Maieshe Ljin

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since Jul 22, 2021
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Interested in healing the relations between humans and the rest of the world, through foraging, gardening, and in general doing things in accordance with the way of nature.

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Southwest VT, zone 5a slope ~10°-30°
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Recent posts by Maieshe Ljin

Since I don’t keep livestock animals, I find composting useful for two reasons. One, transforming otherwise problematic substances—food scraps and especially humanure; and two, having a ready source of fertility that isn’t attractive to Gastropods. I don’t make a great quantity of compost, just enough to do this.

Actually, in the summer time I prefer to bring fresh food scraps directly into the garden and dump or half-bury them between plants like potatoes, who enjoy the fertility and mulching. Or I dig a pit, use the soil to hill potatoes or cover a hugelkultur, and fill it with layers of food scraps, biochar, green hay, comfrey, wood, and whatever else there is around, and let the fertility seep into the soil through the action of worms and wood lice. Eventually it will be covered up and planted. I think the cool, moist microclimate is especially helpful. I have also laid down a thick layer of green hay, a layer of soil over the top, and then planted directly into that. It helps keep out weeds and also provides enough fertility for a good crop of potatoes, squash, or other vegetables.

I once tried a sort of in-ground bokashi, which worked well—having dug a trench in the terracing process, I filled it with food scraps, cornstalks, cattails, and biochar, covered it with rotting wood, and allowed it to settle over the course of the winter. In my climate, the soil is consistently saturated over the course of the winter, such that even the smallest hole fills up to the brim with groundwater and snowmelt. Thus the organic debris underwent a kind of pickling, turning into a pleasant-smelling bokashi well liked by plants.

And let’s say I scythe goutweed, and then rake it up into piles. If I pick up one of those piles, it is one armful; I cannot carry any more. Now, if I let these dry in the sun for a few days, they shrink and wilt such that I could pick up three to five piles of them in an armful—far more than I could have originally. This means by loss of structure via wilting, and by a lesser extent loss of water, the volume decreases by about 70% already. And let’s say (theoretically since I don’t find it necessary to do this) I left them out on some warm gravel until they were completely dessicated, then put them into a tarp and stomped them to a powder. The size would most likely decrease by half at least—85% of the original volume now gone, what took three to five armfuls originally now fits in a large bowl, without any compost action, through the removal of water and space.

I don’t doubt the reality of offgassing at all, only would mention that to get coarse debris to the point of being a fine-ish, uniform substance is necessarily going to shrink quite a bit. And for atmospheric carbon, it seems like creating a sheltered microclimate and growing a diversity of plants is going to slow down the oxidation of humus more significantly. Cold/Ruth Stout/pit or trench rather than hot composting doesn’t hurt though.

I also like vermicompost made of plant stalks piled at the edge of the forest. Eventually it turns into a well-drained worm casting that is excellent for seed starting and grows very strong plants.

I’m surprised that no one has mentioned cover cropping yet. It seems like a popular choice for restoring fertility among organic farmers and gardeners. For me, diverse weeds mostly take this role, in which case it is always helpful to have these spontaneous helpers. I pull the most invasive kinds though.
1 week ago
When I saw the title I originally thought, Here is someone else to extol the virtues of slough muck as a soil amendment! But no… that is a disappointing situation.

Jay’s suggestion seems quite good. Another thought is to hoe in trenches, fill with fresh hay or other green leafy material, and cover it back up. I did this last year because of the abundance of weeds/hay in my area, and everything seemed to grow very well. I made a small bed on top of pure gravel by laying down weeds and food scraps, then covering with some mediocre sandy/loam subsoil, and it ended up making a decent harvest of delicata squash and kale.

If it’s a perennial bed… I really hope they weren’t crushed!
3 weeks ago
Thank you all for your responses. I have read through them and found a lot of different interesting perspectives.

In my situation we have mostly all loved each other, but also have acted like we are enemies plenty of the time. To me this feels very wrong in my heart, and I’ve come to believe that it is this enmity within the family that fuels at a small scale a substantial part of what is wrong with the direction of the world at large. I don’t think everyone has to make peace with their family—there are many situations where this isn’t a suitable option—but I think everyone should try the following.

I think I’ve figured out something—a sort of mindfulness—that works relatively well for me so far, and I’ve had the opportunity to test it.

First it took helpful advice from the hypnopompic state. During the mental purity of the first moment of waking, the thought came that although wisdom is developed through the mind, equanimity must be found in the body. And having applied this—maintaining or creating awareness of the entire body during difficult situations—doing so allows tension to melt and an equanimous mindstate to arise. I had the opportunity to test it at a family event, at which point there were plenty of words that could have (on my part) lead to feeling hurt, getting lost in rumination, etc. even though they weren’t intended that way. And it did work—I didn’t really feel stressed, only a little irritated when things like that came up.

