Fellow Belgian here, but now an expat in Italy. Such a treasure to own a piece of land in Belgium big enough to have a decent garden on it! It’s one of the reasons we moved to Italy. Property prices in Belgium are just getting ridiculous!
In any case, I look forward to seeing and hearing more about your garden. It looks great! I think water management is going to be the biggest challenge for Belgian farmers, as droughts are becoming an increasing problem in Belgium and being usually such a wet country, the Belgian infrastructure is grossly underprepared for dealing with these droughts! I’ve heard this year might be the first where several villages might temporarily be without running drinking water. Can you imagine?!
Good that you are doing your research to be prepared!
I don’t know if you’re familiar with YouTube channel of Edible Acres? They recently did a clip about how they dealt with drought at their permaculture nursery and I found it very inspiring! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crxppjyGCAM
I have an ant hill at the base of one of my fruit trees, and it seems to be actually making the tree healthier.
I also have some veggies growing near and out of the ant hill, and they are among the most healthy plants of their kind. I tossed some seeds onto the ant hill on purpose when I planted them just to see how they would do.
Was also reading the other day on how ants prey on and can help control a large amount of fruit tree pests.
As long as the ants don't overwhelm everything, I'm planning to let them have their place in the food forest.
To be honest what you’re saying was my initial thought as well, that the ants might actually be beneficial in keeping off other pests from our trees, because what insect wants to mess with a bunch of ants?
But then a lot of people were telling me I should get rid of them because they could damage the trees, so then I got worried about losing my trees. And now I don’t know.
I’ve scooped of the tops of the anthills, and while I think that will have slowed them down a bit, I don’t think I’ve killed the colony. I think I will now just keep an eye on things to see how things develop.
Orin Raichart wrote:the ducks I grew up with, mallards, could fly if they really needed to...don't clip their wings and they'll be just fine
I realise they probably wouldn’t get too hurt from falling off, but once they’re off the cliff it is quite impossible for them to get back up and they will most likely wander off (towards the road where they might get overrun by a car) I don’t want to lose my ducks, and I can’t keep an eye on them constantly to see if they went off and go to retrieve them.
So basically what I’m asking is, would they avoid to go off the cliff, or would they do so without hesitation, resulting in me having to go get them every time.
When we bought our property last winter, the owner had always religiously trimmed the weeds and grasses on the property to make it look nice for sale. Then spring came and Covid 19 happened and we couldn’t visit the property for more than 2 months. So when we finally were able to go back, after a particularly warm and dry spring, the weeds that were normally trimmed almost to ground level had now grown almost to armpit lengths.
The fact that the plants had been able to grow unhindered by cutting was already very educational, because it showed much more clearly where the soil had retained a lot of water and where it hadn’t. The height of the plants also showed me where the soil condition was richer and where the poor soil (or total lack thereof) stunted the growth of the plants.
For example, my clay slope where I planted my orchard seems to have retained a lot of moisture, and despite it having been the driest spring in 40 years, all of my trees (except one) and the abundant growth of weeds were totally fine. Although I expected the slope to have issues with water runoff, due to the very thick vegetation growing on it, whatever rain there was, managed to seep into the soil and stay there.
Now because our property has many different microclimates due to it being two sides of a valley with several springs and a creek running through it, and variously oriented dry stone walls. Basically I have learned that despite some pieces of land being really close to each other, the microclimates and soil conditions appear to be vastly different even just 5 meters apart.
I have noticed there are a few different areas that have significantly different vegetation growing naturally on it. I’ve marked them on the map by circling them with different colours. Here’s what I’ve noticed on the different plots. I’m still a novice when it comes to weed-reading so I would love your help with this!
Starting with the blue encircled plot:
This plot is steeply sloped and gets sun in spring/summer morning to midday. It is generally a humid part. The ground is made up out of lots of big rocks that do absorb the sun’s heat in the morning generously, releasing it slowly over the day. We have wild strawberries spread out al over the property, but nowhere near as abundantly as here. It is basically one big carpet of wild strawberries, and they taste amazingly sweet and are much bigger then the ones I usually find in the forest. I believe this plot has been one of the least disturbed plots on our property in terms of soil being overturned or compacted. Before the strawberries ripened there were a lot of dandelions in this spot as well. I don’t intend to change much to this plot because these strawberries are awesome and the slope is too steep to use it for much else anyway. I only intend to create pathways to get to the strawberries easier.
