Mary Beth Alexander

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since Oct 13, 2017
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fungi pig solar
My son bought this "farm" in June 2017. His father is there with him, and soon I will be moving up from FL. This is their old "stomping grounds", and I did live there in the early '70's.
This property has not been "farmed" for at least 10 years, though it was a small beef operation for many years - has about 60 acres of unkempt pasture, some woods, and a small year-round stream that flows into the Black River.
The land is level, but gradually sloping to the North.
He is busy re-habbing the house - some costly surprises there, of course. Has the solar batteries on-line and working, but the panel array was stalled by too much rain to install the concrete posts - same with floor for pole barn. Much has been accomplished in October, and all concrete should be completed by Halloween.
I am an accomplished gardener - there is a very large old plot - but he didn't have time to amend it in any way, and I've never gardened in zone 4!
He has begun to pull small trees from the pasture, but we also plan to rotational-graze pigs next year to do a lot of pasture-improvement for us. We are not planning on a beef or dairy operation, except for personal use.
Very interested in top-bar bee hives; market-gardening; mushrooms for sale; dual-purpose chickens - selling meat, not eggs; pigs and turkeys for sale; brewing - he's experienced - and hops cultivation for sale; hoop-house/greenhouse; fruit trees; grapes.
PERMACULTURE is our chosen way to go!
Douglas County, WI zone 4a 105 acres
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Recent posts by Mary Beth Alexander

UPDATE/EDIT ...  Thanks to Admin for APPLE!
Made 8 more sheets tonight in 60 mins. Forgot to mention to put seeds on a white china saucer for ease in seeing/picking. I also made sure to "poke" each seed into the flour glue - used the handle of the plastic spoon - didn't get sticky. You might want to think about "diamond" spacing rather than all on the square.
Will definitely post my hopeful success!
1 month ago
Happy Cinco de Mayo to all! I've been "gardening" while having a libation, LOL.

First time trying this, but MANY You-tubes if you want to check. I downloaded dot/grid from someplace like this link: and then printed them in bold.
Laid over my "recycled-paper" paper towels and copied the dots while watching TV.  Surprised to find out that towels were "2-ply" so I got double bang for buck when marks came thru both plys. Pretty easy to separate plys.

Used 1-1 flour/water and a little paintbrush as the glue - afraid that Elmer's would inhibit sprouting, though many say it's fine.
"Planted" a little closely - plan to thin/harvest baby lettuces, carrots, etc, PLUS you overcome any poor germination.

Using my already prepared/marked plys - I got 7 done/"planted" in an hour here at my desk! Tiny seeds of lettuce, carrots, etc. My fingernails worked fine to pick up even the smallest, but you could use tweezers or a slotted plastic spoon.  I used Sharpie to write on each "page" - divide a page - you can cut them up for better spacing when you actually plant on your soil!

I was worried that flour/water "glue" would encourage sprouting, but nobody mentioned that, and these were all dry within 30 minutes. First time to include photo ...
Wishing all of us the best for 2019!!

1 month ago
Welcome, Gary. In your pretty warm climate, you'd probably get best and safest results by layering Winter bedding/coop-cleanout with LOTS high-carbon input like Fall leaves, spoiled hay, paper/cardboard shreds, etc. into a 2-bin pallet system. Flip it one side to the other once a month and make sure it's damp but not soggy. Four months should be plenty, then you can use it for Fall planting. Add some worms early on - a couple little cups of bait worms will work wonders.
Most advice is 90 days from fresh manure to be added to EDIBLE plants. Best of luck!
1 month ago
Lots of good advice here - wish I would've checked before starting from a different blog post. Never did this before - 2 more months before they will be planted into black grow bags in Zone 4.
* Started halves of store-bought potatoes with the tooth-pick in water situation
* Took a while, but now I've got lots of little sprouts/slips from eyes ABOVE the water
* Last week I noticed that all the "halves" have roots from their bottom edge in the water - no "slips" attached - NO roots coming out from the slips above the water
This is completely not what I was expecting from the blog tutorial, nor what I've read in this discussion!
My thoughts: Can I do some surgery to excise a little of the flesh around the slip base and then hang that unit in water to grow roots? FYI, I'm using distilled water.
It might be possible to cut slices from the slips all the way down to and include the roots, but am feeling this wouldn't be successful.
I've read that placing a whole tuber in the ground lessens the production - can I do that in a pot and then cut them apart for final planting?
This is my first adventure of gardening in the Northland - so much to learn - know that sweet potatoes will be a challenge, but we love them.
THANKS so much for advice and wishing best to all.

