Hamilton Betchman

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since Jul 12, 2018
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Recent posts by Hamilton Betchman

Good afternoon and Happy New Year Melissa, it is very nice to meet you!

My name is Hamilton, and I am a 32 year old swm, living fairly nearby in Sumter, and I am also seeking a relationship.

I would love to get to know more like-minded folks nearby.

I currently live in a 3/2 house on .5 acres. I dream of buying a homestead in the Mountains one day with a group of like minded friends. We are actually actively pursing this goal as part of a cooperative company.

Since I can be impatient, I have already started urban homesteading at my current home. It is truly amazing what one can accomplish in a small amount of space. I live "alone" with my dog, two cats, 10 chickens, 6 fish.

Please send me a PM if you are interested in getting to know me better.

Melissa Murdock wrote:Hi lovely people,

I am a single 34 white female.  I live with my 3 mutts ( 1 large one medium and one small) on 2.2 acres in Dorchester County, SC.  I am looking for a soul mate or a roommate who cares about gardening and self sustainabilitywebpage
 .  I have land that I bought, but I need a partner in crime to do most projects for cheap.  I can sew, and I am learning to garden.  I am free spirited, love fires, 420 friendly, drink to celebrate and not commiserate.  I am wanting to start a precious plastics workshop on my property in addition to adding a small pond and definitely gardens.  I think there is room for goats and a pig or two.  I am very open minded and just want someone to come on down, or up, or over,  and enjoy fishing and the beach with me.  I love the water first and foremost.  

I have a 2 bed and 2 bath house, so a room mate for starts would be ideal.  Its paradise in my part of the country, I guarantee you that.  

Used to be progressive, now dropped heavily into libertarian after the elections shook out.  Love 3d printing and crypto.  Love arts and am artistic.  

Anyone want to come hang out?  

I tried to add a pic, hopefully it worked out

2 weeks ago

Brian Vraken wrote:Not sure whether this is a mulch topic or a gardening topic, so feel free to move it to a better home if needed.

I've had a few years of gardening under mulches on this property. Year 1 was a load of old straw and hay. Year two and this past year were woodchips.

The original straw and hay can no longer be found, having broken down it's entirety. Despite depositing 12" of woodchips between fall of Year 1 and Year two, the woodchips were very thin by this past spring, and I had to add another ~4-6" to the garden. In other words, they've been breaking down fast. However, I am not getting tremendous production from my garden - my root vegetabls (beets, turnips, carrots, potatoes) didn't do great - the plants just didn't seem to want to grow until later in the season, despite me being very careful to ensure everything was planted in soil. The broccolli didn't really form heads, yet the cabbage I grew was show-worthy, and the brussels sprouts grew huge plants / leaves, though didn't actually develop useful heads on the stalk like I would hope. I feel like something must be missing from my soil profile - I *should* have strong organic matter and microbiology now. I see huge amounts of worms, the soil (a clay loam) under the chips has great tilth. The moisture levels were consistent - the mulch did a great job of keeping the soil moist despite 6 weeks with no rain. Everything about the soil suggests great fertility except the results...

Anyways, I'm making plans for next year, and one of my goals is to be more relaxed with weed contol - just focusing on preventing flowering / seed production, and only cutting them down if they start impacting plants. My thoughts after reading some threads is that additional root mass in the soil is only beneficial from a microbiology perspecitve, and roots that decompose in place aren't a bad thing. My main weeks are thistles, plantains, and grasses with small amounts of other plants in small quanitites..

While the thistles and plantains are manageable, I see trouble with is the grasses I've been fighting. I have a fairly aggressive rhizomatic grass in my garden. Every spring at planting time, I spend hours and root out as many rhizomes / plants as I can. However, I rarely have time to put in several hours per week into the grass battle over the summer, and by the end of the season, the grass has reestablished itself across the garden.

Has anyone succesfully conquered a grass like this? The rhizomes spread as deep as 6-8" below the surface - even in the soil under the woodchips. They *do* seem to be responding to increased soil fertility. The rhizomes will grow 4-5' in length in a few months. Rooting them out is a large job, and almost impossible once a bed is planted, which is part of the reason why the garden is half overrun by harvest. I do think I need to put in a hard edging around the outside of the garden, going down 6" at least... but that will be a big job.

