Ben Stallings

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since Mar 26, 2012
Emporia, KS
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Recent posts by Ben Stallings

Great video, Mike! Thank you for sharing that. I don't have experience growing pawpaws myself, but in my home town of Bartlesville, OK, there are large stands of wild pawpaws growing under a black walnut canopy.

Here are photos of my walnut guild in various years and seasons, in which you can see mulberries (Illinois everbearing grafted on dwarf stock) doing quite well. The tree is English walnut grafted onto black walnut root stock.
1 month ago
Well... maybe not quite that simple!

Pawpaws and mulberries are happy to grow under walnut trees. Same with red currants and aronia berries.
1 month ago
I've also thought about -- but not implemented -- chinampas as a way to incorporate aquaponics into permaculture. The problem with most aquaponic setups is that they require at least an electric water pump and a lot of plastic pipe. But the small change in elevation between water and land in chinampas means that a simpler bubble pump or mechanical pump could do the trick; you could even manually scoop up water a few inches into a trough.
3 months ago
OK, but the point of the diverter is to keep the barrel from overflowing into your house foundation when the rain comes down fast. If that's not a concern, by all means pipe your downspout directly into the barrel. But I flooded my basement doing that before I bought one of the Fiskars things.

Here's another approach I came up with:
11 months ago
I stand with those who say a weed is a plant that doesn't play well with others. As ecologists, we need to ask not what a plant is, but what it's doing in the ecosystem. If it's physically choking other plants (like bindweed), smothering them (like bermuda grass), crowding the root zone with durable, woody roots (like trumpet vine), or making people sick (like ragweed, poison ivy, etc.), that is a detriment if not an outright threat to our efforts to build a functioning ecosystem. If the same plant is not doing those things in your particular locale, then that's great. But please don't try to tell other gardeners in other locales that those plants aren't causing problems for them.

That said, I believe it was Ruth Stout who said, "A handful of weeds is a nuisance. A wheelbarrow full is a resource."
1 year ago
Suppose you have a nonprofit organization whose express purpose is to teach PDCs. Suppose the board of this nonprofit consists of people who care about and want to teach PDCs. Now suppose the organization hosts a PDC and wants to pay the instructors for their work -- not from the general funds, but specifically from the proceeds of the class -- and the instructors happen to be board members. Is that a conflict of interest? How can legal unpleasantness be avoided in this situation?
1 year ago
Dean, I think it's definitely worth an experiment, and I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from trying out a design, but I suspect you will find that a spiral is not the right shape for that location. Spirals in nature occur in eddies where a current passes an unmoving area; in a garden that would correspond to a heavily trafficked path passing a less trafficked area. On a slope, you're looking at a sheet flow of both water and air, which you can encourage by building along the slope or discourage by building across it. Permaculturalists typically try to slow down the sheet flow with swales, windbreaks, or other long structures built across the slope. Additionally this makes working on the garden less difficult since you don't have to stand at an angle.

In my own experience, I built an herb spiral the first year I had my house, and I disassembled it less than a year later. I found that it presented too much of a profile to the wind, which blew the mulch away and dried out the soil. I now have a h├╝gelkultur bed instead, oriented with its narrow end to the wind. Your mileage may vary.
1 year ago

Anna Tennis wrote:Fascinating. So even your carrots and beet/spinach family crops reseed themselves?

No, the carrots rarely go to seed (since they don't flower until their second year) and the spinach seeds are so lightweight they are stopped by the layer of mulch that is always on the ground. I replant them, in more or less the same spot every year. I was speaking to the concern about disease buildup which is used as an argument for crop rotation.
1 year ago
Anna, I think the phenomenon of the soil "becoming tired" is largely limited to tilled monocultures. I've been gardening the same plot for eight years without tilling and with roughly the same 6 crops interplanted each year, plus some weeds that I don't bother to pull, and my soil tests better now than it did when I started. I do top dress with compost at the time of planting (to cover the seeds), and I mulch with green material (grass clippings, weeds) during the growing season when available. The soil started out as heavy clay and is now soft enough for carrots.

I do have more trouble with squash bugs than when I started, so I don't plant squash anymore, though usually some volunteer from the compost and get killed by the squash bugs partway through the season. Similarly, harlequin bugs are well established in the bed and will decimate any crucifers I plant there in the spring -- fall crops are safe from them. But I haven't had any trouble with pests or diseases of tomatoes, beans, carrots, or the beet/spinach family.
1 year ago