mary yett

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since Nov 01, 2012
Manitoulin Island - in the middle of Lake Huron .Mindemoya,Ontario- Canadian zone 5
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Recent posts by mary yett

Lupines are a great N fixer to use as well. I have lupines growing that are descendants of seed i brought back from Sepp Holzers farm in Austria. Way cool,hey.? Definitely a mix of many suport  species contibutes to a healthy soil ecosystem and nutrient cycling.

Eleagnus ssp are great  to include if you have the well draining soil they require. I tried for years unsuccessfully  to establish russian olive, autumn olive,  and wolfberry on my heavy clay soil, which was badly farmed for a century.  It came with a severe hard pan, low organic matter, a severe ubiquitous quack grass (Aka couch grass) infestation, and very poor drainage.

The areas where i have been adding organic matter ( bags of leaves collected in town, cardboard, scrap lumber, rotten logs, chop and drop from biomass plantings,comfrey, etc) for 5 years now can now support some spp that require ok drainage. The best result so far, however, is planting eleagnus ssp, caragana , wild blue indigo, and honey locust,etc on the hugel beds i put in.

Various clovers, alfalfa, vetches, etc are doing well all over the place on my farm and are much appreciated. Comfrey is not a N fixer, but it is a miracle plant in so many other ways.

Blk locust didn't  grow fast for the first several yrs on the hard pan clay, but it did at least survive and grow slowly and my older bkl locust plantings are now growing well. This is a major reason that i love BL so much.

Goumi, unfortunately, won't grow this far north. The invasiveness of russian and autumn olive is generally highly exaggerated.  These are pioneer species whose job it is to heal damaged/ disturbed land. Once they have done that job, they gradually die off as other forrest ssp take over if nature is allowed to follow natural succession.

It is when humans ( and in some areas with really tough growing confitions such as alkaline soil, dry, desert areas, etc) interfere  with the natural tendency for most land to gradually return to forrest that eleagnus ssp can take over. When humans keep disturbing the land with mowing road sides, plowing, over grazing, spraying herbicides, construction/expansion of buildings,etc, it freezes natural succession at the state where eleagnus and other pioneers are needed to heal things, so they step up to do their job.

They just aren't  a threat to the local wild ecosystems where i live, which by the way, are already heavily "  contaminated " with a wide range of introduced ssp that have happily naturalized themselves and most people don't  even realize that they aren't native. Think dandelion, apple, plantain, earthworms,etc.
4 months ago
Sounds like you are on the right tract, Roberto. I got my blk locust seed in bulk fom jl hudson seedsman, who is definitey worth checking out for many reasons, and i highly recommend this company.

Seeds cross the border from the US no problem. Trees grown from jl hudson seeds from have wintered over well on  my zone 4 farm, so i think they would do well for you as well.


Blk locust is native to a wide range of eastern north america and is naturalized well north of its original area. On Manitoulin, which is zone 3 to 4,  (it is the largest fresh water island in the world after all, so has more than 1 zone on it), there are groves of blk locust on many zone 3 farms which are over 100 yrs old. It does spread by seed via birds, but this happens slowly. It is not considered invasive this far north.
4 months ago
That's  a good point. Seed grown  nitrogen fixer trees are cheap, fast, and easy to grow. Plant them all over the place close together and then gradually remove ( chop and drop) branches or whole trees as needed. This really improves the soil at very low cost and effort.
4 months ago
That sounds like a great project you've got going there. Food forests are multigenerational projects and a true love gift to the future.

I use  mainly black locust and some caragana and honey locust, all homegrown from seed,  in much the same way  you are planing on using your found alders. I have found the most success when i plant the N fixing nanny tree at a site where a large nut or fruit tree will go at least 1 year ahead of planting the production tree there. I mulch well which also feeds the soil life and spot water as needed.

This jump starts the soil ecology and nutrient cycling  at that spot. There is a reason natural succession follows the same pattern - pioneer trees and shrubs prepare the ground for future forests.

