Juanita Colucci

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since Dec 12, 2013
Mohave Desert, AZ Zone 10A
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Recent posts by Juanita Colucci

I no longer have dogs to clean my greasy pots, but I do have chickens.  They don't lick pans clean, but they do clean my pans.  I use oatmeal.  
A bit of uncooked oatmeal stirred into the grease and left a bit to absorb the oils is an awesome treat, according to my chickens.
1 week ago

Kali Hermitage wrote:
Do any of you with small backyard gardens have suggestions for recycling used potting soil?
Thanks!



I just dump my used potting soil into the compost pile for a cycle.
10 months ago

Bryant RedHawk wrote:
I do know that if you want to use conifer duff for the purpose of acidification it is the cambium layer with the resin phylum that you really want to be using.
I did a few tests way back in the 60's of several California species of pines and found that it is the bark and cambium layers that contain the most acidity when compared to leaves or the wood the bark is about 40% more acidic with the cambium but only 15% more acidic without the cambium.



Would soaking wood or wood chips in a barrel of water make the water a bit more acidic for irrigation?  Being a desert dweller, I have very alkaline soil and water.
10 months ago

Michelle Bisson wrote:I grow a lot of annual edible plants in containers and since I am using soil that I purchased in order to increase the nutrient content and soil life, I usually place plant matter at the bottom of my pails then fill it up with soil.

I started doing this because I would have more pots for planting in.  If I did not do this, I would only have 12 pots to plant in, but doing this, with the same amount of soil & non composted or mostly composted organic matter at the bottom of each pot, I could now do about 17 pots.



My house is very close to an old coal fired power plant.  I am not sure of the level of soil contamination after 50+ years of coal and flyash exposure, so most of my garden is also in containers.

I have been using a layer of organics in the bottom of my pots for a couple of decades with very good results.  All my outdoor pots start with 10-25% of organic fill in the bottom.   (I don't use bottom organic layer in pots that will live in the house.)

I vary the ratio of wood to dried leaves and weeds depending on what I am planting, the size of the pot, and how long the plant will remain in the pot.  

Potted veggies and other annuals get more leaves, little wood.
Pots for cacti and succulents get more twigs and wood, few leaves.
Larger pots, 5 gal or better, or those with more permanent plants, get a heavier ratio of branch wood and twigs.

Leaves and weeds at the bottom of a pot disappear inside a season here.  The soil level will usually drop as the organics break down, just like in the compost pile.  This makes room for top dressing and mulch as the plants get older.

Pill bugs love the material at the bottom, and the cavity that sometimes forms, so they accumulate there.  I empty the pots into a wheelbarrow (or a kiddie pool) on top of fresh compost at the end of the season or when I need new potting soil.  Then I let the chickens have their way with it.  The girls need to see only 1 bug and they dive in.  They clean out the bugs and other tasty bits while mixing the old potting soil together with fresh compost.  They bring any surviving twigs or branches to the top of the mix to be easily re-used in bottoms of pots.

Pots are refilled with a layer of leaves, weeds and wood, then topped with refreshed potting soil.  I add more pots and the cycle begins again.

This method works for me.  YMMV
11 months ago

Pearl Sutton wrote:
Rope saws are useful beasts to learn to work. I don't have one right now, have in the past, I need to get one. Best way to learn them is closer to the ground, then move up higher as you understand them.



I have seen another type of saw "tooth" arrangement on a rope saw.  It looks thinner and I wonder if it would reduce the drag or binding of the blade.  Teeth are only on 1 side tho, a drawback.  Does anyone have experience with this type of saw?

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HHLBFX6/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00HHLBFX6&linkCode=as2&tag=basiplumrep09-20&linkId=WY4GYVF3YH4SJZWU&th=1

Thanks!
11 months ago
Re' the wild pigs eating the seedlings

Perhaps you have mentioned this in prior posts somewhere, but I forget things.  Do the pigs eat opuntia pads as well?  
1 year ago
We use soapnuts and have had no problems using our wash water in the gardens.
1 year ago
We have been using soap nuts for the last few years.  Economical and biodegradable.
I wish I had found out about them earlier.  
1 year ago
Marijke, hello from AZ.

Have you considered planting a couple of groundcover seeds to shade the ground and the tree seedlings when they emerge?  
I use drought tolerant beans usually cowpeas, because they are handy for me.  They become mulch.

Consider contacting Native Seed Search located in AZ.  They specialize in seeds for dry climates.  They are also a good educational resource for dry climate gardens and crops.  In fact, their next class in centered on "planting with the monsoons".  They donate seed to various projects here in AZ.  I don't know if their seed bank extends to your country, but I think it will be worth your time contacting them.
https://www.nativeseeds.org/

Another AZ organization to try would be the Desert Legume Program (DELEP).  (a joint project of the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Boyce Thompson Arboretum)  DELEP distributes samples of seeds, subject to availability, to individuals and organizations in the U.S. and overseas.  The link to this program is:
https://cals.arizona.edu/desertlegumeprogram/storage.html

It is a great idea to plant with the monsoons.  I am preparing right now for this event as well.  I like to have all my seeds ready and in 1 place ahead of time.  I start planting as soon as the rain begins.

Best of luck!
2 years ago
Hi Denise.  I live in a very small town with no herbal stores, so I am unable to answer that part.  
I usually buy all my herbs by the pound from internet sites.  (Monterey Bay Spice Co., Ameriherb, herbalcom.com, and the like.)  
It usually runs $6.-7./pound, cut and sifted.  Very affordable.
A pound of cut/sifted willow bark is around 7 cups, which yields a whole lot of tincture.  A pound is enough to handle our needs, as well as providing gift bottles for friends, for a couple of years.
2 years ago