Anthony Minot wrote:
Would It do to plant on, or around then inwards for the vicinity of the invasion? A fresh layer of soil with mixed in germinated oregano seeds should do good if they are as effective as that I would think.
Germinated oregano seeds is not going to cut it. I should expand on my previous comment by saying that I have oregano patches that are going on 7 years old. They all started from a couple of 3" pots I got from the markdown rack at the nursery. It doesn't spread much each year, but it is tenuous. If you want to get good coverage (it makes an excellent ground cover, even out-competing centipede and bermuda grasses), you need to get some healthy plants in 3" pots and space them maybe every 8-12" and let them fill in. It takes quite a while, maybe 3-4 months for oregano seed sown in a 3" pot to be ready to set out, so this is one occasion where going to the nursery will cut down on your frustration level.
Once it is established, you can run over it regularly with the lawn mower, and it will still be spreading and evicting grass plants. Fortunately, it spreads so slowly that I haven't had to get serious about cutting it back. And if you do, you can always just dry it and shake it on your pizza.
No big equipment. Leave that to the overgrown 4-year olds who like to go "VROOM-VROOM!" and splash lots of mud around. What you want to do is build a chinampa out of the whole place by crushing and mashing down the vegetation that is in place. If you can slash and burn, do that. If the local authorities won't let you burn, then just slash and let it rot down. Are there tree trimming services in your area? Tell them you have a place they can dump their trucks, and they will be happy to come and pile up 3-4' of biomass.
So what do you do when you have a pile that is 3' higher than the streets on 3 sides? Take a bag of topsoil, spread it to about 2" thick, and plant vines that will take off and ramble into it: Seminole pumpkin, Lagenaria type gourds, watermelons, anything that people complain about it taking over their garden.
Another thing you could do is to plant swamp trees along the property lines to help stabilize the soil. The two best types for this are water tupelo, and my favorite, bald cypress. Willow is also a good tree to consider. It is a good biomass generator, and it will transpire a lot of water out of the soil and up into the air.
It may be too cold where you are for citrus. Zone 9 is iffy, because if you get a couple of 25 degree nights, that can do major damage to the citrus that will take a long time to recover from. Look for the more cold hardy citrus varieties like kumquats and mandarins. Loquat should do great there, it will fruit as long as it doesn't have to put up with too many <25 degree nights.
Blueberries like a good bit of shade, so you can plant them under trees that you want to keep. All the others that you mentioned are reasonable to try. Don't be afraid to experiment, to put something in, and then to rip it out if it is disappointing. Soon you will hit upon what works well.
Oregano. I have blackberries that come up anywhere and everywhere EXCEPT in the oregano patch. Oregano is more well-behaved, it's not going to pop up 20 feet away like a blackberry, but it does spread (slowly).
Animals are the answer -- Johnson grass is a great forage. Wait until it is about to the flowering stage, and right after a heavy rain get out there and yank it up by the roots. If you are at all worried about the nitrogen level (and with it the cyanides), chop it up and ensile it for a few days. Lactobacillus fermentation will make short work of the cyanides.
Jon Snow wrote:I want to plant some trees in the high desert, Johnson Valley 20 miles north of Joshua Tree. I know its tough to get them started here.
It's easy to get palo verdes started, just give the seeds a good once-a-week soaking, like the equivalent of a 1" rain. In fact, that is a good strategy for most desert plants, as they use heavy summer downpours to get jump started. Since those types of summer rains are infrequent, seeds have to remain dormant for a long time, and they do. I have gotten samples of seeds that are 20 years old, and using the 1"-a-week method, they come right up.
What is your elevation there? Probably too high for desert ironwood, but palo verde should do just fine. Once it's set a good taproot, it will be very drought tolerant.
Marco is right, cilantro is the quintessential weed: it comes up where it wants, lives its short life, and then bolts to spread some seed. You need to adapt to it, not the other way around. I have found that by deliberately scattering it all throughout the year, there is always something green at the right stage to clip, except for maybe in the hottest days of the summer (July & August).
I'm a beacon in my local area, but I'm afraid not many people are listening in on my frequency. To be a permie is to be an oddball, to march to the beat of a different drummer. People will start listening when they can see that it works out better than what they are doing now. Every time you get a repeat customer who comments "hey, this really tastes good; this is better than what you get in the store" you have an opportunity to make another permie convert. Then they will listen to other permie ideas.
