I did mold inspections and remediation recommendations for about 4 years. What you are describing sounds fairly benign. When I did inspections, it was usually because there was visible water intrusion either from water line leaking/breaking, or poor manufacturing allowing water intrusion. If there is a concern about mold, the first thing I would do is look for water damage near the roof line, near the floor, or below any pipes that might be leaking. Water can travel an amazing distance if it finds a way into the house, but usually you will notice discoloration, swelling of materials, or a musty odor.
When I would test, it consisted of drawing a volume of sample air into a little device that captured all the particles in the air onto a microscope slide. I would do triplicate tests outside as a control, then triplicate samples indoors with all of the windows and doors closed. These slides were sent to a lab where someone looked at them and did the counts. An outdoor test is essential because the levels can be very high under certain circumstances such as hay operations, high winds, etc.
I didn't see the infamous Stachybotrys (black mold) or Aspergillus in the list, so that's good since these are the two of the most common toxic molds. All houses have a variety of mold spores and bacteria wafting around to some degree. This is not a bad thing since that's how I got my wild sourdough starter to start. Kitchens that have done a lot of wild fermentation of breads, cheeses and pickles will develop a signature profile of microbes that is very useful for continued fermentation of these products.
If your wife is concerned with these results, I'd suggest doing the same tests outside and inside during the same time period. I'll bet you a nickel that the outdoor ones come back with higher counts. I've seen that a lot in homes that condition their air or don't have windows open much. Without a control test, the ones inside won't tell you much, especially since the more toxic ones associated with water damage are not present.
Have you had any "water events" lately that would cause this concern? For the most part, mold needs a fairly wet environment (water leakage, condensation, etc.) to thrive so finding the water source and stopping it is the first step. If you do have water damage and mold, then remediation is more involved that just bleach so I won't go into it now since I'm not sure that what you have going on isn't just a typical household microbe profile.
Also, the pink substance on the shower curtain is a bacteria, Serratia marcescens, and grows on soap residue. It's a good idea to scrub that off if you can and it will come back so it's just an ongoing cleaning process.
I hope this helps. It's hard to give a definitive answer with so many variables.
I have had very poor experiences with Gurneys although I have not bought from them in about 15 years. The seeds were ok but the live plants....weren't. Moldy or dried out, generally a 80% or so death rate before they came out of the package. If they are under new management or some such that might change the outcome, but I throw out the catalog without even drooling on the pictures. Pinetree garden seeds gets most of the drool now.
I understand that part, and we will be making some of these for the wildlife now that I see how beneficial they are (although I still needed the chips for soil building). I like the idea of other uses for brush than burning it, which is what everyone does around here. Waste of good biomass.
Daron, as usual, this is a great thread and it's got me thinking about our new property and how to fit all five zones in. Most of our 11.5 acres is second generation evergreen forest. We are doing a lot of thinning of the tall, skinny trees that can't survive long but add to the fire danger. Our goal is to bring the balance back to something like a mature zone 5 forest. We already have the wildlife but the trees are not healthy and are a fire hazard.
Our current plan is to have zones 1-4 take up 1-2 acres near the house, incorporating some of the forest for cultivation of forest herbs so they will be visited more often but pretty much left alone. The land is flat so we'll need to build up to create some texture to the land.
A friend of mine is a landscape designer from Silicon valley area that I got hooked on permaculture last year. She will be visiting us this spring to incorporate her designs with permaculture principles for the area near our house. Her goal is to start incorporating permaculture in her designs for clients and hopes to use our property as a test bed. We will be documenting the process and taking a lot of pictures along the way. It should be a lot of fun exchanging ideas and coming up with a plan.
I would change only one small item under oil infusions. I would not suggest anyone make a garlic oil infusion due to the risk of botulism. If they know what they're doing by adding acid, refrigerating, and using within a week that's fine, but it is a real risk if left at room temperature for any length of time.
This is a good list, covers a lot of territory yet leaves the user to make the appropriate choice for his/her situation. I think anyone could learn a bunch by completing this.
