Ray Johns

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since Oct 18, 2016
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Recent posts by Ray Johns

Yes! I started going no shampoo by washing with conditioner sometimes, but now my routine is like this. Every few days if I'm feeling some scalp buildup, I gently scrape my whole scalp with my nails to remove it. Serves as a massage and distributes natural oils through my hair. About once a week I "wash" it with hot water while doing the scalp massage with fingertips. And about once a month I use a sulfate-free shampoo (so it doesn't strip my hair as badly). I put the shampoo on the hair only, not my scalp, only let it sit for 30sec to a minute and rinse it out. The main improvement I've seen over using shampoo most or every shower is that my hair feels and looks thicker and I don't have to use any styling products bc the natural oils help it do its thing. Never smells or looks oily. But what works for you depends on your hair type. I have dark curly hair. Straight blonde hair will appear oily much sooner, but folks w this hair type can still cut back on shampoo use.

As for soap, I also use it sparingly ("hit the high points") every now and then when I feel I need it, like others said when you need something that will cut grease or oil. And I wash my hands with it, Dove or homemade only. The way I normally clean my skin is using the oil cleansing method (easy to Google also called oil replacement method) and I use sunflower oil. The oil you should use depends on your skin type, I tried coconut before but it broke my skin out, then I found out it's comedogenic (clogs pores) and not recommended for oily skin, which I have. But the method basically works like this (and I think comes from Ayurvedic practice). If it's cold you need a heat source, if it's already warm you're all set. You want your pores to open, and you massage the oil in all over (some people like to go in a certain order/direction to stimulate the lymph system). So you get a full body massage in the process plus a little workout if you're doing it youself! Then you get in a hot bath or shower, I like to let my pores open more while I keep massaging. When you're ready you just exfoliate, the oil and hot water help lift dirt and grime from your skin. I also discovered that exfoliation depends on skin type, dry skin needs more/coarser exfoliation while oily skin needs gentler perhaps less frequent exfoliation (too much can stimulate more oil production). I use a washcloth, or sometimes a poof but I'm gentle. Dry skin can tolerate a loofah or similar. This method cleans the skin and helps support a natural balance of oils.
1 year ago
Southeast AL.

Current photos. Neither blooming right now, not sure if they do. Previous owner of this property had been keeping them cut back and I had continued that til this season I wanted to see what they would do. All help appreciated!

first three pics are one plant, last three pics are the other.
1 year ago
Thanks everybody! I actually tried eating the stachys affinis before, good to know it's officially edible haha! I guess I can dig out and pot these spiderwort flowers as gifts as needed, they sure get in the way sometimes! Thanks again
1 year ago
I have 2 flowering plants I need to ID. I'm in southeast Alabama zone 8b.

The first is a 3 petal, purple flower that I thought I dug out of my yard last year but it has come back worse this year. It blooms now in spring, and I believe in the fall as well. The top has multiple flowers which you can see usually only one open at a time, and when open are about the size of a half dollar coin. They act invasive in that they are hard to get rid of (impossible to pull, must be dug out) and are steadily spreading all over, but in isolated bunches. When you so much as brush past them, even when the flower is closed, they get a purple juice on you that can stain. They grow about a foot high in the open but will grow to several feet if needed to reach sunlight.

The second is also a light purple color flowering plant. It is also spreading everywhere, as in it grows almost synonymously with my grass, and has small clusters of tiny flowers at the top. It is easy to pull up and has bumpy white nodules on the roots as pictured. Generally low growing but it will also grow to several feet high to reach light. Blooms in spring and fall and seems to live year round here.

And help identifying these two would be appreciated as well as any other information on these plants.
1 year ago
I'm on a city lot and have decided not to continure putting off my permaculture dreams in hopes of having more land someday. I would greatly appreciate if anyone with more experience would read over my tentative plan for my first patch design and just let me know if you see any red flags. If you have specific suggestions I'd like to hear those too, but I'm mostly wanting to make sure I don't make any easily avoidable mistakes.

Basics: I'm zone 8b/9a in Alabama. I've got some farming and gardening experience, but new to permaculture.

