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|[+] berries » Looking for Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) (Go to)||Andrew Barney|
My back yard is a salmon berry thicket. It's more of a weed than anything else here in SE Alaska. I'm constantly cutting back shoots and right now I'm in the middle of trying to clear out a bit more area to use as garden space so I'm chopping down whole shrubs (they grow into 8ft tall shrubs here). Most of what is in my yard are yellow and orange. But their are a few red around. I've never been able to tell any difference is sweetness based on color. They do very a bit in taste but I think it has more to do with the growing conditions and ripeness rather than color. The best spots get lots of sunlight but have cool, damp soil underneath. To little sun and they don't get sweet.
I could send you as many as you would like. These guys readily sprout from root cuttings. In fact I've taken to burning them because unless I have a really hot pile going they survive even in the compost only to re-sprout and take over that area. So I'm sure they'd be just fine going via regular shipping. I can fill a flat rate box from the USPS for you with small cuttings. I have a bunch of roots with small sprouts I can easily dig for you. They'd have to be smaller (less than 12") to fit in the flat rate boxes but they'll grow.
It would be two years before you can expect berries though as these guys fruit on canes that are at least two years old and become more productive as the bush matures. I could try and send you some larger plants but it's likely be in the same situation of shipping costing quit a bit. I think you would want to wait until they went dormant though if you were going to try and ship entire plants.
|[+] zero waste » Pets waste too much! (Go to)||Chris Sargent|
Dogs shouldn't be chewing and destroying things. If they do it's the owners fault not the dogs.
I have 2 labs. They don't destroy things. One I raised from a puppy and he did go through a chewing/teething phase but I watched him, took things away when he started chewing them, kept things out of his reach, and taught him not to chew. We made it through the puppy phase with only a couch cushion lost. He did get some chew toys and things he was allowed to chew on and play with. Mostly wood, bone, and rope but a few plastic items too I will admit. Actually he still has the kong and tough rubber treat toys that I bought him as a puppy 10 yrs ago. The other dog we got as an adult and he also does not chew on our things. He loves to chew wood and sticks so he gets lots of those when we're outside. But he knows the stick in the kindling basket are not his so he'll leave those alone. He will occasionally steal a wood spoon, especially if was used to stir some sort of meat and left out with the grease on it. But when he gets a hold of one its as much my fault as his for leaving a dirty spoon out. They get maybe two or three purchased toys in a year, mostly fabric and rope throw toys. And tennis balls maybe half a dozen or so in a year as they do eventually wear out and break or once in awhile get lost. That's not really all that much in terms of impact on the environment. Owning a pet is not going to make a person wasteful and there is nothing about a pet that requires a ton of consumerism, plastic throw away items, or replacing household goods. The people who buy all those gadgets, toys, outfits and such would most likely be buying the same type or things for themselves and their families even if they didn't have pets. The problem is the people and the culture of consumerism, not the pets.
I have friends with kids who destroy more and go through more toys, clothes, etc. in a month than my dogs have in their entire lives. Heck, last time I went out of town the girl I hired to dog sit destroyed more in my house than my dogs (she broke an expensive wine glass and spilled food and didn't clean it up so it stained the rug).
|[+] kids » Kids disappointed by pillaging of their school garden by deer and monkeys. (Go to)||Amy Arnett|
Can you do raised beds with covers. Lots of ways you can do covers from simple hoops to building frames. Most of these show plastic to warm and protect the beds but you could just as easily cover with some type of wire. Monkeys may figure out how to lift them but it shouldn't be too hard to add a latch or lock.
Something like one of these
|[+] kids » School gardens vs. lunch ladies (Go to)||Ghislaine de Lessines|
Our school lunch program is great and the staff are very supportive of using food from our school garden. So we're very lucky in that regard.
Does you school offer a salad bar. We have one every day and much of our fresh produce goes on this. Its a nice way to use garden produce that doesn't require a lot of planning ahead of time. When we have fresh lettuce and greens it supplements the purchased stuff (our garden isn't large enough to supply the entire need). Same with other veggies. There is standard store bought stuff on the bar but also garden produce as it is available.
Have a special event for garden produce.
We always have a garden stew day in the fall. We harvest our potatoes, onions, carrots,etc, We spend a week or two harvesting everything with the students and then it all goes to the kitchen. The staff puts a garden stew lunch on the menu way in advance. They then have time to look over what the garden produced and purchase whatever additional supplies are needed to round out the stew. Then one the scheduled day we have a small harvest celebration, do a bit of stone soup type lessons and storytelling with the students, and they have garden stew for lunch. This works nicely because the kitchen can plan and put a stew on the menu well in advance. The produce is mainly storage type items so they can be harvest and kept for a few weeks, which gives the kitchen staff time to look over what is available and plan whatever else they need. Plus its a fun event day for the students and the teachers can choose to participate with harvest type activities and lessons but they are not required too if their schedules don't allow for it. The flexibility and choice to participate to varying degrees is really key to getting everyone on board.
One of the main hurtles to using garden produce in the lunchroom is, as you mentioned, the need to have menus and food orders prepared well in advance. We've fond the best way to deal with this is to use the garden produce as a supplement so that if it is available it adds to the dish but the days menu can still be prepared with purchased ingredients if the garden harvest fails, is smaller than expected, or ripens later than expected, etc.
The other option is to have the students eat the produce right out of the garden. My students are always begging to eat the produce when we're out there. I try to plant plenty of items the kids can just harvest and pop into their mouths. For us that is snap peas and snow peas, carrots, radishes, cherry tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries. A hungry classroom an strip a row of peas in record time. When we do root veggies I sit out several bowls of water and veggie brushes and the students wash their harvest before they eat it. Another easy and popular garden snack is lettuce wraps. Each student gets a large lettuce leaf and then get to pick a few other veggies (peas, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, or whatever is ripe). They use the lettuce like a burrito wrap to wrap up their veggies and eat as roll. Usually I give them some dressing to dip it in but not always.
So my advice is basically to plan your garden around things that can be eaten raw as finger foods with little to no prep needed and/or storage type produce that can be harvested and kept long enough for kitchen staff to make a plan to utilize it.
|[+] chickens » Chicken fodder/forage success stories? (Go to)||Huxley Harter|
I've build several fodder boxes to place around the chicken yard. 2x4 frame covered in hardware cloth. I've planted a mix of wheat, clover, various greens (lettuce, kale, chards, etc. usually whatever mix I have left over from the garden planting). Just spread the seed and lay the box over them. Chickens can't get to the seeds or scratch up the roots but will happily eat almost any green that grows up through the hardware cloth.
I have lots of berries. My backyard is covered in native salmonberries and the chickens love them! Also have raspberries and blackberries planted along the fence row, The chickens get whatever grows into and falls on their side. They also really like the currents (I have black, red and josta). The black and red are really heavy produces in our climate (I'm in SE AK and isn't that different than you in western OR) and provide a lot of berries from July to Sept (mix of varieties that fruit at different times). There are more than enough for me and the chickens. They also propagate really easily so I'm adding more cuttings around the chicken areas. I also have native blueberries scattered around the chicken yard. Bushes in the yard are protected by slabs of wood placed around the base so chickens can't scratch up the roots. I'm experimenting with a mulberry tree (still to young to have fruit) but if I can keep it going I think it'll be a good food source for the chicks.
Comfery...it's like chicken crack and grows really quickly. Chickweed and peppercrest (Cardamine sp.)...well grows like weeds around here and the chickens love them both. I've seeded various clovers for them. And field peas. Wheat and barley I've done on the small scale. It doesn't tend to mature or dry out well here because our fall is so wet and cold so I've never tried to store it. But it does make a nice meal for them for a few weeks in the fall.
Compost pile/box in the chicken yard. They pick over any table scraps I add and bugs. I open the box and let the chickens turn it a few times over the summer. There is always a buffet of worms when I do this.
I can pretty much feed my chicken spring through fall but still need feed over winter. I haven't really gotten into trying to grow/store winter feed. However, I do supplement. My chickens do really love squash and they gets some throughout the winter as a supplement. Ive thought that these would be a good crop to grow and store for winter chickens. Also potatoes. They grow really well for me and store easily. They do need a bit of processing (cooking before they can be feed out) but I can just chop up a bunch into big chunks and through them into a pot on the woodstove where they simmer until soft. So I'm not spending too much time or wasted energy on this. Again I just supplement their diet with these. Not sure how they do as a regular feed.
|[+] survival » Heading to wilderness to start off grid homestead (Go to)||Ed Belote|
Sounds like an adventure.
Living on an island in Alaska I have lots of friends who live some variation of the off-road off-grid life style or have cabins they've built in a similar manner where everything has to be sourced on sight or hauled in on your back (sometime if you've chosen your sight well by boat). So while I live on a road in a small town I do have plenty of this type of experience from helping out with friends places or just my own weekend/vacation time. Just to let you know where my advice is coming from.
