John Saltveit

gardener
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since May 09, 2010
John likes ...
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
Food forest in a suburban location. Teaches grafting and helps people learn how to grow food. Involved with a local food exchange group.  Shares cuttings and knowledge with schoolchildren.
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Recent posts by John Saltveit

What a bummer! I try to talk to my plants to encourage them. I think of them as teammates.
John S
PDX OR
1 week ago
Not all types of hibiscus are good for making tea. I live in a temperate area, so I can't grow the sabdariffa species. I can grow Hibiscus syriacus, Rose of Sharon, and I do.  The leaves are edible. They have a mild flavor, but a fibrous texture. I eat it primarily to diversify my gut microbiome. It's mostly grown for its beautiful flowers.
John S
PDX OR
1 week ago
These are great pictures and really interesting ideas.  Thank you for showing us how you do it.
John S
PDX OR
1 week ago
For more temperate areas, we have sometimes stored such plants in pots in the (heated or unheated) garage or storage shed, as your climate varies. It is not always too cold here, but many roots will get a disease and rot, particularly if the soil doesn't drain well in a wet area like here.  When I retire, I think I will grow more plants that can't handle temperatte climes and store them that way.  I will have more time and energy to take care of that kind of thing, and more need to take care of my health.
John S
PDX OR
1 week ago
Welcome fellow gardeners!
John S
PDX OR
SBengi-
Many cities have a program where they have a list of fruit trees that have been there before the current landowner, who knows nothing about the fruit. Generally, the person who takes care of the fruit gets half of the fruit and gives the other half to the poor. You don't have to own or buy anything. Portland fruit project is an example.   If there is no program in your city, just ask people with fruit trees that look like they're neglected.   There are also community gardens where you can "rent" a space in a public garden very cheaply. Some people have done this for decades.  Also, if you live in the country or a small town, land is amazingly cheap.  Anyone with a reasonable job can buy land there.  There are also many old people who want help, can't get on ladders, are tired of paying people $500 a pop for yard work. There is the window of opportunity.
John S
PDX OR
2 weeks ago
This is a great discussion!

You guys are really helping me visualize what we're trying to do here, and at what scale.  Yes, Greg/Michael, that is what I meant.  The efficiency that I'm looking for is relatively large amounts of high quality char and low smoke. That's what I've been getting. The flame goes very high up into the chimney, and burns the volatile gases.   There is no air that can come in from the sides.   The char is very light weight, and makes a musical tone when it hits something.  I do try to make the wood super dry for that reason, and I try to cut them into approximately equal lengths.  I have learned over time that I don't want unburned wood and I don't want ash at the end.  By timing it just as the flames die down almost to the char, it turns out really well each time.

Great collaboration on the design and visual, Jan and Chris.  When I visualized a cone, I didn't get it. When it looks like a cylinder it makes much more sense to me.
John S
PDX OR
2 weeks ago
Greg,
The tepee structure makes sense as it can make it more vertical, like a rocket mass heater, and thus more efficient. That is not what I've seen from most pits.

An important point that you guys are making is the scale.  My 55 gallon drum fits the extra prunings from my .2 acre food forest really well. I am currently running about 4 loads of it per year.   I don't have room for a pit in the yard.  I can burn the drum in the driveway, so I don't endanger anything nearby.  The 55 gallon drum and chimney are skinny and vertical, taking up very little space.  I use the drum to put wood into it during this time of year, so it is storing the wood to dry it out, which I couldn't do with a pit.   It sounds like you have bigger yards and more wood or biomass to get rid of.  

I like how we are presenting a wide variety of options for people who have different situations.

JohN S
PDX OR
2 weeks ago
One of the reasons that I use biochar is that our soils are naturally very acidic due to high rainfall.  For most plants, biochar improves nutrient availability, but I keep it away from blueberries and huckleberries.
johN S
PDX OR
3 weeks ago