Then there are the two purple spots. They are equal in the sense that both get relatively few sun because they are shades by trees and walls, and they are very moist because of two little springs running through them. These spots are almost exclusively overrun by stinging nettles. I believe I read that stinging nettles like to grow on wet and rich soils. I can imagine the soil near the springs being particularly rich in minerals because the springs deposit a lot of silt. I intend to keep one patch of nettles for cooking, but hope to use the soil on the other patch to grow other shade and wetloving edible plants. Suggestions are welcome!
That brings me to the yellow plot. This is without a doubt the most barren of plots we have. Although it is the only piece of flat land we which would have been the ideal spot to grow our vegetables, it is unfortunately also the worst spot in terms of the soil, or better to say an almost total lack thereof. It is going to be part of a long process to transform this plot into something fertile, which I have talked about Here. Now with the vegetation growing unhindered it was nice to see what actually does grow on little more that bare rocks. What I’ve spotted so far is three varieties of wild geraniums on the sunniest parts of the plot. Tall grasses closest to the water edge of the creek. Some clover and some narrowleaf plantain, and then some leafy plant that I haven’t identified yet but is basically covering the whole area. Any idea what this tells me about the soil?
Finally the red plot, which is where we’ve planted our fruit trees and is a clay slope. This plot takes the most sun, and also has the most diverse vegetation growing on it.
Basically there is an undergrowth of wild strawberries and a lot of ground elder, then a diversity of wildflowers (buttercups, dandelion (mainly on the lower parts of the slope) blue bugle, forget-me-not,...) some stinging nettles but it’s not taking over the place, lungwort is growing abundantly as well, some small patches of tall grasses, some wild grapes, and then saplings of cornel, elderberry, maple, and paradise trees. Some mosses in the shady parts. While there seems to be more diversity in plants, the plants in the sunniest part of the slope where we planted our fruit trees didn’t grow very tall. This plot will be our main production plot in the first years, so I’m really interested in understanding the soil here better.Anything you could devise from my explanation and my pictures is very welcome!
Feel free to scour my pictures to see if there’s any noteworthy ‘weed’ growing that I haven’t spotted yet!
Went back to the property armed with coffee. Turns out I was majorly unprepared to deal with this amount of ants! After scything the grass around the trees some more I discovered anthills everywhere. Either this Is one big colony taking over the entire slope, or ants are really keen on living on my property!
I’ve also discovered 2 different species. Small black ones and big red ones. However from the big red ones I couldn’t discover where they were coming from.
I decided to scoop up the tops of each anthill I came across, especially the ones growing around my trees and then sprinkling a layer of coffee over the exposed colony and watering it. I hadn’t nearly enough coffee to deal with all of the colonies so I’ll have to go back to add more. But I’m slightly worried what such an amount of coffee will do to the acidity of my terrain. What’s the point of saving my trees from anthills but then poisoning them with the acidity of all of that coffee?
I’ve tried finding Borax in our local shops, but nobody even seems to have an idea what I’m even talking about.
Anyone know where to find borax in Europe/ Italy?
I’ve planted a peach tree (Selvatico di Rosegafero, which is a local and ancient, resistant peach variety) in early spring this year. It survived a serious drought this spring (as due to the Covid lockdown I wasn’t allowed to visit the property to water the trees), which was great! I bought this tree from a sale as it was the last tree from the stock and not the nicest of specimen, so I wasn’t confident the tree would survive. Nevertheless it seems to have survived the drought with flying colours, and even has 3 peaches growing healthily even though the tree only has one branch. But now last time I checked the tree I’m noticing several spots on the tree that have sticky sap on them. I haven’t spotted any insects on the tree (although there are anthills nearby), and I didn’t damage the tree myself as far as I’m aware.
Anyone know what this is and how I should treat it?
Now that I’m figuring out my plan for our garden, I am also considering how to fit ducks and a pair of geese into the plan. I want to have chickens for a composting system and eggs, and have had chickens before: But I’m new to ducks and want to own a few ducks for eggs and slug control and two geese for flock protection (and because they are my favourite animal). I would probably keep them confined in a rotating system, but am considering letting the ducks and geese have free access to most of the garden for slug control, and also so they have access to play in our creek.
Now what I am wondering is: at the edge of our property the creek ends into about a 7 m high drop waterfall (which is also the edge of our property). The creek isn’t very deep (half a meter at a few of the the deepest spots), but it can be fast flowing occasionally when there has been a lot of rain.
Now I have seen footage of ducks bumbling about in a creek, floating along with the current and foolishly floating straight into a drainage pipe. Now I’m worried if my future ducks would be foolish enough to fall of a cliff, floating along with the creek.
