Nick Kitchener

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since Sep 24, 2012
Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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Recent posts by Nick Kitchener

The whole survivalist / prepper thing started falling apart as soon as I sat down and really started thinking about it.
I realized a perished o-ring in the wrong spot of a nuclear bunker system is enough to end it all.
I realized after talking with a few special ops types that it's really easy to wipe out a fortified camp without ever firing a shot.
I also realized that the vast majority of vocal preppers / survivalists are really just gun nuts who are looking for a credible excuse to run around in the woods with their stockpile of weapons.

Maybe this is an inaccurate picture, but it's my opinion based on quite a bit of study.

So I got to really thinking about this because it's only a matter of time before we all face a serious survival scenario. I came to the conclusion that the key to survival is community. It always has been actually. And communities survive and thrive when they are set up to facilitate trade with other "outsiders". The trick is establishing such a community in a way that makes it an unattractive proposition to slash and burn it.

In these conditions, any warlord who lasts more than a few months has to be smart. Forget the madmax scenario. Those idiots wouldn't last 5 minutes. The trick is to structure a community in such a way that it attracts the smartest warlord because it is regarded as a valuable asset worth protecting. It's a feudal system, and feudal systems are nothing like what the movies portray. A feudal system is a partnership between a citizenry and a military organization. It is not a tyranny.

Since most of us are not military, it makes sense to engineer the most optimal feudal partnership.
Worms eat bacteria and other microorganisms that feed on the material. The chances are they moved on because the food isn't there anymore to support the population that was present.

One of two things is the likely cause of this:
1.  The compost has past the point of peak decomposition.
2.  The conditions changed to the point where it became hostile to your microbiome in the system.

Seems to me it's most likely the first option. The compost is essentially turning into, well, compost.

If the worms are earthworms and not composting worms, they borrow down into the subsoil for the winter. They might also be preparing their tunnels, and bringing food down there. I don't know a lot about earthworms but it wouldn't surprise me if the decreasing daylight times trigger a winter prep response in them.
4 days ago
Yeah I stopped using newspaper. It tends to turn into paper mache and clogs everything up. And it effects Ph.

You know you have a major problem when the worms start escaping the system. They will literally up and crawl away. The chances are things are a bit wet, but don't stress too much just yet. You have turned the pile, unclogged the drains, not let the worms finish things off. They're pretty good at keeping house.

I also wouldn't stress too much about pale worms. Like people, they tend to range in color. My worms tend to be pasty but they are healthy and happy as far as I can tell.

You'll also get fungal blooms, the odd fruit fly infestation, all sorts. That's also normal. Just let the system self adjust. Like someone said, you should be aiming for no leachate. I have a stacking pail system and the sump needs emptying once every 6 to 9 months. It holds about 2 gallons. I wish it were less but that would require a considerable upgrade to allow for more airflow and evaporation. And like I said, the worms are happy where they are so I'm not about to fix something that isn't broken.

I'm telling you all this because I remember stressing when I first got my worms. I'd add bedding, and mist the compost every day. Drain all that leachate out regularly... Every time I had a mold outbreak, or a large weather front came through and the worms all migrated to the top of my tower I'd be concerned that the system was failing and all my little workers were gonna die. It took a while to realise that they are capable and hardy. And that they prefer to be left to do what they do best.
5 days ago
Very interesting companion dynamic:
2 weeks ago
I use chain attached to an electric drill, inside a plastic pail.

I've never seen plastic bits, and since I screen the grain before winnowing, any bits would fall through along with the undersized seeds.

The potential explody thing is something I hadn't considered. It's an interesting thought. I'm going to be threshing shortly, so I will see if I can actually ignite the dust in my small pail using a BBQ starter I have. They make a great spark. I will report the results and my observations (assuming I am not consumed in a resulting fireball).
1 month ago
I picked up some used artificial logs from a local commercial grower and have been incorporating them into some sheet mulching / composting experiments. They were all oyster mushroom strains and I've had a steady stream of mushrooms all summer long.

Actually, I've had more than I can eat (the family is now sick of mushrooms), and I've used some of the surplus to give away to friends and family, some to trade for fresh produce and honey, and I've dehydrated a whole lot.

I'll be experimenting with making some un-pasteurized straw logs to see how they go. Apparently they do work as you suspect in your OP. I'm going to try a used coffee grounds core wrapped in paper, wrapped in straw, and bound with baling twine.

1 month ago
Hi Roberto and welcome.

Looks like a great endeavor! This year I've been experimenting with incorporating oyster mushrooms into outdoor sheet mulch. I've been learning a lot. I also found a ready supply of people wanting to trade the mushrooms for veges, honey, plants etc so it's turned into a really great way to develop a trading community. I never considered that growing mushrooms would provide me with all the cucumbers I can eat!

I have a question about your morel kits. I was under the impression that it was only very recently that the process of cultivating them artificially was worked out and it's a trade secret. Do your morel kits actually fruit?
1 month ago
It looks like the Beaufort gyre has begun to reverse its cycle and pump cold fresh water into the North Atlantic.
Look out for a cold winter indeed, among other things
1 month ago
I'm going to share a recent discovery I made...

This year I've been experimenting with incorporating mycelium into sheet mulch. The ground is frozen for about 6 months of the year, and I've noticed things decay slowly, compost takes forever to finish off etc.

I've been adding organic matter to my soil, so I'm looking to sheet mulch not only to suppress unwanted vegetation, but also as a means of composting in place. I got some spent grow logs and I've been building sheet mulch using different combinations of newspaper, hay, straw, used coffee grounds, and the grow logs sliced into discs.

I'm using between 5 and 15 gallons of used coffee grounds per log by the way.

I noticed an explosion in the slug population which is par for the course in sheet mulching. But they don't eat my plants. It appears their preferred food is the wet newspaper. I've been observing these slugs on a regular basis. They tend to leave the mycelium alone, and they avoid the used coffee grounds.

In the beds where the mycelium is covered by a thin layer of newspaper I discovered a neat dynamic. The slugs graze on the newspaper but not in a random fashion. They tend to eat the newspaper in spots until they eat right through, and then they move on to a fresh area. So I'm seeing fissures appear in the newspaper. These fissures in turn are allowing oxygen into the sub layer of mycelium and used coffee grounds, and the mycelium react by fruiting up through these holes.

Rather than having an explosion of mushrooms in my garden beds everywhere and all at once like I was expecting, I'm getting a controlled production thanks to my little workers.
1 month ago
Aphids on fruit trees are usually an indicator of too much applied Nitrogen by the way.
2 months ago