I like the approach of having several to choose from under each category. I noticed that you have an infusion category and a tea category, which look the same to me. An infusion is 3-5 minutes steeping in hot water, usually for leafy herbs and flowers with volatiles. A decoction is boiled longer (20 min or so) usually used for roots and stems to extract non-volatile components.
An example is dandelion root. It needs more than just a few minutes to pull out the goodies. And peppermint will be ruined if you cooked it for 20 minutes, so an infusion would be better. Below are my suggestions.
Infusion: (30 minutes) Pick One:
- Make a journal page about the uses and attributes and and how to ID chamomile . Add it to the herb section. Post picture of your ID page in the book
- Make a journal page about the uses and attributes and recipe for a chamomile infusion.
- Make a chamomile infusion, with a picture of it being made, and of it being finished.
- Make a journal page about the uses and attributes and and how to ID Lavender . Add it to the herb section. Post picture of your ID page in the book
- Make a journal page about the uses and attributes and recipe for a Lavender infusion.
- Make a Lavender infusion, with a picture of it being made, and of it being finished.
Another flower? Peppermint leaf
- Make a journal page about the uses and attributes and and how to ID and grow peppermint. Add it to the herb section. Post picture of your ID page in the book
- Make a journal page about the uses and attributes and recipe for a peppermint tea infusion.
- Make a peppermint tea infusion, with a picture of it being made, and of it being finished.
Tea (15 minutes) Decoction (45 minutes)
- Make a journal page about the uses and attributes and and how to ID dandelion. Add it to the herb section. Post picture of your ID page in the book
- Make a journal page about the uses and attributes and recipe for a dandelion decoction.
- Make a dandelion decoction, with a picture of it being made, and of it being finished.
- Make a journal page about the uses and attributes and and how to ID ginger. Add it to the herb section. Post picture of your ID page in the book
- Make a journal page about the uses and attributes and recipe for a ginger decoction.
- Make a ginger decoction, with a picture of it being made, and of it being finished.
- Make a journal page about the uses and attributes and and how to ID nettle. Add it to the herb section. Post picture of your ID page in the book
- Make a journal page about the uses and attributes and recipe for a nettle decoction.
- Make a nettle decoction, with a picture of it being made, and of it being finished.
Thanks for the reminder about contaminated chips. That didn't occur to me since we haven't ever sprayed around our trees at our old house and the chips we will use at our new place is from forest patches that we are thinning for fire mitigation. Some are dead of natural causes and some are alive but living too close together so they have to go. This makes me even more concerned about bringing in anything to our site since we won't know where they came from and what's been added to the mix.
When we lived in the Denver metro area, we used the Ruth Stout method out of desperation due to the packed clay soil being virtually untillable. It was a good experience overall and there were benefits and downsides of course.
We built 5 50x4' raised beds by putting down whole flakes of straw or hay to kill the persistent grass and start to form some friable soil when the straw broke down. We'd do this in late autumn. It did kill the grass underneath but every year the grass would move back in. You may not have this problem.
Eventually we had 6-8 inches of raised beds with pretty darn good soil. The worms were our tillers and they brought up clay into the beds. We had a lot of small, black spiders in the straw which kept down pests. The spiders would scatter when I'd start weeding or planting so they weren't a problem.
As someone else mentioned, getting straw or hay that isn't contaminated with pesticides or herbicides is a big concern. I plan to use wood chips from our new property even if this will take longer to break down, and it's cheaper.
The straw/hay kept the soil moist but it also kept it cold so we'd have to pull it back from the tomato and pepper plants so they could get warm soil. Also, when we planted seeds, we'd have to pull back the mulch, plant, then re-scatter the mulch. Not a big deal on a small scale but a pain in the butt on larger scale. I did experiment with scattering the seeds in the spring onto the mulch and let them work their way down to the soil, but this was not hugely successful. Although, when we scattered garlic cloves in the fall into the loose mulch we got a ton of garlic the next year. This may be due to putting cloves in at the beginning of the cold season so they didn't grow until the spring, and in the mean time, winter snows, wind and breakdown of the mulch created the right environment for natural growth when it got warmer. Since that's the way nature does it, that might be a good experiment for the future with seeds too. Now that I think about it, plants that went to seed in the fall had lots of volunteers the next year.