Situation: I'm starting with the area about 14'x34', at the west side of the house (back yard). Receives full sun for about 7hrs/day most the year. This side has a screened in, concrete slab patio/utility room. I'm starting here against the back of the house for several reasons, chief of them being that it's the biggest problem area in our yard. The property slopes northeast, more east than north though, and our house sits facing east (so land slopes gently toward back of house). We drive through the middle of the back yard to access a carport (and that's not changing anytime soon) so that compacts the middle third of the yard, creating more runoff water towards the house. In heavy rain, we get standing water starting about 10' out from the patio, and some right at the patio door. Around the north corner it starts going downhill over grass into the front yard. Around the south corner, there is a paved driveway that runs right against the house's cinder block foundation wall, all the way downhill to the street.

We also have a very large surface area of roof that is sending an abundance of rain water into the old worn out gutter here on the west side of the house. So we're getting runoff from both directions, but especially the gutter because it's crappy and overflows in pouring rain (it's not clogged, btw). The gutter will be replaced as soon as we're able; the rainwater overflowing it is causing trouble (picture a small waterfall, really big, gently sloped roof back here). The spilled over water seeps back against the concrete slab of the patio (home is crawl space, patio was added later), then runs along and finds its way into the utility room, which is recessed into the ground like a basement somewhat on the downhill (north) corner. The worst it's been was enough water to float my laundry hamper, but it drains well enough for now through holes in the slab designed for the purpose.

Goals: Most important is better managing rain water. I also want it to produce food for us and wildlife (thinking I can fit two small fruit trees here that sort of share a guild) as well as provide some privacy for the patio (satsumas or figs for food and evergreen/dense foliage?).  

My ideas:
1. Get a new gutter, with a proper downspout on the north end (and eventually rain barrels on that small piece of slab you see at the corner in the north side pic).
2. Grade a walking path from the patio door to around the north corner going downhill, following path of least resistance. I'm thinking I would keep this path mulched with wood chips or similar. I've got an A frame level built already. Hoping this would channel water away from the doorway.
3. Build up the soil against west side of house (only by about 2", any more and it'll be sitting against the vinyl siding) to make it slope away from the patio. Should I get rid of the drawf azaleas there first?
4. Improve soil/kill grass over the whole area using sheet mulch (though I may skip the cardboard in key areas due to runoff) and sow clover as cover while everything's percolating. Thinking clover will help prevent weeds and add to water catchment capacity? Then I might also have my ground cover in place when I start planting other things?
5. Cut privets on each end down to ground just before planting my "canopy" layer for this area. They make great bird habitat and give us shade and privacy on the patio until I am ready to plant other things. I thought I would cut them to the ground and cover roots with cardboard or even plastic, thoughts?
6. Plant two small fruit trees, one to south side, one to north side however I can get them in there, followed by supporting plants. (totally open to tree/guild suggestions, and I really want to know if there's anything I shouldn't plant for the "canopy" layer as far as aggressive roots being near the patio slab, etc.)

With some mulch, more plant roots, and more permeable soil in this area, we may not need to take further steps to prevent the standing water issue coming across from the back of the yard in heavy rain, I'm not sure. If it's still an issue, I would consider a berm around the west edge of the bed, with rocks and stuff on the side catching the runoff and water loving, deep rooted edibles on top. It would make a nice definition between the food growing space and the area we drive on as well. I'm thinking the berm could curve around on both sides to direct water around the house. Is there any reason not to put a berm close by uphill from a structure? It'd be about 14' feet away, but curving closer toward the ends.

Any and all commentary appreciated! Especially on any glaring flaws in this plan, please!
2 years ago
Thanks for all the responses.

I like the idea of taking advantage of the suckers off the tree for climbing plants. Definitely not trying to get those roots out, but need them not to grow too big (gas line beneath, idk how whoever even planted the tree there).

As far as planting the back yard, we could tuck a few things here and there, but the soil is extremely compacted and poor, it would take a lot more work to get much workable space back there.

Again, I'm zone 8A, I know I haven't got it on my profile yet

I'll look for a good ID group on Facebook.
3 years ago

Marco Banks wrote:Long blooming ornamentals will give constant color and will attract the eye away from your edibles....Fennel might also fall into this category, although it gets very tall -- 4 feet or so....A uniform mulch laid-down between plants will visually unify the space....Not too much nitrogen....Taking out a small tree -- like, how small?....I hope some of that helps.

