Alder Burns

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

In my experience these multi-grafted trees rarely do well in the long term.  Inevitably one of the grafts proves more vigorous than the rest and starts to dominate.  The only way to maintain it is to continually be pruning this one back, perhaps multiple times a season, in order to give the others a chance. 
3 weeks ago
If I had such a score, I would probably can them, either whole, cut up, or perhaps as a stew.  Large shellfish can be tough, but the prolonged cooking involved with pressure canning should suffice to make them tender!
1 month ago
Never thought about the issue of flavor!  Being a lover of seafood myself I would probably love it.  Fish meal is in fact one of the protein supplements that I use when I can't get free sources.  But yes, anything fed in quantity might affect the flavor.  I wonder if this applies if the stuff is fed to BSF first and then these are given to the hens?
2 months ago
If by rodents you mean gophers, I can't imagine that garlic or daylilies would do much, except perhaps to serve a bait and distract them towards themselves and away from other plants.  In my situation, nearly anything that makes a large root or tuber will get eaten by gophers, including onions and garlic.  All my root crops have to go in raised beds with metal mesh underneath to exclude them completely.  Only plants in the amaryllis family (such as daffodils and narcissus) and some in the iris family, seem to be poisonous enough to be immune.  They reguarly destroy a certain percentage of other plants too, especially when they are young.  But all important plants, especially new trees that are quite valuable, get planted in wire baskets.  By the time the wire rusts in a few years they are big enough to tolerate some root damage... Traps can help too, but it takes a bit of skill to set them effectively.
2 months ago
Every time you feed something to an animal, that animal uses some of the nutrient value to maintain itself.  This goes for BSF too.  Their best use is for things that the chickens won't eat themselves.  So the ideal in my mind would be to feed the fresh fish scrap to any critters that might eat it....poultry, pets, other fish, etc. Any that is too spoiled to do this with (and chickens, especially, will eat some pretty vile stuff!) would then go to the BSF for conversion....along with some, at least of the manure from the poultry, pets, and people!  The BSF do serve to spread out the feed yield since they can store dormant for quite a while, but you might be able to sun-dry the fresh scrap and store that with the same idea in mind.  Recycle at the highest level is the operative principle here.  Composting or soil application is the final, last use of an organic resource, after any other yields have been taken. 
2 months ago
There are plenty of hollow trees all around the world that have survived for centuries.  The living part of the trunk is the thin layer just below the long as that is preserved intact you're good.  The challenge is to keep the trunk from breaking (in a storm or under a heavy load of fruit or ice) or rotting.  Seeing that there is a clear channel for rainwater to drain out is essential to the second goal, as well as possibly painting or otherwise treating the exposed wood in the hollow.  You might be able to tie or cable the top branches of the tree to each other for stability, and plant other things nearby as windbreaks.  To be broken down at last in a storm or by decay are the main end fates.
4 months ago
I have several old soaker hoses still in use after several years.  Even with good pressure, minerals and other gunk can build up in the hose and gradually clog the pores.  I have often punched holes in it near thirsty plants, using an ordinary sewing needle or perhaps a heavier needle, nothing larger than this, which will create too much of a leak.  Perhaps at your pressure you might need something larger, just play around with it.  If there is a spray you can lean something over it to direct the water downward, or wrap a rag around the hose there.
4 months ago
Definitely mulberry and "groundsel tree" or Baccharis.  The mulberry is most likely a seedling white mulberry, which will have small white or darker fruit for a short season in early summer, once the trees get tall enough.  You might be able to graft some better variety onto them, but you will have to police the suckers which will always be trying to take over from it.  Both of these are often thought of as weed trees (or shrub, in the case of the Baccharis) and will be difficult to be rid of completely.
4 months ago
Remember that the original Three Sisters design and it's relatives mostly assume corn, beans, and winter squash being grown for dry, storable yields of dry corn and beans and mature squash.  Often the entire plot is left till first frost and all the produce harvested at once.  The bean and squash vines tangle everything together and it becomes a dense, weed-suppressing jungle.  This method of stacking crops has several advantages, but they might not be the things you want to grow.  Something like sweet corn or pole beans (for green beans) or summer squash would require repeated easy access to the interior of the plot.  You could lay out pathways for this, but then you will then lose more precious space.  I would not just broadcast anything, especially over sheetmulch or without any tillage.  A small area is best managed intensively for good yields.  Salad crops, other vegetables, and root crops might be your best bets.
4 months ago
It has been some years since I worked with solar, and I maxed out on a small 2 KW off grid cabin system.  But I do know that now there are things called micro-inverters, which is basically a little inverter that sits on the back of each panel, or perhaps a small group of panels.  If they are relatively inexpensive it might save a good bit on wiring since you will be moving AC from the panel area to the other stuff, rather than DC which requires fat expensive cables to move it any distance.  If you have to run the DC a long way it might even be worth it to sell the inverter you have and get the small ones.    I also know that another very important difference between grid-tie and off-grid is that the system must have some kind of automatic shutdown or disconnect in case the grid has an outage.  That way power line workers won't get shocked by power coming back into the system from your solar when they think there is no power in the area!
5 months ago