You have to make a distinction between low desert (very infrequent frosts) and high desert (frequent hard freezes and regular snows). Pinon pine, juniper, and Joshua trees are all high desert adapted. For low desert drought tolerance, you have to look at mesquite, then palo verde, then ironwood (Olneya tesuta) in order of drought tolerance. You could also add in smoke tree (Psorothamnus spinosus). None of these are as drought tolerant as creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), if you are willing to stretch your definition of "tree" a little.
In the driest parts of the Colorado Desert (Yuma northwest to 29Palms and up to Death Valley), smoke tree and palo verde are confined to washes, mesquite is largely absent (it really can't take <3" of annual rain and still compete), ironwood can venture a little further out of the wash (and is the least cold tolerant of the bunch), but creosote bush abounds everywhere you look.
You could try pigeon peas. They grow to 2m+ in one season, so are not going to be smothered out by tall sorghum.
I have grown both, but have not intercropped them, which is what I plan on doing this year. When I had them as pure stands, they had a lot of pest pressure, so maybe by intercropping them and adding some pest deterrent plants in with them, I can conquer the bugs.
Todd Parr wrote: I guess the pressure builds up much higher at the top, so the gases couldn't vent thru the bottom holes.
Huh??!? That's not how gases behave. To get that much pressure build-up, you need to block all of the vents. Even a 1/4" diameter vent hole is not going to allow much more than 15 psi of over-pressure to build up. Take a look at an ordinary pressure cooker -- the vent on it is smaller than 1/4", and it is generally limited to 1 atmosphere of pressure. I'd say something was effectively blocking what you thought were vent holes. There is a lot of movement of creosotes and tar during a biochar burn. Gassing off from wood sources and re-depositing wherever there is a cooler surface. That might generate internal blockages.
Why did people start adding antibiotics to cattle feed in the first place? Faster weight gain. Turns out you don't need synthetic antibiotics to do that, many herbs that contain natural antibiotics will do exactly that -- and without developing strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Tyler Ludens wrote:There are some problem "weeds" in my opinion. Here in my locale, Johnson Grass does not play well with others, and I do not want Poison Hemlock in my garden either!
Johnson grass is not that bad, and it makes good forage IF you are careful with it. Yes, if you feed it fresh, there can be a cyanide problem. So to avoid that, you can do a couple of things: (1) cut it for silage, and the lactic acid fermentation will cure the cyanide problem or (2) dry it to hay, which also takes care of the cyanide.
I blame it on accountants. There are many so-called farmers, who are in actuality "plant accountants" -- they count the seeds, count the tractor passes, count the nitrogen and phosphorus, count the irrigation water, so that in the end they can count the harvest and count the dollars. What they can't count --weeds-- they don't want. Since it is not an input they can balance the books with, they want them out. So they create another column in their ledger labeled "herbicide costs".
The more I read about weeds, the more respect I have for them. I would be interested in looking at a site called weedies.com, but I am afraid the place might be full of stoners.
I've made it a cardinal rule NOT to spend money to feed chickens. The only exception is an occasional sack of deer corn, and then I use that sparingly, to teach them what's worth scratching through. When I get ready to empty the lawn mower bag, I drop a handful of deer corn into it, and it brings out their instinct to scratch when I dump the bag in their coop. I should mention that the lawn has had no fertilizer/pesticide/herbicide for going on 8 years, and it has plenty of chicory, henbit, dandelion, Carolina geranium, prickly lettuce and other weeds in it. I don't let them out to forage in the lawn and the garden because of (1) predators and (2) plantings I would rather they not pick at.
They also get any food I can get on foraging runs: discarded bread, chips, or crackers; sumac berries, kudzu leaves, sorghum seed heads, sow thistles, etc. There is also plenty of kitchen generated waste like potato peels (not too green though), apple cores, melon seeds, watermelon rinds, and so on. I keep a good supply of leafy vegetables in the garden, so in addition to lettuce, collard, turnip, and radish leaves, there are always weeds to add to their feed bucket.
I used to have a chicken tractor and moved it through the lawn for them to forage, but I upsized and now have 12 chickens in a permanent coop. I am using the 'deep litter' method, with about 6-8" of wood chips, on top of which goes the contents of their feed bucket. When they dig big foxholes in the litter, that's a signal that they are hungry; when they spend more time up on the roosts with fat, stuffed crops, I know they are well fed. They do get 'toys' to play with; a lush chicory plant in a 3-gallon plastic bucket provides a couple hours of entertainment, until they have shredded it down to the crown (but given time and a little compost tea, it will regrow).
