rg ely

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since Nov 22, 2011
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Recent posts by rg ely

Alder: Great idea! I don't know where any are right now but I will ask around and try to find one.

Miles: I was probably not clear. I do have a Fragrant Spring Tree. I am often accused of it being a Ailanthus.

As an aside, I had a Chinese woman visit the garden. She recognized the tree right off and was very excited. She harvests (with permission) the tender shoots of my tree and uses them in dumplings which she sells at a local Farmers Market. She had been trying to get one of these trees, or grow one from seed, for years. She was beside herself when I was able to give her one of the "babies" from mine this spring. Made me happy too!
7 years ago
I bought this a few years ago from Raintree and it has been a nice addition to my urban homestead. I get a lot of visitors touring and try to share Permaculture ideas and food security thoughts with them. I have almost all edible/medicinal/useful plants in my yard and no "ornamentals". Many of the visitors look in horror at the Fragrant Spring Tree and try to convince me it is a Tree of Heaven. considered locally as a deadly invasive. Being far from a botanist, I am left without any way to defend this plant. Could someone point out how these two trees are different so I can ease the minds of my visitors? Thanks!
7 years ago
Tyff: The responder who mentioned the importance of bottom heat is spot on. I have found it important for tomato and eggplant, and critical for peppers. If you don't have a heating pad or mat to use, find the warmest place you can in your house (top of fridge, near woodstove, etc.) Many seeds don't need any light to germinate, but the heat is needed. I start mine in moist potting soil and stretch Saran wrap over the tray or pot until the plants have germinated. When they have broken through you can take the Saran wrap off and put under lights carefully watching moisture. Plants at this stage need a LOT of light, closer the better to keep from getting spindly.

You probably need to start your peppers now, typically they take longer than tomatoes to germinate, and some take MUCH longer. I figure a week between peppers and eggplants then another week for tomatoes. I will start my tomatoes next week here in Louisville.

I think you might be early on the seminole and luffa. Although they both do have a long growing season, they usually germinate easily and they might get too big before it's time to plant them out. I think you could wait closer to the planting time (2 weeks?) then start them inside. You can jump start both of these by either soaking or pre-sprouting.

BTW, I have a Fragrant Spring Tree for you if you can guess who this is
9 years ago
Jennifer: I don't think you said what part of I-75 you are considering. I wanted to make sure you know about the town of Berea, a hotbed of permaculture activity (at least a hotbed for Kentucky ). There is an ecovillage, part of the college. You can also check out Sustainable Berea to find kindred spirits. I think there are 3 Farmers Markets in season. I have a friend that is successfully living off-grid about 10 miles south of town.

The writer that warned you to check on mineral rights is 110% correct. Much of the land in Eastern Kentucky had the rights sold off decades ago, often for a pittance, and before strip mining was a common practice. The courts have ruled that the land can be stripped nonetheless. Mining and land reclamation regulations are weak. The good news is that if your land has already been mined, you may be better off than a similar parcel that hasn't, if the rights have been sold. This woman has found a novel use for strip mined land.

I applaud your taking this project on. There's karma involved in the process of land healing, and permaculture has the toolbox to do it.
9 years ago
I'm wondering if this title will be available just as quickly from the Permaculture Activist Magazine booklist? It might be a way to see that more of the money went directly to the authors?
9 years ago
Chris: I wanted to suggest the possibility of using a 2 foot level instead of the plumb bob on the A-frame. When using this, I strap the level on the crossbar of the A-frame with re-usable tie wraps. The bubble level settles down much quicker than a the plumb bob. I constructed this with the uprights attached to each other with a strap hinge, and deck screws holding the crosspiece on. When stored, I take the level off for other uses, back one screw out, then fold the assembly up. There may be some pictures?
9 years ago
I've had good luck using a water level as shown in this Brad Lancaster video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRjNA0DZZb4. If you pay attention to how you number the sticks as shown in the video, the larger number will be higher. I used a couple of pieces of PVC pipe I already had, and duct taped some yard sticks to them. Just be sure you reference the BOTTOM of the stick to set the yardsticks or write your numbers.

