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Heather Staas

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since Dec 17, 2013
Western MA, zone 5b
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Recent posts by Heather Staas


Yeah,  I think of a "food forest" as a more a growing system with canopy, understory, forest type floor etc.    I think of a "tree guild" is more a specific grouping of beneficial plants, more like companion planting..   a specific collection of plants that compliment one another and share space in a particular way.   So tree guilds can make up a food forest.  But I've also seen food forests with lots of trees and underplantings that don't necessarily make up a preplanned "guild" of grouped neighbors.
12 hours ago

Cardboard for me, and I have a local discount store that waves me into the back to take as many of their empty boxes as I want!   I leave with quite a load every time.   Feeling blessed.
1 week ago

When I am starting with a bush or tree in a new area that has grass I remove the sod/grass just enough for planting,  disturbing as little as possible below that, and make a hole just big enough for the roots.   Then I build a layered mulched bed around it.   Sidedress the planting hole with compost,  wet cardboard barrier all around,  then layer on leaves, wood chips, etc.   I mulch my blueberries with pine straw to help with the acidity but I really don't worry about it all that much.    Blueberries like my W. MA area though, I think we naturally tend toward acidic.    I bought one small bush of several varieties.   When I know which do best I will add a few more.

I go right OVER the grass like your description when I'm making a new planting area for perennials or annuals, or a large area that I won't be planting much in until the following year when the grass has died and the cardboard softened/ deteriorated.
2 weeks ago

Could you try moving them to a plastic bin of some sort?   My does never had a problem with me moving babies to a different box for whatever reason, once they had already started taking care of them.  As long as the box was in the generally vicinity of it's location.
3 weeks ago
I've done it in a small yard with 3 German Shepherds (but I am also a dog trainer and my dogs don't willfully destroy plants, they prefer frisbees lol).    My current yard has some compromises with "full on" permaculture design to leave exercise space for the dogs (a long grassy flat run,  enough for a serious frisbee or fetch game).    I've used pallets and chicken wire to build a perimeter garden area about 6ft wide around the outside.    The space between my dogs and the neighbors fences are FILLED with small trees, shrubs, and perennials.   I also planted some small tree beds in and around the dog area,  trees hold up well with just a small temporary fence if dogs are inclined to dig.  Large rocks placed at the base of plants that are potentially in danger of a being run over by a stray ball.   I think in your case I'd get ahold of some cheap fencing materials and build something to divide up the yard.   Small dogs can run around established forests without too much damage once you have an abundance, but give them their own run during establishment, that would be my advice.  
3 weeks ago
I've been in my urban lot since last June, and I've got a nice mix of natives, ornamentals, and edibles in already.  I had an 8 acre sheep/duck/rabbit farm so this was a huge adjustment.   I'm enjoying the challenge though.   It was blank canvas aside from a few rose bushes and lawn.     So far I've got hazelnuts, blueberries, bayberries, quince, and  mulberry for trees/bushes.   Willow, holly, azaleas added for privacy, windbreaks, color.   Serviceberries and a sweet crabapple are also on the wish list for this year.   Perennials so far:   hosta, sochan, sorrel, strawberries, comfrey (it's funny on a perm. board the spell check tells me that word doesnt exist) , rosemary, sweet cecily, chives...      You can make all of that look quite attractive!   Good luck!  
3 weeks ago

My rabbits were on forage and grazing only for 8 months of the year.   They had a big variety of many of the things listed on this thread and kitchen/ garden scraps, plus grow outs were in grazing tractors.   Adults were in colony.   Pumpkin, squash,  tree clippings,  comfrey,  dandelion, grass,  on and on.    
4 weeks ago

I lost an adult rabbit to liver torsion on inspection.   But she was obviously off feed and in pain beforehand, but she went really quickly.   If I hadn't been around it would have been missed and I would have just found her.   So many things can happen to rabbits.  
4 weeks ago


Have you tried a different buck?   I've had girls flat out refuse a particular male.   Not often, but it happened a couple times.  They were perfectly happy to breed with my other buck.  
4 weeks ago

The little abdominal side walls is probably what he was talking about.   I very lightly boil mine and then use them cold with mayo, etc., to make a yummy "rabbit salad"   Those cuts are small but soft and tasty if not overcooked!
4 weeks ago