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Matthew Nistico

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since Nov 20, 2010
Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
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Recent posts by Matthew Nistico

Meg Mitchell wrote:"Artichoke sunflower" isn't any more egregious than "pineapple" imo.

Good point about pineapples.  Nothing to do with pine trees, nor with apples.

I have always wondered if that was not an eggcorn itself for "spiny apple," but I've never read as much; I'm just totally pulling that out of my ass, LOL!
1 day ago

Beth Wilder wrote:Lol, I don't think I could ever get used to calling crosnes Chinese artichokes. I stumble over explaining to folks, when I say "sunchokes," that they might know them as Jerusalem artichokes.

For what it's worth re: crosnes, I worked at the restaurant started by the chef and talked often to the farmer who together are credited with bringing crosnes from France to the States (in the '70s or '80s? I can't remember). Odessa Piper, who had done a little farming, started L'Etoile Restaurant in Madison, WI, which is still open and still purchases most of its ingredients from local farmers. The story is that she visited France and tried crosnes and loved them, so she stuffed some in her dirty socks and smuggled them back to Madison in her luggage. She handed them over to her friend Richard at Harmony Valley Farm (I can just imagine the look on his face) and he planted them. He thought for a few years recently that he'd lost them (i.e. couldn't find any coming up), but then discovered a hidden patch, and they returned to the big famous farmers' market around the capitol square in Madison.

I love those little crunchy grubs. I think of them as mint tubers, since they're Lamiaceae. I'd love to try growing them here in the desert, but don't know if they'd make it. I do intend to try sunchokes.

What a fascinating story!  Thanks for sharing.

I of course have already announced that I've not yet grown these myself, but I did spend an hour Googling and reading about them earlier today.  I imagine that your Arizona climate will fit within their acceptable range so far as temps go.  But being a type of mint, as you say, they do prefer moister soil.  Sounds like you would have to do a lot of irrigating to get them to thrive in the open : (

Do you have any ponds or streams on your land?  If so, then perhaps you could establish them adjacent to the water.  Otherwise, maybe in a greenhouse?  Or perhaps in a series of pots that you kept next to your zone 0 - i.e. on a patio - and watered regularly.  A lot of maintenance, but might be your best bet.
2 days ago

Matthew Nistico wrote:This particular species of Asian betony, however, can hardly claim that history of English language usage.  Therefore, I for one plan to use the French pronunciation.  That is, when I am not calling it "Chinese artichoke," which seems a lot catchier than Crosne in the first place.

Okay, if we are discussing linguistics, then I have a question for the permies: what is up with this apparent trend of naming any novel root crop an "artichoke"?!  Same deal with the Jerusalem artichoke.  Neither one has the first damned thing to do with an artichoke.  What next?  Will we start calling yacons "Peruvian artichokes"?  Although at least in calling Stachys affinis the "Chinese artichoke" they managed to get the continent right.  Jerusalem artichokes are North American!
2 days ago

Diane Kistner wrote:The one thing I didn't remember to mention is that there seem to be two different pronunciations of Crosnes: "Crow's knees" or "Crones." I think the French pronounce it "Crones." I can't decide which pronunciation I like the best because both are kind of cool. How do people here pronounce it?

I speak a very little French - though enough to enable communication that once got a wee college student version of myself out of Italy and back to the UK after missing the last train, even while bereft of Italian currency, and when I was otherwise less than 24 hours from missing my return flight to the US and being stranded in Europe, LOL! - so I can answer your question.  I believe the French town, Crosne, would be pronounced something like "crone," and so would then be the plant named for it.  The plural is still pronounced "crone" - the final "s" would be silent.  If you care to anglicize it, you can choose to pronounce the plural as "crones."

I support the reality embraced by linguists, yet denied by most English teachers in our Age of Print, that languages are dynamic, living, and ever-evolving entities.  Subsequently, I do NOT frown on localizing adopted words from other languages over time and repeated use.  Thus, after a century of American usage, I feel confident that the Indiana university should be pronounced "noter dame," even while the Parisian cathedral remains "Notre Damme."

This particular species of Asian betony, however, can hardly claim that history of English language usage.  Therefore, I for one plan to use the French pronunciation.  That is, when I am not calling it "Chinese artichoke," which seems a lot catchier than Crosne in the first place.

Getting back to the plant itself, I am very glad that this thread has brought it to my attention.  It seems perfectly suited to my climate and to my own food forest usage, and I look forward to giving some a try in the coming years!  At the moment I am rather short on productive ground cover species.  I have already checked, and the tubers are easy enough to be purchased online.
2 days ago

Diane Kistner wrote:I ordered some Crosnes ("Chinese artichoke," Stachys affinis) from someone on Etsy, and when they came I tasted one to be sure I was going to like them. YUM! I've now got them in a raised bed all by themselves and am glad to hear you say they will spread and proliferate. I read somewhere they can be left in the ground until needed and should survive in my zone 8a. The tuber looks like a little Michelin Man. I only ate the one raw because I didn't want to waste my planting stock, but I'm looking forward to trying them in stir fries, too.

Thank you for cross-referencing the various names, including the full latin name!  Very useful.  I gave you an apple for your efforts : )
2 days ago

Gail Gardner wrote:

Larry Koelsch wrote:...My "job" that summer was to pull the nails and straighten, putting them into a coffee can...

I suspect nails were better then? I've tried straightening newer nails that bend without much success.

