Brandon McGinnity

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since Feb 02, 2016
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forest garden fungi tiny house
Austin, United States
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Recent posts by Brandon McGinnity

Thanks everyone for the input. The wicking idea is a good one, I do have plenty of totes around, may give it a try if need be. But Wayne, you make a good point. I should just be starting them in the ground, probably better for the plant anyways, in terms of root system development. I just know I can't bear having to buy plants again as I did this spring. I had just moved here and really threw the whole thing together, with the not unexpected lopsided effects The soil isn't great and is very alkaline, which I've never dealt with. It was nearly perfect back in North Carolina, maybe a bit acidic for some things, but with lots of leaf mulch it turned into black gold, that nice loose soil you could dig your arm into; hoping for the same effects here, with time.

So yeah, I have a whole host of new issues to deal with which kind of sucks, and is also kind of fun. I mean, I want production, that's an important part of why I do this; but the tinkering in the garden is a joy, no doubt, except that I've been hiding from the heat for the last month and letting everything go. I'd love to hear any central Texas specific or relevant advice if anyone has any or can point me to the right forum.

Interestingly enough, I still have several kale plants that look absolutely amazing. I don't know how they're handling the heat so well. The squash and tomatoes petered out, the latter having been especially disappointing, but there they are, a lacinato and two red russians, looking great.
1 year ago
Hey all, just wanted to see if anyone had any ideas for how to keep my seed trays moist while I'm at work.

First, to set the scene. I'm in Austin Texas and it's been over 100 (and totally sunny) for weeks, save a day here and there, and on the dry side, in terms of humidity (thank god!). I'm new here, coming from NC, and am not attuned to this heat. Also my house get's no sunlight via windows except a bit of dappled light in the morning, as all the windows are on the wrong side of the house, with the attached garage on the southern side. Which probably keeps the place cooler but means I don't have a sunny window, plus, we have cats so indoor plants are generally a no go.

I don't have a green house either.

But it's about time to start my fall crop, kale, chard, that sort of thing. I don't know how I'm going to keep the seed trays moist while I'm off at work all day. Should I skip the trays and just plant in the ground? Or does anyone have any inventive way to keep a tray wet?

1 year ago

William Schlegel wrote: A Sungold F2 was a surprise winner in my experiments in early tomato growing this summer.

Interesting. I have always wondered about saving hybrid seeds. Did you see a lot of variation in the resulting plants from the saved seed? I grow for market sales so I buy seed unless it's heirloom that I can easily save, like heirloom tomatoes mainly at this point. I've saved things like dill, spinach, cilantro, basil, and the like in the past, from much smaller home gardens.

Note: I know almost nothing about what a landrace even is so I'm here to learn and understand. But I'd love to save on costs, if it were possible to save hybrid tomatoes, peppers, and stuff like that. Plus I do like the idea of locally adapted plants
I agree with the OP. I remember doing a bicycle tour at around age 20, my first time on my own out in the country (being a suburbanite from Detroit), and of course on a bike you're so much more engaged with your surroundings, so I remember being struck by all the farmers (well, country folk, at least; a few may have been on real farms) out there, mowing lawns of an acre or two. Not brush hogging, just going around on their sit down mowers. What a ridiculous thing to do!

If it were just to keep the land clear, in case they wanted to farm it or something, fine, brush hog it once or twice a year to keep trees out. But this was northern Michigan, why keep the trees out? You wanted to live in the country, and the country there is woods! I never could see the point of wasting so much time and fuel (and money) doing that. Maybe a small place for kids to play, and to keep the area around the home clear for fire and, yeah, aesthetics. But no, I never understood it.

I once wrote an essay years ago about the insanity of lawns, which I can post if anyone is interested.
2 years ago
You can do it quick and easy, for sure. But as Bryant said, use the richest ingredients. Myself I do a compost tea, not a fermentation thing, so I'm using finished compost, not raw plant matter, as I don't know much about that myself. I have an aquarium bubbler in a 5 gallon bucket that I make mine in. My thought is that the best results will come from having a wide variety of ingredients in the compost that you make the tea with. Not always the case, because when I make compost it just depends on what I have around; but any is better than none, I figure.
Hey all. I've been thinking about this lately, and wondered what wisdom you all might have. I've worked on several small scale organic farms and a few gardens as well while WWOOFing. One farm in particular was very adamant about not stepping on the beds (except when broadforking), yet all were relatively worried about compaction, aside from the one tractor scale organic farm where they didn't care at all (but probably should have, but that's another story...).

