songbird's roost

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by songbird, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. lukemurphy

    lukemurphy Junior Member

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    Ha, congrats on changing your mum's mind! I know what you mean about changing people's minds on permaculture. I have been helping one of my mum's friends with his garden for a while now. He's 85, and has always had an immaculate flower garden, but his wife is now in a nursing home and hes unable to work himself. When I first suggested mulching he wouldn't have a bar of it. But as you say its just patience, and trying to get them to see results. After a while he let me mulch a small piece, then he was so impressed with the look of it the entire garden is now mulched!

    Its awesome that you are creating habitat for all sorts of critters. I often think how nice it would be if everyone just left a little bit of their property as habitat for birds, bees, insects, frogs, etc. One day...
     
  2. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I'm doing a little dance for you too! If only I could get my dad to stop threatening to bring Roundup with him when he comes to visit….
     
  3. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    oh my!

    it is very addictive stuff, if they gave away the first gallon to every gardener on the planet they'd be trillionaires (i sure hope they don't read this :) ).

    i've been off it for a few years now -- i still get the shakes at times. Ma will not give it up but we have gotten most problem areas under control so the use is greatly reduced. at least the food gardens and green manure patch and surrounding areas have not gotten any sprays on them in years. i'll keep hoping some year i can do the happy dance for not having any more sprays used in any garden or any other place for that matter.

    a previous happy dance was convincing Ma to not use perimeter sprays (to keep a few bugs out of the house that would sometimes come in). after not using them for a few years we now have tree frogs climbing on the house that we've not ever had before:

    [​IMG]
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    Last edited: May 2, 2017
  4. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    thanks! :)

    i'm glad you have helped him out in a way that he understands and appreciates.

    i agree on the One Day too... if i stay here i have plans for changes that go beyond what Ma will ever tolerate.
     
  5. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I could hear one just outside my bedroom last night (frog that is …) Dad was also the spider killer - I remember him spraying something nasty under the eaves a few times each year. No wonder there were never any frogs when I was a kid. :( Anyone who comments on the spiders under my eaves are told that they are Buddhist spiders and I would lose major Karma if I murdered them…. They already think I'm crazy so what's one more crazy thing to get them talking?
     
  6. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    we grew up in an area that always had plenty of frogs and toads. even with some kids (including me a few times i'm ashamed to admit) hunting them for no reasons other than to kill them and target practice. we never got them all. still i have that large angry frog god karma hanging over me. that i can do something now in a different location that is more challenging is perhaps my sentence...

    bugs in the house are often picked up and put back outside, but in the middle of winter season bugs in the house are squished and fed to the worms. still there are plenty of small wispy spiders about, they are very faint and hard to see we've never gotten rid of all of them. the house i used to live in had a basement and the rule was that other than the laundry machines and the table we used down there we'd leave them alone, and if they came upstairs we could get them, but the interesting thing was that we had very few spiders upstairs. the big spiders would eat the smaller ones.

    outside on this house we have a few spiders under the eaves. i've been trying to find and seal up all the gaps and that has reduced the number of spiders. we also have birds that patrol and look for them and plenty of wasps/hornets of various kinds which also keep after them. it is probably safer in the house for spiders. i know it is for worms...

    good luck to your Buddhist spiders and froggies.

    i've been tagged as "other" my whole life so if someone calls me crazy it isn't anything new. i've also been called unamerican because i didn't own a car or tv at times... i just make sure to watch what people actually do.
     
  7. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    and now for something completely different

    yesterday, out running errands, a bit of snow flying and on the ground. brr! windy, rainy, sleety and did i say cold? today it is cold and sunny. a nice day to stay inside and do art.

    or sorta art, see the challenge i have is that i have tons of different types of beans with different colors and i'd like to classify them in some way or describe them or just to take pictures of them. with the idea that colors in digital pictures may not display or take the same manner due to adjustments of digital works or gum therein i wanted a simple color chart, printed, that i could set near the beans as i was taking pictures, as a guide to what i was seeing -- a simple page with various colors printed on it. nothing like that to be found easily or inexpensively.

    thus today and sorta art, i have to put paints on a white board and figure out some acceptable pattern and hope it doesn't look too bad, also include a bit of a scale so that relative sizes of things can be known. i have basic acrylic paints, a color wheel, a blank white board and time after chores (feed worms, pick up pile of garlic off the floor, consider the meaning of breakfast once my brain starts functioning).

    as i am also an amateur at figuring out how to do color stuff on digital technology the other goal today is to keep trying to learn how to adjust the monitor to actually show what i'm seeing without being forced to go out and buy a colorometer or whatever the gadget is that people use to do digital color stuff... i may have to ask for *shudder* ... help.
     