The very 1st thing I think you need to figure out is how are you going to get to the site. Have you had the chance to fully scout your property? Do you know what the best access route is? Does the site have any streams, gullies, steep hillsides that might have to be crossed? Are there any really dense areas with lots of brush/vines etc. or areas with large blow downs. Is it better to skirt around these areas or spend some time clearing them? A good cleared access trail is going to be well worth the time you spend developing it. Remember you're going to be traveling across the route in all weather (that little trickle you can step over now might become a knee deep torrent that is going to be dangerous to cross with a fully loaded pack after a spring rain). That low area might turn into a boot stealing mess after a few weeks of hoofing across it in a damp spring. Figuring out the access and spend you're first days on site creating a nice trail is going to save you so much physical strain and injury risk over the next weeks as you're carrying in heavy loads. It doesn't need to be a highway but a nice footpath...cleared of ankle killing roots, pack snatching brambles, and boot sucking muck holes. Something you can push a wheelbarrow or pull a small cart or sled along could be a big help. Sometimes carts are more hassle than help when moving loads, all depends on the terrain.
Once you know where you trail is going to start you need to consider a staging area. I would suggest a short access drive and a clearing where you can leave a vehicle. Something just in a bit from the main road and not visible from the road would be my 1st choice. A short drive that you can gate or just hang a chain across might give you a bit more security. Again it doesn't have to be fancy but a cleared area with space enough to turn a vehicle around. I'd actually make this my 1st camp site. Spend the 1st week or two right here. Build a small shed here. You're going to have times when you want to store loads near the road while you're waiting for muscle/time/weather conditions to get them to the main site. Sometimes you'll leave these in your car but there are going to be times when the supplies need be on site and the vehicle may not always be there. You're going to be spending a lot of time packing loads, taking everything out redistributing weight, figuring out how to fit that last thing or two into this load, realizing you can't even lift the pack off the ground, and leaving 1/3 of what you bought behind for the next trip in. You don't really want to be doing this on the side of the road. You also mentioned an atv and or cart. Having a shed to leave these in near the road is a good idea. Or just a covered carport type pole barn where you can organize your loads when it's wet/raining, snowing, etc. and store supplies out of the weather. A simple timber structure should go up pretty fast. You could just roof it with a tarp for now and take the whole thing down later if you don't need it long term. Or finish it off with a real roof and maybe a storage loft for a permanent structure later. Most people want to jump right into building at their more remote site but a good parking, staging, and storage area with road access is really something you're going to always need and want. It'll make your life so much easier if you just spend some time on this first thing.
So after I wrote this I reread your description and the fact you mention your site is 17 acres and has at road access on one side. So now I'm confused. That's really a pretty small area. I was thinking hike in as it would take you hours/miles to get into your site. But then a realized on 17 acres you're never going to be more than a 15 min walk from the road. Kinda changes the whole perspective. You'll easily be able to hike back and forth to the car and/or staging area multiple times a day if you need too. So not such a big deal to stress about what you bring in first. Also much easier to just set up a nice base camp in the staging area near your vehicles. No need to carry in your tents, sleeping bag, cookware, food, cloths, and all your tools on the 1st day. Leave all that a base camp. Set up a nice kitchen and a few creature comforts, like a good table/cook surface/worktop, if you're with your vehicles you can arrange for a few bigger heavier items (like a table, heavy dutch oven to cook in, etc.) Maybe a few camping chairs, thicker foam pads or a few extra blankets to sleep better. String up some large tarps and create some wind and rain protection.
Slow down, spend some time making base camp comfortable and just exploring the site. Don't try to start cutting down trees and building a structure on day one. Get to know your site. Really spend some time evaluating the trees. Which ones do you really want to fell and which ones do you want to keep. Work on your trail and access. Go back to base camp every night and cook a nice dinner and get a good nights sleep. You're going to be working really hard, going to want a lot of calories, and a way to ease sore muscles. Allow yourself a bit of luxury while you're in base camp.
Plan to hike into your main site every morning with just what you need for that day's project. Plan what you're doing and just take the tools/supplies for that project. Have a few projects lined up and an list of what you'll need for that project. If you have extra room in your pack take a few supplies for the next project on the list. Come out each evening with an empty pack and the next day take in a bit more. You'll quickly have all your tools and big supplies at the site, especially if you're not trying carry in food and personal goods all the time.
Start with felling some trees, take your chainsaw, axes, hand saws, etc. Everyone has different preferences for what type of axes they like. Some of it is just personal, how the ax is balanced, how heavy it is, the strength of the person swinging it etc. Do you and your family know how you prefer to fell trees? My husband and I each have different ways we like to fell trees and different tools we use. The big chainsaw is nice for large trees and bucking up firewood. But it does wear on the arms and shoulders. Our lighter smaller saw takes longer to cut each tree but I can use it all day without the muscle strain the larger saw gives me. A good sharp ax can actually be quicker when felling small trees. Axes for felling are different than those for splitting firewood, and those are different than ones for timber framing, etc. Also each person is going to have a weight and balance they like best. I'd say don't try to buy and carry in all your tools at once. Get one or two basic items and start using them. See what really works best for you and for your children (they are not likely to be the same for all of you). You're not going to be off in the remote wilderness. You can easily take a weekly (or even daily if you need too) trip into town and buy, trade, or borrow tools and supplies. Or really take your time and make your own as you need them. Then you won't have wasted time, money, and effort on bringing in things other people told you you need but that don't fit your building style, or the local conditions, or whatever.
While you're living in base camp you can also get your daily routines down. Which pots and pans really work for how you're cooking. What is the best way for store and filter water for your group. Do you really use those buckets or prefer these totes? Same thing with clothes, and sleeping gear, etc. You're likely going to find some things you think are essential you never use, or you like one stye of tool better than a different one. Maybe you much prefer a fixed blade in a sheath over the leatherman you thought you'd always use. Leave these things at base camp and then plan some trips into town to trade, sell, barter things you're not using and pick up the things you really need.
1st task, Clear and level a nice area where you can work. You're going to be dragging around logs, debarking, trimming, measuring cutting, stacking, sorting, etc. Having a cleared space to work is important. Build some simple devices to help you. Some sawhorses, log holders, some block and braces to move and hold your logs. Maybe a shave bench. Pick a site between a couple of good trees and sting up some rope. Hang a tarp to shed all that spring rain. You'll be able to keep mostly dry and work in difficult weather.
First thing you build on your site is good weatherproof and rodent proof storage. You need a good safe location to leave tools. Tools left in the elements rust like crazy. Small rodents love to chew tool handles and leather work gloves. Moths and other bugs will happily destroy clothing. Everything will want your food supplies. If a mouse or squirrel can chew into it they will. If you make it safe from rodents a raccoon will figure out how to open the latch or lift off a lid, plenty of critters will dig into sheds, or climb walls, etc. So before you leave anything on site make sure you have a way to secure it from rain and wind as well as whatever might want to eat it, chew it up, or nest in it. Once you have a secure shed you can start bringing in tools and supplies. IF you're staying at base camp at 1st you don't need to worry as much about food storage right off. Just eat most your meals at base camp and just bring in lunches and maybe a handful of backup/emergency items in case you need an afternoon snack or end up staying out through dinner.
I wouldn't bother with a temp sleeping structure. Anything you can throw up in a day or two is not likely to be small and cramped. Plus not too likely to be very weatherproof nor keep out the bugs. And bug are going to be your biggest enemy during spring and summer. The tent will likely serve you better. A second tent would be a good idea. You and your adult children might each like their own living space. Plus it gives you a safety backup option when one tent collapses under high winds in the middle of the worst thunderstorm of the century. A hammock with a bug net over it is a really comfortable way to sleep in the summer. Plus you can easily move it around if you want to spread out, have some personal space, or just take advantage of a different view now and again. A thermarest type mattress in a hammock is really nice. Adds just a bit more support and some warmth from cool breezes.
Spend your time and effort on structures you are going to want to keep around longer term. A good workshop/large shed would be high on my list. You can always string some hammocks up inside it if the weather is really bad to sleep and take them down to work during the day. Do you have any timber framing experience? A simple timber framed structure would be a great 1st building. Get up the frame and the roof. Now you have a nice dry area to work and/or sleep. Then spend some time to finish out the walls. Cordwood walls might be a good option since you have timber. Or wattle and daub. Do walls with some insulation value and this building will be a snug place to spend your 1st winter. Later you'll have a really nice year round shop or maybe one of the adult kids would prefer to continue using this as a living space.
An outdoor kitchen with a covered eating area and secure food storage would be next up for me. Will make life around camp much better and still be nice to have and use even when the house is built. I'd build a clay dome oven if it was me. Really nice to bake in and if you have clay soils on site everything could be sourced right there. Its an easy way to slow cook/simmer things for hours since they hold their heat so well. bit of time to stoke up the fire and get it nice and hot in the morning and then fill it with pots of beans and rice, a roast or a good stew in a dutch oven, etc. Close it up and walk away. Come back a dinnertime and everything will have slow cooked/simmer all day. When you're working all day it's nice to have a meal that you can prep and then doesn't need any tending until it's ready to eat that night. Or fire it up, bake your pizza for dinner, load up some loaves of bread, they'll bake while you eat, take out the bread, and load up your pots of rice, or some grains or porridge and go to sleep. They'll cook overnight and you'll have a warm breakfast the next day.
Do you have any tree felling experience? That's where you're going to need to start. You can build some simple structures out of raw wood but most types of building you're going to need properly prepared and aged logs. Most people spend a summer felling logs (or sometimes a winter as some trees and building types benefit from cutting the trees when there is no sap running during the winter). Then dragging them to a storage area, debarking and prepping them, and letting them dry for a season or two before using. If you want to be in a structure this winter you're going to be building with green wood. This is ok for some building types but you need to understand how the wood is going to dry, and in the process shrink, warp, and crack. This might differ depending upon what tree species you'll be using. A big concern if you're going to mill any and use boards. Less of a concern for timbers, might be a concern for poles. Maybe your husband knows this already from his carpentry experience but building things with milled 2x4 is a different ballgame than starting by cutting down the tree. If you do build with green wood you're going to need to leave the timbers exposed for at least a season or two so they can properly dry out. That means you're not going to want to finish a house, plaster, insulate or seal it up right away.
