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Marsha Richardson

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since Feb 15, 2012
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Recent posts by Marsha Richardson

We travel over a large part of central Virginia every weekend and have for many years.  We noticed starting last year that there are no insects flying around the lights at the stores, gas stations, etc. which used to be just covered in insects at night.  My daughter is an entomologist living in upstate NY and she has noticed the same situation.  It is totally scary.  Last year we also noticed a sharp drop in pollinators where we used to have many and many different kinds.  We got NO fruit on any of our trees.  This year, as an experiment, I went out with a feather duster and "dusted" all the fruit trees when they were blooming.  The trees that were dusted have fruit, the undusted trees have maybe one or two fruits on them.  This is truly a scary scenario.  Stock up on feather dusters!
2 years ago
Haven't seen this thread before but felt I had to respond.  Dog wool spins up beautifully and if you have different colored dogs, you get different colored yarn.  I spun up some beautiful cream and grey and white yarn and knit a beautiful scarf from it.  It was very warm and I gave it to my X for a holiday gift.  He was very allergic to dogs, but after it was washed and blocked, it did not seem to cause any problems.
2 years ago
Yep, that is sure Japanese Honeysuckle.  It is a plant my father hated above all others and it certainly does take over the world.  On our new property there are trees that have been strangled to death by the honeysuckle.  It is not useless as it can be used to make baskets and rope.  I pull up what seems like miles of it and coil it up into a wreath shape.  After it dries, it can be used for decorations or mulch or you can sell the dried coils to basket crafters .  If the soil is covered by it, there is some protection from erosion but I don't think anything eats it.  When I am ready to cover crop and plant an area is when I begin the assault on the honeysuckle and you must get every single crumb of it.  It will return with a vengeance without vigilance.   It can be chopped up and fermented into a nice ground soak.  
2 years ago
Be careful!  You are doing a great job.
2 years ago
What size Kubota is that?  We are thinking about getting one and are having a few discussions about what size to get.  I have a friend who has the 1025 but my husband thinks that is way too small. He wants to be able to snatch big trees out of the ground and I am thinking swales and hauling firewood out of the woods.
3 years ago
Why do people build perfect habitat for wildlife and then get upset when they show up?  Snapping turtles do eat fish but they can't catch as many as people think they can.  They also eat crayfish which can undermine your dams, they prey on muskrats which will truly destroy a dam.  And the fun thing about predators, they don't overpopulate unless there is an overabundance of prey.  What about the herons?  They eat fish, should they be killed as well?  If it is really bothering you, catch it and put it someplace farther away.  We only kill animals which are directly impacting things that we are needing to live ourselves, squash bugs, bean beetles, etc.  Raccoons that get after the chickens.  Even the bears are "educated" to leave us alone.  I have always believed that one of the goals of permaculture is not to change the world to make it perfect just for humans, but to improve it in total and leave some room for the wildlife.
3 years ago
Sellers? Of insects? Hmmm. That is a somewhat novel concept for me. We catch and eat. Grasshoppers bothering your plants? Go on a hunt! The year that the 17 year cicadas hatched was a banner year for insect eaters. Some friends and I exchanged recipes and had a grand old time. And there were tons of them. There are some books that are devoted to edible insects and may help with identifying what is edible and what is not. Trying to harvest a bombardier beetle is never a good thing. Do you know marmalated stink bugs are edible? It seemed a little farfetched to me as well but if you par boil them (gets rids of a lot of the scent) and then fry them they turn into little crispy nuggets of yummy. Make an excellent salad topper or sprinkled over a bowl of steamed greens. Some people like earthworms but I don't find them that tasty.

If you are doing any digging and come across grubs, you know the little white ones that curl into a "C" shape, they are also prime and keeping a cup handy to pop them into is a great idea when gardening. It also rids your garden of Japanese beetles and a variety of pests you do not want. Of course you can always ease into it by growing your own mealworms. They are the larva of the darkling ground beetle and very easy to grow in the bin of wheat bran.
3 years ago
We love eating the sunchokes baked in a medly of roots -- carrots, turnips, beets, sunchokes and some slices of onion. With a little olive oil and seasoning, baked until kind of caramelized, sooo tasty. I like them boiled with a bit of butter.

The biggest problem I have with them is that the deer just love browsing them which drops tuber production something fierce. Of course the voles love them as well but we have had copperhead snakes, shrews and weasels move in and it has dropped our vole predation considerably. Putting suitable habitat for them has really paid off. Keeping an eye out for the copperheads is not much of a problem because we do that anyway.

I usually plant ground nuts withthem. The ground nuts climb the sunchoke stalks and they are all dug up at the same time. Purslane grows around it pretty well and doesn't seem to interfere. Works out pretty well.
3 years ago
Our 14 inch Meadow Creature broad fork has been a marvelous investment in our permaculture homestead. We have always called it the dragon claws. We break up soil for digging swales. One pass with the broad fork and it can be shoveled out in a jiffy. When planting trees and shrubs it is very easy to fork up an area and proceed with planting. The soil can be shoveled up with ease. Our soil is cementlike hard clay with gravel and a shovel just dinks around on the surface. The broad fork may resist a bit but will eventually go in the full 14 inches. It works great for deep aeration and opening the soil just a bit around all our plantings to allow compost teas, mychoryzal drenches and just water to go down into the soil. Without it, they may soak into the mulch but very little gets down into the soil. Since we began using it, the quality and life in the soil has improved dramatically. It is one of the tools I would recommend for everyone.
3 years ago
We have been cursed with the voles for many years and have developed a multi-pronged approach. At first I tried trapping them but there are just too many to do that. What has worked is just leaving them alone, encouraging vole predators such as snakes, foxes, owls and my personal favorite - shrews. We have habitat in the form of rock piles, brush piles, houses (owls), etc. This has made a gigantic difference in vole populations and a major increase in predators at least in our little corner of the world.. Planting castor beans in various places through the garden tends to keep them out. I imagine that leaving the chopped remains around special plantings would protect them in the winter. There is a product called "Mole Max" that is basically castor oil mixed with ground corn cobs. It has been very effective here in keeping them at bay. Perhaps sprinkling something like that on your pots and around them would be effective for you. When starting special cuttings in pots, I sink the pots into a bed made from hardware cloth that goes down about 10 inches into the ground and is above ground by 5 or six inches. This is sprinkled with a castor/corncob mix all around the pots. I also start tree seeds in pots this way. So far this has kept them safe -- even chestnut seeds which are like crack for voles (and squirrels). Keeping them all in one large bed makes it easier to protect them and I also lay a wire covered frame on top of them (squirrels!).

It is a terrible trouble to have these little pests but they do keep the soil stirred up and take bedding into their dens which adds to underground composting sometimes.
3 years ago