Legally speaking, I’m not allowed to put a fence across the creek, because of the risk of it obstructing the flow of the creek and creating an unintended dam. Now I’m still considering building a fence because I’m equally concerned about children playing in the garden and falling off the cliff, but it would have to be a kind of fence that has a kind of quick release so that if a blockage occurs I can deal with it easily, but sturdy enough that it can withstand the force of a small child falling into it. Also the holes in the fencing should have to be big enough that it doesn’t function as an unintended fish trap (not that I have seen fish in the river, but I could get into trouble with the law for illegal fishing).
What do you think? Any advice or thoughts are welcome!
I did notice some aphids on some of the trees. Are the ants sustaining the aphids in the trees?
Is it best to use spent coffee grounds or fresh ones? And will the coffee hurt the trees? I’ve heard that the caffeine and the acidity of the coffee can damage your plants. But I’m not at all experienced on the matter.
Isn’t it possible to scoop up the mounds with a shovel and deposit them far away from the trees?
Hi everyone, it’s been a little while since I last posted as we’ve been swamped with the process of our house build.
Just before Covid 19 hit, we had planted out 15 or so potted and bare rooted fruit trees on a southwest facing slope. We didn’t treat the terrain of the slope pre-planting, just removed a bit of the vegetation on the spots where we wanted our new trees, dug holes and mixed the heavy clay we dug up with some compost to improve the soil slightly where the new tree would be planted. Then several months passed as the quarantine prevented us from travelling to our property. Now that we’ve been able to go back we’ve obviously noticed lush vegetation everywhere on the field, but on the places where we planted our trees and the soil had been disturbed, the soil remained baren and no plants had come in to grow yet (eventhough I had sown in wildflower seed mixes after planting the trees). Instead, it seems like an endless supply of ants have moved in instead. Of the 15 or so trees we planted, nearly half of them have an anthill at the foot of their trunk. Some anthills are next to the trees, others actually have been built around the tree, as if the trunk of the tree acts like a center tentpole for their hill.
Now I don’t have a problem with ants per se (although it is a bit annoying when tending to the trees to avoid stepping into an anthill), but I was wondering if the anthills being so close, or engulfing the treetrunks could damage the trees (maybe they dig into the roots, or damage the trunk?). Alternatively I could imagine that such an amount of ants close to your trees could also keep potential other critters away from nibbling at my trees. I don’t think snails would venture on my trees if they have to cross an active anthill first. I can also imagine that the tunnelling of the ants into the ground can also help breaking up the compact clay soil.
I don’t have a lot of knowledge about ants (except that I stepped into an anthill barefoot when I was a child and did not like that experience at all!), so please enlighten me with your knowledge! Are these ants a problem for my tree, or are they actually useful?
Susan Wakeman wrote:You can get daikon seeds from Sativa Seeds or Zollinger seeds in Switzerland. Check out Dr. Red hawks posts on soil. He also has some comments on dealing with a clay slope.
Would love to visit some time.
Thanks for the tip, Susan!
If you’re ever in the neighbourhood (we’re on the border between Trentino and Veneto), you are very welcome to visit! We haven’t got much to show off , though; as we’re only just starting the garden!
You might have an invasion of "Tree of Heaven" You have to kill the roots, not just dig them up as it likes to form colonies and crowd everything else around it out. The leaves and trunk also have a acrid foul stink (my opinion). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ailanthus_altissima
Oh no! it does look like tree of heaven. What an ironic name.
But is herbicide the only way to kill it? How do you apply the herbicide with the cut and spray method to these tiny saplings.
If possible I would prefer not using herbicides. Would digging up the saplings repeatedly as they pop up eventually tire out the plant? Or is it fighting against the flood?
Thought I’d use this thread a bit as a log for the progression of our slope.
It has been the first time in over 50 days that we could go back to our slope to see how the fruit trees we planted just before lockdown were doing.
I had feared the worst, given that we experienced one of the driest springs in 50 years! A lot of the trees were bare rooted plants so not being watered for over 50 days should have been stressful for the plants. The last time we were at the site all trees were still bare of leaves and the grass hadn’t started growing. Despite having expected stunted growth due to the dryness, we were happily surprised to see that -our property had transformed into a green (albeit wild) oasis! Despite being on a very sunny and steep slope with very little rain these last two months, all the trees except for my mimosa had survived. My pears, cherries and apples even showed to bear some fruit!
I think what helped was that the surrounding vegetation had grown almost a meter high, shielding the trees from the worst heat and keeping the moisture from evaporating.