I then added a small plastic electric fence post http://www.ruralking.com/post-poly-electic-step-in-white.html?utm_medium=google&utm_source=cse&cvsfa=1908&cvsfe=2&cvsfhu=303730303430343433 by duct taping one of the pipes to it with the bottom of the pipe lining up with the bottom of the plastic part. This allows me to use this by myself. Just place the fence post portion where you want to start the countour, then place the other pipe by the first to find your "magic number". I try to put an amount of fluid in the tube so that I don't have to stoop to read it, but make sure you allow enough tube "space" above it so that it isn't forced out when you lift one or the other of the pipes too far. Once your numbers read equally for the calibration your set to go. Just move 2 to 4 feet away on your perceived contour, hold your pole plumb, then move it slightly uphill or downhill until you match your number, set a marker or flag at the base of the pole. Move further away on your contour, find your number by moving uphill or downhill, set marker, repeat. When you near the end of your tubing, just go back and get your staked pole, place it at one of your last flags, then take off again on your contour. The number should stay the same. One advantage of the water level over the A-frame is that you are not locked in to a certain distance from your last point. If you go 4 feet away from your previous point and find an obstacle (say a rock or log) you can just go back a foot or forward a foot to establish your point. The distance between your points is not critical.

One additional point is that any given point along this contour line might be an anomaly due to being on a "lump" of ground, or in a small depression. You can pay attention to any obvious oddities when you place you pole but don't obsess over it. After you have place 10 to 20 markers, sight back along your contour. You will probably see some "oddball" points, but you will also see a generalized curve developing. This "smoothed" curve is what you're after.

I also allow some of my tubing to extend above the pole. This allows me to fold the tubing over and tightly place a rubber band on it for transporting without spilling the liquid. You can also fold it over and put a rubber band on it loosely to serve as a damping effect so the liquid levels with less dancing. I am now using holding tank antifreeze as my liquid, so I can work in freezing weather, and the slight coloration makes it easier to see.
9 years ago
I am the original poster of this question (had to open a new account due to password glitch). Hopefully Hubert can chime in here. I use the comfrey as chop and drop, make comfrey tea (Garden usage) for myself as well as giving it away on "tea day" during the growing season for outreach. My chickens love to eat the comfrey, especially during the spring. I have a friend who makes comfrey salve with added flowers and herbs. The same friend uses comfrey plants as a plant barrier. She has planted a tight band of comfrey around a raised bed orchard, the comfrey serves as a barrier to keep other plants from invading the bed. Although current wisdom says that comfrey should not be taken internally, some folks still use it as a spring tonic.
9 years ago
I recently acquired a 7 acre plot, half of which is cleared, and half rolling and wooded, but logged about 4 or 5 years ago. Typically, logging here (Southern Indiana), can be pretty ugly, with everything but the trunks of the trees left where they fall. There is also quite a bit of damage to some of the remaining trees due to carelessness in removing the logs from the woods. The bad news is the woods looks really "hurt", the good news is that I have a huge amount of raw material on the floor of the woods to work with. I have access to a chipper. My thoughts are to establish a contour at the base on one of the rolling hills, then place the larger sawn wood along this contour. This can be done with minimal transporting of the wood. It seems like there would be enough larger pieces to make a base 2 logs deep and one on top of these. I plan to lay these tight and stagger the joints to inhibit water flow, but without digging into the forest floor. This would create a structure of wood roughly somewhat over a foot wide and a foot tall, running on the contour of the land. I will then chip up all of the smaller branches and place on top of the wood, with any other biomass I can come up with local to the site.

I understand that this is not truly hugelkultur since I am following all the step and using all the ingredients. If I leave things as they are now, the downed tops will host a lot of brambles etc. which will make for an impenetrable area (I've got some of this happening in a different part of the woods). It seems like doing what I've described will somewhat mimic what the forest would do anyway, but concentrating the material in a "berm" that will eventually rot. It will free up larger areas of the forest for planting some food forest plants.

What are the downsides of what I'm contemplating? What would be some higher and better uses for this material?

Thanks, Ray
9 years ago