I had to make the same decision last year and with living on a suburban lot, I don't have the space to simply dig a hole "somewhere" and bury unwanted organics. Buying a shredder/chipper made a lot of sense. I also thought I'd only use it a couple times a year chipping the odd large branch that fell from one of my maples but as it turns out, I fire it up at least half a dozen times a year to mulch garden/yard waste.
I tried kombucha (Health Ade organic/raw ginger lemon) for the first time last week and liked it so much I used the "mother" from the bottle to start my own SCOBY. I'll definitely be watching this space for updates on others' starters!
I like name for the farm and the little site you have going there. Were the structures there when you moved in?
Very cool series on starting mushrooms. I've seen others use this technique for mushroom cultivation but have never seen the process. Were you looking to do this on your property? It makes me wish I had my place out in the woods already!
There's a great app I use for iOS devices called Sun Seeker. It's an "augmented reality" app which, if you haven't heard the term before, superimposes data on whatever the camera is pointing at. In this case the sun's path, like so:
Though I often have to calibrate the "compass" for the actual sun's location, it's an amazing visualization tool-- you can even change the date and time to see where the sun is at that particular instant. It may not be dead-on precise, but it has been more than good enough for me to use on a cramped suburban lot to understand what may occlude the sun at various times of the year in different part of my yard. I'm not in any way affiliated with the author; I'm just sharing a tool I find very useful!
Glad I wasn't the only one working on the garden during that amazing reprieve! I procrastinated on planting garlic this fall so all last week, I had a storm door placed over one of my raised beds with straw and leaves shoved under the door edges for insulation. I'd never experimented with season extending techniques, but the idea here was simply to harness the sunny barely-above-freezing days to hopefully thaw the soil out enough to plant on the next warmish day. "It's crazy enough to work!" I said.
Monday came and I was delighted to find that the soil was a balmy 40 degrees 8" down! Good enough for garlic, good enough for me! The soil under the insulated portions of soil were still frozen for about the top 4" but thawed underneath, which indicates to me that the door and litter insulating the top of the bed caused any heat gained during the day to escape laterally through the wood structure of the bed in the evening. I planted 5 cloves of elephant garlic, 29 cloves of Spanish Roja, 32 cloves or early Italian purple, and 31 cloves from the Duganski garlic I grew last year, naturally all organic. Hopefully this year is as productive as last year, my first year growing garlic.
Destiny Hagest wrote:We actually cut ours in the forest, I've never been to a tree lot! It is a really fun tradition. Our son is almost two, and we've been going since he was born, bundling him up in the baby carrier and hoofing it through the woods with him.
When we go next year, I hope that I'll be able to do the same. You have to drive quite a ways out of the suburbs to find a place to cut one without trespassing. Hopefully we'll be able to do this on our property someday!
If you're planning on acquiring discarded trees for hugelkultur or what-have-you, be aware that many trees are sprayed with fire retardants, particularly if they came from a big commercial tree lot or a place that sells such things. Most of these are of questionable value to the planet, but some are advertised as "green" or "biodegradable".
Edit: OP, you're not crazy! As a kid, I loved taking the trip to the tree lot, hunting for the perfect tree in shin-deep snow, dodging in and out of the trees and hucking snowballs at my dad and brothers, helping cut the thing down, etc. It was a family tradition that I intend to repeat with my own young family. We have been enjoying a nice hand-me-down fake tree but our daughter will be 2 next year and I'd like to expose her to the same things I enjoyed growing up.
Steve Taylor wrote:Companion plants looks awesome, but I don't want to drive to Southern Ohio so I hope the mail order option works out.
Companion Plants is great! This year, I ordered 5 rose-scented monarda (Monarda fistulosa x tetraploid) plants from them and they were packaged very securely and arrived quickly in excellent condition. Big thumbs up for this nursery if you can't make the drive to Athens.
Steve Taylor wrote:This post will discuss some good things already happening in Akron Ohio and the surrounding area.
Country Side Conservancy is just North of Akron and a program through the Metro Parks to rent out homes surrounding the metro parks for Small scale family farms.
In Bath Ohio there are Nun's that run an organic plant sale. I would have to search for their farm name. I believe it's connected to Stan Hewitt Hall.
