Jason Mendes

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since Dec 09, 2011
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Recent posts by Jason Mendes

Mariah Wallener wrote:I didn't think strawbale was an option since our climate is quite wet (i.e. high humidity in winter).



What area are you in exactly?
6 years ago

Greg Hickey wrote:Mariah,

However it is not load bearing and thus only an infill that needs a rigid frame structure in addition to the straw.



I actually thought that bales /can/ be load bearing, such as in balecob walls. I've seen in person bale walls with rafters loaded on them, and with the ridge beam loaded.
6 years ago
I found this regarding sickles, scythes and scythes with cradles:

Hand-harvesting generally means using a sickle. What you have to do is to bend down, grab a handful of grain, and then cut it off by reaching around it with the sickle and cutting it off. There’s a lot of bodily movement involved, so go slowly and take lots of breaks, at least until you get used to it.

A sickle is a one-handed tool, whereas a scythe is for two hands and allows you to stand up. You can go much faster with a scythe than with a sickle, since you don’t have to move around so much. There are 2 general types of scythe, one with a curved handle and one with a straight one. The type with the curved handle (actually double-reflexed, like an archery bow) is sometimes called “American style,” although it appears in several other countries, and the straight-handled type is called “Austrian style,” although it’s not just Austrian. The Austrian style is not well known in North America, but it’s far superior to the American style, since you don’t have to bend your back constantly to use it. A lot of modern Austrian-type scythes have aluminum handles, which work quite well.

At this point, however, I should dispel a popular myth. Throughout world history, the scythe alone was almost never used to harvest grain. It was commonly used for cutting hay, but not grain. The problem with a scythe is that, by itself, it cannot lay the stalks straight enough for them to be gathered and bound. The solution, invented mainly in the nineteenth century, was to attach to the scythe a set of long, finger-like projections known as a cradle. It’s possible to harvest grain with a scythe that has no cradle, but it certainly does a messy and wasteful job.

But the scythe with a grain cradle is not necessarily superior to the sickle, and the latter is still used in many countries. Scythes with cradles are heavy, they are dangerous (people sometimes cut their legs while flipping the stalks off the cradle and onto the ground), and they still do a less neat job than sickles, so grain tends to be wasted. A final advantage of a sickle is that you can leave a longer stubble if you wish to do so, leaving most of the stalk in the field; that longer stubble can later be dug in to replace the organic matter in the soil.

7 years ago
Great, thank you! Where have you grown and harvested grain?
7 years ago
Here in Mesa Arizona i planted a small plot of rye last October, and from what i have gathered, it is ready to harvest. I am needing some clarity though about making shocks/stooks. A website i am reading says, "Set the sheaves upright in groups of about ½ dozen, called shocks or stooks." Does this mean that the grain end of the sheaves is to the ground, thus the cut part of the sheave is the one tied and at the top of the stook?

7 years ago
Thanks for all the great ideas! I can see how gravel can be helpful. I have made a sunken waffle bed that i currently have corn growing in. James, do you have any pictures or other experiences to relate about growing on top of gravel? Or what kind of property are you/having you grown on? And where?
7 years ago
Aloha! I have for the past three years been living in the tropics and making gardens and planting where soil is open or simply clearing away what's growing.. But now i am residing in the suburbs of Mesa, Arizona, where the backyard is all gravel.. I've done a couple of raised beds by pulling away the gravel and making a border with wood boards, but i am brainstorming ways to simply plant right on the gravel.. I do notice that many 'weeds' grow easily in the gravel. The ideas i have so far would be.. Layering cardboard and organic matter like grass clippings and kitchen compost, then possibly other soil/compost brought in. As i am writing this, i am thinking that raising the level of the soil could be a problem close to the actual house, because there is a foundation layer of cement, then up a few inches, stucco. So, has anyone done anything like this? Any ideas?
7 years ago

Aza Aguila wrote:We are very open to families with kids!
www.Awakening-Soul.org



Aloha, very interested in farms with a child focus too! That website mentions Internships, but how does one actually join the community?
7 years ago
Aloha Cris, I don't see any information on that page about the PDC.. when will the fall one be hosted?
7 years ago
I was at the farmers market today, and had a conversation with a woman who was working the cash box for a farm. I was buying some yams and asked if they also grew/sold sweet potatoes.

I sure hope she wasn't the farmer..

Lady: "Those are sweet potatoes"
Me: "Uh no, these are yams"
Lady: "Well, yams and sweet potatoes are the same thing"
Me: "No they're not. They are from different plant families and clearly a different eating experience. Yams are stringy inside"
Lady: "Have you ever looked at a can of yams? It says sweet potatoes"
Me: "Uh ok, whatever."
7 years ago