Actually felling trees in the spring might be the worst time to do it. Sap is running quite strong and the cambiun layer is going to be swollen with sap. These means the trees will be really wet and heavy. It also means if they dry too quickly they'll be more likely to warp or crack. Cutting and prepping a bunch of spring trees then exposing them to a really hot summer conditions is likely going to be a problem. Drying logs in shady area where they are not exposed to direct sun is often recommended to avoid temperature swings and rapid drying. If you're using those logs in a structure when they're green they are going to be immediately exposed to sun and little protection from summer heat/rapid drying. The plus side to felling in the spring is that the bark slips/peels off really easy because it is so wet and swollen. If you can then let the logs age in the round you'll have less work. Sometimes it's better not to debark the logs as this will slow down the drying of the outer layer and keep it more compatible with drying on the heartwood. Again this can depend upon species and time of year the tree is cut. High sap content wood is also more prone to rot and more attractive to insects because of the higher sugar content in the wood. I'd at least wait until summer when the trees are fully leafed out to cut any. Growth is much slower then so the water/nutrient needs of the tree are reduced and thus sap content compared to the spring. Plus cutting trees in the spring is just no fun. Everything is full of sap and sticky, sticky, sticky. You'll be covered in sap and pitch...which is almost impossible to wash off. Even worse so will all your tools. If you're using a chainsaw you're going to have to replace the chain often and soak and clean them so you'll have to have more spare chains in the rotation and spend a lot more elbow grease freeing the chains and bars. Axes and saws are a little less trouble to clean but they will get coated with sap and bits of dirt and grit will stick to them or between the teeth and they will dull faster. You'll still need to clean and sharpen them more often. I cut sown some pine this last spring and bucked it up for firewood. That stuff bleed everywhere and made huge mess of my tools and me. Even after 10 months of drying there are still streaks of sticky sap on all the cut ends. I've gotten to the point in the woodpile where I've starting using this pine and it's still a pain to handle. I keep forgetting that it's mixed onto the wood pile and get my hands sticky whenever I go to pick up a piece without my gloves on. I also got a nice glob of pitch and a stain on one of my better coats because I grabbed an armload of wood and carried it in on my way past the woodshed not thinking about the fact I was wearing my better coat and there was that sticky pine in the pile. I can't even imagine trying to build with this stuff or using the sticky poles in a structure.
Almost everyone I know that builds up here starts by just spending the 1st summer on site, doing prep work, and felling trees, maybe building a few simple storage sheds and a tent platform, possibly doing some foundation work and/or rockwork. Then they come out for the winter, let everything age, dry, and settle. Then the real building happens the second season when everything is prepped and ready. Now Kentucky winters are not the same but it is going to get cold and wet and probably some snow and freezing temps. Building a structure that is good for the winter starting from the trees is no easy task in one summer. If you're also trying to improve the land, build some garden beds, forage, hunt, and preserve food, put up a winters supply of firewood, and so on. Its a huge task! And possibly not the right way to do it from a timber strength and longevity point of view. Just something to think about and consider when you're planning where to spend your first winter.
Ok I feel like I've written a novel and barely even gotten started on all the things I could tell you. But don't want to preach at you if you already know a lot of this. I haven't even started on started on foraging and wild edibles which is actually a passion of mine.....
|[+] seed saving / exchange / plant breeding » Looking for seeds that will grow in South Central Alaska. (Go to)||Logan Michael|
There are a couple of seed companies that specialize in Alaska varieties. The biggest is Denali Seed and you'll find their seeds at https://bestcoolseeds.com/. They have a mix of heirloom, hybrid, organic, and conventional seeds. They do bred for Alaska conditions and only sell varieties that have been proven to grow here (although you do still need to be careful as some of their varieties can only be greenhouse grown). I find thier descriptions and info about growing conditions to be really useful. I've used them for years and had good results.
Then there is Foundroot. They specialize in open-pollinated varieties that are developed for Alaska conditions. I just recently discovered them so haven't used them yet. I plant to try them out this spring.
Jonny's Select seeds is a Maine company but specializes in cold weather, short season crops and I know many Alaskans use them.
I also like West Coast Seeds out of British Columbia and Territorial Seeds from the Pacific Northwest but I'm in SE Alaska where the growing conditions are a bit more like that of BC. Both have lots of cold hardy varieties that would likely do well for you as well.
Of course other local gardeners are your best resource. Check out the Central Peninsula Gardening Club http://www.cenpengardenclub.org/ I would assume Homer and Seward probably have gardening clubs and would likely be worth your while to find out about some of their events. This time of year many garden groups are doing workshops, group seed orders, seed exchanges, and the like.
For general information on varieties and growing in Alaska the Cooperative Extension Service https://www.uaf.edu/ces/gardening/. They have variety lists for the different Alaska regions. Lots of articles some with really good info about growing in our conditions.
If you get up to Anchorage check out the botanical gardens there. I know they sell some seeds in the gift shop. Look for their spring plant sales. Also a great resource for info especially for herbs and perienials.
Read some of Jeff Lowenfels Alaska gardening articles. I know he just did an article about seeds. I think he does one every year about this time so looking through the archives might get you some good info.
Master Gardener Ed Buyarski does a couple of radio shows, Gardentalk https://www.ktoo.org/programs/gardentalk and In the Garden https://www.kfsk.org/in-the-garden/ and is a font of information on growing here in Alaska conditions.
|[+] cooking » Dealing with spent cooking fats (Go to)||Annie Lochte|
I second feeding it to the chickens. I often give my used cooking oil and accumulated grease/fat to the chickens. Usually mix it in with some grains, old bread, or whatever other scraps I might have around to soak up the oil. The birds love it. l sometimes mix a batch of grease with grains to make suet cakes. You can throw them in the freezer and then feed out as treats though out the winter.
If the oil is really old or gone rancid then I'm not sure if it would be ok for chickens or birds. In that case I like the idea of soaking wood or cardboard in it to make fire starters.
|[+] plants » name a root crop that can be left in the ground all year round until you need it (Go to)||David Livingston|
Daylilies have edible tubers and can be left in the ground until you want them.
Camas is another flower with an edible bulb. So is the dahlia (you can leave them in the ground in milder climates).
|[+] hugelkultur » Cranberries in a Hugel bed? (Go to)||Chris Sargent|
Most true cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon, Vaccinium oxycoccus) need very wet acidic conditions, they naturally grow in bogs and muskegs. They can tolerate some drying out but need damp most of the time. They also have really shallow root systems (pretty much within an inch or two of the surface). They are highly associated with sphagnum and while they may grow in soil they don't do very well or produce well unless in peat soil (possibly due to a dependence on mycorrhizal fungi symbiotic relationships) Straight peat or a peat/sand mix is best if you don't happen to have a peat bog in your garden. Then you want to plant in a low wet spot or create a depression, line with something (such as a pond liner) so that the area holds water and then layer on your peat and or sand. I know all this because I live in are area full of muskeg (a type of peat marsh) and have built some native garden areas that include our native bog cranberry (V. oxycoccus). I also spend a lot of time harvesting the wild ones and pay attention to where/how they grow.
In a hugelkulter bed the surface of the soil tends to be high and dry. People often have problems with seedlings because their roots haven't grown down into the center where the rotting logs and moisture is. Cranberry roots will never get that deep and so will always be in the dry soil. My guess is if you try to plant some here they'll be dead within days. They also don't transplant well so you have to baby them and keep them really wet and protected for the first season until the roots recover and the plant sends out runners. I'm just not seeing how that would work on a hugelkultur. Now having said that my experience is with the native berries. The cultivated varieties may be a bit hardier.
Lingonberry, (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) also called Low Bush Cranberry could be a candidate for you if you are willing to make some adaptations. They tolerate dryer conditions (although they still need a large amount of watering and prefer moist conditions. They actually grow really well on rotting logs. Really old, really rotten wood that you can break apart by hand is perfect for them. I have quite a few of these growing around my yard in/on rotted logs. They are also more likely to be found on soil (rather than growing in peat). I even find them growing on rock piles and in gravel edges of old logging roads here. But as I live in a rain forest even the rock piles are wet. I've actually created some small low hugelbeds for my lingonberries. I took some old, rotting logs and half buried them. I laid them out side by side with a small gap between them. This gap was filled with a mix of acidic soil and peat. The lingonberries were then nestled into the low areas where their rootscould grow down into the soil in the gaps and the runners could spread out over the tops of the logs. I covered the rest of the exposed logs with moss (as I have an unlimited supply) to help the logs retain moisture. You could go ahead and cover logs with a very thin layer of soil and then mulch really well. I think that would serve the same function to retain moisture in the logs.
So if you have already built the more traditional mounded hugelbeds I don't think you'll be able to plant any type of cranberry. You might get away with the lingonberries along the lower edges where they can stay wetter and roots might be able to access the buried wood.
|[+] plants » labeling a garden - search for permanent BIG labels (Go to)||Chris Sargent|
Metal markers made out of flashing would be one way to go.
