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Dawna Janda

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since Apr 18, 2015
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New to permaculture and soaking in all the goodness!  Looking forward to learning more and applying it to my small plot of land and my life.
Tampa area, Florida - zone 9a
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Recent posts by Dawna Janda

I caught my sourdough starter about 11 years ago and I've kept it since then.  If I remember correctly I used equal amounts of unbleached wheat all purpose flour and filtered water, and a smidgen of local raw honey.  

The starter is kept in the fridge and I feed it every once in a while with equal amounts of flour and milk (sometimes I use filtered water).  Every couple of years I take it out of the fridge, feed it and let it set on the counter a few days so the starter can have a warm vacation for a while.  While I've never had a problem with the starter working well, it seems like the counter top vacation does give it a boost.  

Several years ago for Christmas presents I dehydrated some of my starter (spread a thin layer on parchment paper and let it air dry).  I crumbled up the dehydrated starter, put it in small bags and gave instructions for re-hydration and a few recipes.  A few folks still have it going.  

We don't eat a lot of breadlike items in our house, but I've made all kinds of things with it over the years (cookies, pancakes, waffles, bread, etc) but the FAVORITE is sourdough English muffins.  I made a batch this week actually.  The house still smells wonderful....

2 months ago
What a fantastic topic!  Welcome Matthew!
3 months ago

Leslie Russell wrote:I have so much wood around here that I could use if only I had a chipper. Does anyone have one or used one? Are they difficult to use and how dangerous are they?

Howdy neighbor!  Since the wood chips usually decompose fairly quickly here and the chop and drop became too tedious for my carpal tunnel hands, I decided I wanted a wood chipper.  So, for my birthday present last year my husband purchased a PowerSmart Electric Chipper (model PS10).  (He's a keeper for certain.)  It can handle branches up to 1 5/8" across which is all we need.  I chop up banana leaves in it too.  I use eye and ear protection.  Anything larger than 1 5/8" I use for path markers in my food forest, or save for my raised bed Hugelkultur.  I also will lay short logs in my food forest to decompose and give shelter to the soil dwelling critters.  
5 months ago
Howdy!  I received an email stating that my pledge looked weird (it made me laugh.)  My pledge is correct.  I just gave some cash.....not looking for anything in return.  Holler if you need more info.
5 months ago
I've used ChipDrop for a few years now and it waxes and wanes on how soon I get a response.  Sometimes it's months.  Sometimes it's days.  The last couple of tree companies I spoke with that got my number from ChipDrop said they didn't think too many companies were signed up in this area.  

In any regard, I will keep using the website.  It's one more resource I have in order to get the wood chips when I need them and it's easy to use.  I do recommend it!
6 months ago
I use cardboard and newspaper as that is what I have access to.  On top of that, it's 8 to 12 inches of wood chips.  In central Florida (semi-tropical), it takes a few months for the cardboard to break down and the grasses and dollar weed to start peeking through.  When I first started sheet mulching, I thought Geoff Lawton's recommendations of how thick to sheet mulch were a bit much.....but now I know better...LOL....Geoff is right.  It keeps things at bay for a longer period of time.
6 months ago
I fell in love with Paul and when I heard Paul speak a few years ago in an online food growing summit that Marjorie Wildcraft put together.
6 months ago
Hello!  I also collect things that will be useful in the future....old clothes/bedsheets/etc that I use as fabric for other projects, nice sized glass jars with their lids, toilet paper/paper towel cardboard tubes, oatmeal get the idea.  I use all these things, but I wind up saving MUCH more than I need over time.  I feel guilty about throwing them away, even recycling them.  

What USUALLY works for me is put an ad on craigslist to see if anyone out there needs what I have.  I ask folks to reply and arrange a time they can pick up the items and just leave them by the mailbox.  If there are no takers, then I usually recycle what I can.

We will also take old pot/pans, car parts, strings of lights, pop cans, aluminum window frames, etc to our local metal recycling business.  We get a couple of bucks back, and the stuff doesn't go into the dump.

