Dan Boone

+ Follow
since Jan 24, 2014
Dan likes ...
forest garden trees woodworking
Forum Moderator
Dan Boone currently moderates these forums:
Dan Boone gardens, plants fruit trees, and tends wild fruit and nut trees and vines in Central Oklahoma.
Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand Pollinator Scavenger Hunt
expand First Scavenger Hunt

Recent posts by Dan Boone

Dale Hodgins wrote:I've seen many things grown well outside of their Zone, that will produce some leaf. But that doesn't mean we're going to get a useful crop. People grow bananas and olives here on Vancouver Island. Or at least they say they do. What I've seen are banana and Olive plants that give a bunch of leaf but failed to produce any useful amount of fruit. A few, keep them in green houses and do manage to get a taste. But the input costs are far too high.

I wonder if some people are headed down the same road with this tree, in hope of getting the same production that occurs in its native range.

Well, my interest in tending the thread to the extent I have was for the benefit of people who find themselves in a zone where the tree could be grown without extraordinary measures.  But as always, what people do with information is not necessarily what we might expect.

That said, I'm not sure the analogy to tropical fruit trees is 100% spot on.  I know from trying to grow tender flowering/fruiting plants indoors in winter under lights that it's much easier to get a plant to bulk up and produce vegetative matter under artificial conditions than it is to induce flowering and fruiting in useful quantities.  (Right now I have some pepper plants I am overwintering under lights; they are quite "happy" and have flowered and fruited, but the fruits are few, small, and stunted.  I don't care, because my only goal is to get the plants through alive until spring.)  So, in the case of a tree where you're tapping its sap, it's unclear to me that such a tree in a greenhouse, or a sun trap, or an engineered microclimate (the proverbial "lemons in Montana" holy grail situation) would be as difficult to work with as an actual fruit tree.  It might be at least somewhat more forgiving. Enough to change the underlying economics of growing tropical trees outside the tropics? It's not a challenge that inspires me, that's for sure. But I don't see it as being quite the same challenge as growing tropical fruit.
1 week ago
Updating this thread, there's now a place that claims to sell the seeds for this tree, although they are currently out of stock.  There's an email you could use to contact them to see if they plan to ever get back in stock, and a notifier you can sign up for to be notified in that happy event.
1 week ago

Mike Barkley wrote:Freezers are not terrible consumers of electricity if they are installed & used properly. They can pay for themselves in food cost savings. Not a necessity though.

Even though I am the original king of salvage, rummage, used, junk, and upcycling, I want to chime in here to point out that "old" freezers are the one thing that never makes sense.  Energy efficiency improvements have been pretty much continuous for many years (mandated by EPA "moving target" standards, just like with automotive fuel efficiency standards).  So that old freezer that you have, or that your uncle will give you, or that you buy on Craig's List for forty bucks? It's a negative value.  It's a false economy.  It's an energy consumption anchor.  

You're much better off to shop wisely for a brand new freezer (with the best energy efficiency rating you can find).  The energy savings in operation will more than make up for the difference in acquisition cost, sooner than you would imagine.
2 weeks ago
Ooh, that sounds nice!  We don't have any that big in my bioregion; the largest is perhaps pencil-sized.  But there is rather a lot.  It seems pretty sensitive to being whacked, though; that's my method for getting rid of it.  This may be a climate difference, Florida has a lot more summer moisture than we do.

I'm obviously going to have to play with different management regimes to figure out what kinds of pruning and watering maximizes growth.  
2 weeks ago
When my family first moved to the Yukon river country in the early 1970s, the local Christians turfed us out of town (arranged for our rental cabin to be suddenly unavailable, about a week before first snowfall) when they realized my folks were heathens and uninterested in getting saved.  We would have bounced a couple of hundred miles but for one old trapper named Mike Molchin who let us stay in a trapping cabin on some mining claims he wasn't using, about ten miles out of town.  He drank nothing but Postum, and had hundreds of old Postum jars kicking around that he used for storing anything that needed to stay clean or dry.  

He died about ten or fifteen years later of a rare form of liver cancer.  Some years after that, it became known to science that the cancer in question was associated with aflatoxins, most likely to be encountered by humans in moldy nuts (especially moldy peanuts).  This old trapper had jars of peanut butter in every trapping cabin along his trap line; if they got a bit moldy around the rim or under the lid, he'd just wipe away the moldy bit with his sleeve and spread the rest on his pilot crackers.  He was seriously hard core.  My father was convinced it was the moldy peanut butter that killed him.  

My memory of the man is one of the unholy stench of blood and artificial maple.  There's a Crescent brand of fake maple flavor called Mapleineā„¢ that was sold back in the day with a recipe for boiling up with sugar to make a passably decent artificial pancake syrup.  (We bought it and used it for that purpose, in the deep sub-arctic nowheres.)  But fur trappers used to swear by it as a great mask of human scent; they would practically bathe in the stuff, and wash their traps in it, and rub it on everything to hide their scent when setting traps.  And after a few bottles leaked in this man's pockets, and under the seat of his snowmobile, the smell mixed with his body odor and the scent of his fur-bearer carcasses and just followed him around like a signature cloud.  It was impressive and deadly!