In Chinese Medicine there is a whole category for herbs that stop bleeding and herbs that move blood (improve circulation, dissolve clots and bruises faster, etc.). There are two notable herbs that can balance moving blood and stopping excess bleeding. Sounds a bit odd but the combination is good in cases where there has been bleeding, subsequent clotting, and obstruction of healing. Getting the congealed blood out without causing more bleeding is a tricky thing, same with stopping bleeding without making a huge clot.
The first one in cat-tail pollen, which is available in a LOT of places in the U.S. growing wild. The entry from Bensky and Gamble TCM materia medica states under Functions and Clinical Uses:
-Stops bleeding: used to stop external bleeding as a result of traumatic injuries and various forms of internal bleeding such as uterine bleeding, vomiting blood, nosebleed, coughing up blood, blood in the urine, blood in the stool or subcutaneous bleeding. It has an astringent nature and is quite effective for stopping bleeding.
-Promotes the circulation of blood and dispels Congealed Blood: used for chest pain, postpartum abdominal pain, and menstrual pain from Congealed Blood.
The second one is Panax pseudoginseng. This is NOT the ginseng most people are familiar with, so you'd need to buy this from a place that specializes in chinese herbs. You can buy a small bottle of the powdered pseudoginseng that is typically for topical use and it's great at stopping bleeding. It can also be used internally and is very safe. The entry from the materia medica states:
-Stops bleeding and transforms congealed blood: used for internal and external bleeding including vomiting blood, nosebleed, and blood in the urine or stool. Because this herb can stop bleeding without causing congealed blood, it is very widely used.
-Reduces swelling and alleviates pain: this is the herb of choice for traumatic injuries and is used for swelling and pain due to falls, fractures, contusions, and sprains. Effective in promoting the circulation of blood, it is used for chest and abdominal pain, as well as joint pain.
Neither herb should be used internally during pregnancy. I keep a small bottle of pseudoginseng powder in my first aid supply. I have also used it on my dogs when they get a cut. Both powders can be placed on the cut directly and they work fast.
There are a lot of good responses here. I'd like to share two important therapies that have worked for me. Exercise and magnesium therapy. I know the title of this thread is foods for nerve and spinal cord damage so this may not be the best location, but here goes.
I ruptured the L4-L5 disc 34 years ago and the disc jelly was pressing on the sciatic nerves and causing excruciating pain jabs down the leg and creeping numbness. I was luck enough to have the orthopedic surgeon for the WSU football team do my surgery so it was the best for that time. It was a success but the pain continued for 2 more years with the doctors saying to rest more. Finally I realized they were wrong, got on a stationary bike and within 30 minutes the pain was reduced. Exercise is very important after an injury, but it needs to be done slowly, with thorough range of motion movements, and focus on how your body feels. You have to push, but not too much. Very hard to define since what this means changes as you heal. Once I started feeling better, I began doing weight lifting, especially dead lifts with light weights. The dead lifts strengthened the spinal erector muscles (among others ) so that my lower back would support itself, resulting in less pain. Good form is critical here so make sure that the posture is correct. I've also found that gentle yoga has been very beneficial for all of my joints, tendons and muscles. It even helped reverse the vertigo I've had for years by moving the crystals that form in the fluid of the ears into an area that doesn't result in dizziness.
I take a good magnesium supplement just below bowel tolerance (you will know when you reach it 'cause you'll get the runs!). But one of the most important treatments I use is transdermal magnesium therapy, which I do using two different methods. The reason I do this in addition to supplements is that my gut can't absorb enough for my bodily needs without unfortunate side effects. My skin will absorb a lot more without these side effects.
1. Epsom salt baths and soaks have already been mentioned, which are excellent and I do one every week. What's important is using enough salt. None of this cup or two in the bath. I use the whole 6 lb bag in my bath and I get it at Costco so it's not too expensive. Since the salt needs to diffuse through the skin, the concentration in the bath is important. Higher concentration means more can be absorbed in a set period of time.
