Thekla McDaniels

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since Aug 23, 2011
Thekla has been studying soil life and the process of soil development since 1965, also, the then new idea that fossil fuels were a limited resource.  She currently farms 2 1/2 acres of what used to be fine grained blowing desert sand but is now 4 inch deep soil, and counting!
Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Recent posts by Thekla McDaniels

Very excited about this, and congratulations!

Any way to add a packet of seeds to my pledge?

If it's too late, no problem.  Just wondering

thanks so much!
1 month ago

Celia Revel wrote:I'm not sure how much ph is changed in the soil with the cleansers we use, but I do know which ones are on the more alkalai side.  Soap is the killer: ph at 10 or higher.  Baking soda ph 8.  I think borax is about the same or higher.  Mild detergent is around ph 7.  So, while the soap is going to kill more germs from its sheer high alkalai, detergent isn't going to do as much for anti bacterial, unless it has a chemical in it that is anti-bacterial.  Soap by its very nature is antibacterial, and doesn't need a chemical additive.  I don't like chemicals, so I buy pure, mild detergent.  As for sanitizing, you could do it the old fashioned way by boiling the silverware or plunging in boiling rinse water, or maybe add vinegar to the rinse water bath.

Sorry, Celia, to contradict you, but not all soap is created equal.  I love accuracy, and  believe it's important in  a discussion such as this.    I don't know any soap that has pH of 10, but that does not mean it does not exist, but soaps and detergents have a wide range possible of pH.  The soap I make has a pH near neutral.  The pigment "alkanet root" that I sometimes use is blue to black at alkaline pH, turns pink at acid pH.  When my soap is fully cured, the alkanet is a purplish color.

As to the rest of the discussion, when I am at my cabin, and haul all my water, and wash my dishes in a dishpan, I use baking soda or some "green" type dish detergent.  When I have re-used the dishwater as much as possible, I pour it out onto my compost pile.  The pile continues its activity, so its micro-organisms must be able to tolerate both the bkg soda and the (non antimicrobial) detergent.

The former rinse water becomes the wash water.  

In the summer, I don't heat the water, but when cold weather comes, the metal dishpan sits on the wood stove and the wash water is warmed.

If this sounds unsanitary, let me say that I am only this careful because I am running a herd share dairy, and need to be very careful.  The things for my own use, like the jar I drink my tea out of, I never wash at all.
1 month ago
I am curious how high the water table is.  Those bushes are the "salt cedar", growing with their roots in the saline water below?

You are probably aware of Geoff Lawton's "greening the desert" project, seems like someone referred to it above, talking about his use of waste agricultural water.  If you by chance are  not aware of it, I recommend you look at it.  Sorry I can't give you a link.

I agree with the idea of waiting and watching, becoming familiar with your place before you begin your work.

One permaculture adage is that the best place to store water is in the soil...  

If you do decide to make swales, I think you would want to fill them with wood (brush) chips.  Those plants are green, and they are getting moisture from somewhere...  maybe that saline ground water.

What occurs to me is to try to increase carbon.  If not already familiar, seek out Elaine Ingham's work.  Soil food web, life in the soil. You are in extreme conditions to be sure, those salts in the water and soil can be somewhat mitigated by the soil microbiome community.   Get more carbon into the soil.

Maybe I am just making noise here, but if you could even get newspaper and raise worms,they would transform it into more useful compounds.

To get some cleaner water by evaporating (solar still???) the water out of the salts.  Don't know yet what you would do with the salts you accumulate, but they are minerals of some kind, possibly some use for them.

I also have an idea that rather than try to rehab the whole plot at once, you might be better off to start small... under just one of those bushes, apply the water you get from the solar still and the worm compost, and mulch over it with wood chips or newspaper of some kind.

Think of it as apilot plot.  If you can get some more life, a richer more diverse community in just one spot, it may spread as it creates its own conditions.

If you only apply that fresh water to the one location, and prevent evaporation from that space, then the moisture will flow out from there, carrying some of the salt with it.  If you create conditions at the perimeter around your test plot that discourage evaporation then the cleaner water will flow further out.  But, I don't think plastic would be a good way to prevent evaporation... something that lets the ground beneath breathe....

so, maybe I am just dreaming, but these are my first thoughts on hearing of your project.  good luck, and get ready to be very very patient.  It's an ambitious undertaking, no overnight fix for this.
4 months ago
Good for you, Rebecca.  It is hard to hold the line.  I'll carry your story with me, especially the part about saying outright the feeling of being manipulated.

Thanks for "venting" here where we can learn from you.
5 months ago

Miki Odendahl wrote:

And, as with any natural products like these, whether you use water, borax, vitamin e, whatnot; refrigerating and/or freezing them in small containers (I use 2 oz jars for most) will delay rancidity. All of my saleable products say "refrigerate when not in use" on the labels for just this reason.

Hi Miki,

I can't remember if I included meadowfoam oil in the recipe I posted,so I will mention that I add an ounce or two of meadowfoam oil to a batch that includes 12 oz of liquid oils.

The wonderful thing about meadowfoam oil is that it is very very very stable.  As far as I know, it does not go rancid or oxidize.  Additionally it stabilizes and protects the oils it is in mixture with from deteriorating.

I didn't have time to recheck my data here, but it might be worth looking in to,for anyone concerned about stability, rancidity and all that.  I have had my skin cream unrefrigerated for months with no ill effects, and even left it in the sun sometimes.  Find it fresh and unseparated.  I sell this cream, and have many satisfied customers who also have not reported the cream going off or needing refrigeration.  I attribute it to the meadowfoam oil.
5 months ago
Greetings, Winston.  Are you still in the area?  I probably did not meet you as I never went to WCCC.  I have moved from the property where I planted many pomegranate plants outdoors. No telling what's going on with them there, as you can or have read above.  My current location is ollbran-Cay.
6 months ago
New observation: there are some more shoots developing on the older stems.

I guess it is important to remember this is a plant that leafs out late.  Anyone familiar with growing vitex will know what I mean!  You think the plant is dead, EVERTHING is showing new growth and still the vitex shows nothing but dead stems, it's almost summer before any shoots show!
6 months ago
there may be new growth on old stems even higher up.

I did leave about 35 plants when I moved from my  old place, brought along the clump in the photo only, because it had shown the most promise.  As for the ones left behind, it's STUN for sure, and in a couple of years, I might go see what they've done, also left some vetiver and figs there, outdoors in a south facing rock. wall.

But I am very excited about these pomegranates. Hoping to have a new home for them soon, at about 6200 feet elevation.
6 months ago
did someone already say car seat cover to protect upholstery, and or to protect bare legs from very hot car seat in the summer?
6 months ago
these were the three best photos, and I could not get my photo software to allow editing,so here they are.
6 months ago