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Dale Hodgins

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since Jul 28, 2011
I've worked in demolition and salvage, construction, real estate, ... Currently developing bus business and expanding my knowledge on a wide array of subjects related to land development and ecologically sound energy and food production. I'm a hard core skeptic and strong believer in science. Athiest, idealist, pragmatist, inventor, thinker, learner. Developing a grand plan for turning my property into a model of energy and resource efficiency.
Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Recent posts by Dale Hodgins

I absolutely hate the plastic pots that I see littering many gardens. I thought, there must be some sort of leaf or bark that could be made into a suitable pot. So I looked up banana leaf pots on Google Images and sure enough, there are a few others just as smart as me.

I was searching specifically for quite deep pots that could be used for young tree starts, so that the taproot could develop normally. I didn't find any of those, but it's pretty simple. A banana leaf that is 2 feet across , has a section of material that radiates one foot from the central rib. It is really easy to cut along that rib to get a fairly flat piece of material a foot wide and up to 8 feet long. The leaf can then either be sliced or torn to make one foot segments of any desired width. They tear quite easily from the side of the leaf toward the central rib. Many will already be torn in that dimension because of the wind. Then it's just a matter of rolling it in the shape of a paper towel roll, and pinning the edge together. This can be done with a toothpick size piece of bamboo or elastic bands could be used.

I envision pots that stand a foot tall with a diameter of about 3 in. So we would want to tear the leaf into segments that are 1 foot square, so there's room for overlap at the joint.

Tall skinny pots would not be self-supporting. Instead they would be packed tightly together inside large baskets or on starter tables that have a raised edge. The young starts could be kept in this sort of pot until their taproots begin to reach the bottom or until the banana leaf begins to decay. Then it's time to plant them out. There's no need to remove the pot, since it will disintegrate and become part of the compost that we're planting into.

Pots can also be made for vegetable starts. Something 3 inches tall is enough , so you get 3 pots out of every 1 foot segment. Banana leaves are often shredded in the wind, so pieces as narrow as 4 in could be used for small pots. But there is absolutely no shortage in areas where bananas grow , so no need to try to use every little bit of that resource. Most leaves will yield 10 or more of the 1 foot pots and 30 or more 3 inch pots.
Food serving dishes

It is common throughout the tropics for some types of food to be served on a leaf or in a leaf bowl.

In the Philippines, I bought some spicy peanuts from a lady who had made her own leaf bowls from the bananas that grew in her yard. She told me that she does not like all of the plastic litter that plagues her city. I also bought a sticky rice dessert dish, that had been cooked in a banana leaf bowl. The perfect container for street food. Biodegradable, and not in the way that those biodegradable plastics work. I attended a private get together at someone's home and she served things in banana bowls. It wasn't so much about avoiding washing dishes as it was about making sure that her dishes didn't end up spread all over the yard or taken home with somebody. There was a thick stew and a sticky rice dish. Relatives were sent home with the excess, and there was no need to tell them that they must bring the Tupperware back. :-)
We don't all have access to banana leaves. But there are many other types of large leaf that could be made into some sort of planting pot , probably not the big ones that I need. I will make mine in the Philippines, since that's where these young trees are needed. Where I live in Canada, we have several trees that have a nice big leaf. Unfortunately they aren't available in the spring when they are needed. So you might have to dry, press and rehydrate in the spring. A bit tedious. We do have birch bark and I have rolled it into that exact shape. Paper or cardboard could work. Not quite as elegant or as green , but not bad.

If you have any other pictures of leaf bowls and how they are constructed, drop them here. I'm still shopping for land, so you won't see my pots anytime soon. I will be there within two months, so I may mess with some of the material, as a test.
22 minutes ago
I think cattle are less prone to escape and if they do get away, it's a big enough chunk of meat to go looking for it. Cattle are a bit harder to steal than the other two. We had goats when my children were little. They would have never tolerated me killing one. I've met many cattle that I wanted to kill.
17 hours ago
Check out the PM that I sent you.

My soap is lathery. I've used it as bar soap, shampoo and shaving cream.

50% coconut oil, 50% palm oil. No color or fragrance.
17 hours ago
I'm pretty sure that every food forest could be considered a tree guild, but I'm not sure that every tree guild could be considered a food forest. You could have a guild that's made up of non-edibles. Trees that produce high-quality lumber, mixed with those that produce nitrogen, and another that repels insects for instance.
17 hours ago
I saw the snake plants on a video and I have checked out the production of cinnamon a little more thoroughly. It's a good one because it is mostly labor. Coppice an inch or two around are cut then beaten with a mallet to remove the cinnamon bark. The remaining wood is good for burning.

I really like the various spice plants because many of them are reputed to ward off insects. Black pepper is promising and I'd like to grow everything that goes into chai tea. But most of these won't be grown on any sort of commercial basis. They will be Zone 1 items because of the bug thing.

There are some types of tea that grow in tropical highlands. These might be good for you because of  reliance on leaf instead of flower and seed.