2. Concentrated magnesium chloride: This is the heavy hitter than allowed me to walk pain-free from plantar fasciitis that made it excruciating for to walk, and I've had no pain in my back since I started using it. I use the bath salt crystals from www.ancient-minerals.com and make my own "magnesium oil." It's not an oil and I wish they wouldn't refer it as that. It is concentrated (apx. 50:50 MgCl2:water by weight) salt solution but it has a slippery feel. I make a quart of the concentrated solution, then dilute it down as needed. If you use the concentrated solution on your skin it can cause irritation but I've used it on my legs with no problem although it can leave an odd feel to the skin that some people don't like. I add this concentrated solution to my homemade lotion at the rate of 25% solution to 75% lotion and use it on my arms and legs after every bath. I find that the oils in the lotion counter the salt after it dries on the skin, and my body can continue to absorb the magnesium all day. This is the most cost effective use of the fairly expensive salt crystals. If I'm having localized muscle/tendon pain or cramping, I'll use some of the concentrated solution on the skin and follow with the lotion to keep the skin from drying out. There are lots of variations on using this salt and the key is to start slow with a small patch of skin, and work your way up to what works for you. Do NOT ingest the solution because that much magnesium would result in disastrous effects on the bowel. The ancient minerals web site has a lot of excellent information and I'd suggest reading all of it. There are also whole books on this topic so I've just relayed what works for me.
When my cousin was visiting last year, I told her about the magnesium and she put the concentrated solution on her knee that had been injured years before in a car accident and since then she used a cane to walk. She felt a reduction of pain within a few minutes and the next morning she could walk slowly and carefully without the cane. Sounds like a tall tale but it isn't. She's telling her friends who are in their 70s with varying amounts of pain and disabilities and it has helped all of them in reducing pain and helping with mobility. One of the least expensive and safe remedies that I have ever used.
If anyone is interested and has questions, I am working on developing more detailed notes about the magnesium therapy and the lotion I use.
I would model this after Traditional Chinese Medicine. TCM has been around for about 2000 years and doesn't require expensive lab tests to be effective. From my studies so far, treatments consist of appropriate foods, medicinal herbs, minerals, and some animal parts (although I don't recommend this as a rule - too many issues to go into here). Pressure point therapy and massage are of great value but I'm not sure this is the focus of discussion. I personally wouldn't recommend acupuncture for this application unless you want to go whole hawg with that and get good, complete training. That isn't something most people want or can afford to do.
So, focusing first on foods, herbs and minerals, and the all-important ability to treat the right ailment with the right medicine. Someone has already mentioned case studies and that is indeed crucial.
Where will you get your medicines? Not everyone can grow or forage for what they need yet that's a very valuable skill. I'd recommend starting out with some foraging for things like dandelion (one of my all time favorites), purslane, chickweed, etc. since those types of herbs are fairly prevalent. Of course the herbs have to be from soil that's not been treated or by the side of the road, so it can take some time.
Take your foraged herb (or purchased as the case may be) and make several preparations with it. For example, dandelion tops and roots have different functions. So make an infusion with the fresh tops and a decoction with the fresh roots. Then dry the roots and tops and repeat. Knowing what the herbs look like fresh and dry is important. You find out real quick that drying a whole root takes a hammer later to break it into small pieces for further use. Make a salve, a tincture, and other preparations from the same plant, which allows you to apply the herb in multiple ways (ingestion, inhalation, topical, etc). I think it's more valuable to know a few herbs or treatments well than know a little about a lot of herbs. Take garlic (yes please!). It is common and effective at treating viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections. Garlic dosage is important for these ailments so there is a lot to learn.
I would start people with basic, common, effective herbs for everyday ailments, then work up in complexity and severity. You don't want someone trying to treat an acute appendicitis with an herb tea or poultice unless you have NO other choice and understand the risk.
This is just scratching the surface though. I love the discussion and different ideas.
I like their selection of chickens and turkeys, which is most of what I've ordered. All of the birds arrived in the mail healthy and grew well. I like the fun of getting a mixed bag of turkey chicks so that I could see which breeds I liked the best. So far Narragansett is my favorite for disposition and size. They are fairly small so we don't need to wrangle a 20 lb carcass that's just too much for us in one cooking.
