George Stone

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since Jun 02, 2012
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Recent posts by George Stone

I think that I am already permaculturally warped. I drive by a highway expansion project every weekday. The construction crew just finished ripping up a long row of fairly large trees. My first thought was that it probably was not necessary to remove the trees. Then after seeing the humongous pile of trees, I thought it would all make a marvelously large hugelculture bed, perhaps in a community garden somewhere. I'd love to go into the work site and haul away some of the stuff, but public access is usually not allowed for such projects (I think). They'll probably haul the trees off to burn or for a land fill. Sigh.....
8 years ago

Like Martyn, I have been considering something similar. We have a herb patch next to the house at the bottom of a a somewhat steep slope. I was thinking of putting in a hugelculture berm just above it with a swale just above that. We would then expand the herb garden onto the berm. It would make a good starter project for me.

Where in Iowa? We are near Glenwood.
8 years ago
Saw that movie a long time ago. Didn't the "hero" made an ice machine in a jungle somewhere?

Everything has a risk. We just have to be clever and careful about how we manage the risk. Ammonia is toxic, but it's been used in refrigerators, coolers, and refrigeration for a long time. I'm thinking the potential hazard is fairly small. And if I am recalling correctly, it's not very concentrated in refrigeration units. That and I don't think we're talking about a very large volume of it either. The "active chemicals" in propane refrigerators are ammonia, water, and hydrogen. Handling the hydrogen might actually be more hazardous. Still, I think a reasonably sharp tinkerer could come up with a safe, working prototype and go from there.
8 years ago
Been away for a short bit. Logged on and found lots of great responses.


I like your idea. We're trying to come up with ideas for windbreaks. We live on top of what once was a glacier moraine in what is known as the Loess Hills. Winters are cold, but not horribly cold. It's the wind that causes problems. We get worried on calm days and begin to think in terms of animal sacrifice to get the breezes going again. We do have three apple trees and the winds have been very hard on them. In the five years we have had them, we have yet to get a single apple. Every spring, the winds beat the snot out of the blossoms and often we get an untimely cold snap. The poor things desperately need a wind break / sun trap. Right now wind break ideas include bamboo (believe it or not) and/or using the native Eastern Red Cedar. Both are fast growing. Plus the cedar is very resistant to 2,4-D and Round-Up which is a plus for my location (corn and soy beans immediately east and west of the property) and I can get them for free. We have about an acre, but we planted trees and shrubs, higgly-piggly without any real planning and unfortunately without any permaculture considerations. Now I have to really rethink the whole property. It'll be a lot of work but I really would like to see a little green oasis of paradise in the midst of the corn-soy monoculture.


Loved the links. The new USDA plant zone chart is calling our location a 5a. Lawyer Nursery looks very cool. Already added to my favorite links.


Good info. I wondered if what you said would be the case. Nature has her ways and they don't fit in neat, man-defined categories so very well. It's just what it is.

I'll do some digging and asking to see what others have had success with. But, now that I think about it, I don't ever remember seeing a cherry tree around here. Still, I'll ask around. Possible idea for a niche permaculture product? Things that make you go “hmmmm”. Premium cherries at a premium price?

Thanks for all the responses. Very awesome.

8 years ago
I've been pondering the idea that a propane refrigerator could be modified to use other sources of heat. For instance, why not solar? Any heat source could be used. It should be possible to have an array of available heat sources. Use the heat source that is most appropriate and then have a backup and backups for the backup.

The same could work for home/house cooling. You would have to cobble something together on a larger scale than a refrigerator, but it should work. The technology is relatively simple. The refrigeration unit itself has no moving parts.
8 years ago
Dammit Phranque, you've wrecked my fantasy. I was just hoping to relive an old memory by having my own cherry tree. As a young lad, I used to make a fair amount of extra cash by picking cherries. Good fun with a bunch of friends and pretty girls.

Anyway, here's what I found out. First, I clearly don't know jack about fruit trees. Now, perhaps I now know a little more than jack.

Tell me if I'm understanding this correctly. Basically, many or even most “modern” fruit trees are the result of “making nature my bitch”. (Thank you Paul Wheaton for that phrase). They are largely not capable of propagating themselves to any useful degree. So, if we, for instance, let all commonly cultivated cherry trees go wild and never planted replacements, they would soon die out? Is this more or less correct? The whole idea that many cultivars/varieties of fruit trees need need to be grafted onto a rootstock is disappointing.

Another thing I learned is that the cherry varieties, Rainiers and Bings, that I'm trying to get to germinate, even if grafted onto a hardy enough root stock, probably won't do well on my property. Bing cherries blossom fairly early in the Spring. Here in SW Iowa (aka Monsatan Land), it's often too cold and definitely too windy for the blossoms to pollinate and then survive to produce fruit. (Note that I am ignoring permaculture solutions for this problem for now). Some sources, like the Iowa Extension Office, even recommend hardier sour cherry varieties in lieu of sweet cherry varieties.

So, now my thinking has evolved to the following:

1. I'll wait and see if those cherry pits ever germinate, just to see if it can be done and for curiosity’s sake.

2. I'll reevaluate the feasibility and wisdom of including some kind of cherry producing plant in my someday hoped for food forest. Perhaps a natural and hardy variety like Choke cherry, Mongolian cherry, or Nanking cherry might be in order.

Comments, ideas?

8 years ago
Does this just happen with "cherries that you eat"? (And what is "cherries that you eat"?) I have to ask, why would that happen? Does it always happen? Some of the time? Mostly? Sometimes? I can see that if the cherries are from a hybrid tree, things could get interesting, in the weak and diseased trees sense. But, good cherry trees had to start from someplace. And where are they now? I can't believe that grafting is the only way to grow a healthy cherry tree. Or is it? I really have no idea. Anyone know? Where have all the good cherries gone?...long time passing....
8 years ago
Trying this now. Read, some where on the internet (sorry no URL), that cherry pits have to experience a good cold spell for two or three months. One suggestion was to put the seeds in the freezer and then plant them. I have done this. Just planted them in pots this week. Hopefully, something will germinate.
8 years ago