Biochar is agricultural charcoal (similar to char generated by forest fires) that is made for incorporation into soils to increase soil fertility while providing natural carbon sequestration. The incorporation of biochar into soils can preserve and enrich soils and also slow the rate at which climate change is affecting our planet.
Wood vinegar is a liquid substance that is obtained when organic materials such as wood, coconut shell, bamboo, prairie grass, and other plants are placed in a heating chamber. When these materials are heated, their juices, oils, and liquid contents evaporate as steam or vapor. The vapor passes through a tube where it will be allowed to cool. When cooled, the vapor will turn into liquid (condensation process). The chamber is heated by burning firewood at the lower portion of the chamber. The liquid (wood vinegar) flows from a tube into a container ready for packing, storage, or use.
Since the 1950’s, Japanese farmers have been using wood vinegar to improve crop and livestock production. They use it as:
1) foliar spray, particularly for fungus (grey molds)
2) insecticide when mixed with hot pepper
3) enhancer for compost-making
4) soil conditioner to improve the soil when mixed with agricultural charcoal (biochar)
5) feed supplement or additives for livestock feeds
Wood vinegar contains 80-90% water and 10-20% organic compounds including more than 200 chemical components with mainly acetic acid. It also contains various kinds of phenol, carbonyl and alcohol compounds.
Remember to always use the wood vinegar in diluted form. You can contact the following agencies for more information.
I have three millennial’s that I call my sons, like most parents I am concerned for their futures wanting them to have more than we did growing up. So I have tried to study their patterns of communications, buying, their thoughts and dreams. As I read article after article about millennial’s and their habits, I find that there is more and more fiction written about them, just plain drivel.
The government talks about the jobless rates and how low they are, how much the millennial’s are shaping the future of this country. What a bunch of bull crap! Millennial’s are struggling with the economy, not shaping it but trying to adapt and survive in it. They are provided sub standard jobs that are available for 20-28 hours a week at minimum wage. Sometimes working for tips at lower than minimum wage, tips that never materialize. Armed with a college degree, straddled with college debt to repay, their future is much bleaker than ours ever was.
The millennial’s are NOT more important than the previous generations were before them. They are different than the generations before them. Yes, and so were we when we were growing up. They communicate differently. Yes, they use electronics to communicate at a must faster rate than we do. They have social groups that span the world, but they still have very close friends that they cultivate for a lifetime.
I have been told that millennial’s only care about themselves, their lives, their friends, and their future, this is so far from the truth. True, they do not cherish material items as much as we do. But their parents did not go through a depression like our parents and grandparents did. They have no context of the utter poverty that prevailed at that time. The millennial’s live for larger causes, they tackle problems head on and they organize to solve the problem quickly. I admire them for that, we analyze and calculate before action to make sure we do not offend someone or something. They organize and overwhelm the problem for a quick resolution. Wow, if our government only did that…
The millennial’s do not need our help, but they are very willing to work with us. They are very capable, very intelligent, and very dedicated. They do not need material items such as fancy cars or large homes, which does affect the economy to a small degree. But they do not need them for the right reason, they are willing to live with a smaller ecological foot print because they can see the effects of our past decisions and the future it will bring. Good for them. I plan to help them as much as I can as they move forward.
I know it has been a long time since I updated you on the progress of the waste vegetable oil project vehicle, but that has been for a few very good reasons. The most important reason is the fact that we wanted to make sure that the vehicle we started with was is good shape or the entire project would be compromised. So meticulous care was taken to make sure that the vehicle, a 1985 Chevrolet K5 Military Blazer was mechanically sound.
Jerry Faber was called upon to carry out that task, his knowledge as a General Motors certified mechanic is supplemented with his knowledge gathered in the reserves as a mechanic on this very style of vehicle. Jerry was allowed to use this as a fill in project, becoming almost a fixture at his garage in Fostoria Ohio. Because of the flexibility of using this as a fill in project, Jerry would provide a lower cost on the labor and also dig a little deeper into the vehicle to insure the mechanical safety of almost a 30 year old vehicle. You can imagine my excitement when Jerry called to say that the vehicle was complete and ready for pickup.