  8. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    finished up most of the larger gardens. looks like the winter wheat and winter rye i've planted in the past few rounds may not grow much at all. the temperatures are getting down pretty low and the sun hasn't been out all that much either. the second to the last planting has started to sprout, but we have mid teens F coming this weekend at least for one night and a day or two below freezing. the birdies are enjoying the sprouts and seeds. :)
    the few gardens i planted some time ago look very nice with their winter cover green grassy waves in the breeze. Ma is very happy with them. :)

    in good news, every garden i've worked in this fall has had some worms still alive. previously they would not support worms through an entire season. there wasn't enough organic materials in the heavy clay soil and it would get too hot and dry. still there were not a huge number of worms but at least some and the soil itself continues to improve as i can work more organic material into it. the deeper layers i've been able to put down underneath also help to give the worms a place to go when it gets hot and dry. also, i've kept the cover crops going and used whatever mulches i could (one garden just had large flat chunks of bark on the surface of the clay, a few compost worms were about in that) which also encourages them.

    overall, it was a good season, of everything we grew only the onions were off this year, a combination of bad starts and a pretty cloudy and cool month of June.
     
  9. Rick Larson

    Rick Larson Junior Member

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    I had a cold June here as well.
     
  10. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Good news on the worm front - something is obviously working well for you.
     
  11. lukemurphy

    lukemurphy Junior Member

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    Congrats! It must be so rewarding to see the soil and life of the place increase every year.
     
  12. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    thanks! it certainly helps motivate. the worm bins here are already chock full of worms for the next season. they are currently working their way through the last of the apple cores.


    yeah! compared to the previously compacted and dead clay i'll take it. much easier to work with too. :)


    (whee! just figured out the multiquote thingy :) )

    i was wondering if anything was going to get going but it didn't seem to hurt the overall production of our most important crop (the tomatoes). we still ended up in the 20-30lbs per plant. at 40 something plants that was a lot of tomatoes...
     
  13. Rick Larson

    Rick Larson Junior Member

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  14. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    sorry Rick, it is very unlikely i'll download youtube videos over this connection...
     
  15. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    definitely done in the gardens now

    single digit temperatures at night and snow means the peas are finally going to give up. that's ok. it will be nice to wake up to a nice snow covered view.

    i did a little digging a few days ago to get some ashes buried and then some other ashes i scattered along a garden i'll be turning in the spring.

    the wormies are doing fine. one bin picked up a fruit fly population so that will be fun to see what happens as there are many hundreds/thousands in there. probably got in with the last round of apple cores. i'll have to open it outside or take the bin outside for a while to see if i can knock the population out before opening the bin up to feed the wormies. not sure what i'll do. i hate to lose all of that biomass by letting them outside, but i also surely do not want to let them all out in the house. i'd hear about that... no use i can think of for many fruit flies. i don't have baby venus fly traps or tiny praying mantis to feed.

    i was going to write about the strawberry patches, but i've already tried three times to write it up and i wasn't happy with the results so ditched them all. :) give it another go some other time...
     
  16. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    a little snow, some rain, now it is skating rink weather with everything coated in ice. luckily, we don't have to go anywhere any time soon. i have another interesting bubble picture (the ice/snow covering on the driveway traps air, which settles out in a regular pattern of circles). we have a previous bubble picture event on record too with much smaller bubbles. good for some future post to the website.

    not too much going on, watching some bunnies raiding the green manure patch (under snow) in the early morning and early evening. i'm hoping some will turn into hawk food as starting a gardening season with four bunnies in one small area means there are probably a half dozen some place nearby too. i will give nature a chance to thin them out first. the hard part of this winter is yet to arrive.

    sorting through and shredding some papers, too much excitement, the worms eventually get the shreddings, they are probably more excited than i am... trying to get through the backlog before the new year and then perhaps even start making a larger dent in the old college papers. most of them are worth more as eventual worm food, smart worms are fed worms, or something like that, and the extra shelf space can be used up by books, beans or something artistic like a stuffed beanie baby froggie. seriously, i don't collect them, i've never bought one of them, but Ma keeps getting them from her friends... eventually i'll have to regift, but until then i have random spots where i can poke them in the shelves and they can sit there and think nice quiet ribbetting thoughts.
     
