelming and frustrating.
I have three or four books on the subject but I can't read fast enough to digest these and put it all together. It has taken me a month to get 2/3 the way through this first book, not because I'm illiterate but I just don't have the time to set down and read a book through. Is there a concise straight forward hugelculture for dummies online anywhere?
I know you all are probably tired of me reminding everyone that I'm new at this but I just want to make sure folks don't assume I know more than I do.
This fall after my tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are pretty much done for the season I am planning to pull out my raised boxes and replace them with a hugel bed about 40' long 4'wide and 4'-5' tall if I can get it that tall. Unless someone tells me different my initial plan is to mix in a fair amount of composted manure as fertilizer to try and allow for that first year nitrogen draw caused by the initial decay. If that goes well I am considering putting in another one that size the following year on the uphill side of the grape trellis..
What I am unsure of is what to plant when and in what combination. Also I am a little unsure of the issue of do I replant every year or just let part go to seed and "grow wild" so to speak. I have grown a lot of tomatoes, squash, peppers etc. the standard Midwest garden staples. But I would like to expand that and grow a wider variety.
I would like:
a variety of lettuce greens for salads
and anything else that strikes my fancy int eh way of a veggie.
I am assuming that I would be better planting the lettuce and other greens on the north side of the hugel hill to help keep them from burning up in the summer heat. Beyond that that I am not sure where to go from there. I know that some plants are cool weather plants and some prefer the summer heat. IF these are all planted together on a mound do they come up on their own at the right time of year or am I going to have Kale getting burn up in July? Do you still have to manage a hugel bed as to what you plant when to some extent or can you really just toss it all in there and let it grow like wild and trust the plants to come up and do their thing in the season they prefer? I am about 2/3 the way through Mollisons Intor to Permaculture book but I have not found this kind of info in there at least not yet. I also have Holzers PErmaculture book which I plan to attack once I'm done with the Mollison book. Hopefully that will have more of this type info in it.
You folks got any advise as to where to go to find such info?
WHen are you going to have the stove and latnerns available? I go to your website and all I can find is the digester plans and digester info. I can't find the stove for sale. DO you guys have anything with a BBQ grill type burner in the works?
Thanks for confirming my assumptions Warren. The gas lights I found were from china and made to be run off methane/biogas. They used a mantle like a Coleman lantern and look to burn fairly bright. Here is a link to the ones I found.
THanks for the info Warren and for the pamphlet. One more question. As I am working out my plan for my backyard I am including a methane digestor to run my outdoor gas BBQ grill off of and about three gas lights on the back patio. I use my BBQ grill often but not daily. I am sure the same would be true of the gas lights.
That brings up this question. Will it harm a digester if you do not use the methane off of it regularly. Since the system will continue to produce gas even if when you are not using it, is it possible/necessary to put a pressure valve in the system to safely bleed off the extra gas?
This brings up a question I have been pondering. I am new and the answer may be obvious and I just have not run across it yet.
I am planning to replace my raised bed with a 40' long 3-4' high hugelbed this fall for next years garden. IF I understand the huglebed concept correctly, I build the bed and sow my seed in the fall rather than start seedlings inside and transplant. then you let some of that years crop go to seed so it replenishes for the following years garden. If these beds are staying warmer than regular ground temp it seem that the seeds would germinate earlier in the year causing a frost risk.
If using a hugelcultre type of bed, do you need to keep a hoop cover over it until the danger of frost is over or does the warmth rising from the bed protect the young plants form frost? if this bed is at 82F in late March / early April, I would think that warmth may very well protect against night time frost unless it was excessively heavy...but I just don't know.
