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frank larue

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since Apr 08, 2012
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Recent posts by frank larue

Just to add to what folk have said, lots of good advice here, soil test is important to get a general sense of what is going on but it will be best regarded as a benchmark. As an urban lanscaper of several years I can tell you that every cubic foot of soil you test is going to give wildly different results. It has been moved, removed, and dumped where it lies.

Fungi, particular ones that grow mushrooms are potential remediators for your soil. Dispose of the mushrooms away from a food area and save some for taking tissue samples of flushes so you could monitor the progress metal removal. Tests can sometimes be done cheaply through a local community college or university extension.

Organic matter in the form of compost will help to bind some metals in the soil. Some jobs I've laid down mats of mycelium with successional species and built raised beds on top. Others I've used the not-so-popular heavy gauge landscapers fabric and mulched chips and raised beds on top. I second the aquaponics consideration if you can invest in the temp control. You will get a lot of production from it and there is no need to mess with known hazards.
4 years ago
I'd like to give this a bump. We are settled into our home and I'd like to get our birds as soon as possible.
5 years ago
My partner and I moved to Ellensburg, WA this week. We are accustomed to the New York/Pennsylvania flora but we have no knowledge of this dry biome. We intend to raise chickens immediately. The owners of the house we are renting are wonderful people who have already done a lot to the property with multiple raised beds, mulched soil, mature peach, apple, and pear trees, and a great coop. What I want to do is minimize the feed and provide as much fodder from our kitchen and plants in the many potential polycultures we can develop.

What are excellent conventionally-planted species that will provide greens, seed, bug attraction and so forth for chickens?

What are the early succession opportunists that are desired by chickens? in the Delaware water gap of Pennsylvania we used tons of chickweed, smart weed, lamb's quarter that we wouldn't plant, but encouraged in certain areas. What can we keep our eyes open for?

5 years ago
My partner and I are relocating to the Yakima area and are looking to get a flock going. We aren't looking for any ladies that are productive to your farm/garden. But if you have any gentle hens that still brood without producing much in the way of eggs we would love to adopt a couple that will raise our first generation of chicks. Also, we are very interested in finding a source of fertilized eggs of any independent varieties (like Rangers) we would love to speak with you too. I'm going to school for brewery science and can trade in beer, fermented veggies, preserves, tinctures, or provide fiat currency should it be the preferred method.

Also, if anyone has any suggestions for small breeders in the area we would be greatly appreciative!

5 years ago
Hey all, most of my study and farming experience has been with perennial crops with animals, and personal vegetable gardens. I don't know how to efficiently grow grains. I'm about to start a certificate in fermentation science, focused on brewing. I've wanted to connect these passions at every chance. I'm am deciding upon two programs in very different regions.

One is Ellensburg, Washington: usda one 6a, 9 inches of average of rain a year. High winds are to be expected in spring. I've never lived in a dry area and I'm doing what I can learn about methods of making use of every drop that falls on the home, wherever that is.

The other is Mount Pleasant, Michigan: usda 5a, 32 inches of average rainfall. Animal care will likely be a more prevalent part of our farming if that is a help or hindrance to this process. There is enough water to support pasture raising.

-Malt barley: Hordeum hexastichon (6-row) and H. vulgare distichon (2-row) in mind. Are there others I should know about? I'm open to other

-How do I grow these species efficiently without compromising the soil I'm trying to build? What can I do to prep the area, plant with/after, animal participation?

-What could you share regarding efficient harvest and processing of these grains so they are viable for malting (sprouting and drying/roasting) at a later date? Is a food grade barrel sufficient to avoid molds?

Any reads to recommend will be appreciated. Thanks for your time!

5 years ago
I'm working on a project for a friend to set up an irrigation system for his garden from rainwater off his roof.

It'll probably be two IBC totes stacked on top of one another. I've seen mains backup systems as simple as using a toilet flush-fill system but I cannot find the links I found months back (oh, late-night research!). Though it would be great to keep the system for rainwater, a mains backup will allow my friend the peace of mind to be away for work for a week and not worry about his still-establishing forest garden. Has anyone put something like this together before?

Also, does anyone have any experience with using soaker hoses off drip irrigation? it seems a finicky process keeping adequate flow, especially if the tank is running low (also, hence the mains backup). I was also considering a solar panel hooked up to a dc bilge pump but more moving parts makes for a more convoluted process (especially when you don't know what you're doing.

