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.
zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
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Recent posts by Cécile Stelzer Johnson

greg mosser wrote:just to devil’s advocate a little, goats delight in eating kudzu, and a good flour/starch can be isolated from the tubers. it’s definitely not something to just plant everywhere, but it’s not the unapproachable and useless plant it’s frequently given credit for being. and if we had a culture of relating to it as a good resource to manage and not just ‘the enemy’, i think the general consensus on it would change somewhat.

Thanks, Greg. We don't have this in Central Wisconsin, so I was going by what I always heard about this plant. Totally agree with you that invasives can be resources too, if we care to manage them.
Thanks for the correction. That is great! So goats like it. Perhaps local governments could pay goat farmers to have their goats munch on it?
I heard it is a vine. Does it only want to climb and smother stuff? or does it replant itself, like, say a pumpkin or squash vine?
And it is a tuber? another thing I didn't know.
When you say "good" flour, what do you mean? Can you make bread from it? Would pigs be interested? Kudzu fried chips, anyone? Does it have gluten or could it make only unleavened bread? perhaps pancakes? Please tell us more: "Inquiring minds want to know!"
See: Like I was saying, it is all in the way we approach the problem.
In dealing with "invasives" , we should remember that all these plants have their place in the broad spectrum of what can be grown. We usually want to combat these invasions because they endanger *another* plant that *is* native, or that we just prefer. That is when there is a conflict.
Honeybees are an invasive species, so is clover but we would not want to eradicate them.
Another point is that the flora and fauna of the entire planet keeps changing/ evolving whether we want to or not.
Sometimes, we should fight to preserve a species, but if the climate or the soil becomes inhospitable to that species, it is a fight we are going to lose. [Mother Nature always wins: Agree with her now, it will save us so much time!] We need to be conscious of these changes and keep working *with* Nature rather than *against* it.
As my zone 4b warms up, it is possible that my delicious rhubarb will no longer grow well here. I hope to die before that happens, but that ball is in motion. Perhaps I will be able to grow Mount Rainier sweet cherries instead of the tiny wild ones we have here, that have big stones and hardly any flesh around them. I don't like them but I can make Kirsch out of them. Yum.
At that point, we should remember that if we look at it right, every problem is a solution in waiting.
Say that you have an animal like rabbits in Australia that multiply very quickly and causes a lot of damage. Could they be harvested for dog food or carnivores in zoos? Could their fur be useful?
Algae bloom on lakes: It can be dragged, composted and reapplied on crops after suitable time has passed to create rich biomass. On very sandy potato fields, it may become an asset, who knows?
Here, we have black locust: the seeds of this leguminous tree are impossible to harvest. These trees make networks of roots that can overtake an entire yard. Not 20 miles from here, my county is seeking to eradicate them, but across the street which is a different county, it is not against the law to grow them [just not recommended]. Some years, the honeybees visit them, and they give us a honey that is IMHO much better than clover honey: very clear, doesn't ever crystallize. It is fragrant and delicious.  
Down South, they have Kudzu, which, from what I was told, is impossible to get rid of: Even animals won't eat it or bed on it. It seems to have no use but to annoy the unfortunate folks who live near. Kudzu would be a great example of why we should fight to prevent invasives from taking over.
Personally, I find cloaks very stylish. Capes are nice too. Working in the garden, though they flop around your arms and restrict your movements. One place to never wear them is around machinery.
In a downpour, going to lock up the chickens at night, they'd be really handy.
One of my favorite details is when they have a loop in the back of the neck so you can hang them up: [Unless tailored specially, they do not fit well on a hanger].
1 day ago

Ela La Salle wrote:Cécile Stelzer Johnson,
Thank you kindly. I appreciate your explanation.
I'm European. The confusing part I find, is that Latin names on seed packets themselves, are different, of the same bean. Some don't have any.  
The ones I remember from childhood, were big, meaty, picked green from green pods, but BIG! .Eaten after being cooked, and darn delicious

I'm European too [French] but I live in Wisconsin and I'm observing the same thing: A number of seed packets do not have the Latin name. I try to not buy them and let the seed people know that in the name of truth in labeling, there ought to be one so folks really KNOW what they are buying.
Along with genetic manipulation, there is a blurring of the lines. With the kinds of prices we are seeing and the smaller packets, no wonder folks will be better off creating their own landraces. When you grow and develop your own, you know what you have. I've taken to being serious about saving seeds systematically.

5 days ago
I edited my post but I'm doing it under protest: The reference to marijuana was not political: It was to illustrate that a Latin name can refer to 2 completely different plants. Where are we going in the censorship if a word cannot even be mentioned under any circumstances, and is that not a political stance too? : We may be inviting precisely the type of fascism we seek to avoid.
I understand where you are coming from in maintaining this very excellent forum and I never meant to give you more work. I was not pushing for any political opinion, like it should be legalized or forbidden under any circumstances.

Ela La Salle wrote:I'm not much of a help in this department but have a question of my own, if anyone has experienced post-digestive issues after consuming Fava beans?
I am trying to grow some for the very first time this year. The seeds are in the ground. I'm awaiting seedlings.
I used to eat them eons ago as a kid, but haven't had any  since.
It's hard to get the true Fava beans as they're  classified as  broad beans. Even Googling "it", the information is  confusing. I beg to differ but  what do I know? I'm just starting the "bean romance" LOL
Thanks to anyone who can share some thoughts.