Since that time I have driven the Blazer for several days for a total of a couple of hundred miles without incident. The 6.2 liter diesel starts with little effort, rattling as most older diesel engines do. The sound is almost melodious to me. So now that the mechanical details are proven, next we are on to the aesthetics of the vehicle. Or as my Wife has stated many times, the vehicle has to look pretty. I smile every time she makes that statement, it amuses me that a military vehicle and pretty would be used in the same sentence but I understand what she means. The vehicle will receive a fresh coat of paint in OD green to remove the Starsky and Hutch stripe on the vehicle, who knows how that got on a military vehicle. Then on to new rubber seals for the glass, new seats, and a few improvements to the interior such as a new coat of paint for the door panels.
Finally we will add the waste vegetable oil kit, by that time I will have gathered enough driving miles to create a base line set of data for the vehicle to compare against the waste vegetable oil driving. The vehicle has little frills to start with, roll up windows, no air conditioning, no cruise control, just a good solid vehicle that should run another 30 years with good maintenance. I give you another update as we move along with making the vehicle “pretty”.
As you prepare for the fall season in Central Ohio, this is the time to start to collect seeds from your heirloom and open pollinated vegetable species along with your perennial herbs and flowers. So what exactly is a seed, a seed is a tiny living plant surrounded by a small but essential quantity of nutrients. Many gardeners are seed collectors whether they recognize it by another name or not. Look at the list below; see how many items can you relate to?
1. Have you any seeds left over from your spring planting?
2. Did you buy any packets at the end of the season during a discount sale?
3. Are you saving seeds from any heirloom produce you have grown?
4. Do you have any weeds on your soil, just waiting for the right conditions to sprout again?
5. Have you thrown any non-edible produce onto the compost pile that could sprout next year?
The partial list above just shows you that in many cases we are creating a seed bank without realizing what we are doing. Although we are saving seeds, you should realize that seeds have a distinct purpose and they should be managed accordingly.
One of the questions that I hear quite often is, why don’t I just buy fresh seed every year? With changes in the seed industry, consolidation of companies, and elimination of seed varieties that companies deem unprofitable, you cannot guarantee that your favorite varieties will be available in the years to come, that is why you should make it a practice to save your own seed to insure you have a sufficient supply of seeds that will produce well under your climate conditions and to insure healthier plants in the future years for your growing conditions.
Our goal for storage is to discourage germination, store your seed in a cool dry location without humidity. Bathrooms are too moist and most basements. A general rule of thumb to follow is the 100 rule. If the temperature of the storage area is 70 degrees, then the humidity of the storage area should be under 30% so when you add the 70 and the 30 together they are less than a total of 100. Storing your seed in a plastic storage bag is not a good idea as air and moisture will eventually penetrate the plastic bag, storing your seed in a glass jar is a better choice.
When storing seed, seeds must be dry and free from pests such as moths and weevils. The small silica gel packs that you acquire in vitamins and electronics can absorb up to 20% of their own weight in moisture. They can be used inside the glass jar to help keep your seeds safe from damage.
For freezer storage the moisture content must be low, commercial seed is dried to approximately 8% moisture. Dry seed will snap instead of bending when pressure is applied. Drying seed to 1-3% can extend the life of the seed 4-16 times. If you have a dehydrator, set the dehydrator on 100 degrees F. for six hours, this will bring your seed down to approximately 8% moisture level. No microwaves should be used in this procedure. Store your seed in a glass jar with a clasp lid and rubber seal for maximum effectiveness, canning jars with separate lids and rings will allow air and moisture to enter eventually. So depending on the length of time you plan to keep your seed, plan accordingly.
