J Grouwstra

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

Don't beat me up for it, but there is a tab called 'Pie-only preferences'. This means there are options for people who have been given some pie that aren't there for people who haven't.

I just turned off the woodwork, to see if it worked, and it works; you get a bland brown colour in return.
Personally I'm someone who shrugs his shoulders over all of this, I mean the pie as well as the looks of the site, I didn't even notice a change between 'old view' and 'new view', but what you're looking for is probably a slice of pie away.
Varoufakis' trade is economics, and I don't know whether he has the best answer on where to go know, but I believe there's consensus among economics people about what has gone wrong.
The purpose of this thread may have been to look at private persons of which some are working and others are not, and okay, we can look at that, but for finding out what really hurts us we're better off listening to what people who have studied economics can tell us.

Here's another economics professor, called Mark Blyth, also with an accent, a Scottish central belt accent here, but this is a video with subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGvZil0qWPg.
As for Varoufakis, he's also the co-founder of a movement called DiEM25 (Democracy in Europe Movementent 2025), and on their site you'll find info in text. I haven't read the manifesto or anything, but you'll probably find a lot of Varoufakis' ideas there without the thick Greek accent: https://diem25.org/.
2 months ago
I wasn't going to participate in this discussion, but I believe this speech of an economics professor and former minister of finance of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, offers some excellent insights regarding our system of taxation and welfare and why it's not working anymore. I believe it's fair to say it's not working anymore, just look at the protests in France of the so-called 'yellow vests'. The yellow vests are mostly ordinary working class people outside of the main urban centers for whom life has become too expensive; they've seen taxes go up and up, while services in their provincial towns and rural areas have been stripped. The protests are mainly in France, but the effects or stagnant wages and rising taxes are felt all over Europe, and people are become negative about those who rule them.
So I believe there's a crisis, and here some of the mechanisms we see the effects of are very well explained, or at least I found it helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22eQ9iLBfY4.  
2 months ago
I'm only gardening since a couple of years now, still needing to look up basic info on this or that plant that I'm growing. But often I notice that my plants behave in a way that the textbook didn't prepare me for, or sometimes the textbook seems plainly wrong.
Especially when plants show more longevity than expected or a procreation method that is new to me I'm pleasantly surprised, and I believe it's worthwhile to share here a few things I found out, because if I missed the info before, likely other people did too. Or perhaps other people know of examples that compare to the two examples I'm posting below...

Leeks which make bulbs:


This is not the leek that's called perennial leek, that's a different strain, but this leek had made a bulb resembling those on perennial leeks. I was surprised when I found this bulb on a forgotten ordinary leek - the leek had already made a seed head. I had another old leek standing in the garden, I checked and found a bulb on the foot of that one too. I've left this leek standing, and now you can see a new leek forming from the foot of the old one:


A different veg: Cavolo Nero, maybe you call it Tuscany kale, maybe Palm Kale, maybe different even, but this is how this kale commonly looks like (not my own kale):


As I like to save my seeds, I let this kale overwinter and go to flower. When I was harvesting the seeds, I already saw young leaves sprouting from the old stem of the only plant I had spared by that time. So I left it, and it has now turned into a multi-stemmed kale. While last year I hardly had a harvest from a small row of plants, as the plants had remained small and the slugs had had their takings as well, this year I'm having a decent harvest from only one plant:


This looks like a perennial, while if looking up this plant online, you'll likely see it described as a biennial.

A leek just making one bulb, and only after letting it go to seed, might not be too interesting from a practical point of view. The Palm Kale booming in size after leaving it in the garden definitely seems interesting to me.    
2 months ago
Of the garlic varieties I'm growing the Eden Rose is the most frost tender, when it gets colder than 14 F (-10°C) the shoots will start to suffer. Snow barely ever occurs where I live, but last winter, with heavy winds and 14 F, most of the green of the Eden Rose was gone. But it recovered nicely after the winter and still produced decent bulbs. Eden Rose - which is related to Rose de Lautrec - is known to do better in warmer climates than mine. But the flavour is very nice.
Some other varieties I'm growing did have no problem at all with the winter. 14 F is not very cold, but moisture loss is the biggest problem when that temperature combines with heavy winds. Snow actually acts as a protective layer; when there's snow garlic can handle much lower temperatures. Probably where you live it's customary to put mulch over the garlic, which wraps it in for winter. Certainly in Canada and Alaska they do that, and I believe it's common in northern U.S. states as well. Not so much in southern U.S. I believe. In northern regions garlic won't surface before it's spring. Where I live it will, as our winters are mild compared to most of continental northern America.

