Mk Neal

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since Feb 02, 2019
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dog forest garden fish foraging urban cooking food preservation bike
Torn between wanting a bigger garden and loving the city life.
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Recent posts by Mk Neal

Same here in Chicago.  Things sprouted during a warm spell, and then it cooled off and the sprouts are just "chilling" and not growing much.
Beautiful idea.  Interesting that roos eat roses; I would not have thought!  I guess in Australia you need to roo-proof your gardens just like people in North America try to deer-proof their gardens.

Jay Angler wrote:Forest Viridiana wrote:

I want high ceilings in the summer and low ceilings in the winter.  I have thought about constructing some type of temporary loft over my living room with panels that could be easily removed or swung upwards and secured during the summer.

Interesting that you just wrote this. Yesterday my family and I were discussing the whole "high ceiling" thing and I mentioned that I recalled that at Wheaton Labs, one winter they used fabric as a "lowered ceiling" in their tepee. I had had a similar idea at one time that I hadn't acted upon as it hadn't been critical path, so we discussed how something like a fabric "roller blind" that went horizontally across a room in the winter, but rolled up against a wall in the summer might be a cost effective way to improve an existing situation. Your idea of panels that actually made for temporary living space has merit - so many homes are larger than really needed just to accommodate occasional guests!
Hopefully someone at Wheaton Labs will see this and know whether I'm remembering correctly or not, and how it worked out.

A similar idea to the old-fashioned canopy beds; creating a small, cozy chamber which traps body heat so you are comfy without using so much energy to heat a whole room.  Maybe we should make a "canopy couch" for winter family TV-watching?
5 days ago

Jay Angler wrote:Hubby agrees with your figures, John.

More seriously, I can remember reading "A Pattern Language" and the author stating that we need more "working housing" - small production products for the neighborhood produced in ground floor workshops with housing behind and above. I'd change that to food production behind and housing above. People will eat better if they have some fruit trees and veggie gardens on their own land. Some people figured that out with the Covid crisis last year, but I really wish more had figured it out 3 decades ago before our communities were filled up with big houses on tiny lots. Unfortunately, most communities actually consider having a "business" in your home to be a breach of planning rules.

Alternatively, I can remember seeing plans for solid small homes built in China which were sturdy enough to have serious roof gardens. Having the garden on top ensured better sunlight.

You may be interested to know that in Chicago the city government actually just relaxed the rather restrictive home business ordinance in response to how people's lives changed during pandemic. It will be much easier to (legally) run a "cottage business" out of your home now. Roof gardens and green roofs are also a big thing here.

Alderman approve massive re-write of Chicago's home business ordinance-Chicago Sun Times
5 days ago
I have read that fenugreek seed is used for artificial "maple" flavor.  If you smell the seeds, it does make sense.
5 days ago
The green fiddleheads of the ostrich fern are now beginning to push through their brown sheaths. This is the same crown pictured earlier.

Palm Sedge (Carex muskingumensis) shoots up from among last year's leaves, some of which are still green.

Young leaves of prairie coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata) are like long-fingered hands.  The stems are reddish now, but will be green when mature.

Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra) puts up a thick purplish stem with a little fist of fringed leaves on top. This is an interesting woodland flower. Wildlife eat the fall berries, but I am told all parts are poisonous to humans.

I believe this is a Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), but I will need to watch it over the next week to be sure.
Interesting.  Similar to the wild-harvested aquatic grains that were a staple food for the indigenous peoples of the great lakes/upper midwest.
Great to learn that forsythia is more than just a pretty flower in spring!
1 week ago
Rains this week really got the plants shooting up.

Here are is the bellwort again, more shoots and taller now:

Astilbe (Astilbe chinesis) shoots look like little reddish-purple question marks or fiddleheads rising out of the soil before the leaves unfurl:

The pointy shoots of lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) are sheathed in purple/gray when they first break the soil. This heady-scented flower grows in shade.  The plant spreads by rhizomes and forms a thick mat of fibrous roots which exclude other plants.

Purple peony shoots almost look like flowers.

Gooseneck loosetrife emerging from the soil. This plant spread rather aggressively.

I was worried that I killed off my rhubarb last year, but this one little shoot has come up! It emerges like a little wrinkled version of the mature plant.

The dark green, almost stemless, pointed leaves of purple coneflower (Echinacea Purpurea) coming up in front of the rounder leaves of a rosette of tall bellflower.

Queen of the prairie (Filipendula rubra) shoots look like a larger version of astilbe. Long, purple-red curved stems emerge with the leaves tightly furled.  As the leaves spread open, they become greener.

Some worthwhile perennials which thrive but stay put in my garden:

Native to midwest:
Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), the pale flower unbels smell like vanilla!
Golden Alexander (Zizea aurea)
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Button blazing star (Liatris aspera)
Ozark bluestar (Amsonia illustrus)
Bloodroot (SAnguinaria canadensis)--one of the very earliest bloomers

Non-native pollinator favorites:
Astilbe (Astilbe chinesis)
Bigleaf ligularia (ligularia dentata)

1 week ago