songbird's roost

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

  1. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    i do too, as i hate spending money on something that is doing very little other than wasting energy or adding to the CO2 problem. there is a small plus side though if we switch to electricity in that we can elect to get our supply from renewable sources, we'd pay a slightly higher price for that, but it is possible and that price should be fairly stable in comparison to electricity derived from coal or nuclear.

    as for the 13C, no that wasn't a typo, usually we'd run it at 16C, much above that and we both feel too warm, wearing plenty of clothes helps. we get used to wearing very little in the summer and then it takes a while for us to get back to putting more on, but once it gets cold then we both will put on several layers and even wear hats to keep the heat in. i would do this anyways on my own as i think it is just wrong to burn fossil fuels, so the least i can do of that the better i feel. when guests are due we'll put it up higher and we're both so used to it being cooler it feels like beach weather. : )

    i wouldn't say that i enjoy being cold, that's not it at all, but after living in the south, many people spent a lot of money for electricity to run air conditioners. the houses we're really set up for either cool or hot weather. a shame really as it does waste so much energy to run the AC or the heat if you aren't insulated and set up with the right passive elements. i could get by using a very small fan and no AC when i was down south and i didn't have to run the heat much either. my electric bill would run $5-$25 per month. the guy upstairs ran his AC/heat a lot and paid $60-150 a month.

    a good saw can rip through small branches without too much effort, no need to have a chainsaw. also for splitting, a wedge or two and a hammer will do. it doesn't sound like you need a lot of wood anyways if you are able to get by on branches that are falling. here some folks will burn several cubic meters of wood a season, but not everyone burns wood, many people are like us and have propane tanks instead of wood burning. wood burning smoke severely bothers both of us, i like fire, find it very meditative like a fish tank.

    Ma has been around the country and says she'd not want to live any place else. i've tried to live other places and found some of them ok, but here is where family is. if i eventually move away it would be because there's nothing left for me here. i can be lonely anywhere, and surely there are better places to live a bit further south so i could pick up a few more weeks of gardening season, but i would not want to get too far south. i've been down that ways and lived and didn't like it. i don't mind heat, but i do mind roaches, fire ants, crazy ants and termites. i could handle it, but i like it here.


    thanks Helen, *hugs* always appreciated. : ) we do pretty good here for what the house is like and such. compared to some folks i know we spend about 1/5 - 1/3 of what they do for heat and cooling. it is not a very big house and that does help a lot. at times i've heated it just fine with a small heater that is about like using a hair dryer set on low. when the wind does not blow it does quite well.

    i think what you missed was the "hates change" aspect as she hates it even more than i do and she is not at all into technology of any kind, especially if it means she has to learn something, just not her thing at all.

    not really doesn't make me feel better personally. i feel sorry for people who are paying very high prices for propane or heating oil though. seems like there should be some requirement that companies have enough on hand at the beginning of the seaosn to make sure they're covered, but our system doesn't allow for either planning or efficiency in those regards.

    i won't be moving for the duration, eventually perhaps, but not until things are settled with Ma, i don't know how long that might be. until then i take it as it goes, she's not nearly as difficult as some folks i've had to deal with, quite easy in some respects as she can be direct and will speak her mind, so you don't have to wonder what is going on. my dad is 1000 times harder for me to deal with.

    well, as it goes, we'll survive, and things will continue. some day, if i stay, i'll be the owner and i can make the changes i'd like. until then i plan, observe, continue to grow things and work on diversity of plants and habitats. : )

    if you see this note before you take off, safe journeys, friend. : )
     
  2. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    it really isn't that bad, like swimming in cool water, when you first get in it sucks, but once you get used to it it is fine. we wear a few layers of clothes and keep our heads and feet covered. do fine. also, we don't get sick that often. when sick the heat goes up if needed. no reason to make a cold into pneumonia...
     
  3. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    I liked reading this thread, especially interested in how successful you've been with the strawberries, i get a few berries now and then, but never get the kind of harvests you enjoy

    maybe i need better drainage, or need to add more compost-- paying some attention to them once in a while might help too--how many sq ft total would you say are dedicated to the berries?
     
  4. mouseinthehouse

    mouseinthehouse Junior Member

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    songbird, a little handsaw isn't going to cut it - literally lol :) We all use redgum hardwood here which is huge branches/logs that require many hours of chain sawing. Lucky for us we have our own supply but we might use a couple of ton each season. A few small hand cut pieces would only last an hour or so in the combustion stove. The really big split pieces are more efficient if burnt slowly but it still requires a hell of a lot of wood. That is the sort of timber we're talking about. I can perhaps split a few pieces but then I'm done.

    We live in an area where there is an abundance of wood fortunately but sadly a lot of people don't leave enough on the ground for ecological purposes which makes me mad. Some people make a living in winter by selling firewood - they have a motor driven hydraulic splitter. It is quite a lucrative money spinner because most people even in town use slow combustion stoves rather than electricity. Although now I wonder if the electricity and the wood prices are not much different. (Our electricity is 31c per Kwh.)

    ramdai - we get some good strawberries too without any special care. Ours grow in mostly sandy soil but we add horse manure. Other than that we just water a bit and they do the rest. The biggest problem we have is with heat extremes which really impacts the strawberries. Ours seem to do best in warm but not hot temperatures - mid 20s Celsius.
     
