Nick Segner

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since Feb 11, 2014
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Recent posts by Nick Segner

Hi crew!

So someone once told me “you can coppice red alder as a young tree but after it grows older, it will kill it”, something like that.  And through the fog of memory I believe they said that cut off point was something less than 5 years old.

Anyone know this for sure? I am planting 400 alders a year to build soil, replacing with fruit and nut trees as I go, and have a bunch of 4 year olds that I am wondering if I need to do something with now if I want to keep them in a coppice system.

Plan is to chip for mulch  (tractor PTO unit I have) these, I know they’re a bit young for firewood.

1 month ago
Hi all!

Been a while, hope you are all well.

I’ve been busy geeking out on agronomy books with some farmer friends trying to understand the soil fertility cycle better and came across an absolute gem of a manifesto: Claude Bourguignon’s “Regenerating the Soil: From Agronomy to Agrology”.

Seems ole Claude in France there was well ahead of his time, his writing (of 70’s vintage) is much like that of modern Restorative/Regenerative authors.

Anywho, he drives home an interesting concept about not just clay and humus driving CEC (cation-exchange capacity) but the fact that it’s a complex of clay-humus providing this function. And that the type of clay is crucial to this. So crucial that he even recommends amending with these clays to provide for a permanent bonus in CEC, fertility.

Might make sense.

So, other authors (such as Dr. Arden Anderson) are mentioning the “all-star” type of clay that he favors: Montmorillonite clays. It appears to be related to the shape of the molecules and plating characteristics that provide the surface area for holding onto massive amounts of +’s...

Now, we don’t live in France, but are currently trying to get French friends to translate more info about this for us American bumpkins, but I want to know more..

Anyone with some knowledge of this?

I have been doing some amateur sleuthing and it seems Calcium Bentonite is related to or is a major component of these clays. Wikipedia describes Thai farmers using Ca Bentonite to great success in a rainy (leaching) climate, which we also have here in the PNW of the US.

And go!

2 years ago
Hi all!

So i jumped the gun and ordered 50 Mosquito Fish from a Carolina Labs with the intention to put them into my pond. Well, I hadn't considered the tadpoles and after doing some research found out that my amphibian population could take a hit from the Gambusa feeding on the tadpoles.

But I'd still like to grow them as chicken feed.  I do have an 80 gallon stock tank lying around and am considering breeding these fish in there.

Anyone with experience with this? What kind of aeration is required?

We are in Zone 8b and will get freezing temps. Should i bury the stock tank to the rim and perhaps partially cover for the winter in order to keep it from freezing?

3 years ago
Whoops I forgot to indicate my location. PNW North Olympic Peninsula zone 8b, 200 ft elevation, Koppen Csb - Mediterranean dry summers with wet winters. Extremely well drained silt loam.
3 years ago
Yo, dudes!

Hey so I've got a sweet project going. We're transforming much of our 10 acres of degraded hay field into an alley cropping/ strip intercropping / silvopasture type system.

I plan on planting fruit and nut tree guilds on contour with wide spaced alleys that will be pasture for now, later possibly row cropped.

I recently got ahold of a sickle bar mower for the tractor (the one on BCS was a little small for me but I use it in other tight areas- it's sick!). And I'll keep an eye out for a side delivery rake to deliver this hay mulch to the tree rows during the establishment phase. I plan on planting a narrow tree row initially with woody guild and then as the years go on expanding the tree row out in both directions into the alleys, the hay already mulchin the expanding row ahead of it.

Now these are some of the key species I plan on planting: English Walnut, Chestnut, Pear and Apple.

Do any of you have suggestions for guilds and spacing for these species?

I would like to plan it over a long period of time eg: plant plum near walnut but as the walnut grows into plum in say 20 years, remove the plum to favor the walnut. Also I really like the idea of using high biomass early succession plants like elderberry to shade areas around trees and provide mulch, coppicing and then eventually removing them once the key species provide enough of their own shade.

3 years ago
Hi all!

We have a neighbor with some sketchy guests and are incorporating a "zombie screen" into our permie design plan for our 10 acres on the North Olympic Peninsula zone 8b. Koppen is Csb I believe. Mediterranean completely dry summers and wet winters. Doesn't get below 15oF.

This hedge is going to be over 300 linear feet.

