I would bet that the C:N ratio varies more within species, by part of the tree, than it does between species. Smaller the stick, the lower the C:N ratio. Nitrogen is much higher closer to growing tissues (vs structural wood). Cambium under bark, and growing tips in proximity to leaves will have much higher N than the trunk in any tree.
On a complementary note, a higher than 25:1 C:N ratio only creates N deficits in soil directly in contact with wood in a bubble a fraction of a MM thick. The interior high C wood of a log provides a sponge for water and excess water soluble nutrients that will be released back into soil over time, but does not actively suck out N from soil beyond that little bubble.
So I am more and more inclined to use woody debris in as close to its living form as possible, as twigs are close to 30:1, and big stuff is an excellent spongy habitat for Fungi, insects, and other decomposers, as well as their predators that actually release most nutrients in plant available forms. This seems much more in line with what natural forests do, and likely supports more biodiversity while gassing off fewer nutrients. I am also sick of fixing wood chippers multiple times per use. This is not an answer to your question;)!
Another aspect of this is how vertically facing skylights are both more prone to leaking and let light in most at the least beneficial time of year. A steeply pitched equatorially or east facing roof can have a skylight that more easily sheds rain on its uphill side, and catches winter and morning light that is most beneficial.
When we first moved to this area, we trusted my park ranger boss’s recommendation for a roofer. It turns out that roofer knew better than to screw over someone as connected in the community as my NPS boss, but he shorted and shafted everyone else. The skylight we had installed with a roof replacement on the shallow pitched roof of a fixer upper we could afford leaked immediately. It turned out the incompetent and malfeasant roofer did everything else wrong as well, which I should have caught but was distracted by wedding planning and still generally believing people were good during those halcyon days of just engaged optimism. When we went after his license, the county inspector he must have paid off lied about it raining during his retroactive “inspection”, which the roofer had lied about getting in the first place. When we looked into suing, we found we would be in line behind 2 dozen other litigants against him. He is well connected so he stayed in business, and I subsequently saw his company working on the public school buildings here, which says a lot about our county and how it is run. In hindsight, having done roofing work since (and virtually everything else because we can’t seem to hire good honest people here easily), I think any competent, sober roofer could put in a sound skylight that does not leak.
Our new house built by a general contractor for himself has no leaks after 300” of rain and 10+ feet of snow in 3yrs. It is NE facing, so it does not add much heat in summer, and it even opens to vent heat. It lights the interior stairwell enough to grow shade loving plants. Our large, high S and E facing windows catch abundant winter and morning light. Beyond a competent roofer, aspect is the most important consideration in my opinion.
I have found adding high carbon material like bark from firewood, to the pale itself, ideally on the top, in the middle and at the bottom, reduces odors. Biochar even moreso. I think this is because it reduces wet food scraps and coffee grounds going anaerobic. This makes using a larger vessel (2gal) more viable, and that makes the whole process more efficient.
I just raked up and collected leaves from an old logging road on my property that I keep cleared for a fire break. The challenge of doing the Mike McGrath suggested method of shredding fall leaves to compost is not as easy in the Pacific NW, as deciduous trees drop their leaves with the coming of autumn rain. These leaves will likely never dry out enough to be vacuum-shredded, and clog up any such machine I have tried. The reason given by Mr. McGrath (host of You Bet Your Garden podcast and radio show, former editor of Rodale magazine) for always shredding the leaves is that they will mat and become anaerobic. This is part of how trees suppress competition and fire ladder fuels accumulating around them.
It has occurred to me to try using this matting to my advantage as an alternative for plastic occultation tarps (that I refuse to buy or use) by spreading whole-leaf piles where I plan to put a new planting bed or a tree or shrub in the spring. This would seem to possibly be an improvement in Helen Atthowe’s hay-bail prep. In her recent book on growing one’s own fertilizer, she describes how she places the bail where a tree is planned for, and it is left to rot for a few seasons before planting. The deciduous tree leaves would likely have even more beneficial biota and nutrients for a subsequent deciduous fruit/nut tree or shrub than hay or straw. It seems like this must have been thought of before.
My wife found that at least some version of KAF bread flour has barley in it to aid fermentation. My wife is the baker in the house, but I know In fermenting for beer, nutrients like these are very helpful in helping the yeast do their work. Barley seems to naturally have abundant nutrients for the yeast to work with. I do love spent brewing barley in bread too.