Steve Palmer wrote:Sorry to say it guys but it is or becoming that bad in parts of Missouri, Iowa, Illinois but there is hope, it is not too hard to find the good people. Most have little hope in those depressed areas of the world. They were sold a bill of goods years ago by our Dept. of Agriculture to stop growing anything and raise cattle plus plant kentucky 31 fescue all over the place. It was not known that that stuff is almost worthless as a cattle forage or as the locals say a cow can stand belly deep in it and starve to death. As an added bonus for them the mines have closed which was a good source of work, coal, lead, and iron ore either played out or were closed due to pollution problems. Unless you have attached yourself to the government teat in corrections or other stuff what do you have, not very much. You cannot blame someone for finding anything to make the pain of reality go away even if will kill you. Most of the agencies in these areas just look the other way because there is no treatment or there is no one to send to even try to fix it. The rural counties in Missouri where i live have a tax base that is so low that that are lucky to even have the funds for a sheriff and a couple of deputies. It really pays to do the research on the place you have chosen to start a new life with a homestead, some of the places out there are not "city folk" friendly.
I think that is a fairly accurate assessment of things here Steve. What part of Mo are you from? I'm in Festus about a half hour south of St Louis.
Here is the deal. I have been working on my plan for my backyard. Living in town I cannot dig a real pond so I am thinking in the direction of a koi pond full of catfish and bluegill instead of koi.
My thought is to get a couple of he large (1000 gal) round plastic stock watering tanks from the local farm supply. Tarrace them so the top one flows into the bottom one and then a couple solar koi pond pumps pump the water back to a biological sand filter at the top. The tanks would also be incorporated into my rain collection system so that the irrigation to the garden passes through the ponds in affect giving the ponds a partial water change every time I watered my garden.
This Koi pond would serve several purposes for me.
1. Its 2000 gal of emergency water
2. Water garden and fish growing
3. It would be nice to have a pond of fish in my own back yard right off a back patio.
I have most of this worked out except for one fly in the ointment. How do you keep such a water feature from freezing in the winter? Ideally I want the fish to be able to live in this year round. and not have to empty and winterize it every fall.
The 1000 gal stock tanks are 29" deep and about 9ft dia I beleive. IT is a lot of water and is not likely to freeze completely if put in ground here. Our frost line is at 18" and the water will have a mild current flow to it as long as I can keep the pumps from freezing up.
The whole system would be relatively inexpensive to build except the winter strategies add money fast. An electric heater runs up the electric bill, A windmill and bubbler are expensive, I have thought of putting a fresnel lense shinning on a large aluminum heat sink setting in the water of each tank. I have thought of insulated covers, passive solar covers,....
How do folks deal with koi ponds in winter? Is there cost effective way to keep the water from freezing and busting a tank?
Thanks for the info Benjamin. I have two Cold steel machettes I bought at the Blade Show in Atlanta a few years back but I have never used them. I may get that Tromontina five pack your buddy has on clearance and re-handle the wood ones with micarta handles. If they are harder steel and hold an edge better that interest me quite a bit both as a tool and a defensive weapon.
I started by wanting to grow a larger portion of my own food and grow it without all the pesticides and chemicals. I started looking more and more into organic gardening and urban gardening since I live in town. I found a few gardening forums and found the Backyard Orchard Culture methods of compact urban orchards and gardens. I was on that path for a while.
A few of my Facebook friends kept posting the organic gardening vids and the alt energy vids that Paul has posted on this site. That led me to here and here led me to permacutlure. Since finding this site I have bought 5-6 books on permaculture, green building and alt energy. You guys are costing me money.
I wander how much of our increased longevity the past couple generations is due to very simple things like a better understanding of cleanliness and good hygiene? I have no statistics, just wondering out loud.
This is a tough issue. I do beleive in absolute truth and I do beleive in science. I am not one to run from every boogie man on the grocery store shelf or every chemical in every manufactured product. Yes the post for my grape trellis are treated. I guess I would consider myself a fence sitter on a lot of these issues.
I think with most people it is not the science or the scientific method that is distrusted. Its the scientist and the corporate money behind the product that we distrust along with the unintended consequences that often show up later on down the road. For example. My mother has suffered with rheumatoid arthritis for years. The doctor gave her a medicine that sure did make the arthritis hurt less. IT gave her cancer but it made the arthritis hurt less. Now I am happy to say that she is cancer free today and has been for a while. But sometimes with a lot of the drugs coming out of these big corporations the unintended consequences can be worse in the long run than the ailment itself. I think that is one reason that element of distrust is there.
