j brun

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since Feb 12, 2020
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Mostly Pine/Spruce/Fir forest
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quebec zone- 4a loamy sand soil
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Recent posts by j brun

I read this post when it was made and started a batch soon after. I've had it in a cabinet in the bathroom where it stays pretty cool. I used a small canning jar with lid and packed it full of fresh leaves of common comfrey. Now I can still see the shapes of stacked leaves but they look more like a type of seaweed or similar. There is a thick brown liquid that moves around them as I turn the jar. The last few times I opened the jar it smelled terrible, so I didn't risk it today. I've used other forms of comfrey with great success, so it's nice to have another method available.  
1 month ago
I don't have experience with SLF but it seems that having it's preferred food, the tree of heaven, could be useful in monitoring and management. If the tree is growing in an invasive way, it makes sense to remove it, but to maybe pot up one or a few first to grow on as a sort of trap crop.
Natural pests seem to be birds, praying mantises, and wasps. I would maybe try to attract/re-locate these near where the pots are placed by having food-sources, water, perches/habitat for the pest control crew. Then I'd keep an eye out for signs of the SLF and watch for seeds forming on the tree of heaven.
2 months ago
I've also been trench/deep hole composting within the beds, primarily in the future corn/squash/beans spot. I put a cup-full or so of raw char in the bottom of my kitchen compost bucket to keep down smells and to somewhat charge the char, so it gets added too. This is more of a convenience thing usually, but the corn seems to grow higher in those spots. Another thing I've done is started making my compost piles right in the garden. It saves work and seems to give a nice boost to the plants around them. This spring I started a compost pile at one end of our 3-sisters bed and turned it every few days along the bed, all the way to the other end. This year the corn has done better than any other year, the butternut squash is looking promising, although the blue hubbard was completely wiped out by squash vine borers, and the beans are doing well enough.
3 months ago
I saw you are already working with bio-char, which is one of the strategies I've been investing in, in the last few years. Unlike the rest of the compost that I add, I can see the char accumulating.  

I usually add compost to a spot in a bed and cover with a light mulch of mostly pine needles etc. I try to let volunteers grow anywhere I am not planting something within the beds, other than grass, bindweed, and a few other species. When the volunteers start over-stepping their boundaries, I might pull a bunch and pile it up on top of the spot to slow them down while making some nice soil underneath. I've mulched the paths with bags of fall leaves split open to cover the grass with the paper and leaves, and also had a couple loads of softwood woodchips dropped off by the crews clearing the power-lines.

The chips, leaves, and soil underneath is filled with worms. I've started planting more varieties of ground cover now that the grass is gone. My plan now is to let the ground-cover overgrow a bit and then cover it with mulch when the time is right, perpetually creating compost while keeping a living root of a plant that is manageable in the soil as nearby as possible.

Hugelkultur has also been helpful with establishing perennials. I surrounded my main garden with a long mostly continuous mound where pine logs are buried about 1' deep with the whole pile being around 2' above ground level, with a small swale/ditch on the outside edge. The idea was to surround the garden with a bit of a windbreak and a sponge at the same time, while diverting some of the flooding we get with heavy downpours around the yard. This seems to have worked pretty well because we don't seem to get much flooding there anymore. I also don't usually water more than a couple times a year, only when it's really dry, and this year haven't needed to at all.

The first year I grew black beans all along the inside of the sandy mound and started planting black raspberries and wildflowers on the outside, while letting some of the weeds/volunteers grow, (yarrow, chickweed, evening primrose, mullein etc.) Now the raspberries are doing pretty well, and I planted the inside with honeyberries, but the volunteers are pretty overgrown, so I think this year I will focus my mulching on this mound.


3 months ago
I also like the idea of offering water first, if it isn't already available. I noticed early this spring a wasp flying while carrying a larvae near our back door. It then landed beside my head on the siding and crawled into one of the drain holes in the bottom of the piece of siding. Since then, I've seen the same thing, almost every day, often a few times a day. I try my best not to show them any notice, and my family has done the same so far without issue. I have a small birdbath setup right beside that door, and many different small container-type water sources throughout the property, that I'm sure helps keep them somewhat more docile.

I have also dealt with yellow jackets and bald-faced hornets. They are usually ok on their own, while foraging etc.. ..but they are often fierce protectors of their nests, and sometimes their nests are in a bad spot for us to co-exist.

