Companion Planting Guide by World Permaculture Association
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Abe Coley

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since Nov 13, 2010
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Recent posts by Abe Coley

Bur Oak acorns are widely regarded as being quite edible with minimal processing, and in my own experience I have found them palatable straight off the tree. I wouldn't try eating too many raw Bur Oak acorns in one sitting because they do still have tannins in them, but they are low enough that I'd imagine they'd be tannin free after only a day or two of soaking.  

On the other end of the spectrum, I've heard that Chestnut Oak (quercus montana) holds onto its tannins very strongly, despite being in the white oak group, and that it's impossible or at least very difficult to leach them to the point of edibility. I haven't tried them myself,

As for flavor, I've heard from a variety of sources that acorns of the red oak group have superior flavor to the white oaks, but they take longer to leach the tannins.

For animal feed, sawtooth oaks are known for being extremely heavy bearing of small acorns that are eaten by wild turkeys, etc. I've heard a single sawtooth oak tree can fill two full size truck beds with with acorns.

For early bearing, I've heard that Dwarf Chinkapin Oak can start producing nuts at 4 or 5 years, and Gambel Oak before 10 years. Both these types also have the benefit of being small trees, so you can realistically fit them in a corner of your yard or a hedgerow.

+1 on the Eric Toensmier publication on acorns, lots of good info in there. I'd also recommend this lecture by Osker Brown, "Nuts as staple foods":
2 days ago
I've caused apple root suckers to pop up by digging a hole that chops thru a root, and leaving the hole unfilled. The chopped end of the root, where it's exposed to the air, will put out a leafy shoot. I dug up and transplanted one a few days ago.
6 days ago
I go by the Geoff Lawton expression "A forest grows on a fallen forest," so prior to planting trees in an open field I lay out sticks, logs, piles of leaves, or other mulch at each tree planting site. Let the mulch sit for a few months or a year before you plant and when you return to it it will be full of activity where the wood contacts the ground - mycelium, insects, worms, etc. Then you just tuck a little tree seedling in there, give it a splash of water every now and then, and you're good to go.

As for building a fungal network, think of your mulch-tree sites as the nodes in a network. Both the mycelium and tree roots can reach out a certain distance from node to node. By placing regularly spaced sites at not too great a distance from one site to the next, the nodes can become interconnected and thereby the network can be traversed by wayward fungi.
6 days ago
If people are further interested in broader topics of farming as a career or occupation, I highly recommend the works of George Henderson.

Here's a pertinent bit from his 1960 book The Farming Manual: A Guide to Farm Work:

"First, to select potential workers. You set a simple, straightforward task well within the capacity of the unskilled individual; and then you go away for some unspecified time; on your return, in the split second that your eye picks up the worker, notice if he is actually working. Do this three times; and if on each occasion the person was productively engaged, you have probably first-class material on which to work. Twice out of three times, a possible; once a doubtful; and if never working, quite useless. I was told this many years ago by a very experienced and observant farmer. I thought it rather hard to be judged by three split seconds in perhaps eight hours, but I have found it a very sure indication in having over a hundred people serving a trial period; and also in testing it out on my neighbours' employees, and deciding in my own mind whether the farmer will retain them or not, presuming he will judge by other standards, and in any case will be quite uninfluenced by me in any way, the final result is the same, but it almost invariably takes him longer to find out. "

Three of George Henderson's books are available for free at Lots of high quality practical information about many facets of the actual job of farming.

Blaise Waniewski wrote:Important to note that for most of my trees the root stock and the above ground growth share genetics. Most of these have been started from seed. They include apple, goumi, apricot, peach, sour cherry, quince and jujube.

If they're seedlings then there's no need to worry about it. Prune them off if you want a single-stemmed tree form, but perhaps wait until after they have gone dormant so they are able to pump as much sunlight as they can for the rest of the season.

With grafted trees, you would want to remove the suckers, as they can be far more vigorous than whatever is grafted on top, and can starve and eventually kill any grafted portion above.

If you have winter predation from voles, rabbits, etc., single stem trees are easier to protect, but there's no reason you can't put a wire cage around the whole thing, or multiple tree tubes on all the suckers, etc.
1 week ago
I've got a few trees from, they are in the bay area.