It is important that the hot water inlet is never exposed above the water line while heating, as it could come out scalding hot. We fill to about 1” above the inlet, as any higher and the tub will overflow with two people in it. I can’t think of an easier way to measure one’s displacement volume than to fill the tub and get as many people as the max you plan in to have in it. Whatever spills out will be your displacement, and what is left will be the highest you can fill the tub for that volume of humanity. Then I’d put the hot water inlet an inch or so below that water line, and adjust the heater stove height to allow for the minimum slope mentioned above (2”/ft).
I bet if you reached out to some of the smaller companies that make the tubs and heaters, they’d be impressed by your DIY work and offer their advice on this aspect.
Awesome build. On our lazily purchased Chofu stove to and cedar tub, this is the layout:
As I remember, the main keys were having downflow for the lower Tub->Stove line, and an incline for the Stove->Tub line (with the hot water rising). Some flexibility can be had with placement of the stove (on blocks or on a lower surface than tub). I think our layout was around the middle of the suggested parameters for pitch, so if you are close it will probably work fine. Found a picture of the layout suggested:
Congratulations though, this is probably the best luxury I can imagine having! I also like how we can use pitchier soft wood from wildfire fuels thinning that I would not use in our house wood stove due to creosote and chimney fire concerns in the house that I do not have outside under the stars.
I do not tend to by my microbes when they can be cultured from wild sources, but the question I would ask is what exactly is the “processing” used to make fungal alpha amylase, and what are the effects, intended or collateral? To play devil’s advocate, aren’t microbes, like those in EM or brewer’s yeast, often processed (which could just mean carefully cultured and tested for purity) for use in organic and regenerative agriculture? (I wonder what John Kempf would know or say about this). To some extent, how is what they are doing qualitatively different and worse than taking to a commercial scale the homebrewing of microbes and their byproducts, like beer for ethanol, apple cider for vinegar, or compost teas for more microbes and their byproducts? Can nothing made in a brewery, which is very similar to a lab in many ways, be called organic?
I often like wild brews with wild yeast, but will sometimes but a particular wine or beer brewing yeast for a consistent flavor in the end product. How is this different? The lack of transparency seems to be the main problem to me.
When I thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, many fellow hikers felt the need to add some extra difficulty to their 2658mi journey by adding challenges like carrying plastic pirate swords. One guy did the whole walk in a series of wedding dresses. I thought a much more appropriate and elucidating challenge would be to do it with all pre-industrial gear and clothing. I think a metal knife made the old fashioned way might qualify, but natural clothing and pack fibers only. While most natural materials would eventually absorb water and weight, this shed light on just how “back to nature” we really were, and how people truly living with the land functioned.
I think preparedness is great, but any kind of zealotry can be blinding and make one less prepared for the unknowns ahead. For practical purposes, I would recommend all preparedness minded folk and especially homesteaders living “out there”, to take a Wilderness First Responder course (72hrs of course time, usually over 2 weeks), or at least a Wilderness First Aid course (24hrs/3-days). It has paid for itself for me many times over in avoiding injury and treating my own, my friends, passersby, and pets. It even helped me to understand plumbing (which our circulatory system is a fancy form of). I have also met many adventurous and altruistic people this way.
As a night owl by nature (it is a genetic and immutable characteristic, so Early Birds who love to boast about being that way can also brag about their eye color with similar pride), I think I get more benefit from falling back than springing forward. I get up when the sun tells me its too damn late to be sleeping, and I have an hour less of Early Bird imposed guilt (similar to going to Catholic primary school as an agnostic). I take solace in how Night Owls are much better companions for evening parties, board games and movie watching.
The whole system does seem to make Seasonal Affective Disorder much worse though. Most people, especially the depressed, are not going to get up earlier to get some sunshine before work in the winter, and therefore will get very little natural light, and get more depressed. I am fortunate to work for myself, mostly outside, and can take days off to enjoy hiking in nice weather in the winter.
While I generally agree with Benjamin Franklin, who came up with the idea to save candles and their inefficient cost to light productivity (more time is spent making a candle than the light it produces), I would scrap DST altogether and keep noon as the solar apex. But then what would happen to the poor BBQ and fossil fuel corporations that are the main lobbies for DST? I remember hearing (maybe on NPR’s Planet Money?) that people drive and grill more when its light later, making those industries a few percent more profit.
