Becky Johnson

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since Jun 23, 2014
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Recent posts by Becky Johnson

I just planted 10 young apple trees at the edge of a hugelkultur berm I live in the desert and built rings up around the trees to contain water, and was going to plant some beneficials in a guild below the trees. Does anyone with any experience with guild planting below apple trees know of anything that I can plant that will smother out the crabgrass that keeps springing up there?
2 years ago
I am trying to figure out what is going on in my big raised bed hugelkultur. I'm in an arid desert and temps recently spiked. Because I was still trying too establish the asparagus crowns and strawberries in that bed, I'd been watering deeply a couple of times a week. I don't know if it's because of the heat and wind or maybe I was overwatering, but a couple highbush blueberries that had been doing well for months suddenly look as though their leaves are drying up and falling off. Any ideas why that might be? They're a highbush variety that is supposed to do well in our zone.
3 years ago
It sounds like you and your family are facing some of the same kinds of issues I have dealt with and that we are on similar journeys in trying to find things to help our bodies heal.

I am, myself, suffering the after effects of having been t-boned by a drunk driver a few months ago. I immediately sought chiropractic and massage therapy hoping to head off some potential issues at the pass, and it helped a lot considering the severity of the accident (totaled my truck). But in spite of the preventative measures, and a self-imposed period of taking things easy (not lifting anything heavy, etc.), I found myself in excruciating lower-back pain several days ago and had to go in to urgent care. Turned out a bulging disc that hadn't bothered me in years was acting up again and had also pinched a nerve, causing stiffness and pain that made sitting for any length of time miserable.

Needless to say, I've been again seeking out whatever I can that can help with the spine/disc/nerve issues. I, too, have read "Nourishing Traditions" (lots of good info in there), and more recently, "The Abascal Way" (an eating plan book I got off Amazon which counters inflammation. It's something that helped my mom when she was having trouble with arthritis and carpal tunnel type issues a couple of years ago.

Anyway, some of my own findings on my own journey to better health and healing are as follows:

Years ago, I learned that fresh pineapples (1/4 cup servings) were very helpful in healing carpal tunnel issues, some of which is tied to the membranous sheath around the tendons in the wrist. Because my nerve troubles could well involve the myelin sheath, I've begun buying fresh pineapples again, figuring it can't hurt to try...I really can't lose, because they're delicious food any which way. The enzyme, Bromelain, can be found in supplement form, but I've found the fresh pineapple seems to work the best for the tendon sheath issues, but I'm hopeful that it might work simliarly in my spine. It might seem a stretch to some who know more about how the body works than I do, but I'm going to give it a whirl and see. Just now I found a little snippet on Wikipedia that said bromelain (or a derivative substance) is used in a product called NexoBrid for the removal of dead tissue on severe burns. My thought is that those enzymes are pretty healing to tissues, so it's worth a shot.

There are some essential oils and a technique called raindrop therapy that might be useful for the nerve related injuries and issues, especially with a spine condition. There are a lot of testimonials out there that will tell you which ones various folks have tried for just about every conceivable condition. I hesitate to suggest any specific essential oils or blends, because I believe folks who use oils should really extensively research which ones might help them, taking into consideration other health concerns, and then to implement them gradually and with great care. One oil might work very well for a specific condition or ailment in one person, but not for another, because each persons body, chemistry, underlying conditions, etc. are all so diverse. Overall, I have found them to be tremendously helpful in my own household, and with this recent nerve pain, have been using two different blends over the affected area of my spine with good success. I've only taken the pain meds once since I got home from the hospital, and haven't even needed the steroids (I put up with some pain and discomfort, but mostly just so that I listen to my body and don't overdo. Between that and continued chiropractic and massage therapy, it's subsiding much more quickly than the initial injury which caused the bulging disc (and similar pinched nerve/pain issues a few years back, and for that I am grateful.