Rosemary, I know this is drifting away from the original post topic, but I'd suggest getting two books. "Wild Fermentation" by Sandor Katz (not a relative) and "Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast" by Ken Forkish. Wild Fermentation has so much good information and I always have home-fermented veggies in the fridge. Right now I have purple cabbage sauerkraut, cucumber pickles with dill and garlic, kimchi, pickled beets, and I just made a load of rainbow carrot pickles. Loads of probiotics without the huge cost, and as mentioned earlier, a way to preserve the harvest from the garden. We drink the pickled veg juice right along with eating the veggies because it's all good for you. The bread book changed my ability to make bread from barely edible bread that could be used in a street fight to about as perfect as can be imagined - the first time out.
Your approach to improving diet instead of taking medications is the smartest thing you could do. My husband and I are not in perfect health, but we're not on any medications and we're not exactly young any more.
I am using the bread making method from the cookbook Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast. This book was a game changer for making breads. I do a combination of my own starter (which is described in the book) and commercial yeast then the fermentation is at least a day, which adds sourness, other flavors, and I've heard is helpful in increasing the nutrition of the bread. This method of making bread makes the best toast I've ever eaten.
I've adapted the recipes to make my own rye w/caraway (50% rye, 50% white flour, all organic and from Azure) and it's amazing! Brine up some homemade corned beef, ferment some sauerkraut, and you've got a sandwich that's second to none. It's probably obvious that I love making food from scratch.
Hi Rosemary. I've started using Einkorn in my breads the past few months and I love it. I buy it in bulk from Azure Standard and grind it myself. I make fermented breads (French method) and have used up to 100% einkorn and the bread is a little heavier than straight white wheat, but it still has a lot of air bubbles and a good texture.
I plan to try growing some here once we set up our garden area.
This is a great post. Thanks for starting it, and I really like hearing about what others are doing and their challenges.
2018 was a big year with renovating our old house and selling our 2.75 acre property including my awesome garden (5 4x50' raised beds, 20x25' herb bed and tons of fruit trees and bushes) I've nurtured for 24 years. But, that got us out of the big city and into our 11.5 acres in the pines of northern Idaho. There is cleared land around the house thank God (fire danger and all). So this property is a clean slate for creating our permaculture oasis. Right now we're planning where our new shop/garden building will go as well as the greenhouse, the garden beds and the hugel mounds. It's a lot to consider but I'd rather plan carefully for the major items. The greenhouse will have geothermal heating and be somewhat below grade. The house was built with geothermal tubes going into the foundation and venting into the house and we freakin' LOVE it. It can be 14F outside and without any heat on (zero, zip, nada), the inside is at 54F in the morning. Or it's 95F outside and inside it's 72F, so no AC needed. I can't say enough about the cost savings of geothermal. Our house is well insulated so that's part of it.
We haven't decided yet on solar power for the greenhouse. The plan is to not need much except for lighting and running fans.
I don't know how much will get done this year but last year I didn't have a garden to speak of since we sold in early summer. I did get a lot of garlic from the garden but that's all. We were too busy to plant early veggies or greens and the garlic was from planting my favorite way the previous fall - "toss the sprouting cloves onto the beds and see what happens."
We've been working on the inside of the house since purchase so other than clearing a few hundred "pecker poles" and medium sized dead trees to thin the nearby forest we've not done anything outside. We plan to get the shop built, deer fence (or don't bother with a garden, tons of deer and elk), maybe get the greenhouse built, build a few garden beds, chip the wood except what we need for heating (which isn't a lot) then inoculate with mushroom spawn, build a couple of hugel mounds, and... good lord that's a lot to consider for this year. Ah well, I always work better with a little pressure and a lot to do. Whatever gets done, we plan to do it with some thought so that it doesn't need to be redone unnecessarily. Riding that line between planning and not getting anything done vs. building too fast and not liking the results or having to redo. I'm sure we'll have a lot of successes and failures but that's the fun.
I agree with Tina. I think many/most/all? have incidents in our lives that we look back and go "holy crap, what was I thinking?" I'm just sorry that it's affecting you so much now. My past may catch up with me as well some day, but I'd like to think that all of the good stuff I've done makes up for it on my personal "decent person" scale.