I've tried smothering the plants, but that hasn't been effective. They still seem to survive and find a place to emerge even with cardboard and 6" of additional woodships on top. I eventually have to clear places to plant and put my veggies, and they come up there, and work their way through gaps and seams in the cardboard layer and colonize the chips above it...

Nature is putting up a great fight to reclaim this garden space. I'd love to work with nature... but if I let it go to sod, I won't be growing a garden anymore. The best option I can think of is to grow plants that close canopy and shade out the grass, but this gets back to my initial issue - my plants stay fairly thin, and don't grow anywhere near full potential.

Oh, and we don't have many allelopathic trees here, so I don't think the poor plant performance can be traced back to that.

I'd appreaciate any thoughts and suggestions. I'm already itching to go for next season!

Good morning, Brian.

I have been gardening with arborist's wood chips for 3 years now.
Although they are a great source for garden amendment, wood chips alone are not always enough.

When I made my beds in the late summer/ early fall, I first used several types of compost and several types of manures. I then put down about a foot of chips.

That winter, I planted my brassicas in trenches of good soil. They grew spectacularly, however they needed more water than I was used to using. I use Korean organic farming inputs, and I had to water with fertilizer once per week.

By that next spring, I was able to grow anything that was not a root vegetable with ease!

Now, starting year 3, root crops are growing great because the texture of the soil is perfect.

I constantly mulch with leaves, grass clippings, and more chips; as needed and constantly, being sure to keep at least  4 inches of mulch across the garden at all times.

I hope you can glean from this experience to help with your vegetable problems.

Onto the subject of the evil grasses; I have bermuda grass, Devil grass. I was able to conquer this nuisance by first laying down layers of cardboard and newspaper, but I have been plenty successful with just plain wood chips.

The key is to really load down the mulch, over 16 inches, after being packed down with rain and foot traffic.

You will still get a few survivors that you need to pull up.

You then need a fairly wide and deep trench around the perimeter of the garden.

Finally you have to maintain the trench and the mulch in your garden, constantly add mulch.

My garden is approximately 2000 square feet, and I can maintain the weeds and trenches alone with less than 15 minutes of work per week, as long as I stay on top of it.
1 month ago

s. lowe wrote:While cleaning out the garage I came up with an odd plan and I'd like to hear anyones thoughts or experiences on the matter. I have a big bag of wood shavings from madrone wood that was turned into bowls, I filled up a 10 gallon bucked with it and have been peeing in it as often as I can. It's been going now for about 2 weeks getting urine at least once a day. Will the wood compost? Will it get hot? too hot for the plastic bucket? Do I need to be concerned about off gassing in the sealed bucket? Any thoughts are appreciated.

I can't believe I am just now seeing this topic. I have a great deal of experience with this! I have a source of untreated poplar wood shavings from a wood shop. I pack a 5 gallon bucket tight with these for urination purposes.

After the first day or so, I will dump a glass of aquarium water in the bucket to jump-start the composting. Another GREAT alternative is to periodically dose the bucket with SPICE compost innoculant.

Anyhow, the bucket will smell, but the microbes from the aquarium, or the SPICE compost mix do a great job and keeping this to a minimum.

I have found that once the shavings are saturated, it is nearly the perfect ratio for composting; however the run off is a little hot.

I like to mulch nitrogen-starved plants with the saturated shavings. I will dump the soggier stuff in a fallow bed to help prep it for next year.

Alternatively you can leave it in the bucket, sealed, outside, for about about a year; and let nature break it down so you don't have to worry about the run off.
1 month ago

Gray Henon wrote:We've had good luck composting mammal butchering scraps in 55 gal drums using wood chips to absorb the stink.  Gave it a try with some carp carcasses.  Holy stink!  Anyone else compost fish?  How do you do it?