Here's a link to one of those top 10 lists
18 hours ago
There's a good series on YouTube called 10 fruits you've never heard of. But I think there's about 20 installments now. Most of them are tropicals. A few grow on small enough plants to be considered. But either way, it's a fun exercise learning about all these different edibles that we never see in the North. I'm finding a few that I might want to try in the Philippines. But even for tropical growing, many of them are totally impractical because it takes forever for them to bear, or some other factor.

I learned through one of those videos, that the coffee cherry or husk is probably the most nutritious thing that is regularly thrown away. I can see a business there , for someone who wants to make a deal with  individual farmers, to turn it into fruit leather . After watching one of the videos, I questioned my fiance on her family's use of moringa. When they had nothing to eat, they often harvested moringa pods and leaves, to make soup.

I will probably make more submissions here, since I'm determined to learn about every possible candidate for my plantation there.

Being from Canada, I tend to think of oranges, figs, and dates as tropical. But there aren't any oranges that can live near sea level in the Philippines, because they need a cold season. Figs and dates have been cultivated to some degree after many years of breeding them to withstand perpetual summer. But overall I can't complain. For everything I find out I can't grow, I've learned about 10 more that I've never heard of before.

Seasons are very important where I live. Many tropical plants don't act according to any season, or they are attuned to a wet and dry season.  We've all seen corn growing. In Kenya I saw a small farm that had corn one foot tall, 2 feet tall, 4 ft tall and about 7 feet tall in different blocks. There's no specific season to plant corn. You plant according to when you want the finished product. This family had a business selling corn on the cob along the roadside, so they needed a steady supply all year, thus the different age blocks.
20 hours ago
Whenever there are seeds involved, there's an opportunity for multiplication. Suppose you are planting beans. This Bean will grow a plant that will give us about 25 beans. Each new bean will make about five seeds just like this one. In this case we got 125 seeds from the original. Results will vary.

Seeds also give you an opportunity to teach children about saving, even before they understand money. Give them the example of the seed, and then ask what happens to the people who eat all of their beans and don't save any to plant the next year.

You could even get into Little Red Hen territory.
22 hours ago
This Thread started off talking about being poor with low wages. That's not me, but it was me when I was 16. I knew then that low paying jobs are for chumps. So I spent almost nothing, in order to save enough money that I could buy some equipment and get off that treadmill. By my the time I was 18, I had a truck and a chainsaw and some other tools that allowed me to earn considerably more than the minimum wage.

Not much has changed. There are still bottom of the barrel jobs and it's still very simple to leave them behind. The internet now offers free training and just about everything. So there's no reason to serve an employer.

My daughter was talking about some poverty issue that was mentioned in the newspaper the other day. She said that here in Canada, we have so many opportunities to advance ourselves, so much government help and organizations that will help you get a job or get training, that she just couldn't see why anyone would put their money into poverty relief in this country. Then she compared it to a bunch of other places in the world were even hard-working diligent people find it incredibly difficult to get ahead. I know a guy from Vietnam who managed to get a taxi company going, based on one nearly worn out second hand moped. Then he saved his money and he got another one and another one. For him it was a pretty simple trajectory. Make money and hold on to it at all cost. People who must consume every dime they make, aren't able to pull themselves off the bottom.

So I think for anyone who is struggling at the very bottom of Western Society, it's not going to be about how you can manage to save for retirement on low wages. The math just doesn't work. It's about managing to get off the low-wage treadmill.
23 hours ago
Funniest line in the movie, is when Richard says, "Does it look like this face has been to the Fountain of Youth?" Johnny Depp had a tattoo that said Winona Forever. They broke up. Now it says Wino Forever. Keith's other band is the Expensive Winos.

I didn't know sir Mick was capable of foul language. :-)

The ringtone on my phone is the Cocksucker Blues, the ultimate Take This Job and Shove It song.

I've always liked this one I think there's some permaculture in there. Joan Baez did a pretty good remake.
... Salt of the Earth...

Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's drink to the lowly of birth
Raise your glass to the good and the evil
Let's drink to the salt of the earth
Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
Spare a thought for his back breaking work
Say a prayer for his wife and his children
Who burn the fires and who still till the earth
And when I search a faceless crowd
A swirling mass of gray and
Black and white
They don't look real to me
In fact, they look so strange
Raise your glass to the hard working people
Let's drink to the uncounted heads
Let's think of the wavering millions
Who need leaders but get gamblers instead
Spare a thought for the stay-at-home voter
His empty eyes gaze at strange beauty shows
And a parade of the gray suited grafters
A choice of cancer or polio
And when I look in the faceless crowd
A swirling mass of grays and
Black and white
They don't look real to me
Or don't they look so strange
Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's think of the lowly of birth
Spare a thought for the rag taggy people
Let's drink to the salt of the earth
Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's drink to the salt of the earth
Let's drink to the two thousand million
Let's think of the humble of birth
I have no plan to organize it beyond what you see. I don't know the names of most of these creatures. I'm just good at sneaking up on them.

I'm moving to a tropical environment, so there will probably be pictures of entirely different pollinators.
1 day ago