We cut down some of the grass (well more a mix of wildflowers, herbs, wild tree saplings and a mix of grasses) with a scythe (our first time scything!!!), clearing a path to reach the trees and giving the trees a bit more breathing space, but without clearing the whole field, so we can keep the shielding and slope stabilising property of the plants on the spaces we are not going to use right now. It was good to create a clear walking path between the tall grass because we disturbed two snakes while scything! Of one, a completely black one, we know it was most likely a carbonazzo, which isn’t venomous. The other one was brown, but we didn’t see it’s head as it was hidden in the grass. Here’s hoping it wasn’t a viper (which does occur frequently where we live). The carbonazzo however is going to be our (albeit ugly and somewhat scary) friend, because it actively hunts venomous vipers. As long as he doesn’t pop up all too often to scare the heck out of us! I don’t like picking strawberries and grabbing a fistful of snake instead!
As for our trees:
My apricot tree unfortunately had a lot of curled leaves, with little bugs hiding in the curls. While one of my cherries was infected with lice. I removed all of the affected leaves. Let’s hope that prevents further damage by the bugs! I had planted two cherries of two different varieties to cross pollinate. One of the trees was however already bearing fruit while the other one was still only budding out! That was a bit strange though. I specifically bought these two varieties for their ability to flower in the same period to cross pollinate, which has clearly not happened now. I’m guessing the other cherrie got cross pollinate by our wild sour cherries in our garden. As for the Lapins cherrie that still hasn’t leafed out, could this be due to the fact that this cherrie was a bare rooted plant while the other was potted, this taking longer to establish roots, stunting the development of leaves?
Anyhow it was great to finally be back on our property! And it was such a pleasure to discover for the first time was growing by itself on our property.
I found dozens of elderberries, wild grapes, walnuts, hazelnuts, robinia pseudoaccacia, acorn saplings,wild tulips and wild onions and dandelion. Of these I know their use.
Next I found dozens of plants of lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) which I believe is family of the borage family, a lot of what I believe is Ailante, some maple saplings, blatterdock, blue bugle, and a lot of blood-twig cornel. Aside from diversity, does anyone know some uses for these plants? Currently they are popping up on unfavourable places (like where I plan to put paths), so I’m debating wether they are worth investing the time transplanting them to other locations.
Help!! Something is attacking my cuttings now! White sticky pin-prick sized critters have started populating the underside of the leaves!
The cuttings have finally started rooting, I don’t want to lose them now!! What do I do? 😢
I’m kicking myself from not noticing sooner, now they’re everywhere!!
They only seem to have populated the cuttings in the water. I’ve carefully tried to rinse all the leaves to wash them off. But I don’t know if I got all of them, and if that’s going to deter them enough from coming back.
I’ve also put the cuttings in the water away from those in the soil, so they hopefully don’t spread.
What else can I do to prevent these bugs from killing my already fragile cuttings. Please help!!
Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau s. Bard, it sseems that you are using the term tilling in place of turnig, we till the soil but we turn a compost heap, the difference is soil involvemment. When you first build a heap you layer it as you describe, then as the heating subsides some folks turn the heap, others use pipe to aad air to the heap (my preference) so the heap will continue to heat. Both methods will make good compost. It sounds to me like you aare doing well at making compost. If you want more help or have other questions, let me know.
Ah apologies for using the wrong terminology! Thanks for your explanation.
How often would you need to turn the compost heap? You say when the heat subsides. But I can imagine if one makes a compost heap out of kitchen waste, you are continually adding to the pile, so the pile would continually heat and cool down as you add more, right?
I love rocks! We have lots of them here and building walls and houses with them is part of the traditional landscape, although it has been slightly forgotten over the last decades.
Our garden is filled with rocks and we have stone wall terraces that are in need of reconstruction, so we’d love to learn how to build with them. The original part of our watermill is still a stone construction, made from the rocks they pulled from the rock cliff the house is built against.
I had already made a simple flower bed out of a pile of large boulders, but that consisted mostly out of removing rocks and replacing it with soil.
However we were very fortunate to participate in a communal course where the locals of our village could participate in restoring a storm damaged dry stack wall in exchange for learning the techniques while doing it (and drinking wine and eating sandwiches underneath the chestnut trees! Ah what a lovely day it was!). It was such a great learning experience, and I’m eager to apply our newly learned skills to our damaged dry stacked stone walls lining our terraces.
I’m fairly certain they came from the nodules, as when I planted them, one of them already had a bit of green leaf sprouting. Unless the soil that was attached to it hid the fact that the roots of the ground elder had simply grown around the nodule instead of coming out of it?
In any case, I will try to dig up the nodules this weekend to see what is happening.
When digging holes on my clay slope to plant my fruit trees last February, I came across dozens of small penny sized (or slightly larger) tubers that resembled potatoes somewhat in skin and colour.
