Frank Brentwood

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since Mar 05, 2013
Long Island, NY (Zone 7)
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Recent posts by Frank Brentwood

Thanks for all the hints, people. As always, now I'm off to read a lot more.
5 years ago

Jarrod Pearson wrote:I had not thought to check the pH of the rain water vs the city water. I live in North Texas and the water is very hard, so that kinda makes sense. I actually have litmus paper at home and will check tonight.

Another thought regarding the chlorine content of the water:

Maybe it's not affecting the plants directly, but indirectly by killing off the myriad little critters that make up the soil food web.

If tap water has enough chlorine in it to negatively affect fish in a tank if not given enough time to gas off, surely it would hit the microbial life in the soil pretty hard as well.
5 years ago

Nick van Zutphen wrote:If you get in now, for 99 dollars you'll get high quality:

  • Building plans/blue prints
  • 3D animation of the construction
  • Over 12hours of HD video where I show and explain every step along the way
  • Online private forums where I will answer all your Chickentractor related questions

  • 1) Is it 99 DOLLARS or 99 EUROS? The link seems to say Euros.
    2) You might get a bigger response if there was a reduced price option for people who don't need animation, videos, or questions answered.
    5 years ago
    Having pulled down a few hundred feet of rusted and bent chain link and old, rotted, and dangerous wooden stockade fencing, I am left with no privacy shield or visual markers of my property lines (as well as a view of my neighbors' cruddy fences). I would like to replace the non-living fences with something that is alive.

    Ideally, I'd like to plant some hedges that are:

    1) Quick to mature.
    2) Dense.
    3) Native (to Long Island) or at least non-invasive.
    4) Pollinator, wildlife, and child friendly. (Not worried about deer in the yard. )
    5) Not too tall at maturity. Town regulations limit height of hedges in front of the house to 4 feet and 6 feet on the side. Regs are seldom enforced, but why be the test case, right?
    6) Reasonably priced and readily available.

    Yeah, I know, that's a big wish list and I don't expect to find something that meets every point on the list, but I can hope.
    5 years ago

    Annie Zielonska wrote:Hi everyone! My backyard's lawn is pretty much dead, and I would really like to start it over with a new organic lawn, but after a few days of intense internet searches and trying to read up on the topic I found 2 things: 1-There is a whole world of knowldedge/information about grass, and 2- I'm more confused now than ever about what steps to take to have a nice, new organic lawn. So I'm hopeing someone/s on here may be willing to help with some advice

    Here are the basic stats I'm dealing with: It's an L-shape lawn , with an area of 1,100 ft sq.-- 1/3 of it is dirt, 1/3 small cup-sized bundles of grass patches trying to grow (about 1-2 inches tall) and 1/3 moss/weeds. (We just bought the house last summer, and knew there'd be work to be done come this spring). I've decided to go organic since we have little kids and found the cheap/lazy approach from pretty convincing.

    The soil: Thus far I tried to do a soil test to see how much top soil there is by digging a 1' x 1' hole out, about a foot deep, but couldn't see a dividing line between where topsoil may be, so I assume there is no top soil. From holding/squeezing soil I think it's mostly clay, as it clumps solidly together and doesn't fall apart. Good thing if I ever wonna start doing pottery, but not helpful right now for grass growing.

    The plan: So I have the idea to buy xx amount of organic top soil bags, to cover the whole area about 6''-12'', (maybe mix it with compost? as suggested on then buy organic lawn seed that grows well in shade (we have 4 large trees in our 40' sq. backyard, so very little sun exposure, hence all the moss), and a grass-seed will do ok with kids running on it throughout the summer... I'm confused about whether to fertilize, and when to fertilize and what to fertlilize with??? Do I put fertlizer under or mix with the soil and compost all together?

    Sincerely confused,

    Welcome to Permies, AnnieZ!

    First, before you go out and buy lots of expensive bags of questionable "organic topsoil", check your local garden centers and commercial growers for bulk quantities that you can have delivered by truck. Look at it and touch it and talk to the guys that are selling it before you buy. It will be cheaper than bags and keeps the business local, if you are lucky enough to find a place. It will also be of better quality since it hasn't sat around in a life-sucking plastic bag for who-knows-how-long.

    Second, think more about feeding the soil than about feeding the grass. Organic lawn plans often do not include anything that is recognized as "fertilizer", but rather lots and lots of organic matter put on the lawn area to feed the soil food web. Keep the critters happy and they will make your grass happy.

    Third, check your Purple Moosages
    5 years ago
    While I totally get the thought behind stacking functions and trying to get a "yield" from the hunters, I think that prioritizing your needs would be helpful.

    What do you need most: The labor/money from the hunters or the deer gone?

    If it is most important to solve your deer troubles, making the proposition less attractive for a hunter by charging money or a day of manual labor for access to your land seems counter-productive.

    Other things to take into consideration:

    1) Where are the hunters coming from? If you are close to any sizable urban/suburban area, you might try putting up your contact info or a simple flyer at gun stores, outdoor stores, sporting goods stores, etc. Keep in mind, urban/suburban hunters that have to travel to get to you might be willing to spend a few dollars for access to your land, but are probably "time-poor" when it comes to swapping labor for hunting permission. If you have local businesses that provide food & lodging, see if you can get discounts for out-of-town hunters coming to your land. Hunting season is often a dead spot in the hospitality year and local businessmen might be glad for the business.

