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 trying to Be Nice on Permies.
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Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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Recent posts by Rebecca Norman

I'm also eagerly waiting to hear for a safe, effective and reasonably natural method to prevent infestation in wool or hair insulation. My friends here in the Indian Himalayas have been experimenting with goat's wool insulation (byproduct of cleaning pashmina fiber). The first time they used it, the homeowner suffered a terrible bug infestation, though I'm not sure it was wool moths. Anyway, he ended up tearing it out. Big job.

The past couple of years they've been washing it in a borax solution and drying it, before installation. I'm waiting to see how long that works for.
1 week ago

Rhonda Uhrich wrote:Hello there. I am new to Nettling. And have gathered some wonderful information and recipes here. But I do have a question. I tend to dry large amounts in my oven. At around 195 most of the time. My question: how hot should my oven temp be to dry my nettles and neutralize the formic acid?

Where I live in the Indian Himalayas, nettles are just air dried, and they largely lose the sting. I can buy them as local wild foraged products but these need a bit of picking through to remove bits of grass blades and tough nettle stems. I find that handling and picking through the dried nettles doesn't sting. When I've sorted a large quantity, picking through with bare fingers for like 30 minutes, I do get a mild stinging or warm sensation.

I air dry nettles that I pick myself (cleaner and younger than what I can buy). I use gloves to pick them and rinse well (because their texture catches dust and my climate is dusty). Then I shake the water off and spread on trays in a well ventilated place. In this desert climate, they dry without a special dehydrator machine.
2 weeks ago
If you want to keep it contained, eg if you have a dog who gets snackish in a yucky way, you can bury a garbage can part or all the way, and keep its lid on.

If you cut the bottom off completely, then if and when it ever gets full you can pull it out of the ground and move it to a new spot without having to interact much with the used litter. Tree roots will move in and utilize the nutrients.
2 weeks ago
To me, chard is never bitter.

Here's a super easy "palak paneer" method that can be used with any cooking green, including edible weeds, chard, spinach, calaloo, etc. It requires a food processor or blender (either countertop or immersion). It makes a creamy green puree that is traditionally used with paneer cheese cubes in Northern India but as easily can be used with tofu cubes, or just with pasta, etc.

- Wash the greens.
- Bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil.
- Drop the washed greens into the water and push down gently with a spoon.
- After about 5 to 10 minutes, when the greens look cooked, drain them out of the pot into a colander.
- Chop enough onions to make a pile about half the size of the pile of cooked greens. (Onions makes the result sweet an counters any possible bitterness).
- Sautee the onions in any fat or oil of your choice, while the greens cool a bit. Butter is yummy.
- Puree the greens with the sauteed onions, adding just enough cream to make it possible to puree to a very smooth consistency. If you don't want to use cream, use milk or any non-dairy milky substitute of your choice. If using a countertop blender, it's important that the contents not be very hot, or they will burst upwards and outwards and make a mess in your kitchen.
- Add salt to taste while pureeing.

This smooth green puree can be used various ways.
- For "palak paneer" with either paneer or tofu, cut the white stuff into small bite-sized cubes. Either deep fry the cubes first or use them directly raw. Heat the green puree gently with the white cubes in it, and serve over rice or as a side dish.

- If you have some basil or other tasty pesto, you can expand your precious pesto with the green puree, and then use it over pasta and/or vegetables. I like it as a sauce on plain boiled cauliflower, if you are trying to increase your vegetable intake.
1 month ago
I was on a fb group called "Canning Rebels" where the topic of "Slut sauce" came up regularly. It was dulce de leche made in canning jars, and since the condensed milk had been removed from the cans, it allowed the addition of other flavors like vanilla, or maybe chocolate/cocoa or coffee.

Most may have been water bathing it, but some of them were pressure bathing it. The only thing with pressure bathing, as far as I understand it, is to heat it up slowly and  cool it down Very slowly before opening, so that there is never a huge temperature difference between the inside and the outside of the jars. As for how long to process it, you could try with one or two jars first to get an idea, and then go for the rest.

1 month ago
I've compiled this list from acronyms- what do they all mean and Permaculture Jargon translator. It still needs formatting work, and I want to add permies forum specific terms from What do these titles mean?. But, I don't want to lose this and need to get out in the garden. I'm making this a wiki editable by both Pollinators and Moderators, so hopefully lots of people can add and define more terms here! Let's make this a great resource!