Bottom line, chickens are omnivores. Go to Backyard Chickens to get an idea of what to feed (and the short list of things not to feed), and you'll have some happy birds.
I will second the comment that blueberries like hugelkultur. One thing that you can do to keep them happy and the pH low is to keep building up the bed by mulching it with pine straw (or any other conifer trimmings).
Travis Johnson wrote:
Our church tried buying laying hens for the poor, but they found out quickly that it was cheaper to buy the eggs from the store then raise them...a sad reality. I prefer my own fresh eggs, but that is another topic.
You could feed the poor quite well on what supermarkets throw out. There are many foods that are good long past the date on their package: eggs are good for a couple weeks past the date stamp; chips, cookies, and crackers are good for months past; yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, and other fermented milk products were invented to last a few weeks without refrigeration; a little more aging doesn't hurt cheese either (what's blue cheese going to do, get moldy?); ice cream and other frozen food -- the decay has been frozen.
If you ate what supermarkets are discarding because of a date on the package, you would gain weight quickly.
Are those modern 3-hole bricks? They look like they might have the holes filled with mortar, do they? If so, the mortar in the holes may not stand up to the heat. I like using old, solid bricks, the ones you can tell have a vitrified surface, for the burn tunnel. I got some used bricks that were salvaged from a 100-year old school that was being torn down. They made a nice burn tunnel.
As far as the paint cans, whatever is on the interior surface will flash off in the first few burns. You might want to try really hot initial burns (like burning fatwood or paraffin coated cardboard) to speed up the flash-off process.
Is the exterior of the paint can going to be covered?
My best watering can is not durable at all. It is a gallon milk jug with several holes drilled into the shoulder (and a couple in the handle for air equalization). Oh, after a few months sitting out in the sun it can get brittle and crack, but I didn't pay anything for it to begin with, so I'm still ahead.
What's nice is you can drill larger holes for a soaker can, or many more small holes if you want a gentle shower type of waterer.
Glenn Herbert wrote: $50 can get enough to make a section of wall feel warm behind you as you enjoy the stove.
And a trip to a local construction dumpster may yield a bonanza of 4" styrofoam pieces that you can put on the outside of the block wall, to be stuccoed later.
I made a rocket mass heater out of a meat smoker; it looks about like your stove set on end. I covered it with about 2" of cob/fiber/cement, and it has worked well the last 3 winters. Nothing like 400 pounds of brick and cob to act as a thermal mass. If you did that though, your stove would no longer be portable, and you could take off the carrying handle.
The chickens would probably appreciate more fat in their diet. Unless they are able to find a lot of seeds while free ranging, fat is probably scarce in their diet. Let the pellets soak it up before you feed them. I add extra melted fat to their feed bucket, shake it around, and toss it in for them to scratch at. This trick works with yogurt and creamy salad dressing too.
Tyler Ludens wrote:I think they're probably bored and need more variety in their lives.
Yup. Chickens may be dumb, but they aren't stupid. Make them work for their food. Beet tops, collards, any leafy green with a rib will keep them entertained for a long time. First they rip the leaves to shreds until they get to the tougher stems, and then they will shake, rip, and tear at those too. A potted chicory or alfalfa also works.
And don't clean up after chickens. Its their place on the food chain to pick up the scraps that other animals leave. If there are no layer pellets in the PVC tubes, they'll scratch around and eat the ones on the ground.
I'll help you out Deb. I've got about 4 varieties of red okras, so send me a PM with your address and I'll get it in the mail to you.
I kind of winced when I saw you are in 6b at 4200' of elevation -- those are not friendly numbers for okra. The one year I lived north of Denver I tried growing okra, and that was a miserable failure. Okra will not thrive when temperatures drop below 55F. Oh yes, in the fall, a 6' tall plant will still be producing up until the first frost in November, but young plants need it hot and humid to get going. I would suggest you plant it along a south facing wall, grabbing any sort of extra heat the wall can radiate at night. Remember, okra is an African import, so I doubt your weather can get too hot for what you plant.