Daron, your first picture of the flowers reminded me that biennials like collards, chard, etc. have abundant flowers in the second year that the beneficial insects in my garden love. In the past I've harvested the leaves but left the plant intact and many would survive the harsh/dry Denver winter to bloom in the spring. It was a great way to support insect life and get free seed. Of course if I'd left all the biennials to bloom there wouldn't be much space for the new annuals so I'd leave select plants to bloom and plant annuals around them.
I really like the idea of mixing perennials, biennials (including a few the second year), and annuals. Every year the garden looked different and I could see what worked in combination, and what didn't. I found this to be fun and reduced the stress of trying to get the garden right. Every year there were successes and failures, but nature still provided an abundant harvest.
This is a great discussion. Thanks for starting it!
At our last property, and in the new one we're working on, I use perennial vegetables, berries and herbs as anchor points in the garden then every spring I plant annuals in between the perennials. Every year the landscape changes slightly as the perennials thrive (or not) and spread. There are usually larger areas for planting corn in blocks for good germination. Even in these "open" areas there was dandelion and purslane in abundance, both of which I harvest as wild greens and in the case of the dandelion, dry for winter teas.
I have found that having the annuals scattered a little throughout the garden reduces the pest load since the little buggers have to travel further from plant to plant. I've made it too easy for them in the past putting all the kale in one section then watching all the plants get destroyed in short order. I noticed a rogue kale in another bed was unaffected, so I realized that being a somewhat haphazard gardener has its benefits.
I have come to claim the bonus points for identifying Terry Pratchett's Hogfather book. My husband and I have all of his books, including the ones for kids because we were kids once, and still are some days. I loved it when Death had to take over for the Hogfather and hand out presents. And the flying pigs instead of horses was a plus.
There are some good responses here. I started out doing open fermentation (crock or similar) and had mixed success. Once I switched to a closed fermentation method, similar to homebrewing, my success rate went up drastically and the pickles tasted so much cleaner and better. I've used Pickl-it jars with good success but they are rather expensive. There are other mason jar based systems that are much less expensive, and we've made home-made ones by drilling into mason jar lids and fitting the lid with an airlock. The main process is to use an airlock in a closed jar of some type. This allows the CO2 from fermentation to escape, and not allow air and all the bacteria and mold spores in. The CO2 also fills the air space above the liquid, which prevents the growth of mold and bacteria that require oxygen. It's a lot less work too since there is no skimming or tending. You just let them sit and bubble away for days/weeks.
My current process is to remove the blossom end of cukes, which contains enzymes that can affect the fermentation process, then add garlic, dill, hot peppers if you like, himalayan sea salt, and non-chlorinated water. I've used fresh grape leaves but didn't notice a huge difference in the final texture. I should probably circle around on that one again now that I have more consistent results.
One thing that I've found for long-term storage (I have a fridge dedicated to pickles of many types) is that when I transfer from the closed system to a mason jar with a regular lid, the scum/mold can grow on the top over time, ruining the pickles. My pickled beets really got hit with a bad mold growth one year and it was sad. Now I add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar to each quart jar before I store them in the fridge. This has kept them clean and crunchy for many months. Obviously I'm not getting enough acid production from the wild lactobacillus to prevent mold growth, even though the pickled vegetables tasted quite sour. My next research in this will be to find a way to increase the final acid content naturally either by adding some type of sugar in the beginning, or adding whey, or using a lactobacillus strain that can survive at a higher acid level (my least favorite choice since it means I would have to buy a lactobacillus strain).
Definitely don't give up on fermenting veggies. It has had it's challenges but I've made some fantastic dill pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, beets, green beans, and mixed vegetable pickles. The sauerkraut using purple cabbage is beautiful and tasty. This is a skill worth learning.
This is of great interest to us and I am voting for you all the way. My husband and I just moved into an 11 acre parcel of forested land in northern Idaho and the first order of business is to thin the small trees, keep meadow plants down near the house, and take our dead wood and do something permie-ish with it.
Wildfire mitigation will be high on our list for a good long time as we add to our homestead.
