R. Steele

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since May 31, 2017
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Recent posts by R. Steele

Hello Cori!

From a limited observational perspective, it appears the frass left behind, and chew patterns, would most likely be from some type of catipilar. I would start by looking for larval stage grubs or catipilars hiding on your plants or around the area. Take note of any herbivorous bugs or larvae you find in the search, and hand pick them. Im sure with a little effort, you'll find the most likely culprit.

Hope that helps!
Hello Dee!

I personally wouldn't worry about your trees, and hears why. First off, even self polinating trees can benefit from an addition compatible polinator. With that said, your questions could have a number of any different answers, or a combination of them depending on the exact circumstances.

With limited flowers on any given tree, that limits the oppertunity for pollen to successfully polinate the flowers. Pollen has to still get from the male part which produced the pollen, to the female part where fertilization takes place, and that fertilization needs to be adequate enough to triger fruit development. Maybe the trees at the nursery had more compatible pollen available, more pollinators, less stress, more compatible soil and or nutrition. (Professional growers know what soil and nutrients work, plus they typically water with a timer. Even one missed watering, or the soil getting to dry for the recently bare rooted tree, can cause enough stress for blossom drop at any stage in flowering.) Any number of factors or combination of factors could contribute to no fruit production on given trees, in a given area, or a given season. Other factors either way could be: trees were under some type of stress like transplant stress or dehydration from limited root development or water access; temperatures not inducive to polinators, polination or even inadequate polination from any number of sources like untimely weather or rain. Soil type, nutrition, pH, water availability, microclimates, surrounding habitat, the type of root treatments or soil treatments done by the grower on their trees, and even spacific location can have varying environments and effects on environment that also effect successful pollination and fruit development.

So without details in every relevant factor for scientific comparison between your trees and the nursery trees, and I mean even factors that are seemingly miniscule, unnoticed and insignificant to the layperson. Even a certified arborist specializing in fruit trees, could only make statistically improbably guesses as to whats happening, and thats actually the worst possible thing to do.  Guessing whats wrong with living organisms, is like taking your car to the mechanic, and saying I think something may be wrong, and without any proper testing, they just guess and start replacing parts, untill they by chance replace the right one...lol. Only with plants/trees those wrong guesses dont just coast money, they typically cause increasing stress to the plants. It's essentially how people love their plants to death.

There are to many factors, and not enough information to quantify any conclusive answer besides speculation of probabilities. If your problems persist next year, that would be a good time to look at adequate pollinaton, and solutions. This year I would focus on  healthy soil and soil biome, adequate nutrition and water for maximizing health and growth; then if you don't get pollination next year, you'll be able to quickly figure out if it was weather related, lack of pollinators or lack of compatible pollen. Once you know the exact problem, you can easily and efficiently solve the problem. I personally would match even a self fertile tree, with another flower cycle and pollen compatible tree, which also produces a desirable fruit, since fruit sets are documented to be better under those conditions.

Hope that helps!
4 months ago
Hello Emily!

From my studies the best hunters of ticks, lice and fles are guinea fowl. They will spread out in a line and thoroughly work the grasses hunting for bugs, with attention to the finest details. There acute eye sight lets them hone in on such tiny parasites, and they effectively control those parasite populations.

For hay production, as the previous poster stated, there are good perennial mixes you can buy for warm and cool season growing. Personally though, I would recomend seeding with mixed annual cover crops, in both both a warm and cool season mixes. The mixed annuals will build your soil biome underground, as the massive root development dies back annually, which means massive amounts of carbon added deep into your soil annually. The right mix of annual grasses, grains, sudograins and companion legumes can produce over 6 tons of organic matter per acer per year, and that just the dry cut matter. Its probably over 10 tons if you add in the cool  If your cutting the forage for the garden, that means its most likely once per year, and probably late in the season after the warm season annuals have dropped their seed. Which means all the carbon from the cool growing annual season will go to build your soil biome, by just letting the cool weather crops drop seed before mowing or rolling the plants down onto the soil surface.