  • Big Black Book = "Permaculture : A Designers Manual" by Bill Mollison
  • A List of Active Staff on -
  • Adobe = is similar to Compressed Earth Blocks (CEB) insofar as you're making blocks of earth, but they're not compressed. They're mixed wet, put into molds, and hold their brick shape as they dry.
  • Apples = a yummy fruit that grows on trees. Here on permies, it's a way for "Pollinators" and moderators ("Gardeners" and "Stewards") to reward posts they think are good
  • ATC = appropriate technology course:
  • BB = Badge bits (these are tasks to complete to earn a badge in the PEP permaculture curriculum)
  • BB20 = Badge Bit 20 (a--usually free--event for those who've completed 20 badge bits. It's a way for them to use the recources at Wheaton Labs to get even more badge bits done to earn more permaculture badges!)
  • BEER = Better Extreme Early Retirement
  • Berkey = (Berkfeld ®) -- a kind of water filter that's really cool, takes out of the water a lot of unwanted minerals like lead and mercury, and kills 99.99+% of viruses, bacteria, and other mini-nasties.
  • bioremediation -- using plants or other living organisms to clean up toxic gick from your soil, such as lead or arsenic. Sunflowers, barley, brassicas (broccoli, kale), and trees have all been accused of being lead remediators. Research for yourself. Bones are also supposed to bind lead in a non-bio-available form (pyromorphite, or "lead chlorophosphate") although some plants can solublize pyromorphate (make it bioavailable again)
    bioremediation 2: A treatment that uses naturally occurring organisms to break down hazardous substances into less toxic or non toxic substances
  • black locust = a tree = robinia pseudoacacia  a highly rot resistant wood, traditionally used for fence posts. Able to withstand direct soil contact for years without rotting. 
  • bokashi = a ferment used in natural farming
  • bone char -- burnt bones, a slightly more convenient and sanitary (and neighbor-friendly) way of putting bone amendment into your soil
  • bone salve = the tar tha drips down from bones heated in pot for a long period of time. It's a concoction that Sepp Holzer came up with that repels deer, lasts for decades (he states), and is all "natural" .
  • BRK = Biological Reverse Kickstarter (this is a way to financially support people doing awesome things at Wheaton Labs thought the Permaculture Bootcamp)
  • Brown permaculture = more of a nuts and bolts permaculture, with emphasis on specific techniques and more practical knowledge sharing, without philosophical considerations. (see: purple permaculture and purple/brown permaculture)
  • CEB = Compressed Earth Blocks. These are similar to rammed earth insofar as you're packing earth tightly so that it holds it shape. But instead of formworks, the compression happens inside a machine, resulting in a block. The block is then used for building just like any other masonry unit.
  • Cob = is a mix of clay, sand, and straw. You pile it up lump-by-lump to build things- most often walls and benches.
  • Comfrey = an abundant wild plant, that grows all over the place, good biomass plant for chop and drop.
  • Daikon radish -- a deep (1' or more) -rooted radish that can help prepare soil for planting and is used in natural farming. Planting these to loosen soil has advantages over tilling.
  • DE = diatomaceous earth. It is fossil sea shell flour. It's a microscopic razor that cuts an insects exoskeleton and kills via dehydration.
  • Department of Making You Sad = any government regulatory bureau that may have regulations that are hard to comply with, impede progress, or, arguably, attempt to protect ecosystems at the expense of actually protecting them (for example, a law says you can't make a pond more than 4' deep on your land, but if you do you could turn a barren field into a supply of local food, thus decreasing your carbon footprint. the regulations run counter to the larger intent of the law, and so you feel sad that you are fined for or prevented from doing what serves the greatest good)
  • Dynamic accumulator = Plants that gather certain micronutrients, macronutrients, or minerals and store them in their leaves. These plants can be used either for detoxifying soil or for gathering a certain nutrient or mineral from an area.
  • Earth bag = recycled or new bags made of plastic that are filled with earthen materials and then stacked with barbed wires in between to form a structure or wall.
  • Earth ship =this one is a bit fuzzy, with different people interpreting it. may refer to the original buildings by michael reynolds, who coined the term, using all recycled materials and a lot of tires and earth. may also refer to the general design which is very long and thin, a passive solar design with U-shaped rooms as modeled by the star community, or is used imprecisely to refer to just about any alternative construction method.
  • Ecotones = the transitional space between two or more ecosystems or communities.
  • Edge effect = a term derived from ecology to describe how between/on the border of two or more communities, there are species from both communities inside the ecotone. There is almost always more biodiversity on the edges of a community(s) than within the individual communities themselves. This is one of the reasons why edge is optimized in permaculture.
  • FLEGM = Fresnel Lens Glass Melter (using a giant magnifying glass to melt glass to make cool things!):
