George Collins

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since Sep 22, 2011
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Recent posts by George Collins

If memory serves, Geoff Lawton stated that the use of RootMaker style pots increase the growth rate of a tree by a factor of three.


I have several bare root fruit trees that I was able to pick up on the spur of the moment.

I'm not altogether ready to plant these trees out to their permanent location so I was thinking about potting them up.

I have a sufficient quantity of 3-gallon RootMaker pots.

This got me to thinking - I don't KNOW what I'm doing.

That prompted some questions. A cursory search failed to the yield answers. So, I thought I would throw it out there in hopes that someone with better knowledge might be able to answer.

Here are the questions I had:

Is a 3 gallong pot an appropriate size for a one year old, bare root fruit tree?

Is it the optimal size?

How long should the tree stay in the pot to optimize root growth?

To optimize growth rate/vigor, should the tree be started in a 3-gallong pot and moved to a five gallon pot later?

If so, when?

If time isn't how we judge when we need to move to the next bigger pot, what is the criteria we should use?

What is the protocol for using RootMaker pots to optimize tree growth/survivability?

Is there a point of diminishing returns?

Is the use of RootMaker pots even the best way to go? I have plenty of normal pots in sufficient quantities of every size realistically desirable for such a project. Would the trees be better served in larger size standard pots rather than the 3-gallong RootMaker pots?

Thanks in advance for any help anyone is able to give.
9 years ago

Cj Verde wrote:Why do you want home grow beef?


9 years ago
I don't have the acreage at the moment to do rotational grazing for beef cattle but yet I want home grown beef.

Here's my question . . .

If one is determined to obtain a calf and then use a grain based diet to bring that calf up to slaughter weight (figure 1000 lbs), what is the most permaculturally sound method of doing so?

Also, has anyone ever used a straight corn diet to fatten a steer? If so how did it work for you?

Lastly, has anyone here ever used pre-soaked/fermented corn and if so did you use it exclusively and what were your results?

Any other tips and advice on feeding a steer a grain based diet would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance for your help.
9 years ago
I live in South central Mississippi and we used to have four steers of the Piney Woods breed that we used as oxen to log wind damaged timber.

While we rarely get really cold weather, we do occasionally get weather in the single digits. The record for our part of the world during my lifetime was 5 degrees F. My daddy's oxen lived through that with no problem.
9 years ago

If you are plagued by pests of the furry kind, try these deterrents. For possums, mulch your garden with sheep dags - possums are said to be none to partial to the smell of lanoline. Or spray your garden with neem oil or pongy fish fertiliser to repel them. Though keep fish fertiliser off young plants as it can burn the leaves. Stockholm Tar, available from farm and equestrian suppliers, can be sprayed onto fence posts and tree trunks to deter possums.

The full article can be found here.

That said, from the reading that I've done about different types of tar, it SEEMS that there may be a good bit of overlap in their chemical properties and thus application. I would not be surprised to find bone sauce and pine tar (Stockholm tar) equally efficacious in repelling possums.
9 years ago
I have recently read much about animal repellents. I would like to share some of what I have found.

Which can be found here. A product comparable to Sepp's bone sauce has been sold commercially as Magic Circle and, according to the article referenced above, was found to be "ineffective." (In this particular study, "bone tar oil" had its efficacy evaluated as an "area repellent" whereas Sepp recommends his bond sauce be used as a "contact repellent.")

That said, there does appear to be some repellents that might be efficacious. In no particular order:

After surveying 22 earlier studies of deer repellents and then conducting their own controlled study at two different locations, researchers at Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station concluded that egg-based repellents worked better than predator urines and blood-based products. Repellents applied more often were more effective than those applied less frequently.

Read more:

Mother Earth News has attempted to address this issue here.

Here is a study performed by Auburn University.

Overall treatment ranks are presented for all three crops and summarized in Table 2. All the products tested reduced feeding damage as compared to the nonsprayed control. Rotten eggs, followed by Thiram, had the highest efficacy in reducing deer feeding damage. Yet, only rotten eggs maintained feeding damage under 10% for all crops during these tests. Feeding damage to plants sprayed with Havahart and the nontreated control after five days were respectively 2% and 93% for hosta, and 8% and 45% for sweetpotato.

Here is a study that seems to establish the efficacy of pine tar to repel moose from browsing on tree crops.

One tar based repellent that I have personal experience with is Stanley's Crow Repellent. Our family used it with good effect until it was taken off the market in 1986. Notice the ingredients listed on the from of the can.

Based on this secondary research (and a minuscule amount of personal experience), it seems as if there are effective deer/herbivore repellents out there but perhaps Sepp's bone sauce isn't the most effective route to take.