  17. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    christmas eve sparkles

    nature sure knows how to put on a show. the big buildup, about a month of cold, cloudy weather with little sunshine, yesterday the sun was out, the snow was iced over, last night we had a new round of fluffy stuff and then this morning i wake up to:

    [​IMG]

    peace to all, i hope this next year is great for everyone including all of our plant and animal friends and the thriving community of soil critters.

    cheers :)
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
  18. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    strawberries

    it has been an interesting learning experience growing strawberries here. years ago, before i actually lived here day to day, Ma had planted and took care of strawberries because my then step-dad liked them. after several years of a lot of effort she ripped them all out. she said it was too much work and there were too many bugs and animals after them.

    forwards several years, after i move in and want to do something besides grow beets, beans, onions, tomatoes, etc. i also wanted to grow strawberries. it took a few years to convince her but she must love me because she finally said that i could put some in.

    my first (ahem #1) patch, i started with six plants at the corners and midway along the edges of a rectangular garden. previously i'd been growing cosmos and some veggies in there. these were what are called June-bearing plants. they have one burst of production and then they are done for the season. in the middle of the patch i planted soybeans and then around the edge of those i put in green beans and wax beans. this type of shading controls the runners somewhat and keeps the weeds down in the middle of the garden so i didn't have to walk in there much. by the end of that summer i'd let the runners go where they wished giving me about 125 more plants and potted another three dozen. i let one berry ripen on each of the six original plants to make sure that they were at least a type i'd want to grow out further. i didn't have to thin much that fall and the bean plants provided some nice shade for the mid summer heat and again in the fall when i let things be for the winter. a light cover of pine-needles and i was set.

    the next year i had a nice crop of strawberries and let the plants send more runners into the middle of the patch to fill it in a bit more. in the center i planted soybeans and beans again. not as many, but still enough to give shade and the nitrogen boost to the soil. again i potted up plants for giving away and also harvested a few buckets (several hundred plants) to start a second (ahem #2) :) ) strawberry patch.

    the second strawberry patch was a space between the large drainage ditch and the fenced gardens. Ma had been kept at it scraping it bare of weeds. i try to grow things in any bare spot i can find around here and she wasn't and isn't too happy in losing her bare dirt scraping spot, but as it has filled in with both strawberries, oregano and some weeds you should see the bees humming in there in the mid-summer. she doesn't see that, she sees the weeds. *sigh* well anyways, this garden did not produce any strawberries the first season as it was planted very late. most of the plants didn't survive (very hard compact clay, they struggle to get going). i did get some more pine needles moved back there to help out, but for the most part what they did was help more oregano sprout and more weeds too. that's ok. i don't mind a weed growing some place if there's no other plant nearby i want to use that space.

    the third or fourth year i was able to start (ahem #3) a third strawberry patch. this is in the northern garden that used to be a mono-crop small carnation garden. now it is a mixed garden of many things including strawberries. this is the most experimental garden as the strawberries grow mixed with birdsfoot trefoil (which seems to smother the strawberries, but i chop and dig up some of it as a green manure from time to time to let the strawberries have more light and less competition) and the other plants.

    at the same time as starting this patch i also started adding another variety of strawberries to the plantings (starting with just a few plants). these are ever-bearing plants which in our climate and growing season can have three to four crops. it is always very nice to be able to have a few berries as an incentive to get out and putter in a garden. i've also been growing and mixing these ever-bearing plants in the other strawberry patches so that no matter where i have strawberries i have a back up source of both varieties.