Sometimes it isn't practical to plan a year or 2 in advance, so then i just plant the nanny and production tree a few inches apart at the same time. This works better than planting nut or fruit trees all alone, but not nearly as well as planting the N fixer a yr or 2 ahead. Babies need a nanny.
4 months ago
I am going to be working in Thunder Bay for 3 months ( Jan,Feb, and March 2017) as a locum veterinarian at the TB Vet Clinic. I have been an avid permie for decades and am hoping to connect with some other permaculture types during my stay in TB. I have a 100 acre permaculture farm in the establishment phases on Manitoulin Island, called Tree of Life Farm. I have owned this property  for almost 9 years now. This is my 3rd property that I have set up as a permaculture site. It has been much more challenging here than my previous experiences in southern ontario. I built a passive solar strawbale house with composting toilets and once I make enough money working out of town , I can finish the attached passive solar greenhouse with a climate battery, which is now just a foundation.

I have planted around 1,500 trees/shrubs of over 20 species and have 2 new fairly large hugel beds. Windbreaks are a priority as the wind is fierce here, with some damaging micro bursts every winter. Once I get to stay home and farm, I will be integrating more livestock into the system. This summer my adult kids and I raised 15 meat chickens ( Frey's slow growth breed) and slaughtered them ourselves as a learning experience.

Anyway, if you are near TB this winter, respond to this and maybe we can get together to share permie stories.
1 year ago
Thanks for sharing, Jay. Really nice pics and a great idea.Too bad you had to leave that beauty behind.

I am interested in trying your milk jug idea. What pigment did you use to make the water in them black? I have been planing on trying strong tea in various recycled plastic bottles,which will give a dark brown and isn't toxic if one leaks .Yours look actually black,however.

My plan is to intersperse dark water filled bottles among the plants sort of like a mulch and use 50 gallon drums of water on the north wall. I may try your idea of attaching the gallon milk jugs to the east and west walls arranged around windows and doors,however. How exactly did you attach them to the wall using their handles? They do seem to stack neatly.
2 years ago
I am jealous. I have tried similar tricks with no luck here in northern Ontario. I covered up a large patch of quack grass with a heavy tarp ( 10 x 15 feet) weighed down with plywood 6 months ago. It is even located with a driveway lining 2 of the sides of the tarp, so only 2 sides are open to rhizomatous invasion.
Checked it a couple of weeks ago. No green sprigs of quackgrass under there, but certainly no rotting of quackgrass roots,either. No,instead there is a solid patch of healthy white A repens roots. I found them going down 12-18 inches. I will leave the tarp in place for another 4-5 months in the hopes of weakening the quackgrass enough so I can establish a white clover groundcover come spring.
2 years ago
What a great project. I can't contribute to it though,as I live in Canada.I'm hoping they make their stretch goal.
3 years ago
Thanks, Nancy - I'll look into that more. It might be entertaining to grow out a few adults in a wire cage on a warm window sill while the snow is blowing outside. Once they produce larvae, I could just toss them down the toilet and let them eat my you-know what. Apparently bsf and red wigglers make a good team. If I decide to follow through with this scheme, I will post my results.
3 years ago
Nancy, where in permies do you discuss wintering over black soldier flies in a cold climate? I live in Canadian zone 4-5 and there is no wild population here. I can by some starter bsf on line, but need to keep them breeding long term.
I have a clivus multrum composting toilet stocked with red wigglers. The vermiposting chamber is quite large and well sealed. It has a small fan venting fumes outside. I am looking into the possibility of adding bsf if I can figure out a way to deal indoors with the adult stage of their life cycle. I think I can cover the venting outlet with a screen to keep adult flies from leaving. It might be difficult to catch them when I open the hatch, however. Hmmm, need to think this through. Maybe I could let most of the adults leave and just keep a small percent as breeders? I need to research how to provide the right environment for the adults to breed though. Any leads on this would be greatly appreciated.
3 years ago