Because I come from France and my sister and I often can't find the proper translation for some plants, we use the Latin name. That is a great authority I encourage all of you to look at when confused. so, anyway:
The Wiki says they are both Vicia faba. The best distinction comes from this British site:
"Fava beans are the same species as the fresh or frozen green broad beans more familiar in British cooking but fava beans are the fully mature dried fruit of smaller seeded varieties. Varieties of Vicia faba grown to be eaten as fresh broad beans tend to have larger, flatter, broader (hence the name) seeds".
So the Fava beans are smaller seeded and eaten as dry beans.
The broad bean makes larger seeds and can be eaten fresh.
So sometimes the Latin name gives you the right information but leaves out important details.
Take beets and mangels: they are both beta vulgaris but are very different in their sugar content and uses.
A plant can be grown for different characteristics that are then cultivated for 2 different purposes, and through careful selection, 2 plants come to be used that are very different, yet have the same Latin name.
6 days ago
I seem to be blessed with a digestive track that can take anything in stride, but that was not the case for my mom. With her, there was also a bit of discomfort, but she found a trick that she swore by: First, soak them OVERNIGHT.  For the soaking, she didn't add salt or anything, just a little baking soda [but that seems to make them 'mushy' faster, I think]. It may also remove some vitamins. At least that is the case with asparagus and green beans mom said.
She did put them in *warm* water. The next day, she would drain the beans, put them in fresh cold water, bring the water to a boil and also discard *that* water. Drain and rinse, then cook as usual. Season just before bringing to the table.
If you use as bit of baking soda and then decide you want to can them, make sure you really rinse them well: the baking soda messes with the PH of the beans and they might spoil! If in doubt, add a little vinegar to bring the PH balance toward the acidic.
If you think that is a lot of messing around, it seems so to me too, and to her also. So in the fall, she would make great big batches of beans and can them all. This way, we had non speaking, just delicious with bacon, beans year long. The energy to can 12 pints of beans and then warm them up one at a time probably compares favorably with cooking one meal of beans every time, but I'm nil at math. If you like your beans seasoned, canning them with seasoning enhances the flavor of the seasoning. If you can them with bacon, treat them like you are canning meat, which requires higher pressure in your pressure canner.
I do love the convenience of just grabbing one pint of cooked beans whenever I want one too.  Having them canned means that I can use them cold in salads, which I love when it's hot outside but I need the energy.
1 week ago

Emilie McVey wrote:I notice that "white dutch clover" is what is specified.  Would another clover (red clover, e.g.) work as well, or is there something important about white clover that makes it work better?

It may make a difference for your honey bees: they have a definite preference for the Dutch white. The red clover looks fine and is just as soft underfoot but some years, the bees barely touch it. I'm not sure why.
Honeybees are often reluctant to work red clover but the numbers of them that visit a crop can be increased if their colonies are not taken to the crop until flowering has begun (Free, Free & Jay 1960), or by rotating them between different crops (Karmo 1961). https://www.jstor.org/stable/2401480
Too bad because you will get more hay off of red clover.
1 week ago

John C Daley wrote:Be careful of currency conversions.
I helped somebody in Texas recently. I ordered all the items in Austin for them having discussed what was available, the tanks were certainly closer to $US2900.

I was only going for a ballpark figure as I had no freaking idea how an Australian dollar compares: We know that the value of currency changes day to day. Also, the folks that change your money can sometime take a bigger 'pinch' in passing for the conversion service.
When I lived in Paris, I shopped for the best conversion shop and that didn't always work: Some took more than others. In converting your money, they are rendering a service, and that is paid for on top of the official conversion, so yeah, there is that. Plus, in the end, what I end up getting is dependent on what is available locally or my ability to get it delivered at a reasonable price, so...
I do love your system: with a transfer pump, water is always available, and with my groundwater slooowly fouling up, I want to make sure I never have a problem, so thanks again for the explanations on how you make it work.
1 week ago

John C Daley wrote:The secret in Australia is the 20,000L tank.
It holds the water for a long time and allows settlement of any fine particles also.
Tank - $A2900 use 2 inch ball valves
In line leaf traps  adjacent to guttering each $A50
First flush filter - just after leaf trap $A50 each
fine screen on tank $A30
Good pump $A200-800
Thats about all the special gear, its much better value than any well if you have the rain.
I live in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia average rainfall 450mm,
I store 60,000L around the house filled from house and outbuildings and another 120,000L off a huge shed.
You just need to match the area of any rooves with the volume of water you need.
Sometimes people around here buy a tanker load if its dry, I choose to have more tanks.
In some agricultural areas you need to be aware of crop dusting etc and chemical sprays which maybe used.

Thank you so much for the precision, John. With just over 17" of precipitation a year, I can see why you would try hard to keep rainwater. In Central WI, I get 36-60" a year, depending. In this situation, I would build rooves over most of my property too!  Whatever you need to spend to have drinkable water is well worth it!
[and yes, you are correct; except for polluting spaying, rain water is a lot better than what you can get from the ground].
so the numbers are, at today's rate:
$A2900 = $2011.02
$A50= $34.67
$A30= $20.8
and for the pump: $A200-800 comes to about $138-$554.76
Thanks again for the very instructive post.
1 week ago