City Fresh is an affordable farm fresh produce delivery service available to the community. Not sure of their current status though.
Keep Akron Beautiful is an organization that plants flowers (some perennial) around the city and by many intersections. They could be instrumental in Akron's Permaculture revolution.
Salsbury-Schweyer Inc is a Akron Based Business run by Permaculturist that has worked with the city to promote better storm water management strategies.
Thats all for now. I plan on continuing to brainstorm this on Permies in hopes it will help.
I'll have to check out some of these organizations; I never realized there was this much going on in my back yard! Just after reading this, I happened to catch a blurb about Salsbury-Schweyer's upcoming Winter PDC on Facebook :tinfoil:
Corey Schmidt wrote:what is the 3 seashells method?
For anyone else that just came across this thread, read that, and wondered the same thing; it's from Demolition Man:
For those still curious, the origin of three shells comes from screenwriter Daniel Waters, quoting this source:
I'm paraphrasing, Dan said: "I won't tell you the actual secret, but I'll tell you where it came from. There's a scene where Stallone has to use a restroom. I'm trying to come up with futuristic things you'd find in there. I was having trouble, so I called my buddy, another screenwriter across town, asked him if he had any ideas. Ironically enough that guy was taking a dump when he answered the phone, looked around his bathroom and said 'I have a bag of seashells on my toilet as a decoration?' I said 'Ok, I'll make something out of that.'"
I grew garlic for the first time last year in my suburban raised garden. It was more of a whim when a colleague offered to split a small box of Duganski, a hardneck garlic from the local garden center. I got an impressive 13 cloves from my one bulb and planted them all late November, 2" deep in compost in a heavily mulched raised bed. You can imagine my joy when I saw 13 little leaves poking through the soil that spring, reaching up through the leaves for what passes for sunlight that time of year.
That summer, I made a bit of an error in letting the scapes mature too much before trimming them, as they had plenty of time to toughen up. This is the first mistake I made that I won't repeat next year! It was still nice to be able to taste the spicy, garlic-y sap that ran from the cut scapes. I pulled the garlic when half of the leaves on most of the plants were dying back (around mid/late-August if memory serves; I need to get better at record-keeping!) and hung them upside-down in bundles of 3 from the tire rack in my garage. None of them were smaller than a child's fist.
I took the garlic down the first week of September, perfectly cured. After trimming them up, they looked like anything I could get at a farmer's market. The flavor was amazing: earthy, spicy, pungent and garlic-y. I was hooked!
I'm planning on planting cloves from 4 or 5 of my best bulbs this year; but given that I just picked the last of my peppers that share a bed with the garlic last week, I haven't had time to do my fall cleaning yet so I find myself full circle.
Lee Gee wrote:They are AMAZING at absorbing huge quantities of vitamin D3
Perhaps you're thinking of D2. Mushrooms contain the vitamin D precursor compounds ergocalciferol and dihydroergosterol, which vitamins D2 and D4 are derived from, respectively. D3 is derived from animal sources and I'm not aware of mushrooms containing dehydrocholesterol, the precursor to D3.
That reminds me of one of my volunteers, which developed wispy white hairs (which were exceedingly hard to capture on camera). I know you're not the biggest fan of tomatoes, Joseph; but to me this cross has excellent, sweet flavor and a fair split between meat and gel. Size is about a golf ball. Based on the flavor, I believe one of the parents was Yellow Rave, a hybrid I grew last year; and who-knows-what. I also grew Early Girl, Juliet hybrid, and Chocolate Cherry, but the genetics could be from anywhere in the neighborhood.
I wonder if your sensitivity for tasting the poisonous compounds in tomatoes is similar to the variations in brain chemistry that lead some people to interpret cilantro as a fresh and lime-y and others to taste soap and bleach. I was in the latter camp until I read about "training" your brain to like cilantro. I grew some and nibbled a little each day and it didn't take terribly long to really appreciate the flavor, which eventually developed to the point where I can't taste the soapy bleachiness at all.
I stand corrected. I didn't realize that prices were so regionally variable or that someone would think they could get that much for composted sewage (and all the prescription meds that come with it). Although if I sought to break even on my own compost vs. consulting, I'd have to charge $300/yd. I should thank my lucky stars that there are so many vendors competing for compost in my area!