  5. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4usXIAo
    https://www.google.com/search?q=roc...CLoKMrgHx6YCIBg&ved=0CGUQsAQ&biw=1366&bih=596

    i've been using a rocket mass heater i built in december, and my place takes very little heat anyway but it seems to be doing pretty well--so i'm curious about this slow combustion style heater you mentioned, always looking for a better way to burn fuel--or eliminate the need altogether

    and i've been wondering if maybe the heat was doing the strawberries in, we're probably upwards of 30 a couple weeks in the summer, and 25-30 a month or more. also i just last year started top dressing with compost--plan to rearrange those beds anyway this spring, add some more sand and compost, maybe find a little more shade, mulch a little more--i love strawberries and have gotten fair yields at times, so maybe i should just throw a little more energy their way
     
  6. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    oh, and i meant to comment on leaving slash around-- mark vandemeer talks about doing extensive surveying with some sort of wire rod that he pushes intro the soil to measure compaction, and as he was doing this he developed a correlation that slash actually reduces compaction within a few inches of the wood--has to do with fungal interractions--but that was dependent on rainfall, and in dryer areas the slash just laid there and dried out
     
  7. mouseinthehouse

    mouseinthehouse Junior Member

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    A good rocket mass heater (I would imagine, I don't know enough about them really) should be more efficient than a slow combustion heater due to the way it is designed ie you get more heat dispersion before that heat disappears up the flue/chimney. Basically a SCH is just a large firebox with a dampener to regulate how much air the fire gets. No more technical than that. Well, some models have a fan as well but most are just the basic design I've described. Good, well dried, dense hard wood can burn quite cleanly and efficiently. Softwoods are hopeless in them.

    The temps you mention for the strawberries should be ok with enough watering. Our high temps here have been over 40C for many days this summer up to 46C so they just can't tolerate that sort of extreme and stop producing. But the weather has turned milder with the start of Autumn and they are putting out a final yield for us before winter. :)
     
  8. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    If your strawberries are getting that much heat--let's see 40x 1.8==72 +32=104

    our temps don't go there a lot, but here on the ridge out in the sun they probably hit that for a week or so, guess i need to be more diligent watering

    your slow combustion sounds like what we call an airtight stove, and i would guess the rocket stove does a fair amount better than that, my exhaust temps are cool enough to keep my hand in, but i do still smell a little smoke, it's not pure co2 and h2o--not nearly as much as my airtight stove did though
     
  9. Terra

    Terra Moderator

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    Strawberries grow like weeds here but not at my sisters which is only 20kms as the crow flys , so I believe its a bit of micro climate influence . Wild strawberries like shade , Cultivated strains are better full sun , there are long day and short day strains so it sort of depends .

    I just bung them in and they grow I get a lot longer cropping from my Aquaponic ones , I remember something about minimum and maximum soil temperatures as well as air temperatures that stop them flowering .

    My in ground plants are in deep raised beds get watered probably every other day once the rain slows down , this helps with harvest keeping running grass out and of course less insect attack and NO blue tongue lizards to scare the hell out of you (we have nasty snakes).

    So just keep trying different sites in your garden which might suit them better I grow a bit more than a hundred plants , they fill a big fruit hole in my harvest calendar , the seconds and odd bits get frozen for jam and cooking with , they are divine so worth persevering with .

    They only have a small root system so quickly exhaust the soil around them I get "compost" out of my big worm bins and make a slop slurry out of it and pour it around the root zones for mid season feeding , this is why the Aquaponic ones do better I think they don't get any starvation periods .
     
  10. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    thanks, good idea, i started worms this year, so have plenty of castings and tea --maybe moving the strawberries down closer to my front door will keep them more in my mind so i don't forget to weed and water as well,, i have a site with some extra sand for drainage right in front of one of my windows, it's a bit of a micro climate there as well --a little more sheltered but plenty of sun
     
  11. Terra

    Terra Moderator

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    I forgot wind it smashes the leaves together I use bird net tossed over them this keeps birds out of course and stabilises the plants leaves cuts the wind a bit and maybe 5 to 10 % shade
     
  12. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    ah, sorry i misread your writing when you were describing taking only what you needed from branches dropped. that's much different than dealing with whole trees. : ) yes, that's a lot more work. at least with heat from wood you are into at least the current cycle of CO2 and not using stuff that was put underground thousands or millions of years ago.

    i agree with you about needing to leave behind enough for the environment to continue functioning. every bit of land has a base carrying capacity, exceeding that for long periods of time (over harvesting of timber or veggies) and you eventually pay the price.
     
