Annie Hope

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since Mar 05, 2012
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Recent posts by Annie Hope

I am in New Zealand on the North Island where very little grain is grown, and straw is usually sold by pre-order before harvest.  But I do have my local tree guy dump truck-loads of wood chip in my pasture.

This includes some fruit trees, but mainly ornamentals, including a lot of New Zealand natives - and often a mix of trees in the one dump.  New Zealand natives are usually a soft-leaf evergreen, as we are in a climate where is is light winter frosts, but not enough to kill the grass, as most land is so close to the coast.  I think they are often also a hardwood.

I have read bits about what type of wood will grow oyster mushrooms and so far have gleaned the following bits of information:

YES - hardwoods, oak, deciduous

NO - fruit trees, pines/conifers

What I am wanting to know is the theory behind it.  Or to make it more simple - if a mushroom grows on the wood, is it OK?  E.G, do they not grow on pinewood, or if you grew it on pine would will it give a bad taste to the mushrooms?

Basically, can I go out to each pile that does not smell of pine/conifer resin and steam a trial batch, and if spawn grows on it, then I know I have a winner pile, and I save it for growing mushrooms?

1 month ago
Have you considered increasing your spores by growing spores in cardboard?  I just came across it last night, as well has how to sterilise grain in jars and increase your own spores that way.  Plan to try it myself so can update.
1 month ago
We are putting in a market and "pick your own" vegetable and fruit garden in a life-style block area.  The paddocks we plan to put these in are at the front of our property where there is a 10m+ wide verge that people often use to go jogging, walking dogs etc.   I thought as a good advertisement for the business I would put in a grazing garden for people that went past to eat based on the following Deuteronomy verse:
When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, but you must not put any in your basket. When you enter your neighbor’s grainfield, you may pluck the heads of grain with your hand, but you must not put a sickle to your neighbor’s grain.

I want to put in plants that people can pick and eat as they go past, but that the birds will not devour first. 
Also want it to be something that people will not be tempted to pick or eat out the whole lot in one go (e.g. grape vine).

It could be fruit or cherry tomatoes or nice greens to munch like fennel.  Is there a cherry tomato birds are  less likely to eat?
I thought cape Gooseberry / ground cherry may be an idea.

Any other ideas?
1 month ago

I am not sure the best place for this topic, but this seems an option.

I am about to establish a wood-chip garden on bare soil, and also have 1.5kg of seed potatoes looking at me on our book case waiting to be planted out (it is spring here in New Zealand).   There are 16 which range between 50-120g (2-4oz).  I plan to keep covering them with wood chip, and spread out sideways later.   I have 8 acres farmland, and about 200 cubic metres of well composted wood chip with more arriving on a regular basis. 

I am trying to decide whether it is better to plant the potatoes whole or to cut them into pieces.  If I cut, I won't be treating with chemicals after.   

WE are in a very temperate climate near the sea.  We have 6+ months of frost free weather ahead at least, and summers average a maximum high of 22C   (71F).  So we have a long growing season ahead of us.

If I cut, we will get more plants, but will each plant give less potatoes?  What would be best n a hgh nutrient environment?

1 month ago
Hi- continuing an old thread - but I wanted to pick up on the comment about using river sand as a rock dust.  The closest source of rock dust is three hours away, but 1-2 times a week I go to a monastery church in the valley of the Tararua Ranges (New Zealand), and there is a river beside it with rocks and sand of various size for the taking.I don't know what type of rock it is (though I do know it is dredged into huge piles and collected nearby by the truckload - I think by a road-building company), but I am wondering if I can only do good by collecting a few buckets of sand each trip and spreading it round our 8 acres.  We are near the ocean on very flat land.  We have sandy soil, but no mountain run-off.
2 months ago
Thanks for this - I can understand a separate pen for farrowing, but is there any evidence for a separate pen to encourage mating?  We have had a really hard few years in terms of  weather/flooded pasture/low feed, but looking at a good spring ahead (we are "down-under".  I am wondering if I should put the time and money into a separate pen or planting heaps of fattening fodder crops (e.g. beetroots) and hope increased body mass will do the job.
2 months ago
Hi - this is an old post - but hoping that it will "ping" to some people who replied before.  I have a similar question.  We have had 2 sows and a boar for a few years that have not breed.  They were raised together and are living in a small pen, and we take them to a movable pen we rotate round the garden and then "mow and carry" a lot of grass for them.  We know someone else in a similar situation, and they have been told by a university "expert" that the problem is that they will not mate successfully when they live together, but a separate enclosure is necessary for the boar.  Apart from the time and money involved to do this, it also seems rather unfair to the boar, as pigs are such social creatures. 

Any comments?
2 months ago
I am looking at starting a micro-dairy to provide our family and small organic food business (fresh produce and food cooked from it) with a source of organic milk, yoghurt, and soft cheeses for cooking (paneer, one-day greek feta for spinakopita etc).  This is definately worth doing.

I am also trying to rationalise whether it is worth having the extra cow or two to make a few kg of butter a week for baking when we can buy mainly grass-fed butter (we live in NZ) for NZ$10-14 a kg, and the milk needed to make this could be sold for $30-40 and be as cheap as the non-organic supermarket dishwater. 

The way to justify it would be to feed the skim milk to the calves.  There is reference to this being done by Laura Ingles Wilds, so it has been done for centuries, but on the other hand, I consider butter and cream the healthiest part of the milk when feeding my family, so I also wonder why I would I want to raise my next generation of milk cow on it.

We could use it for a later top-up feed once they reach 3 months or we could feed it to the pigs or chickens,  but as this also seems a waste to just selling the milk.  We are specifically testing and raising A2 cows, but once you get to butter I thik this becomes a rather non-issue.

3 months ago

As well as making a classic thermal mass rocket stove with 44 gallon drum on top as re-burner, I am also wanting something that will just heat a large pot really fast and then keep it at temperature for a while - for canning jars, pasturising straw for mushrooms etc.  This will often be in summer when we don't really need the thermal mass.

What will do this faster and more wood efficiently, a basic fire-bricks rocket stove with the flame directly on the pot, or sitting the pot on top of the 44 gallon drum re-burner?
4 months ago

The main purpose of the lean-to is not to be a greenhouse for plants, it is mean to:
- Act as a cheap retro-fitting double glazing on the house, with thermal mass heating it as well
- To extend the area of the house that does have dry soil underneath (we have a pier and beam house that does not have plastic on the ground under it, so we are going to do this under the house, and also in the greenhouse area, and put stones top of the plastic to make a thermal mass.
- To act as a retro fitted fly screen in summer and shading of the west windows from afternoon sun.  We plan to high-power fan vent the greenhouse out, and can open the house windows then as well.  Otherwise we have a choice of flies or a hot house in summer.
- To expand the living areas of the house - e.g. put a large dinning table in the greenhouse area near the kitchen, and a court-yard retreat from the guest bedroom.

There will be plants in pots and the outer corners of the greenhouse, but we will also have heat-exchange ventilation installed as well, so that should also control humidity.
4 months ago