Erik van Lennep

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since Nov 24, 2013
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Recent posts by Erik van Lennep

Anne Miller wrote:

Since you are unable to get ilex vomitoria plants are seeds available?

Have you tried any of the other coffee substitutes?

My favorite, yerba mate seems a good one for Spain.

I've not searched out seeds yet, as they have a fairly complicated dormancy. I'd prefer a jump-start with plants.
I have sown a few batches of yerba mate seeds, but so far, no  germination. I do know where I can purchase small plants from the Netherlands, and will probably do so in the Spring.

I agree that it might be successful here, and worth a try. From what I've read we are way too dry, and possibly a bit too cold in the winter.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained though.

Edward Lye wrote:WARNING some wood/trees/organics give off toxic fumes when burnt. The Manchineel tree is but one example.

Possibly even more likely to encounter than Manchineel is Oleander. People have died from using green Oleander twigs to cook hotdogs over a picnic fire.
It takes just an extra moment or two to research your intended char source.

You might also just want to ensure that fumes are not getting into your air supply regardless of the material you are charring. Seems the best approach.  
1 year ago

Paul Haggerty wrote:I am sort of working on a pipe dream holly breeding project.....
So if you wanted to have a go at doing something similar, maybe some of my planning will help.

Hi Paul, I just saw this posting from last year. How is the project going? I have similar intentions, but for a different climate (Mediterranean Spain). So far I've been unable to find any Ilex vomitoria plants in the EU. Plenty of sources in the UK, but with BREXIT, doing trade with any of the UK nurseries or seed suppliers (or anything at all) is just too costly and cumbersome.

Have you thought of crossing I. vomitoria with I. paraguayensis? Seems at least the chromosome numbers are the same.
If you have the space you might also want to get yaupon seeds from a range of habitats and cultivars and mass-seed them so you have more to select from. Germination will be slow, so that's why you'd want enough space to leave them to their own devices.

Also the JC Raulston Arboretumin N.C: has been breeding various hollies a long time. Have you tried contacting them?

Matt McSpadden wrote:While I hate to resurrect old posts....

Yeah, I'll add as well, and after the fact, but hey, I found the thread just now, so maybe others will find it remains useful too.

Best leech remover I ever met was a duck named "Fluffy Quacker" who used to join us kids when we went for a swim in the brook (in Maine too). He'd dive down, come up with several leeches on his breast, eat them all off, and dive for another course of "leech de canard".

I guess now we might label him as a trap species, or a leech predator. Back then he was just our buddy at the swimming hole.
1 year ago
Been scrolling through the replies to this question, and reflecting on likely candidates for surviving the rock desert conditions.
Were it my spot, I think I would approach it by fattening the margins provided close to the rocky space; using the established zones as pioneers to change adjacent conditions. Think of them as leaning into the sun and casting a bit more shade, ideally also creating soil in that shadow zone.

I'd be seeding natives that have proven themselves, especially legumes, and with an emphasis on deciduous, because in this situation, "messy" leaf drop is what I'm after if I want to build soil.  And for sure, I'd be berming and making micro-catchments with stones for every single plant I add. You can see some good examples by googling "micro catchments". It's been a standard technique for reclaiming eroding hill sides and hostile environments for a long time, especially in places like Africa where funding is scarce and needs are high. The images show it works well.

Here is a pic of a system being used by Geoff Lawton in his desert reclamation work

And a longer project discussion that might give you further inspiration: Greening the Desert-The Sequel

I wouldn't mind how these native soil builders and shade makers actually look, because the primary function is to serve as "nurse plants". They create conditions where others can establish themselves. You can decide in a few years which to keep and which have done the job and can be chipped. I'd plant in mutualistic 'guilds' of shrubs, trees, herbs, bulbs, etc.

Species that cast less shade, such as Mesquite or Palo Verde still offer tons of ecological value, and maybe could support native vines that add to the shade they cast.

Around here (Spain), I have seen boulder-strewn hillsides with no irrigation happily occupied by Carob trees, which while not native, are well adapted. They make soil, cast good shade, provide sweet pods, and break apart the rocks with their roots. I'd try them in Sedona. From the looks of the climate data I just saw, they should do well. Same for date palms and figs, which also go wild here in difficult landscapes such as you have. I also wouldn't be waiting to budget for apricot trees. I'd save all my pits and plant them on my walks. Some will sprout. Some will do better than others. Some may actually thrive. They fruit in just a few years.
1 year ago

Nicole Alderman wrote:

Debbie Ann wrote: Everything in my gardens were covered in pill bugs and earwigs and lots of other bugs. They never stopped at the compost! They ate everything and multiplied like crazy.

I'm not sure if this would help, but my mallard-type ducks LOVE pillbugs/rollypollies/isopods/potato bugs/what-ever-they're-called-regionally. Sluggo also works on them. Mallard ducks probably wouldn't care for the super-hot heat in your hot spot (mine were unhappy when we got to 110ish last year), but maybe muscovies ducks can handle the heat better?

Maybe lizards would work better than ducks there? What other local critters munch bugs? How to make them feel welcome?
1 year ago

Mk Neal wrote:

I’m not sure if they ship to Europe, but if you are looking for non Japanese source of kombu, Maine Coast Sea Vegetables is a U.S company sustainably harvesting kelp from North Atlantic waters.

Thanks for the tip. I imagine there will be shipping and import costs that make it unaffordable, but I'll check them out in case they have a European distributor.
1 year ago

Sat Atma Khalsa wrote:To make beans easier to digest, you can add epazote, a Mexican herb. There is a European herb as well, what is it called in english? Bean herb?  Aah, no, it is called savory.

I love epazote (Dysphania ambrosioides) ! Beans cooked without it are lacking something. Oh wait a moment..... they are lacking epazote!
And yeah, the Savory comes in two kinds, Summer Savory which is an annual, and Winter Savory which is a shrubby perennial like thyme.
I learned to call the annual plant 'Bean Herb' as well when I lived in the Netherlands.
1 year ago

Gina Capri wrote: You also cook beans with potassium, per my sister-in-law’s advice, so they give you less gas.

Sounds really tasty, Gina! What form of potassium does your sister-in-law recommend ?

Also, I like to allow my beans to just barely sprout before cooking, as I understand this converts some of the unedible sugars into edible forms. It's the oligosaccharides causing gas, because we lack the enzyme to digest them.

Searching around just now I did find a number of articles with suggestions for increasing digestibility, including soaking at least 48 hours, slow cooking and cooking with Kombu (a seaweed available in dried form). Personally, I'm concerned about where the Kombu is farmed, as some of the seaweed farms in Japan were bathed in the radioactive water dumped from Fukushima, and still leaking into the sea to this day.

As I posted somewhere else here, I now freeze my soaked beans before cooking them to save cooking time and fuel (and thus CO2). I haven't really compared the 'fart-factor' on this strategy, but I do sprout them before freezing.

I'm sure there's a lot more to this than I know, so please, if anyone has more information, chime in!
1 year ago

Kris Nelson wrote:

My new strategy idea was to dig trenches on the sides from the road downward to the low end, and make two pools/ponds on both sides so that the water goes there instead of flowing to the middle and low end where I made the rectangle last year which is now flooded. And also elevate it with wood chips maybe I'd have to see how the trenches/ditches and ponds work out to keep the water away first I think.


And some inspiration-
1 year ago