Benjamin Dees

+ Follow
since May 09, 2017
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand First Scavenger Hunt

Recent posts by Benjamin Dees

I am in zone 7b.  If you are just starting out, you absolutely must work on your soil, especially in hot climates.  Nothing will grow otherwise, because all the carbon is gone from your soil and it's probably compacted so your plant roots don't penetrate and water doesn't percolate into the ground and isn't retained.  If you're in a really terrible climate like me, you probably have a mixture of sand and clay and nothing else.  Don't even bother with fertilizers and soil tests.  If you're in the South, your number one problem is water stress caused by compacted soil and lack of carbon.

There are several options to improve things.  One of the best is manure -- I use chicken manure or some kind of compost from chicken manure.  But you can probably find horse manure more easily.  Don't be overly concerned about insects and weeds and such.  You can worry about that later on.  And don't worry about using too much.  But do scrutinize the source and ask about any use of antibiotics or medications.  Sometimes you might not even need to do anything else but dump it on and wait.  But usually the other thing you need to do is dig up and turn over the soil, removing any large rocks and weeds.  You don't have to go overboard.  Just the depth of a shovel is enough to get started.

Those two things will help your soil to begin retaining more water, sustaining beneficial critters and improving itself.  Do them at least a few weeks before planting, or in the previous season.
A 50 gpm pump may be overkill unless you have a fairly substantial creek and/or pond.  Obviously you do.

I just use a 3.2 gpm Flojet Quad with an inlet filter.  It's a diaphragm pump, so muddy water doesn't bother it.

If I decided to irrigate a large area, I might have to look for an upgrade.  But it suits my purposes, for now.
2 years ago
Frogs!  They don't need much room.  When they get too big, they hop away to go eat bugs in your garden.  Otherwise, the tadpoles will obviously reach a balance with whatever plants are available to eat.  Throw in some duckweed until everything gets established.
2 years ago
A pond of appropriate size doesn't require any power, if your oxygen exchange area is large enough.  Might not even need to be very deep, depending on your climate.  According to my Googling, a fully-grown tilapia needs about 15 square feet of surface area in an un-aerated pond.

So, you have three ponds, all at approximately the same elevation and depth.  Two for duckweed.  One for fish.  The fish pond is covered, and the rainwater from this cover is directed into the other two.

When it's time to do a water change, you siphon water out of the first duckweed pond, to a certain level, and throw it away.  Then you siphon water out of the fish pond and into the first duckweed pond.  Then you siphon water out of the second duckweed pond and into the fish pond.  And finally you siphon water out of the second duckweed pond and into the first duckweed pond.

Then the duckweed ponds get filled up with rain before the next water change.

These are example water levels, showing how they change at each step:


2 years ago
Thanks to whomever mentioned giant ragweed.  I have a patch of the stuff near my garden and have been trying to figure out how to propagate it, because I think it would make a nice biomass alternative to miscanthus.  Now I'm guessing it has something to do with the chickens.    

My chickens don't like acorns.  I was surprised to see that mentioned.  Even if I crush the soaked ones and try to feed them manually, they refuse.

They do eat grass seeds, and LOVE mulberries (for the few weeks of the year there are any).  They seem to like duckweed, but it's not perennial here (zone 7) and I have to harvest it manually.  It would be perennial in a slightly warmer climate.

There are a lot of cockroaches in my compost, and around the chicken house.  Maybe they eat those.  It would be interesting to try to trap them as chicken feed.  More interesting would be a trap that the chickens can open at will, when they want a snack.
2 years ago
Fiskars 2-gallon is the best I've used.  It's well-balanced, doesn't come apart, and has a decent spray pattern.
2 years ago
Awesome.  I built one like this a few years back.  Quickly learned that threaded fittings are worthless.  But it does work, as long as you don't hit any rocks.

Unfortunately I am surrounded by a thick layer of sandstone.  I tried everything, including all of the augers like you have, and custom chisel bits for an electric jackhammer.  Managed to get a few holes that were 6-10' deep.  But it wasn't worthwhile.  I would suggest piecing together a small-diameter drilling rig with carbide-tipped bits, for anyone who expects to actually go through rocks.
2 years ago