I now run a small market farm myself, and think about this sometimes. Personally, I do avoid repeatedly stepping on the beds, and it gets regularly broadforked and rarely tilled (mostly I clear beds with a stirrup hoe); and with all the soil life and organic matter content, I don't feel stepping on it a bit is really all that bad, unless it's really wet of course. I just don't see the soil as being so fragile that it can't handle my weight (I'm on the small side for a dude) for the space of a second as I pass by. I feel like the worms, beetles, and other larger (and smaller, probably) creatures can reopen any spaces I crush down pretty fast. The soil has a good bit of sand in it, by the way, though is on the clay side mainly.

I guess my question is, if you have generally healthy soil, with high organic matter content, good soil biology, and good crumb structure... is it really that big of a deal to step on it a bit? How anal should I be about staying on the paths? Most of my internet searching seems to be discussing pretty damaged or degraded soil, but I wonder if you already have good soil if it's something to be overly concerned about.
2 years ago

Su Ba wrote:
Nature's compost piles (some are hot and some are not) that I can quickly think of...,
...malleefowl's nest. (Bird)
...alligator's nest
...vegetative build up in the bends of creeks and rivers, especially during floods
...landslide debris pile
...brush/leaf piles often found in the woods, especially in depressions

Anybody think of other examples?

Wikipedia, on the Thermophile page, mentions peat bogs.

I found this where the abstract says they live in soil.

Finally, this page gives temperature ranges for thermophilic and mesophilic bacteria, so it seems they can survive at lower temperatures in active state, but at high temperatures become the "last man standing" as the only species able to take the heat. Probably spores will survive the temperatures below (or above, for other bacteria) the temperature range.

2 years ago

John Macgregor wrote:I have about an acre of gently sloping clay land (southern Australia), which was eaten back to nothing by goats 40 years ago - & nothing has grown since.

Erosion has been happening for a few years, & some gullies now run 100m down to the creek. I filled them with Bill Zeedyk-style weirs & fences, & laid branches & logs across the slope (along the contour), across the expanse of clay. Both have held up fallen leaves & debris, & water, very nicely. I have also been collecting everyone's garden waste from the nearest town, & dumping it all over the clay.

Nine months on, topsoil is forming & things have begun growing in it. It'll probably take 5 years before it's all fixed.

I'm surprised that with all those trees there's no leaf litter covering the ground. Though I'm not familiar with the tree types of Australia, perhaps they're not deciduous? Good work nonetheless.
2 years ago
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. That Buffalo Bird Woman book sounds particularly interesting.

Devin Lavign wrote:All we have left of this old NE US culture (From NJ up into Canada) is odd rock walls and small rock buildings...

A lot of people just assume the colonists made them, but there are records from the colonists asking where the walls came from, with reports the Natives claim they were there before them. So who built them? No one actually knows and little to no investigation is being done on them.

Thats really interesting. I hiked through those areas on the Appalachian Trail and remember enjoying seeing walls often, there in the middle of the woods. I too assumed it was colonists, and marveled at how quickly nature had returned to cultivated fields. I have heard of some stone monuments up that way, resembling structures in Ireland and such, that the colonists said were already there, but I thought the walls themselves were from the European farmers clearing fields of stone, year by year, and piling them at the edges of their plots. Pretty amazing to consider the possibility that they are that much older. I'd want to see more evidence but its interesting.
2 years ago
Hey folks. Planning out my garden this year, I decided to try out the "Three Sisters" method of growing corn, squash and beans together in a polyculture; a Native American technique I've always been interested in. Finally have space to try it out (any advice from those who've done it can be added to this thread too!). But, being a lover of history, it has sparked an interest in Native agriculture in general. Looking around online hasn't been very productive, not a lot of details to be found. For example, corn seems to have been domesticated, slowly, around ten thousand years ago... but it only reached the Eastern US areas about 250 BC. I wonder, but cannot find any info about, why it took so long to spread. Or how did it get down to Peru, but llamas and alpacas never made it north? Clearly there was trade and contact. But online I can only find very general statements, or nothing, about these things.

I wonder if anyone knows any good books that deal in a more focused way on the spread, development, and techniques of farming by the original inhabitants of this land. Or good websites if you know any. Thanks in advance.
2 years ago