Victor Johanson

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since Oct 18, 2011
Fairbanks, Alaska
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Recent posts by Victor Johanson

paul wheaton wrote:
How do you know he is in bigfork?

I applied some google-fu:
6 days ago
I either read something by Mollison or heard him say on a video that more than once he has observed a persistent cloud downwind and corresponding to a single tree in a brittle environment. Not sure how significant this anecdote is, but if his observations and conclusion are valid, it doesn't take a large forest of giant trees to create an impact.
3 weeks ago
No, I don't think they did that in the windblown study, which I also discounted since it would stand to reason that any trees blown over would be selected for "no taproot" by the wind. But Kolesnikov dug them out, and recently some work has been done using ground penetrating radar ( ):

A ground-penetrating radar (GPR) technique was used to study the three-dimensional distribution of root systems of large (DBH = 14 to 35 cm) oak trees (Quercus petraea (Mattusch.) Liebl.) in relatively dry, luvisoil on loamy deluvium and weathered granodiorite. Coarse root density was 6.5 m m−2 of stand area and 3.3 m m−3 of soil volume. Maximum rooting depth of the experimental oaks was 2 m, and the root ground plan was significantly larger (about 1.5 times) than the crown ground plan."

Oaks are supposed to be a taprooted species, but if there were any on these, they only penetrated two meters or less.

Root Distribution of Some Native Trees and Understory Plants Growing on Three Sites Within Ponderosa Pine Watersheds in Colorado
( ) includes root diagrams from trees in the field. Prominent taproots are absent except in one case, where its depth couldn't be determined because it penetrated a crevice.

I've dug out my share of stumps by hand and never had to deal with any big taproots. It may be that trees shed them as they get larger so they have enough play to shift with the wind instead of just breaking off like they would if the trunk continued straight down. What's good for a small tree may not be good for a big one.

No doubt some trees have strong taproots, but they don't appear to be preferable or even necessary. As for the utility of planting fruit trees from seed, it's a most worthwhile endeavor and if the fruit does happen to turn out nasty, those trees can easily be topworked with something more desirable (or the fruit could be fed to hogs, or turned into hooch and/or vinegar!).
1 month ago
Robert Kourik has written a couple of books on roots:

He quotes from the works of researchers John Weaver and V.A. Kolesnikov, and includes diagrams of many of the root systems they investigated. Kolesnikov's work is posted online:

Some of Weaver's work can also be found online, but mostly deals with vegetables and field crops.

According to , only 2% of 697 trees examined retained their taproots (this data is apparently from Tree root plate morphology / P.E. Gasson and D.F. Cutler ; and The wind blown tree survey ; analysis of results ; D.F. Cutler, P.E. Gasson and M.C. Farmer--however, one would expect the trees that were blown over to be taproot-deficient, so this may not be very conclusive):
1 month ago
No trees here in interior Alaska have taproots; the ground is too cold and roots of any kind generally aren't found below about two feet (and they're never found much deeper than that). Most trees elsewhere don't retain their taproots in adulthood either; there has been extensive research where fully grown native trees were painstakingly excavated in situ and mapped. Typically, trees send out shallow lateral roots, with vertical striker roots descending from those. The taproot atrophies and eventually disappears, although there are some exceptions to that (e.g. walnuts), but often even the exceptions are missing their taproots, without apparent negative consequence. So the taproot doesn't seem very important, since it's generally an anomaly in mature trees. It might be that a tree planted in its ultimate location would benefit from remaining undisturbed, however (although on the other hand, transplanting stress could induce stimulation via hormsis, so who knows?). Plants are amazing and able to successfully adapt to a wide range of conditions.
1 month ago
Yeah, I had the neem oil burn leaves on my plants too, and insecticidal soap proved nonlethal. Give them some nicotine and observe immediate aphid annihilation.
3 months ago

Gordon Haverland wrote:I hadn't thought about Siberian larch.  And (so far, with no time spent) you seem to be the only known source of seed.  :-)  I will look to see what is around.

Someone mentioned some kind of tree being harvested near Ft.Nelson, BC that was useful for some purpose in building houses.  The only thing that came to mind was the native tamarack.

Thanks for the info.

Might have been white spruce in Ft. Nelson; it's what grows here. I think they also have lodgepole and jack pines, and also balsam and subalpine firs.

I'll save you some time :-) . Here are some L. sibirica seed sources:

Or you might just get seedlings:

They're really nice looking trees too; the needles are a lot longer than the tamarack's.
6 months ago
Steven Edholm has a fantastic tutorial on making lactofermented hot sauce over at SkillCult:

...and also one on making chili powder:

Steven's content is always a great fix for the information junkie, superbly filmed and precisely communicated. The SkillCult site is filled with obscure and valuable long-forgotten knowledge. Peruse and enjoy!
6 months ago
If you're interested in growing fenceposts there, you might consider Siberian larch rather than the native tamarack. It's much faster growing and more robust, and just as hardy and supposedly similarly rot-resistant. They're popular as ornamentals here in Fairbanks at nearly 65 degrees north, and I've never seen one with winter damage even at zone 1 temps. Two or three feet of growth a year isn't unusual. The native tamaracks here are stunted by comparison. I collected a bunch of seed in the fall from big local specimens that I'm getting ready to plant. Like you said, none of the native trees are suitable beside larch. Even the Siberians will probably take 20 years to get fencepost sized though, so get them in the ground!
6 months ago
Oh, I forgot about the bee larvae--those are very good. Sweet, mild, and rich. Old research indicated ridiculously high Vitamin D levels, although those results are considered questionable by some today.
6 months ago