Kyle Neath

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since May 07, 2016
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Somewhere in between a software developer and agroforester. Once upon a time I built a lot of software in a very fancy city, but now I can usually be found running around in the mountains.
Leaping Daisy is my main gig. It's an old high country ranch in the Sierra Nevadas. In the summers, I spend my time fixing 100 year old log cabins, improving the forest, and building out infrastructure to host small events. In the winters, I strap on my snowshoes and play in the snow.
In between that, I'm still trying to figure this whole life thing out. I spend a bit of time writing software to pay the bills, a chunk of it caring for my parents, and the rest playing around the mountains near Tahoe.
Sierra Nevadas, CA 6400'
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Recent posts by Kyle Neath

If you don't care too much about the color, you might ask some local paint stores if they have miscolored batches. Or collect a bunch of leftover paint from friends/craigslist/etc. Mix it all together once you have enough and you'll probably end up with some kind of brown.

Or maybe just tell them you're going for the "shabby chic" look, and that you've spent a long time working on those paint peels ;)
9 hours ago
My first thought whenever people have this trouble with tomatoes is a temperature problem. Sustained high temperatures during the day or sustained low temperatures at night can cause tomato blossom drop. I know many places it has been hot this summer — has the weather been much different than two years ago? There are other factors that can cause this too (nitrogen, humidity, etc), but temperature is the most likely culprit in my experience. Opening up the greenhouse ends should be more than enough for pollination requirements. The most I've ever done to spur pollination indoors (with no wind at all) is shake the plant a bit once a day and put a small fan on.
While those berries look a lot like immature Sierra Gooseberries, those flowers and leaves tell me it's probably a tomato relative. Perhaps a Buffalo Bur?
20 hours ago
Love this! It looks like you're doing a good bit of work yourself, did you hire out an engineer to draw up plans for you? Or is your day job something related to construction? I grew up helping my dad with construction, but mostly decks / repairs / internal wall type stuff, so I've always been intimidated by pouring footers and other big work like that. Ironically, I went to college to civil engineering, and while I can describe in great detail how a complex concrete beam will fail, it doesn't help me much with keeping up to codes & current construction practices.
1 day ago
The other night I was out in the meadow taking some sunset pictures — a beautifully serene setting. A light breeze, songbirds in the distance, no sign of humans other than myself, and swallows floating around above. As I squatted down to get a good angle, what sounded like some kind of fluttering pterodactyl scream came zooming down at me and scared me half to death. Turns out they weren't swallows, but nighthawks:

I'd never heard anything like it before.
2 days ago
A lot of great replies in here. One thing I would definitely underscore is something Mike Jay first brought up — water usage. Out here with our sandy soils and dry summers, weeds can quickly decimate other crops around them. They will germinate in a thick mat in the spring, go to seed in a few weeks as the rains stop, suck up all the water in the area, and die off — months before your veggies will have had a chance to mature. If I forget to irrigate for a week, weedy places will be completely dead, while weeded places will be doing just fine.

If you rob the bank and the getaway car stops at the compost pile, and the finished compost goes back on the garden, is that good, better or worse than dropping it?

I think this is one of those places where you'd have to really work on defining what you mean by good. I make compost to breed beneficial organisms, and a compost pile will do that orders of magnitude better than mulch will. At the same time, my compost pile is burning up the fuel that these beneficial organisms need to survive — the same organisms that live in your garden soil that might be able to use that fuel if it were chopped and dropped. At another look, a compost pile can heat up enough to kill unwanted seeds, while chopping and dropping will just leave the seeds in place… I guess I look at it all as a complex equation without an easy answer.
2 days ago
We've been getting the tail end of monsoon moisture blowing through the past couple of days, and it's been producing some incredible sunsets. Maybe we'll even get a thunderstorm or two! So far it's just been a couple thousands of an inch of precipitation. But those sunsets…
3 days ago
I have this little dongle that reports actual mpg used for each of my trips. I find that watching the data is the best way to figure out how to increase the efficiency of your vehicle. Each one is going to be different. For my truck, it's all about how much it's loaded down. For my R32, it's all about staying between 65-70mph. I have not found tire pressure, windows, or any of the popular "hacks" to make any material difference whatsoever.

Although, to be honest, my biggest piece of advice for people wishing to reduce their petroleum footprint with relation to cars is to buy an old car. The car that doesn't need to be manufactured is going to use several lifetimes less petroleum that the new one (electric or not) that needs to be manufactured (from resources mined elsewhere and shipped), shipped, built, shipped, shipped, shipped, shipped, and shipped some more. Or just reduce the amount you need to drive.
5 days ago
I am constantly impressed with the resiliency of plants. Back in the fall, I planted a handful of comfrey root cuttings around the garden. A few in the hugel bed and a few in the plain ground. When they didn't come up in the spring, I assumed they didn't make it through the winter (either voles or cold or too long of a dormancy). But then a couple of days ago, I spotted a couple leaves that looked familiar… comfrey! The tiniest comfrey, and sure it sprouted in July, but perhaps this will give it enough energy to bounce back faster next year.

Next up is an Apple tree I planted last spring. The winter before that was a crazy huge winter, so it didn't end up getting planted until the wet weather had left us and the warm weather had arrived. On top of that, I never got around to protecting the trees and every single leaf and new growth got stripped clean by the deer. But this summer it sprouted all kinds of new growth, and seems to be quite happy.

Last up on our list is a blueberry I picked up for dirt cheap at the nursery in the middle of the summer last year. Root bound and planted in the dead of summer without irrigation, it was doing okay… for about a week until the deer found it and stripped off every single leaf. Miraculously, it's full of leaves this year.
5 days ago
I have seen a lot of people lay down tarps (or a similar dark colored covering) over soil once it's in place in the garden bed to do this. The tarp traps the heat in the top of soil, killing seeds and smothering weeds.
1 week ago