  • FYSH = farmstead yield standard hour (a way that Paul Wheaton pays people for tasks they do for him):
  • GAMCOD = grow a million calories from one acre of dirt:
  • Gardener = A person who grows food. Here on permies, it's also a term for a moderator. This person can give out 5-15 apples a day (dependent on if they are a "Master Gardener," which is basically a pollinator who's been so helpful that Gir Bot likes them a lot.)
  • GAT = Government-Mandated Acceptable Levels of Toxicity
  • Gir Bot = This is what we call our forum software. Gir Bot does everything from sending PMs about fixing your posts, to choosing the "Master" gardeners/pollinators/etc, to helping merge threads.
  • Hugelkultur = a raised garden bed technique where wood is buried in a raised mound. This helps retain moisture, harbor benificial soil microrganisms, and create diverse microclimates
  • HUSP = Horticulture of the United States of Pocahontas:
  • LSMFT = Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco. Does no one recall 1960s television commercials, where every other one was for cigarettes?
  • Mother Tree = A tree that supports a large section of a forest ecosystem. Here on permies, this can refer to a moderator who has even more responsibilities and scary buttons than a Steward
  • Paul Wheaton - creator and ruler of
  • Pawpaw Asimina triloba, a tree native to North America bearing fruits with a few large seeds (not related to papaya, which is called pawpaw in Australia and some other countries)
  • PDC = Permaculture Design Course (a way to learn permaculture methodology and skills and earn a shiny, world-recognized certificate)
  • PEA = Permaculture Experience for Apartment Dwellers (a way for anyone, around the world, to learn permaculture and homesteading techniques, even in an apartment!):
  • PEP = Permaculture Experience according to Paul (Paul's permaculture and homesteading self-directed ciriculum. A way to learn a bunch of skills by doing awesome things.):
  • PEX= Permaculture Experience According to X (X stands for unknown person's initial. This means ANYONE can make their own permaculture ciriculum!):
  • PTJ = Permaculture Technology Jamboree (a way to learn awesome permaculture/homesteading technology that utilizes local resources and wind/solar energy, often with little electivity. Think building houses that are heated and cooled by the earth, composting toilets, rocket mass heaters, etc ): and
  • PIE = A yummy food encased in a crust. Here on permies, this also stands for "Permaculture Inner-circle Elite." PIE is symbolized by a little piece of huckleberry pie. This pie can be given away with a special message to thank another member on permies. When you have pie, you also have access to a bunch of free stuff and spiffy forum features. PIE is a great way to support permies!
  • Pioneer = Plants that are the first ones to grow in disturbed places. Here on permies, it also stands for a poster who's completed their scavenger hunt
  • Pollinator = An insect or other animal that spreads pollen from one plant to another. Here on permies, it's also a term for a poster who's made a lot of great, useful, helpful posts. This person can give out 1-3 apples a day (dependent on if they are a "Master pollinator," which is basically a pollinator who's been so helpful that Gir Bot likes them a lot.)
  • Purple permaculture = permaculture with a metaphysical/spiritual/philosophical or less practical slant. (see: brown permaculture and purple/brown permaculture)
  • SEPP = Seriously Excited about Permaculture Pampering (basically, a way to rent/tent at Wheaton Labs. You can learn permaculture techniques along with the people in the Permaculture Bootcamp whenever you want, if you want to.): 
  • Sepp Holzer = really innovative guy who uses earthworks, hugelkultur and permaculture techniques to push climate boundaries and grow with very few added inputs. Paul Wheaton's hero.
  • SKIP = Skills to Inherit Property (A program that contains the PEP--permaculture Experience according to Paul--where you do awesome permaculture stuff, post pictures, get certified, and show landowners that you are worthy of inheriting their land when the times comes):
  • Steward = A person who takes care of something else, like the land. Here on permies, it stands for a moderator who has access to more buttons. They can give out infinite apples a day
  • SPIFFY =  Save the Planet by Injecting Friendly Fixes Yourself:
  • SYMBOO = ???: One of the four pieces of land at Wheaton Labs, with increasing degrees of permaculture awesomeness.
  • TEFA = Textured Earth, Food All Year (Swales, hugelkultur, ponds, and other earthworks used to add shape to the landscape to make diverse microclimates and hold water on the land longer):
  • TL= Either "the land" or "the labs." If it's the "The Lab," it probably refers to part of Wheaton Labs where most of the experiements are done, and also where Ant Village is.
  • VORP = Virgin, strictly Organic, Rich soil, and Polyculture/permaculture:
  • WL = Wheaton Labs:
  • Wheaton Eco Scale = a way to think about a person's place in the permaculture journey
  • WOFATI Woodland, Oehler Freaky-cheap Annualized Thermal Inertia (A eathbermed house that is cool in the summer and warm in the winter by the power of sunlight and earths thermal mass. It's not really used as an acronym so much as a name for those types of buildings.) and

