Kris Mendoza

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since Jan 23, 2016
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hugelkultur urban bee
New England USA, Zone 7a
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Recent posts by Kris Mendoza

I am reading David George Haskell's first book now... this second one sounds even better! Check it out.
3 years ago
So much good info on this thread.

Ann Ralph wrote an article in 2015 that summarizes her pruning methods, for those who can't get their hands on her book:
3 years ago
Reviving this post because a friend just gave me about 100 big, black chilacayote seeds from the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. What advice might anyone have for growing these in a colder climate, with different day lengths? It has been my experience with other pumpkins and squashes from south of the border that they grow strong and big here in northeast US, but take months longer to flower than the squashes that have been cultivated here for many generations. Last year my Guatemalan k'ok squash (sorry, that is the local Mayan name--no idea what the species really is) took over, was immune to the vine borers and the powdery mildew, but never even flowered. Then I found out it takes 200+ days to maturity! No wonder. I had planted in May and expected squash by October!

This year I have a new indoor seed starting setup with lights, so I am trying these crazily long season squashes again. I got them going in mid-January, giving them about a 100 day head start...

Should I be putting my energies into other crops? Learn the lesson I learned after melon failures and stick to what's tried and true around here? Maybe. But the vine borers are AWFUL here, so if these squashes are successful they will fill a gap. And produce some produce (haha) that can't be found in the markets!
3 years ago
Also--is it silly to buy Joe Pye Weed plants? Should we just start from seed? We have a greenhouse.
3 years ago
I am on the hunt for these plants (live plants, not seeds) for a new schoolyard habitat garden...

Here's a little background:  

We've received a similar grant at the school where I teach and we are planning a lovely space for pollinators, birds, and bugs--a place for city kids to observe, learn about, and learn to love living things! Anyone know of good suppliers for the specific plants below? It's easy to find ornamental viburnums around here, but we're having a hard time getting the variety we want. We have been able to source most things locally but are stumped with these so far.

Sweet Pepper Bush  clethra alnifola
Cranberrybush  viburnum trilobum
Trumpet Honeysuckle lonicera sempervirens
Wild Strawberry fragaria virginaria
Joe Pye Weed eutrochium purpureum

Any leads would be most welcome, as would any advice from veteran schoolyard garden folks!

3 years ago
If you must have a bin, check with your municipality or county before you buy or build anything--I just learned that my city's public works dept. will give residents a small, raccoon-proof bin for free if you go down to their office and pick it up! Who knew?!
3 years ago
Any updates on how these worked out? Or photos of them with the plants in? I am thinking about trying a system like this rather than poles with horizontal strings woven in and out of the plants, which always get floppy by August...
3 years ago
Agreed! I mulch with leaves through the fall and winter. I don't have a way to shred them. I used to think that meant I couldn't use them except in the compost heap, but I am becoming less and less timid about them.

Just this afternoon (it was crazily warm--55 degrees in Connecticut in January?!?) I re-mulched with leaves in some areas where they had blown away. I have a small city yard but unlike the neighbors I don't do "fall raking", as in collecting and bagging up or composting, any more. People say leaving leaves about will kill your grass, but that has not been my experience.  I let them blow around and also rake some more deliberately into particular places where I want them, such as over my garlic patch, the asparagus bed, my hugel which is going into its 2nd spring and shrinking, and my bed of mustard and parsley that refuse to die in the cold. The leaves are mostly oak and ash, plus a lot of other shrub leaves mixed in.

When spring comes, there are places where I'll move the thick leaf mulch aside. I just rake the leaves out of the beds and into the paths in between, where they can compost in place with all my kitchen scraps, wood chips, and other goodies. A bunch will go under my new sheet mulched spots as an additional layer(below the cardboard or above? what do folks think?). And really, there will not be such a big mass of leaves left anyway, because by spring so much of them have broken down into the soil.

3 years ago
And that's a good point about the elastic from undies! I was planning to cut out the elastic if using a bottom sheet...
3 years ago
Hmm yes, maybe an experiment is in order--might have to be just a pillowcase as my space is limited!

3 years ago