Yes, quite helpful, thank you! Just a few things...
Can anyone suggest a good site to help choose long blooming ornamentals by zone? We have roses across the roadfront but they've been poorly managed, I'd like to bring more color to the front to appease the neighbors (like a trade-off? they'll be getting any suprlus vegetables we have too).

I am not opposed to essentially creating a hedge on the berm in front of the garden space, 4ft high shrubs won't bother me. Wide open to recommendations there, will check into comfrey.

Rather than mulch we're going to try a living ground cover of white dutch clover (we want to overseed it into the grass pretty much all over our lawn eventually).

On adding N, like I said we'll have the clover, and we also vermicompost and are prepping the space where veggies will be concentrated (though well spaced and interspersed as you said, I'm familiar with companion planting) using lasagna composting. We haven't really added much of a nitrogen layer yet though, mostly dead leaves.

The small tree is shown in the video, it sort of has 2 trunks, each a couple inches that join right above the ground with about a 3" diameter. Not even sure I could girdle it the way it is. I can post pics of it if that would be helpful for removal recommendations/identification. I was going to make some time in the next couple days to try to ID it.

And I hear you loud and clear on the asparagus, my mother-in-law grows it so I realize what you mean, I hadn't thought of how "unsightly" it would look!

Thanks again!
3 years ago
Hi everyone, new member but long time lurker here. I'm in need of plant/shrub recommendations, but first:

Our situation is we're in zone 8A on a 1/4 acre city lot, older neighborhood in the downtown area, and we're starting a lasagna garden on our front lawn. Front lawn and not back for a few reasons: the back is largely shaded throughout the day, we drive through the back to access our garage, and our young kids play in the back since it's all fenced in. I'm including a video of our property (a little more info in the video's description that I forgot to record) and a (not quite to scale but complete with cardinal directions) hand drawing of our lawn. Excessive? Probably, but I did it for myself more than this forum, now the need to share has come up. Since taking the video, we've started prepping a garden space (as indicated on the drawing) lasagna style to be seeded with white dutch clover and transplanted directly into with herbs & veg in the spring. It's an ugly mess out there right now and I'm fearing one neighbor in particular might complain. Right now we're not in violation of city code I don't believe, but once we plant veggies and they get over 12" or "unsightly" we will be.

The code basically says if it's unsightly, over 12" and not ornamental, dry & fire hazard, or a breeding ground for rats/mice/mosquitoes, that's a no-no. I'm willing to take the risk and talk to the neighbors about it more. We want to do a swale/berm around that northeast corner of the garden and plant the berm with some shrubs or something that will hopefully be tall enough and leafy enough year round to block most the view from that neighbor's house. Not just because of the neighbor, but because that's the lower-most part of the property, the whole thing slopes gently from back to front and more subtly from southwest to northeast. Thinking we could hold a lot of water in the ground for our garden by doing the swale while also blocking most the view depending on what we use to plant the berm. Obviously, we'll either dig the swale more shallow over our gas line or dig with a hand spade around the line (suggestions?).

The tree in the middle of the garden is unidentified as yet, so we've lasagna'd around it for now until we learn what it is and whether we want/need to remove it (how to go about that if we do need to?). You might notice our sewer line isn't marked, that's cause the city hasn't come to do it yet but we're 99% sure from how things look in the crawl space that it runs straight along the concrete walk to our mailbox, on the south side of it.

So since that was all probably somewhat confusing, my questions are:

What to plant the berm with? Aside from obstructing view (but not too much sunlight, which I don't think will be an issue anyway due to path of sun over our property), bonus if it's native/produces something edible/would be ideal to plant strawberries or asparagus under/is cheap (after all we're needing to grow our own food ASAP out of necessity!).

How to do the swale where it crosses the gas line?

What is a safe way to remove a small tree from an area that will be used for growing food? Is girdling an option, or the only option? I'm not too opposed to drilling a small hole in the base and sticking a q-tip in with concentrated herbicide if we determine it needs to be removed, but not sure that's safe for the edible garden

If you see anything in else the video or can identify anything (I know I moved past things quickly though) or have any other suggestions I'd love to hear them. Particularly what to do with the (wild? has big thorns) orange tree (idk much about fruit trees yet) and the pecan (I'm sure neighbor would allow us to fertilize it at least).


My phone makes random noises while I record, sorry.
3 years ago