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J.T. St Pe

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since Jan 20, 2017
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Recent posts by J.T. St Pe

The emergence of mushrooms is due to an overabundance of a particular strain of fungi... The mushrooms are nature's way of putting them into "Cold Storage"... An active, healthy compost pile will have a multitude of fungal hyphae (most beneficials are whitish hair-like strands) that can range from single strands to very intricate web-like structures,,, without the emergence of mushrooms.. mushrooms signal the sporation and shut down of the fungi...
1 year ago
Adding grasses & such will increase the bacteria content of your pile...(they are primarily bacterial foods)  adding the fungal traces from the hardwoods will also help the pile... Diversity in species is a good thing, but the fungi that digest hardwoods are not the same as those that feed on soft woods... Adding any & all types of mushrooms you can locate into the pile is a good thing...also the addition of natural minerals ( such as crushed rock, egg shell or mined minerals) is also a good thing... oat or rice flour & such are also good bacterial foods...
*GOOD* compost contains a multitude of bacterial & fungal species, lots of mineralization, as well as a diverse mingaling of preditory nematodes & other micro orthopods... The greater the number & diversity of beneficial species the less likely pathogenic species will thrive...
1 year ago
Just moved back to the mountains after 35+ years in Texas... Looking to start a rabbitry... Can any of the locals tell me what breeds are more common in this area & which are less so??? Also looking for a reputable local source...
1 year ago

Kerry Rodgers wrote:Hi Steve,
Congrats on the book coming out!

I live in the suburbs of North Texas, in sandy-clay loam soil (locally called Cross Timbers soil) where the climax species is post oak (Q stellata).  My half-acre lot is still about 1/3 covered with regrowth oak canopy, and I'd like to grow forest edibles and medicinals there--ginseng, goldenseal, black currant, etc.  Unfortunately, the previous owner was removing all the leaves and putting out chemicals to try to grow a lawn.  The soil is very depleted.  I'm trying to grow some cover crops, put out some mulches, make some compost, but without much of a plan.

How should I best rehab my soil under the oaks to make them healthy and establish a productive understory? What would be some support-species plants for this situation?   (Zone 7b.  30" annual rainfall. hot, dry summers)





I worked the last 18 years at repairing soils all over the state of TX... Taking tired, chemically "nuked", seriously abused dirt and transformed it into vibrant nutrient dense water retaining soil... Some instances taking as much as five years but most often within two or three and often as little as one... The most cost-effective way that I have found outside of just letting nature run its course was through addition of microbiology via liquid compost extracts as well as additional organic matter... The current Texas expert on the subject is Betsy Ross at Sustainable Gowth Texas...
1 year ago

This leads me to issue #4 which is my hard, dense clay.  While I know that clay soil does have some advantageous properties, mine has a habit of changing from a gooey, sticky mess in early spring (can't cultivate) to brick-hard clay in summer heat (almost impossible to grow through it).  In fact, I recently posted on another thread started by someone who apparently has clay soil as difficult to work as mine.

Ultimately, my goal is to get a BUNCH of carbon in the soil where it belongs.  I did my master's research partly on the history of energy, and this inevitably runs through studies on agriculture.  Among my findings was a nifty little side note to energy but a potentially tremendous boon to gardeners (and farmers).  A 1% increase in soil carbon (in just about any form) yields upwards of a 25% increase in soil fertility--especially in carbon--poor soils.  As I said earlier, I am a tad impatient and I want to find a way to get all that carbon into my soil as best as possible.  In my humble opinion, that means turning the carbonaceous material into soil ASAP.  This is the reason that I want to add a bunch of nitrogen to the chips ASAP, let bacteria do their thing, and incorporate the final product into the soil sooner rather than later.  I am thrilled at the thought of using chicken bedding--nitrogen rich and teaming with micro organisms all ready to do their part.

This is also the reason I am not opposed to using existing 10-10-10.  Though I know that 10-10-10 is not a green fertilizer, it is taking up space in my garage and this seems like an ideal way to get rid of it.  don't apply it to soil, apply it to carbon where the micro organisms can use it to do their part to turn it to soil.  While I know that the 10-10-10 is not exactly green, would it do any harm to the composting wood chips (and hamster bedding which I am getting a nice supply of thanks to my daughter, and paper clippings I have in virtually unlimited supply thanks to my line of work (teacher)?  Please note:  I am not going out of my way to get the 10-10-10, I am using what I already purchased prior to discovering this site and trying to go down a more permie path.

I do intend to use the soil contact and worm action to help get things going.  These are the types of information I glean from using this site and I thank all those who have offered it to me freely.  If this sounds like a rant, it was not intended as such.  I simply love having the exchange of ideas that I get on this site so thank you very much for both reading and contributing.

Eric



I spent the last 18 years working with soil biology to improve rangeland as well as restore native prairies and reforestation all across the state of Texas... The sticky gummy then hard as a rock clay soils I have found result from a calcium magnesium imbalance... Fortunately, that could be mitigated by adding organic matter and increasing soil biology... When you can take a three foot long 3/8 rod and mash it into the ground to the hilt just by leaning on it in black gumbo clay in the middle of August in the Heart of Texas,,, you got to be doing something right.. a well-balanced static compost plus the wood chips integrated into the soil will go a long ways towards improving your clay...
1 year ago
the tank I have is 1600 gallons (about 14' long cylinder around 7' diameter){about 6 1/2 tons of thermal mass}  welding up a water tight system is not a problem ( I tig weld) ... I would foam much of  the outside of the water tank to help maintain heat so once heated it should not require a lot to keep the temp up...
2 years ago
I am soon to be (retiring in May) moving back to Montana. Just bought 450 acres of mountain property about 35 miles out of Missoula. I will be building a monolithic dome home which is bacicly a concrete heat sink inside of polyurethane foam insulation...Typically I have built them with 4" of foam & 4-6" of concrete... the one I plan for mh home will have 6" foam & 6-8" concrete, it will also be about 3/4 underground. I intend to plumb the floor for radiant heating.. my question is has anyone used water for the thermal mass in their Rocket Mass Heater? I will have a green house next to the dome that will house the Heater. I have a 1600 gallon stainless tank that is about a 14' long cylinder. thinking I run a 6" stainless pipie with one end slightly sloping up from the bottm of the bell, a slight rise in the pipe goint towards rear of the tank then the U-bend with a slight rise back the length of the tank & out a stack...with coils inside the tank but outside of the Heater piping and will run through the slab of the house. Water in the tank would not go into the slab, only used as thermal mass... it will not be a closed tank so pressure from thetmal expansion is not an issue... would have a float valve on a supply line so evaporation will not be an issue.. has anything like this been done??? is it feasible?? am I nutz?
2 years ago