Chris Emerson

+ Follow
since Aug 28, 2018
1/4 acre on the Salish Sea
Olympia, Wa
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand First Scavenger Hunt

Recent posts by Chris Emerson

This will be our first full growing season at my new house and I am really excited to get things going. I put the finishing touches on my germination chamber and started my first soil blocks.

The chamber has 4 ballasts with two 4' flourescent tubes each. I have enough space to add a 3rd shelf when needed. Lights are 16 hours on 8 off. Up top is a heat bulb with a fan, both attached to a thermostat the keeps things at 73F. The whole thing is wrapped and seems to be a good seal. Not sure the humidity yet, just put the soil blocks in today!
My wife had the great idea to use velcro to attach the front flap. It works great, super easy to open and close.
The real test will be to see if it is cat proof!

Soil Blocks
This is my first time using them, they seem to be holding together pretty well for now. My mix is...

8 cups perlite
8 cups compost
20 (ish) cups coc coir (hydrated)
1/4 cup greensand
Water as needed

I read that a lot of some people had issues with over and underwatering and so they used mats to wick up the water. I put the blocks on top of thin strips of wood. The hope is the wood will wick up the water without keeping the blocks soaked. You can get a bundle of this wood lath strips at home depot for just a few dollars.
I originally used the strip to mark out where our trees and  keyhole garden beds will go. Hindsight, using old wood may not be the best idea, could possible cause an infection (we will see!).

After I put the seed on the blocks I sprinkled a little bit of coco coir on top to cover them. Not sure if I needed to do that, do you do it? I'm concerned it might turn the small blocks into one large block is I sprinkle too much coco on top. (probably I am being overly concerned)

Since the heat source is a heat lamp that will turn on and off at night, am I going to have issues with confusing the plants? The light is at the top and the ballasts should block most direct light. (again, probably being overly concerned).

Wish me luck!  Most of these ideas I got from this forum so thanks to everyone that posts!
This is all great info. We have an awesome online community here!
6 days ago

Myrth Montana wrote:
And on that note, one book that I don’t see recommended nearly often enough is The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. It is not strictly for bees, obviously, given the title. But if you endeavor to grow many of the herbs she recommends, you will likely have healthy bees. She also has a chapter giving her thoughts on the natural care of bees, and herbs that are helpful to them.

Thanks for the book idea!

Sounds like I will need to check in and see what the laws in Washington are!
1 week ago

Mike Barkley wrote:

want to make sure I get started off on the right foot.

Asking questions & seeking help IS a great start.

Beekeeping for Dummies is a good book. It is available online for free but I found the online version difficult to read. Your local library also might have other useful bee books. There are too many to list. Bee supply companies usually have good books for sale.

As others have pointed out there are non-traditional methods & hives becoming more popular as time goes on. Especially among permie type people. Those will be probably harder to learn & get help with though. Local laws vary. Beware that some of the less common hive types are not legal everywhere.

On YouTube Fat Bee Guy has many good videos with many helpful tips & generally helpful advice. He uses traditional methods. Michael Palmer doesn't use chemicals & has some excellent videos too. He's my personal favorite YouTube bee person. Not sure if he has much geared toward beginners though. If nothing else his thoughts & techniques about natural beekeeping are very wise.

Try to find a local bee club or local beekeeper for assistance. Wish I would have known about that option when first starting. It would have saved time & been an easier path to follow.

One important thing to consider before getting in too deep is bee food. Flowers & trees. Bees need them. Lots of them!!! Local bee keepers are a valuable source of info about that aspect of beekeeping.

Welcome to permies. Enjoy the bees!

Thanks Mike, those dummie books can be a great place to start. I will check it out. Thanks for a specific YouTube channel, the last thing I want to do is spends hours randomly searching YouTube. Specifics are great.

Any other books you might recommend? I am a quick learner and love to dive deep.

The whole project is still a year out. My wife and I just bought a new home and it is still a 1/4 of lawn (more or less). We are putting 7 trees in as soon as the snow melts and starting the guilds. Lots of shrubs and perennials will get started after that. I want the plants to have at least 1 year to get started before I bring the bees in. It feels like it is better for the bees that way!
1 week ago

Chris Kott wrote:My Valentine's Day present from my much better half is one of at least two two-week beekeeping courses offered online through the Ontario Beekeepers Association. The first course is everything but pest management, the second is entirely pest management, and those make up the entirety of the entry-level courses (they discuss them as sides of the same coin, but as pest management is so involved, it gets its own course).

They also offer queen-rearing and breeding courses, but one thing at a time.

It's not that I don't trust my own ability to learn from youTube videos, or that I have a problem with Jaqueline Freeman, because I don't. But taking these region-specific courses gives me something to point to when I go out to do my practicum with beekeepers either in the city or out where we're looking to move. They will also be able to address region-specific challenges, as well as legal and compliance issues.


Great idea. We have a local bee keepers group that meets regularly and we have a great local store that hosts events all the time, I am sure they have bee focused ones
1 week ago

wayne fajkus wrote:Youtube helped me with the most confusing part- getting the bees into the hive. No book made any sense to me. I had to "see" it.

That is exactly what I like YouTube for, to fill in the gaps!
1 week ago

James Landreth wrote:Anything by Jacqueline Freeman. I interned with her for a while. She has a book called The Song of Increase. It's a really good read. To be honest it's got a bit of hippy-woo in it, but her methods are also grounded in scientific evidence and her success rates in our region have been fantastic, especially considering the added challenges posed by the wildfire smoke these past few years (I'm only 45 minutes from Olympia by the way). Her website is

Also, here's a thread on some "newer" (recently revived) hive styles that people are having success with in our region, and why we're using them:

Thanks a lot James, I will check out these leads. I am inclined to check out some of the "newer" methods of Beek keeping, that I am sure that will be a great link.

I will check with my library for the book from Jacqueline!
1 week ago
I have always wanted to care for bees and I want to start collecting information. I am pretty Much a blank slate right now so I want to make sure I get started off on the right foot. What are some resources I should utilize to start this journey.

Any good threads for beginners?
Great books?
Videos? (not usually a fan of YouTube but it can be useful)
1 week ago

James Landreth wrote:I live about forty-five minutes away from Olympia. Paw paws are tough to establish but do well once they are. My advice is to plant lots of seedlings (they're cheaper from places like burnt ridge, plus pawpaw grows well from seed) and don't give up! They're absolutely delicious and a novelty. Use shadecloth over them if the site is very sunny.

Thanks James. Are paw paws not typically grafted like apples are?
1 week ago
This is our first year at our new house so nothing is in the ground yet but we know that these grow well...

Fig (hardy)

I am also planting goumi, blueberry and raspberries.

We are planting a few Paw Paws. Really excited about them. Anyone else have luck with them. I am in the Olympia Are.
1 week ago