I compost my catfish carcasses directly in the garden. I am constantly expanding and rotating my garden, so I will simply bury the fish carcasses about a foot under the soil using post hole diggers. I usually have about 8 inches of mulch over these areas too. I use landscape flags to mark where I have already buried fish. This area will always remain fallow for the next season before I plant it. After skipping a season, the only thing remaining are the pectoral fin spikes, and the dorsal fin spike attached to its vertebra. Be careful because I have found them with the bottom of my feet many times. There is very little smell, unless a critter get into it.
1 month ago
I have struggled with gout for the past 5 years. I did not know I had gout until a year ago.
It first manifested in my Achilles tendon, and I had no idea what I was dealing with. Eventually it spread to my big toe, and this was the clue I needed to put two and two together.

The first and most important thing to do is to identify your triggers.
Many attribute their gout flare ups to things like processed meats, offal, red meat, etc.

For me, I found that what actually triggers the gout is to eat any combinations of the aforementioned classic gout foods within 24 hours of consuming processed sugars,processed wheat, and alcohol.

Some of the worst foods for me have been: Takeout pizza, cakes, sweets, and****BEER**. Beer is almost a guarantee for me. If I eat nothing all day, and drink 3 beers, my gout will be flared up the next day.

I have since found that I can drink pretty much any other form of alcohol that isn't sweetened and be ok.

So to summarize, I have found that my biggest triggers of gout are Beer, Gluten, and Sugar. This may be different for everybody, but I suspect many others share these triggers, and would not have thought they would be triggers just as I used to.

Some other unexpected minor triggers for me are ibuprofen and acetaminophen . Taking these medicines slows down my gout recovery. I suspect it has to do with the strain placed on the liver.

That being said, what can we use in nature to treat our gout when it is flared up?

For me, the natural supplements have outperformed the pharmaceutical substitutes.

The first thing I do is to drink plenty of good quality water; until my urine is nearly clear and odorless.

In order of effectiveness for me has been.

TART cherry extract. The extract works best for me because the whole cherries have a lot of sugar, and since sugar triggers inflammation, recovery is slowed.

Tumeric. Tumeric works great for all the inflammation I have, and is best used in combination with tart cherry to have maximum effectiveness.

Mullein. Mullein tea is my local option. I find it growing all over the place in fall and winter. It's best used by drying the leaves for preservation and making tea from this. Mullein tea is not bad, and it starts working nearly immediately .

I'll end my entry by emphasizing that everybody is different, and what works for me may not work for you.  
2 months ago

Emily Smith wrote:I’m in zone 7b/8a and the queen of time mismanagement.  We’re 9 weeks out from the first frost date (supposed to be Nov. 16).  Is it too late to start seeds?  I have Brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower seeds.  I’ve never tried a fall garden and was wanting to this year.

I am in 8a and I just got my seeds started last week. I like to grow collards, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, garlic, onions and peas during the fall. My collards are cold tolerant down to about 10 F or so and they usually grow over winter just fine.

Softneck Garlic would probably be perfect to plant right now anyways, so there is no worries there.

You still have a few months to start your onions from seeds too.

I collect old sheets and blankets for everything else. I picked up an old greenhouse from a friend that he got rid of because it was missing pieces. I use the pipes and connections to frame out my row covers, and since it so seldomly gets below 25F, I only end up using it a few times a year.

Winter is my favorite time to grow and garden! The pests are non existent, the ground needs less water, and the things that grow in the winter are by far my favorite to eat; the only drawback is the limited light and lower angle of the sun mean that only a reduced portion of my garden continues to produce well.

So to answer your question, no it is not too late!

Pearl Sutton wrote:I had a bad year here, out of the 300-some squash (summer and winter) and pumpkin plants I put in of 20+ types, I currently (September) still have 4 plants: 1 tromboncino and 3 (still young) kabocha. All the rest died of fungus or squash beetles. The things in better soil hold out longer (although none long enough to set fruit) so soil improvement is happening, and the ones that are still alive climbed things. I think it got them enough air flow to avoid fungus, and maybe got them up out of where the beetles can reach them so easily. So for next year, I am wondering Which squash varieties climb best?  Maybe if I start with things that will go up, I'll get some squash.
Thank you! :D

I have had great success with Seminole pumpkin this year. They climb well, and are not as heavy as the trombocinos are. North Georgia Candy Roaster is another good variety for you to try, but they may get too heavy for most vertical structures to support. I am currently growing all three, and hope to form some sort of landrace in the next few years/decades.

