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Rebecca Norman

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since Aug 28, 2012
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Rebecca has lived in Ladakh in the Himalayas since 1992. She's a bit of a crabby, grumpy character but is trying to Be Nice on Permies.
Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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Recent posts by Rebecca Norman

Eric, that's great information about autumn olive, but they are not very similar to olives, so may or may not be similar in their effects.
6 hours ago
Black locust thorns are nothing like honey locust thorns, so maybe you'd like that one.
Straw is the stems of cereal grains after they are harvested, and is usually stiff hollow golden cylinders. Hay is grasses and other plants harvested green as feed for animals.
1 week ago

Kelly Hart wrote:... until last year when practically nothing wanted to grow. Many plants that had flourished other years barely grew; it was very disappointing.

Then one of the members of our local permaculture group mentioned that he had a very similar problem, and he attributed it to the accumulation of glysophate from straw he had purchased! I think that this might be my problem also, especially when I realized that the goat manure was likely contaminated with glysophate-laced hay fed to the goats, and even the commercial alfalfa pellets could have been contaminated.

Probably not glyphosate but an herbicide of the aminopyralid group. Glyphosate breaks down within a few months, but the sinister aminopyralid class of herbicides do not break down in in composting, or even in the digestive system of ruminants or other animals. They are used on hay and grains because they kill broad-leafed plants but leave the grass family alone. So nowadays manure, hay, straw, and compost made from any of these, are increasingly likely to be toxic to garden plants (other than corn, cereal grains, or grasses).
Luckily I've never had to do a big poison ivy removal like this, but I have done some other vine removal, just by pulling it up as much as possible every time it comes up, and trying to pull up as much roots as possible every time.

I AM very sensitive to poison ivy, and so was my father, and we have always used a method that is very effective for preventing the rash, if you know you might have been exposed. I've even pulled up the vines intentionally with bare hands, and then prevented the rash. The rash is caused by an oil called urushiol that gets from the plant on to your skin, and then over the course of several hours goes deeper into your skin and causes the rash, which as I'm sure you know, only shows up a few days later. The roots and dormant winter stems also can cause a horrendous rash too (ask me how I know). But if you wash the oil off very thoroughly with soap or detergent after you think you might have been exposed, you won't get the rash. You also have to think carefully about any ways you may have spread the oil onto something else that you might touch later, such as your shoes, or the insides of the sleeves of a jacket (ask me how I know that one), and make sure to wash everything that might be carrying the oil. You don't need special detergent. I've used whatever soap or detergent was around, and it works, but I'm very reactive and have some horrendous childhood memories of poison ivy, so I usually lather up and rinse down twice, and make sure to remove any relevant clothing directly into the washing machine. That always prevents the rash for me. I've even gone back to wipe down a doorknob with soap. When I do get the rash, it is always when I didn't know I was exposed and so I didn't wash in time. I don't know how many hours exactly is the cut-off time, but I always tried to do it within a couple of hours and it has seemed to work.

So you could do a massive cut-down-dig-up once, and then every time it resprouts, pull up all that you can find. Be sure to do it when you are wearing washable shoes or rubber sandals or something, and head straight to the washing machine and sink or shower afterwards.

Covering the whole area with a very light-proof tarp for the whole season might do the trick with hands off -- it does kill most plants, except a few that have vigorous root systems and can traverse and come out of the sides, out into the sun.
1 week ago
It sounds possible that your season of needing to cool your house will coincide with the sub-continent's hot dry summer of May and June, which are also the times of year when the sun is at it's highest, strongest, and longest daylight. So using excess to cool your house might be suitable. The more thermal mass you have in your house, the more stable the temperature will remain, for example, if you cool the house more in the daytime when there is excess solar power, and then turn off the electric cooling system at night.
2 weeks ago
My land is stuffed full of stones so I built my raised beds out of them.
Absolutely great suggestions above.

If your dog is amenable to such training, the ideal would be to train her to poop on the newspaper/cardboard/junk mail. Maybe you'd have to slip it under her when she squats, and train her not to get startled and run away. Then just fold it up and off you go.

If you have any outdoor space, I heard someone tell about their worm bin for dog poop in a tropical country (Taiwan). He said he buried a bottomless bucket or similar pipe in the garden, with a lid. He put in some worm bedding material and some composting worms, then he just adds the poop from his two dogs every day. I think I remember him saying that the poop just disappears and you never have to move or empty the bin, and that he'd been using it for 10 years when he told us about it. Nearby plants or trees can use the nutrients. Or if preferred, after a couple of years you could pull up the bucket or pipe, dig a new spot in the garden for it, and cover the old spot with some soil from digging the new spot. Since worms can easily compost paper, newspaper, and cardboard, you could drop the whole package into the sunken worm bin.
2 weeks ago
The idea of growing fungus in a medium that is in contact with wood that has to be protected from allowing fungus to grow seems difficult. Is it maybe the wrong material for the wrong use in the wrong place? One possibility is accept it and use wood, a fairly rot resistant type, knowing that it will rot out after "several" years as you said above, in which case maybe by then you'll be wanting a design change anyway? Another idea is using a non-wood material like bricks, stones, concrete, or digging down into the earth?
Oh my god, Jeff, no danger to you and your farm, I hope?
3 weeks ago