It is pretty funny and baffling to me that most people I’ve talked to who want to scrap the clock change actually want to just keep DST year round. It seems akin to putting all one’s junk food on shelves out of reach without a ladder, trusting my laziness will balance out my desire for a late night snack. But if I haven’t figured out that I am the weird one yet, I have not been paying much attention.
I plant an alder, or a more drought tolerant black or honey locust where necessary, between each of the trees above. This is for soil building, and I thin them down low to allow for light and to surrounding trees and shrubs, and use this as chop and drop mulch. The tree also sheds a proportional amount of roots, feeding the soil for other plant. Ultimately I will harvest them once they are significantly crowing surrounding trees.
I’d concur with Hans about grapes and how your location would help get better answers.
I helped plant part of a friend’s 20acre vineyard in the Willamette Valley about a decade ago. We had the vines on 3ft spacing with 8ft between rows (to fit his tractor). His dad planted 40+ yrs ago on 8ftx8ft spacing, and that allows more air flow with less work than tighter spacing, but sacrifices overall yield and can be difficult to harvest due to so much growth. Many vineyards making high end wine go as tight as 3ft between vines with 3–4ft tiny-tractor paths. This requires a lot of maintenance. My buddy has recently stopped doing Vertical Shoot Placement (VSP) due to a lack of labor help (large scale Californian and French winemakers are bailing for Oregon and trying to monopolize labor to kill competition and then short change the workers when they are the only options). He now lets the vines do “the California Flop”, just growing over the top wire (6ft) and back down. This helps when they get excessive heat, keeping soil moisture and reducing sunburn.
We planted over the winter into spring. The key is to do it during dormancy. Vines planted later in spring had lower survival due to dehydration with less root development going into dry Pacific NW summers. We went into the ground, which is deep dark loam on the top of a hill (thanks Missoula flood!).I would only do raised beds if poor drainage is an issue or the soil is very poor. Grapes mainly need drainage, and do not require a lot of fertility. Too much nitrogen will even cause excess green growth and hurt fruiting quantity and quality.
At my place on very poor soil but on a slope that drains well, I just planted vines into the ground and top-dress with 2” of compost each year. I lost all of the unirrigated vines the forst year, but after two years the ones that got drip lines during establishment can now go without. Dry farming produces vastly better fruit. My buddy in the Willamette Valley never irrigates anything but his nursery beds, and I think he lost less than 25% while getting established. Much of that was to gophers, who were in return improving the soil’s aeration and water inflitration.
One great thing about grapes though is its very easy to make more with rooted cuttings. Self rooted vines will be much hardier, and if you are using non-European varietals, or are not in a wine-growing region, phyloxerra is not a big concern. Getting phyloxerra resistant rootstock is really only necessary for vitus vinifera (European wine grapes) in areas where soil is transported from other vineyards via tires and boots.
My favorite table grapes are a variety called Mars. They taste like what grape soda is trying to imitate. Muscat tastes like what Fruit Loops are going for. Flame is a brilliant fuscia. Wine grapes taste amazing too, and when I spit the seeds after stripping a cluster with my mouth, I feel like I’m back on the mound pitching again. I think it’d be awesome if the SF Giants replaced both the pine rosen for grip
and chewing tobacco with local wine grape clusters. The ball would be purple if they didnt use whites, but the pitchers would have no problem with gripping the ball on those cold Bayside night games, and the tobacco chewers would get their oral fixation satiated with an anti-oxidant rich superfood;) I’d look into finding a fruit tree/vine cutting and scion exchange near you, or offer to help a vintner prune in January in exchange for cuttings.
What would you do with the organic brown sugar, and Himalayan sea salt used to cure fish?
I am making salmon candy for the first time with the ribs and collars and other bony, fatty parts of a magnificent fresh ocean-caught wild king salmon that was available from a friend with native fisherman connections for a remarkable deal. These portions of this amazing fish were probably close to 5lbs, partially because I am not worthy of the task and lack a katana to get through that massive fillet cleanly in one pass. So we decided to make my wife’s and my favorite food in salmon candy with the less than perfectly cut harder to cook pieces. Having had some of the thinner, quicker to finish pieces for dinner tonight, it was
worth the work. Still, it is hard to justify using a pound of organic brown sugar and a pound of himalayan sea salt to cure salmon for a couple hours and then discard it in the trash.
