Shawn Jadrnicek wrote:Thanks for the tip on using boiling water to remove the glochids. That will save me a ton of time. The brewery said they would pay $1/pound but I don't have a lot of fruit yet so we'll have to see in a few years.
Wow, $1/lb is awesome! Last year, we collected over 50 lbs, just on the side of the highway in an hour or 2.
I just collected some Opuntia ellisiana pads for a cold hardy spineless prickly pear to grow here. I've been looking into a spineless variety for rabbit fodder. These should be good down to -10F or lower, which is colder than we ever get.
The most common form of spineless in my area is Opuntia ficus-indica, but it doesn't survive the few hard freezes we get, and dies back every year.
I collected a few boxes of pads while collecting fruit this year, and we planted them out recently. I think we had about 150 pads or so, only from the best fruit producers. We left these pads for several weeks in the shade to callous over, and many had started to root. We planted about a meter apart along the fence line.
1. bring a flame thrower when you harvest
-they have tiny fibers and you'll be itchy for weeks
-burn the suckers
2. process them quickly after harvest
-when you remove the fruit the fleshy inside is exposed
-doesn't keep long
I don't bother with flames, it's too much work. Just use tongs and you will be fine. Cook the tiny fibers and spines, they dissolve in hot water.
one thing is the babies come out pretty wild. If you want to tame them, catch them when they are small, handle them some, and keep those wings clipped! Give them mealworms, and they will be your best friends.
sorry I haven't kept up this thread, but here's a late update.
The quail experiment was a success, we raised several clutches that year. We were away from the place for a month last fall, and something got the quail, probably a dog or coyote, which also got a lot of chickens.
Since then, we've fenced a big area of the forest garden with orchard netting, and I want to get some more quail. I really think we stumbled on something big with the free-ranging idea.
Here's how I will do it again. Get a cage for each group of quail (best groups were 1 male, 3 females). This is their home base. It should be covered on at least 3 sides and the roof. Put a hanging feeder in there and a water station (chicken nipples on a bottle work well).
Clip their wings. Put the quail in the cage in a protected spot of the free range area, and leave them caged up for a week. Then, on a day when you will be there, open the cage, and just stand back and let them come out on their own, and give them space.
At the end of the day, they will probably be hanging around the cage, kinda herd them back in and close it for the night. Close them up at night and let them out like this for another week.
Then, just let them do their own thing. They will find their own shelters and nest areas, and just watch where you step. Keep their feed full, but they won't eat hardly anything, if they have plenty of space.
I figure each group needs at least 100 square feet, though the minimum might even be 400 square feet.
Anyway, hope to get some more quail soon and will update on how they do in this "free range" quail setup.
definitely Prickly pear, because they grow relatively fast and can protect saplings from grazing.
I like native acacias and palo verde, really fast, hardy N fixers. Mesquite is also good, if it grows in your area.
I like mulberries, they establish and grow really fast, making micro climates in as little as a year. They need a little water to get established, but once they get those roots down, they grow really well on their own.
Also look into some of the native currants, blackberry, agrita, 3 leaf sumac (companion to Junipers), and manzanita for shrubs
Sage and lavender grow well here without any water. I also like Johnsongrass in certain areas. I know most people don't like it, but it is really good for producing biomass (mulch) and wind break for small plants.
Tepary beans are more hardy in dry lands and produce well.
Deb Rebel wrote:Abe Connally, thank you for the grafting link. Seriously, thank you.
I really like the possibility of grafting cacti, even just for prickly pear. I need to test it out, but I could see where you take wild plants and graft improved varieties for fruit or vegetable production.
The first time I cooked it when I was a kid I expected to have to strain it
through an old cloth but I discovered that apparently the glochids dissolve
when the juice is simmered because they had completely disappeared.
This has been my experience as well. They are not an issue if you cook them.
Peter Heffernan wrote:Beware!
Prickly Pear rendered 58 MILLION ACRES UTTERLY UNUSABLE in Australia in the early 19th century, because birds so quickly spread seads everywhere!
Be very careful not to make the solution into THE PROBLEM!
To me, the situation in Australia and Africa with prickly pear is very telling. First, we took a completely non native plant, shipped it across the ocean (which took a while), and it ended up eventually colonizing the entire continent. Australia is not very hospitable, and if something can take over there, it will grow just about anywhere.
But, here's the deal. These things have spines. Native wildlife to the Americas know how to keep prickly pear in check. Australia didn't have that.
Had they imported a spineless variety, there would have been no issue, because the native wildlife would keep it in check (everything eats it).
To control it, and this is one of the most successful stories of regaining control of an invasive species, they imported a natural predator of the prickly pear. A few years later, and it was totally managed.
Anywhere in the Americas, you don't have to worry about prickly pear invasiveness, because we have natural predators here.
Steve Farmer wrote:Abe, what about other succulents. Aloe vera seems equally drought tolerant, self propagates by suckers, and has medicinal uses. Not as effective as windbreak or barrier as doesn't grow so tall or spiky, but is much much easier to handle. Agaves?
I'm putting aloes, prickly pears and soon agaves in at my patch where I'm planting trees. Also some other thing (pictured) that looks like a relative of the aloe but is absolutely rampant at propagating itself in the garden. Haen't yet observed how well it handles drought but I suspect it will be pretty good. For me without expert knowledge it's a case of throwing lots of mud and seeing what sticks.
yes, any of these are good. Agaves makes excellent borders and fences. They are all very good for erosion control, too, because they have a lot of surface roots.