My method of dealing with it is to cover myself completely, with tightly sealing layers and a wide brimmed mosquito-net hat, (maybe a bee-keepers suit would be ideal.?) so that I have little/no chance of being stung. Then I get my tools, and a smoky area to retreat to. I take apart what is needed to get to the hive and destroy it as quickly as possible. I've used metal cans with a small amount of gas in them, (danger!) and cut the nest off into the can and sealed it. Just as it's getting dark is best, as they are mostly in the nest then. Sometimes the ones that I didn't get will rebuild in the same spot. I sometimes spray some hornet spray where the nest was to try and deter the rebuilding.

Getting rid of ground nesting yellow jackets has been much more difficult in our sandy soil. I've only succeeded with the help of some brave wild creature who dug up my mostly failed flooding contraption to eat the nest.

Here, it seems this year is the year of the beetle, and I am thankful to the wasps here. Based on this observation, I am expecting next year for there to be a boom in the wasp population again.
3 months ago
Hey. Thanks for the introduction to a new variety to me. The Sakurajima radishes definitely seem worth growing, perhaps more so than the daikon we currently have.

I looked them up and found that they are named after the volcanic area they are from. The soil type is apparently mostly pumice and volcanic ash. I found this which has info on the area as well as some about the radishes.


In the link it says, "The soil is similar to a wasteland containing pumice. The moderately lean, well-drained earth is excellent for growing radishes as it is easy to control nutrients and water content."

I'm not sure about the specific mineral contents of the volcanic ash, (which may or may not play a significant role in the really large sized radishes,) but it seems somewhat mechanically similar to sand. I imagine, again mechanically bio-char may act in a similar way to the pumice.

If I were to try and replicate the conditions in japan, with what I have on hand, I would use char that has been soaked in compost tea, mixed with sand in a deep bed. I would keep them watered as needed and might include some sea-salt every once in a while.
This is pretty much what I already do but I also add as much organic matter as I can so that I don't have to water/feed as regularly.  Our radishes can get to a decent size, (~20" long, 2 1/2" thick at top,) if sown at the right time, mid-late summer, but they are a long variety. If I find some Sakurajima seeds, I think I'll give them a try and see how they do.  

4 months ago
I've done some mounds like this. They usually end up with alot of grass etc. growing back out of the sod that needs to be covered with more mulch later in the season. In the shade of the forest, they do ok to grow raspberries after a couple years, once the wood starts breaking down. It also seems to be a good way to quickly cover a pile of fallen trees to prevent fire, as they stay pretty damp afterwards. The mounds I've done this way in the sun stay dry/need watered, but will usually grow legumes well enough in my climate in the first season. Lupines have done well, relatively. It seems to be better where I am to have the wood atleast partially below the surface, which requires a bit of digging but offers a bit of soil to later fill in some voids, speeding things up.  
5 months ago
I've been doing a couple batches a year in a big multi-purpose pit. We have had a bunch of pine trees knocked over in storms and falling branches accumulate all year. I use the logs for hugelkultur, garden beds, or other projects, but the branches eventually build up to a certain point and when there is time and the weather is right I get the hose out and make a batch.  

So far each time I get 3-4 wheelbarrows full. Over the last few years I've done maybe 5 or 6 batches, and spread most of it to around 3000 sq ft. of garden space. I'll add most of the batch to a compost pile, and spread it from there. It seems to be making a difference, although I can't say to what extent. Our soil seems to be improving steadily in texture, moisture holding, and plants seem to respond well to the compost.  
5 months ago
Hi Nicole, welcome to permies.
I don't yet have experience with this plant or much anything desert related, but I looked into brittlebush and had a few ideas.
I think it would be an easier sell with your neighbors if there was no extra labor at all, or maybe some labor with potential to be paid for it.
Have you tried burning the stems? Another name I found was incienso, because a resin from the plant is used to make incense. Perhaps the stems can be burnt without alteration. If not, maybe they can be ground up and mixed with powdered charcoal, hydrated and formed as cones and allowed to dry, or some other type of incense.
There are also uses such as glue from the resin, "disposable toothbrushes," selling seeds/cuttings, and some medicinal qualities.
Perhaps one or a combination of these qualities will help entice your neighbors to take the job for themselves, or allow someone to farm that part of their property, with the major benefit of them needing less water for their yard.
This way you may deal with them at different stages, at different times of the year, to spread the tasks out.
I'm not sure of a low tech way to prune the dry stems. I would maybe  carefully stepping sideways on the branches to break them at a nice height if I wasn't trying to harvest them for more than mulch. A cleaner look could probably be accomplished with a hedge trimmer, or maybe a pair of large pruning shears.

5 months ago