Being curious as to what they were, I took some home with me and threw them into a pot on my balcony to see what would come out. I’ve been anxiously looking at what would grow, given that it looked like my slope was full of these tubers. I was slightly disappointed to see that something suspiciously looking a lot like ground elder popped up. Don’t get me wrong, I like ground elder to eat, but the thought of the whole slope where I intended my orchard and veggies to go, being completely covered with ground elder, is slightly horrifying.
In any case, the more I thought and researched about it, the more confused I got, because I can’t find anything about ground elder growing tubers...
Do I have my ID of the plant wrong, or is there a rare situation or variety in which ground elder grows tubers? I can imagine that if the ground elder does seem to grow tubers, that tells me something about my soil?
I’m noticing a big difference between the cuttings in the potted soil and the ones in the water now. Almost all of the cuttings in the water still have their leaves, while of the cuttings in the soil about half of them had their leaves dry out and wither. I’ve been misting the leaves of both twice a day now, and the soil in the pot has never been dry.
Is there still a chance I can save the cuttings from the pot?
The cuttings in the water have now finally pushed through the beginnings of their roots. Should I start transplanting them to soil now, or should I wait a bit linger still?
Also how big a pot would the cuttings need? For now I would have to keep them on our south facing balcony, which I can imagine being a bit too hot for delicate cuttings. But I don’t have any other places for the cuttings to go as long as this lockdown keeps going. I hope to be able to put them in full ground in our garden once the lockdown is over.
I’m fairly new to composting, or well, my family has always had composting piles, but that existed of throwing on whatever organic material waste we had in no particular order and then just let the chickens have a go at it. To be fair, our crops seemed to do just fine using this method. But I would prefer to have a little more knowledge of what I’m doing though, so I’m trying to read up as much as I can. Apologies if this might be a very beginner question!
The point that is still unclear to me is the tilling of the compost. If you’re working with a normal compost heap on the ground, and you build up the brown, green and soil layer lasagna, capping it off with soil: how often, if at all should you till the pile, resulting in destroying the layers and having the cap worked into the compost as well?And after tilling, do you need to cap it off again with soil? I’m not even sure how you should be tilling, do you till so all the layers are completely mixed, or is it enough to just work it over a bit so some oxygen gets into the pile? Is it just me or can information on composting be overwhelmingly detailed and confusingly vague at the same time?!
William Bronson wrote:
Brewery waste is another source of organic matter.
If you ask a brewery for waste and they are already giving or selling for animal feed, find out who is getting it.
They may have manure available.
What part of brewery waste would be useful? The fermented hops? How would you use it? As a fermented tea, or mulch or just adding it to a compost pile?
I’m asking because I know we have a small brewery in our village, but never thought about them being a potential source for organic material.
Jonathan Fudge wrote:I love your land! That is such a great piece of property.
If I were in your shoes, I'd say you are in a PRIME situation to utilize the no-dig gardening approach. Plants can still root in the rock and you can build topsoil and microbial life via top dressing.
Personally, I do not like doing more work than I have to and excavating rocks sounds like a chore I would not want to start. So, I would personally get some good compost and pile about 6 inches of compost on top of the areas you want to plant in. Afterward, I would just grow as if it is normal ground. A tilling approach will cause you a LOT of problems there. So, by utilising the no-dig method, you can get great crops without having to deal with the craziness beneath your soil. You will also help "fix" the ground over time, building up fantastic soil on top of the rock. You will also get much of the nutrients into the rock layer, meaning you might actually get BETTER growth there. I wouldn't go out of my way to put rock into property like that, but I think it would be awesome to use as a base layer.
The other aesthetic stuff is okay if that is what you want to do, but your property looks great as-is. I would just mound on some dirt and start planting ;-)
Thanks Jonathan. We feel really blessed with our little paradise, rocks and all :-)
Do you think plants can really grow roots through that much rock? It looks like 95% rock and 5 % dirt! I know plants are amazing, but I find it hard to imagine they are that awesome either. But then again, I’ve never tried either! Getting the compost will be difficult though. Buying premade compost is really expensive, and since we don’t live there yet, nor have chickens yet, making that much compost ourselves in this first year or even the second will not be possible either. I’m hoping I can just get my hands on a big supply of woodchips, and start the beds from that.
I think a lot of the woodchips from our local sawmill is pinewood though. Would that be a problem?
Chris rain wrote:I agree that the main goal should be adding organics to your garden. I realized this, and water (to help composting), is the limiting factor. So the trick is to get large volumes.