  13. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    ours get full sun and rarely get above 100F, but for us, when it starts to get past the first harvest (towards the end of June normally) what i do is plant a shade crop of peas and beans, some of this is slashed and left after the worst of the heat is gone. also i make a point of disturbing patches to rejuvinate the plants. after a few years they will not produce as well, so turning under parts of a patch and adding top mulch to cover is how i do that. adding worm castings and shredded bark are by far the best things i can do here with our soil.

    for total space, i'm not sure, i've never measured that, roughly, i'd guess about 1500sq ft, with about 500 of that being new production for the coming year, so the plants aren't that well established yet. i'll probably add a few hundred plants into the green manure patch this season now that it is where i want it to be. and adding another variety or two to the mix (another ever bearing and another one time summer bearing).

    most of the work i have with them is not growing them, but keeping them from overgrowing themselves. to thin out the runners at times -- if they over crowd then the harvest declines...

    just opened another jar of freezer jam, summer in a jar. : )

    as for drainage, many of ours are growing in fairly heavy clay soil. but raised beds help with that a bit, and mulching so they get some organic matter for their root systems. as the soil improves they do better too, but they have also done ok being left alone. the clay holds water and they like having that moisture.
     
  14. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    and i've been wondering if maybe the heat was doing the strawberries in, we're probably upwards of 30 a couple weeks in the summer, and 25-30 a month or more. also i just last year started top dressing with compost--plan to rearrange those beds anyway this spring, add some more sand and compost, maybe find a little more shade, mulch a little more--i love strawberries and have gotten fair yields at times, so maybe i should just throw a little more energy their way.

    ====

    well worth it IMO as they are one of the earlier fruit crops available here and don't take years to get the tree, bush or vine going to fruiting size. by the second year they're often productive enough.

    you may not be getting additional fruits from them simply because of the variety. if you want a multiple crop out of them you need to find the right type.

    my first plants were june-bearing, very large crop, but after about a month they are done for the season. the ever-bearing plants i added the next year will produce three to four crops a season for me. they are much easier to manage too as they don't put out as many runners. they take more time to propagate to fill a space too -- so i fill in a space with the june-bearing and then go back later and chop out spaces for the ever-bearing plants to use. this way i get the space filled (fewer weeds) and productive as soon as possible.
     
  15. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    i had been avoiding the june bearing thinking the others would produce more fruit through the season, but didn't know the june bearers produced more runners

    that sounds like a great strategy, i'll invest in a few this year and fill in empty spaces like you said, help keep the weeds out, maybe start another bed of just june bearing
     
  16. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Regarding strawberries: I had a gorgeous patch of strawberries going a couple of years ago. Only problem was the slugs got to a lot of them before me, so I decided to put them all in big black plastic tubs. That worked OK until a few months ago when I got all inspired by mouses post about all the things she uses to shade her plants. It was stinking hot here & I decided I should make a bit more effort - so I went out & put some old sheets of "laserlite"over he pots - held up above them on star pickets. Well I didn't do the best job & one very hot day the wind blew the laserlite down right on top of the strawberries. I didn't find it until the strawberry plants were all well & truly cooked : /
    So now I just have to read about you lot enjoying your delicious strawberries & remember how damn good mine tasted before I killed them all : /
    I can't even remember the variety - which is a shame because they were the nicest ones I've ever eaten : /
     
  17. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Thank you : )

    ((xox))
     
  18. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    gobs more runners and i'm good with that as then they do have the capacity to wander around a mixed garden rapidly when a space becomes open.

    it doesn't take many of them that is for sure! i started with six in the spring and had about 150 by the fall (the first season).

    i think the overall production issue is definitely in favor of the ever bearing plants, but if you are putting them up it's nice to have a more concentrated season, especially if your space is limited...

    i'd really like to hear from people who have longer growing seasons if they have tried ever-bearing strawberries and if they will go for more than four crops. i've come close to that fourth harvest a few times the past few years. an extra week or two of warm weather on either side of the season would probably do it (we won't get that this year! : ) ).
     
  19. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    re: fried plants...

    aww! we have some sluggos here at times, i'm always encouraging snakes, frogs, toads, and birds and they seem to do quite a bit. mulching helps too. for those that get damaged i cut away the parts that get munched on and eat the rest or if it is too much then the worm bins get that fruit. i don't leave anything out in the garden that is overripe or spoiled as it helps keep the bugs and fungi from getting worse. we have a small black beetle that will go gonzo on them if they are left. i'm already going through the patches to harvest so it isn't that much extra effort.


    : )
     
  20. ramdai

    ramdai Junior Member

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    I had always heard that strawberries reproduced themselves and originally expected i would buy a few plants and then they would replenish themselves, but my experience buying the everbearing has been that every year i'm buying a couple more plants to fill in gaps

    I see that there are some runners, but they just don't seem to keep up with attrition

    I've gotten a bunch of ideas for changing the way i manage them, and am looking forward to a few more strawberries this year--the ever bearing never really seem to be producing much after the first season anyway, so even though our season is longer i couldn't speak to getting extra crops

    I did want to move the whole bed closer in on zone 1, my thought is to prepare the bed and move them as soon as possible, pick a nice warm day after the ground has thawed before the last frost and take as much soil and roots as possible and hope for the best,, or is that something i should wait and do in the fall?
     

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