However, there have been times that I've just breathed deep and done the ol' chuck-a-roo into the trash when I've run out of options.  
7 months ago
Chiming in from central Florida!  I think deciding to use wood chips takes different considerations like the weather/humidity where you live, how much time you are willing to wait for planting, your soil content, and the species of trees that get the chop-up, among others that I probably haven't thought about.   The wood chips we've gotten have been made up of live oaks, palms, pines, cedar, cherry laurel, and citrus. Depending on the mixture we get, our yard smells awesome for the first week we put the chips down.....and they all decompose pretty nicely.

I decided to use wood chips 3-4 years ago when establishing my food forest and another garden. I sheet mulched with cardboard and then laid 10"-12" of mulch.  Because of the humidity and rain here, it didn't take but a couple of weeks for things to start to break down.  The worms and other subterranean critters seemed happy and abundant after a few months.   For general knowledge, I apply the wood chips once a year-ish as that is all they last before I have bare ground again.  I really should be applying them about every 9 months, but I don't think I could get THAT many loads.  We have a fairly large and growing permaculture contingency in my area and EVERYONE wants wood chips.

A few things I noticed and/or to maybe keep in mind....

1. I found out dollar weed LOVES wood chips.   Yes, it has reduced in quantity (as the other "weeds"), but it will NEVER GO AWAY, which is something that I just have to learn to live with.  I've tried several non-toxic solutions to try to rid us of the crap, but none have worked.  It just comes up again from the soil underneath.  I do have to admit though, it is fun to pull the clumps of dollar weed out of the mulch.  (What can I say, I'm easily amused.) It pulls right up and I can physically remove a lot in a short amount of time.  The lesson - Keep in mind that there may be plants you don't want in your garden space that think that wood chips are the bees knees and there's not much you can do about it except physically remove them.

2. Even though the worms and whatnot seemed very happy, I didn't notice a lot of happiness in my trees and plants for a couple/three years.  The plants that would grow on the moon if you let them grew just fine.  Other plants just kind of maintained themselves.  Any annual crops I seeded in or transplanted really didn't thrive. This past spring though, things went bonkers!  We have a lot of sand in our natural soil in this part of Florida, so it just took a while to get the volume of decomposing material needed for the worms and whatnot to get their mojo really going and the general fertility of the soil to increase.  If you have fairly nice soil to begin with, the fertility may not take as long as the soil in my yard did, but I would say try to mentally prepare yourself for not-so-stunning results the first couple of years, just in case.  If I remember correctly, in the Back to Eden Gardening videos, Paul said that his property was the result of years and years of dumping wood chips.  

3.  If you live in an area where things will start to decompose within a day or so, or your pile of wood chips has sat awhile and has started to decompose, WEAR A BREATHING MASK.  When we get loads of wood chips they are less than 24 hours old and depending on what day of the week we get them, we will have them distributed in one to three days.  The very first load of chips we received was in January when the weather was cool (which is another good tip for you if you live in hot areas) and we mistook the steam coming from the pile as only steam.  NOPE!   The abundant fungus particles that wafted into our faces gave us what I call "fungus lung".  While we didn't get horribly ill, we did have a week or so of major coughing and taking of meds to keep the mucus flowing so we wouldn't get horribly ill.

4.  When I direct seed plants in my gardens/food forest now, i just move the chips away and plant the seeds, leaving a crater of chips around where I seeded.  Once the seedlings get big enough I'll cover over the soil a bit more with the chips for moisture.  After that, I let nature take its course.  The chips will fill in the crater naturally with the rain and the sprinklers and critters walking over them.

Bottom line, what I've seen in our yard is enough proof to me that the practice is beneficial and I will continue to put wood chips down.

9 months ago
I've tried different bins/piles/etc in the past for composting and had little success.  It's me...I'm not doing something correctly.  I'm okay with that because quite frankly, we don't have much of anything to compost.  Our house is in a subdivision.  We use a composting mower for the grass, any tree or shrub branches get a visit to our wood chipper to be put back in the gardens/food forest as mulch.  Any leaves that fall also just stay where the land, either in one of the gardens/food forest or to be chopped up by the mower.  

The only thing we have are kitchen scraps and they get direct composted.  Every day I bring my little bucket outside, pick a spot, dig in the mulch, plop the scraps in the hole and then cover them up.  My biggest concern (which is really not a concern at all) is that the possums like to dig up the scraps from time to time and if there are any seeds in it, I wind up with seedlings in strange places where the possums pooped.  Yonder seedlings just get transplanted.
9 months ago