Lina Joana

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since Jan 31, 2015
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Recent posts by Lina Joana

I have had good luck with rose geranium essential oil, diluted either in a bit of weak alcohol for a spray or in oil to rub on. It isn’t foolproof, so still do tick checks, but it will lower the pressure, especially if you remember to reapply every few hours.

Re the opossum: the whole 5,000 ticks in a season thing is calculated from animals in a cage grooming and eating ticks that were dropped in there with them. studies of opossum stomach contents in the wild have not found significant numbers of ticks. It maybe that when given a choice, ticks avoid opossums in the wild? Whatever the reason, its a good example of how lab results don’t always transfer.
3 weeks ago

Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:
A food that I was not used to is quickly becoming my favorite: Asian Sweet Potatoes. They are not the yam, nor the sweet potato at the Thanksgiving table; I don't care for those and they can be a bit stringy, but these Asian ones grow easily without much help in my zone 4b Central Wisconsin. Just like sunchokes, you want to grow them in loose soil in a tall bed . 12" is not too much. They will easily give you as much in volume as a Yukon Gold or a Russet, per plant.
They are very starchy with no strings whatsoever and I prefer them over regular potatoes, [even the Yukon Gold!]. Taste wise, they remind me of chestnuts. A great reason I love them, beside this great taste, is that they will keep on a shelf in my house until at least March, without any special tending. [No wrapping, checking on them or anything]. I have mine in Homer buckets in a closet, just out of the sun. This means that I can be self sufficient in sweet Asian potatoes as I can easily grow slips in March-April and plant them after last frost for a crop. Easy peasy!



Do you have a source for those plants? The sound great!

Chickweed, dead nettle, violets, and wild garlic pop up all over the garden in early spring. All mild, and easy to cut a bowlfull and toss in stir fry or stew.
1 month ago
I have been volunteering on project installing food forests at 4 school sites and one non profit in Maryland. The food forest concept nicely circumvents the biggest problem with school gardens - the most intensive maintenance needs to happen when everyone is on vacation. If you plant food producing perennials, shrubs, and trees (space permitting), they might need watering once a week in the summer, and that is just the first year. After that, the kids can  maintain and harvest during the school year, and neglect it when they are gone. Depending on the site, we are using pawpaws, chinkapins, persimmons, elder, American plum, hazelnut, goosberry, indigo bush and bristly locust for nitrogen, violets, and honeyberry. Most of the plants were donated, but even if you don’t find donors, there are nurseries that will sell you small starts pretty cheaply. The 6-12 inch are often better - smaller hole, less transplant shock.
I bet you could plant a small patch for under $100 in the US. The size of our plantings is variable depending on the school, but some of them are just a 10x20 foot patch.
Here is an idea: a spring seedling sale as a fundraiser for the planting. The students could start the seeds of common herbs and veggies on a south facing classroom windowsill and sell them to local gardeners. I bet the profit margin from a moderate sale would cover the costs of a food forest planting.
1 month ago

Suleyman Koseoglu wrote:HI LINA!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR REPLY!
I AM NOT SURE HOW TO REPLY TO QUOTES. I AM DOING IT WITH CLICKING ON THE "QUOTE THIS QUOTE BUTTON" AND WRITE BACK IN CAPITOL LETTERS WITHIN THE ORIGINAL QUOTE. IF THERE IS ANY OTHER WAY. PLEASE LET ME KNOW.



When you click the quote button, you will see at the beginning it says (quote = whoever you are quoting) except with square brackets instead of round at the end, it has (/quote), again with square brackets. You can put those around any section you want to quote to break it up. But caps works too!!
Best of luck with the project! If you  have a wood stove and a well insulated roof, I expect you will be fine in that climate - it is when you try to build a passive solar or other type of zero input house that it becomes a problem!
1 month ago
Interesting project!
I am curious as to what you mean by passive, and how tight your comfort window is. A truly passive house that keeps the temperature at 25 c year round is tricky - witness the earthships that have gotten way too hot, etc. people do simple houses that way (as described in Mud Ball), but they are willing to put up with wider temperature fluctuations - so if you are comfortable with 16 C in the house on winter days, no problem. I am not an expert, but I think the things you need to look at are solar gain in summer vs winter, and air flow based on window positioning. You want sun in winter, shade in summer, and the ability to regulate air flow by opening and closing windows. Remember, insulation only keeps heat in if you are generating heat in the first place! Now, if you include a heating stove, that is different, of course. Apologies if you have thought all this out already!