I have had poor luck in the past with making both bread and pizza crust. Until I found the book Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast by Ken Forkish. You can find it on Amazon if interested and I highly recommend it to anyone. It has been the most influential cookbook I've owned. I now make bread that is better than any artisan bread I've eaten. It looks like the bread on the cover of the book. And it's all done with regular flour, water, salt, yeast. That's it. This book is all about technique although I do follow his recipes/proportions fairly closely. There is no kneading but there is folding and gentle treatment of the dough, which is very different than the abusive kneading I've heaped on past doughs. I cook the bread in a cast iron dutch oven and it's been perfect every time. He has a section on pizza dough that works very well for me, although I've used the bread recipes to make pizza dough and they were very good too, without using the 00 flour.
I started a wild sourdough using his instructions and have kept it in the refrigerator this last year. I don't like wasting most of the starter, which is usually recommended when you feed it, so when I add new flour and water, I immediately put it in the fridge to slowly ferment until I need it again, usually a week later. It's worked great.
So in essence, I've found that ingredient ratios were less important than technique.
I agree about the hail nets. The only reason my tomatoes survived is that they were in cages, which at least kept them from being flattened completely. Nickel sized hail will do that.
We're looking at moving in the next year back to my old stomping grounds in eastern Washington/Northern Idaho. Too much heat and damaging weather here for my taste. Losing your whole crop to hail (which has happened in the past) isn't my idea of sustainable since it's my main source of veggies.
Here in Denver (south of the jet stream) it's been hot and dry. Except for some hail storms a month ago that stripped my tomatoes down to stems and beat the heck out of everything else but the garlic. Almost everything is coming back due to the hot weather but it will be a delayed harvest for sure. I don't think that this is unusual for the Front Range in Colorado but it's sad to see months of work get beat up.
I'd be very careful about harvesting and using willow bark until you've researched it more. The potency of the bark may vary with time of year it's harvested, how it dried and stored, etc. Not that I'm trying to discourage you by any means, but knowing more about the subject is always a good idea.
If you're getting tension headaches maybe something to try would be topical magnesium chloride on your neck/shoulders to see if you're headache is due to muscle cramping from magnesium deficiency. I use concentrated mag chloride daily on my skin (do NOT ingest this unless you want an epic case of the runs) since I seem to be chronically deficient and get muscle cramps if I don't use it regularly. I can give more details if you're interested.
We use a homemade lotion with non-nano zinc oxide powder added and it works very well in our Denver sun. It also doubles as a deodorant that works amazingly well. We're both northern European descent and don't tan at all.
For any skin damage from past exposures, we use frankincense oil once or twice a day on any spots. It takes a few weeks/months but we've both had some odd spots/growths go away permanently after the frankincense treatment.
For a shop-specific first aid kit I would have the following:
- bandaids of course, including butterfly bandages and knuckle bandages
- finger splints
- eye patches or eye cup: if someone gets debris in the eye that you can't get out it's important to patch the eye until you get to a doctor to stop eye movement and blinking that may abrade/damage the cornea
- tweezers for removing splinters
- antiseptic wipes
- sterile gauze roll and various size pads: I put my pads in a Ziploc so that I can see what I have and it's waterproof
- tape, various widths
- a big triangular wrap to stabilize an arm/shoulder injury
- tube of disinfectant ointment, although I usually do fine with cleaning the wound well and dabbing the cut with lavender oil for it's antiseptic properties
If you're working with any chemicals (batteries, caustic cleaners, etc.) then I strongly recommend eyewash bottles or even a portable eyewash station. You usually don't get second chances with eye damage.
Sorry to hear about the pneumonia. My husband and I got bacterial pneumonia two years ago right about this time. I've studied and practiced Western and Chinese herbalism for several decades, but we both went to Dr. and got the antibiotics because I have asthma and like to live. We both lost our appetites due to the antibiotics and being sick and lost a fair amount of weight. Alas, mine came back.
I also had my Dr. wondering when I went to the clinic and told her that there was fluid in my lower right lung. She checked and sure enough it was there. I don't know why they think some people don't know their own bodies. Seemed pretty obvious to me when I could feel air bubbling in and out as I took a breath.