What about timers? Are these possible to hook up?

Thanks in advance!

6 years ago

ibnahmed Abdullah wrote:
So how much space does a bird need what would you consider a good starting flock and money and manpower are not a a issue.

any advice will be appreciated

I've never worked on such a large plot of land before, and frankly, I'm having trouble visualizing it. But I can offer some advice for guinea fowl raising. If deforestation is a problem and there is minimal undergrowth then the birds will struggle. What is predation like?

My flocks generally make up groups of 15-30 birds that range about a 40 acre area of mixed woodland, pasture, and vegetable beds and orchard. I've never had more than 4 flocks at a time and I've never felt the need to stress the whole system to see how many I can push. They love hunting in packs, moving through the tall grasses, or marching through the woodland herbs looking for anything that moves (rodents, bugs, small snakes). I got into them to control my tick populations, as they eat them and their carriers with ferocity. Unless you are ready to pay to feed them though, I agree with Jay that you might want to consider rehabilitating the landbase to support them. Maybe it makes sense to start small.

I'm not at all familiar with your climate and native species, but in my opinion creating spaces to support understory plant growth is a requisite to ranging guinea fowl. I would look for early succession species native to the area. This will likely include "weeds," many with taproots to pull moisture for the subsoil. They will likely be opportunistic and compete for bare soil. Earth works like ponds, swales, hugel-culture beds and so on will be vital to making the most use of water that falls or runs on the property. These will likely be your best locations for starting your oases of desired species. With some assistance, you can spread these patches faster than if left alone (though this would work as well).

How do you plan to catch them? Are you intending to allow them to reproduce and swell numbers? I raise my chicks with friendly broody hens which seems to help them adjust to my presence and impart a sense of protectiveness on the hens so they don't walk off from the clutch, or abandon chicks in a field. Guinea fowl don't seem to be great parental figures, at least in the climate I'm in (zone 6, wet temperate mountains). It seems starting them with broody chickens (I have a rooster that is apt to watching over guinea chicks too) has improved their subsequent reproduction in the field. Even then, during slaughter times, these buggers know what's going on and make themselves invisible or abandon the coop for the tallest hemlock on the property. There is a balance to be struck between keeping them wild and getting them to trust you at the expense of their domestication. This might be an important consideration to discuss with your partners if you don't yet have a plan in place.

6 years ago

M.K. Dorje Jr. wrote:....Some people like Siberian pea shrub, but I'm not sure how well it grows in the shade.

Thanks I didn't think to ever use fava beans as an understory to trees!

From my experience with siberian pea is that is doesn't handle the shade well. With appropriate bacterial and fungal inoculations I have been able to get some to survive but they are spindly and unlikely to provide surplus nitrogen to neighbors.
6 years ago

casey lem wrote:....I steer clear of decaffeinated because of concerns about chemicals used in the decaffination process. I also wonder about the presence of pesticides as the grounds I get aren't organic. Any insight into either of those topics? Thanks again for the links.

Many apologies for not getting back. There's only so much we can do in some respects. Just because something is grown under organic certification (which is often only moderately more responsible ecologically in my opinion) doesn't mean there are many nutrients in the food, nor are there any assurances that with each change of hands in the shuffle globally this material is being tampered to maintain weight, color, and so on.

What we do know is the process for grounds to go through before it hits the machines. Agricultural -icides will undoubtedly break down into other toxic compounds in the drying process, then storage, and then roasting. Especially through percolation (which encompasses every cafe machine I've ever seen), much of the soluble material is lifted from the grounds. What remains on the grounds when they come to you is broken down into far simpler and perhaps less or (maybe) non-toxic compounds by the enzymes the oysters exude. What we should be a little concerned about are metals, as these are toxic at their base form and fruiting fungi have been shown to accumulate them into their mushrooms. If you are curious to see what you are working with you can drop off samples to a local lab. I use the services offered by a community college soil science department, but your local cooperative extension will be able to reference some options in your area.

If you do take any samples over, please post your findings!
6 years ago

Jane Reed wrote:Unlike Frank Larue, I have found DE to be effective against ants.

This is great news! Would you mind sharing your method? I assume the humidity in my area rendered it ineffectual but my application may be off the mark as well.

6 years ago