I had some student make markers for our school garden and also wanted something large enough to be easily read. I wanted something that would last for years and withstand the elements. So I decided to go with metal. We tried a few different types and liked the copper flashing the best. I used this copper flashing Its a bit expensive as it is copper but I really like the look and a roll will make hundreds of markers. Plus the softer copper is easier to write or press into. I also love the way copper weathers so weathering and the elements are actually a positive. If it becomes too weathered dark/hard to read a quick buffing will have it looking like new again.
Here are some of the finished markers the students made.
I've also used thin aluminum flashing for decorative projects around the garden. We had the students draw pics into squares of thin aluminum flashing and then tacked them onto the wooden raised beds. They've been out there for I think four years and still look good. So that is an option if you want less expensive.
You can just use a thick pen, large nail, or awl to write onto the flashing. Just want something that leaves a nice indent in the metal. The ones I had to students do we used decorative letter punches from the craft store so they are fancier. To make the letters more visible we spray painted them. Just lay out the markers and give them a quick coat from a metal spray paint like Rustoleum. Once the paint dries take some steel wool and rub the paint off from around the letters. The paint stays in the depressions and makes the wording darker. These are pretty thin so I think they'll hold up better attached to something solid. You could use wood as the backer. I plan to use plexiglass (because I live in a rain forest and everything stays really wet, molds, and rots here) so it lasts longer but it will ad to the expense. The copper flashing tape already has an adhesive backing so it'll be easy to attach. Finally I'm going to drill holes and use some metal wire to make stakes.
If I was making hundreds of these I'd probably attach the flashing to the backing (thin plexiglass or plywood) as whole sheets. Mark them into an even length x width and then hand write on them. Paint the whole thing and use a fine sanding disk or buffing pad to rub the paint off the entire panel at once. I'd probably go ahead and drill the holes while it was a larger sheet as well. Then I would saw them apart into individual markers along the established lengths.
|[+] urban » The Start of Our School Garden (Go to)||brandon gross|
Nice job. Thanks for sharing. I'm the garden coordinator for our local school and I love seeing what other schools are doing.
|[+] plants » raspberry type plant ID (Go to)||Chris Sargent|
We have lots of Salmonberry here in Alaska...my backyard is full of it. I agree that it sure looks like salmon berry to me. It does really well in cool damp climates so it makes since that it might have been introduced on Isle of Skye.
|[+] gardening for beginners » Crop Rotation for Brassica (New Hugelkulture Bed) (Go to)||Chris Sargent|
You don't have to rotate crops. It does help in some situations.
If you are monocroping than rotation helps manage soil nutrients (such as planting a legume crop prior to a high nitrogen feeding crop). If you are inter-planting a variety of species this becomes less of an issue.
Brassicas can be heavy feeders so I would suggest adding plenty of compost, something nitrogen rich like manure or alfalfa. Or consider adding some legumes. You could sow some clover on that side of the bed and then plant the broccoli seedlings into the clover.
The other reason to rotate crops is to break the pest cycle. Cabbage root maggots can be a real problem for brassicas. If there is any chance your bed had them than you don't want to grow any brassicas there.
|[+] chickens » Chicken Forage (Go to)||Todd Parr|
Mine love berries of all kinds. A raspberry of blackberry thicket is great for them. Cover and food both. You just need to protect the roots from being scratched up. I place rounds of old rotting wood or rocks around the base of mine.
|[+] gardening for beginners » Shou Sugi Ban for raised garden bed? (Go to)||Chris Sargent|
We did our deck shou sugi ban style. The deck is made of cedar 2x6's, each individually burned on all sides and then treated with lindseed oil. The deck is just 8x25 ft. It did take quite awhile to burn all the boards but I love the look of it so it was worth the effort to me. We just finished it last fall and so far the durability seems ok. It beaded up water really well all winter but I think we will need to reapply oil annually. We live in a rainforest so it's pretty much always wet so treatment for weather and rot resistance is critical.
On the front of the deck I also build full length planter boxes. These were also done shou sugi ban style. I did a longer burn on them so they are pretty much entirely black but not to the point of the alligator charring. They are only about half full of soil and not planted yet. So I can't really comment on how they'll hold up.
I have done lots of other cedar beds. Some treated with oil others not. Cedar beds will last a really long time on their own so I'm not sure treating with oil really adds that much.
As far as the oils in cedar harming the plants. Its not an issue. Pretty much everyone the gardens in my area uses cedar raised beds (again because we live in a rain forest and need the drainage from the raised beds and the rot resistance of cedar). I've never seen or heard of any ill effect even with fresh cut rough timber being used. What little bit of oil is in the cedar isn't going to have any movement from the boards into the surrounding soil. I frequently have plants that are growing right up against the cedar boards and don't seem to be at all effected. So I don't really think that there is any issue at all.
|[+] chickens » Natural Bedding for Chicks (Go to)||Susan Pruitt|
Sawdust, wood shaving, and wood chips work well. I collect a lot of the small chips from the chainsaw created when cutting up our firewood. Sawdust if you work with wood or knows anyone who does. Just be careful that if didn't come from any type of treated wood.
Dried leaves are good. Dried lawn/grass clippings are ok mixed with other material but seem to mat down a lot on their own.
I haven't personally tried it but have though about keeping them on sand.
|[+] chickens » Stationary Coop for Meat Chickens (Go to)||Jacob Lough|
The 25x25 run will be enough space but it will get pretty messy by butcher time. Deep litter is a good way to go but you have to work it a bit more than you would with hens. The meat birds really do poop a lot more. Like maybe 2 to 3 times more. I didn't really believe how messy they were until I started raising them. And I do Rangers which are said to not be as bad as the Cornish crosses.
Anyway last year I did 25 meat birds in a space that was 16 ft x ~30ft. Small area in the front was covered and the rest open. The covered area in the front, where they spent the nights got really nasty really fast. I was laying down new bedding every couple of days. Not a big deal but would have to go in break up the poopy, trampled mats, stir it into the deep litter and add a fresh layer of bedding. They don't really scratch as much as hens and their heavy body size and large feet really seem to mat down the litter in heavy use areas. So be prepared to keep the deep litter stirred up and have plenty of fresh bedding. The rest of the run wasn't as bad, as it was mostly a weedy, brush patch and it took awhile for them to trample and scratch it up. I wanted them to clear it out which was part of the reason I set them up there. I just kept adding garden scraps, weeds, tree trimmings, and lots of wood chips and let them scratch up everything. They were in this area for about 8 weeks. They were in the brooder for the 1st 3-4 weeks and then spent a couple of weeks in my large chicken run with the hens before I butchered them. 8 weeks of poop and litter created a nice thick pile of bedding which I racked up into one large compost pile to cook overwinter. It should be a nice garden addition this spring. The run was pretty much dirt when I raked everything up and I seeded with some oats and clover. Got a nice amount of growth there through the fall and then I let my laying hens have at it in the late fall.
If you were just going to raise one batch of meaties each year I would do something similar. Let them go ahead and clear out the area for the 2-3 months you have them. Once you butcher you can reseed the area and it'll have time to regrow through the fall and spring. Should be some nice pasture again by the time you are ready for the next batch the following summer.
The paddock system works really well too. I'm working on improving my setup so I have a few different runs I can rotate my laying hens through. Having the ability to let an area recover/regrow is really good. So if you're raising multiple batches of meat birds or if you also have hens or keeping full time residents then a paddock system is a great way to go.
|[+] wild harvesting » Some dogs like wild edibles..Chickweed (Go to)||Dave Shoe|
Cute. My labs will eat almost anything I give them as well. They love veggies and I have to keep a close eye on them in the garden. Last spring one of mine had a great time digging up and eating radishes and they will strip peas off the vine. And berries they love berries. I always take them with me berry picking (since I don't want to surprise a bear) and I think Loki often gets more berries than I do. He's like a little bear in the berry patch.
|[+] ducks and geese » Mixing ducks with chickens? (Go to)||Maureen Atsali|
I have a small mixed flock. 3 buff ducks (2 female, 1 male) and 5 laying hens. I've just had the ducks for a year so not an expert but so far they seem to be doing well as a mixed flock.
They do have lots of space. Which I think helps. Hens sleep in a coop that is raised off the ground about 3 ft and has an attached nest. The area under the coop is screened in (and covered in plastic sheeting for the winter). The ducks sleep and nest under there. They both share a small covered run off the coop where they share food and water dishes. They all have full time access to a fenced yard with is about 50 ft by 35 ft. The yard has lots of bushes, several large trees, and a few smaller plantings. So there is space for everyone to spread out. So far they all do seem to get along.
Some of the issues with keeping ducks is male ducks wanting to mate the chickens. This can harm or even kill the chicken so it's something to watch out for. I was a bit worried when I 1st put them together and the male duck did show some interest in the hens. I saw him try to mount one of the more dominate hens but she wasn't having any of it and put him in his place. Now the boy seems happy enough with his duck girls and doesn't seem to bother the hens. I'll have to see how he behaves come spring when he might be expected to be more amorous. Having a pond should help as duck prefer to do their mating in the water and since the chickens don't go into the pond (old bathtub in my set up) that seems to keep the boy more interested in the swimming girls. I'd say just keep and eye on them and be prepared to separate if the males are showing too much interest in the hens. I don't have a rooster so I don't know if one would protect his girls or cause issues fighting with a male duck.