Since then I have been practicing this way all the time, and it seems to consistently help with not just being less passive in family interactions, but with any major or minor stressor. The main issue is that thoughts of doubt—insidious—can worm themselves in like quack grass or Japanese knotweed, and if one does not weed them out then they can take over and destroy this equanimity. But the doubt, when still young, seems manageable by allowing awareness to settle through the body and calm it, and then to look the doubt in the eye and think to the doubt, “I see you”. Finally one might concentrate upon sensory reality and create a break between thoughts. Other hindrances can appear too—craving, fear and anxiety, and so on. It helps to remember that whatever it is, it is possible to respond calmly and still be (even more) effective.

To put it in a few words: Calm the body, then the mind. It is also similar to Buddhist methods of mindfulness.

I think it seems to be really helpful to me. I have shared it with another person who has also benefited from it.

Now as you are reading it, take a few seconds to try it—pay attention to the entire body and sense the tension that is being held, and as you do so, allow it to melt.

And now see what has changed in your mind. I am guessing that your thoughts have slowed down quite a bit, become more intentional and easier to manage; you have become more aware of your surroundings. If there are disturbing thoughts, then see through them and concentrate on what is before you.

This feels to me more practical than trying to make others change for me, and because of that, liberating. The problem was never that my parents were evil, just stressed, and stress is contagious. If you are taking care of someone with COVID, then wear a mask. With this equanimity it is possible to be peaceful and kind, to recognize the goodness and humanity in everyone and respond to their stress in ways that don’t make the other person feel they’re your enemy. That way it may be that the cycle of enmity is broken, though what will become of our relationships in the future, I am not yet sure; that depends on the choices we all make.
3 weeks ago
Another word on official comfrey and how I grow them. Today I noticed one of the seed-grown comfrey plants overtaking some barley that I had planted. There had just been a short rainstorm, so the soil was quite wet. I reached under the leaves and grasped the root, and gently pulled the entire plant up. Seedling grown plants make a neat, straight taproot in their first year, which has less issues leaving pieces in the soil. I am cutting off the crown to replant elsewhere, and preserving the root for medicine.
1 month ago
I’d like to live in a house with animals. At the very least, a few spiders, myself, and a water bear.
1 month ago
I think climbing plants sound better here. And there are plenty of good food plants among the ornamental vines: rose hips, kiwis, runner beans, whereas good fruiting ground covers like wintergreen need very specific conditions to survive, and others—goutweed and golden archangel deadnettle—are fine as greens, but quite invasive. The richer soil here also prefers tall plants, and a ground cover could easily be taken over by a fragment of goldenrod root.
1 month ago
Hello Meli,

This sounds like an excellent project and I’m excited to hear about how it goes. It seems like we are in somewhat similar zones of climate and vegetation, and possibly very good soil, so I would like suggest a few more good food plants, especially for if you have any sunnier patches.
-Apple trees
-American plum cultivars
-Parsnip—they are excellent self-sowing staples for the winter time, and may already be growing wild near you, and quite digestible as a staple. I think everyone in climates and soils similar to mine should grow them;
-Sochan, a good perennial green vegetable related to Black-eyed Susan.
-Pokeweed—I haven’t figured them out for cooking, but they’re a traditional vegetable, very easy to grow and long lived.
-Dame’s Rocket—in some areas they may be considered invasive, and perhaps they are already growing nearby. They are an excellent vegetable though.
-Ramps—plant as many as you can!
-Garlic—can be grown perennially in sunnier patches, and they tolerate a lot of competition and neglect. They will also self sow via bulblets. I mostly eat leaves and scapes from them, with a small bulb harvest.
-Potato, certain varieties are also perennial in good soil. These are a very good staple root.  
1 month ago
It depends on whether I have to go outside or not. I’m fine going out into the cold for short periods, but if I try for an extended time, I easily start shivering and feeling sluggish. So maybe I’ll take winter clothes in summer. I don’t want to freeze. On hot summer days, I cope by moving slowly. That day I could find a cool corner, maybe a cave, a mountain, or a cool streamside, and stay mostly stationary until evening.
1 month ago
I’d like to say go without the TV/computer. Whenever I don’t have screens around I feel much better. But for some bizarre reason here I am…

But I learn enough through online resources to make it really useful. So I’ll go without washer/dryer.
1 month ago
Compost of course! I am vegetarian and don’t have animals except for dogs, and they are plenty of work. Compost is what I would like.

I say I don’t have animals. But the gnarled, dying apple trees house plenty of birds, and these birds poop below, fertilizing the garlic mustard (and further causing the decline of the tree. But nature gives!) I just gathered a large, beautiful bunch this morning.
1 month ago