Perennials don't die back every year, so they won't add the same degree of carbon deep into the soil biome.

Check out (living web farms) youtube channel, and their video on (mixed annual cover crops). The video is about an hour and a half long, but will tell you everything you need to know. If you need help coming up with warm and cool season annual mixes for your area, just let me know.

Hope that helps!
4 months ago
Hello Nicholas!

Horse manure will help, and hot composting it first will be wise to reduce weed seeds and pathogens. I would suggest windrow composting for horse manure, if you have enough manure, and remember. Horse manure already has the perfect ratio of green to brown for composting, so you can just pile up the manure and maintain your temperature till it cools down.  DIY Gardener channel on YouTube, has a Playlist on windrow composting, if your interested to learn more about that style for bulk compost production.

Hope that helps!
5 months ago
I second that. Just get a soil test, and it will tell you everything you need to do, to have healthy soil : )
5 months ago
Hello Nicholas!

Maybe I saw diffrent examples then you're reffering to, in comparison to your own attempt at chicken tilling. But with that said, I think an important overlooked factor for applying the chicken till methodology, is inderstanding soil types, your particular soil type as you've stated, the given moisture levels, and how those factors will effect that particular soil, as it applies to the effects chickens have, given their customary behaviors. As you've stated you have clay soil, and the chickens have done their job; however, the clay soil combined with the moisture levels, means every scratched up crumb of clay gets packed back down by trampling feet, leaving the soil more packed on the surface then before. Well as any fresh packed clay dries, it's resulting effects, doesn't offer a surface that creates enough seed contact to insure proper germination or root penetration when broadcast seeded, so seeding fails. If you study the examples closly and from my observations with Rhodes, the soil was rich organic matter, that almost regardless of moisture the soil stayed light and fluffy. Wihch means that soil offers better seed contact and root penetration to developing seedlings, without any additional imputs in cultivating. Good exampls of this would be take a wet handful of dirt, and squeeze it fairly hard; then see if it falls apart again. Good organic rich soil that's been scratched up will stay light and fluffy enough, rian and wind help settle the seed in for good contact. The more clay in the soil, the dryer the soil needs to be when the chickens work the till part, in order for the soil the stay in good seeding condition for success broadcast seeding. Even a rain would ruin a perfectly preped clay soil for broadcast seeding, if the job wasn't wetted and rolled after applying the seed. So to sum up that one potentially overlooked factor, would be quantifying the effects any tilling type action has, as it relates to soil moisture levels and soil type, when light compaction is applied.

That's just my take on things. Hope it helps!
5 months ago
Hello Tatiana!

As Anna has said it could be those containers causing the plants to be root bound in the cups, and it sounds like the extra time spent in those containers may have had them root bound before even planting them. Maybe try hers suggestions of gently removing the pot, them replanting, but keep some in the pots for a control group to help identify the exact issue.

It sounds like you had a good soil mix the plants obviously liked originally. So the only other potential issue I can think of to cause that is water quality. Mineral and or hard water salts quickly build up in small containers, and those salts quickly alter pH in addition to potential salt stress and or burn. So if the plants are root bound in the containers and the pH in their little containers is to alkaline, they may just stagnant for unusually long periods of time, untill they can get some roots out of the container and start fresh building root mass.

(FYI) If your not using rain water, I would investigate your water quality to test for TDS PPM, plus make sure there's no water softener system used in any water for plants. Some municipal water processes will even use water softeners. Water softener salts are very bad for plants, but hard water often from wells is usually the culprit. If you have any soil from those containers the plants are struggling in, you could also test the pH, and that will help give you data to further confirm the results of any water testing to see how the potential mineral build up have effected your soil.

You can get TDS (total dissolved solid) meters, that measure PPM (parts per million) for around $15, and pH test kits for around $10. That way in the future you'll know how to approach watering without issues. If water is a contributing factor, and rain catchment isnt an option, a sink side reverse osmosis system will provide you with abundant high quality water for container watering. I got one from APEC for about $300, because it was cheeper for me in the long run, and since water quality is the difference between success and failer especially when growing in containers, it was more cost effective.

