Ruby Gray

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since Jan 31, 2014
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Recent posts by Ruby Gray

This sounds like a great idea. The Chinese have for thousands of years, been very efficient and inventive users of heat energy and soil for construction.
I get many frosts down to -10 degrees C, and intermittent frosts throughout summer too which is the death knell to many garden crops and my desire to be self-sufficient in food.
However as we do not have snow or a dry cold winter (41 degrees latitude South, Tasmania) but a very wet icy one, I wonder how this would work here?
Cold sleety rain driven by antarctic winds would surely saturate the brick or earth structure, and suck the heat out of it faster than the occasional sunny winter days could restore it.
Any clues?
3 years ago

Travis Schultz wrote:

I am capturing and breeding out nematoads as we speak. Hopefully it works.

"Nematoads"? Perhaps you are referring to those pimply froggy toads? They are indeed reputed to eat slugs indiscriminately, and would be a great asset in a slug-challenged garden.
I am having trouble understanding how you could be "capturing and breeding out" nematodes, which are microscopic creatures invisible to the naked eye, whose natural environment is the body of a slug.
You would need to purchase the commercial preparation of millions of live nematodes contained in a clay base, which is emulsified in water, diluted and sprayed over the garden area.
4 years ago
In my experience, ducks would rather stick pins in their eyes than mess with a slug. Snails they will eat, but only up to a point.

Sprinkling wood ash across the veg patch would despatch thousands of slimy critters in the time it takes to snip a few hundred in half. Plus add potash fertiliser to your veg.

Matured gazunder juice (urine) is absolutely deadly on slugs. Obviously you cannot go sprinkling golden rain on crops for sale to other people. But if you can provide some slug habitat, like a few long wet planks lying along soggy pathways, then lift up and sprinkle several 100's - 1,000's at a time, you have to be diminishing the population fast. They will turn white, and shrivel up as they die in agony, fast.

A more socially acceptable alternative for mass slugicide is the application of the slug nematode, Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita. This is living organism which kills any slugs it infests and is harmless to other life. You buy these granules, add water, and sprinkle over the whole area. The nematodes infest the slugs which die, the nematodes breed up and continue working until there are no more slugs to inhabit.
4 years ago
This site has some words of wisdom which seem to confirm the rootrot diagnosis.

Digging up one affected plant to check the appearance of the roots would be beneficial.
"Heritage" is said to be moderately or highly susceptible to phytophthora root rot.

Many plants get yellow leaves when there is an excess of rain, due to nitrogen being leached out of the soil, especially in cool spring weather. Adding nitrogen and magnesium can help in this case.

It's hard to tell from the photo whether the affected leaves are on primocanes (this year's) or floricanes (last year's). The younger shorter leaves look OK. So perhaps cutting off all last year's canes would solve the problem, if it's not root rot.
Otherwise, they would need to be dug out, destroyed, and new virus-free canes planted in a different spot.
4 years ago

Aleksandar Jankovic wrote:We have access to a lot of straw bales from last year that have not been pressed tight and are not exactly the ideal dimensions for our cottage. So we thought about making a hand baler (]something[/youtube] similar to this perhaps) and re-baling these old bales to the dimensions we seek. It's extra work, but we've got the manpower and won't need more than a hundred bales for the small cottage.

My main question is: can a hand baler make bales of adequate tightness for building a straw bale home? Or are these super tight bales only the product of machines? We're talking about wheat straw, by the way. And if anyone has any hand baler plans to share that they are happy with, that would be awesome

I am collecting the recycled materials to construct a hand baler. I scythe my own hay and so far have stacked it loose for several years. This is nice, but being able to press my hay would make it much easier to store and transport.

I have seen several versions of the baler you mention, and they are OK if you have a couple of goats to feed which don't mind smaller-dimensioned shaggy-looking hay bales, but there is a much better option which applies greater compression more easily, and makes bigger, neater bales comparable with commercial ones.

You can see this marvelous device in use at :

The plans for this much better design are available here :

and instructions here :

Themi-Tillers is an organisation which designs appropriate technology for people and livestock in developing country agriculture, and for sensible folks opting out of the high-tech agribusiness age.
4 years ago

Roberto pokachinni wrote:

I've been brainstorming this sort of thing for my own greywater system for a while. My humanure system will be mostly separated--meaning that there will be enough absorptive material added to the bottom of the manure containers and with each addition of waste, that the system can handle the odd error addition of urine. There will be a drain going to a biochar pit.

I think there is a problem when someone sees the addition of urine to the mix of solids and cover material (carbon substance such as sawdust, a waste product which needs to be utilised), as an "error".
Sawdust, solids & liquids provde the perfect mix to aerobically, thermophilically compost, so sequestering carbon into the lucky soil to which this wonderful stuff is applied.
Urine in biochar sounds nasty to me.

4 years ago

Tobias Ber wrote:hey ruby,
"that topic is discussed in podcast 213 and 214."

One day I'm gonna find out what a "podcast" is.

Tobias Ber wrote:
a big thing is about convenience. not everybody wants to deal with full buckets 2 times a week.

So deal with half-buckets on a more regular basis. Nobody complains about having to carry all those shopping bags full of groceries into the house every week, do they? How inconvenient is that? How is it harder to tote the reconstituted foodstuffs back out into the garden? Not! I find swapping out a liftable 3/4 bucket every 5 days is a simple and satisfying exercise. I just wish I had more contributors to my recycling project!

Tobias Ber wrote:diversion allows you to use the urine immediately as safe fertilizer. the solid waste would not start to stink as much as when mixed, so one can go for some weeks or even months without having to deal with full buckets/bins...

There is no "stink". Using the urine separately, prevents thermophilic decomposition of the solids over the coming 3 - 4 weeks (that is all it takes for humanure to become unrecognisable as such when I open the pile to make the next deposit).
Urine is not "safe" fertiliser in all situations. If you are going through a dry spell, even whwen it is diluted, it can spell death to sensitive plants.

Tobias Ber wrote:as far as i remember, the wheelie bin house would have a chimney to suck the stinky air out of the outhouse. this is a nice addition, but one could add that to a jenkins-style toilet.

Because there is no "stink," a Jenkins-style toilet does not need a chimney to "suck the stinky air out".

As far as I remember, Paul went with large bins, which I don't think were wheelie bins at all, because his brother had an oversupply of them. That is not a good reason to use bins that are very heavy and awkward to deal with. Close them things up and leave them for 2 years, and you have just relocated a nasty problem to 2 years hence. You will have the same stuff as you began with. A mouldering dry toilet pile needs to be open to the air. This system is neither aerobic thermophilic (hot) composting, nor aerobic mouldering (cold) composting.

Paul is concerned about people adding more than 1/2 cup sawdust / contribution, yet advocates the use of great piles of multiple tree logs to create gardens! It doesn't make sense to me, to use an expensive and failure-prone urine diverter to separate liquids from the chunky bits, just to save sawdust and have liquid fertiliser to apply to your poplar trees, when by combining the 3 components in generous amounts, a much nicer and better-balanced product can be manufactured in much less time, which is safe to use even on lettuce crops (if you must, though I intend to use it on fruit trees and above-ground crops).

when the system works for you, great. awesome that you go this way.

other people might need/want other systems to fit their personal needs, preferences and situations. some people want more convenient, beginner-friendly solutions ... and that s totally ok. for them. it s important to reach out to people where they re at in this given moment. every little step up the eco-scale should be valued and cherished.
4 years ago