My trombocino seeds have been naturalized for 6 years now, and this is the first year i have introduced the other varieties. I have harvested just over 1000 lbs from my 1000 square foot garden this year so far.

All three of these varieties can endure the vine borerers, squash bugs, and humidity with great success.
I promised I would take notes, so I will deliver!

For liquid soap:

I did not use any "fish grease," because the fish smells are the fish fat, amd I didn't think this method would help. I'd love it if this weren't true, so please prove me wrong! Anyhow, without knowing the exact amounts, the following oils would most likely have been present: Canola, "Vegetable," peanut, grapeseed, avocado, coconut. I also had some frozen, used, duck fat, pig lard, and bacon grease." All of this went into the pot for cleansing.

I found these instructions online: "For every cup of frying oil, whisk together ¼ cup water and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Add mixture to warm or cooled oil. Heat oil gently over low heat (do not let it simmer), stirring constantly with heatproof spatula, until starch mixture begins to solidify, 10 to 12 minutes." To clarify, you want the oil warm and melted, but not got. I then poured this mixture through a cheesecloth lined strainer.  

I then let the mixture cool in a clear container. Since oil is lighter than water, I noticed some layering and poured off the good oil up top, into a steel pot.

I wanted to stick to 1920's era tech for this, so i simply weighed the oil. It came out to 8.4 lbs. I found an old recipe that gave a generic calculation and an average KOH value of
.2X where X is the weight of the oil.

Balances and scales were certainly readily available in the 20s, so I used an old doctor's 2 beam balance to weigh my ingredients.

So anyways, back to my calculations.
With 90% KOH and a .2 factor that meant (8.4 * .2 ) / .9 = 1.867 lb of KOH needed and for a 3% superfat .97 *1.867 = 1.81 lbs.

Now you will mix that much lye into 2.5x as much water.

Edit** A note on water quality. It is absolutely crucial to use a soft water for good soap making. You can use distilled water or rainwater if you aren't sure.
That is 4.5 lbs or a little more than a half gallon water
Be careful and always use proper PPE!

With the oil on the stove on low heat, add the KOH solution and begin whisking thoroughly. I cheated here and used a hand mixer. Increase the heat to medium and and continue whisking until you get a mayo like consistancy.( You can actually pour these into molds for a solid soap now, but it will not be really hard and will go rancid quicker.)
Remove from heat amd forget about it overnight
It will remain warm until fully saponified, and may take 24 hours.

At this time, dilute the solid soap with an equal part of water
Stir vigorously for about 10 minutes. Then let it sit. You can forget about it for a week, or stir it every few hours to get a quicker result.

edit note: this is not the time to get impatient, put the hand blender away. if you over mix, you will get a frothy mess that will ruin your soap.  This mess will eventually recover, but it will not be of the same quality.

After the mixture becomes homogeneous, you can add more water for a thinner consistancy, if that is what you like.

Edit note: if you find the soap too hot after a while, you can always add carrier oils and fragrances. Be careful though, only add a small amoint at a time. .5% of the total weight is a good target for fragrance oils. You dont want to overdo it here.

8 months ago

r ranson wrote:

Hamilton Betchman wrote:

I want to say there is a way to calculate lye based on Specific Gravity of the oils, but I am not sure. I will look into it.

exactly!  With cold cured soap this is hugely important.

However, with the hot-cured soap, this wasn't needed because you can tell if there is excess lye before you pour the soap into the mould to cure.  Since our cooking oils are mixed, I want to find that hot cured soap recipe to try.  

I will be making liquid soap, hot process, and I will share my results.
8 months ago

r ranson wrote:The recipe I have lost had something like this for cleaning used oils.

Heat the oils, add cold water to the oils and it precipitates the particles and odour causing stuff to attach to the water and fall to the bottom.  Let it sit a while, then pour off the oil and repeat a few times until the oil is clean.  

I'll try this soon and report back. I have tons of old cooking oil and I am running low on all purpose cleaning soap.

I want to say there is a way to calculate lye based on Specific Gravity of the oils, but I am not sure. I will look into it.

The issue I have is that I just pour all my used oils into one vat and there is no real way to know how much of each is present.
8 months ago