I think marketing is another reason that people are distrustful of the medical establishment. Again, I say its not the scientific method that most people distrust, its the corporate establishment of the pharma companies. We are lied to on a daily basis by almost every company that sells a product. We are lied to on a daily basis by those who are supposed to be our leaders in gov. We find that this group of scientist fudged their findings to push this agenda or get that grant. When your lied to so often you become very skeptical of anything anyone tells you good or bad. Its not the scientific method or proven scientific fact, it's the human element working with that method that is the target of distrust.
Vaccines that have been around for ages and have been shown to be safe for 99.999999% of the population. Sure I think they are safe and effective. I got them. My kids got them. No problems in this family. That being said, I think a lot of new drugs are being pushed now days that just are not safe or have side effects that are just not worth the cure. Being a hard core conservative Libertarian I don't believe anyone should be forced to be vaccinated against their will in any case. IF they want to take the risk with their own health, its their own health.
I was talking to a good friend of mine who has raised bees for years and from what I understand has even had articles written about his beekeeping. I mentioned that I was interested in maybe getting a hive started next spring and he said, "Don't buy anything." Then he went on to explain that he is downsizing his operation to about 40% of he was running in the past. He had several hive boxes and equipment he would give me along with a hive of bees to get me started next spring.
That turned out to be a nice phone conversation with an old friend.
I live in Missouri too and I see them everywhere. If you live in the St Louis area. Bayer Nursery in Imperial has oak rain barels. If you live int eh Springfield area there is a place in Lebanon that makes oak barrrels for whiskey and wine companies. I forget the name. ITs something like American Stave Company or something like that.
If the plastic ones are OK for you I see the blue plastic ones in various places south of St Loui for sale in the $8-$12 range. They are food grade and usually used for transporting soda syrup. IF you go on Craigslist you can usually find the square 275 gal tote tanks for around $50-$75 each on the St Louis half of the state.
Brenda Groth wrote:if you want some nearly instant summer screen on your fencing or property lines or by the road you could easily plant some jerusalem artichokes ..but don't put them in that small garden area..too invasive for that..they will grow 8 to 10 feet tall and have a beautiful flower in fall..you can search Jerusalem Artichokes on this forum for photos and links and info..OR you could plant evergreens to screen your neighbors..esp on that north road side and front yard..that will give you tons of privacy but also will eliminate a lot of road/neighbor noise pollution etc..Make sure you take into account mature width and height.
the fact that you have a south facing back yard and most of your trees are nearer the house is great, try reading Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway
I have to be careful about hedges in the front along the street. That runs into one of those city ordinances. I can have full size trees int eh front yard but any fences or hedgerows can only be 4ft tall. In the back yard they can be as tall as you want but int eh front 4ft is the limit.
I have seen that book. I have the Mollison book and I have a Sepp and Holmgren book on order. I will hav eot put the Hemenway book in my amazon wish list and pick it up on my next book order.
John Polk wrote:It sounds like your rainfall is close to ideal. The common wisdom in vegetable growing is that you need 1 inch per week of water. You are close enough to that in rain, that you ought to be able to catch enough on roofs to make up the difference for the growing season.
I have heard repeatedly that earthworks should start at the top, and go downhill. With your layout, I would probably do the exact opposite. Since any runoff you have will be leaving your property, I would say a hugelbed near the south fence will capture (and store) any runoff before it goes to your neighbor's yard. With some luck, the hugelbed would receive enough water throughout the year to not need watering in the drier summer months. Since it is farther from the house, you probably don't want to drag hoses there every week.
The breezeway may not get enough sunlight to be a great growhouse, but could certainly protect some less hardy plants in winter time.
Good luck, and keep us posted.
Thanks John, I was leaning in that direction. I had the thought to replace my current garden beds on the south fence with a hugglebed that ran the entire length of and parallel to the grape trellis. This would do three things It would give me more privacy by creating a wall of earth and plants, catch and store more water as you suggested, and it would route the excess water in heavy storms to the storm drain saving my neighbors back yard from some of the flooding he sometimes gets in the spring. That's gonna make him happy.