Nice to "meet" you, Alex - wish I was 19 again! I've visited your lovely Finland - seems that people there are very in touch with nature/land. Sending you encouragement and best wishes  in your quest.
2 months ago
So sorry to hear of the sudden loss of your brother, Trace. Please take care of yourself as others have suggested. Let yourself feel your feelings, even if there is some guilt or anger (common), but try not to dwell on those. Allow yourself to cry as much as you need, and think of the good times and the positives of your brother's life/legacy. Talk and share with others - proud of you that you did that here. Grief support groups are common in every locale at no cost. If you are affiliated with a church or religion, clergy are well-trained to help you with sudden loss. It's going to be a process, and the only thing you can "do" is take your time to get thru it in a healthy way. Sending support and best wishes, MB.
3 months ago
WOW! Christopher! Such good info and details - just the kind of multi-faceted system I want to have. Glad to read about amaranth - been looking for real experience with that.
What is that picture you posted?
3 months ago
Searched threads before posting - no luck - sorry if this has been addressed elsewhere.
Zone 3b/4, N Wisconsin, clay soil, long days, kinda windy, reliable rain/can irrigate, 85 days or less, smallish patch for my first try.

Probably can amend the clay a little bit this first garden year. Depending on my timing and workload, I may start seeds in toilet-paper tubes to transplant, since I know they have a long taproot.
Reliable OP is sorta preferred for the "long-run" - no corn nearby. But, mostly, I LOVE sweet corn and want to have some in my first WI garden!

Very grateful for any advice on varieties and/or cultivation practices.  Best regards, MBA

Thanks, "neighbor" Mike Jay! You know, I follow you here - maybe I can accept your invite to visit on my way up from FL - will keep in touch. Regards, MBA
The house will be far from done when I move May 1; the ground is nasty clay in the process of being improved - not ready yet; we've got voles, rabbits, deer, etc. and no permanent fence yet - maybe by the end of the summer.

Soooo, this is my crazy plan.
We have an old metal barn door about 12 x12 - got bracing -will add more.
Gonna whip up some cheap saw-horses to hold the door up and make a relatively flat platform.
Unlimited access to boxes 8" deep, 12" wide, 15 " long - heavy-weight/double-wall - used for soft-serve ice-cream mix bags. I'm using them for my packing - perfect for my fabric hoard!
Put boxes on platform - double row around perimeter of platform, fill with half store-bought potting soil and half  "black dirt": farmer sells mix of well-rotted manure+sand. Excellent - used it for fruit trees last year.
Drip irrigation set-up.
Surround all garden area with makeshift chicken wire/whatever to temporarily keep out critters.

Planting in BOXES: greens, lettuce, beets, brassicas, peas, pest-control flowers, and beans.
               DIY BAGS on the ground: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra. I'm talking "grow bags"  I can sew from landscape cloth or VivoSun bags from Amazon.
               ROUND BALES(3-yr-old rotting): squash, cukes - vines trailing down.
               LASAGNA BEDS(1-yr-old): potatoes, maybe sweet corn.

Labor is going to be in short supply, since I'm 67 and my son and "EX" will be working on finishing the house + other projects. We will have to get the tractor in there to work on building more lasagna, improving the clay, and installing fence. I'm not a beginner, but only have experience in Zone 7. I'm basically wondering if these double-layer corrugated boxes might completely fall apart, even if they were jammed all tight together AND if planting in a cardboard box would have the same drawbacks as a plastic container/pot. I'm thinking I could easily wrap poly "deer-fence" strips around the perimeter of the box rows to help stabilize the cardboard.
I know this community is busy planning for their own 2019 season, so I'm VERY grateful to you all for reading this and for ANY thoughts/advice/experience. Best wishes for a happy and productive 2019!