I'd like some help brainstorming species that would provide a visual (not wind) screen that would max out at 10-15' or less(nice view of the mountains there) and preferably stay green year round for us, provide bee forage, bird habitat, etc. I'd like it easy to maintain this with yearly mowing with tractor brush hog on inside of hedge which will remain a perimeter tractor path around a field.

One plant that would be great for us is Ceonothus (sp?) as it's nitro-fixing, evergreen bee forage. Native species that make a great hedge here are Nootka Rose and Snowberry mixed and although they're not evergreen they make a visual screen eventually up to 8-10'.

But I'd like a righteously polycultural hedge so hit me with more species suggestions!

And go!
3 years ago
Hi all!

So we've come sorta full-circle with our understory management in a production(ish) hard-cider holistic apple orchard.

After a few years of mulching, we've come to realize it takes far too much material/labor to keep up with the 600 trees.

Scything was awesome and I love it but as we expand the homestead, I've gotta be realistic on what I can get done on my own (tho our local Scything Club helps!).

So we've returned to mow-n'-blow in the understory.

A component we're adding is to correct a problem the mulch worsened - Voles! This corrective component is daffodil bulbs. They're poisonous vole repelling beauties.

Now I've transplanted hundreds from our own property, but am looking for an additional source. Also, I'd like to incorporate other bulb species such as crocus, iris, tulip, etc.

Most of these bulbs come from Holland-imported. This months article in Acres USA had an interview with Graham White where he said the Netherlands is one of the top consumers of neonic pesticides and they dip these bulbs in solutions of fungicides and neonics.

Anyone know a soured to find these bulbs chem  free? I contacted Van Engelen who told me today they no longer use neonic a in Dutch bulb production, conflicting with the info from White. Peaceful Valley's supplier gets from supposed US sources but they're not able to give me much of a guarantee as they don't know where they're all coming from exactly, info isn't shared from their supplier..
3 years ago
Hi All!

We are going to be painting our home with homemade clay paints, using clay, water, sand and hardeners such as wheat paste.. and ceramic dyes used in glazes for pottery for the stains. Many of these are derived from Iron Oxide which I'm assuming is safe.

However others are derived from the following metals:
Al - Aluminum Oxide
B - Boric Oxide
Ca - Calcium Oxide
Cd - Cadmium
Co - Cobalt Oxide
Cr - Chromium Oxide
Fe - Iron Oxide
Mn - Mangenese Dioxide
Ni - Nickel Oxide
Pr - Praseodymium Oxide
Se - Selenium
Sb - Antimony Oxide
Si - Silicone Dioxide
Sn - Tin Dioxide
Ti - Titanium Dioxide
V - Vanadium Pentoxide
Zn - Zinc Oxide
Zr - Zirconium Dioxide

The MSDS on these leads one to believe that they are safe.

However, the context is they're assuming that you're gonna use these in glazes for pottery. Presumably, having this stuff on the walls will lead to more dust/inhalation potential of these and I just wanted to see if any of you have experience with this or know whether it's advisable to use all of these.


PNW Olympic Peninsula
3 years ago
Hi! I came across this old thread. I live near Sequim, WA, historically known for it's dry cool PNW climate. Garry Oak savanna was what was up (although my particular spot was a bit west of this, into Douglas Fir territory).

Anyone mimicking Garry Oak savanna in the PNW with more guild ideas/tips? How useful are Garry Oak acorns? Chestnut grows great, we have 20+ giant 30 year old trees- just the wrong variety to get nuts in this climate, but thinking of doing alley cropping with very wide row spacing on contour using a bit of oak, the chestnut, standard apple, linden. What other great trees would you guys suggest?

Snowberry and Ocean Spray are def the shrub layer here..  But could be substituted with Sea Buckthorn (we have a few giant ones). How would mulberry do here?

4 years ago
Ok, now we're getting somewhere.. So I need to explain something about our climate: we have no summer rain. We'll rotate the neighbors cows through the 5 acres once, twice and then we might hit grass's summer dormancy here in the "rainshadow" of the Olympic Mountains. At that point, we're done until fall, or possibly the next spring.

I'll keep in mind the 30+ days of rest and the other guiding priniciple I'd heard - not letting the grass to be grazed below 4-6" level.
4 years ago