Melissa Bee

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since Nov 20, 2020
Kitsap County, Washington, USA
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Recent posts by Melissa Bee

echo minarosa wrote:

Melissa Bee wrote:As for whole eggs that have gone off, or are suspect, I dig a little trench around existing plantings and and toss them in, making sure they all break before I cover them. I always assumed they would, in time, break on their own, but no they don't. Hitting a bunch of year-old rotten eggs while digging to move a garden bed--there is not enough "Eew!" to describe that, LOL.

They're not breaking down even after they're broken? That must be horrible! :)

The contents of the eggs that broke when going into the bed did break down, no problem.

The contents of the eggs that were still intact when I buried them, however, did not break down--or, rather, they just went bad within the shells, without feeding the soil. Because unbroken eggs, as it turns out, will take a very long time to finally break when buried. I thought the shells would break down a lot faster than they did, but they are remarkably persistent.

Once those nasty, year-old eggs were broken and re-buried, the contents were finally available to soil microbes and other life, and their contents quickly became part of the soil.

So that was how I learned that if you're going to throw bad eggs in to a garden bed or compost pile to rot, make sure they all break open before burying them. Don't think you can just avoid the stink by burying them intact. I don't know how long an intact egg can survive being buried before finally breaking down, but it was a heck of a lot longer than I would have imagined, and they stunk a whole lot worse the second time around, LOL.
1 month ago
I've used powdered eggshells primarily as grit, as well as to control pH, in vermicomposting. I'm not raising worms at the moment, but when I am, they always get first dibs on my eggshells.

Once in a while, when I've accumulated a ridiculous amount of eggshells, I'll break them up into coarse (up to 3/4") pieces and use them as a mulch on container plants. If they happen to get turned and mixed into the soil while harvesting or transplanting, they don't lock up nitrogen like wood does. It's a bit trickier for me to keep the soil for container plants in balance than it is in regular garden beds, and I've tended to have more problems with acidity than alkalinity, but the eggshells have been helpful there.

As for whole eggs that have gone off, or are suspect, I dig a little trench around existing plantings and and toss them in, making sure they all break before I cover them. I always assumed they would, in time, break on their own, but no they don't. Hitting a bunch of year-old rotten eggs while digging to move a garden bed--there is not enough "Eew!" to describe that, LOL.

1 month ago
One book that might be of interest is Elizabeth Haywood's 'Zero Waste Sewing,' which includes a number of projects--mostly women's clothes, but a few unisex garments as well. She's on Instagram as @lizhaywood3754, and posts readers' finished projects, if you want to get an idea of what to expect.
1 month ago
You could do the carport as a general living space, and set up a small dome tent inside of that to sleep in and hunker down in the coldest weather, covering it with whatever you've got that would insulate it (Mylar "space" blankets and/or salvaged bubble wrap weigh almost nothing, and might be a good first layer under blankets, carpet padding, or what-have-you. Maybe put it up on a low platform made from pallets to get you off the floor and out of the coldest drafts.

That way, it would be easy to sleep in a nice, warm space without also having to heat the entire inside of the pole barn, or keep even the space inside the carport, tolerably/safely warm.
1 month ago

Kathleen Sanderson wrote:Funny that this popped up just now -- I had just looked Permaculture: A Design Manual up on Amazon and it's well over $600 now!  Was wishing I had kept our copy when my ex and I broke up, LOL!  

I am not going to order a copy of it from Australia just now, however, because I've broken my book budget for the month with Polyface Designs by Joel Salatin and Chris Slattery.  I think that one will quickly pay for itself, and I do have Gaia's Garden, among others.

Funny, I just ordered one from the publisher today, to replace my old one. I didn't even look at the price on Amazon.

PermaculturePrinciples has a sale price on it of $95 (down from $114)--but they're out of stock. :/ I bought David Holmgren's Retrosuburbia from them last year, and was happy with their service, so that's another US-based source for it, whenever they get more copies in.
1 month ago
Like Ralph, sheer laziness.

Or, rather, "laziness" is what it gets called when you're one of those people who thinks working very hard for little or no meaningful gain makes no sense, and refuse to do it--even when you're clearly not lazy because you're doing all kinds of other things that are interesting and rewarding.

I grew up in suburban SoCal in the '70s and early '80s, and deeply resented chores like lawn-mowing, leaf-raking, and hedge-trimming because it felt like being stuck on a treadmil, going nowhere. I remember, at age eight, telling my parents that if we just let the unused front lawn die off during the dry times of the year, and spray-painted it green, nobody would notice, and we (my brother and I) would be spared that hour and a half of front-yard maintenance every Saturday and could thus do something more fun (that they'd save money on the water bill was still outside of my conceptual framework). It didn't go over well (and I don't think saving money on water would have made much of a difference).

Southern California is a fantasyland, a folly--it's a desert next to an ocean, and the inhabitants have been fighting for over a century now to keep up the pretense that it's a lush and verdant garden. But the desert keeps asserting itself, interrupting humans' silly play-pretend game. The real seasons there are Beautiful, Hot and Dry, Everything's Burning, and then Floods and Mudslides. And as a kid, watching the adults around me put so much time, money, ingenuity, and effort into this ongoing battle against nature, that they waged constantly in the name of everything "looking nice"--it became part of a whole complex of doubts I had about their sanity, and whether I should trust any of their ideas about how one ought to live their life, or aspire to.

