Mary Hysong

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since Apr 17, 2012
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Recent posts by Mary Hysong

I discovered I had RKN a few years ago. I thought they were confined to a couple of beds in one garden area. Have now discovered that they are everywehre and infesting everything. Even tho they are not native to my area. I have been mineral balancing and make large amounts of hot compost. I am at my wits end.

Bacillus firmus and Paecilomyces lilaacinus are being used as inoculants in India against RKN but I cannot find any US suppliers. Wondering where I could find them / grow them. Hoping Dr. @RedHawk will see this and give his input!

PS;I know about covercropping marigolds and mustard and solarizing. Just hoping for a different approach that doesn't take the space out of production as I don't have much room.
1 year ago
The internet archives at has some real gems. I found both Sepp Holzers book and Bill Mollison's Permacuture, a Designers Handbook there. To read for free. I don't like digital as much as I like real books but better than nothing
1 year ago
OK so 3-4 years ago I discovered I had RKN in a couple of small garden beds. They had been planted in carrots. The crop was a total loss; not only were they ugly they tasted nasty. I pulled up everyone, cut the greens off for the chickens and threw the roots in the trash, along with some weeds that were in there.  That fall I planted them with cilantro and giant red mustard. Both crops were picked, eaten and sold. In spring when they started to bolt I reversed the plantings and again, picked, ate and sold them. The next year I grew potatoes under a thick straw mulch and they were fine.

Unfortunately  before I discovered I had RKN I had put a lot of stuff into the compost piles which at that time were being worked by chickens in a new garden area. I was totally pumped to have 300 sq ft of new bed space to work with. I planted a lot in a rainbow of potatoes with drip irrigation and heavy straw mulch. One bed I planted in cabbage and one in favas. Raging disappointment! the potatoes had odd bumps, tasted nasty and rotted quickly, even in the fridge. Just as the favas bloomed they were totally covered in aphids and died. The cabbages weren't too bad, but small and lightweight.  Succession crops of sunflowers, tomatoes and other veg started off good, then looked like they weren't getting enough water. I was watering all the time (from this thread I've just learned that just grew more RKN!) I pulled up a couple of tomatoes and sunflowers up. Their roots were gnarly!

I pulled up every plant and stuffed it in trash bags, taking as much soil and roots with it as I could. I bought some neem based nematocide. I soaked each  hole where I'd pulled up a plant with it and experimented. One bed got broccoli and cauliflower, winter crops here. (RKN are not active in soil under 60 degrees). They did reasonably well. One bed got a mixed cover crop which included mustard, field peas, radish and other things. It did well until it warmed up in spring when it croaked. Some of the mustard did make seed tho so I knocked it all down to let the seed sprout.

The end of two beds are being overrun with bermuda grass which came in on some manure. The grass is lush and green. Nothing else has done too well this year, although I have had a good number of volunteer sunflowers and so far they look pretty good.

This fall I intend to plant more mustard, broccoli and cauliflower. This year I tried to get marigolds started but even they are not doing so good. Really considering putting chickens back in there for a year or two since they would eat every bit of green, which would hopefully starve out the RKN.

I did buy a micharizal innoculant (however you spell it!) and have been inoculating my seeds and transplants. I have been working to add minerals that my soil test indicates I need, but maybe I haven't put enough down in that garden yet. So that's where I"m at right now. I have lots of earthworms all over.

I have been hesitant to use the nematocide much, as I thought it would possibly kill other things and knock things more out of kilter, even tho it's OMRI certified. However, I do intend to drench any nursery stock I bring in in the future, before planting out. That should prevent getting them again from the outside- they aren't native here and that's the only way to get them. figure if I drench them and then hold them a few days or a week, then innoculate with the fungal innoculant things should go well.

