Dave Miller

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since Jun 08, 2009
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Zone 8b: SW Washington
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Recent posts by Dave Miller

I'm in Camas, on a 0.7 acre suburban lot, with a 10 year old food forest (ongoing) in my 0.5 acre backyard.  I'm not looking for a homestead, but when you get to that point, I'd be interested in sharing plant material, local knowledge, and/or trading surplus.  I have about 200 varieties of edible perennial plants (e.g. 54 varieties of apples), and most of them are mature enough to produce.

My main goal was to be able to harvest something from my food forest any day of the year, and I am close to that goal.  What I didn't think about was whether I would have time to harvest all of it, and the answer is no (I also have a full time job).  I think in order for permaculture to thrive in a suburban environment, there needs to be some kind of system to facilitate trading of unharvested surplus.  I haven't figured that out yet though.
4 weeks ago
I have been canoeing and kayaking in your "crik" many times, that is a beautiful area.  I grew up in Newport 1968-1985.  I recall a George Galstaun in high school, perhaps a relative.

I'm curious if you have any permaculture projects going?  I didn't know about permaculture when I lived in Newport but my mom was a hardcore gardener.  The coastal weather was always a challenge.  Looking back I wish I would have built my mom some raised beds, I think her plants would have been a lot happier.  Just curious what you may have found that worked well at the coast.

I hope that you find a buyer that will carry on your land ethic!
3 months ago
Daron pretty much covered it all.  I would only add a couple of thoughts.  I am not an expert on wetlands nor Washington state/Thurston County laws, but I have been involved with a lot of habitat restoration work on nearby USFWS refuges since 2006.
- The site strikes me as having huge wildlife + permaculture potential.  Please keep track of your "lessons learned" and share them.
- Maybe reach out to the local Conservation District.  I'm guessing that they answer questions like yours all the time.  Most of them also have native plant sales with extremely reasonable prices.
- Like Daron said, removing invasives and planting natives will probably make everyone happy, especially the wildlife.  I highly recommend that you include a lot of native edibles in your plans.  My favorite is Evergreen huckleberry.  The great thing about the natives is that they require no care once established.  With a large acreage that is an important factor.
- I would be sure to factor flooding into your plans.  The current project at the refuge where I volunteer is designing around the 500 (vs. 100) year flood level.  I suspect this is due to concerns about climate change.
- I have done a lot of projects at the refuge and in my yard to help out native wildlife including bats, swifts, martins, turtles, native bees, salamanders, frogs, as well as many native plants.  Let me know if you're interested in what I've learned from those projects and/or would like to try them on your property.
4 months ago
I'm not sure what you mean by "seriously", but I think no matter where you land in Cascadia you won't be far from someone who is at least dabbling in permaculture.  I am next to Portland and there are a lot of urban permaculturalists there (which made it easy to gather plant material).  I'd recommend searching Facebook for the county or city that you are looking at, plus "permaculture", e.g. "clark county permaculture".  The size and/or activity of the group might be tell you if that is a good area to search.
4 months ago
My slug solution.  It takes some persistence, but it really does work for me.  I like the scissors because I can get them no matter where they are, on the ground or 5' up a plant.  
4 months ago
I've been using this procedure after working in poison oak for the last five years and it works for me.  The key is to use friction from a wet washcloth.

8 months ago
Here's my little Home Depot pond + home made biofilter.  When I have the pump in the pond (June-September) the water is crystal clear.
9 months ago
I don't have any fish in my pond and I don't put anything into it other than water.  But there are lots of tadpoles and small life in the pond that just showed up.  It is under trees so it gets a lot of leaves in the fall, which I clean out every few years.

The waste from your fish plus uneaten food will increase the amount of suspended algae.  So your proportion of plants will probably need to be higher than mine.

I know that people do calculations to determine the size of the biofilter based on the pond size, number/size of fish, etc.  But I would probably just make it a little bigger than you think you might need, and/or make your filter expandable by daisy chaining several drums together or something like that.

I pretty firmly believe that the plant roots are way more important than the lava rock or biofilter balls etc.  I don't think it matters much whether the plants are in the biofilter or in the pond itself, as long as oxygenated water is moving through the plant roots.  So you might think about ways to be able to keep adding plants until the algae disappears.

Here's the intake filter that I use with my pump:
Yours will obviously need to be bigger but I like this general style.  I only clean it once a year.  Note that this filter does not filter suspended algae - it just prevents the pump from getting clogged.

As you mentioned, shading the pond will be good for water quality and to keep from cooking your fish.

I also encourage you to include some moisture-loving flowering or edible plants in your pond and/or biofilter.  It is great to have a "garden" in my pond that I don't have to worry about watering even on the hottest days or if I'm on vacation.  And of course the water has a lot of nutrients that the plants like, so no fertilizing either.  You just need to be able to adjust the height of the pot (or the water) to the plant's liking.  I have drowned a few plants by not getting that right.  And of course if you're going to be gone a long time, you'll need an automated way (or a neighbor) to top it off.  My drip system puts a little water in it every day, but you could also use a float valve.

Also a word about duckweed - I once put some in because I thought it would keep the water cooler.  Within days it covered the entire pond, and the frogs etc. seemed to be struggling to navigate through it, plus it made my pond just look like a lawn.  So I used a strainer to strain it all out.  It took a long time because you have to get every single plant.

I have attached some more recent photos without the "Photobucket" watermark.

9 months ago
I am interested.  I have mostly perennial edibles and natives (and perennial edible natives). But in the fall I'm going to finish my hugelkultur veggie garden. So I'll be looking for seeds this winter.

What I would be most interested in is information about varieties that people like and that do well here.  I have about 250 varieties of edibles and another 100 or so natives.  Some are very happy, some are not.  
1 year ago
Here's how I got rid of mine, without chemicals: https://permies.com/p/11304

I still have a few seedlings pop up now and then but they are easy to manage.  But you will need to be persistent.

1 year ago