2 weeks ago
A lot to chew on in this Adaptor's Movement manifesto.  

Please don't take anything I'm about to say as disagreement, precisely.  It's just that, like anything so dense with themes and subthemes, some of these will be in tension, especially when applied to particular circumstances.

Take, for instance, the two principles LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION and BUILD SOCIAL CAPITAL.  

For reasons that may become evident in a moment, I would probably have used the word "community" more often if I had drafted the BUILD SOCIAL CAPITAL section.  But I don't disagree with how vital it is.

The thing is, sometimes communities are...rooted.  And sometimes, I'm going to argue, it may be better to hunker down with a strong community in an imperfect location than to cut those roots.  Not if the location is completely unsustainable, mind... but gonna get pretty ugly bye-n-bye? It may be worth it.

Loathe though I am to discuss my own particulars on the open internet in too much detail, I think I have to, to make this point.

I am espoused to a member of the Creek Nation; I live on Creek land in a family that also has strong ties in the Seminole Nation, which is nearby. (The family land is near the border between those two nations.)

As a white man married into a matriarchal culture, I am valued primarily to the extent that I am seen as useful: a good man, a provider, a stalwart citizen, a steward of the land.  Nobody wants to hear my opinions but I am welcome at every table.  

Now, about that apocalypse...

This was dustbowl country.  Cotton and peanuts and sorghum and corn land, before the soil all blew away.  Now it's in cattle and hay, fairly badly managed: which is to say, thin red clay soil, badly hammered by too many hooves, overgrazed and mown too often, very rarely fertilized or seeded, pretty heavily sprayed for weeds.  Dotted with old oil wells, nearing depletion.  And there are many unused tracts, gone back to cross-timbers forest, 2nd or 3rd growth, scrub oak and red cedar and not much topsoil at all.

Climate change predictions all agree, we're looking at hotter summers and some fairly epic droughts.  But also flashier floods, as the hurricanes off the gulf drive further inland, and the Pacific river storms penetrate further east every year.  Water management will be a challenge, but absolute water lack, probably not.  Soil management likewise.  Tornadoes, always a problem here, are already getting bigger and more numerous; that's an architectural challenge, and a death lottery, but not a thing that looks like it will ever make the place completely unlivable.  

Our tract in particular has a stream/ravine, but it's already deeply cut and well away from the house, which is not threatened by any conceivable flood event (and I have indulged my fullest apocalyptic imagination in assessing that threat, extrapolating from observations of an eight inch rainfall in four hours).  Our biggest threat, as in many other places, is probably wildfire, as droughts and heat and high winds work their unholy combinations.   Grinding droughts of years-long duration that simply outlast our engineered water storage systems are the next biggest threat; consequently I badly want beaver to turn the ravine into one huge water storage reservoir, since I can't afford the heavy equipment to do it myself.  

Will there be better places, objectively, to weather the apocalypse? Almost certainly.  But I tell you what: none of the Indians here in Indian Country are giving up this land, not after being dispossessed of their original homelands and marched via their various Trails of Tears to Oklahoma at gunpoint.  They will stick to this land to the bitterest end, long after the last white man has fled before the billowing haboobs in sunburned parched terror.

Being welcome, tolerated, seen as useful, in that community? Loved by a few individuals, seen as useful and therefore accepted, however grudgingly, by enough of the rest?  That, my friends, I judge to be more social capital than I could hope to accumulate anywhere else in what remains of my lifetime. (I'm introverted, keyboard bound, slow to make friends.)  And so here I'm sticking, puttering with my efforts at a climate-resilient food forest, and slowly working out what starchy calorie-dense vegetables I can reliably grow in the already-freaky never-the-same two-years-running weather that we have here.  The land I'm currently planting trees on will be inherited, eventually, by a couple of fine young niece/nephew in-law Seminoles who are currently in junior high school.  I hope they don't need calories from my food plantings to feed their families, but logic tells me they likely will, and I design accordingly.

Once the electricity goes -- which might or might not happen in my lifetime, the Creek Nation has a lot of willingness to invest in infrastructure for its people when outside civil society won't or can't -- I don't want to be living in a place this hot.  I love my air conditioning.  But I'll deal, and build an adobe house, if I still have the strength, once it becomes clear the juice is gone for good.  I think the value of belonging to this particular community -- even in the highly peripheral and contingent way of a white in-law -- overwhelms the drawbacks of the location.  

