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Alder Burns

pollinator
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since Feb 25, 2012
northern California
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Recent posts by Alder Burns

I would consider making biochar out of at least some of the woodchips.  There are several easy ways to do this, available on a quick web search.  Even a hole in the ground can serve as the kiln!  This will give you organic carbon that will last much longer in or on the soil than the chips in a raw state.  The warmer and wetter the climate, the more important this is....once the soil life is started up, it can break down an astonishing amount of organic matter continuously.  
If you are not in a hurry to put the space to immediate use, you could smother it with a heavy sheet mulch.  If you use cardboard you may have to renew it for 2 or 3 years till it quits sprouting.  Another possibility is to use something like scrap carpet, laid in overlapping courses like you would cardboard, and then taken up after a few years when you are sure the ivy is dead under there.  You might even be able to set containers or make temporary raised beds on top of this, so as to get yield from that area, since the ivy will be sequestered underneath.
2 weeks ago
That's a purple beech.  Fagus sylvatica.  there are little nuts inside those seeds that are edible.  The very new leaves when they first come out in the spring are edible also!
3 weeks ago
I have definitely seen bees working chestnut bloom.  But then I live in a climate where there are relatively few things in bloom at that time, so they may be sort of desperate for anything.  Also be aware that chestnuts, like most trees, only bloom for a fairly short period, so even if they are a good forage species, you will need plenty of other sources for them too.
1 month ago
A few loose ideas: 1. If you can source paper and cardboard in abundance (or possibly scraps of natural fabric, or even banana leaves or other large sheets of slowly compostable material....then try a complete sheet-mulch system for suppressing the running grass.  This was the ONLY way to garden on any scale in the field of bermuda grass I spent years on in Georgia.  Usually I would lay the paper, etc. out over the growing grass, covering it with some kind of top-mulch....even if an incomplete cover like clumps of pulled weeds, stalks, etc..  the point is to keep the wind from blowing the stuff around.  Then punch holes through it and plant transplants right in it.  Worked will for large vigorous transplanted things like tomatoes and sweet potatoes.  But you have to do it EVERY year on bermudagrass land. 2. Biochar.  Biochar is extremely valuable in hot climates where organic matter vanishes so quickly whether mulched or incorporated.  There are many easy ways to make it, even in a hole in the ground.  Then add urine if you can and use that on your soil for the most intensive gardens.  The benefits of the organic matter will last much longer in the soil.  3. As others have mentioned, the hoe is a cutting tool and not a digging tool when used for weeding.  I know that in Africa and elsewhere there is a tool that looks a bit like a hoe with a heavy wide blade and a short handle, used for most of the purposes that Europe and America use a shovel for.  The Western hoe is long handled with a light, sharp blade and you sweep just under the surface of the soil with it, like sweeping a floor with a broom.  The point is to cut the weeds off just at or below the soil surface.  You should be able to do it for hours without getting tired, unless the weeds are very dense.
1 month ago
Beware of setting up anything that can harbor a bird the size of the great horned owl (and even moreso, the Eurasian eagle owl which is even larger!) These are often the invisible, mysterious culprits for small animal disappearances.  Poultry up to at least the size of large chickens, rabbits, and even small dogs and cats may be taken!  A friend of mine once saw one of these owls just at dusk with a freshly killed hawk!  They may strike any time from dusk to dawn, in complete silence,  and often the victim simply vanishes, without a sound or a trace, carried off to be eaten at a distance.  
1 month ago
One advantage to storing seed over multiple years is that you can maintain varieties that cross-pollinate, like corn or squash, by simply growing one variety one year and another the next, and alternating thus indefinitely, keeping both varieties pure.  Since these seeds easily store for several years, you could keep three or four varieties indefinitely, and also reserve a season to plant two and experiment with letting the cross, etc.
The other big player in your ecosystem, as well as mine, and one which makes big constraints on design, is wildfire.  In general wildfire resistant design gravitates toward wide spaceing, such that the canopies of mature trees don't touch, and minimal underbrush, so as to minimize the fire-ladder effect.  You want a ground fire to be able to go through the grass and mulch layer and stay there rather than get into the tree tops.....the bark of mature trees of many species can resist such a low-intensity burn.  In most parts of the West, it is not a question of avoiding or preventing all fire, but preparing for it when it comes.  The only exception to this would be a tight, dense planting that is under continuous heavy irrigation, preferably by overhead sprinklers that can be run before (and hopefully during, but don't rely on grid power to do this) a wildfire event.
1 month ago
There are several other dangerous relatives all belonging to genus Amanita.  Anyone who cannot reliably identify Amanita species from other mushrooms should NOT be gathering mushrooms to eat.  In fact, I studied mushrooms of all sorts for ten years before I put one in my mouth!  Though now I think this was over-cautious, still, I'm still here, picking, and have sold to the public and restaurants, since I gained a good reputation.  
1 month ago
I would try the hardier citrus like mandarins and Meyer lemons, as well as the hardiest avocadoes of the Mexican type, for the colder property.  Plenty of people near Gainesville are growing both.  But they CANNOT tolerate soggy soil at any time of year, so if your land is prone to this they MUST be planted on ridges or mounds.  Was careful to say this since you mention "wetland" in your header title.  Also, elderberries love wet!
1 month ago