You've already received a lot of good suggestions for herbs and food and I definitely agree with the garlic but I'd like to add a preparation method that I learned from my Chinese herbalism teacher. Take a bulb of garlic (not clove, a bulb or as much as you think you can stand). Peel and slice thinly. Steam in a small amount of water for 30 seconds. Test a piece to see if it's lost it's "bite" and keep cooking for 15 seconds until the bite is gone but generally not more than a minute total. Raw garlic can be a touch hard on the stomach but this mellows it without killing the active ingredient. Eat the steamed garlic on what ever food you can manage. I usually steam/cook mine in a little butter and pile it on a piece of bread. I crave this combination when I'm sick and it really helps and has never upset my stomach. This can be done daily until you're better or you're sick of garlic
I found that when I was getting over the pneumonia I was so tired like someone drained out my energy and I couldn't seem to get it back. And ironically I had herbs on hand that could have helped but I couldn't think straight enough to prepare some. That's when I discovered chaga mushroom extract. OMG after the first few doses I could feel my energy coming back and the next day was noticeably more human. I now extract my own chaga and keep several bottles in the freezer. My husband and I take some daily, and I give some to our aging dogs and cats. It's helped them a lot too.
I have been making my own deodorant for several years now and it's very easy and inexpensive. I mix a small amount of micronized zinc oxide (NOT nano) with my lotion until it get thick. You can get a bag of cosmetic grade zinc oxide on Amazon for $6-10 and it will last for years. I only apply a small amount to cover the pitular area and it works for days, which no other deodorant has been able to do for me. This is essentially the same as the NOW brand cream deodorant that they no longer sell so I started making it myself. It also helps with any rashes or skin irritations.
The beauty of this is that I can use the same technique to make a nice sunscreen. I just use less of the zinc oxide so that I don't glow white. We get some wicked sun here in Denver due to altitude and it protects my German/Irish skin very nicely.
My advice as an ex-activated carbon researcher is that you will want to fill up all the available adsorption sites in the biochar before putting it in the soil. Biochar is not activated (which increases pore volume and activity of sites) but it can adsorb a LOT of nutrients. Over time the pores will become colonized with bacteria and other nice bugs, but initially it could pull nutrients from your soil instead of enhancing it. Your idea about soaking it in a compost tea is a good one. Maybe add extra fertilizer (dissolved bat guano for N and seabird guano for phosphorus) to the tea and whatever isn't taken up by the char can be spread out into the rest of the garden.
My first try at growing these didn't work due to heat and sun killing the plant so this is the first year that I'll be growing them in pots under the tree. Assuming that some do well, I'll try the overwintering technique. I like your plan to try storing them three ways.
I'm not sure about frost hardiness. One reference says to put them out in early spring and another says late spring. If you find out anything more definitive I'd be interested. We have 2-3 good months of decent springy/snowy/you-name-it weather so I'd hate to lose all that growing time if they're frost tolerant.
I'm growing dioscorea batatas in Denver (zone 5). From what I've read, it can't survive below a zone 5 winter, but you can get a good crop in one season.
After germinating and growing them up a little, I transplanted them into apx. 3 gallon pots and put them around a tree to grow up into. We're on solid clay here - picture daikon radishes growing out of the ground instead of into it, so I figured that taking the root out of a pot would be a lot easier than digging. I did some research on them and the first year they will produce a very nice size root that stores well. You can cut off the top of the root and replant it in the spring. This method won't get you the HUGE roots, but it may still be worthwhile. I just read today that someone harvested the aerial tubers and ate them like new potatoes. Maybe I'll just bring a few potted ones into the garage to winter over and see what happens....
This is the second year that I've grown them and the first year to try this method. I hope it works well. The first year was in a raised bed near the porch and the poor thing got sunburned here in Denver, which is why I'm trying the partial shade under a tree method. I'd be interested in your results also.
I've been growing a ziziphus spinosa for several years in the Denver area. The tree is still small at about 4 ft after about 4-5 years of actual growth. It stayed so small when I planted it that my husband mowed it down several years in a row so it's a tough little tree. I haven't gotten any dates yet. It is always the last tree to leaf out, usually late May. It has full south/west exposure and gets a lot of sun and heat.