Chris Sturgeon

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since Nov 13, 2012
Building soil in the Yukon.
Yukon Territory, Canada. Zone 1a
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Recent posts by Chris Sturgeon

What are your main book resources for your knowledge, if you don't mind me asking?  Or is it largely word of mouth with other folks interested in the same stuff?  

For more coastal rain forest I have to admit that I'm mostly self taught leaning heavily on the Lone Pine guidebooks, but defiantly I learned a lot from many many people more knowledgeable than myself.

For The boreal forest I'm still learning the basics- I've only been up in the Yukon for 8 years. but there is a fantastic book by a local lady: Beverly Gray's 'The Boreal Herbal" is an awesome resource.
Here's a link the her shop's page: Aroma Borialis
6 months ago
Hi Roberto,
   What a wonderful project you've engaged with! I know the area (born in Prince George) and I'm always shocked to see the dead standing-wood after-affects of the Spruce and Pine Beetles.

You say you have Spruce.
Did you know you can eat the fresh spruce tips in the Spring? I age them in sea salt and use it as a flavouring, or you can use them fresh to add a citrus note to salmon.
Locals peoples up here (yukon) used to grind the bark and make a flour like substance... having tried it I wouldn't recommend it pure, but mixed as a stretcher into a fried bannock dough it's amazing.
The gummy sap was used as an antimicrobial on cuts and abrasions... also as a chewing gum.

Birch is great too.
You can tap birch to get the thin Spring sap. If you want to make syrup it takes a bit more reducing than maple- it makes a great tonic, high in iron- if you drink it as is.
The white powder on birch bark is a natural sunblock, maybe a SPF 15.
Rough Stem Bolete mushrooms grow symbiotically with birch roots. Delicious when dried. BUT! Be aware they interact badly with alcohol. Don't drink for a day after a meal of these.

Thank you for planting trees!
6 months ago
Composting in the Yukon has its challenges. Black bears and grizzlies are just two of them.
I gather buckets of food waste from a local Deli so I always have lots of delicious smelling greens and broccoli stems going into my compost. Yet, we have never had the bears that do pass through our 1/4 acre lot be attracted to the pile. Here's why:

I use a 3 part system. Leaves, ashes and other carbons go into an old oil burner tank (think a really really large hot water tank shape) made of steel. The cylinder is mounted lenghth-wise on a pipe running through both ends. there is a hatch cut in the curved side and all  nitrogen stuff that still smells like food (deli waste, kitchen waste, trimmings, occasional salmon bones and skin) gets mixed with the carbon by means of rolling the tank. I have a strap wrapped around one side of the cylinder attached to a wooden arm and dowel mechanism... makes spinning even a full tank relatively easy.

After about 4 months (that's full warm season up here) I transfer the usually fairly anaerobic half composted matter from the tank to an open-planked 1 meter x 1 meter pile. I stoop adding fresh green stuff about 2 weeks before transfer time. I usually introduce some well rotted horse manure at this time. No animals seem to recognize this pile as food. Maybe some ants.
After 7 months of frozen weather, In spring, I sift this pile into usable soil and larger chunks. The soil goes to dress the gardens and green house and the chunks go into a solar heated plywood box to cook for 4 more months. I sift this one more time and any remaining chunks go back into the steel tank as an inoculant.

It's a three year rotation, but soil building up here is crazy slow so I keep every crumb of humus I can get. No sharing with bears!

Had a mother and two cubs through last week- the neighbours dogs went crazy and a cub got treed for a good hour. Hearing that little guy cry was heart wrenching! IMHO dogs can just make matters worse with bears.
7 months ago
Wake Owl, he wrote this album while WWOOFing. Lyrics are great, could be a theme song for permaculture.

