Anne Pratt

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since Apr 10, 2020
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I left Vermont sadly during the pandemic.  Finally getting a new house in the next couple of months, with almost an acre, in the Hudson Valley of NY.  My chickens are with me and will be disgruntled to have to move again.  I can't wait to build gardens and spread wood chips all around!
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Hudson Valley, New York, USA
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Recent posts by Anne Pratt

If it's calcium they need, break up the eggshells and put them in vinegar.  It leaches out the calcium, otherwise it remains locked up in the eggshells more or less forever.  That's what I recall, anyway, from a class with Nigel Palmer.

I tried Goji berries (dehydrated) and really disliked them.  But I'll read anything when I'm putting off going to bed. . .
3 weeks ago
It's my understanding that callaloo is basically the same plant - the colorful ones are developed for their color and grains, and callaloo for the greens.  
I moved to my new property last December.  I knew it would be difficult to get composting running, but before I moved I stockpiled bagged leaves from the town where I was living.  I transported 27 bags of leaves to the new house, and created a compost pile with them along with some chicken manure.  I was able to start a garden (raised bed) on the bedrock on which my back yard lies.  Yay!  I was able to grow food.

I have big plans for leaf season this. year!  I won't have to store the leaves and transport them a second time, so they'll go right into piles and onto the garden beds.  I'll use my mower for shredding, a luxury I didn't have last year.  I plan to use the leaves for composting as well as leaf mold.  I need lots of humus and soil to build up from the bedrock!  My front yard is low-lying clay, that floods whenever there are more than a couple inches of rain.  I have wood chips to address that problem, but leaves are easier to move, so I'll probably add those to the mix.

Anyway, I love leaf mold.  It has always seemed to me to be one of the richest things to add to a garden.  I have vermicompost, too, but the quantity is small compared to what I can create out of bags of leaves.

2 months ago
I have some 2" x 4" welded wire fencing that I fashioned into large (4' x 8') "caps" for my raised beds.  They work really well for keeping out the hens while the garden is full of seedlings.  The hitch is figuring out when to uncover the beds.  Often, the "caps" end up staying for the season, which makes weeding a little difficult but doesn't really interfere much with harvesting.  I can easily get my hand through and pull out produce.  I've also used them on areas without a raised bed.

Irrelevant aside:  They don't. protect against voles, though!  I had zero potatoes without bites taken out of them!
2 months ago
I had a very steep hill that the previous owners had almost completely cut down, but for a very few evergreen trees.  I made brush rows on contour, and filled them in over time with weeds, chicken poop, grass clippings, wood chips, etc.  (Hauling wood chips up that hill became too exhausting once the summer heat arrived.). This slowed the water considerably.  I also planted deep-taproot plants, including comfrey and dandelion.  It was hard to keep the comfrey alive for a year or two, but then it took off.  I encouraged the black raspberries and other "weedy" plants.  I also planted wildflowers, including lupine, obedient plant, Black-eyed Susan, and a lot of red clover.  New trees began to sprout, and the plant life filled out.  

I didn't have the problem of litter and broken glass.  My chickens spent time up there dust-bathing, to my distress!  But it kind of terraced a little section.

I was back there two years later, and it was a lovely hill!  You can't really see the rows of brush unless you're hunting for them, and the whole hill is covered in plants and small trees.  The comfrey looks good!
2 months ago
I have far more forsythia than anyone should have to cope with.  (Do you watch how it reproduces?  Tip layering.  When the branch tips reach the ground, they take root.  My "hedge" is at least 20 feet wide.  Ugh.)

I've been hacking it up and adding it to the compost pile. I have  to much green (this time of year) so I probably should wait, but it also adds air space, so I think that is probably a good thing.

Mulch is a good idea!  I have used the branches whole under where I've trimmed the bushes, hoping it discourages further tip layering.  Also, I have 2 piles of wood chips, so I don't need to make mulch from them.  But a good idea!
3 months ago
Roasting bitter vegetables will not only relieve them of their bitterness, but develops a sweetness.  Probably the result of caramelization.  I roast broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, onions, mushrooms, and mmm cabbage.  I put them in at 400 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes (depending on the size of the pieces).  So delicious!
3 months ago

Hau Anne, I would fill those depressions with chips then pour on some mushroom slurries, that will jump start the chips turning into soil. Fill the depressions anytime the chips seem low. (I have 3 tree root ball holes I'm doing this to, they started out 4 ft. deep and are now only about a foot below the grade. It's taken 3 years to fill in 3 ft. of those pits.


I've started this, and I'll follow your advice!  Again, thanks.

3 months ago
So lovely to come back to read this thread again, having checked in before, and before that 4 years ago!  I'm on a new property this year and have two large deliveries slowly being spread where needed.  In the coop, on prospective gardens, surrounding the raised beds, and in two winecap-specific areas in the shade.  The limiting factor is my physical ability:  I just turned 70, and have a limited number of wheelbarrow loads each day, not to mention the mowing and gardening.  (The housework is a distant third, very distant!). I do realize that when I get the gardens up to size, I will have much less lawn to mow, which is all to the good.

I have trouble with clay soil in a low-lying front yard.  There is a shallow pond on the lawn much of the winter, and it flooded again in spring, and again recently.  I need to pile those chips high.  Trying to find plants that will be happy with occasional standing water, and will live through a drought (most of June) is quite a challenge.  

Bryant, thanks for your patience in answering SO many questions!  Your advice is always valuable, and is a major reason why I have just read this entire thread again.
3 months ago
This is a great thread!  I have ordered some Dr. Christopher's Tooth Powder and want to express gratitude for all of the information in this discussion.  I tried oil pulling in the past and I didn't feel it was possible to continue.  It was mildly nauseating (all in my head, I know, but too uncomfortable).

I suffer from significant dental anxiety, so I take very good (conventional) care of my teeth.  I'm excited to add some of these things to my regimen.

Vitamin K2 is in dark leafy greens!  People on blood thinners have to avoid kale (etc.) because of the high vitamin K levels, as Vit. K can thicken blood.  They are super healthy for the rest of us.
3 months ago