One other garden space was so totally infested with RKN (apparently I was spreading it around in the compost) that I did just put chickens and some ducks in there. They have been on that piece almost a year now. Hopefully by the time I get them moved to a new spot the RKN will have died off for lack of food. That space is totally surrounded by hot dry, cementlike caliche so I don't think they could migrate anywhere else
1 year ago

If it were me, I'd do just like I sprout apple, peach, apricot seeds. I stick them in pots of potting soil mixed with some worm compost on my sheltered patio and keep damp. They will naturally stratify over winter and most will sprout next spring. Tho I did finally get a cherry to sprout, 2 years later. Some tree seeds need more than one winter to break dormancy
1 year ago
This happened to me once; I put the branch in a bucket of plain water in a cool spot and the peaches ripened and were good. They were bigger tho and some were beginning to turn color already.
1 year ago
Once upon a time there wasn't any commercial chicken feed. If you will do a search you should find any number of old books, free to read on the internet,, about raising poultry. Anything pre-1950s is likely to be of value. I've read several (just can't remember names) and they mention things like pouring hot water over mash in the evening so it's well soaked by morning feeding time. Many recommend chopping fresh clover and mixing it in with other things like hardboild egg yolk for chicks.  Also mentioned in old books is meat and bone scrap. Apparently you could just order it from the butcher, it was the fine meat and bone scrap from his saws and whatnot.

One of the biggest things is clean fresh water at all times and grit. When I raise chicks I sprinkle a little of the chick size grit over their food from day 2 or 3, to make sure they are getting it. When they are bigger I start dumping buckets of sandy gravel in the pens. I will probably never have the space to not feed my birds commercial food but there are a lot of things that will cut the feed bill.

leftover milk and whey (they say the birds can't digest the milk but I never had an issue with whey or buttermilk)
any garden greens and weeds. BEWARE of cut long grass, fresh or dried, they will slurp it up like kids and spaghetti and it will get balled up in their crop and eventually kill them.
any leftover meat, fat or bone from the house or butchering
earth worms; start any number of worm beds and harvest as a protein source
compost piles; built of food and green waste plus mixed manures and wood chips I have kept a dozen or so hens very happy on almost no commercial feed, and laying eggs. It is work, having to turn, mix and remake piles every day or so. unless you can set it up to do it with a tractor.

There are various things to consider when think about this. Is your goal to just have some eggs and meat for the family at the lowest possible cash outlay? Then having more birds that rustle their own grub might work best for you.

Selling eggs or raising broilers to sell? Then you might want to go the most efficient route of feeding mainly commercial feed plus extras as they are available.

And of course there are dozens of in between situations. Look up Harvey Ussuray and his book for more ideas
1 year ago
Wow those are some amazing strawberries and the leaves look huge!. I too am working on the soil and adding minerals. This coming year will be the first year with adding minerals according to soil test. Last year I had major issues with root knot nematodes. They were probably in just a couple of beds years ago but over time, not knowing what was wrong with the plants, I spread them around through the compost. Really hoping that minerals and mycorrhiza help!
1 year ago
be very careful with spiral leg bands, zip ties, ect, if the bird is still growing and you don't check and change them often enough (every 2 weeks while they are young) their leg will grow over the band and cripple them.  I toe punch all my chicks at hatch and record the mark for each mating. You do need to make sure you get a clean punch, and you get the whole bit of skin out of it so it doesn't grow back. not counting no punch at all you have 15 different combinations. Toe punching is just putting a hole in the web between the toes and is best done the first week after hatch. I do it as I take chicks from the incubator to the brooder.

The zip ties and the celluloid numbered bands tend to get broken and fall off older birds over time.

Around 5=6 months when I decide which birds I'm keeping they get a permanent numbered metal band. These require a special pliers to put on but the ones I get have 3 sizes so fit all the different birds I have and work sort of like a rivet. There are also numbered wing bands that can be put on small chicks and which stay pretty good. I have a friend that uses them. Occasionally a bird will do something crazy and catch a wing band on a wire fence and rip it out, but normally they are there for life. On an older bird they are pretty much invisible. I find that since the numbers are small they are real hard for me to read without a helper holding the bird and pulling the feathers out of the way. I have occasionally had a bird lose a metal leg band but I think those may have been some of the first ones I did and maybe I didn't get them applied quite right. The metal bands come in a dozen or more different colors.

Since I show and breed it is very important that I know exactly where a particular bird came from so I really need permanent bands.
1 year ago
If not a hedge, could you add a privacy fence of wood or something on that side? That would stop spray drift, then you could plant something a bit in front of that
1 year ago
I found a little bit that might help you do further research; some of these on ebay have some history ect in the description

It sounds like you might have seen this one already;
1 year ago