I found myself rooting for the desert. And not just the literal, SoCal coastal desert that wants to burn up, and will (just you wait!), but other environments and other situations where nature is just doing its nature thing, while humans run themselves ragged trying to pretend they can conquer it, and make it do their bidding.

A book that hit me full-force when I first read it was John McPhee's The Control of Nature, particularly the essay, "Los Angeles Against the Mountains," because it spoke so eloquently of the folly and absurdity and willful denial of nature I'd witnessed since childhood. That somebody had seen the same thing I had, and put it into words like that, made me feel so much less alone.

I didn't learn about permaculture until 1993, while living in San Francisco. I was in no position then to actually practice it. But I remember flipping through some guy's copy of Mollison's designer's manual, as he explained the basics to me, and having the feeling of relief, of thinking, "My god, somebody actually understands the problem, and knows what to do about it."
1 month ago
I grew up in Southern California, calling them all "sowbugs." I spent a decade in the SF Bay Area, where I started differentiating between flattish "sowbugs" and rounded "pillbugs," and that's what I still call them after 26 years in western Washington State.

I've always thought "rolly polies" was just a little kid thing, and have heard them called "potato bugs" or "woodlice" maybe once. Maybe I need to get out more, and have more discussions of small garden crustaceans?

Oh, and I did know a kid in grade school, who was not from Texas, yet he insisted they were "armadillo bugs," and would vociferously correct anybody who called them anything else. He was even weirder than me, and now I wonder what became of him...
2 months ago
I'm buying a house with a septic drainfield, and have been thinking about this, too.

My plan right now is to seed the scruffy existing lawn over the drainfield with white clover, and plant mostly ornamental/aromatic/bee-friendly perennials around the periphery. Just beyond that, along the fenceline, I should have a bit of space to construct a hugel berm and put in blueberries, currants, and/or gooseberries.

The best spot for me to plant fruit trees away from the drainfieldunfortunately happens to be where a gravel driveway used to connect to an adjoining property before the access was re-routed. It's got 50-something years of compacted gravel to contend with, and I suspect the surrounding soil is low in organic matter (other than a strip of woods, none of the plantings currently on the property are flourishing).

So this coming year is probably going to be a lot of mattock-and-shovel work so I can get that soil ready for fruit trees next year. I wish I could confidently plant fruit trees along the edge of the drainfield, but unless I go with super-dwarf varieties, I think I'm setting myself up for expensive trouble in the future. And eventually, I would want to reclaim the ex-driveway area anyway, so I'm just going to woman up and do it. Awful as I suspect it is right now, it really is going to be the best place on the entire lot to have fruit trees in the long haul. And in 5-7 years, with the worst of the work behind me, and seeing some literal fruits of my labors, it won't seem so bad. It's just getting there that will suck for a while.
2 months ago
When I moved into my current house, there was already an overgrown buddleia (butterfly bush) in the back yard. I cut it down to a stump, it grew back, and over the last 15 years of pruning it's turned into a small, twisted tree. It puts out a crazy amount of new growth every year, and provides shade to a west-facing set of windows, but through the spring, summer, and well into fall I'm constantly tearing off excess growth and using it as chop-and drop within the back yard. In early winter I give it a hard prune, and since it grows so fast and has such weak wood, the wood rots away in no time at all if I toss it on the ground.

I originally kept it because it provided much-needed shade and the bees absolutely love the flowers, but now I appreciate the insane amount of biomass it cranks out every year. I don't even need tools to prune it; I can literally tear pieces off it and break it up with my bare hands. And it responds to my harsh treatment by just cranking out even more growth. In fact, it's kind of a relief when it goes (mostly) dormant in the winter. Despite not being a food plant, I'll probably plant a couple at my new place, as it does make a good shade/screen plant in the summer, the bees really do appreciate it, and it's pretty much a mulch-producing machine, once established.
2 months ago
To get a really good, permanent, non-fading, vibrant blue finish on wood takes a couple of steps. You can use either artists' oils or acrylics; I recommend acrylics. They can be thinned with water, and while they dry a lot faster than oils, that's okay when you're dealing with small areas like this.

I use two shades of blue--Phthalo Blue and Ultramarine, in artists' grade paints (NOT craft paint, which has white added).

The Phthalo Blue has a slightly greenish cast to it, and it goes on first. Since the wood is yellowish in tone, it will make Ultramarine (which leans more toward red) look dull. Undercoating with Phthalo Blue will counteract that. Thin it out with water, brush it on as evenly as possible (dampening the raw wood first helps), let it dry, and apply a second coat. You should have a mid-tone teal/peacock blue by then--but not too dark, because once the Ultramarine goes on, it will darken considerably.

Repeat with the Ultramarine. As with any paint or stain, it's best to build up thin layers than to try to get it all in one shot. Lightly sand/buff between each coat. Do every square/chessman at each step so you can keep the color consistent. And before touching your project  try all of this out on a piece of scrap wood to see how much to thin the paint, and how dark to get it before applying the next color, and how many coats of each to get the color you want.

Hit it with some spray polyurethane, and the depth of the color will be amazing.

This also works with purple, by the way, only I use a Quinacridone Magenta base coat, and either Dioxazine Purple or Ultramarine Blue over it to get either a reddish or violet shade.

These work best on lighter-colored woods that have been bleached, or on something already cool and pale, like birch. The more yellow the wood, and the darker it is, the more the wood color will counteract the blues, and it'll just look ugly.

2 months ago