Maarten Smet

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since Jun 07, 2018
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Kentucky - Zone6
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Recent posts by Maarten Smet

Couple of comments:
- the type of soil you have will play a big role in how to remediate. Clay holds on to nutrients, minerals and also lead and arsenic, I assume. But if you have sand, you may be in luck and the lead/arsenic may leach away to lower layers.
- whatever remediation you do, I would start small and take before and after samples, samples from different depths. Do the same with a plot you don't do anything with. This will tell you: a) how the remediation improves the soil each year (so you can calculate how many years it will take) but also b) how the soil improves if you don't do anything, if any at all.

As somebody with land next to a cemetery, I understand your plight, luckily we are somewhat uphill from the cemetery so no arsenic leaching that we are aware of. Good luck in your efforts

2 weeks ago
Goumi berries

1 month ago
These are the 6 I would recommend:

Bocking 14 Comfrey: stays in place, does not spread (unless you disturb the roots). Beneficial around your fruit trees as it will kill off grass with its shade, easy to propagate with root cuttings, hard to kill
Horseradish: Plan it and forget it, easy to propagate
Poplar: Start with one, in the fall, pollard it, put the sticks in the soil and it will reroot easily.
Willow: Easy to propagate, you can make rooting hormone with it
Egyptian walking onion: onion with a bulblet at the end of the green growth

Those are the 7 plants that I have that are low maintenance and easy to propagate (sun chokes is the 8th, but already mentioned)

Also, there is still time to do purchase scion wood and do some grafting, add some new varieties to your current fruit trees

2 months ago
ChatGPT loves peppers, apparently. Tell it you are allergic to peppers and see what it does ;)
I can see the appeal of biochar in sandy soils to retain nutrients, but I have a very clay soil which naturally has a high CEC. Biochar is supposed to help with aeration of clay soils, which is a benefit, but biochar takes a lot of time to produce (unless you can combine it with another activity, like heating your house) so from my perspective, it is easier to throw down some cover crop seeds to help with aeration than to go the biochar route.

But feel free to convince me otherwise.

3 months ago
With that title, I was hoping "aliens" ;)

3 months ago
I purchased an alfalfa field myself couple of months ago and these are the things I am considering/already doing:

- I have a farmer harvest the alfalfa on the piece of property I am not developing yet (without spraying), as it takes time to understand the details of the property (slope/wet spots), he gives me half of the alfalfa which I can use as mulch for my fruit trees. (I take the fertility of the whole area and concentrate it in the area of my fruit trees).
- Since there are no buildings on the properties, I put a 20x30 tarp down with a trench on the downslope, the lowest point has a solar pump which pumps it in a 275 gallon tank (which I will expand into a 1100 gallon tank as one rainfall already filled the 275 gallon tank)
- Got a lab test from Logan Labs, which showed me low levels of Magnesium. Since I have clay, I am going to experiment with multiple amendments as I don't want to clog the soil by adding a lot of magnesium.
- Alfalfa has deep roots that help develop the soil so I just going to let them live around my perennials (alfalfa is very easy to chop and drop by hand). I do plan to rototill the top 0.5/1 inch, then broad fork it, when I create some annual beds (keeping a strip of alfalfa on either side so the microbes/protozoa can quickly move into the roto-tilled area). I expect it to kill the alfalfa, but hopefully it sets back the growing cycle of the alfalfa enough for the annuals to outcompete, and the alfalfa again becoming my cover crop once the annuals have been harvested.

Hope some of it may be helpful to your situation


1 year ago
I live in zone 6 and have a property 30 min away from where I live where I want to have some chickens. I don't have the time to drive 1h round trip each day to attend to their needs, so I have been tinkering with a set-up so daily attendance is not needed:

- PVC piping system for multiple days of grain/food (pretty straight-forward)
- Cool nesting area so eggs stay cool in the summer (pretty straight-forward)
- Water is more difficult, keeping it unfrozen in the winter. So my current thinking is: 4 inch PVC pipes that go under the group, below the frostline, PVC piping goes into a well-insulated shelter (think straw bale and plaster shelter, the height of a dog house, with small opening for chicken and one tiny window for light). I envision the shelter to be long, but most of that will be to have the PVC pipe run horizontally as to store enough water for the chickens for half a week, majority of that pipe will be unaccessible by chickens but wrapped in heavy insulation/surrounded by straw bales/plaster for insulation. Small section (uninsulated) will have chicken nipples. The idea is that the water in the ground will be warmed by the ground temperature, that water (as it is less dense), will float to the top into the shelter. That, combined with the insulation around most of the pipe would hopefully prevent the pipe from freezing.

I don't have electricity close to my suggested chicken coop and a solar set-up is not fool-proof enough to my liking. Any suggestions?


3 years ago
I read the book, it is a good autobiographic book but it does not reveal a secret sauce on how to become successful in permaculture. Most of the "gems" I did find were ones I already knew from reading the boards here and from other books so you don't miss anything if you do not or cannot buy the book.

A lot of book space is spent on all his fights with local government regarding regulations and permits, I am not really into that.

4 years ago

I have some high deer pressure at my property and they seem to leave my comfrey alone, so before spending too much time and/or energy to protect your comfrey plants, perhaps you can use a couple of your plants as test plants to see if your deer eat it.

4 years ago