Joshua LeDuc

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since Mar 25, 2019
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food preservation homestead cooking
On 4/20/19 my wife and I moved out to an old farm on 27 acres from the suburbs. Starting over is a lot of work, but I'm looking forward to the challenge. I'm planning on developing a robust vegetable garden, orchard (food forest), and want to get some livestock.
King William, VA
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Recent posts by Joshua LeDuc

Awesome, I'll take a look!
2 weeks ago
Thanks for all of the great tips, Eric.  Do you have any photos of your operation to share?

I will continue to post updates on my progress!
2 weeks ago
Those are some really good ideas, Eric.  I seriously need to try this.  

Does it matter what type of wood to use for the chips?  I have several trees of paradise growing at the edge of my field that I need to exterminate.  I wonder how those would work for chips?  Also, a lot of tulip poplar and sweet gum.

Why the wine cap mushrooms?  I love mushrooms, but I have never eaten these.  Is it ease of growth, or extraordinary taste that makes these your favorite?  Where do you buy your spawn?  As a side note, I have flagged a couple large oak trees that have recently fallen back in my woods, and am wanting to inoculate these with Shiitake plugs.  I'm a little concerned that critters will eat them though!

The building one bed per year seems like a great plan!  What do you use for your sides?  I'll be honest - I have heard some things about not using treated for raised beds, but you can see from the picture of my old garden I used treated.  In the 8-9 years I had that garden, I never saw any deleterious effects.  I have also heard Jack Spirko echo my sentiments.  

2 weeks ago
Thanks Eric!

I like the paper idea.  I'm in construction, so I think I will start utilizing old blueprint drawings in my paths between the garden rows.

Yes, I like leaves because they break down so quickly and add rich organic matter.  Before we moved last spring I lived in a suburban neighborhood.  I would go around the "hood" and pick up all of the bags of leaves that other homeowners would drip off on the curb for the county to pickup.  I would then shred them and use them to cover my raised garden beds.  This worked wonders for weed suppression and  by the next spring I could lightly cultivate the leaves into the soil prior to planting my early season crops.  We shall see how this method works without the fancy wooden raised beds.  I miss my old garden some days.  

When we moved, I signed up for a couple of "chip drop" services, and called several local loggers, but nobody has been willing to drop off wood chips at my property as of yet.  Reason being is that we are pretty rural and on a small, windy road five miles off the highway.  I have thought about purchasing a chipper, however that is not a main priority right now.  Also, I can see the value of putting chips in the rows, letting them break down into soil, and then pulling the humus into the beds.  I'm not so sure about putting wood chips directly into the planting beds.  I feel that they would be a big obstacle when trying to rake, furrow rows, and plant seeds.  I could see this working with rows where you would, for instance, transplant tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant in however.  

I really don't know anything about mushroom spawn.  Please expound!
2 weeks ago
Update on the makings of a permanent bed no-till garden:

I have pretty much laid to rest the garden for the winter, after having harvested my butternut squash, so I wanted to share the finished product of all of my hard work this year.  The beds are all in really good shape and for the most part still weed free.  A few dock plants and wild garlic pushed right through the cardboard, but that is pretty much it.  I would definitely recommend this method when starting a garden from scratch in a pasture.  It is now time to start adding organic matter into the beds, which as you can see has been accomplished in the first few.  With the leaves falling right now, it is time to add shredded leaves in abundance.  I'm thinking about getting a broad fork, so I can fork these beds next spring prior to planting.  I am really looking forward to what 2020 will bring in the garden!
2 weeks ago
Welcome Michael!  Listening to you speak about all things paw-paw has inspired me to plant some trees next spring.  I actually found some fruit this past summer in central VA and am saving the seeds to plant.  

Anyone who would like to delve a little deeper into the world of paw-paws should listen to this recent podcast, which was fascinating by the way!
1 month ago
That is some great advice Jack.  Thanks.  So, you mentioned March for planting seedlings.  I keep hearing how fall is a great time to plant bare root seedlings.  Are you saying this time of the years isn't optimal for transplanting pecans?
2 months ago
Hi all,

I am looking to start 20 or so pecan trees in my old horse pasture, which will be the beginnings of what I would like eventually to be a thriving orchard/food forest.  I realize that zone 7a in central Virginia where I live is not the optimum region for pecans, but I have heard of people growing pecans in this region with success.  Does anybody have experience with what type of varieties would be the best for 7a?  

I have read with pecans that it is a good idea to plant 2 or 3 different varieties with overlapping flowering time spans in order to ensure better pollination.  What is your experience with this method?

Also, is there a recommended source for viable bare root pecan saplings for my region?  

Lastly, does anybody have experience interplanting other types of trees with the pecans as an understory?  I am thinking hazelnuts, elderberry, and maybe paw-paw.


2 months ago

Tj Jefferson wrote:My experience with figs in central VA- they die back if you get a hard winter, cultivar independent. The rest seems more to be about how likely they are to fruit after regrowth.

Protection helps. My protected figs after a mild winter put out hundreds of figs after three years, the unprotected ones maybe 1/4.

VdB has been a dud here, even protected. It does not seem to produce after dying back in this climate. I have gotten one fig in three years. Brown Turkey has been fine, I have one unnamed (probably Celeste) that has been outstanding. The flavor of Brown Turkey is more than adequate for me.

The LSU gold and purple are two years old and have not set fruit. They died even in a mild winter back to the ground. I am thinking of pruning them to try to thicken the primary stems to get them to harden off better but I am not sure when to do it. Maybe Dr Redhawk has some guidance.

I have shifted from getting a whole bunch of cool named cultivars to just going for numbers, since they tend to produce a handful of figs after a bad winter.

The biggest thing here has been to amend HEAVILY with calcium near the figs, the fruit initially would not mature and just sit as green golf balls for months. Now they ripen over the last 3 months of summer and fall.


Thanks for that.  When you talk about protection, how are you protecting the trees, or are you only planting them in protected areas?  I was planning on planting mine in my old horse pasture where I am planning on starting an orchard.  Do you think this would work, or would an edge with South exposure be a more suitable place to plant? Also, do you have a source in central VA where you are buying figs, or is there another source you would recommend?

2 months ago