Planting happens deeper in climates with colder winters, but I'm not sure what the drawbacks are when planting deep in warmer areas. If planting shallow, bulb formation can be affected by fluctuations in temperature and moisture level. You don't want the soil to dry out where the bulb forms. The biggest bulb I pulled out earlier this year had been growing quite deep, halfway down a raised bed, on a side facing north. We had a very dry spring, and at that place moisture retention had been better. If it's very wet and your soil isn't very permeable planting deep can be a negative thing as well. The ideal planting depth is dependent on a few things. I believe something like 2 - 3 inches is what a lot of people go for, but I wouldn't worry too much about the exact planting depth.          
How much rain? North facing can get very soggy in a wet climate with little sun.
I once worked on a farm in September and only then we got our first cut of grass in. It had been a gloomy summer, grass didn't want to grow and neighbouring farms who had made an attempt to cut it got their tractors stuck. This was Scotland, a comparable climate zone, but Portugal might still have different weather, although I believe the north of Portugal is on average very wet.
Climate change can affect things though, all of Europe was very dry and sunny this year and if this is a trend, north facing sounds more attractive in a warm climate.    
4 months ago
Possibly. Although The Netherlands does get lows below zero also on the Fahrenheit scale, but not much lower than something like -15°F. That would already be an exception. Factor in the wind chill and we'll get there more often, and it does get quite windy in a completely flat country.  

But I believe this USDA climate zone system works less well the more maritime you get. Somewhere like Scotland is very maritime, especially near the coast, where most people live. Frosts are rare here, often you can walk in t-shirt in the middle of winter. I think it's tagged as zone 9? But the summers are lousy, just a bit warmer than winter. Can't grow many heat-loving things, for that you're probably better off on the Canadian prairies, with a much lower zone number attached to them. You just can't catch a climate with one single number.
5 months ago
I'll admit that I understand very little of this whole climate zone thing. In Europe we don't refer to it much, and people seem to use different systems depending on the country they live in?
In a topic about Elephant Garlic and how hardy it was I mentioned that this garlic had a hard time surviving my winters and I said I was in climate zone 8, but that I doubted whether our winter storms were factored in. I got this reply from someone:

The northern Netherlands is definitely under a different scale for hardiness zones than the USDA hardiness zones, as USDA zone 8a never falls below 10° F. The northern Netherlands gets lows well below zero, and would be closer to USDA zone 3, depending on your location relative to maritime temperature influences. Hope that helps everyone compare apples to apples.


Zone 3, really? That sounds a lot colder than were I really am! But I'm a sceptic of the system anyway. At best it's a guideline on how cold your winter gets and what'll survive and what not. It doesn't tell much about what you can grow in the summer, and in summer I grow lots more things than in winter. Who doesn't?
Something like a heat zone system I would find at least as useful. I know it exists, but gets rarely used.
For the time being I will not mention any climate zone number with my profile, as I don't think it'll be very helpful.  
5 months ago
"They treat new clothes to give them a worn look, but now you're looking at the real thing."
5 months ago
Lauren, my Hügelbeets will be of an age comparable to yours, and although I saw many good effects, I also an increased drought problem on the Hügels. Even one that had sank quite low became bone dry.

Main advantages to my Hügelbeets, as I see them:
• bringing more oxygen in my compacted clay soil, so plant's roots can develop better;
• root weeds become extractable, as they have a less strong foothold in the loose material that makes up a Hügelbeet;
• a less suitable environment for those nasty deep rooted weeds to develop in the first place;
• the ability to absorb excess water during wet periods;
• my clay soil gradually becomes more loose and workable;
• increase of soil life - breaking down organic matter and increasing soil fertility;
• it's a great way to deal with of lying around wood and organic waste.

My downsides:
• steep sides - soil comes tumbling down anytime you're doing something;
• it's a bit hard to predict how much they'll sink in over time, and re-building has consequences for perennials already there;
• increased drought during dry periods.

The drought problem should be a temporary one. I'm guessing my Hügelbeets are still too airy on the inside. I didn't pack them tightly, there will be huge gaps inside which won't hold on to water. I'm hoping, as the beds sink in and the organic matter continues to decompose, the ability to hold on to water and keep it available for plants increases.
Also some young fruit trees and bushes I planted should provide some shade over time.

I'm puzzled about the amount of stories that say; 'Look, I built a Hügel, and now my watering can is in retirement.' Your experience doesn't surprise me at all, Lauren. All this dryness won't help the Hügel breaking down quickly. Assuming you'll continue working with it, try to keep it tight on the inside and grow broad-leaved things on top if you can, like pumpkins and rhubarb, of which the leaves will provide shade.  
5 months ago