The brown sugar and fish would be great for soil or compost. The sea salt would be good
except for the chlorine in salt, but still would probably be good for large ungulates living on our geologically young, minerally deficient (for Ca, Zi, Bo, Se)) soils. If I had cattle, I’d use it as a feed supplement: I am not sure how this sugar-salt-fish mixture would effect wildlife if spread on a rock in the woods well away from human settlements and roads.
Interesting question. One Straw Revolution comes to mind, because it seems to be about permaculture to me, but I am pretty sure the P-word is not in the book. What about an ethnography that lacks the P-word but is about the land management practices of an indigenous culture, like the Tolowa of Redwood Country, or Australian first nations, who were regenerative for many thousands of years? I would bet Bill Mollison would say they are all about permaculture, and in my experience these types of ethnographies in my university Anthropology courses primed me for permaculture.
Shredded leaves will make an excellent mulch. I’d put down 4”, after planting bulbs. I plant garlic 6” apart on diagonal zigzag rows. I plant them 1.5-2x their length deep (2-4” down). Wider spacing has not seemed to help get them bigger, and I get some as big as my fist. I would not dip them in rubbing alcohol under any circumstances. If I were that worried about disease, I’d find another source. I use hardneck varieties (which you will need for your cold climate) sourced from nearby sellers (Siskiyou Seeds here). I’d either find one in your region or buy the largest cloved/bulbed organic hardneck available at a farmers market. Best of luck, and it is good to know when we don’t know!
“When you get your bachelor’s degree, you think you know it all. By the time you get your master’s, you realize you know nothing. Getting a PhD entails realizing nobody knows anything.” - My Dad’s PhD advisor probably quoting someone else.
I have used them as mulch in the past with mixed results. Legumes are suppressed by coffee grounds and other high Nitrogen mulch, so that is a downside. It also releases N quickly, so it causing a flush of succulent cold vulnerable growth is not what I want around my perennials I would like to go dormant soon. I will use the hundreds of pounds I have collected in my next johnson-su compost pile, along with weeds, woodchips and leaves. This
mix seems to make great compost/wormcastings in about a year with no turning.
Sounds interesting. I am off-grid and have hundreds of young trees, most of which are in the process of weaning off irrigation. I am interested to learn more about your process. Where are you working from? Thanks.
Predatory mites and lacewings along with other predators have made mites negligible for me with no insecticide spraying. The one time in several years I noticed some damage, during a hot dry period last year, I did buy some predatory mites and lacewing larvae to boost my population and diversity. I also have tried to have small white and yellow flowers (yarrow, buckwheat,
fennel and many others) that feed the adult lacewings and other predatory insects in their adult stage. I haven’t seen significant damage this year.
I find a chop/mitre saw to be safer than a chainsaw for cutting such short (but still too long) logs down to size. It also occurs to me the insulator bricks in the wood stove could be modified. A brick or two could be cut or replaced with a thinner one, if that would get enough clearance.
If one behavior demonstrates our society’s self-destructive disconnection with decomposition cycles, it is the absurd obsessive export of leaves from landscapes where they supposedly want to grow healthy plants.
I bought two from Burnt Ridge Nursery in SW WA a few years ago but they did not make it, likely due to my underwatering. I do not see it on their site anymore, but they may have some seed or some leads on where to find it, and have been very helpful for me in the past. They also have dozens of other hazelnut varietals.
Burnt Ridge ships most of their catalogue to California, and what it can’t send is also prohibited for any other out of state nursery. I have yet to find as much variety of root stocks, scion wood, varied sizes of given species to choose from (smaller is almost always better in the long run), and the prices are very good, especially buying by the 10 or 100x bundle. Peaceful Valley is also a good choice for the OP’s bioregion, but I have had graft failures and endemic diseases at least as likely, and much more frustrating, when buying much more expensive larger trees like what they and other reputable nurseries sell. I’d go for small trees that are less transplant shocked, plant more densely, and thin to keep the best.
Hello Hazel, I am so glad to see you on this forum. I am a friend of your son in-law Eric (at least I think I remember that was your relationship), and from him and many others have heard many great things. I also loved several of your recent podcast appearances, and look forward to reading your book. Thanks for your stewardship work for our bioregion!