Or too wet. Okra really takes off when we get a gullywasher of a thunderstorm. Definitely a bottom-of-the-swale type of crop. If your okra is getting stunted at knee-high, it needs some deep watering. Drip irrigation or a major water leak really gets the okra to pay attention and get growing.
Casie Becker wrote: The amount of exposed rocks in that photo suggests to me that you have very impoverished dirt (note I don't say soil here).
I believe that 'Topanga' is Spanish for 'very impoverished dirt'
The Santa Monica Mountains are rough chaparral country, where manzanita clings to a hillside, and protrudes from cracks in the granite. If you want to grow something, you are going to have to haul in or make your own soil. But as others have noted, there should be abundant sources of biomass looking for places to decompose, and these could be the start of some productive raised beds.
That's what fall leaves are for. I started some potatoes in January, and while we have had some nice potato weather in Georgia this winter, an occasional hard frost can set them back to square one. So I'm learning to watch the weather forecast, and when a hard freeze is predicted (usually for only 2 or 3 nights), I start raking up leaves and dumping them on the spud plants. Then when the growing weather returns, I go and clean out the leaves so that the potatoes can get some sun.
I also have some row covers, and they protect down to the mid-20s as long as there is no wind to blow under them. Combining craters with these two covering tricks may buy you a much longer growing season.
You might have better luck if each plant has its own territory for its rootball, i.e., separate them by a couple feet or so. It seems to me that the ones that can take off and climb through the trees 30 feet and more don't have to share their point of origin with siblings. On the other hand, if you do have a thicket of seeds that has come up, the plants seems stunted since they are in competition for nutrients.
I moved some muscadines to the split rail fence on the back of the property a couple years ago, spaced them at each post (8' apart), and they are spreading out quite well.
The wood mulch idea is certainly something I never would have thought about trying. Could you direct me to more references to understand more about this approach? I had wondered about adding a thick layer of topsoil. Seems the mulch is thinking along a similar line.
wayne fajkus wrote:
Sounds like it was unintentional so you have to decide how far you want to go.
This is what tort lawyers live for. At the very least, the lawn care company has liability insurance, and you should call them and ask them if they intend to make you whole before you have to call your lawyer.
Now how to remediate the problem? Let me quote from one of my posts way back when I first showed up here:
Here is a reasonable plan of attack: (1) get a truckload of mulch that contains lots of tannins. Oak leaves would be perfect, what you want to avoid is actual structural wood like pine logs or lumber or wood shavings or newspaper, those things are all cellulose. (2) dump the pile where you can water it daily. (3) Go on a mushroom hunt for some white-rot fungi. You can start here with Phanerochaete chrysosporium, which is pretty easy to collect from the underside of a well rotted log. (4) Take your sample of white-rot fungi and whiz it in the blender, say a quarter cup of scrapings in a liter of water. (5) Sprinkle this over the pile of mulch and water it in good. You don't need to bother to cover it, the sun may dry out the top inch or so, but you want to water the pile every evening. Remember that advice when NOT to water your garden because it might cause fungal problems? Now is the time to break that rule -- you want the fungus to take off. After a few weeks, depending on the temperature, you should be able to dig into the pile a few inches and see gobs and gobs of white mycelia. This is good. Now the fungus is ready to do its work detoxifying your lawn. (6) Wait for a day when there is heavy rain forecast and get out before (or during if you don't mind getting wet) and spread your pile of prepared mulch out over your lawn. Not more than an inch thick, you want the heavy rain to beat down on the mulch and drench the fungal mycelia and spores into the soil.
Mycoremediation isn't the solution to all problems, just most of them.
It has amazing properties to help heal the skin. I have a recipe for a skin cream, but it takes about a month to make (send me a PM if you have the patience to try that). To get something to use right away, you could try melting some coconut oil, cutting open bags of green tea, and mixing it until you have a paste you can apply to the skin. With the leaf parts still in, it's going to be a little messy, but I think you will be surprised at how quickly you will see results.
(Note: just melt the coconut oil, don't get it hot enough to fry the tea leaves. The healing components are heat sensitive.)
Do you have wood chips you can add to it? If it's still steaming, it's likely to sterilize any seeds you plant into it. If it's cooled down to say 90F, that's the perfect temperature for starting watermelon.
I would suggest vines that can take off and run. From your list, that would include watermelons, squash, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, pumpkin, and melons. You might add some nasturtiums into the mix, they do well in a Mediterranean climate, and will take some of the insect pest pressure off.