john mcginnis

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since Jul 07, 2013
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Recent posts by john mcginnis

If zombie == SHTF hordes then on a single acre the answer is no.Your limiting factor is calories produced per sq ft of land. For example most people who garden grow what? Leaf crops, tomatoes, squashes. Every one of them are poor calorie producers. One needs to think yams, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, pumpkins, peanuts, etc. The second limiting factor is where is one going to acquire a source of fats or oils? Peanuts or sunflower is one possibility but they both take space to make any quantity of oil and you have to have the press to get the oil out.

A critical consideration is can you hide your food store in plain sight? A marauder will gladly steal canned potatoes, they see them in the stores. But what about in the ground? Probably not. Its unfamiliar, requires effort, in essence disguised in plain sight. Second don't place all your stores on property. I personally have a 55gal drum filled with supplies in a storage locker 10mi away.

But permaculture is an excellent means of SHTF prep. Worked right you can have some crop coming in all but the harshest part of winter.
4 days ago

Feidhlim Harty wrote:Hi John, interesting query. In principle everything you've outlined looks as if it should stack up ok.

Some questions and comments:
Do the ducks have a preference for the reeds, or will they continue to simply enjoy the open water of the pond?
For your particulate trap - would coarse sand, quarry grit, or partially composted woodchips all do a similar job here? You may need to scrape off a surface scum here to keep the trap clear.
Another particulate trap may be to have a separate area of the reed bed that is fenced off to prevent access by the ducks; which may need less ongoing maintenance.
The water will not be microbially clean, given the duck droppings, so be sure to cook the crops rather than eat them raw; or to be sure to pick from above the soil line or water line.

I look forward to seeing the first photos.


In the wet season the ducks are in the cattails eating the alage and bugs. Rest of the time in the pond proper. As to particulate trap, top layer 2 deep of koi pond filter mat then lava rock underneath. Would permit me to remove and flush the mats then return. Had not considered woodchips which will be something that I will look into. And yes I would have a excluder of some sort over the trap to prevent duck access.

The three plantings I would consider in the dry zone would be water cress, celery, kang kong. All prefer wet conditions. Cress ---> duck and rabbit feed.

Be glad to share photos once underway. Enjoyed the conversation and thanks for the tips.
4 days ago

Feidhlim Harty wrote:John, do you have a wetland or reed bed and do you notice any seasonal variation in effectiveness based on the variability of your rainfall patterns?

One end of our pond has a shallow shelf that I have planted in cattail. If the pond is full that area is about 7cm deep. However by August it can be dry bottom. Depending on seasonal variations the pond depth can drop from 3cm to 9cm.
4 days ago
Permit me to go out on a reed so to speak....

We also have 20 ducks on the property and a quarter acre pond. You can figure where I find them every morning. Naturally the pond sports a thick algae mat in the summer. I use that as biomass and fertilizer though there are other things I would prefer to be doing. So.... would this be possible?

* Use ducks preference for reed habitat to fertilize reed bed more and pond less. (I presume I can persuade the ducks to partake of the reeds first before they could access the pond.)
* Encourage water flow using slow air lift, pond to reed bed.
* Particulate trap after reed bed.
* outflow to water loving crops like celery or water cress.
* Balance of flow back to pond.

Off the wall and I appreciate the insights offered.
5 days ago

William Grotts wrote:How, in a place like central Oklahoma*, do you handle such diverse weather conditions? (ie do I have to increase my grey water output during drought?)

*where we have years that are lush green (this year) and dead dry (like two years ago)

Wm G

Hi Wm G,

I am just south of you in north texas and we do have similar weather patterns. We receive most of our rain in March-April and Sept-Oct.
5 days ago
What would be an appropriate size reed bed to handle the following:

* Sink and dishwasher waste water from kitchen only.
* Hand washing once daily, dishwasher used once a week.
* Effluent from the bed would be used to water plantings along the house.
* Zone 7 environment, over story of oaks providing deep shade in summer. Water source is on the East side of house.

Appreciate your input.

John McGinnis
5 days ago
This might be a case where fresh wood chips might speed up the nitrogen absorption. If it truly is nitrogen overload.

I would get the soil tested and make sure the lab looks for glyophospate pesticides. Then hope for the best.
3 months ago

Jen Rose wrote:

Good fodder crops include yellow dock, sunflowers, sunchokes, radishes and turnips (fast and easy to grow), and mustard.  They,l eat just about every inch of every plant, including rootstock.  dock root has been a bunny delicacy here, and it’s packed with minerals and nutrition!  It can be dried and saved as well.  The dock is chronically prolific and rabbits do good justice to thinning its ranks.

Spring seed pods on trees and fall leaf drop provide abundance.

Having a clean dry place to poop allows rabbits to do what their wild counterparts do; chew their pellets.  They will eat s portion of their own poop for extra nutrition.  Usually during the new moon phase.  They store more pellets in a full moon when it’s bright and safe enough to forage at night.  New moon is time to stay by the burrow and lay low in the poor visibility.

What is the trick? My rabbits won't touch sunchokes at all.
4 months ago

Chris Kott wrote:
So I have as yet to look into it, but the undyed, unbleached, recycled paper litter that we got her appears to contain a proprietary scent control product. I am doing a test in a compost pile that is somewhat dormant at present, to see if it has any negative effects on soil biology. My initial thought was that worms love paper, and that it would be beneficial to use unbleached, undyed, recycled paper waste in the garden for the worms.


If you have access try cut grass. Dry it a day or so in the sun. Later it can go directly into your compost pile. Downside is you need a ready supply for it to be effective. And of course little is available in the winter.
4 months ago
Flemish are not as well known as a meat breed. High bone mass to meat ratio.

But please maintain and breed them. They are a critical base breed for many derivative breeds that we now have. Losing that genetic base would be a disaster.

As to feeding, right now lamb quarters are popping up. I use a ditch blade on a scythe with a cloth fruit picker like affair clipped to the back.
4 months ago