Hope that helps!


5 months ago
Hello!

They are probably different breeds, or a mix from different breeds with different traits being expressed, including personality and temperament. This "birds of a feather flock together" attitude, would appear to be in part what creates and maintains diverse species and biological diversity in nature, which insures diversity and the survival of that particular genus or species. If this wasn't the case, wouldn't we all just be one celled organisms, who evolved the same, and looked exactly the same? Where's the biological diversity to insure every species needed to maintain ecological ballence would survive to fill those necessary ecological rolls? A genus will typically play a very important roll in creating environmental ballence to sustain a healthy environment, not to mention have an important roll in holding up the food chain/web.

When we try to domesticate various creatures, those latent genes are still there, which is why to maintain breed standards in absence of natural selection for those traits, culling to maintain breed standards is important even regarding temperament and social interaction. That being said, even birds have a "pecking" order, so maybe you just have a sensitive or unlearned duck regarding appropriate duck edict. I've often observed flocks treating one duck with less regard, but in careful observation, I've never seen it relate to color. Rather it appears more relevant to the individuality of a particular duck like age, size, temperament and personality as the relate to the flock dynamic. Its the same reson why a show judge, doesn't pick some ducks to be 1st or 2nd place winners even when they're all the same color, since temperament, personality and posture can also be major factors. Things could be as simple as, the birds have paired up in two or three member breeding groups, and those established breeding groups don't want that duck to be part of their action. Check out Ostich sociology and family dynamics amongs an established breeding group of ostichs. So this distinction in sociological group perception of a species, and as it relates to breeding and pecking order, is in part how nature naturally selects genetics to survive and evolve. Its just nature at work, and it appears even tribalism is one way nature has worked to create biological diversity, and insure diverse life will survive.

I personally wouldn't read into it, or personalize it. If its a cool duck who has evolved to that level of sensitivity, maybe he needs some human companionship, who will offer him more interspecies compassion, amids a flock of tribalistic fowl. ☺

Hope that helps!
5 months ago
I agree with Bryant Redhawk, clay will be important for holding nutrients in that sand. Clay is scientifically proven to hold unbelievable amounts of nutrients due to its molecular make up, and the way those nutrient compounds and molecules interact with the clay on a molecular and or subatomic level, or at least that was my understanding. The clay will make growing your soil much faster, without the constant hourglass effect on your nutrients. All layers of sand eventually have a bottom, but it will definitely be best to not waist time filling up future oil reservoirs with all your precious carbon.
5 months ago
Hello Nicole!

When Trametis Versicolor, or Turkey Tail mushrooms, have created a fruiting body that abundant, it means the fungal infection is typically wide spread in the supporting structures of the tree. Rot tends to mostly go down, but thats not an absolute. From my experience the pith of your tree in a substantial part of its main scaffolding branches, down to the lower part of the trunk will be compromised by fungal rot. Trees can still grow and produce with these conditions for countless years depending on the fungus species, scion graft, and variety of rootstock. If its not a hazard to anything or anyone, there's no reason to be alarmed. Give the tree proper care, and judge it by its production, viable polinators present of course. If your concerened about the rot for any reason, like its a big tree with the potential to cause property damage or physical harm, have a qualified Arborist perform an inspection and or ultrasound if needed to determine the extent of any potential hazard. 

It can very from state to state, so depending on the laws in your state, if a qualified Arborist in hazard assessment, gives you the inspection and determines its a hazard tree. Once you've been duly informed by the appropriate measures, you may be liable for any damades that occure as a result of that tree, if the hazard isn't addressed, by removal of the hazard.

Also harvest the heck out of those turkey tails while you can! They are typically used for making medical tea, as they are a great source of many healthy compunds for boosting the immune system, to say the least!

Hope that helps!
5 months ago