If you're looking for the nitty gritty on how/where you can import trees into CA (and other states), here's the official regs:
1 week ago
Farm work is the most honorable work there is, and that should be clearly translated from employer to employee. If we want more people in agriculture, employers need to lift people up, not grind them down. Workers should feel valued and respected. When I pay entry level farm hands to dig and plant tree seedlings in my nursery, I pay $20/hr, I give them extensive training on every little detail, I let them ask a million questions, and I work alongside them all day so that they build up trust in themselves that they know what they're doing and they're doing it as good as I would do. I don't just want anyone who works for me for a week to be able to go off and start their own tree nursery, I want them to feel empowered and inspired to actually go and do it. What I don't want is for them to be like "Man, digging trees is hard work for crappy pay, I'd rather get a tech job."

That's how it was on my first farm job (age 11) hand moving irrigation pipe and also moving motorized wheel lines on about 100 acres of alfalfa. Before being cut loose on my own, I did the job alongside the farm owner for the first week, even though it was a super basic job that I probably could have done after being shown once. It was two wheel lines and one hand line, each 1 move per day, every day. It took about 1 hour per day to move the three lines and I was paid $10/hr. Paid weekly, summer of 1996. Adjusting for inflation that would be $19.48 per hour in 2023.

Today there are way more job openings than job seekers, but if the balance of the current job market were reversed to say Great Depression era conditions, your expectations as an employer might be more reasonable. Nowadays people job hop all the time and it's pretty widely understood that "minimum wage is for minimum effort."

Tree felling is dangerous work and I would never let an entry level farm hand to do that sort of work, much less on their own and without training. If they did have experience felling trees, I would think they would be much better suited to get a job as faller on a logging crew, as the 2022 mean salary for that is $27.95/hr: Or they could just go into the firewood business, as cords of firewood are currently selling for between $200 - $350 per cord on craigslist.

As for driving a tractor / trailer / excavator, I wouldn't let an entry level person anywhere near heavy equipment without extensive training or even accredited certification, both for their sake and the equipment's, like any legit company would do. Otherwise you're setting yourself up for "Well Boss, Jimmy ran over Bobby's leg and put him in the hospital, the excavator's on its side in the ditch, but that's fine because you were only paying Jimmy and Bobby minimum wage."

Expectation that someone can work all day independently is something that I do agree with, but I wouldn't expect it on day one because farms are crazy complicated, each farm is unique in where/how things are stored or operated, and if they don't have a ton of questions about every little thing, they should. To me, if a farm hand can meet all those expectations on day one, they by definition aren't entry level, and they should be paid quite a lot more than minimum wage.
2 weeks ago
Here is an article about an interesting study that substituted biochar made from coffee grounds in place of sand when making concrete, and the result was an almost 30 percent increase in compressive strength.

Here is a direct link to the research paper:

For the experimenters out there who do both biochar and concrete stuff, might be worth it to mix up a batch or two and see how it actually performs IRL.

As they say, "cool beans."
1 month ago
The type of cut is called a "rafter seat." Be sure to use hurricane ties to connect the rafters and top plate. If there are to be no collar ties in the open area, you will probably want to make sure there is a full ridge beam and plenty of purlins that span the open section and overlap onto several rafters on either side. If possible, in the open section maybe just use shorter collar ties and have the canoe hang just a bit lower, or do a scissor truss for the rafters in that section, which will give a lot of strength without as much height loss as a collar tie.

1 month ago
+1 for the red mulberries. They are very tough plants. The first year or two from seed they die back completely to the ground, but after that they have enough roots under them that they can grow fast enough to harden off some woody material before winter comes. My tallest ones are now approaching 3 feet tall and don't die back to the ground any more.

Also, the variety Illinois Everbearing have seemed to do pretty well for me. Minimal dieback every winter.

Someone mentioned leaf shapes looking different. I have heard that mulberries can go through several changes of leaf shape as the plants mature, generally staring off as mostly un-lobed leaves, become more lobed and having different numbers of lobes as time goes on.

1 month ago