    as for nutrients and mulching, i don't always have a lot of mulch available with all the gardens we do have that need it. one answer to that is to grow some in place. spot digging up patches and putting in peas for pea pods and peas, also dry beans or the wax and green beans work well. and digging up weeds and dropping them in the strawberry patches doesn't seem to hurt at all. this past year i had more wood chips so right after the main crop was finished and the plants look their scraggly worst, i thinned some of them back a little scattered peas, beans and soybeans and then put down an inch of wood chips over that and watered it all good. the beans popped up shortly and then filled in gradually to provide some shade through the dry heat of August. the ever-bearing strawberries still provided some fruits and i did water once in a while. the fall frosts finally knocked out the bean plants and i let the stems and leaves fall where they were. we'll see how next season goes as far as production and flavor.

    selective thinning, leaving 3-5 plants per square foot of space if there are no other plants around that seems to be plenty. the plants make good mulch or get buried in other gardens. some i transplant to bare spots, but i don't have many of those left any more. unless (ahem #4 :) ) i start another mixed strawberry patch out in the green manure garden. there are some wild strawberries back there and some plants that survived being dumped on the weed pile many years ago that have wandered around, but i've not encouraged them and Ma has mowed them or smothered them when she's seen them. flashbacks for her to the previous time when she had no help with them...

    there are some black spot problems here or there with our soil type being mostly heavy clay and the high water table. i do not worry about it. the berries come through it just fine. we have some critters that eat them. mostly the chipmunks, birds, deer, bunnies, raccoons and wood chucks. the only patch that doesn't get the larger critters is the one inside the fenced gardens. the rest are available for plunder at will. as of yet the critters have not been able to find all of the berries even when you'd think they could. they have all night, they can go over the garden near the big drainage ditch with a rather fine-toothed comb, but they still will not get every berry. i'm good with that.

    what i do for control of the small black beetles or fungus on the berries is to go out at least every other day and pick all fruits that are ready, but also pick every thing that the critters have chewed or left on the ground. this way the beetles do not get going. before, when Ma was growing them, she had a lot of the black beetles on the fruit. in the several years of harvests here that i've had i've seen about six of them total. more likely, i'll see some slug or worm chewing along with the damage from the birds or other critters. fungi have not been evident yet other than the black spot type which will not be eradicated here (we have berry bushes in the hedge to the north and many other plants which are host to this fungus besides, so it would be very difficult to eradicate it in any meaningful way, instead of wasting time on that i just let it all work itself out).

    production? last season was around 45 quarts that were measured as harvested, this does not count the berries that i ate on the hoof, nor what the critters had, nor the damaged fruits that went to the worm bins. the previous seasons i did about half that. still not bad for very little actual effort beyond planting them and watering a bit, some selective thinning and trimming back runners once in a while, putting down some mulch when i had it, companion planting some beans/peas. all starting from 11 plants (6 june-bearing and 5 ever-bearing). a whopping initial investment of about $4. i could have sold berries this past summer, but instead i just gave them to the person. i have this conflict between wanting to just enjoy what i'm doing and not getting into commercial production and then having to deal with regulations or taxes, but then, a few extra $ here or there could go towards my budget. i'm just being leery of turning this into an extractive agricultural job as i would rather it be a multi-faceted garden an oasis in the middle of this agricultural desert.

    strawberry plans for this coming year will be to start a third variety, tinker in the green manure patch to see if they can produce while being completely ignored there, get more mulch on the second patch along the ditch and thin that out a bit now that it has been mostly filled in, get some beans and peas planted in there if the bunnies, etc. will leave them alone long enough.

    right now, all those plants are under about 2 feet of snow, the wind is howling with wind-chills at about -35F and i'm sitting here watching the snow blow around...
     
  19. Rick Larson

    Rick Larson Junior Member

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    So you transplanted the runners? Did these start their own roots? I like the idea of planting strawberries with beans and peas. Interesting post.
     
  20. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    fill a pot with the soil from where you'll be putting the strawberry plant and when a runner gets long enough and starts poking out leaves you can tag it to the soil in the pot by using a few small rocks or a stick or something to keep the runner in contact with the soil. keep it watered and it will root. after it has enough roots that will hold it in place you can cut it from the main plant, but i often just let it keep on going as it will keep on sending out new plants every so often and you can pot those up too. i've had lines of six or more pots on a single runner and have moved them all as a single group without cutting them apart as then if one doesn't quite take the others that do can support it.

    thanks, cheers, :)
     

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