Cathy James

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since Jun 05, 2020
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Recent posts by Cathy James

You are absolutely right to focus on soil. It's critically important.

But garlic isn't the place where it matters most. Green leafy plants extract a lot of nutrients from soil and those are the crops where I suggest you put your soil research into practice first.

paul wheaton wrote:We might need to update the infographic since the cost of electricity and natural gas has gone up so much since we first did our research.



The cost of purchased, cut firewood here has also gone up dramatically since this discussion began.
6 months ago
I've never heard of using rubbing alcohol, but I routinely soak onion bulbs in a 5:1 water/bleach mixture for about 5 - 10 minutes before planting. This kills viruses on the outside of the bulb, reducing virus load and letting the bulb grow bigger. (Because multiplier onions and garlic don't go through a seed stage, the bulbs can steadily accumulate viruses over many generations.)

Garlic benefits from a certain amount of cold "chill hours" before growing the next season. It's called "vernalization", and comes about because garlic is adapted to colder climates. The refrigerator/freezer advice sounds like an attempt to fake this, but since garlic wants 4 - 8 weeks at low temperatures, it would have to be a pretty long exposure. If you live in a zone with a normal cold winter, there's no need to use artificial means of chilling. Just plant in fall, preferably a week or two before first frost, and it will take care of itself.

Garlic wants good soil, but it's very hardy. Don't overthink it. If you do what worked for you before, it's a good bet it will still work for you in the future, even as you learn more things.
Are the yin-yang beans the same thing as Jacob's Cattle?  They look extremely similar.

I have grown Vermont Cranberry beans, and mine are definitely a darker pink rather than the whitish color you show. I suspect that may be a mutation from the original Vermont Cranberry line. What was your seed source?

The only frustrating thing I have found with dry or shelly beans is that you only get one crop a year, unlike green beans, where they yield over and over until frost. So you need a lot more space to produce a year's worth of dry beans than a year's worth of green beans.
7 months ago
Crab apples are excellent for making apple jelly or extracting pectin for other uses. If you get crabapples, make sure they are not the tiny ornamental crabaples with fruits the size of a pencil eraser. Normal crabapple fruits are about the size of the human eye.

7 months ago
I read this book some years ago, and liked it very much.

Much of what has been written about growing perennials or food forests is aimed at fairly warm climates. This book shows that New England is not too cold for a very productive, small-scale permaculture garden.
10 months ago
The key thing to remember with all of these options is the "wait 5 to 10 years part". Getting fruit trees or even berry bushes large enough and established enough to produce significant fruit is a long-term project.

If you are not yet at your permanent homestead and expect to move in the next 5 years, it may not be worth it.

On the other hand, strawberries establish themselves faster than anything else I have tried. You can get some fruit in Year 1, and lots of fruit in Years 2 and 3. After that, it's recommend to move the bed to a new location.

Has anyone gotten strawberries to grow well as a truly perennial crop, without needing to move beds or pull out old plants by hand?
10 months ago
Ironically, it just needed more patience. This year, for the first time, I got a pretty decent honeyberry crop, considering that I only have two plants.

The issue seems to be that they need 5 years or so to grow large enough and put down enough roots, at least under my growing conditions.

The berries are tasty, and work well on ice cream or cereal.

Those of us used to planting annuals need to reset our timing expectations for perennial crops!
10 months ago
This topic is of great interest to me. I have the microscope, but would welcome any suggestions on taking soil samples, isolating the microorganisms, or observing them.

Thank you for starting this topic!
1 year ago
VRBO = Vacation Rental By Owner

(in response to an earlier question in this thread)
1 year ago