    2) Are there any Fish & Game clubs in your area? A state rifle & pistol association? Other social organizations with large memberships? Offering discounted access to members of organized groups has a two-fold benefit: It gets word of your property out to a larger group of people much more quickly and it has the built-in security of peer pressure where individuals are less likely to do something that will screw things up for all their buddies. You can also dole out blocks of time for each group and let them deal with assigning individual day access, lessening your time involvement.

    3) Many states have 'Youth Hunting Days' - You might consider donating use of your land to a local youth group. You get exposure and the possibility of future customers when those youth hunters come of age.

    4) Have you thought about the possibility of actually trying to make this a profit-center for your land? You don't mention how much land you have, but I know a couple of people in upstate NY who have 20 acres or so that manage to pay the taxes on their property with hunting leases. Their only investment was clearing a few trees and planting some food plots.

    5) You may not hunt, but you're obviously not against the idea. Seek out the advice of the people you are trying to attract. Permaculture teaches us to listen to the land and the plants, why not listen to the hunters if you want to make them part of your system?

    6) One word of warning: Talk to your insurance agent. Make sure you are covered. Having hunters sign a waiver is a good thing, but unless it's been prepared by a lawyer there are probably potentially expensive holes in it just waiting for another lawyer to find. Unfortunately, this is how the world works these days.
    6 years ago

    Although I don't have a catchment system (yet), I have had HUGE issues with gutters clogging and causing problems with flooding and ice damming.

    The thing that had the biggest impact on my problems was attacking the sources of the debris. Keeping trees trimmed back from the house/roof/gutters and having some sort of "Gutter Guard" in place to stop the leaves/flowers/seeds from getting into the system to begin with really helped. And it's a lot less aggravating than having to clean the gutters 4-5 times a year.
    6 years ago
    I'm assuming you have larger feed storage requirements than I do, but I use recycled food-grade 4-gallon pickle buckets that I got from a local diner guy that I know. I like them better than the 5-gallon buckets because they are square rather than round and store better on shelves. Since I'm only feeding one rabbit at the moment, I only have one bucket in use.

    In the past, when we had more rabbits, I stored larger, sealed bags inside a metal trash can to avoid rodents (rats, mice, & squirrels) that chewed through the plastic buckets and raided the poor bunnies food supply. Don't know your situation with storage location and potential for vermin, but once they discovered my pellet stockpile the only solution to avoid their invasion was to relocate the bunnies permanently.

    6 years ago

    Peter Ellis wrote:Some thoughts - Permaculture is a design science - so apply the science of permaculture design to the challenge of producing a really optimized value suburban property - and I mean optimized for sale. Don't think of permaculture as forest gardens and perennial vegetables. Think of it as a problem solving toolkit.

    You want to improve your permaculture knowledge and skills, which is great, laudable, all kinds of good. You are in a situation that places restrictions on exactly how you may go about exploring and practicing permaculture. That really is not a problem - it helps focus your application of permaculture!

    But the details are for you to work out My point is to think about this project in a very permaculture way - what is your desired yield? How do you best achieve that, within the parameters of permaculture? In this case, yield is selling price on the house, so plan in that direction. It will give you tons of permaculture practice.

    Peter - Thank you!

    This was exactly the advice I needed. Wishing I could do what I want to do right NOW is just dragging me down and killing my enthusiasm for doing anything. Changing my view of the situation to one of "opportunity" rather than "problem" is exactly the thing that I needed to do.

    Thanks to everyone else for the practical project advice as well. I have a long winter of planning ahead.
    6 years ago

    Dawn Hoff wrote:The invention of the internet is the biggest thing since the invention of the press... I personally do think that you can learn a lot, if not most of what permaculture is about from the internet - yet the experience of being at a PDC and meeting other permies and working with them for two weeks cannot be replaced - not even with a forum like this.

    I totally agree. Forums and videos and podcasts are all a great starting point. They can expose you to a LOT of information and get you thinking in new ways, but that final step for me will always need to be a practical, HANDS-ON exercise. An on-line PDC might be great for some, but I've always been a tactile learner.

    The problems I have finding a PDC are:
    1) Affordable - Including things like travel/lodging/meals/incidentals on top of the cost of the course often pushes it out of my price range.
    2) Efficient - I just cannot take 2 weeks off to go do "permie stuff" yet. If it was a weekends-only PDC spread out over a few months, it would be more likely to grab my attention.
    3) Worthwhile - This is the hardest to quantify, but I think of it as "Name-brand Permaculture". If it's Geoff or Sepp (or even that guy Paul ), I'm a lot more likely to think of the PDC as valuable. I know that there are LOTS of people out there walking the walk every day that are very knowledgeable and excellent instructors. But there are also some that are examples of the old saying 'Those who cannot do, teach'. Unless there's a "Big Name" attached to a course, how do we know?

    The issue is the convergence of these three. Big names mean big costs. Big names also can't commit to long-term things due to busy schedules. Affordable classes can't get big names for a few hours a week over several weeks/months. Catch-22, eh?

    Dawn Hoff wrote:Private education costs money (public too, but you don't pay for it out of your own pocket).

    A wise man once said, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." Somewhere along the line, the money that pays for public education IS coming out of YOUR pocket.
    6 years ago