Faye Streiff

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since Oct 08, 2015
Organic/biodynamic farmer, Naturopath, herbalist, writer. 
Appalachian Mountains
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Recent posts by Faye Streiff

leila hamaya wrote:my ex boyfriend used to say that the areas that were covered by blackberries were areas in need of healing...that the earth itself was claiming those spots, not allowing people to access them, so that those spots would be left alone for a long time so they could self heal. maybe a bit too woo, but i think theres a good logic there anyway, it does happen that those areas tend to get a rest from human interference, it takes such effort to do anything with them...and i can see how he saw it. the earth putting up a very thorny impenetrable layer ...sort of saying leave me alone in a sort of living poetry...

it does happen out here, like the previous poster said above, that badly logged and overly logged areas tend to spring up in brambles out here...
blackberry and other berry bramble are also strongly medicinal...and the canes make excellent mulch...providing some of the harder to get nutrients when they decompose...

That’s not woo-woo at all.  It is healing the land.  Usually where brambles grow, the soil is low in microbes breaking down calcium and phosphorous, or the soil is deficient in those minerals.  From Weeds and Why They Grow book.  
If I have an area that needs clearing, goats do an admirable job and can totally eradicate them over time.  Use those brambles for tea and berries.  The tea is mineral rich, even though the soil is not so much so.  Seems they are accumulators.  
I really panicked when I could not find canning jars/lids this season.  Got my friends to save old salsa, pickle and spaghetti sauce jars for me with their original lids.  Those worked great for reusing the jar and lid as long as they were not damaged.  I only put up salsa in them.  
3 weeks ago
I wanted to get into character for a book I was writing about my family history during the civil war, a year ago.  I knew they ate sweet potatoes near the end of that conflict because it was often all they had.  So I ate them for a week.  For months I never wanted to see another one, but I do actually love them.  Planted them late this year (mid July) due to not being able to source any slips at the stores, and the Covid restrictions on plants, etc.  So ended up sprouting a couple I had from the grocery store.  That was the reason for the late planting and I was lucky to have any.  Dug some September 25 because we are about to have frost here and something had been digging in the raised bed I had them in.  Some were very large, but not many.  Most had not grown yet, so I ended up with 1/4 bushel out of about 6 plants.   Pretty good I guess for a short season, but would have had a bushel or more had they had more growing days in the heat they love.  I mixed in sand and lots of rotten leaves into clay as a base for them.  
3 weeks ago
Ray, don’t give up.  I have a friend in NC, about an hour from Asheville who is single and lonely.  She has a garden and chickens and makes soap.  Retired, but still drives a school bus (when school is actually open).  I’ll pass on your number to her.  You haven’t given it enough time.  Lots of us older women are homesteading and doing it alone.  Hard to meet people.  And don’t say “Old man”, as you are not old.  90 is older, but 69 is not old at all.  I’m 71 and I work harder than most 20 year olds, and certainly get more done.  
3 weeks ago
A friend gave me one without the cage.   I filled it 2/3 full of rainwater and put fish in it and it promptly bulged out and cracked horizontally mid way.  So I built a wooden frame around it for support and put a plastic liner inside and still use it but it was damaged quite a lot.  Guess they need that cage for support if holding liquid.  

3 weeks ago
We’ve seen it with plants, the way they adapt (or a few of them do), to changing environmental conditions.  Then we develop landrace seed from those.  Sad that humans are the last to learn that they must do the same.  
A book in its own time!  You are so welcome Bernard land Cecile.  Appreciate this work you are doing.  

1 month ago

I hope you get caught up quickly also because I would love to hear more of what you have to share! I don't know what part of the Appalachian Mts. you are in, but if you are close enough to me, I can come help you get caught up a few hours/week and learn while I am there!

Annie, we live in Franklin, N.C.  Would love some help and we can teach what we know.  Husband is an international ag consultant.  
Forgot to add, I also put wood ash on potatoes when I plant them.  I usually dredge the cut pieces through a bowl of it as it keeps away root maggots and then sprinkle what’s left over loosely over the grow bed.  Potatoes love the extra potash.  

You can put down Perma-Til for your vole problem.  I think it is expanded volcanic rock and has sharp particles.  They cut themselves and living in the soil like they do, this can be fatal for them.  If they hit sharp particles they leave that area and don’t come back.  It is a permanent solution for the area you apply it in.  Also, I’ve used gypsum (calcium carbonate w/sulphur) and the potatoes love it and grow huge and the voles hate it.  Another solution is to put out Milky Spore to kill the Japanese beetle larvae in the soil the moles are searching for, so they don’t make tunnels which voles, being opportunistic, use later.  Applying regular sugar (the cheap stuff) broadcast over an area feeds microbes which kill the larvae also.  Any of these methods should work.  

Congratulations on a good harvest in spite of critter problems!  We have a trace mineral mix we always use also, to build the soil, it has the major stuff plus all 80 or so trace...Maury’s Mineral.  All natural and organic sources, my husband makes it.  It also has active microbes to break down minerals.   I hope we get caught up with some of our big farm projects so he has time to write on Permies, as we have a lot to share.  

I’ve planted potatoes as late as mid August and got a crop, and our first light frost is in late September, followed by a really hard freeze by early October.  In fact, it was the best crop I’ve ever had, beautiful, perfectly shaped potatoes, delicious tasting, stored well, and we used gypsum on those and plenty of rotted leaves.  No compost at all because I didn’t have any made.  

A nitrogen deficiency is usually caused by insufficient calcium which governs uptake of all minerals,  but the microbes have to be active or calcium won’t uptake.  They have to digest it first and then die, releasing a plant absorbable mineral near the plant roots.  The rainwater has plenty of nitrogen if other factors are there to unlock it.   This is our reasoning for using microbes (actinomycetes convert nitrogen) and minerals and we use little else and our crops are simply amazing and delicious.  Puts that old fashioned flavor back in the fruits and vegetables.  Adding pure nitrogen is one of the most detrimentable things you can do to the soil.  It can kill your microbes, attracts voles, it makes plants uptake as nitrates and makes them toxic.  Use a little compost, it has the microbes and other factors, including organic matter to balance everything.  

My husband says he always used humate and a little mineral to grow potatoes.  Potatoes also like phosphorus and we use soft rock phosphate.  They don’t use nitrogen added to soil anyway, they get it from the air.  In our rainforest east coast (southern Appalachian mts.), it is best to hill up before planting and plant them in the top of the hill so it will shed water.  Mulch a lot, but this way the excess water can run off so they don’t tend to rot as much.  This year we’ve had excessive rain and flooding and it destroyed a lot of stuff.  We had 8 inches of rain in one night.  Really hard on the garden.  
The dried red sumac berries can be ground and used as a delightful spice for savory foods. Also the mature seed from Smartweed, which could be used as a pepper substitute.  Grandparents generation sometimes used spicebush buds, dried and ground, as a substitute for Allspice.  
2 months ago