Russell Olson

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since Dec 12, 2013
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Zone 4 MN USA
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Recent posts by Russell Olson

I have a similar setup for my maple trees, my equipment is going on 5 or 6 seasons. Clean the tubing and taps well at the end, and if you stack buckets make sure they are dry and add a piece of scrap wood or something to the bottom  to separate them so they don't get stuck together.
I also tap silver maples, I would actually say the flavor is better than sugar maples personally, lighter, more honeylike. I've done walnut syrup before, the ration is much higher, close to 1:100 I would guess, and the flavor was ok, not special. Almost like a dark maple syrup with an off taste. I got maybe a few ounces from 10 gallons.
I might suggest you check the depth of your taps into the tree if it doesn't flow, they look a little deep to me.
Good Luck! We're flowing in MN now too, earliest i've ever seen it personally, though I said that last year too.
7 years ago
an update on this:
I got many, many runners this past season, I left a few larger ones in places among my orchard they fit, dug up maybe 20 and distributed them among the property. Hopefully some take as well as the parents did.
I definitely think this is good example of a potentially multi-use plant that is hardy, adaptable, and delicious.
7 years ago
Same exact thing happened to me last year. i got good % of sprouting anyway after the normal cold stratification.
It's definitely worth trying. The baby plants/seedlings have been more trouble than the seeds for me, give them alot of attention.
Good luck!
7 years ago
Thanks for the ideas,
I have considered the RMH, but am hesistant to go with something like that for this "version" of my greenhouse. I intend someday to build a much more impresive structure for tropical type plants, this is more to overwinter certain things. start trees, and extend the growing season.
Any idea where to get 55 gallon barrels? I like that idea, plus i could reuse them if I upgrade someday.
7 years ago
This past year has been frustrating one for projects on my property, mostly due to a new job and young family taking up most of my time, but it's all good.
I did however deal with the frustrations of a crappy above ground greenhouse this spring, freezing, blowing away in the wind, getting too hot, etc.
I went cheap and it ruined the fun for me.
I am in the planning phase now for a sunken greenhouse similar to a walipini/mike oehler type underground greenhouse and will be buying Oehlers books this christmas. So far I've got: Facing south, at an angle of latitude +23 degrees, with good polycarbonate glazing, and a passive solar mass behind the north wall.
I might be fine with this not being a year round greenhouse and just being a growing season extender, but year round would be cool if I could utilize multiple tricks to keep the structure above freezing temps. I do believe I can have a pretty solid budget for this.
For now I am trying to get some plans on paper and had a few questions for those in the know.

-The pit walls/foundation, I see alot of cement blocks, I would prefer to avoid that due to cost and deficient skills in masonry. I'm not against it though, are there ok alternatives I could try. I currently have as much wood on my property as I'd ever need, including straight white pines that need thinning, and red oaks that are dying. Neither of those woods are super rot resistant, but might work if I were to dig them in and cover them with a plastic moisture barrier right?

-Insulating, inside or outside the foundation wall? both? Should I plan on insulating the earth mass behind the north wall or is that better to be non insulated?

-The actual growing beds, what height in the greenhouse should they be to maximize growth? I've seen alot of terraced looks, I just don't want to excavate deep and have my plants not get enough sun.

-How effective is the cold sink pit? i assume this will be part of the mike oehler book, but it seems like it could be alot more digging.

Thanks to anyone with some thoughts, I'll certainly be posting pictures once I start.
7 years ago
Awesome videos,
You can feel the passion and experience in your narration. Great job!
I'm hoping to get an order from you this year.

