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Eric Hanson

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since May 03, 2017
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Recent posts by Eric Hanson


I have 6 comfrey plants that are quite healthy.  I occasionally fertilize them with urine and they are growing like mad.  I need to cut them down as they are starting to bud out.

At this point, my garden is nicely fertile, but earlier this spring some of my new wood chip garden beds still needed some extra fertility.  I did add comfrey via chop & drop but that was not exactly a quick fertility boost.  At the time I wished I had comfrey extract/tea to spray on my newly emerging veggies.  A goal I have for next year is to need no fertilizer of any kind that does not originate from my own land.  

With this in mind I did think about the merits of comfrey tea, but from what I have read, comfrey tea takes some time to brew up, and as I needed this in early spring I did not have time to either grow it or brew it.  I was thinking that for next year I could brew some in advance and let it sit over winter.  However I am afraid that letting it sit for months would give my s moldy, anaerobic mess.  Does anyone know of a way to prepare comfrey tea in advance or is there a better way to utilize comfrey early in the season?  I will/am applying cut comfrey to my beds check d a regular basis, but if there is a better approach, I would love to hear.

Thanks in advance,

2 hours ago
R ranson,

Sounds to me like you are really looking at a more serious camera and not a low end one.  If 20mp is the very bottom level for what will suffice for you then this might well rule out many/most used cameras.

But just for comparison purposes, back in 2003 I bought my first ever digital camera (not a DSLR).  It was a paltry 3mp model, but that was considered sufficient for printing an 8x10 image on photo quality paper with no pixelation.  I have an 8x10 hanging on my wall taken with that 3mp camera and it is as good an image as one can find.  I am not certain what the size of a calendar image is in relation to an 8x10, but I would think that tripling or quadrupling that 3mp would be sufficient.  20mp sounds like overkill to me but the camera I spec’d for you had 24mp which should make for a really big, beautiful picture.  And that camera with a case and two lenses was only around $500USD.

You are not buying right now and I understand that.  You are not going into debt and I completely respect that ethic.  I am not trying to push you into buying something you don’t want.  But given your budget concerns and timeline for purchases, I think you can buy an excellent camera for far under the $1400 you mentioned earlier.

Again, I really am not wanting to sound pushy (and I hope I don’t get flagged for overusing the word “you” too much), I just would not want you to spend more money than you need.

Actually I am glad I found this thread.  I am something of a shutterbug and love photography.  Personally I love sunrises and sunsets.  I love talking photography specifics.  I really hope that this helps you out and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

1 day ago
R ranson,

I am just curious here, but I am wondering why all the concern about 20 megapixels.  I have had my DSLR for about a decade and love using it with photoshop and Lightroom, but my 12mp have been more than adequate, almost excessive.  Again, in my experience the lens is much more important than extremely high megapixel ratings.

And again, just as a question, you stated that you were looking at something in the professional category.  Could you explain to me what a professional camera is to you?  What ratings or features would you need?

The camera that I looked up for you would have 24mp.  Would that not be sufficient?  Is there something specific about that camera that did not meet your requirements?  I hope you don’t take this as sarcastic, but I was thinking that camera with two lenses for about $500 met your requirements while being just a bit more more than a third of your price limit.

Again, I truly am not trying to be rude, but as I understand you at present have no DSLR but are wanting to expand into one for sort of prosumer reasons.  To me, the miracle of the DSLR is that you can swap out lenses.  I personally find that one can have excellent photography with even 5mp and today’s cameras are vastly better rated than that.

I am just trying to get a grasp of what your particular needs/requirements are.  I am fairly experienced in photography & DSLR’s and my experience is that anything over 10mp is really just a luxury, but if your requirements are different, I am just curious as to why.

I hope you understand the thrust of my question,

1 day ago

Sorry, but I forgot one important point.  

Regarding ditches, if you don’t feel comfortable on them, you might not want to do them.  However, if you do intend to mow them, I will once again echo some of Travis’ advice and caution against mowing sideways on a slope.  

Sometimes I have had steep slopes to mow and I mow them by mowing perpendicular to the slope, not parallel.  I will mow forwards and back, just barely moving side-to-side at all.  This takes time, but you are absolutely right, ditches can be scary and dangerous.  They don’t even have to be very deep if they are steep in order to be dangerous.  I generally tackle these by gently and carefully backing my rough cutter into the unmowed area and drive forward.  This sometimes takes careful control over the mower and loader but is the safest approach.

Again, good luck mowing,

1 day ago

Travis’ advice is dead on here.  In a perfect world I would say that you should widen your tires, but this probably is not an option for you.  Some tractors have rear axel extensions that widen the wheel base.  If this is an option for you it might be worth considering.  BTW, what tractor do you have and how is it set up?  Do you have a loader?  Do you have ag, turf or industrial tires?  How much hp do you have?  These pieces of information can be helpful.

Regarding the front axel, most every tractor I have ever seen has an axel that pivots about a center point.  As an example of this in action, if the tractor is merrily going straight over flat land but hits a pothole on the right front tire, the front axel will pivot down on the right side so that all 4 tires maintain contact with the ground.  Alternatively, if the right tire hit a bump the axel would pivot up on the right side.  Without this feature, any time you hit a bump, dip, or any uneven patch of ground, the tractor would lose ground contact with at least one tire and possibly even two tires.  The front axel almost acts like a sort of suspension for the front of the tractor.