Excellent point!  I couldn't speak to modern nails vs older nails per se, but I have recently built my own home, and scrounged for a lot of used materials in the process.  In my experience, a nail once bent is 1) very difficult to extract; 2) very difficult to straighten again; and 3) quite likely to re-bend when you attempt to reuse it.  While I applaud the spirit of thrift embodied in the original post, and certainly acknowledge the value in reused materials, I would advise that reusing nails is not a cost-effective measure unless you are practically penniless.
4 days ago

Josh Garbo wrote:One philosophical concept I’ve thought a lot about is better spreading/distributing abstract resources like sunlight and shade; basically creating more edge habitats through silvopasture.  I have grasslands with way too much sun and burnt out grass, along with non-productive closed canopy forest.

Yep, sounds pretty right on.  Particularly for your preferred "oak savannah" model of food forest, but nearly all food forests employ the concept your promoting, just to different degrees.  At least based on the classic literature that I've read, the food forest designer is usually shooting for recreation of forest edge habitat: not open meadow, and not closed canopy, but extensive use of the in-between space where all layers get some exposure to light.

I think a good point to make, though, is that most of us in temperate climates will not be able to reproduce the full 7 (or I've read 8 or even 9) vegetative layers of food forest that you see diagrammed in the classic books, regardless of which model we choose, even the more spread-out models like "oak savannah."  At least, that has not been my experience.  I asked a more experienced permie about that, and he confirmed: in the tropics, where all those diagrams in the classic books are based, they have a lot more photons per cubic foot of air space to power all of those layered species.  For us in the temperate latitudes, with much less intense sunlight as a resource, you just aren't going to squeeze in as many plants into the same space.  Therefore, fewer layers.
6 days ago

Jeanine Gurley Jacildone wrote:...Brush teeth with baking soda – but I just saw the post here on making toothpaste – gotta try that.

Wash my body with baking soda.  Due to severe skin problems I had to eliminate all soaps on my skin.  Now I scrub only with baking soda, Epsom or sea salt, or grape and olive oil.  Not only is my skin in fantastic shape (for an old lady) but I am saving money and am eliminating use of chemicals and packaging in my toiletries...

A little off-topic, so hoping the OP will forgive...

Be careful about reliance on baking soda for DIY self-care.  It might be fine for your teeth and your skin (I really don't know), but over time the pH imbalance can fry your hair.  It is a very popular solution for poo-less hair care, I know, and it probably works for some people; everyone's body chemistry is a little different after all.  But it has had bad results for others.

Consider trying something simpler: nothing at all!  I went poo-less several years ago.  At first I used baking soda.  Then I came up with a complicated, baking-soda-free recipe for hair care.  Then I got lazy and started using nothing, and really couldn't tell the difference!  Then I got even lazier and stopped using soap on my skin as well.  Again, couldn't tell the difference (at least most days - every once in a blue moon I will use a little soap if I'm feeling excessively greasy or have gotten into something nasty, but we're talking a couple times per year).  If I were still dirty and/or smelly as a result, I really think that somebody, most likely my girlfriend, would have mentioned it at some point over 2 years.

It turns out, as Paul has advocated, that most things that get the human body dirty are in fact water soluble.  So that is my shower regimen for at least 2 years now: lots of hot water, and vigorous-but-brief action with my hands, and that's it.  I mostly don't even use sponges or wash rags (just a personal preference), though I do use this hair scrubber along with the hot water for about 45 seconds.  Using just my fingers works fine, but this works better and I LOVE they way it feels on my scalp:

So, my costs for consumption of self-care bath products are $0 (even baking soda costs something).  My one-time cost for my favorite hair scrubber is less than $3.  And my showers are quick, too!  That is an added bonus.

I don't know that my grandparents would recognize this type of bathing as normal and effective, but I am willing to bet that their grandparents would!
1 week ago

Jocelyn Campbell wrote:I do think it's interesting how our "green washing" makes it seem people are environmentally virtuous if they take reusable bags to the store, but still drive everywhere in gas guzzlers, still use their clothes dryers, and on and on.

In order to truly understand American society and the "green" movement, one must accept the reality that a large portion of it is merely guilt remediation for middle-class, mainstream types.  There is a reason that changing light bulbs became the poster child for the green movement: it was something small that everyone could do immediately to feel better without actually changing their own lifestyles in any significant way.

And this is not to say that small, immediate steps aren't good steps.  But the point is that the light-bulb-changing craze was marketed, if that's the right term, in a way that provided no context for the action.  Any true context for the action would have led people to realize that an efficient light bulb, while better than an inefficient one - and Paul has assembled tons of data that CFLs in many ways weren't even better - is just a drop in the bucket of domestic energy consumption, and fairly meaningless in the bigger analysis.  Instead, marketing light-bulb-change without context allowed the average person to check off in their minds that "I did my bit to be green, so yippee, now I'm sustainable" [CRINGE] without ever having to do any research or introspection in order to really re-examine their lifestyles.

Reusable shopping bags and even curbside recycling fall under the same category.  Again, not to say that they are necessarily bad ideas.  But their primary function has nothing to do with conservation of energy or materials.  It is guilt remediation, pure and simple.
1 week ago
My most recent herbal blend, with an eye towards some medicinal effect.  I note that this includes a combination of fresh and dried products from my own property, plus some purchased in bulk from Amazon:

a lot of dried lemon balm
a few fresh sage leaves
a few dried rosehips, split
a small piece of dried ginger, split
a sprinkle of fennel seeds
a sprinkle of licorice root shavings
a touch of honey (optional)

I like the results, but recommend going very sparingly with the licorice.  I like the taste and the natural sweetness that it lends, which nearly negates the need to add any sweetener, but it REALLY overpowers the rest of the ingredients.
1 week ago