Other issues. The ducks are way messier, especially with water. They dirty up the water containers right away. With the chickens I could just set out large waters and refill every couple of days. With the ducks are are dirty instantly and I find myself cleaning and refilling a couple of times a day. Nipple waters worked well in the summer but I don't have a set up to keep that type thawed in the winter. I have a metal waterer that sits on a heated base. I have to clean and refill it often. The ducks also need deeper water to be able to dunk their bills and rinse out their nasal passages. I take out rubber feed bowls full of warm water for them once or twice a day so they can do this in the winter when the pond freezes over.
Also expect a much messier run as duck poop is softer, wetter and smellier. They also seem to generate a lot more of it. Before getting the ducks I never had an issue with the 5 hens and large run. But after adding the ducks I've had it get pretty slimy and started to have some smell. I've laid down some wood chips to help deal with this and expect I'll need to do more when it thaws come spring. I also plan to move the flock around and do a bit more rotational grazing next year so that should help. I don't know what your space set up is like but if you're going to add them into a run with chickens expect cleanup needs to be a lot higher. I have deep litter in the area the ducks use under the coop and in the covered run. This does seem to work ok with the ducks but they do tend to mat the litter down and so I find myself needing to stir it up more often and add fresh material to soak up the moisture.
|[+] fungi » Best way to preserve mushrooms until dehydration? (Go to)||Nick Watkins|
I commonly keep mushrooms for up to a week in the fridge. They can dry out a bit but if you keep them in a cotton bag it makes for a nice balance between letting them breath and keeping them a bit moist. I have thin cotton produce bags I use. Paper bags work too but not as well as the cotton. I've never had a problem with them taking on taste or odors from the fridge but I image it might depend on what else is in the fridge.
As for the larvae...if they are have a lot don't think I'd try to keep them for very long. The sooner you process them the better.
I'd say in your case to freeze them. But as you likely found before they don't freeze well on their own. You have to remove as much moisture as possible. I've tried a few ways and best I've found is the dry sautée them. I slice them thin and sautee is a hot dry pan, no oil, butter, or anything else at 1st. I'm always surprised by how much moisture comes out of them. They're usually swimming in liquid at first. Keep stirring until all the moisture is gone. Some people then freeze them at this stage. I like to add a few tablespoons of oil. Enough to add a thin coating to the mushrooms. I feel like it help preserve them and prevent freezer burn. I then spread them out on wax paper covered baking sheets and freeze them. Once frozen you can remove them from the sheets...I usually break them up into chuncks and put them in freezer bags. If I think I'll be keeping them longer term they get vacuum sealed. Then when I'm ready to use them I can just pull a chunk or two out of the freezer and add them to whatever I'm making.
Another option is to pickle them. I've tried this once (with store bought button mushrooms) and they actually turned out better then I expected. I just haven't found that many uses for pickled mushrooms other then just eating them and I tend to like to cook with my wild mushrooms so I haven't done it again. There is also some issue with using wild mushrooms if they are not going to be cooked. I think if you then can the pickles (and you can water bath can pickles because of the high acid levels) the heat you expose them to in the process substitutes for cooking but proceed at your own risk..or level of comfort with risky kitchen behavior.
Another option is to can them without the pickling. I think Agaricus would hold up well to canning. But you have to use a pressure canner for mushrooms so this is only an option if you have one or can find access to one.
Another way to use up/preserve a mushroom windfall is the make broth from them. A nice thick mushroom broth makes a lovely soup base, a great addition to many sauces, and add a wonderful flavor when use to cook grains like rice or barley. The broth can be frozen or canned (again you'd need a pressure canner) for future use.
|[+] chickens » Looking for ideas for backyard chickens (Go to)||Chris Sargent|
Don't expect the duck to be quite. My buff ducks make about a thousand times more noise than my chickens. I don't have a rooster but the hens do a bit of cackling and I have a couple that make a real racket when laying. My buff ducks on the other hand have a really loud quack and they 'talk' a lot. They start calling and quacking in the morning (not dawn thankfully) but around the normal time I go out to feed and water. If I'm running late I hear about it. They also call to me loudly any time I or anyone else is in the yard or near their pen. They also seem to call randomly throughout the day. I was a bit surprised by how often and how loud their calls are.
I had my chickens for years and a few of my neighbors didn't even know I had them. Everyone knows I have ducks and frequently comments on them. Thankfully the neighbors are all fine with the noise...some even claim to enjoy hearing the animals and the neighbor kids like visiting and feeding them so it hasn't been a problem for me.
|[+] woodland » Wild berries - Dogwood or other? (Go to)||Michelle Bisson|
When you're IDing berries you need to look at the leaf shape, growth habit of the bush, stem growth pattern, and more. Not just the color or size of the berry. Especially if you're going to eat them...you really want to make sure you know what you have.
I don't believe these are a dogwood. The leaves on those have distinct parallel veins. They could be the nannyberries. Can you get a better picture of the leaves. Also do the leaves grow opposite of each other along the stem?
|[+] chickens » Odd shaped chicken eggs (Go to)||Chris Sargent|
I have a few hens that lay odd eggs as well. One, like yours, lays an egg that is a bit more narrow/elongated than a "normal" egg. Another almost always has a extra swirly bit of shell at the end.
They get a good feed, lots of foraging, bugs, and kitchen scraps. They are healthy, two and three year olds that lay well. I've been eating those odd eggs as long as they've been laying them.
Just the way those chickens are, no harm to me or them from the "odd" eggs. In a way I kinda like my "odd" eggs. Adds some variety to the egg basket and reminds everyone who eats them that these are natural creatures with their own variety and not factory machines that are culled if they can't meet a "perfect" standard.
|[+] cover crops » Winter Rye and Potatoes Experiment (Go to)||K Putnam|
I think you're on the right track. The good new is that silt has a lot of minerals and nutrients. I purposely collect river silt to add to my soil when making new beds. I'm also in a maritime rain forest so a higher content of sand and silt does help with drainage. But I also add a lot of compost and peaty native soil which helps retain moisture.
I think anything you can do to add organic material to the bed is going to help. Cover cropping seems like a great way to do that. I don't really know if rye alone or the mix is the best way to go. I'd think you'd want whatever gives you a good root system, maybe even some fodder radish or turnips that you can let rot in place to add organics below ground.
|[+] dogs and cats » Dog Fakes Wanting Outside (Go to)||Susan Howell|
I have a smart, high energy dog as well. At 6 years old he's still full of life, gets bored easily, and wants something to do. As a puppy and young dog he was quite the handful. He did go through a 'fake us out at the door stage too. He just wanted our attention and learned that while we might ignore him when he wanted to play we always got up when he gave the 'need to go out and pee bark'. We got him to stop my combining giving him more attention other times and selectively ignoring he when he asked to go out. He got one chance to go out and pee. If he didn't actually pee then he'd be ignored for the next several time he asked to go out. When we did let him out we'd just stand in the yard with him until he peed, no playing, running around, or anything else fun or interesting...strictly a pee break. Then we'd do something fun with him or give him a treat, or a bit of attention later when he wasn't barking at the door.
I pretty much managed him with a combination of exercise and training. These dogs really do need lots of exercise so it would be best for everyone involved if you could find a way to give it to her. Lots of fetching is a good way to exercise the dog without you having to do a lot of walking. I've never done the treadmill but have several friends that have and so I know it can work really well for some dogs. Is there any way you can have a friend take her for a walk every day or hire a dog walker to come by a few times a week. Maybe a kid that would want to do it for a little spending money? Does she like to swim? Do you have a lake or pond where you could take her. Swimming really seems to wear them out more than just walking.
The other key is mental exercise. Lots of training helps. I do lots of short training sessions though out the day with my boy. Lots of just practicing simple things like sit, stay, come, lay down. Teach her to 'settle' on her bed or a mat or small area rug. When you tell her to settle she has to go to her spot and stay there. Then call her back to you and give her a bit of attention. Then ask her to go settle again. make the amount of time she has to stay 'settled' slowly increase starting with just few seconds or mins. Once she's worked up to being able to settle for a good period of time this can be a great way to keep her busy while you're doing something else. Send her to settle for 5-10 mins and then call her to you and give her a min of play time, repeat over and over again. She'll settle but keep alert for your command to come back so she's mentally busy. You can do this when watching TV, make her settle while you're watch but when a commercial comes on call her to you and play until the show comes back on then send her back to settle.
Another game that I pay with mine is hide and seek. Take a water bottle and poke a few holes in it so the scent can get out and put a treat or handful of food in it. Hide somewhere while your dog is sitting out of sight in another room. Then call her into the room and tell her to "Find the treat". At 1st just lay the bottle somewhere out in the open, point to it when you tell her to find, ask her to pick it up and bring it to you. When she gives it to you open the bottle and let her have the treats. As she figures out the game you can start hiding the bottle in more and more difficult to find places. You can also also hide multiple bottles around the house in different rooms and she'll stay busy for quite a while finding them all and bringing them to you to open.
Teach her to find and bring you all types of things can also be fun. Teach her to get her 'ball' or get your 'slippers' or really anything you want. Smart dogs will learn the names of objects and be able to bring you what you ask for.
