S. Bard

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since Feb 15, 2020
Italian Alps, Zone 8
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Recent posts by S. Bard

Susan Wakeman wrote:You can get daikon seeds from Sativa Seeds or Zollinger seeds in Switzerland. Check out Dr. Red hawks posts on soil. He also has some comments on dealing with a clay slope.
Would love to visit some time.

Thanks for the tip, Susan!
If you’re ever in the neighbourhood (we’re on the border between Trentino and Veneto), you are very welcome to visit! We haven’t got much to show off , though; as we’re only just starting the garden!

joanna Powell wrote:To S. Bard

You might have an invasion of "Tree of Heaven" You have to kill the roots, not just dig them up as it likes to form colonies and crowd everything else around it out. The leaves and trunk also have a acrid foul stink (my opinion). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ailanthus_altissima

Here's a video on how to kill it

Oh no! it does look like tree of heaven. What an ironic name.
But is herbicide the only way to kill it? How do you apply the herbicide with the cut and spray method to these tiny saplings.
If possible I would prefer not using herbicides. Would digging up the saplings repeatedly as they pop up eventually tire out the plant? Or is it fighting against the flood?
Thought I’d use this thread a bit as a log for the progression of our slope.
It has been the first time in over 50 days that we could go back to our slope to see how the fruit trees we planted just before lockdown were doing.
I had feared the worst, given that we experienced one of the driest springs in 50 years! A lot of the trees were bare rooted plants so not being watered for over 50 days should have been stressful for the plants. The last time we were at the site all trees were still bare of leaves and the grass hadn’t started growing. Despite having expected stunted growth due to the dryness, we were happily surprised to see that -our property had transformed into a green (albeit wild) oasis! Despite being on a very sunny and steep slope with very little rain these last two months, all the trees except for my mimosa had survived. My pears, cherries and apples even showed to bear some fruit!
I think what helped was that the surrounding vegetation had grown almost a meter high, shielding the trees from the worst heat and keeping the moisture from evaporating.

We cut down some of the grass (well more a mix of wildflowers, herbs, wild tree saplings and a mix of grasses) with a scythe (our first time scything!!!), clearing a path to reach the trees and giving the trees a bit more breathing space, but without clearing the whole field, so we can keep the shielding and slope stabilising property of the plants on the spaces we are not going to use right now. It was good to create a clear walking path between the tall grass because we disturbed two snakes while scything! Of one, a completely black one, we know it was most likely a carbonazzo, which isn’t venomous. The other one was brown, but we didn’t see it’s head as it was hidden in the grass. Here’s hoping it wasn’t a viper (which does occur frequently where we live). The carbonazzo however is going to be our (albeit ugly and somewhat scary) friend, because it actively hunts venomous vipers. As long as he doesn’t pop up all too often to scare the heck out of us! I don’t like picking strawberries and grabbing a fistful of snake instead!

As for our trees:
My apricot tree unfortunately had a lot of curled leaves, with little bugs hiding in the curls. While one of my cherries was infected with lice. I removed all of the affected leaves. Let’s hope that prevents further damage by the bugs! I had planted two cherries of two different varieties to cross pollinate. One of the trees was however already bearing fruit while the other one was still only budding out! That was a bit strange though. I specifically bought these two varieties for their ability to flower in the same period to cross pollinate, which has clearly not happened now. I’m guessing the other cherrie got cross pollinate by our wild sour cherries in our garden. As for the Lapins cherrie that still hasn’t leafed out, could this be due to the fact that this cherrie was a bare rooted plant while the other was potted, this taking longer to establish roots, stunting the development of leaves?

Anyhow it was great to finally be back on our property! And it was such a pleasure to discover for the first time was growing by itself on our property.
I found dozens of elderberries, wild grapes, walnuts, hazelnuts, robinia pseudoaccacia, acorn saplings,wild tulips and wild onions and dandelion. Of these I know their use.
Next I found dozens of plants of lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) which I believe is family of the borage family, a lot of what I believe is Ailante, some maple saplings, blatterdock, blue bugle, and a lot of blood-twig cornel. Aside from diversity, does anyone know some uses for these plants? Currently they are popping up on unfavourable places (like where I plan to put paths), so I’m debating wether they are worth investing the time transplanting them to other locations.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this!
Help!! Something is attacking my cuttings now! White sticky pin-prick sized critters have started populating the underside of the leaves!
The cuttings have finally started rooting, I don’t want to lose them now!! What do I do? 😢

I’m kicking myself from not noticing sooner, now they’re everywhere!!
They only seem to have populated the cuttings in the water. I’ve carefully tried to rinse all the leaves to wash them off. But I don’t know if I got all of them, and if that’s going to deter them enough from coming back.
I’ve also put the cuttings in the water away from those in the soil, so they hopefully don’t spread.