I spent many years carpooling curbside bags of leaves and grass to our garden. Even that was not enough. One day, I spotted a truck full of bags pull into a parking lot so I followed, asked him for the bags, and offered a free place for him to dump. Now, he saves $, and has brought 200 bags since March!!
Your land looks more fertile than mine. I use 5mil polyethylene liner on some raised beds to save water. Those beds are the best ones!
You have to get material delivery to really boost productivity. I'm in your same situation: my garden isn't accessible from the road, so the wheelbarrow slows me down. My compost pile is huge!!
Your beds look great! How much rainfall do you get?
I’m still doubting if I need to add a liner or not to my beds. I’m leaning towards not doing it simply because I don’t like to have to buy and bury that much plastic!
I have honestly never seen leaf bags been put on the streets here in fall. I keep reading that on this forum, but maybe that’s something they do in America but not in Europe (or atleast the countries where I’ve lived in, which are Belgium, Netherlands and Italy)? But maybe I just don’t spot them.
In any case, I’ve got my hopes up for wood chips and sawdust though as we have a sawmill less then 5 min from our home!
Lots of great foraged foods mentioned here. But I haven’t seen wild hop shoots yet.
In our region wild hops grow like crazy and there early spring tops are tender and super rich in flavour. They also remain nicely crunchy if you bake them. Just had some in a stir)fry with some bacon as lunch! So good.
Also wild garlic and onion! I just make pesto of it and freeze it. Great to throw onto some pasta if you’re in a rush for diner. Top with some shredded and lemon drizzle and you have a great dish in no time!
And ofcourse elder blossom!! Elder grows wild like crazy here as well, so I harvest huge bundles in spring. Some of it goes into making syrup. Some goes towards making deserts (fried ricotta fritters!), and some is dried for tea later.
Another update on the cuttings: I have been spraying the leaves diligently twice a day (morning and evening).
But despite this, some of the leaves have started to die. On some places the leaves turn yellow. On other cuttings they have just died off completely. Especially the currants aren’t looking good. Are the cuttings of which the leaves all died a lost case? Or is there still hope that they are forming roots?
The cuttings in the vase are finally starting to push trough the first tiny bumps of what I suspect are roots. Should I transplant them into soil soon, or should I wait until I’m positive roots are growing?
If I transplant, how big should the container for the cuttings be? One cutting per container or can I do several in the same pot?
Lyda Eagle wrote:All eggs will float when they start to get old.
And blown out empty eggs float even better! :D
Oh my, yes they do! I had to wedge my blown-out eggs into a jar with a weight on top to prevent them from floating (and getting unevenly coated because of the parts sticking above the die). Anyone know a more elegant solution to this? I tried to get them to fill completely with water so they would sink, but a bit of air always remained, making them float!
Here is our first try at colouring eggs. Not very fancy, but I like them non the less. We had to work with what we had, which was a pack of black beans, onions peels and some dried out old beets. We first made some dots with candle wax and then popped them into the cold tea we brewed earlier and let cool down (important the tea is cold or it will melt the wax!). We left the eggs to color overnight. Next day you rinse of the way with some hot water and you’re done!
The black beans give a really light grey colour to the eggs. Because the colour didn’t take really well, I put the grey eggs into the onion peel bath for another day. Some reaction happened, because the grey eggs came out beautifully speckled.
Have a nice Easter everyone!
Scott Stiller wrote:Locust trees don’t grow well where I live. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one up close. They are nitrogen fixers and the thorns are definitely a plus.
Mimosa trees are also a nitrogen fixer but they do aggressively spread by seed. I don’t feel like they are an issue on the land I work though. The seedlings are very easy to spot and remove. They can take all the cutting and chopping you can throw at it and continue growing.
I’m fortunate to have black locust growing wild on my property already. They do really well here.
I want to transplant a few of them that have sprouted on difficult spots and move them to create a hedge to border the property. Plus I love the flowers on them so tasty and they smell incredible.
I wonder how old your trees would need to be for you to bend them over into the hedge.
Scott Stiller wrote:Well that was about the coolest thing ever!. Scott
Isn’t it? I really like the look of the hedges too. And the farmers wide pants. I want me a pair of those!
What would be the issues regarding the mimosa trees?
I was thinking if black locust could be used for a hedge like this. They are certainly fast growing and will likely survive the rigorous cutting at the base. And the added thorns are a bonus to help keep intruders out, be they of the two legged or four legged kind.
Do you think that would work?
I came across this lovely retro video of a farmer couple building a live fence. I don’t know if it has been posted on the forum yet. Feel free to remove if it has.
I just enjoyed watching this, and those outfits are on point! I’m impressed by the level of skill applied at keeping his pipe in his mouth through all of that work!