5 years ago
Black walnut shells can be used to dye fabrics a dark grey colour. Soak in water with the fabric. Set with vinegar.
5 years ago
Dried and powdered Goldenrod is antifungal and antimicrobial... take in small doses as you would a mild penicillin. Can affect gut bacteria also bitter as heck!
Dried Blackberry leaves can be effective in soothing cramps and indigestion, blossoms too. Of course, you can eat, preserve or just smell the berries!
5 years ago
Definitely a poppy.
You can let it be pretty until it dries out; It will stay standing with just it's stalk and pod going brown and hard. Then you can crack open the top and gather a thimble full of edible seeds.
Or, before it dries out, you can cut small slits in the sides of the pod and "milk" the flower. Make an alcohol tincture with the milky latex to act as a mild pain-killer. On a larger scale this is how both morphine and heroin are made. Do be careful .

wikipedia poppy straw page
5 years ago
Just off the top of my head... feel free to edit for factual errors. All opinions are mine own and I stand by them.

Paul Wheaton: Permaculture icon and iconoclastic permaculturist. Know in some circles as "The Bad Boy of Permaculture" and in inner circles as "The Duke". Not your average practitioner, but self-described tyrant of two disparate online communities and one real-world farm. His moderating rule of "Be Nice" is enforced with a potent mixture of open discussion and enlightened self-interest. Certified master gardener, permaculture design guru, farmer, community leader and repository of esoteric (sometimes controversial) knowledge and well researched opinions... All while rockin' a spiffy pair of overalls. His blunt style is not for the faint of heart; Prepare to have your mind blown open.
Sorry for the two part post. I do most of my Permies surfing from work so my available time is limited.

I found a fairly clear page outlining things like chain tension, limiting screws and barrel adjustments. Check it out.

Let me know if you come across any issues. Once you get the limits set, you can pretty much tune by ear while riding... just tighten or loosen your shifter's barrel adjusters as you ride and listen for the sweet spot where your shifting makes the least amount of clatter.
5 years ago
Hey Wayne, no problems with the bike doc thing; the more people using efficient transportation the better!

For tuning your mountain bike: first I'll deal with the common misconception about stretched cables.... There is no such thing.
BUT... cable housing can wear, ferrules can seat and plastic parts can abrade. All of these small factors can create slack in a once tight system, making it seem like the braided steel cable has stretched. For all intents and purposes the fix can be the same... or not. the or not depends on the shape of the rest of the drive-train system (bikes are like permaculture; all the systems are interrelated).
Simple fix: If all housings are in good shape, clean and lubricated; if the shifters and derailleurs are clean, and straight, if pulleys are not worn or dry; and most importantly if your chain is not worn beyond 75% then you have a simple cable tensioning job on your hands. I love these.
1. hang the nose of your saddle off something stable, better yet get a upright bike stand for home repairs (this is the best investment in bike tools you will ever make! I have a running joke that most bikes can be fixed with a flathead screwdriver, a hammer and a blowtorch... if you have a bike stand. )I'd recommend something like this or better
2. loosen off all the tension on front and rear shifters by dropping your chain to the smallest cogs on front chain-rings and back cassette/free hub.
3. physically get behind your rear shifter and eyeball the alignment between your pulley wheels (the small wheels attached to your rear derailleur) and the smallest cog.
4a. if they are aligned perpendicularly but offset you can adjust this with the two limiting screws on your rear derailleur. These screws are there to limit the upwards and lowest swing of your derailuer... to stop loose tension from dropping the chain off your lowest cog and to stop high tension from climbing the chain up into your spokes. They are a bit fiddly, but start with the eye-crometer (look at it) and try to line the pulleys with the cogs.
4b. if they are not inline perpendicularly then you have a bent derailleur hanger. The ghetto option is to just bend it back by hand... BE WARNED, I have seen welded hangers snap off of frames with this option even on soft steel frames. If you have a removable derailleur hanger then this is a part that is built to be replaced... time for a trip to the bike shop.
5. Once you have your bottom limit set, shift up onto your biggest rings; front and back. Now do the same limit adjustment as step 4, but for the top cog on your rear gears. Now even if the rest of your shifting is a garbled mess, your top and bottom gears on the back should run ok (so long as you are not cross chained).
6. Shift back down to your two smallest rings, front and back (cross chained ).
7. Now is when you can release the cable retaining screw on your rear derailleur and pull any obvious slack through. Re-tighten the screw.
8. Try shifting up one gear with your rear shifter. if it doesn't quite make it or skips about, DON'T adjust the cable again.
9. Use your barrel adjusters!

Sorry I must run to work... more on gear tuning in a bit!
5 years ago