Try to teach her a new command or trick every week. Learning something new is great mental stimulation and can actually wear some dogs out even more than physical exercise. It doesn't have to be complicated anything you can think of or get a book of training tips and tricks. I've done all kinds of activities with mine from formal hunting and retrieving training, to agility, and obedience classes. Meals are a great time to give them attention and training. Mine have to sit and wait until I tell them before they can eat. When they we younger I would ask them to do a command and then give them a handful of food as a reward. Then another command and another handful of food. I'd do this until their whole dinner ration was gone. It would take 10-15 mins to feed them but they got quality training time in the process.
Treat toys and food dispensing toys can be a good distraction and way to keep her occupied.
|[+] chickens » Will bears break into a log cabin? bear proof chicken coop (Go to)||Chris Sargent|
Bears can and will break into pretty much any structure if they really want too. Even a won't thick door wont stop them.
Up here we deal with bears frequently. The best way to keep them away is to convince them the meal you might provide (the chickens in your case) isn't worth the trouble and/or pain it may cause to get at it. Electric fences work well but only if the bear is trained to the fence by shocking them in a sensitive place like the nose. If a bear learns it can run through and snap an electric fence it will take the small shock to the torso and break the fence. Train it that fences hurt by baiting them with something like peanut butter. when the bear goes to lick it off it gets a shock to the nose or tongue which is much more painful. Thus the bear learns to fear the fence. A combo of a physical barrier and electric fence is best. A bear has to slow down to climb over a physical fence or claw its way through a thick door. You place a hot electric wire just where the bear has to stop so that it remains in contact with the wire while it's trying to break in. Thus it get repeated shocks and will usually give up rather then keep getting shocked.
Nail boards as mentioned earlier is a way to discourage the bear from ramming something like a door. If they try to use their weight to ram the structure they end up stabbing themselves on the nails. Same thing with wide nail boards on the ground. The bear won't want to walk over a bed of nails. I've seen these used to keep bears off cabin porches or under windows.
Dogs can usually deter a black bear...most would rather not get tangled up with a dog so if you have a dog around that will bark and scare off a bear that can help.
|[+] woodland » What To Do With Small Branches (Go to)||Mike Turner|
I usually just leave them in piles scattered around where the tree was cut.
Occasionally I'll bring some home for use in the garden. I've made pea teepees and a small arbor from branches. I'll sometimes use them as stakes to tie up other plants.
I have a small section of fence I made from woven branches. I've thought about doing some wattle fences with leftover branches. Trimming them could be a lot of work though.
|[+] gardening for beginners » Limited space and limited sunlight. Growing tips? (Go to)||Galadriel Freden|
I live in a climate similar to yours only more rain and cooler summers. I to have a property with lots of shade. There are things you can grow but expect them to grow much slower than in sunnier locations. I've found that smaller early maturing varieties are important. Emilie has a great list...I've considered many of the things on her list.
You can pretty much rule out any vegetable that you eat the 'fruit', such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc. They need more sun and heat that we can provide.
Beans also don't work...with the exception of runner beans...I've had good luck with them in the "sunnier" areas on my property.
Most leafy greens will do well even in lots of shade. I've found leaf lettuces do better than head lettuce. I like to do a mix of leaf lettuces, and other baby greens (kale, swiss chard, beet greens, radish, etc.) Again expect them to grow much slower than the seed packet advertises in a shady garden. But they can be harvested at any size from micro-green, to baby, to fully mature. I often sow them in large dense patches. I'll thin them out and eat the baby greens early and keep eating from the patch though out the summer. By the season end I have full size leaf lettuce.
Kale does well in part shade. Again you can eat it as baby kale in salads and then as it matures just pick off the outermost leaves. The plant will continue to grow though out the summer and you can just harvest the outer leaves as you want to eat them. Spinach also does ok in the shade.
Most root vegetables do ok in part shade. Again choose 'small' or 'baby' varieties as they take less energy to mature and thus can reach harvest size even in shadier spots. I like small nantes and little finger carrots, egg or hakurei turnips, radishes. Expect these early or baby varieties to take about as long as normal varieties when grown in the shade.
Rhubarb does fantastic even in almost full shade. It needs almost no care and you can harvest stalks starting in the early spring though the summer as you want or need them.
Peas do well in some shade. Snap and snow peas can just be harvested as you want to eat them and in a cool shady spot will produce all summer. You do need to keep them picked though because if the pods are allowed to mature on the vine the plant will stop producing flowers and you'll get no more peas from that plant. Shelling peas also do well but they tend to be more of a harvest all at once type crop.
Berries, berries, and more berries. Many berries will grow well in the shade. Native or wild type berries do better in the shade. Many of the cultivated varieties have been breed to produce extra large, sweet berries. But those big sugary berries need lots of energy and thus lots of sun to mature. Wild berries tend to have smaller fruits and still carry adaptations to fruit in the shady under story. So wild type blueberries, huckleberries, currents, gooseberries, and strawberries.
|[+] chickens » quail bedding (Go to)||Chris Sargent|
I've used them for chickens so expect they'd be ok for quail as well. They are just compressed pine sawdust so generally safe for animals. You can also use wood stove pellets they are exactly the same thing just come in bulk 50lb bags and cost way less.
Only problem I can think of is dust if they're really scratching around breaking it up when its really dry. I've mostly had it stay in pellet form unless/until it gets damp and then breaks down into sawdust. But because it's damp at this point there wasn't too much dust. I don't think it's good for any bird to inhale too much dust so maybe just something to keep an eye on.
|[+] chickens » some chickens in a small suburban backyard ... is it possible? (Go to)||Inge Leonora-den Ouden|
I've had quail when I live on a small city lot and they are very quit. Most of the time they make almost no noise. Occasionally they make a soft cooing sound but that's it. None of my neighbors even knew I had them.
I had 10 in a large dog kennel in my garage over the winter. Had to change the bedding often but other than they seemed perfectly happy in that space. In the summer I had an outdoor cage, wire and wood sides on bare ground. It was 3x4 ft (or about 1x1.3 meters). They did scratch about in the ground a bit so seemed to enjoy being on soil but not nearly so much as a chicken. I ended up with just 6 females and butchered the males and that was more than enough space for them. I pretty much got an egg from each of them every day. So 10-12 quail will produce the same volume of egg as 3 chickens but only need about 1/3 the space.
I think a small quail pen in one corner of you yard would be a nice set up for you. That could be a permanent place for them. Then have a few runs along each side of your property. I'd remove the concrete pavers and maybe add a small raised bed or border and some additional soil and compost. These areas could be planted with garden veggies. Quail will eat or scratch up small seedling and tender plants like lettuce but once a plant is a bit bigger they don't damage it. So you keep the quail out when plants are seedling and then let them in the area one the plants are a bit bigger to forage for bugs. Having one on either side means you could let them rotate or keep them out of one when there are small new plants. Quail can fly though so you'd have to cover the area or keep their wings clipped. Something like this...
This set up might also work for smaller bantam chickens. But they can still do a fair bit of damage to plants so you'd likely not be able to grow veggies but could maybe plant the runs with some fruit shrubs, hardy herbs, and the like.
|[+] trees » My Douglas Fir is browning (Go to)||Chris Sargent|
I'm also guessing it is stressed...probably dying. Sorry.
The whole buy a live Christmas tree and plant it later is mostly a marketing scam. Most of them die from lack of proper care. Indoors is a really bad place for most trees. Tree experts suggest that you can only keep a live tree indoors for less than a week before it breaks dormancy and starts growing. Some say as little as 4 days. Not too many people are going to set up a Christmas tree for only 4 days or even just a week. Most, like you leave them up for weeks or months.
You also have to introduce them to indoor temps slowly. If you just bring it home and straight indoors it will immediately break dormancy and ramp up grow...the last thing you want in an indoor tree. Generally this warming up process should occur over 4 days or more.
When it's inside it needs lots of water to overcome issues with dry indoor air and wilting from shock and stress. Most pots they come in are too small to provide a good moisture buffer. Burlap balls are even worse for having roots dry out. So it's best to pot it up into something larger...something the size of a whiskey barrel planter is about right. If it's in a burlap ball placing that in the large planter and filling the space up with wet mulch can work.
Then when it goes back out you have to acclimate it back to the colder temps...again slowly over a week or so.
If the tree has broken dormancy...which it will have if it's been indoors for more than a week then it can't go back out into freezing temperatures. So for many that means you have to keep the tree inside until spring. Planting a non-dormant tree back out will likely kill it or at least severely stress it. If the roots haven't had a chance to become established then it's going to have a hard time have a hard time overcoming the cold dry winter winds.
Another problem in a non-dormant tree is that the sap will be running and on the sunnier side you would expect the sap flow to the branches and needles to be the highest. But if it freezes overnight that sap will freeze and burst cell walls and/or vascular structure in the branches. That could cause the die back you're seeing.
At this point the tree is already quite stressed, with a fair bit of die back. It could recover but its more likely that it won't or might survive for a season or two but be weak and stunted and killed of from some there disease or pest that will take advantage of this.