Ok I have been reading Bill Mollison's book Intro to Permacutlure and I have decided to take the plunge. A lot of what I read in his book is just good old common sense. I will probably spend a lot of my time carefully evaluating what I already have and planning where I want to go from here. Now I am not a master gardener. I grow a pretty mean tomato plant but I read you folks comments about a lot of plants I have never even heard of before so I will probably need some direction from time to time. I am trying to read and self educate as much as I can so I don't totally drive everyone insane with questions. Here is my starting point. As you can see with the exception of the house the fences and a few maple trees I pretty much have a blank slate.
I welcome comments and suggestions but one thing that needs to kept in mind is I live in town and I have building inspectors and neighbors that I don't want to rub the wrong way. As you can see I have VERY LITTLE privacy here and there isn't a whole lot I can hide so I have to keep everything on the up and up so to speak.
Land developed and house built in 1950
Lat Aprox 38
Longitude Aprox 90
Elevation 464 to 478
Hardiness zone 5B
Chill hours 1500
Primary winds. Our weather typically tracks up the I-44 corridor from northern TX. My primary wind direction comes from that W SW direction.
Average annual precipitation 40”. Tends to peak in the spring early summer months of Mar-June at around 3.5-4” per month then levels off for the later summer months to about 2.5 -3” then peaks again in Nov. at 4-5“
Our high temps in summer months of July & Aug play in the low 90s often shooting up to 100 for a few days at a time. Our humidity is very high during the summer months. Winter temps can get very cold but at about 15F but usually doesn’t stay that cold for long. Our typical winter weather consist of a cold fronts that come through and usually drop 4”-5” of snow. A few days later the temps rise again and it all melts off. Overall winters here are overall fairly mild.
The lot is .98 acre sitting about half way down a south-facing (sun facing) slope. According to my GPS, The backyard slopes about 9ft-10ft in thr 100ft from the back of the house to the back fence (approx a 1 in 10 drop)
There are already some subtle swales in the back yard that I may take advantage of and accent. These tend to follow the contour of the hillside and look as if they were originally some sort of terracing maybe originally for erosion control or maybe even gardens many years ago.
You have seen my place here is where I am at. I started this gardening journey from a "backyard orchard culture" or compact urban growing direction. A lot of their ideas overlap with permaculture ideas in the gardening area so I feel like a lot of my previous planning will fit in to a new permaculture design.
For example I have a list of Fruit trees for my area that progressively ripen. So I will start getting fruit in mid April with cherries and have fresh fruit all through the growing season unit the persimmons end in mid November. A lot of that kind of thing as far as the fruit trees and what should grow well here, etc. I already have worked out.
One thing I know I need to take care of is a major rainwater collection system because the only water supply I have on site is city water.
Another couple projects that I want to do fairly soon is turn my breezeway and back porch into growing rooms or mini greenhouses. I get a great passive solar effect in the breezeway in the winter as it is. Better windows and some insulation in the roof should greatly enhance that areas use.
I also want more family/people area in the back yard. We used to have a fire pit in the backyard and used it a lot for social events. But it fell apart and we never replaced it. I also would like a patio outside the back porch to use as an out door kitchen.
As I formulate my plan I would like to be able to post results as I go for feedback. I have a blogspot that I have not used for about a year. I am considering using that as a place to chronicle the progression so I don't bog things down here. Anyone have an opinion on that?
Will buying a bag of clover seed and spreading it on the yard help?
I am afraid to let the grass go to seed because I do live in one of those neighborhoods and if the neighbors complain about the grass not being mowed the city sends a crew to mow it and send you a bill for $150. Ya, ask me how I know that.
I have some large 16 x 20 tarps. Could I smother out large areas with about three of these tarps and once the grass and everything else that needs sunlight is dead I can reseed and straw it then move over to another patch. Would that cause any problems in my yard?