  • If you choose to drown them, my advice from experience is it's better to put the whole trap in the bucket of water so the mouse can't swim desperately around on the surface for ages. If submerged in the trap, it's all over in a few seconds, much less than a minute.
    1 month ago
    I haven't had too much of either yet. Looking forward to the day I do!
    1 month ago
    Leigh, how will rainwater drain off the upper row of windows that appear to be in wood frames? Only evaporation? There will also be condensation on the lower surface that might run downwards to the wooden frames though maybe with the low angle it will just stay in place.

    Riona Abhainn wrote:... specifically for growing tropical/subtropical fruits/veg and we'd move the plants in their huge pots out in the warm months and into the green house in the cold months, so I'd likely want one which can be dismantled like Rebecca was talking about.  

    Yes, I grow a few perennials that wouldn't survive outdoors in our cold winter like a local variety of seedless green grapes that I'm a little too high altitude for, and rosemary. The small asparagus bed in the greenhouse produces in Feb-March, where as the big outdoor beds produce in April-May, but the Feb-March fresh asparagus is hugely appreciated. Likewise the perennial scallions, and perennial flowers and bulbs.

    Because I remove the glazing entirely for summer, the grapes, rosemary, asparagus and other things are in the open air all summer and do fine. If I had the glazing on and just the ends open, in this high desert sunny climate I think those would be cooked and killed. In some climates having the ends open would be good enough I guess.

    I also have variety of other things in the greenhouse: annual leafy greens all winter of different types that wouldn't survive outdoors; and other perennials and herbs that can bloom or produce earlier in the greenhouse than outdoors. Plus it's great for spring starting seeds.
    1 month ago
    Well, rutabagas / swedes are sometimes available from local farmers in winter where I live in the Himalayas, and I'm happy to say I have two different suggestions from the above (though neither of my recipes are local to the Himalayas)

    1) Roasted in the oven. When I roast winter vegetables in the oven, my favorites are always rutabaga, winter squash (aka pumpkin), and cauliflower. Any herbs or spices of your choice will work fine. Cut the vegetables in chunks about an inch thick or a bit bigger. Potatoes, beets, and many others are popular for this, but rutabaga and winter squash are always my favorites, very sweet in a good way.

    First, sprinkle some salt over the chunks and toss the veg to lightly salt it. Then toss some other herbs or spices in: minced garlic and rosemary is classic, or else this is a great place to use up that curry powder or North African spice mix or whatever is sitting unused on your spice shelf. Finally, toss to cover lightly with some oil of your choice.

    Lay out on baking trays -- no need to grease the trays or anything -- and roast in a good hot oven until they are starting to get brown on the corners and edges. My oven doesn't get much over 350F so it takes at least an hour, but I think if you can get yours to 400F it should be faster. If you remember, stir them around with a spatula halfway through cooking. If you find the garlic burns and you don't like it, next time add it at the halfway mark when you stir with a spatula.

    2) Chunky winter salad. This works great with large beets and/or rutabagas even if they are going a bit wrinkly in winter storage. I boil them (separately) without even peeling first, like 30 or 40 min. I'm at high altitude and use a pressure cooker for everything so I don't know how long is needed where you are.

    Once cooked, dice them up in half inch cubes or smaller -- sometimes they seem to need peeling, and sometimes they seem just fine without peeling. Add some fine chopped red onion, and some other vegetable for interest: diced tomato, or cooked chickpeas, or even canned corn or something. Dress with a vinaigrette made of olive oil, vinegar, salt. If you've got something green to sprinkle over the top, it's nice: chopped parsley or cilantro or chives.
    1 month ago