All succulents are more efficient at producing biomass with limited resources than regular plants.
Gay Hullar wrote:Are all paddle cactuses that produce tunas considered Prickly Pears and are they all edible? Or are there particular identifiers for edible cactus? I see them growing all over here in Southern CA but I'm not sure if all are edible.
most are edible, though may not be palatable or good. Most of the ones raise for vegetable consumption are spineless (or reduced spines).
Devin Smith wrote:Ohh... I should mention the cages are 36" by 30". Would this still be too small for two does together? I currently have pet rabbits together that seem to get along great.
Also, my "in the freezer" amount is the amount of processed rabbits I hope to produce in one year in case anyone was wondering. I'm working under the assumption that one doe can produce 64 in a year, but I'm using the number 50 to be somewhat safe in my estimations.
Yes, that's too small. You need that cage as a minimum space for one doe.
I produce 450 butchered kits a year with 10 does. Once you get into a rhythm, 40+ kits per doe per year is easy to achieve. 64? Not realistic, and even 50 requires a good set up that as a beginner, you won't be able to achieve. Aim for 40, to be safe (things happen).
I wean at 4 weeks, butcher at 8-10 weeks. I have a cage for each doe, a cage for one buck, and 6 kit cages. (twice the size of adult cages). You don't need to separate kits by gender, but at 12 weeks, they will start to breed, so that's the cutoff for butcher kits.
For 200/yr, I'd do 5 does, 1 buck, and 3 kit cages. Every adult should get at least a 30x36 cage.
Tyler Ludens wrote:I actually didn't cook the fruit, only the sugar and water, to make syrup, which was added to the prickly pear and vodka infusion. But good to know the spines dissolve; they scare me.
I cook them to make the juice, just because it is the easiest way to get rid of the spines.
If you cook them in any recipe, like for your liqueur, you could cook them down to get the juice, there is no need to remove spines. The spines dissolve in hot water.
We make syrup in a similar way, cut and boil the fruit until you have juice, add sugar and a little lime. Boil for a few minutes, then strain. You could take that and add it to vodka or whatever you want at that point pretty easily.
I have a batch of wine brewing right now, interested to see how it comes out.
The mighty prickly pear. Great for vegetable, fruit, dyes, living predator fences, erosion control, medicine and drought insurance. Talk about stacking functions!
We've been making tons of jelly, syrup, and wine the last month, which was the hottest and driest August in over a decade, here. The prickly pear produced a good crop, and we've started integrating them into our property in many ways.
Opuntia are some of the most efficient biomass producers per unit of water input. This makes them suitable for many areas that are being hit with record droughts.
I've estimated that we could plant about 2,000 prickly pear around our perimeter fence and within 3-5 years, it will be an impenetrable wall of spines. These could produce several tons of fruit and pads a year.
On our swales and contour lines, we are planting spineless varieties, they require a bit more water, but grow extremely fast, 2-3 levels of pads a year. Non-irrigated patches can achieve 50 tons of pads an acre. We could fit at least 3,000 of these plants spacing a few meters apart.
Pruning these to have an open branching frame can greatly increase production.
They are super easy to propagate and require very little attention.
Just cut the pads at the node, let the wound callous over, and then stick in the ground. Plant every foot or so for a thick fence.
Here's a few of the different fruits and species in our area:
What you are missing is that there is a LOT of cement. Cement is not free, and you need a LOT of it. You also need a floor out of the same material, my floor is sand and the liner (which is cheap). The vinyl we use as a protection for the liner, you can use anything free for that.
I've built a lot of tanks, concrete, metal, brick, etc, and the reason why we developed the liner tank was because of cost. Don't ignore your time, either. Time is valuable, and it's a resource that should be considered. A rock tank will need at least 10X the labor as a liner tank.
A lot of plastics don't break down very quickly, especially when they are not in the sun. Concrete in the long run will crack, so you end up lining most concrete tanks eventually, anyway. The most common place for cracks is right at the base, where the walls meet the floor.
I don't agree that concrete is better than plastic for drinking, but that's just personal preference. Rocks can also be full of all kinds of contaminates. Same for sand and gravel, so be careful where you source things.
Seeing as that most plumbing for water is plastic, anyway, I have no problem with the plastic in our tanks. It's the cheapest, fastest way to store rainwater in large quantities.
Sarah Haas wrote:I'm curious if ferro-cement is actually better than a rock water cistern.
It's different, not necessarily "better". It depends on your needs/goals. A rock cistern is cheaper, but uses more labor and materials. Ferrocement uses less materials, but those materials are more expensive.
They are both plenty strong enough for containing water, if built and designed properly. Rock will likely crack easier than ferrocement, because it doesn't have the reinforcement.
you want to have as deep of a container as possible to hold more water, but also to provide some wind protection for the seedling. Those trays might fit the top of a bucket or deeper container and work as the funnel lid.
Don't worry about it growing up the center, that adds too much complexity. 2 shorter buckets (like 3 gallon ones) can make a protected area around a seedling is more flexible and easy to remove.
If you want to replicate this for cheaper, use a 5 gallon bucket set next the seedling with a funnel for the lid (make this easily with a bit of tarp or billboard vinyl). In the bottom of the bucket add a hole with a tube and a wick. Bury the other end of the wick to the side of the seedling. Mulch around everything like normal and fill that bucket.