One question on the chestnuts, I noticed the deer fence on the younger one, 6' steel woven wire?
Any other tips, I'm ashamed to admit for all my success in actually getting seeds to sprout and grow I am having more and more frustration with deer eating things.
My oldest chestnut is 5' at 5 years old but was also 5' in year 2, i've had it clipped by deer twice and frozen back one year.
Thanks for sharing!
7 years ago
I'm currently working through 10 acres of buckthorn with varying success. I think I can help a bit.
raspberries and blueberries are not nitrogen fixers, raspberries may grow well enough to contend with the buckthorn, but blueberries likely won't.
If you killed the roots of the buckthorn or removed them you can pretty much plant anything, though if you simply cut it down you will have regrowth and a thick mess within a year or so.
Cover crop like clovers do seem to contend with the seedlings, I would recommend a mix of clover, some sort of annual grass(wheat, rye, etc), and something like radish or turnip. A deer food plot mix would work well so long as the grass included is annual.  
The comfrey will help, but might not grow fast enough right away to suppress buckthorn seedlings and certainly won't compete with trees.
Fast growing trees like boxelder, elderberry, and black locust can help fill spacer temporarily and could be chopped and dropped later. Walnut seems to compete pretty well also. Weeds like Burdock have out competed buckthorn in places for me too.

Your second picture looks pretty clear, with very few seedlings or stumps around, you probably can plant whatever you want back there, I would guess you have other areas not as cleanly cleared and those are going to be tougher to reclaim.

Keep at it, we cleared most of our backyard and it has remained clear with many fun natives just showing up out of no where. After the buckthorn has been removed from the ecosystem it seems like alot of healing happens quickly. We've found hazelnut, highbush cranberry, dogwood, birch, maple, currant, raspberries, and even things like bloodroot, solomon's seal, and jack in the pulpit simply appear in recently cleared areas.

Good luck!

Here's a thread on some of my observations.
7 years ago
Anyone recognize this, I started a bunch of seeds, thought this one was oregano. Obviously not. Smells good when I crush a leaf up.
Any ideas?
7 years ago
Everything I've read says don't freeze the seeds, they'll die, I would think any direct seeding bed, even deeply mulched, will freeze in MN.
I think I got my Paw paw seed delivered in Dec from FW schumacher, my seeds froze but most did sprout, I don't know how complete the freeze was, the baggie they came in had ice crystals and the soil was hard.
I'm planning on stratifying indoors, in a baggie mixed with moist peat moss, then direct seeding with deep mulch in May or so. The seeds take their time sprouting and the first leaves are not obvious for some time, but when they do sprout they are pretty vigorous and stand up through the soil pretty well, like a bean almost.
Good luck!
7 years ago
I have ordered many seeds from FW Schumacher, including their Paw paw seeds. They are a first rate forestry seed operation.
One thing to consider however is that their and other places Paw paw seed will have to arrive fresh, and for me in MN arrived in the winter.
The seeds for me did freeze in the mailbox, but I had a good percentage sprout anyway. I neglected to baby them enough in their pots and impatiently planted them out in June. They did not survive. The seedlings might be more fragile than the seeds.

I now have a batch of seedlings in a 5 gallon bucket filled with soil, compost, and peat that appear to be doing well, I intend on overwintering them in my unheated but insulated porch that gets down to bout 40 in the winter and transplanting them next year once the frost threat has left. My survivor Paw paw is definitely late to leaf out, just starting in middle may. Sunday the May 15th this year we had a hard frost/freeze event that butchered alot of things like walnuts, chestnuts, grapes, hardy kiwi etc. The Paw paw had just teeny tiny leaves at that point that got nipped slightly but probably was saved a bit. My walnuts and kiwi  were fully leafed out and looked like dead black alien blobs that morning.

I think any amount of diversity in the genetics of any plant we culture is a good thing, even if certain genetics are selected out of the pool it's worth trying.
Mark Shephard commented that he also had one Paw paw out of many that survived on his wisconsin farm, and part of his system involves breeding plants and trees with his STUN method which requires alot of trees and alot of genetic diversity. He even thought it might be possible to breed cold hardy tropical plants eventually if enough effort was put into it.
My own efforts for next year will be a few sources of paw paw seeds planted in my bucket method, and in a seedbed, along with a few older trees from multiple sources (Jung, Oikos, one other) to try and give my survivor a more mature pollinator.
7 years ago