I use crustacean shells from the beach in my compost, and my dogs do not seem to dig for it in my hardware clothed BEAM compost piles. Crustacean meal from the farm store is labeled as a source of calcium as well as nitrogen, and it has highly beneficial chitin too. Kelpie Wilson and other researchers have said that Nitrogen is the main nutrient lost in making anything into biochar, so this and the burning of microbes on the shells would be downsides in my view. I also doubt crabshells contribute very much to wildfire risk, and reducing fuel load is the main reason I convert woody debris into biochar;). I am confident the charred shells would not hurt anything in the garden, but I would just crush and compost them or feed them to worms without charring.
On behalf of the Wild Rivers Permaculture Guild (WRPG), hello from far Northwestern Northern California! Northern California is much bigger than most probably realize. We are 350mi north of the SF Bay, and actually closer to Portland.
All are welcome to join the WRPG, but we aim to primarily serve Del Norte County in NW California and Curry County in SW Oregon. Send me a PM or look us up on FB for information on our meetings, work parties, and educational activities. Our recent Harvest Festival brought around 500 people to the Crescent City Food Forest and raised over $5000 for local food security. I had very little to do with that, as we have many other talented and passionate members who did the work for that event.
Mike Haasl wrote:I know seeds have enzymes and things that try to keep us from eating them. Is is the same for birds? I mean a large component of their diet for millennia has been seeds so are they better adapted to eating them than humans?
Many plants, like peppers, are adapted to discourage mammals, like with the burn of peppers’ capsicum, which birds do not feel. Birds then carry these seeds much further and may well be more likely to deposit them in a better situation to germinate, like in the protection of a thicket where they nest or the deep soil along a fence line where they perch.
If I could not meet the grower or get some other assurance they use organic or better practices, I would go for organic feed. In addition to supporting better farming practices, this avoids the bioaccumulation of toxins in biocides in non organic feed. Every step up the trophic cycle concentrates many toxins 10x, including from chicken-egg-us or cow-milk-us.
Great idea. I have considered doing this with a refrigerator that still has a seal but no longer cools (assuming that means it leaked out its freon). However I do not know how to confirm it actually has leaked it all out already. This seems much simpler. What about charcoal as a moisture absorber?
Best of luck, and I am glad to hear a deliberate approach is being taken (“Into the Wild” scenario was my first concern for the OP). Some of the last comments in this thread came to mind when I was listening to this recent episode of “Philosophize This”:
It took me awhile to realize in getting my philosophy degree that the more I disagree with the beginning of a good philosopher’s argument, the more likely I agree with their conclusion. The host in this does a good job of making a strong case for all sides of a debate, instead of beating up straw men, which is always tempting to me!
I would make or acquire the best compost I could (BEAM/Johnson Sunis my preferred method) and make compost extracts and aerated foliar teas with that. These can be mixed with organic fertilizers at a fraction of the concentration and have a similar benefit. The compost contains nutrients in the living organisms in it, and these cycle any other available soil, water, and air borne nutrients many times over with the plant as a symbiotic partner. That or the plant literally consumes the microbe and consumes its nutrients, often with some spores or genetic material of the microbe surviving the process and benefiting from the plant’s growth and infusion of photosynthesized sugars.
Foliar feeding with aerated compost teas can be many times as efficient as soil applications (4-50+x depending on the nutrient according to John Kempf). This seems to me to be because they benefit both the surface of the plant and its ecosystem, and much of the runoff is then caught by the soil.
For water and nutrient holding capacity, I would look into biochar and its use as an alternative to perlite or vermiculite. This combined with good compost can be the foundation of a potting mix, with sharp river sand added for drainage as needed.
We have been allowed home for the past few days, and have gotten 2/3” of rain in the last day. Not out of the woods yet, but it looks a lot less catastrophic than it could have been with worse weather. Thanks for all the help firefighters!
I do not see this as much of a problem, and actually its likely a solution to how even excellent compost lacks photosynthesized sugars and the biota that cycle these into the food web, providing the essential and ideal energy source for all the organisms making every other nutrient/mineral more available to plants. Some cutting edge high end composters are even adding plants to their finishing/aging piles to get these living plant associated biota into their compost.
I would bet the tree is making that compost even better for similar trees, or those evolved for later in the successional process. Weeds are making it better for those plants that succeed them (grasses, shrubs, veggies). Legumes are breeding Nitrogen fixers.
It helps to use the BEAM/Johnson Su Method because I do not have to turn it. I put these amidst the garden or in future bed sites, and the plants and trees around them are far and away the healthiest I have.