If you want to try and save it, in spite of its poor long term outlook you need to try and protect it from temperature swings. The sunny spot and warm temps might actually be doing more harm than good. It would be better to shade this tree from sun until it warms up in the spring. If possible you can try to erect some sort of shade cloth barrier, which might also help with wind and drying if those are issues as well. Sometimes wrapping the entire tree in burlap can help. Your goal is to try to prevent the sap from running as much as possible. So cold, but not freezing temps are best. Warming from the sun hitting the needles will pull the sap up and out into those branches...which is why you want to shade it and keep the sun from warming it.
|[+] plants » Blueberries and manure (Go to)||Karen Lee klee|
I don't think the aged manure would have harmed the blueberries at all. But if you've already planted the bed with something else than keeping the blueberries in containers is an option. You'll have to keep a close eye on them though to make sure they don't dry out too much over the summer. Blueberries really like growing on rotting logs (at least all the ones around here do). I'd consider doing something like a hugelpot for your container. Maybe something like a self watering container but using a nice log as the 'wick'. The log should be easier to keep nice and moist this way and the blueberry roots will grow around the log taking advantage of the provided moisture. Here's a link to someone who was growing in containers using a modified hugel method hugelpots
|[+] homestead » Women homesteading ALONE? (Go to)||Liv Smith|
I agree that you get to know your dogs and their different barks. My dogs bark at anything that comes on the property. They have a general alert bark that just means there is something that caught their attention, could be a deer passing in the back woods, a raven landed on the porch railing, or maybe just a person walking past out by the road. Most of the time I don't even bother looking when it's just an alert bark.
They really like other dogs and if one of the neighbor dogs visits (which they do regularly) than mine react with a much higher pitch and excited barking or sometimes even howling, so I can always tell if it's a dog that's around.
They have a deeper growl that means a predator is around. I've only heard this one a few times but do go check it out...usually turning on outside lights and checking the chicken coop...which I can see from the house. Luckily so far these visitors have all been scared off by me turning on the lights, a shout from me, and/or the barking dogs. If something were attacking the chickens I would go get one of our guns and deal with it.
If there is a person on the property that is a different bark and it increases in volume and excitement if the person comes up close to the house. During the day I just go check to see who is here. If they did this in the middle of the night, and I was alone, I'd likely carefully look out from a secure place (upstairs window), look and listen to where the dogs are alerting...they'll run to the door or window and if a person walks around the house they'll follow them from window to window. So I could get a feel for if there is someone about and where. If the person actually came up to the house or tried to get in and the barking dogs didn't scare them off I'd lock myself into an upstairs room and call the police (another reason to have a cell phone...can still call for help even if land lines are cut). If they were ripping off the shop, I'd still stay in the house, and call the police. No way would I go charging outside, with or without a gun or other weapon. That is just asking for more trouble and possibility of getting shot by a scared, desperate thief. No material thing on my property is worth loosing my life over.
|[+] homestead » Women homesteading ALONE? (Go to)||Liv Smith|
I don't homestead but I am a woman who spends a good deal of time doing homestead type chores alone in a remote area. I live on a remote island, but in a small town. Most of the island is national forest land with few roads. I love spending time out there foraging for mushrooms, picking berries or herbs, or just hiking and exploring. I also spend quite a bit of time cutting wood or gathering wood products. Sometimes my husband joins me, once in awhile a friend does, but often it's just me and my dogs. Most of the time I like it that way. I actually enjoy spending time outside by myself. I like setting my own pace, doing what I want, when I want. I can spend infinite time wandering in the woods looking for mushrooms or find a berry patch and spend hours picking them. Most other people I go out with get bored or want to quickly more on the the next patch or are not interested in scrambling down that gully just to see what is down there, and so on. Same with projects at home. I enjoy doing them, often like doing them by myself or at least don't mind it.
Basically my point is I know myself well enough to know that I enjoy doing things alone. I'm aware of the dangers and try to be prepared but don't spend too much energy worrying about them. I figure I'm more likely to die in a car accident running out to get groceries than I am from an accident in the woods or falling off a ladder at home. I could startle a bear in a berry patch and be attacked. But I usually have my dogs and they make enough noise to scare off most any bear long before I get to it. I carry bear spray and sometime a gun (usually just in hunting season when I might come across grouse). I carry a backpack with the basic emergency gear and 1st aide kit. If I get lost, stranded, injured I should to be able to survive until someone finds me. When I'm working on the property in town (and in cell phone range) I make sure I have it on me so I could call for help if I fell off a ladder or broke something bad enough I couldn't crawl back to the house on my own. Most of the island does not have cell phone coverage. I have a well stocked 1st aid kit in the shop and in my truck. And I know how to use it. If I chopped off a finger I should be able bandage myself up well enough to get to help. My hubby did buy me a Spot a couple of years ago so I have the personal locator and ability to signal for help if I'm hurt (or if I'm unconscious hubby or emergency personal can track me) . It ups the chance of actually being found if something happens to me...I'm often in remote areas, thick, dense woods, steep ravines, etc. where you can be just a mile or two away from a road but would never be found. When I'm using the chainsaw or ax or other dangerous tools I try to be extra aware of safety precautions. I'll fell small trees, cut up smaller rounds, clear brush, and other smaller jobs on my own. I don't fell large trees or try to buck up large logs when I'm by myself. The danger of getting seriously hurt or trapped by a rolling log, or some other situation I couldn't get myself out of is much higher. So I don't do those things alone. If I was homesteading alone I think I would try to develop a network of friends with whom I could trade labor to help with those larger/ more dangerous chores. Or hire them out.
As for safety from other people/robberies/assult. That's hard to say. Some areas are safer than others. Other countries are going to have their own safe and not safe areas. There may be other possible cultural differences associated with a woman living alone. Hard to say without knowing a specific area you are considering. I do think rural areas are safer in general but not always. Some rural areas have real problems with drugs and the associate theft problems. Most of those are people looking for something they can easily steal, quickly fence for cash to buy more drugs. They are generally going to do for the low laying fruit, so a large loud dog, a long remote hard to find driveway, some basic fences and gates, maybe a camera or two and some signs will keep most of those away. It doesn't really matter if you live in the city or in the country both have their own dangers and their own types of security. Its more a matter of which you'd rather live with, understanding what the dangers really are for your area, making reasonable efforts to prevent the dangers, and then living your life without obsessing over the 1 in a million 'what if' type possible danger.
Yesterday I visited an alder patch and cut a bunch of saplings for a wattle fence project I have going on. The day before that I was home alone and spend a good part of the day cutting up and stacking an ash tree we felled in our yard. Last week I went out and cut some cedar posts for an arbor I want to build this spring. Today I worked on building some new planter boxes for our school greenhouse. There is always something I can spend a few hours working on. We just bought our property last year so there is a lot of work getting basic things like a chicken coop, potting shed, and fencing. Much of our space has been neglected for years and is basically an overgrown thicket of berry brambles, small saplings, various weeds, and the occasional struggling to hang on treasure from some long past garden. Scattered among the thickets are some piles of old rotting lumber and trash from some previous renovation and a few heaps of old moldering commercial fishing gear. So there is lots of work just to clear out some space for a few garden beds. This is just a small property and I'm lucky to not have the pressure of making a living off the land or making it pay for itself. I only work part time so I can devote a fair bit of time to my projects. Hubby works full time and his salary can support us. So I have more freedom than most. I garden, and forage, and fish, and hunt, and raise chickens, and process all types of food, and bake and cook from scratch, and build stuff, and sew, and craft because I enjoy it and want to live that lifestyle. I like being a 'part-time' homesteader with the security of knowing that I don't have to rely only on my property to feed myself or provide all my income. The added stress of that would take a lot of the enjoyment out of it for me. I like knowing that if I had too I could probably sustain myself. I have the knowledge, basic tools, and infastructure, etc to be self reliant. I enjoy having a freezer full of healthy, locally caught or raised fish, chicken, venison. The fall pantry lined with jars of things I grew myself or gathered from the surrounding forest gives me pleasure. I like the security of knowing that if something happened we have months worth of food put up. Even though I sometime have fantasies of chucking it all, buying a really remote property, and having a 'real' homestead; the truth is I don't think I'd really be any happier and don't really want all the extra work and stress making it my full time life.
I'd really recommend you try to 'homestead' on a smaller scale or part-time for awhile, especially doing it alone. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, living on a remote property, all by yourself, trying to do everything you need to survive. Maybe consider a smaller property, on in a place that has a the type of community you would like to be a part of (other homesteaders, farmers, ranchers, intentional communities, active community gardeners, or local food networks) whatever like minded people with similar interests. Even if you are living alone and doing most of your work alone you are still going to need some type of community even if that is only a friend or two who will check in now and again to make sure you're still alive. A network of folks you can trade or barter with, share labor on big projects, or someone you hire now and again, or trust to look after the place if you need to go away, etc. will go a long way to making the homestead life much more possible and enjoyable. Take some time to build up that community, build your skills, try new things and fail at them when the stakes are not so high. Figure out what you can and can't do own your own and then decide if you think you can or even really want to run a homestead by yourself.
|[+] dogs and cats » Most efficient meat to raise for dog food? (Go to)||jim loggin|
Not really, I've looked into it a bit but not in any depth. I know there are lots of different ways to set them up, much depends upon you ultimate goal. Do you want to primarily want to raise fish, do you want to raise plant hydroponically with the fish just a minor component, do you want to water a greenhouse or grow beds with fish waste, etc. I've thought the ecosystem model where you raise rabbits over a tank, fish eat the rabbit waste, water greenhouse plants with fish waste, feed plants to rabbits. You (or your dogs) get to eat the rabbits, fish, and plants. Just something I've though about doing someday...
|[+] dogs and cats » Most efficient meat to raise for dog food? (Go to)||jim loggin|
A good dual purpose laying flock can provide a fair bit of meat and eggs for the dogs. Get a nice dual purpose flock going. Keep broody hens and let them do the work of raising chicks for you. Feed the males and older hens to the dogs. Don't overlook the value of eggs for the dogs themselves. Mine get eggs when I have extra...or don't want to clean dirty eggs, or find a hidden stash I'm not sure how old they are. I just drop the whole egg, shells and all in their bowl. An egg or two every day would be a nice supplement to your Pyrenees diet. If you're keeping chickens anyway a few more hens so the dogs can get their share isn't really any more work.