A yard of dark topsoil blended with compost shouldn't cost more than $19 - 25 per cubic yard unless someone's looking for a chump to make a payday (or you're really far out I guess). This is what I use to start new raised beds when we're not going to be on the property long enough to wait for deep sheet mulching to pay dividends.
I would also encourage you next spring to (if you can) wait for the grass to go to seed before you mow for the first time. Make sure you de-thatch it somewhat this fall after you mow for the last time so the seeds can make soil contact. It's supposed to cut down on snow mold infection as well, but I never have a problem with it.
Gilbert Fritz wrote:Probably you already know this but . . . make sure it is not Poison Hemlock or Water Hemlock! They look much like Queen Ann's Lace/ Wild carrot, including the flowers.
That's why I like to affectionately call it "Queen Anne's legs", since QAL has hairy stems and the toxic lookalikes do not (if I recall correctly). Easy for the young ones to remember, too, so long as they're aware that shaving the legs was not a thing in 16th century England.
As Mark above said, cracking your digestion vessel open to monitor the contents *will* release disgusting septic tank-like odors into the vicinity that you wouldn't otherwise have with an aerobic process. Other than the odor and difficulty monitoring the pile without sampling said odor, I imagine it's not as popular because it doesn't destroy pathogens or render seeds inert, it takes much, much longer to finish a batch, and you can't really add anything to the batch after it's started. When an aerobic pile really gets going, you can throw new material into the center of the pile and not worry about it.
However, if local regulations prevent an open-air pile and you'd otherwise be "shipping" your unused organic materials elsewhere, anaerobic decomposition is a good option. I would contend that a little civil disobedience is the best option given that a properly maintained aerobic pile smells like fresh fall leaves at its worst and nothing at all at it's best.
I considered a similar idea to store sap in my broken 11 cu. ft. chest freezer during the early spring. I figured I could probably fill some 5 gallon cat litter pails with water and leave them outside to freeze solid in the winter, then toss them in the freezer for sap season before daytime temperatures are predictably above freezing. They stack really well and you shouldn't need any insulation other than what the freezer its self provides, unless of course I'm missing the point of this thought experiment.
Thanks for the prompt replies on the oil/toothpick thing. I always put a bit of yeast nutrient in anyway, and I've never had to intentionally aerate my cider-to-be to get a hefty fermentation going 24 hours after pitching.
John, I forgot to mention that I love that your example glass of fizzy cider since that's how I make mine. Not everyone is into fizzy cider (those poor souls!), but I like to prime for around 3 volumes of CO2 in my brews, which end up shooting the swing caps off when you open them and it sparkles like champagne. Love it!
On another note, has anyone ever made pink cider? I read about the nutritional benefits of pink apple juice through an article on a well-known organic gardening magazine's website and wondered how well it translated from juice to cider. Obviously boiling the apples to extract more nutrients will set the pectin, so you'd likely want to use a pectic enzyme if you care about clarity and don't care about 100% organic (at least I don't think pectic enzyme is organic though I may be wrong).
Other than the obvious use of compost and food for critters, what do yall do with the leftover pomace?
I've been making apple cider using pressed juice from one of the local orchards around me (Rittman) for 4 or 5 years now. Those of you getting apples from someone else, do you have any tips on how I might coerce my local orchards to get their seconds, or at least get my hands on some unpasteurized juice? I'd really like to put together a macerator and press in order to be "closer" to the final product.
Let's share some recipes! This one's my favorite non-seasonal "go-to" so far:
Assuming a 5 gallon batch of cider, add 1/2 c. fresh squeezed lime juice and a quart of very very dark brewed black tea for tannic complexity.
The original recipe also called to dip the tip of a toothpick in olive oil and swirl it in the mixture. I don't understand the need for the addition of less than a drop of olive oil, so if someone else does, please educate me!
