Catie George

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since Oct 20, 2016
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Ontario - Gardening in zone 3b, 4b, or 6b, depending on the day
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Recent posts by Catie George

Peter- first, thank you for doing these experiments, I am highly interested din the results.

I like your separating method, it seems pretty efficient. I have done it small scale by filling a bucket 1/3 with soil, 1/3 water, then rolling the bucket or shake it or stir with a stick until the water is muddy, then pour off into another bucket, and repeat until the soil is mostly clear. I was trying to isolate sand, not silt/clay though.

I am wondering with your soil settling overnight if you are getting much clay, or if you have mostly silt?

If you take a handful of the clay-goop and roll it into a ball, hold it in the palm of your hand then smack the side of your hand with the other hand, does water come to the surface? (This would indicate it's mostly silt)

If you dry the goop a bit, then roll it in your hands, can you get a pencil width snake without cracking? That would indicate a high clay content.
4 hours ago
Redhawk- I looked through your soil series. A lot of it needs a third or fourth read for me to really digest it, but I didnt find information about grain size specifically.  

Would you mind pointing me to which of your threads has the information?

I suspect the "dead" parts of soil may not be a major research interest for you, but I am just very curious, as I know first hand how the particle sizes of soil are linked to their behaviour as a mass, and grain sizes (along with some mineralogy/smell) is something I can assess without a microscope/lab testing.
8 hours ago
Karl- unfortunately, I agree with you. I have tried various methods over the years with mixed success. The best success has been adding better quality(purchased) soil, then mulching above, but that's expensive considering the price of potatoes.

I think it says something that this year, when I am worried about the food supply and it counts, I planted 4 10' rows or potatoes, in the ground, 6" deep, and intend to hill over them once the plants get 8" tall to keep the roots covered, and maybe hill once more during the summer, just to keep them from greening. I have never found any evidence that any more billing than that is useful.  I KNOW I will get production this way. I also planted a few leftovers in my mulched garden (2 15 'rows) - it will be interested to see the difference in yield.
22 hours ago

elle sagenev wrote:I have started and it's anxiety enducing ya'll. I've had some friends posting things on Facebook that aren't very nice. I've just scrolled past before. I don't get political on social media. I don't argue with people. I've never seen the point. (permies is the exception because Paul and moderators have done a nice job making this a safe place and ya'll are amazing)

Today I replied to one of the posts. I replied mother to mother. Her saying she won't teach her son to see color. Me saying me either, but that doesn't stop people from seeing his color. Then she posted about how she doesn't feel guilty being white and if anyone had a problem with it to remove her. Shocked, was I. I don't feel guilty being white. I don't think we need to feel guilty to feel compassion and empathy.


I have been thinking a lot about what you said. It's a really hard question. And yeah, people get so offended.

Taking a stand truly is difficult. Its exhausting. I admit I am not anywhere near as good or consistent at doing it as I should be. And I feel nothing I do is ever enough, and sometimes I wonder if it's worth trying.

In the last year, I hear started speaking up when I am offended on social media, if the person sharing is someone I know and respect. It's hard. I havent lost any social media friends yet, but it may have been close. Occasionally they take it down, and i noticed one person i spoke to a few times has stopped sharing those kinds of memes. Sometimes, I think I do it not to stop them or change their minds- but so the OTHER  people seeing the thing dont think everyone thinks it's ok. I try and remind people about humanity, and empathy, and tend to write fairly long (no surprise, for me) posts about WHY I feel a certain way.

I often find people demonizing some other position, and then write, even if I dont share the position an explanation of WHY people might feel that way. I think we need to remember people, and that people have different experiences that lead to different beliefs, and a lot of awful beliefs come from a feeling of fear.

In public- it's a lot harder. It's definitely even more anxiety producing. For good friends, it's worth more effort to figure out and question the source of the belief (what is causing the fear, usually).

I am so lucky to work in places where one (bad) sexist remark, one racist remark, one homophobic remark, can and will get you fired. It's rare, but it's a line people know not to cross. A lot of job sites I work at are associated with Impact Benefit Agreements with first nations, and require mandatory training on sensitivity and the local culture to be there on your first day. I really do think it makes a difference.

I see Canadas politics going down the same drain as the US where neither side is willing to respect and hear the other side out, and it terrifies me. I have been comparing the current world (not just North American ) situation to either the fall of the Roman Empire, or the rise of fascism/communism in Europe and WW2 for the last 5 years or so. It terrifies me. So its worth speaking up about, despite the discomfort.