If this same person in your family is suffering from Chron's and other digestive type issues, you might also find that fresh coconuts are very healing and soothing to the gut, from the throat all the way through to the other end. Several years ago, I suffered terribly for about a year and a half with acid reflux, stabbing pains in my stomach, and what was ultimately diagnosed as a large duodenal ulcer. During that time, spicy or acidic foods and anything deep fried or greasy was out of the question, as was lying down after eating or drinking anything. The episodes I suffered during that period of my life left me with very little that I could eat or drink without paying for it later, and led me on an extensive search then for anything to help. During that time, I found that super papaya enzyme tablets helped greatly, but for someone with sensitivities to supplements, chunks of papaya in it's fresh form would be even better. Trouble was, those tablets only helped with the symptoms for that meal. The stabbing pain or stomach aches would keep coming back. When I happened to read somewhere that coconuts were very good for stomach lining and that something in coconuts had even been known to kill the h pylori bacteria, that they were anti fungal, anti bacterial and even candida fighting properties when eaten fresh, I went right out and bought a few of the fresh young thai coconuts (sold in plastic wrap in most grocery stores near me) and watched a YouTube tutorial on how to open those babies properly. Wherever it was that I'd read about this, it had suggested eating a whole young coconut on an empty stomach every morning for a week. One caution would be to make sure you strain the liquid into a clear glass, and if it's at all pinkish or purplish, it's past expiration and should be tossed. Anyway, I would drink the liquid first, and then scoop the soft coconut layer out with a spoon and eat it, too, as my breakfast for the day. By the end of the week, I pureed both together and just drank it down. The young coconut texture is a bit...slimy. I cannot even tell you how much that helped me! Three days in, my husband brought home some fragrant Thai food, a spicy dish I used to love, and I took a bite, sure I was going to pay for it later...but it didn't affect me at all! And literally, from that point on...I could eat spicy stuff without issue after months and months of avoiding it out of fear for the consequences. I still have no idea where I found that information (I've looked and looked), but it was a huge answer to my prayers! I've since passed that information along to numerous people, some with other gut-related health issues, and they've also had good success with it. Very occasionally, maybe twice in the last four years or so, I will get a little twinge of heartburn again...and I'll immediately go out and get a couple of coconuts and repeat that process again, but I've never had the same stabbing pain or heartburn issues since.

Another thing that I have also found to be helpful when we've eaten something that disagreed with us is activated charcoal powder. We rarely ever need to use it, but for the rare case of food poisoning or even just a nervous tummy (before one of my kids school plays), but I read recently that it can even help people have have inadvertently been 'glutened' (and are suffering a miserable episode of gluten intolerance). Taking activated charcoal powder can help to nip that in the bud. There is a lot you can read about it for helping with 'episodes' people with food sensitivities and even allergies might have. The only caution I know of is that it's used to take toxins out of the body (both by Vets and ER doctors), so you're not supposed to take it within an hour of any prescription meds.

Those are the things I can think of off the top of my head that have helped me in some way. Hope you and your family members are able to find something to help, especially with the nerve pain. I'll say a little prayer that you find exactly what you need to bring some relief.
3 years ago
Good idea on broadcasting half first and then filling in after sprouts come up. Thanks!
3 years ago
I live on a half acre in an arid high desert region with poor desert soil. I have several large raised beds on the property already, as well as fenced off animal enclosures, but am looking to improve the rest of the existing soil with some kind of a mixture of cover crops to build up my existing soil without tilling it. My goal is to cover every inch of it with growing things by fall. We intend to get more fruit and nut trees. I could chop and drop it or use it as a ground cover...it matters not to me. I'm just not sure which would be a better way of building the soil up the fastest?

I have rye, oat groats, crimson clover, and daikon radish and kodiak mustard in good quantities. Does anyone else have any suggestions of things I could add? Or a recipe for a good tried and true mix for my arid climate?

I am looking to plant this mixture over a newly built hugel berm around a bunch of spaghetti squash vines to hold in moisture and crowd out any weeds and to hold the dirt layer over the top of the wood and manure. I would greatly appreciate any input from those who have been this route before!


3 years ago
I currently have grapes and blackberries growing in a hugel bed in my side yard, with strawberries and asparagus going in the main portion of the bed (30x5x2) and borage, garlic and tansy slated to go in for pest protection. I have limited growing space, but that bed has some room left behind the blackberries and grapes where there is a fence going up that would make a good trellis. I was hoping to plant something edible that would grow up the fence, but can't seem to find anything definitive on companion planting lists as to whether beans or cucumbers would be compatible with the blackberries and grapes I already have growing there. Is it safe to assume that I could plant beans or cucumbers up that fence being that they've not made the 'enemies' lists? Thoughts and input would be greatly appreciated.
3 years ago