Label your seed with the scientific name whenever possible; place the label inside the jar as labels will fall off the jars over time. Include the name of the company you purchased the original seeds from, the year you purchased the seed or the year you gathered the seed along with any specific notes from your growing season (cool summer, hot and rainy season). If you save the same varieties over several years, remember to rotate your stock using the oldest first to keep all seed stock current.
Why would you save seed?
1. Good hobby or for fun
2. Profit, save your seeds and sell them on the internet or to friends
3. To insure you do not have a crop failure due to seed that will not grow in your area
4. Because it is the sustainable thing to do
5. Or because you believe that there will be a partial or total societal collapse
Whatever your reason, have fun with your new adventure. The reasons why you are saving seeds will dictate your methods. If you want to play it safe, collect self-pollinating seeds such as tomatoes, beans, lettuce, peas, chicory, and endive. If you are feeling a little bit braver, collect wind and insect pollinated varieties like corn, cucumber, radish, spinach, and squashes. Then move on to biennials which seed the second year of growth, biennials include onions, carrots, cabbages, beets, Swiss chard, turnips, celery, leeks. If you have specific questions or comments, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every day I look at the news headlines and I wonder if everyone has just gone insane. Some days I do wonder. There seems to be a definite chasm between government, big business, and conventional agriculture versus the non-conventional agriculture, holistic, and organic industries. They both believe that they are on the right path; they both believe that their cause is a true cause. What should an individual do in this case; you should always consider where the money trail leads. That is what differs between the two sides, government, big business, and conventional agriculture is a large money machine that no one wants to even try to slow up, maybe we never will. But what can an individual do within their own home that can make a difference, let’s take and look at a few facts and explore the ways that we can make a difference.
In 1970 a total of 72,700 tons of aluminum was used to manufacture soda and beer cans, in 1990 we used 1,251,900 tons of aluminum for the same task. In 2012 that same number had risen to 1,900,000 tons for containers and packaging according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Every day the United States generates 200 million tons of trash, or 4.3 pounds per person. Some of this is created in the manufacturing and distribution of the food and products that we consume on a daily basis, not personally created. We also consume 25 million plastic soda bottles daily, which were created using 800 million pounds of virgin plastic material. The numbers are staggering, even after we have convinced everyone to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Let’s start with reduction. The typical household throws out 10-15% of the food that it purchases; if 5% of the wasted food was recovered we would save $50,000,000 in land fill costs alone. How do we do that? Use more fresh local food, eat seasonally, this reduces the packaging requirements which reduces the number of trees cut down for paper and cardboard along with the petroleum used for plastic and the ore that has been mined for aluminum.
Conventional agriculture relies on chemicals, pesticides to kill insects, herbicides to kill weeds, antibiotics and hormones have been given to animals to increase the bulk of the animal before slaughter. University of California – Davis Health System reports that “pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay”. While research continues, prudence dictates that we should remove all evidence of four classes of pesticides: organophosphates, organochlorines, pyrethroids and carbamates for our immediate areas and homes.
To limit your exposure to organophosphates, common sources of these pesticides include.
1. Animal growth promoters, cattle treatments, flame retardants (children’s pajamas), flea treatments for pets, gasoline additives, household and garden pesticides, pesticides for crops -particularly soft fruit, vegetables and grain products (buy organic to be safe), wood infestation treatments, and mosquito sprays
Organochlorines or PCB’s are widely used as insecticides
2. Insecticide sprays whether concentrated or aerosol, ant traps, reduce your plastic use, use non-chlorine bleach, chemical disinfectants, chlorine bleached paper used for tampons, toilet paper, and paper cups
Pyrethroids are a class of synthetic pesticides
3. Toxic to humans and dogs, and they can be particularly lethal to cats, bees, and fish and other water-dwelling creatures. In humans, the chemicals can harm the nervous system, and high amounts can cause headache, difficulty breathing, nausea, and vomiting. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that one member of the pyrethroid class, permethrin, is “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
4. Used in conventionally grown fruits and vegetables (buy organic to be safe), used to treat clothes as an insect repellant, used as flea and tick repellants, mosquito repellants, bug bombs, pet shampoo’s
Carbamates are used as a crop protectant
5. Used as a lawn and garden pesticide and is harmful to “Hymenoptera” which comprises the largest orders of insects, which includes the sawflies, wasps, bees and ants. Used in conventionally grown fruits and vegetables (buy organic to be safe)
Look for environmentally safe alternatives for our pets, buy organic fruits and vegetables, and use simple household cleaners you can make at home, read all labels.