I think I'd also do rabbits. A handful of does and a buck will keep you in baby bunnies pretty much year round. I've not raised meat rabbits personally but know several people that do and know that they can produce quite a bit of meat. An advantage of rabbits is you can keep them breeding year round and so could keep them live until its time to feed rather than raising and butchering something like ducks or chickens in a batch or a larger animal that has to be butchered and process in one go and then meat has to be frozen or canned. If you're feeding them to the dogs fresh you wouldn't need to do much for processing, just kill and skin.
If I was trying to feed my dogs entirely I'd likely do a mix. Chickens and ducks. Let the animals raise their own chicks on summer forage, then pick off a handful of the males each week through the fall and early winter. Keep the hens over the winter and feed their eggs. Main winter source of meat I think would be rabbits. Easy to keep in cages and so don't need too much space to keep a breeding batch all winter.
Also consider fish. An aquaponic system with some fast growing fish can be pretty efficient. It's another food source that can be kept live and running year round (if you have a protected area like a greenhouse to set it up in). Plus you can just net a few fish and throw them to the dogs whole...no need for butchering and storing. If you didn't want to keep the system heated and running all winter you could have a few outdoor pools or tanks growing out fish all summer, drain them before winter, and just freeze the fish whole. No need to fillet or even gut. Thaw out and feed the whole fish as needed all winter.
I don't know how you personally feel about starches for dogs. I think some types, like potatoes are ok in moderation. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams are pretty easy to grow and store well. Pumpkins and squash are another option. They do need to be cooked but boiling a big pot once or twice a week isn't that much work and could be a supplement to the diet especially in winter.
When I make up my canned dog food I usually add about 10% veggies. Potatoes, carrots, green beans, peas are some I use.
|[+] permaculture » Vertical wall gardening. (Go to)||Rebecca Norman|
I build some of those wooden pallet planters. I used heat treated wood pallets and stained the outside with a black stain, in the hopes that it would absorb more heat that way.
They'll be three years old this spring and the wood is holding up just fine. I live in a very wet place where everything rots quickly. Untreated wood left outside in the rain rots very quickly here. These seem to be holding up better than bare wood. I'm sure they'll rot eventually but they seem like they'll last at least awhile longer yet.
I'm not sure I'd really recommend them as a planting medium though. I've tried various vertical planting systems and haven't been all that happy with any of them. You can't get any volume of soil in any of them (these pallets are at least a bit better than gutters, hanging pots, or those hanging pockets/bags in that regard). Because there is so little soil and no really chance to develop any type of soil structure, mycrobial life, earthworms or insects providing nutrients for plants in these systems is a real problem. Solid organic amendments don't work (most of those need some soil life to break them down into nutrients the plants can absorb). You pretty much have to use liquid fertilizers. And quite frequently to keep plants healthy. Even with regular watering with compost teas and fish based fertilizer most systems I've tried developed some type of nutrient deficiencies. I don't really care for all the extra work and inputs involved in having to constantly fertilize these systems.
They all also have problems with drying out. Again small amounts of soil mean little ability to retain moisture, different soil mixtures can improve this some but all all prone to drying. Watering can be difficult and gravity naturally causes the water to run to the bottom of the wall, planter, bags, etc. So the bottom layers can end up too wet, while to top sections end up too dry. Almost impossible to keep good moisture content even watering every day or twice a day. And I have these problems in a very wet climate that gets tons of rain. In a hot, dry climate these would constantly dry out.
The fact that there is so much exposed surface area and little soil volume means that soil moisture and soil temperate is greatly effected by climate conditions. A few cool, wet, cloudy days and your planters end up being cold and waterlogged. A sunny afternoon means they heat up fast. A hot dry wind and they turn bone dry almost immediately. In climates with variable conditions or lots of swings in temperature your plants go from freezing at night to cooking during the day. These swings in soil temperature and moisture levels are not good for the plants so most end up stunted and under preforming.
It's hard to plant a good poly culture in these. Faster growing varieties seem to quickly shade out or strangle slower growing plants. Those lush, full walls with lots of different plants, textures, colors, etc don't stay that way for long. Most plants have roots that need more deep than these can provide. So you are very limited in what you can plant in things like the gutters, small hanging pots, or pocket systems.
In vertical planters where the plants are placed sideways (like the pallet planters and hanging pocket planters) plants seem to end up elongated and strangley as they try to turn upward to get more light or weight of leaves and fruits pull them down. Most plant stems are not designed to grow horizontal so they try to turn upright and get weird curves and turns in their stems as they fall over when they get too large, and then try to turn upright, etc. You end up spending too much time trying to rig up supports and keep new growth tied up so that steams don't fall over and break off with normal gravity. I think all this energy the plants use trying to fight gravity prevents them from really thriving. The normal stem and branching structure doesn't provide support when they are turned sideways. Vinning plants that are meant to grow this way and have their own built in supports (through holdfasts or twining habits or tendrils) do much better. Some plants like tomatoes can be encouraged to vine and do ok. Any plant with a naturally bushing form won't do well in a vertical system. Even most lettuce, greens, and herbs which is often what you see in these systems don't seem to do as well as they do planted in the normal upright fashion. At least that has been my experience.
If you set these up more like a hydroponic system where they are automatically watered with some type or nutrient rich water or fertilizer system they might do better. Something where they get a constant drip or mist watering and can be kept constantly watered to prevent the usual fluctuations. In a protected area where they don't get to much drying from wind, or too much scalding from hot sun, or too much cooling from night time temperature drops. Maybe in a very moderate climate or a climate controlled greenhouse. But in the real world they just don't seem to preform as well as good old fashion planted in the ground systems.
If all you have is a wall or balcony and you have the time and energy to give these systems the extra attention than you can grow some things. But if you have land and space to plant things in the ground they will almost always do better that way. If you want to grow food, almost all crop plants will do better in an in ground bed. At least that has been my experience with all the various vertical planters I've tried...which include the pallet planters, old gutters mounted to fences, various hanging pots and boxes, hanging bags, wall pocket planters, hanging upside down planters, and more.
If you want to pretty up a wall or fence these systems can work. There are some hardy annuals or landscaping plants like some succulents and grasses that can handle the stress and variable condition these type of planters provide. Or at least that is my understanding. I've not personally tried that route. I'm more interested in growing food and I've yet to find a vertical planter that excels at this.
|[+] chickens » New Chickens only want to eat layer pellets (Go to)||John Polk|
Chickens do seem to be creatures of habit and it seems to take them a bit to change their habits.
I've had luck introducing new foods by mixing it in with the old. Or giving them new food in the same dish that they already associate with food. It can take several times of offering a new food before one gets brave and tries it. Once one starts eating the others will usually follow.
If you want to try and get them to scratch and forage more you might try throwing their feeder pellets on the ground. Get them use to the idea that food has to be scratched up off the ground. Feed them the same time each day and they'll figure out that you'll be out to throw them food. So they'll be more likely to think anything you throw to them at that time is food. Then starting mixing in other grains or scraps in with the pellets. Then withhold the pellets and just give them the scraps you want them to eat.
You don't want to starve them but if they always have the pellets they'll just take the easy and familiar way out and only eat the pellets. You can just give then scraps, scratch, etc. in the morning so that they have to eat that or nothing. Also being a bit hungry will encourage them to scratch about and forage for food and bugs. Then at night offer them the pellets. You can just give then what you think they need based on how much else they are getting from scraps and forage. I've seen 1/4lb of feed per day per chicken as the standard. That way they are still getting the nutrients they need at the evening feeding but are a bit hungry during the day to make them more willing to try new things or go looking for food to forage.
|[+] wood burning stoves » Best axes and mauls? (Go to)||thomas rubino|
I'll put in another vote for the Fiskars Spitting Axe. It's been my go too splitting tool for the last couple of years. I've used heavy mauls but in general found then too heavy for me to swing well or too tiring. I'm a fairly strong, large woman but still don't have the arm/shoulder strength of a young lumberjack. The Fiskars has a nice shape that seems to help with splitting more so than other splitting axes I've used. It's also a nice weight that a can get a good swing and lots of velocity with. Its takes a few wacks on knotty stuff but I can get it to split most anything. I usually split a couple of cords of wood (mostly fir and spruce, with some cedar and alder) with this each season.
I also have one of these http://www.amazon.com/Timber-Tuff-TMW-11-Manual-Splitter/dp/B005C3J1L4/ref=pd_sim_86_3?ie=UTF8&dpID=21gw2ToulTL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_&refRID=1M80KRRES7MD1VS6C54M
Basically just a splitting wedge on a handle with a built in hammer. I used it quite a bit before I bought the Fiskars. It easily splits smaller rounds with one thump. It's also nice on stubborn rounds as you can just keep wailing on it until it works its was through. It uses a different motion than swinging so can be good to change up the muscle usage.