For the insulation: if you expect moisture to reach the insulation, loose straw is probably worse than synthetic. Damp straw is an invitation to mould and bugs. Straw bale gets away with it because it is so tightly packed, and because the moisture doesn’t get far before drying back out. Have you looked at cordwood building techniques? They typically fill the area around the logs with sawdust, preferably pine, mixed 12:1 with hydrated lime. Even that small amount of lime is enough to discourage bugs and mold, and if it gets damp, it hardens rather than collapsing. Something to think about. Might even work with chopped straw, I am not sure.

Two stone walls sounds like a LOT of work. What about an outer wall a granite, an insulation cavity, and a pine interior? A lime plaster on the inside of the granite could help discourage moisture, and you could leave a south facing wall, or one that is protected from the wind, as the granite if you want that look inside the cottage. Just a thought, and I admit the closest I have come to building with stone is cinderblock, but it seems to take forever in my hands.
1 month ago
My mother was a big fan of fountain pens. She taught us as kids. I found them lovely, but not super practical.
First, I am a lefty. Trying to find ways of not smearing the ink made it slow, and gave me poor penmanship. And often failed, leaving me with an ink stained hand and smeared paper.
Second, it always soaked through the paper, especially the ones with high recycled content. Writing on only one side of the paper always seemed wasteful to me. Maybe we had the wrong brand of ink.
I still have a fascination with them, and I do write a fair bit, but much of it is in formal laboratory notebooks. Even gel pens soak through that paper, so I am not sure if there is any fountain pen ink that would work. And there is still the lefty problem….
A few years back, I was in Florence, and got a dippable pen as a touristy souvenir. I use it to write to a friend who writes back using a mechanical type writer. She is cool enough not to mind the smears!
2 months ago
Just saw the date on the previous post - hope to hear how this last year went!
2 months ago
Hmmmm. Ok, not what you want to hear, but something to consider: is there any example of swales on a hill making the area below drier?
As I understand Sepp’s system, all his earthwork improvements lead to year round ponds - he extends the time that wet areas are wet, not shortens it.
In Jeoff Lawton’s permaculture design course, he lectures on swales and says that an extensive hillside of swales can lead to a permanent swampy area at the bottom: by slowing the water, you have created a year round water source for the swamp. He didn’t consider this a drawback, as ponds and chinampas are some of the most productive spaces you can have.
And in making small farms work, Richard Perkins mentions that keyline plowing led to a ridge that was swampy later in the year - just from the plowing in a way that retains water.
If the area you are describing is under water for the winter and spring, systems that retain water uphill from that may not help you, may actually increase the length of time it is wet. At the least, I would try to find an example of permaculture water retention techniques drying out a downhill space, and understand why it worked. What was the catchment area? How much water was falling in a single event? During the whole rainy season? I suspect in you situation, at a low point where the water has no where to go and stays wet for half the year, your best bet might be to transplant the blueberries to uphill swales, and turn the low area into a pond or marsh.
I hope you update, would love to hear how things turn out!
2 months ago
My sister makes syrup for the family. One year, a batch went moldy - she hadn’t canned it. We skimmed the mold off, tasted each jar for off flavors, brought it all to a boil, and waterbath canned it
It was the best I have ever eaten. It came out of the jar the consistency of dark honey. Ince the jar was opened and dipped into, it crystallized, kind of like honey does. A bit harder to scoop out, but melts into pancakes just fine. She used some of the crystalized stuff to make ice cream.
Not telling anyone else to skim the mold, but nobody in our family died…
3 months ago
Absolutely!
Ujamaa is based primarily in Maryland, but is cultivating a network of growers throughout the US.
They are committed to providing culturally meaningful seeds, and in finding people’s seed stories and reconnecting them with the crops of their culture and families. They have a selection of vegetables, herbs, flowers and grains to support this, including collections of seeds for Caribbean, Asian, Southern Soul, African, Latin American, and First Nations focused gardens. So, they have a range of things like rainbow chard and Bloomsdale spinach alongside things like green amaranth callaloo, rice peas, and teosinte.