Cécile Stelzer Johnson

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since Mar 09, 2015
I no longer have to work, so I'm developing a lot of different interests, beekeeping being the most expensive. Bees/ pollinators are in trouble and I decided to help. Getting chemicals out of our lives seems like a good idea. I'd like to be self sufficient so that I can have fun doing gardening, raising chickens and selling honey. Red oaks are all dying of the wilt and I may have a CAFO just west of me in a very near future. They will start by cutting all the trees, so I'll be the first one to smell their cows. (A confined Animal Feeding Operation is not my dream neighbor). All our red oaks are dying of the wilt and I'm trying to find suitable trees to replace them. Burying all that brush may be the best option to enrich the soil, which is *very* sandy and *very* poor.
Wisconsin Rapids, WI
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Recent posts by Cécile Stelzer Johnson

Mike Jay wrote:I usually say "It's getting multiple uses out of one element of your design.  Like a pergola that gives shade, has a gate to your garden, supports grapes and looks pretty."

Couldn't have said it better myself. BTW, I was serious about rhubarb. How many?
1 month ago

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:

City regulations say you have to handle all your runoff on your land.  Which is the first helpful thing I've heard yet.  Yes, we have a good City council!
But my housemate says the contractors who did another job here said we need to have a big box stuck in the back yard with holes in it, and water will gradually diffuse out of it into the soil.  5' cube (about 2 m cube). 
We get about 40 inches (1 meter) rain per year, officially  ( though recently it's been in big bursts with long dry periods between.)
Is this OK? it's far enough away from the house (10' is what I recall as danger zone, from someone with more experience and wisdom on this site).
Supposing you had to convince people cautious about unusual fixes for problems, what might you say to present this?

Indeed, you have a great City Council! I wish: We have large ag fields, and they run a lot of manure that runs in the ditches and ruin the groundwater!
I don't think that a 2m cube/ 5'cube will be enough to handle just your roof runoff if you get 40"of rain a year. You will need to calculate how much water falls on your roof in a one inch rainstorm and X by 40. You will be amazed at the amount of water! Here is a link to help you calculate accurately:
You did not indicate what kind of soil you have, but if you want to keep water nearby, how about using that water for crops? We live in very sandy soil but we wanted blueberries, so I had a 33' X 4'X4' ditch built [yes, we asked for help ]
We mounded the original dirt on the edges and placed several tarps and filled with a mixture of that soil [sand, really] wood chips and sawdust. [The tarp was not water tight: I left it open on both ends]. From the corner of the house, I ran an 8" PVC pipe to the ditch. You'll have to see what you can do to keep the water farther away from the foundations, or you may get even more water if your water table is already high.
I put a hedge of blueberries and we are very happy with the results. You may also look at trees that really absorb a lot of water. Basswoods [Tillias] are very good, so are gooseberries and elderberries. NO to willows!: They do suck a lot of water, but their roots are extremely invasive and will bust concrete!
Something that just contains water that slowly escapes can still overrun its boundaries in a harsh rain, but once you add as much soaking vegetation as you can, whatever hole you can make will really help.
As far as convincing arguments, I'll give you 3: crops, water retention for a good purpose [the material will filter the water], no mosquitoes.
2 months ago

David Livingston wrote:What's the difference between these beans ? I notice that real seed co differentiate and say that  Fava beans cannot be grown where I live http://www.realseeds.co.uk/runnerbeans.html
whilst I notice on the  salts spring catalogue they do not differentiate between them https://www.saltspringseeds.com/collections/fava-or-broad-bean-seeds-vicia-faba


Bonjour, David. You may want to look up their Latin names, because over the world there are more names for beans than Eskimos have names for snow.
Fava bean is a "fève" in French, and that is what is placed in a galette des Rois. the latin name is Vicia Faba, and there is a variety that grows wider than most. They call it broad bean of horse bean
The lima and the butter bean are phaseolus lunatus, while the one you pointed out in the first link is called a runner bean. Runner bean grows well in cooler weather and is a phaseolus coccineus.
Common names are a pain. Remember that your corn is our wheat in the US. I'm pretty sure you can grow fava beans. This site refers to them as Broad Beans, though: https://www.gardenfocused.co.uk/vegetable/broad-beans.php
I hope this helps?

Anonymous wrote:I would prefer using washable clothes because aside from its recyclable, we were used to use it since then.

Depending on how much water/ soap is needed to wash these, It certainly might work. I must confess that having good, absorbent TP is one of these small comforts I will just not give up. When I was a little girl, we had "Turkish toilets". Imagine a ceramic square [48" X 48"] with 2 raised platforms to put your feet a hole in the middle. Face the hole for number one, and turn around for number two. Up above your head, a container and a string to open the bottom of the container so that you could flush. Depending on the position of the water container, you could easily get a foot bath [yuck] but if it was done correctly, it is one of the most sanitary things you could use: No contact with the body, so no transference of germs from a toilet seat, no need to ever clean a yucky toilet seat, no argumen about leaving the seat down. Right there, you can save yourself a lot of energy! In those days, Mom and dad would just use newspaper that they would cut in smaller pieces each week so we could all wipe our bottoms. Not terribly absorbent, but if you have to, you just do it! At school, we had the super thin "Bible" paper. I don't know who had the idiotic idea of waxing the thing, but that is not a good experience. I would try to hold it so I could do my duty at home, with newspapers.
Having a [I assume damp] cloth that you can rewash does not sound all that comfortable either. A cold wet cloth on my behind and over my [very] private parts in the cold of winter? Hmmm. Nope. To make it comfortable enough, it would have to be lukewarm, and then, think of the expense to warm that water.
There are 2 expenses we are trying to save on 1/ the flushing system, expensive to build and maintain, plus a water hog. Outdoor toilets are better for that. If you install them on skids, you can move them the following year, then plant a tree there. 2/ What to do with the paper? For the paper, I could revert to newspapers, but even if I use my preferred absorbent TP, it can be put in a separate pail and ignited once a week: It is only the center of the paper that gets soiled, and most of it is dry. The rest can burn and the ashes put on my asparagus bed. Problem solved. water saved.
4 months ago

Steve Nicolini wrote:How long did it usually take you to gather the slugs and drown them?  Do slugs benefit a farm in any way other than feed for ducks?

Who here has eaten comfrey?

I've taken comfrey tea, occasionally. It is very comforting with a good dab of honey, and a finger or two of whiskey on cold nights. Eating comfrey raw, I can't see that happening: It has hairs on the leaves that might irritate your mouth. Cooked, then? I have not tried, but a meal of it as a vegetable once in a while should not be a problem. As usual, when we think about potential damage to the kidneys etc, DOSAGE is what should be considered. Alcohol is even good for you in small doses, like an occasional glass. A bottle of booze a night is probably not that great for your health either!
I use it as mulch [it decomposes amazingly quickly and kills weeds if thick enough] and on the side, as fodder to my chicken:[It disappears very quickly too]
Here too, remember that variety is the spice of life, and I would not raise my chickens on comfrey only. Every day, I give them scraps of a lot of things, including the occasional road kills, grain, hay... They should have variety every day.
4 months ago

Loren Hunt wrote:this is a great thread! my wife found this pdf out on midwest permaculture. perhaps it will add value to this thread.


Thank you from Wisconsin: I was looking for something great to plant all around my apple trees.
4 months ago

paul wheaton wrote:Comfrey!

Probably the most popular apple tree guild plant.

Indeed! comfrey! Just make sure that deer, chicken, rabbit, sheep cannot access it: They really like that stuff!
4 months ago