I find myself stuck in the middle- defending  (to both sides) rural/construction/trades workers and city people, responsible gun control, environmental regs and resource projects, urban/rural divide, western/eastern divide, etc etc. Trying to find common ground, and explain things totally out of others experience. Pleading for moderate thought.

For racism, i am also working to be less unconciously racist myself. I find it helps me become less racist to consciously not refer to people as "that black person" "that native person" "that Muslim person". I refer to them as Name, who is from X. So my coworker Hani, who is from Iran, instead of my Iranian coworker, Hani.  Our polar bear monitor, who is Inuit, instead of our Inuit polar bear monitor. It shifts the focus from the group to the person.  Its subtle, something I am trying to do in everyday conversation, and I think it helps me. And if it isnt relevant to the conversation, I drop the term entirely. So unless I am specifically talking about Iran or immigration, for which Hani's Iranian background matters, he is just "my coworker, Hani". I am far from perfect though.

Its exhausting, but I truly believe if we dont fight for understanding, for empathy, to bridge the divide, our society will fail.

Your friend- who says she does not feel guilty to be white. That's fine. I am not either, and I would rankle at the suggestion she should be. But that's an arguement that misses the point. The point is not to make people embarrassed to be white, but embarrassed to be racist. The point is to make sure that people of other races can be  proud and unafraid too. My suspicion is that she DOES feel guilty when she sees these things, and, rather than confront that guilt, she turns rejects the thing that makes her uncomfortable.

I sincerely wish you luck in your efforts Elle. It's not an easy thing to do. I really hope, by the time your son is an adult things will have changed for the better.
1 day ago
I have unfortunately never yet managed to change someone's racist opinion by confronting them directly.  That usually leads to a heated debate with no one changing their mind. I occasionally at least shut down the conversation by saying something like "that's not my experience, here is what I think". But I dont think I have ever managed to change someone through confronting it. Not particularly satisfying.

I wonder, Elle, if you could confront it indirectly ? Could you send around an email or something (you know the local politics far better than I) and start a discussion about  "how do we make sure this never happens here? How do we make sure the world never knows the name of our town for something like this? What can we change?" I dont know how to phrase it, and it's a difficult question to ask, but I think it might be a more important battle to fight than no win battles with individuals.

I think reducing racism comes with experience, common ground, respect, and empathy. Meeting and working closely with many people from other countries, areas, and backgrounds has made me a significantly more thoughtful and less ignorant person, and really helps to see people as people, not as groups.
2 days ago
Neat project, too bad it didn't work out. It looks like the soil was collapsing into the voids, then moving/cracking?

For future reference, soil distributes pressure fairly well,  with the area that the stress is applied over increasing by a factor of (roughly!) 2x the depth of the soil layer. Or to put it otherwise.... you may have been ok with a deeper cob layer. Maybe not, soil has almost no strength in tension., 2:1 method is sufficient for most purposes.

If I was trying this, I would have probably put down all the cans, them swept sand into the voids to distribute pressure. It may also have worked to use some sort of a fabric layer/mesh screen (geotextile? hardware cloth?) On top of the cans, and tacked down to wooden rounds on the edges to wooden rounds like Travis suggested.

Thanks for sharing the project! It never would have occurred to me to ue tin cans in a cob floor, and now I really want to try it and make it work :)
2 days ago
I am used to thinking of and classifying soil as a grain size curve, or as percentages of different constituents: boulders, cobbles, gravel, sand, silt, clay. I might break those down into fine/medium/coarse. I can usually guess the grain size curve within 5-10% of the soil test results, so if I was to buy property, I would probably bring a shovel and check the soil. But I don't (other than not all gravel/rocks, and higher organic content is better),know what I should look for.

Obviously, higher organic matter (min 5-10+%) is key to good soil, as are healthy fungal life, etc. But I am curious about the non-soil portions.

Is there an "ideal" or several ideal mixtures of the non organic portions? Is a wide, distributed  grain size curve (well graded/poorly sorted) soil best, or a poorly graded/well sorted -all one size- soil better or ....?