What else can I do to prevent these bugs from killing my already fragile cuttings. Please help!!

Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau s. Bard, it sseems that you are using the term tilling in place of turnig, we till the soil but we turn a compost heap, the difference is soil involvemment. When you first build a heap you layer it as you describe, then as the heating subsides some folks turn the heap, others use pipe to aad air to the heap (my preference) so the heap will continue to heat. Both methods will make good compost. It sounds to me like you aare doing well at making compost. If you want more help or have other questions, let me know.


Ah apologies for using the wrong terminology! Thanks for your explanation.
How often would you need to turn the compost heap? You say when the heat subsides. But I can imagine if one makes a compost heap out of kitchen waste, you are continually adding to the pile, so the pile would continually heat and cool down as you add more, right?
1 month ago
I love rocks! We have lots of them here and building walls and houses with them is part of the traditional landscape, although it has been slightly forgotten over the last decades.
Our garden is filled with rocks and we have stone wall terraces that are in need of reconstruction, so we’d love to learn how to build with them. The original part of our watermill is still a stone construction, made from the rocks they pulled from the rock cliff the house is built against.
I had already made a simple flower bed out of a pile of large boulders, but that consisted mostly out of removing rocks and replacing it with soil.
However we were very fortunate to participate in a communal course where the locals of our village could participate in restoring a storm damaged dry stack wall in exchange for learning the techniques while doing it (and drinking wine and eating sandwiches underneath the chestnut trees! Ah what a lovely day it was!). It was such a great learning experience, and I’m eager to apply our newly learned skills to our damaged dry stacked stone walls lining our terraces.
1 month ago
Hi Anita,

I’m fairly certain they came from the nodules, as when I planted them, one of them already had a bit of green leaf sprouting. Unless the soil that was attached to it hid the fact that the roots of the ground elder had simply grown around the nodule instead of coming out of it?
In any case, I will try to dig up the nodules this weekend to see what is happening.
1 month ago
When digging holes on my clay slope to plant my fruit trees last February, I came across dozens of small penny sized (or slightly larger) tubers that resembled potatoes somewhat in skin and colour.
Being curious as to what they were, I took some home with me and threw them into a pot on my balcony to see what would come out. I’ve been anxiously looking at what would grow, given that it looked like my slope was full of these tubers. I was slightly disappointed to see that something suspiciously looking a lot like ground elder popped up. Don’t get me wrong, I like ground elder to eat, but the thought of the whole slope where I intended my orchard and veggies to go, being completely covered with ground elder, is slightly horrifying.
In any case, the more I thought and researched about it, the more confused I got, because I can’t find anything about ground elder growing tubers...
Do I have my ID of the plant wrong, or is there a rare situation or variety in which ground elder grows tubers? I can imagine that if the ground elder does seem to grow tubers, that tells me something about my soil?
1 month ago
I’m noticing a big difference between the cuttings in the potted soil and the ones in the water now. Almost all of the cuttings in the water still have their leaves, while of the cuttings in the soil about half of them had their leaves dry out and wither. I’ve been misting the leaves of both twice a day now, and the soil in the pot has never been dry.
Is there still a chance I can save the cuttings from the pot?

The cuttings in the water have now finally pushed through the beginnings of their roots. Should I start transplanting them to soil now, or should I wait a bit linger still?
Also how big a pot would the cuttings need? For now I would have to keep them on our south facing balcony, which I can imagine being a bit too hot for delicate cuttings. But I don’t have any other places for the cuttings to go as long as this lockdown keeps going. I hope to be able to put them in full ground in our garden once the lockdown is over.

I’m fairly new to composting, or well, my family has always had composting piles, but that existed of throwing on whatever organic material waste we had in no particular order and then just let the chickens have a go at it. To be fair, our crops seemed to do just fine using this method. But I would prefer to have a little more knowledge of what I’m doing though, so I’m trying to read up as much as I can. Apologies if this might be a very beginner question!
The point that is still unclear to me is the tilling of the compost. If you’re working with a normal compost heap on the ground, and you build up the brown, green and soil layer lasagna, capping it off with soil: how often, if at all should you till the pile, resulting in destroying the layers and having the cap worked into the compost as well?And after tilling, do you need to cap it off again with soil? I’m not even sure how you should be tilling, do you till so all the layers are completely mixed, or is it enough to just work it over a bit so some oxygen gets into the pile? Is it just me or can information on composting be overwhelmingly detailed and confusingly vague at the same time?!
1 month ago