And anyway, I love the lady, and this is the land her great-grandmother (if I have the correct number of greats) got after the Trail of Tears. So it's all rather moot, because she ain't movin'.  Acceptance...
2 weeks ago
My sister and I consider ourselves to be at war with the House of Squirrel, but we do not actively prosecute it; we just keep outside dogs to keep them at bay.  And though we consider ourselves fond of animals in general, we don't brake or swerve for squirrels in the road.  We're not giving the little bastards any more chances.

The history is dark.

We grew up in the sub-arctic boreal forest, along the banks of the Yukon river.  Red squirrels infested that terrain.  Living in a cramped log cabin, we had outbuildings for all of our storage, including food storage.  We didn't have rats in that environment, but squirrels filled the niche, and they destroyed everything that wasn't kept in glass or metal containers.  I was issued my first BB gun at the age of 5 and my first firearm at the age of 7 (single shot bolt action .22, one round of .22 short ammo at a time) for the express purpose of helping keep the squirrel population under control (and feeding the dogs).  

All went swimmingly until 1993, after I -- the last of the children -- had left home.  My mother -- never the most safety conscious member of the family -- had a cute little short-barreled .22 carbine she liked to use for shooting squirrels.  But it was 100 years old if it was a day.  Mom was found dead with a round in her brain, apparently from an accidental discharge after dropping the rifle on its butt at her feet while chasing squirrels. It's the only fatal accidental-discharge case involving a .22 short the district coroner (or anybody I know) had ever heard of at the time.  And it's been long enough now -- a quarter century! -- that my family can say the phrase "freak squirrel hunting accident" with more laughter than tears, because really, what four more ludicrous words exist in the English language?

This Far Side cartoon has special significance for us:

2 weeks ago
It's the case that where one finds this vine in the wild, it usually grows in clusters and clumps ... half a dozen or a dozen stems coming up out of the soil in the same couple of square feet.  I imagine ... without having done the excavation ... that they are coming from the same tuber, or a cluster or clump of tubers.  

What I'm hoping is that by one means or another the density of stems per square foot can be somewhat increased.  It doesn't seem at all far-fetched that repeated mechanical "messing with" the existing vines would cause healthy roots to send up additional shoots ... but that doesn't mean it will actually happen.
3 weeks ago
I have a wild plan that I want to try this year.  I'll report back, but I wonder if anybody else has tried it.

One of the best-tasting wild edible greens in the Oklahoma woods in springtime is the new growth on Greenbriars.  This is a vertical-growing vine with sharp barbed thorns, a starchy and vaguely-edible root, and edible but bland berries late in the summer.  There are a bunch of similar Smilax species; I haven't tried to ID this specific one.  

In the spring, new growth on this vine (tendrils at the tip) is extremely tender and sweet and crunchy and tasty.  Flavor somewhat similar to young asparagus.  I never miss a chance to pluck and munch as I walk through the woods, but there's rarely enough to harvest in quantity.  

My thought is to transplant some into a container (I do NOT want these vines growing loose in my yard, but they don't tolerate being mowed so it's no problem) and train them up a trellis.  And then prune them at about head height.  I figure if I keep doing this, they may keep sending up new  shoots until I have a very dense thicket -- enough to harvest a whole salad from at one time.  

I don't know whether I would just get one or two cuttings in spring, or whether, if cut regularly, they would keep trying to put on new growth throughout the summer.  If the latter, this could be a very worthwhile experiment!  (However I doubt this; I've never seen mature vines that have been cut while trail clearing try to send out new shoots in high summer.)

Anybody ever grow Smilax vines deliberately?
3 weeks ago

Dale Hodgins wrote:The toprail is super thick and it has a good layer of zinc on it still. I wonder how difficult it would be to galvanize the wire. It's a little rusty.

From my old life as an environmental lawyer I know that galvanizing is a messy process that creates a lot of difficult waste -- liquid chemicals laden with zinc and (depending on your formula and your anodes and cathodes) other heavy metals.  Not saying this is a reason not to do it, just saying it's a potential impediment. [Editing to say: actually I was thinking of electroplating when I wrote this; the process of electrically depositing one metal on another, as when renewing the chrome on an old rusty bumper by dipping it in a vat of metal-charged acid and running a current through it. Galvanizing is, I think, a hot dip process where the steel is actually dipped in a molten alloy of zinc and other metals. Which is not easy to do on a fencing scale, and is somewhat industrially hazardous given that the fumes boiling off your vat of molten metal as you submerge old rusty fencing in it are nothing you'll want to breathe.]

As a practical matter I've found that when recycling old rusty chain link, it can be worth brush painting it with a high quality silver-colored exterior enamel paint.  Something functionally similar to Krylon/Rustoleum -- a paint engineered to stick to and stabilize rust.  It's not cheap but the surface area of chain link fence wires that you need to coat is small, so a little goes a long way. The result looks really nice, especially from observation distances of more than ten feet away, and it greatly extends the life of the old fencing.
3 weeks ago