That said, I have Sepp's bone sauce smeared on a whole bunch of trees and I hope that it turns out to he the most effective thing one can use. One caveat to using Sepp's bone sauce, and a lesson i learned the hard way, is that it will burn leaves. If it does prove to be efficacious, application during the dormant season might be a better protocol than during times when a tree is putting on new growth. Perhaps, better results might be achieved with an application of bone sauce (or maybe pine tar) during the dormant season and periodic spraying with an egg-based repellent during the growing season.
9 years ago
When researching Sepp's bone sauce, I found this:

Tail biting is a most serious welfare problem in pigs raised for slaughter. In instances of an outbreak of tail biting, scientists have recommended that farmers take measures such as removal of affected animals, provision of enrichment materials and application of repellents to the pigs' tails. However, no scientific study has ever confirmed the efficacy of any of these suggestions in counteracting an ongoing outbreak. Here, the efficacy of two repellent ointments, Dippel's oil and Stockholm tar, were examined in a tail-chew test. For this, a novel piece of nylon rope was used as a tail model to measure biting behaviour semi-automatically in 24 single-sex groups of growing pigs (total 264 pigs). Repeated measures analysis showed no effect of time, gender or unit (12 pens per unit), but a highly significant effect of treatment, in that both Stockholm tar and Dippel's oil significantly reduced rope manipulation compared to controls. These results suggest that Stockholm tar and Dippel's oil may be effective in reducing tail biting. The approach taken may be valuable in further testing of strategies to reduce tail biting and improving pig welfare.

Which can be found here.

So I started researching Stockholm tar (which is basically pine tar made in Sweden) and found that in addition to being an animal repellent, it has a host of other uses. Some of which are listed here.

Since the article quoted above reported that Stockholm tar was effective as an animal deterrent, I decided to make some using the exact same process used to make bone sauce but substituting fat pine for pig bones. My father, who has made tar before, saw the finished results and told me that I had indeed been successful in "runnin tar."

I tasted a small sample and it had a bone-sauce-mixed-with-turpentine taste. The major difference that I noted is that tar is really, really sticky just like pine sap.

I have a friend that has some goats and as quickly as practical, I plan to visit him, offer his goats some treats coated with either bone sauce or pine tar and video how they react to each. I hope both are equally effective at keeping all manner of herbivores from predating fruit trees. However, I will not be surprised to see the tar be more so based on the fact that in addition to tasting nasty, it has that sticky quality to it.

As soon as the video is done, I'll post the results.
9 years ago
Let me preface this post with these thoughts:

1. After having seen pigs interact with trees of all sizes, I've not yet seen the need to protect a tree from a pig other than when pigs are tightly confined around trees and damage them secondary to boredom.

2. IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY, I've read or heard that Sepp's bone sauce is supposed to keep any and all animals, including pigs, from damaging trees.

3. Having never seen it first hand, I AM ASSUMING I CORRECTLY MADE Sepp's bone sauce.

4. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY WANT Sepp's bone sauce to work as advertised.

All that said, check this out:

After the sow ate it without too much fuss, I became the only man I know of to actually taste Sepp's bone sauce.

In anticipation of our milk cow arriving in the near future and knowing that she will reside in the pasture where I've planted many fruit trees, I wasted no time in applying Sepp's bone sauce to every tree we've planted. While doing so, I inevitably got a several splatters on my hands. Having just seen a sow consume four pears maximally coated with bone sauce without too much hesitation, I just had to give it a try. I tasted it three separate times. The first time was a small spot, the second was a slightly bigger spot and the third was bigger still. The largest of the spots was about 1/4 the size of a dime.

1. It tastes terrible.
2. It has a burning effect kinda like eating something with too much black pepper on it but no where near the effect that something like Cheyenne pepper has.
3. It lingers. As I type this, it's been about 30 minutes since the taste test and I can still taste it albeit much more faintly.
4. If I were starving and someone gave me food covered in Sepp's bone sauce, I think I could choke it down.
5. I can't ever see myself using bone sauce as a condiment on a hamburger by choice.

I think that bone sauce works more as a moderate deterrent rather than an absolute barrier that makes anything unlucky enough to ingest it run for the hills screaming for relief.

All that said, just because a hog and I were able to voluntarily ingest it on multiple occasions, that's not to say that a deer and (hopefully) a cow won't run for the hills screaming for relief if they do.
9 years ago
Andrew, I too was able to manufacture Sepp's bone sauce. The bones I used were left overs from six pigs' feet that I boiled to get all the goodies out. I performed the same steps you did and my results appear consistent with yours.

I detailed the steps I followed Here.

My question for you (or anyone else that has reproduced Sepp's Sauce) is how has it worked for you?

I'm curious though, does applying a small amount to the trunk of the tree keep all herbivores from even attempting to nibble anywhere on the tree or, does the sauce only deter them from nibbling those parts of the tree where the sauce has been applied?

Also, if only a small amount on the trunk keeps herbivores from nibbling anywhere on a tree, would the sauce also work to keep deer out of a garden? If so, how would one go about using it to greatest advantage?

What about spraying it on? Wouldn't that be more effective for applying the sauce to the terminal shoots that are most likely to be predated upon?

Any other information that anyone might have about the actual use of bone sauce would be greatly appreciated.
9 years ago
Paul, that is excellent advice. I am sure that I will act on some or all of it in the next year or so.

I actually meant to put in a few more mulberries this past year but time ran out on me.

I guess a more accurate way to say what I did is that our plantings are substantially complete.
9 years ago