I was wondering what kind of plants could be used for anything like this. I can imagine many shrubs not surviving such a rigorous chopping at their base. Seems like you would need some very hardy plants; Or do they not care if the plants die?
Anne Miller wrote:Do you have a place for them to get water? That is what usually attracts our birds and the fact that we have nest boxes for them.
Also I agree that planting thing that will attract them is a great idea! Research what your bird species likes best and what will grow where you live.
From observing our wildlife for several years, I have notice that they like what is natural to them. An example is that we furnish water for our birds though when it rains they prefer to get their water from the creek that only has water when it rains. When that dries up they will be back to get our water.
Wishing you the best.
We actually have permanent creek running straight through our garden. We also have several springs where the water seeps from the rocks, so there’s plenty of water for the birds. Lots of brambles to hide in and trees to perch and nest in as well, so I’d think this location is pretty nice for the birds. They just don’t want to touch the seed and dried insects I’m putting out for them.
Ben Zumeta wrote:With your slope and location in the Alps, I’d recommend reading up on Sepp Holzer. It seems like you’ve got a great plant collection started and many of the recommendations above are sound. The plant I have not seen mentioned that has helped greatly with my compacted clay soil in the past is daikon radish. The root makes kimchi, the leaves are good cooking greens, and the flowers and young seed pods are sweet and spicy with a nice crunch. I just leave most of the tubers to rot in the ground, making a nice hole of compost punched into the clay.
Thanks Ben. I’m actually currently reading Sepp’s permaculture book. Lovely read.
Good tip on the daikon radishes. Although I haven’t found their seeds in local markets yet. I might have to find a place online in Europe that sells the seed.
Zephr Robin wrote:I love this little birds as well. If reincarnation was a recycling of spirits and not just a recycling of energy I'd love to become a little bird. In my garden I've had success. I went to my native nursery and brought home an Atriplex lentiformis, or quail bush. I don't put out seed except in my traps for predators (house cats are not welcome). Instead of a bowl, plant a native bush, something lovely that provides shelter, food, and nesting to your little bird friend. Lay out mulch to attract bugs so that the birds can forage naturally for their absolute favorite foods. It worked for me.
I can totally relate to your idea. Birds are such amazing creatures. When I’m on our balcony with the little barn swallows zipping by our heads, I’m just so mesmerised. I’d love to be able to be up there with them!
I hadn’t heard of quail bush. Will see if I can get my hands on one. I do intend to plan lots of other berry bushes and trees on the property. I’ve already got elderberries, autumn olive, seaberry and lots of blackberries. But I’m planning on adding lots of varieties of currants, Rosehip and mulberry. I’m also going to try to make a deal with our local sawmill to get a steady supply of wood chips and sawdust, which would be an invaluable addition to my soils. Let’s hope once I’ve got the rest of my garden established, the birds will follow.
You might be right about me watering too much. I was a bit fearful that they would dry out, so I watered them every 2 days or so.
The topsoil is definitely still moist, so you're probably spot on that it is too wet (soggy rather than moist). I will refrain from watering for a bit and spray the leaves instead.
Thanks for your input Scott, and for sharing your thoughts on your 'mistakes' and what you've learned. That's really valuable!
I thought I'd give a tiny update on the slope and what has happened in the meantime.
My initial plan was to get the debris traps in first and plant the trees and shrubs next. But as things go with plans, they rarely follow the exact path you set out for them.
First a small tree nursery in my village had a sale where they sold the last trees in their lot at 3 or 4 dollars (instead of the usual 15 to 20 dollars). Some of these trees weren't the nicest looking specimens (shorter, or slightly crooked), but they seemed healthy and given that I don't have a lot of experience with fruit trees yet, I thought these discounted trees could be great to start learning with, without breaking the bank too much. For example, I won't planning on growing apricots or peaches because I know they need a bit more work and experience in our climate to keep them. But since I could get the trees for just 3 dollars, I thought it was worth trying. If I failed I wouldn't be losing a 20 dollar tree.
So even though I planned on doing the debris traps first, I now bought the trees first because of the sale. Some of the trees I bought (not discounted) were bare rooted trees, so I couldn't wait for my debris traps to be installed first to plant them. So we went ahead and planted the trees and shrubs first, trying to be mindful of spacing them in a way that I can still add the debris traps later.
The only thing I forgot to account for is that I should have buried the trees on a small mound, to compensate for the terrace leveling out once I got the debris traps installed. I don't want the trunks of my trees being buried later on once I've added more wood chips and compost to the debris traps, so now I'm kicking myself a bit for forgetting that. Hopefully I can find away to work around the issue later on.