I actually have the exact same problem. I have 96 sq ft. of 15" high raised beds on my small suburban plot and the soil volume lost year-to-year is about the same amount of soil I make from my own yard waste. This'll be a problem when I add another 24 - 40 sq ft of bed next year. Sand is great for drainage, though I've never had drainage problems with my compost-enriched soil. Perlite does the same at the cost of money and being non-renewable, so I only use it to fluff up my sterile seed-starting mix (considering substituting coir). Here are a few ideas off the top of my head:
Bury brush/sticks/whatever organic yard waste you can't process easily for compost like a micro-hugel
Grow cover crops throughout the year and chop/drop as needed. Throw these on the pile or compost in-place. I'm thinking of trying some hairy vetch and winter pea this fall
Mix desired volume of clean soil from elsewhere on your property into the compost. You'll increase biological diversity in the compost and kill latent weed seeds while you're at it
Find clean, external sources of compostable material-- Amit (howdy, fellow Ohioan!) mentioned lawn waste but let your imagination run wild: coffee grounds and food scraps from a local cafe or diner, spoiled straw or hay (especially alfalfa!) from local farmers, damaged produce from the farmer's market, stale bread from bakeries, wood scraps from the local firewood guy, sawdust from the local sawmill
seasonal compostables (there are a LOT of rotten pumpkins around after Oct 31st if your pile isn't frozen)
I'm pretty sure it's an umbel of some sort. It looks a lot like poison hemlock; but the stem has more solid (as opposed to mottled) purple than what you'd normally expect, more akin to the stem color of Angelica atropurpurea. Unlike Angelica, though, the leave shape is similar to carrot/parsnip/parlsey cousins. Hopefully someone can chime in with something more definitive.
I figured with as many people introducing themselves in this thread lately, it's a good time for me to finally do so. I live in the Akron area on a suburban lot less than a tenth of an acre. I've been growing perennial flowers for several years on our lot and a couple years back, decided that I wanted to start square-foot gardening out of raised boxes. That first year, I made a lot of mistakes but I got a decent yield. The bug bit hard, and I was hooked. In preparing for next season, my quest for knowledge sparked in interest in permaculture and growing "better than organic". The second year, armed with a yard of compost entirely from our site, I stopped fertilizing and stopped using even OMRI-listed insecticides since I no longer had an insect problem after I stopped chopping out the "weeds" that grew elsewhere on our property. I had a nearly effort-free garden bursting with productivity, and veggies were rotting on the plants faster than I knew what to do with them (more for the critters, right?). Since then, I have been working to close other inputs and try out other permie/homesteading activities on my property. I learned of Paul Wheaton and permies.com after mentioning permaculture to a workmate in a conversation about gardening.
My wife and I just had our first girl in December and our current 3 - 5 year plan consists of saving up for a new place with some real acreage (and lower property taxes) somewhere out-of-the-way. I'd like to grow my network of local permies and expand my own knowledge and experience and at some point in the near future, find the time to take a PDC.
Like Paul used to be, I am currently unhappily employed as a sr. software engineer for a major diamond retailer (such a scummy business; how's that for internal strife?). Short term, I'm trying to find a remote job which will jibe better with out-of-the-way living goals before trying some sort of transition to homesteading income. In short, I'd like to quit my job, live cheaply off my own paradise by my own hand, and piss where I damn well please.
Mike Cantrell wrote:Up until recently, my first thought would have been, "Ok, fine, you can build an awesome machine if you've got an awesome machine shop".
In other words, " nice job, guy, way to ignore $8,000 in equipment and five years of experience when you tally up your costs. "
I thought the same thing when looking at homemade sawmills and in the process stumbled on a DIY combination lathe/mill/drill press that could be built for a few hundred bucks (or potentially free) with instructions found at at http://opensourcemachine.org/. The gist is that it leverages the precision of the piston bores in junk engine blocks and you build from there. The engineer in me is skeptical about the precision of such a machine. so take this with a grain of salt. I haven't built one, don't know anyone that has, and I haven't seen one in action personally.
I registered to post my love for magnesium oil. While it feels oily, it's actually a highly-concentrated salt dissolved in water. When you first start using it, it stings for a few hours after application. I'd compare it to a good, red sunburn. It was uncomfortable at first, but I waited it out as it declined over two weeks. Ever since then, it's been a painless, effective deodorant. However, if your underarms are moist, I've found that it can still cause a slight sting. Therefore, I stongly recommend that you completely dry your pits before application.
I like to mix 15 drops of cedar oil in with my Mg oil and keep in a 2oz. spray bottle. I found that the oil is more effective if I first spray a mixture of one part apple cider vinegar to four parts water, let it dry, then follow it up with a couple sprays of the oil.