Helen Butt

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since Aug 15, 2016
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books food preservation forest garden
I’ve been converting my garden to a forest garden since 2010. It’s been slow progress due to 1) time, 2) money and 3) not wanting to be a consumer and add to the greenhouse gas burden (as far as I can).
I am self-sufficient in a number of crops, which sometimes requires self-discipline (e.g.. not buying out of season apples because I fancy one). I’m also increasingly making use of ‘weeds’ that find their way into the garden and am learning about and practising foraging to supplement my diet.
Leeds, United Kingdom
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Recent posts by Helen Butt

Hi Jesse,

I have only used small amounts of bay wood (because of availability) in my hugelbeds. However, I don’t think it will be a problem in larger quantities.

I have heard that it is different from some other members of the Lauraceae family, so cyanide shouldn’t be an issue. Besides, if it is green wood it will décompose slowly and any gases would therefore also be released slowly (and into the open air rather than a confined space such as a greenhouse).
1 month ago

s. ayalp wrote:
I don't think there is a problem of available land in Washington, but here in some areas of Europe there is not enough space to dedicate a piece of land to someone for eternity. Usually in 40-50 years (max), someone else will be buried in the same location.

Yes, one reason why cremation is the preferred option in Britain, I think.

Regarding how safe edibles might be, in the nineteenth century, people in Haworth (where the Bronte family lived) were being poisoned by the corpses from the cemetery there. Basically, the cemetery was over the village water supply and leached its nasties into that water.
1 month ago

Judy Jackson wrote:Helen Butt: it is also in Pistachios, cashews and mangos. yes to a less extent but it is there.

Thanks, Judy. I will most definitely have come into contact with Urushiol then!
1 month ago

Joylynn Hardesty wrote:

Helen Butt wrote:
Which plant materials contain Urushiol, Redhawk? I’ve not heard of Urushiol before.

Urushiol is the substance on plants like Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Sumac that causes the skin rashes in people like me. Congratulations on your impervious skin.

I think more lack of opportunity to find out ☺️. Thanks for the reply, anyway!
1 month ago
When I first started composting I read about putting soil in the heap but had no notion of why this was recommended. I guessed it might be to do with adding organisms that would help make compost but good to know that it might sequester carbon as well. The latter is something that had bothered me about compost-making - all that carbon (as well as methane) being produced!

If I’ve understood correctly, clay soil is a better addition that sandy soil? And wood ash acts in a similar fashion to soil re carbon sequestration?
1 month ago

Bryant RedHawk wrote:

The only plant materials I never include in a compost heap are those which contain Urushiol, since this compound is very persistent, not breaking down easily, I prefer to not give myself a rash when transporting my compost from heap to garden.


Which plant materials contain Urushiol, Redhawk? I’ve not heard of Urushiol before.
1 month ago

Xisca Nicolas wrote:What do you think about burrying? Ok, even more work, but then we have soil! I usually have a trench in a place in the garden, that I fill and cover. Like 50-60 cms. A work all the time on the go...

Sounds a bit like hugelculture without the wood. Ie I used to build trenches for compost alone (or rather with paper or cardboard to absorb water instead of wood underneath the vegetable matter) until I discovered hugelculture.

True, the composition process will draw nitrogen from the surrounding soil but in the soil decomposition should be pretty quick. Although I guess the speed does depend on climate/time of year.
1 month ago

Scott Foster wrote:

That would be great.  I'm guessing they will start a rapid decline at the first frost.

I think it depends on the type of frost. Surprisingly, we did actually have some frost the other night - it stayed above freezing, though - and the nasturtiums are business as usual. They have probably adapted to conditions over the years but definitely a hard frost would see them off.
4 months ago
I don’t know what your climate is like but here (ie in the microclimate of my garden at least) nasturtiums last until about Christmas. Great for salads :-)
4 months ago
It always amazes me how soon everyone else seems to establish their food forest. What is your soil like (ie type, depth etc)?
4 months ago