Typical/idealized curves-how I think of soil
3 days ago
Found this all over the edge of my mulched garden. What is it?
4 days ago
Yeah Jen- i agree on the hard water, really hard to use.
I always find rainwater is the best  .... our water is quite hard too (town is on a water well) and not great for plants. At my dads, where the well water is even harder, we used to water the gardens from a sump pump in the river and use rainwater and melt snow in winter for indoor plants- the water is so hard the indoor plants die if they are watered exclusively from the tap!

I use an old fashioned sprinkler, have never shelled out the money for a soaker soaked hose. I put a  can in the garden to make sure I water at least an inch of water, and adjust the tap to only turn it on enough to cover the width of the beds. If there is a drought, I manually water from the hose instead of a sprinkler. I don't worry about getting the leaves wet, but tend to water in the evening.

I plant all my bushes and trees in a divot to catch water, and sometimes plant my main vegetable gardens in shallowly hoed rows to catch water. I see a lot of people who grow things in the top of mounded soil, then water every day but I grew up in drought prone Alberta and dislike watering, so I plant in a divot. I tend to water every 2 or 3 days if it doesnt rain at the beginning of the season, then once a week after that.

I once read a Mother Earth News article that suggested drilling a hole near the top of a rain barrel and inserting a hose with a screen attached to a soaked hose in the hole. The idea was that the soil can usually absorb more water than it gets in a rainstorm, so once the rain barrel filled, any overflow went to the garden. If you have soaker hose, it might be easy enough to put on some sort of a quick connect that would allow you to leave it connected to the rain barrel when not used, then switched to the tap water when you are manually watering? I have never had a garden close enough to the house or down hill from the house to try this with though.
The best article I have found about risk factors is this one... I encourage people to read it and make decisions for themselves.
I have an autoimmune disease, and a few other conditions, as do most of my family members. I am at risk from the regular flu, even with being vaccinated yearly, so the prospect of something currently conservatively calculated to be 20x as deadly, is very worrying.

I have been wearing a mask since early March in public, back when I was almost the only person I saw doing it. The research suggest they provide some limited protection to me but protect others from me. By wearing one, I give myself some slight protection, but also normalize the wearing of them, so others will feel more inclined to wear one, and thus protect ME.

The models I have seen suggest that if we slow the spread, instead of 90-100% of the population catching it, perhaps only 60%-70% catch it. That would be a good outcome to me at this point. This is, of course, assuming there is long term immunity to this thing, and the jury is still out on that.

Risk factors for this disease seem to be, ventilation (a shared building with recirculated air is bad!), duration of time of contact  and also(but less importantly) physical distancing.

I wouldn't attend a church service right now unless it was hosted outdoors with distance spacing, even with masks. I would also not attend if there was singing (my favourite part of a service), as that has been repeatedly shown to be a risk factor. Even standing near someone breathing without masks can be infectious. Dose also seems to matter- so breathing in 100 virus particles from a min of contact seems to cause a less severe infection than 10 000 particles from 100 min of contact. It makes sense that receiving fewer particles over your 100 min of contact because they are filtered by masks would also help. I saw some data that if everyone were homemade masks, it would reduce particles by about 80%. That would bring my hypothetical 10 000 particles for 100 min of contact down to 2 000.

It's looking like this thing has a 1% death rate if it goes through slowly, a 2-5% death rate if it goes through quickly. More concerning to me than dying is the risk of long term lung damage and illness. A friend caught it in March, and is still very ill, slowly recovering. She is in her mid twenties  and normally healthy as a horse, very fit, eats well, etc, etc. People who caught SARS-1, STILL have lung damage from it 10 years later. I cant afford to get lung damage on top of everything else in my life.

I think right now- wearing a mask is not a selfish thing. Its the biggest gesture of "I care about the community" you can make. All the data from the Spanish flu suggests communities where mask wearing was adopted faired far better than those that didnt.
About 1/3 of the people I see in my town are wearing them, and the number is increasing. I think this is a good thing. I have seen only one person touching their face or wearing it improperly. I think the arguement that no one should wear a mask because people cant be trusted to do it right is a bit insulting.

When I see someone wearing a mask, I quietly think - thank you. Thank you for helping make it safer for me and the people I love.

Elle- I dont think the masks need to be elaborate, just keep droplets in. There are tons of simple mask designs online that take a min or two to make, from a sock or a piece of tshirt, that should be plenty comfortable enough for your kids. I like stretchy tshirt fabric for around the ears or head as it's more comfortable. So long as I secure my homemade mask well enough, I genuinely dont notice it's there (except it is a bit hot), no other discomfort at all.  
1 week ago