Anyway I managed to get the trees in the day before the Covid-19 Lockdown started in Italy. I had planned to do the debris traps and the protection for the trees the next week, but now with the lockdown I can't visit the property anymore. I hope when I return to the property in (hopefully) May, my trees won't be eaten by the deer! Kicking myself again for not installing the protection immediately. Oh well, live and learn I guess.
So here's what I planted so far. I've gone with the 'diversity is best' approach, and also wanted to try out some lesser known ancient variaties, to see what works with my terrain and what doesn't.
Currently already planted:
-Seaberry 3 shrubs
-Autumn olive 2 shrubs
-Yellow mimosa (Acacia dealbata) 1 tree
-Durone Bigarreau Cherry
-Lapins cherry for cross pollination
-Madernassa pear (which is a small variety cultivated in a Valle Grana in Piemonte)
-Another pear that I've currently forgotten the name of
-2 Morgenduft apples (dwarf variety)
-1 Schone van Boskoop apple (another dutch dwarf variety as I understand it)
-another apple that I annoyingly also forgot to write the name down, and now I can't go and check the label to see the name..) In any case I went for dwarf varieties so they would form a lower canopy so I could have a second row of higher canopy trees like the pears.
-Selvatico di Rosegafero, which is a local and ancient, very resistant peach
-Pellecchiella apricot (which is a variety of the vesuvian apricot first grown by the ancient Greeks and introduced into Italy by the Romans) I love myself a fruit with a bit of history!
What I'm currently still growing or plan on planting next:
-I have five types of currants I'm currently trying to grow during lockdown. Some are from cuttings, some are from rooted suckers. I've made another thread about the cuttings Here, please check it out. I would be grateful for any advice on them.
-I've got Elderberry cuttings I'm trying to root that I want to use as hedge to line the plot with
-I want to get two varieties of Mulberries (the tree variety and the shrub variety) to try and establish. The shrub variety will go as an understory for the fruit trees, while I want to establish the tree variety between my existing hazelnut forest.
-I want to have some rosehip as understory between the trees as well.
-Different varieties of clover and wildflower mix to seed the spaces between the guilds
-Some blueberries and honey berries (haskap) varieties eventually
-Transplanting wild strawberries from other less accessible parts of the property
-amaranth for the chickens
Well that's the plan so far. This list will very likely develop further over time. Especially for the understory.
Now that I have removed the plastic over the cuttings, the mould has pretty much disappeared.
BUT some of the leaves on the cuttings are starting to droop. I checked the soil and it is still wet enough, so now I'm worried that the cuttings are losing to much moisture through the leaves.
What do I do? Do I remove even more leaves ( I removed about 1/3 to half of the leaves on each cutting already)? Do I put the plastic bag on again, but possibly risking new mould?
I would really appreciate any input. This is my first try doing cuttings, so I'm feeling a bit helpless right now that I don't know what to do. I know I can just try this again next year if these cuttings fail, but I've kinda grown attached to them because they are my 'pet-project' during this lockdown and I really don't want to lose them. Which probably sounds a bit silly, I know. But it's the little things like tending the cuttings and my seedlings that are keeping me from going slightly insane being cooped up into the apartment for 4 weeks now.
Thanks again for your wonderful replies and insights. I’ve decided to go for two different approaches, as a way of not putting all of my eggs in one basket and reducing the amount of cuttings in the pot. I’ve left part of the cuttings in the potted forest solid, and part of them in a vase with water I change ever 2 days.
It’s been two weeks now. For the potted ones I have no idea if any roots are developing. For the ones in the vase, I know I don’t see any roots yet. Some of the bark is coming of. And maybe I see some little points on the stems that have swollen a bit. But that’s it. I used to have both of the systems covered with plastic to keep the moisture high. But then in both systems the leaves and buds on the cuttings began to get mouldy, so I removed the covers. The cuttings look healthier now that the covers are of. But I don’t know if this will make the cuttings dry out.
I have a few other concerns.
-The cuttings are leafing out like crazy. Each day I remove a portion of the biggest leaves that sprout, but I still have a lot of leaves on them. I don’t know how much of them I should remove, and how much should stay on.
-The stems of the cuttings in the water are becoming hairy, like something is growing on them. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I rinse the stems under running water each time I change the water, but I don’t rub them to clean them as I fear ruining whatever root is trying to grow. Is this hairy substance a point of concern or is it a good thing? How should I proceed.
Attached you can find pictures of how things are looking right now.
I would really welcome any insights, as I want these cuttings to survive. Watering them and checking their progress daily is one of the few highlights of my days during this lockdown so I really don’t want them to die on me.