Hamilton Betchman

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since Jul 12, 2018
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Recent posts by Hamilton Betchman

Here are the updates from 5-25.
2 years ago
Here are some updates to the garden. It is no longer a Hugelkultur, so mods, feel free to move the thread if necessary.

Pictures from May 19th 2021
2 years ago
I'd be honored to be a guest on your blog. I have a few pictures from before and during the process that I haven't shared. Just let me know what you need.
2 years ago
I am on my way to suburban homesteading. I am working on progressing towards a more permaculture friendly approach. I try to get as many garden inputs for free as possible. I will frequently grab peoples yard trash bags off the curb to use for mulch. I have all the arborists' numbers saved, and they all know me. I have access to local manure and spoiled hay. I also will take my push mower and bagger into overgrown fields to fill the back of my truck for making Korean organic farming inputs. I make my own pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides using the Korean methods, but try to limit their use.

Here is a rough sketch of what all I currently have going on.

Here are my grapes.

The next ones show my annual bed.

Finally, my recent blueberry project.

2 years ago
Here is how I "beat" it. I sprayed it all down with a 20% citric acid solution, strengthened by joy soap as a surfactant (1TBL per Gallon) I then put down heavy mulch, 18 inches of arborist wood chips. Finally, during the dormant season, I throw all my scraps into this area to encourage the chickens to keep it scratched. The chickens will actually dig up and eat the tubers and rhizomes when they begin to sprout, however, I find it best to keep the area loose with a Broadfork, keep it mulched, and to continue to hand weed every chance I get.

It eventually does go away, for the most part, however it will be a constant battle to keep it from returning.

I am in the process of getting creeping thyme established as a cover crop.
2 years ago
I have had much experience "deer proofing" gardens. The only thing that has kept them out, for me, is as follows. Clear monofilament fishing line strung between posts with about 18 inches of space per line. I usually go 6 feet high, using 4 strings around the entire perimeter. You will want to use something with more than 20lbs rating. I realize you want your design to be aesthetically pleasing, so this may not be ideal. There may be some creative ways to incorporate this design into something lovely that I cannot picture!

The idea is that the deer will bump into the fence, not be able to see it, and be frightened away, and it works.

Mac Gills wrote:Hello - I have a design idea for a deer-proof garden fence. I haven't seen anything like what I'm proposing and I was hoping for some feedback, even if it's "you're crazy, dude".

In short, I am working on designing our garden fence that is cost effective, handsome, and deer proof. Our garden will be near where we host people and I'd had to ruin our beautiful view with an overly utilitarian fence if possible. Deer run all through my property so whatever we build has to keep them out and anything with tall posts gets expensive quick.

So, in my learning about deer, I read that they have poor depth perception and therefore a useful way to discourage deer from hopping a fence is to build a redundant fence 2-3 feet off. The gap in the fence confuses the deer as they cannot tell how far apart the fences are and they will avoid jumping in between. So, with this in mind, I have wondered if the following design would accomplish the same thing:

The garden fence would be a typical split rail fence along the perimeter of the garden. Immediately outside of the fence would be a row of bushes, possibly evergreens that grow 18-24 inches high (not sure exactly what, TBD). Immediately outside of that would be a row of medium-sized rocks, 12" or so high. The attached pdf shows the design better than I can explain. I can source a lot of the rocks from neighbor farmers and get young bushes to grow up.

My thought is that this would "fatten" up the fence and, in the mind of the deer, giving it a bit of depth that would discourage getting into the garden and peaking around. In theory (aka in my head) it works, but I'm an engineer! Most things work only in my head!

Has anyone done something like this before or seen something like this? Would it work? Anything else to suggest?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Hey there, I have dealt with bulging discs in my neck and lower back for a while now, and I can share what really works for me.

First I will share that I am a large man. I am 6'2" barefooted. I have weighed as much as 425 lbs, but am at a much more comfortable 230 now. Losing that weight help me the most.

This pain comes from inflammation. The first thing I need to do switch to an anti-inflammatory diet.

This means water and tea only for drink, no sugar, no grains, select carbs. Lots of water, all the time.

Anti inflammatory supplements are great: tumeric, ginger, tart cherry, etc.

Next I need to ice the affected area. Ice it for 20 minutes, then let it heat back up.

I repeat this hourly. Once a day I will lay flat on the ground with a rolled up towel placed under the curve of the neck. I remain like this for 10 minutes the first day, and increase this to 30 minutes over time.

After a while, I am able to introduce some more stretching. Stretch everything! If I stretch my hamstrings, I am sure to stretch my quads an equal amount.

Some things that have helped me have been hanging from a bar and also an inversion table, but not the table for the neck!

Walking running and jogging barefooted are great too.

Finally when all healed up, I return to strength building exercises, but am sure to stay in balance. If I work out the back, I need to do equal work to the chest. Yoga is also great!

A chiropractor can help a limited amount as well, but I don't want to waste too much money on them!

Sharla Kew wrote:Paul is in a bad way, folks.

An easily-ignored twinge of back pain has blossomed into cervical radiculopathy, and he is currently in so much pain that he is unable to use the computer, read, or sleep without the help of Valium and painkillers. On the Brosh pain scale (attached), he's been hanging out in the 6 to 10 zone.

He is going to be out of action for at least a week, possibly for several weeks. On top of this, it is already a crazy busy time for Jocelyn, so please send them both good vibes.  

Cervical radiculopathy, also referred to as radicular pain, is a somewhat broad term for symptoms of any "condition that irritates a nerve in the cervical spine (neck)." The good news is that it's probably not caused by a herniated or ruptured disc, but he will be getting an MRI soon to make sure. The likely culprit here is long hours at the computer, so consider this a reminder to get up and stretch.

He wanted me to post about his condition not only as an update to his loyal public but to ask for help and advice. Does anyone have experience dealing with cervical radiculopathy, or any kind of spinal nerve pain? We seek tips for exercises, stretches, remedies, meditations, and anything, really.

I'll post updates on this thread as things unfold.

2 years ago
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 years 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.
2 years 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.
2 years ago