J Grouwstra

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since Dec 24, 2017
Fryslân, Netherlands
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Recent posts by J Grouwstra

I found a frog in my room on a morning a few weeks ago. All night I had been hearing something, but I didn't know what.

The previous day I had been hosing my garden, which is something I don't do often but we had had a very dry spell. The outside door I had left open for a spell, because the hose pipe went through it. Then it finally started to rain, and I also liked the door open to enjoy the rain.
I guess I wasn't the only one liking the rain; there was a loud frog concert that evening, and some creatures will have jumped places where they didn't jump before.
So I found this one in a flower pot, next to a baby squash I was growing. I carried it back to the waterside - still seemed to me a better place for it.
The frogs in the previous pictures took me slightly less time to find!

5 days ago
I'm getting closer to learning more about my Szechuan pepper tree. The season starts late for this species, and it looked first like there still wouldn't be any bloom this year:

But if I'm taking a very hard look:

That was not easy to spot! I assume it'll continue development and get bigger. The nursery where I got the tree is assuring me it's self-pollinating, so could I get some pepper this year?
4 weeks ago
I believe the topic starter was in good faith drawing our attention to this anecdote, but in my experience people often draw the wrong conclusion out of this example. They say, "Don't save your own seeds, just buy a package, it doesn't cost much, so why risk your health?" It's probably the right conclusion for people staying on the amateur side of amateur gardening, but as soon as you start to devote a little more attention to it, you'll discover it's not so hard to train yourself in identifying the risks. You'll learn about F1, and which varieties can cross and which not, for one.
As your overall awareness of the food you eat goes up, your health will benefit.

A relative of mine, still a young man, was diagnosed with cancer a while ago. It didn't look good. He was given the prospect of a long road of chemical treatments, lasting at least year or more. But after only two months into the treatment a scan couldn't reveal any cancer cells anymore. The doctors were amazed, as they never had anyone before where the cancer had disappeared so quickly. They didn't know whether to continue with the chemical treatment or not, and left this decision to the patient. No more treatment was asked for, and the cancer hasn't returned.
This family is very serious about food health, certainly much more serious than I am, but I have no doubt their high awareness of food has helped ward off the cancer. They actually don't grow their own food, but seem to know a lot about the science.

For a healthy body, belonging to a person taking a lot of exercise, it may not make a lot of difference what you eat. You can eat junk and you won't notice. A young man may be able to swallow ten tins of beer and be fine.
But if a body is weak, then it becomes important that you take food with a high nutritional value, to regain strength. If you need to fight off illness, you better eat good food.

My concern with an advice like 'gardeners shouldn't save their own seed' is that we've lost already too much of the link we once had to our own food, and we should restore it. There's a lot to gain by knowing what you eat, and it's easy to see this can save lives.
Oh, it's not all new friends who appear in spring, also making their appearance are new, vicious enemies. Beware!!!

They may be starting out cute, and looking harmless, like this one here, on March 14:

Still looking kind of innocent on March 28:

But then, as they grow older, the danger starts to become more apparent, like today, April 15:

We need to watch our plants! A couple of young hares grew up in my garden, every time I'm watering my plants I seem to be spraying on one, or both.
I guess they'll soon develop the notion that humans are creatures to be aware of, and will choose the wide meadow field instead of cosying up in my garden.
2 months ago
That's actually just as good a description, in my view.
3 months ago
In practical terms, I can't figure out what is permaculture and what is not from most of above descriptions.

There's a production garden not too far away from here, they call themselves permaculture and they give permaculture courses. But everything on their gardens is bought from elsewhere as small plants; not a single bean or other seed they've put in the ground themselves.  They do this mainly because we're in the north here, and if they import from a more southern region they can start selling about a month earlier.
So that makes sense, but my personal idea of permaculture is at odds with an ongoing and full reliance on import material. To try manage your own propagation is for me a cornerstone of it; without that there's not much of a self-sustaining system.
So that's the trouble I'm having with descriptions like 'our design principles are inspired by nature' and such.  
3 months ago
One year is different from another year. This is the maritime street where I live, picture from last year February 27. A cold month of March was to follow:

This is this year, March 7, same place, looking from the opposite direction (so now also people on this forum get a better idea of these Friesian surroundings):

Honeyberries are very susceptible to how the late winter is in places that are south of what they're used to. Last year, here the cold month of March put a hold on the development of their buds, and only late April flowering started. This year... February saw the first lapwing eggs being found! Never before has this happened in February; the first lapwing eggs in The Netherlands were found here in the north, in Fryslân.

And also my first honeyberry started to flower in February:

That's Indigo Gem, which is not a variety I would recommend in a climate zone relatively warm to haskap. I haven't even spotted bees yet.

Duet is also quite early; pictured today (March 7, 2019):

This Aurora is still very small, also today:

When they get older and have grown a bit higher, they should start to develop a bit later. Anything that's more exposed develops later.
This picture of the Beauty shows that quite well; development is first in the lowest branches:

My Beast grew best and all branches shot up straight away, and now there little budding out there yet.

Growth habit is probably something to take into account if you happen in a relatively warm area; some varieties grow taller than others, and the ones that remain a bit smaller should experience more problems with premature flowering. And if you have plants that are still young and they bud out early; it might sort itself out over the years as they grow bigger and taller.  
3 months ago
Iron occurs naturally in plants, and they do benefit of some iron being present in the soil. Mostly there's enough of it, especially in sandy soil.
There might be a shortage of it in clay with a high pH value.

I would still not be crazy about nails or other iron objects in the soil, but I see no reason to worry about an occasional rusty nail.
The wood in the picture does look treated, yes, and you would expect that if it was part of a shed. I wouldn't want to use it for that reason.
3 months ago
Today I saw the first Butterburs (Petasites hybrides) appearing, here on the waterside, between the still dormant reeds. 18 Februari, I think that's early.

3 months ago