I just want to reiterate what Travis said about properly weighting the tractor.  Whenever I operate my tractor on even marginal side slopes (say 10 degrees or so), I always lower my loader as far as possible, sometimes just barely clearing the ground.  On occasion I have been known to put some weight in the bucket (not on top of) to get some extra weight as close to the ground as possible.  The weight should be as close to the ground as possible, but especially try to get the weight at or below the level of the axel.  I asked earlier what type of tractor you have partially for this reason.  If you have a subcompact tractor it will likely have a low center of gravity, but those small front tires can give a bumpy ride over uneven ground.  Generally, the larger the tire, the smoother the ride over uneven ground.

Last question.  Does your tractor have a ROPS (roll bar) and seat belt?  In my opinion, a tractor without a ROPS is inherently dangerous on slopes, and a seatbelt can be a literal lifesaver.

Pearl, I have spoken a lot here.  I love my tractor time and always look forward to more, but they must be handled with care and skill.  Care you can manage immediately, skill only comes with practice.  Your caution is well warranted, but I am certain with time you will master its use.

Good luck and safe mowing,

1 day ago

I just did a quick google search and found a canon eos t7 rebel with two lenses and a case for $500 USD.  This has 24 megapixels (which I think is staggering, almost ridiculous.  I mean just how many megapixels does anyone possibly need, but that is just me).  The lenses are 18-55, and 75-300 which is a great wide angle/telephoto combination.  I know that you are not buying right now, I am just looking for an option for you that costs less than $1400.  

Again, just my thoughts,

1 day ago
R ranson,

It has been a while since I went looking for a DSLR, and I only just heard about mirrorless cameras, but I would think that you could get a very good DSLR for much less than $1k.  Don’t get caught up in megapixels as the very fewest available are likely to be more than you will ever actually need.  I bought a canon xsi with 12 megapixels many years ago (earlier than 2010).  

More important is the lense.  Mine came with a zoom lens 18-135 which has proven to be a great all-around lens good for decent wide angle while still retaining a respectable telephoto capability.  I have from time to time thought about getting a different lense (I have considered both wider angle and better telephoto options) but the original is so good that I never really care.

Today’s worst DSLR’s have far better specs and features than my DSLR, but I love mine and have no desire to replace it.  If money is as serious a restriction as you indicate, and if you are set on Canon (and why not canon?  They made the original DSLR and still make great cameras) I would go with the lowest model canon DSLR I could find.

These are just my thoughts and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

1 day ago
Ok, lots of great advice here.  For what it’s worth, I can grow summer squash with no problems whatsoever.  I get no bugs, mildew, or pests of any kind.  For whatever reason the nasties only seem to be attracted to the winter varieties, even when they grow side by side.

I will try planting winter squash surrounded by something more repulsive to the bugs and plant them far enough apart that they get better airflow.

In the past I have grown eggplant and they seemed to attract every possible pest from miles around.  Perhaps I could plant these as a sacrificial crop and burn them once they get infected—sort of a bait for a trap?

Thanks and if my plans are wholly off, please let me know.


I actually did not get that many wine caps for the simple reason that they grew so fast that I had a hard time harvesting them before they became absolutely huge and rather unpalatable.  The mushrooms I did harvest tasted somewhat like a portobello but a bit nuttier/woodier.  I only snacked on fresh picked mushrooms, but I would think they would be better sautéed, or maybe in an omelette.  I will try cooking them the next time they flush.

Regarding your battles with wild blackberries, I can identify with you again.  I have about 600’ of wild raspberries and while their taste is unmatched, their thorns are absolutely wicked!  I, too have gone out looking for a wild snack and come back with scratched up arms.

I don’t know if you have access to one, but my experience is that the best tool for maintaining a wild trail is a flail mower.  These can chew through the heaviest vegetation and leave it looking like a fine carpet better than a dedicated finish mower.  They are a bit rare, but in my mind nothing beats them.

4 days ago
Hello everyone,

So in my pre Permies days I used to try growing winter squash, but only with great difficulty.  Even in my pre-Permies days I was skittish about using any pesticides, and by now I am especially pleased I basically boycotted them from the beginning (I tried neem and insecticidal soap, but with limited success).  However, I did have real troubles with winter squash and I would like to try again with maybe some help from here.

So the basic problems I had boiled down to two causes that I never resolved.  I tried growing both pumpkins and butternut & acorn squash.  The pumpkins grew a nice vine, and several flowers eventually grew little pumpkins (perhaps 1 pound of an expected 25) before they succumbed to squash bugs.  The other squashes never even fruited before wilting away thanks to (I think) powdery mildew.  Eventually all the winter squash plants turned yellow and died young.

I spoke to a neighbor who grows winter squash.  He told me he uses a special seed that comes pre-treated with an insecticide and fungicide and that he plants using rubber gloves because he does not want to even touch the seed itself.  Needless to say I am not going that route!  He further told me that was the only way to successfully grow winter squash in the area.

As I said before, I would like to try again, and have been told that using organic methods will make for a healthier plant resistant to disease and predators.  Is this true, and if so, how do I do this.  I am growing in active mushroom compost and my summer squash is healthier than ever.  I really hope this translates into healthy winter squash but would love to know what I need to do.

Thanks in advance,