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Cécile Stelzer Johnson

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since Mar 09, 2015
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Recent posts by Cécile Stelzer Johnson

Oh, Sarah, the one sentence that stopped me in my tracks was :"... my husband is totally against removing or topping it ...".
I share Jim's opinion on that. It is very frustrating to have a dream that your partner does not share.
He does not want to top off the trees because they hide the neighbors' house? Yep. I understand that, but on a relatively flat surface, a hedge 6-7 ft tall would also hide them but maybe not cast as big a shadow? [ although I see that you don't have a flat surface].
How does he feel about the trash? If he is not inclined to have a garden, perhaps he is inclined to have a nice looking property, in which case he might help you remove the trash, cull the apple tree. It is also a question of safety: rusty nails/screws can puncture shoes and make vicious wounds, and if other construction debris are there, it may be dangerous for children. Not only is trash unsightly, but there might be chemicals that would make gardening an impossibility. (A trash pile all too often becomes a refuse where *everything* goes!
Does your hubby will have his own ideas about where a garden could be located? or he does not share your enthusiasm about having one? I share your sadness about losing trees, but sometimes, they are beyond pruning/reviving, in which case a better tree could be planted.
It sounds like you are a bit overwhelmed right now about all the work your piece of land needs, in which case I really think that engaging your hubby might be a better pathway. If he doesn't care for this kind of work, but agrees that the work needs doing, it might be a good idea to suggest hiring temporary help. There are many people that would appreciate making a little money on the side in exchange for clearing an area, and it would relieve the doldrums. Once in a while, I have to many eggs and they don't sell, so I go to a pantry. There are folks who may not be available for a full 8 hours job but will work 4-6 hours on a specific project.
My hubby doesn't care about gardening or having an orchard or raising chickens. He will help if a bigger tree needs cutting though. And if I need a tool that does not exist or needs fixing, he is really good at that. A marriage entails a great deal of negotiating. The good news is that we all get better at it with time. Take heart: It gets better.
Welcome to Permies, Nick!. Indeed, I can only imagine how busy you can be with so many trees and little ones too!.
So you want something that is perennial in your zone but is not too aggressive and does not require too much maintenance. There are a few options:
1/ You could crop it with something short, as long as the area has to be maintained short anyway.
This is no till, forage friendly: Millet, lentils, whole oats, cowpeas, fenugreek, daikon, brown flax, turnip and mustard. Personally, the mustard is one I would not want: Beekeepers would hate you: The honey hardens in the hive, so it has to be removed as soon as possible!
2/ Perennial white Dutch clover is always great and being a legume, it would be good for trees and pollinating bees.
Although they say it is "perennial", after 2-3 years, it has to be renewed.
3/If you just want to keep it clean with a minimum of effort, this last option is a good one. You would just have to make sure that your soil will be a good match but:
and American meadows a a pretty good company, to boot.
Since I am in zone 4b, and quite sandy, I observe "no mow May" and I need to go only once or twice with the mower. I just let Mother Nature grow whatever she wants [but I remove mustard without any mercy!
Let us know what you do.
5 days ago

Mary Ross-Renard wrote:Since I discovered I could get free wood chips from the electric company, I’ve used them quite happily.  I use a shovel to load them into a cart I pull behind my lawn tractor.  50 shovel-full to fill the cart.  My record is 12 cats in 1 day.  Not bad for an old woman!😁

Well done, Mary! Old women rock! And welcome!
6 days ago
Potato shoots (stems) are sensitive to freezing temperatures. Symptoms of freeze damage may vary from blackening of the leaf margins (minor damage) to death of all aboveground growth (severe damage). Fortunately, severely damaged potatoes will send up new growth (shoots) within 10 to 14 days
If you know that frost is coming, mulch heavily with straw / blankets etc. until it passes. The ground would have to refreeze to kill potato seeds, chitted or not. After all this warm weather, the cold we are experiencing is slowing down everything, unfortunately.
1 week ago

Christopher Weeks wrote:I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with other stuff and so I put off catching up on this thread. But now I’m back. What is it I’m supposed to be testing with regard to light/dark chitting? I don’t normally do anything special to get my tubers ready. I pull them out of the dark cellar, they have white sprouts, I plant them, they grow. I just pulled a couple handfuls out put them in a cardboard box and moved them into a plant tent with very bright light. All I need to do is test my normal white sprouts against sprouts that have been allowed to green, then I think I’m good. I’ll plant in a month or so. But if I should be doing something else, or additional, someone, please let me know. :-)

ETA: I'll grow the ones now under lights near a similar batch of tubers from the cellar, using all the same materials and methods, and hopefully any differences will be readily evident.

Thanks for your dedication in doing this experiment, Christopher. Potatoes stay in their dormant state best by being kept cold [like just above freezing, and in the dark], with fairly high humidity. In our area, "commercial" potatoes are kept in large sheds where humidity is maintained at 95%.
Wisconsin has a central area that is very sandy and where potatoes grow very well. Commercial growers do not chit their potatoes [keeping only 1-2 eyes so the whole potato can give more energy to the plant]. But that might be because of the work required, on a commercial scale to chit tons of potatoes!
They do tend to grow *determinate* potatoes, which grow their tubers only in the top 6" of the soil. Those do not take as long to mature, and that is an important consideration when you need to take the crop to market quickly. At home, we can do better by growing *indeterminate* potatoes in deep containers. Those will grow tubers on the entire length of the vine. Indeterminate potatoes take longer to grow.
Other than that, try to raise the P in the NPK: Phosphorus is what will grow bigger tubers. It can be done with a generous amount of bonemeal:  Chicken and horse manure, bone meal, fish emulsion and rock phosphate are all good sources of phosphorus for plants.
Timing of the fertilization is also important: Potatoes "bulk"  around 40 days after planting, and that is when they should get this input of extra phosphorus. So count on putting that nutrient, in whichever form you choose, about 40 days after planting. Make a note in your calendar, then on day 40, add a generous amount of bone meal and water well.
The ideal PH is 5 to 6.5
When you look at the number of variables to get good tubers in great quantity, I would not fret about growing them under light, as electricity is expensive and probably will not give you the biggest bang for the buck.
1 week ago
It is pitchfork hands down for me: the stirrup handle helps me keep the stuff on the fork until I unload it. Also, I feel that I have more strength pushing it in if the stuff is somewhat compacted.
1 week ago
quackgrass /Johnson grass is a perpetual struggle. Abundant mulch helps... but they are still there, just looking for one tiny area where the mulch isn't as thick... and they take over again!

Nancy Reading wrote:My husband went down to visit his parents last weekend, and they were clearing out a few things. They thought I might like their old coffee grinder as surplus to requirements....
Awesome! I think it'll be excellent for grinding my grains (if I get any to grow that is!)

Oh, Nancy!. I am so jealous! right now, I am also looking for a manual meat grinder. I have an great electric one, but to grind one bologna, I don't want to get it dirty for just that. I used to have one. He kept it in the divorce.
1 week ago

Tim Siemens wrote:Good post.  I like matches, but like you, I have found the degrade over time. Has anyone found a good storage option to keep matches viable in the long term?  Perhaps I will need to do some experiments.

In my experience, they degrade from exposure to humid air. Perhaps storing them in a glass jar with one of these little dehydrating packets would do the trick. Yeah, I know. Not terribly convenient when you go backpacking...
2 weeks ago