How else can we reduce waste within our households?
1. When running water, while waiting for it to get hot, capture the cold water in a one gallon jug under the sink to water your plants, fill your countertop water filter system, or hand water your garden plants.
2. Dehydrate leftovers until you fix that meal again, then you can reheat the smaller portion with the larger or use the dehydrated vegetables for a slow cooker soup and save more time in your busy schedule.
3. Buy in bulk to eliminate unneeded packaging and cost.
4. To reduce the amount of chemicals in your diet, buy organic food whenever possible, if you cannot buy organic remember to peel the fruit or vegetable prior to eating. Remember to compost any scraps from your organics produce to help feed your garden also.
5. Buy from a local farm or CSA, if this is not available start your own garden or offer to allow someone else to use your yard as a garden and share the produce with you.
6. Eat in season, this will reduce the amount of miles that food travel to get to your table.
7. Plan your grocery shopping based on the recipes that you will cook that week, that will help to reduce overspending or impulse buying and future waste.
8. Buy powdered drinks and mix them at home instead of purchasing cases of soda and other artificially flavored drinks for our children.
9. Make larger meals that you need and freeze a portion to be reheated at a later date when you are running late, and unexpected guest arrive, or you are just tired from a busy day.
10. Keep a bottle of water in the refrigerator; this will eliminate the need to run the water to get it cold before drinking.
We are surrounded every day with harmful chemicals which can accumulate within our bodies, never showing traces of existence until they have reached harmful or even fatal levels. Read the labels, compare the names, research names that you might not be familiar with and as you eliminate one chemical at a time, note how you and your family feel after the chemical has been removed. You might not notice at first, but your body knows. We will continue to look at environmentally safe household items in future articles.
It is with great pleasure that I can announce that Great Lakes Permaculture is now a Thrive Life Foods Distributor. As part of our Permaculture teaching, we cover food preservation techniques such as canning, fermenting, and dehydration, but freeze dried is too costly for the average person to afford. Yet we understand the value of having quality food available for your family for everyday use and also in times of emergency.
After testing the Thrive Life food products, I was impressed with the quality and their ability to capture the freshness of the food without the chemical additives and coatings associated with most food products. Products are available in pouches, pantry cans, and #10 size cans, so you can find the right size to fit your needs. Thrive also exhibits the 3rd Permaculture Principle of “Set Limits and Redistribute Surplus” by contributing 5% back to their charity, Thrive Nations.
If you would like more information, visit us at www.greatlakespermaculture.thrivelife.com.
I am behind on my usual duties in the garden, no excuses except I started late this year, the weather did not help, and I always try to accomplish more than I can possibly get done by myself. The last few weeks, I have been happily moving through the garden cutting weeds, staking a plant here or there, performing usual maintenance on the garden. The north side of the house always gets neglected, that is part of the design so I do not have to worry about those plants and bushes as they are basically self-sustaining, a combination of Jostaberrys, Currants, and Gooseberry’s.
So when I finally did pay a little attention to the forgotten little things, I was upset with myself to find out that something has been eating away at my Gooseberry’s. Not the entire plant, just about every single leaf on the plant, leaving only the naked stems of the leaf similar to the eerie trees sticking up in the moonlight in a cheesy horror movie. The Gooseberry’s looked fine for now, but I knew that they would not survive long without the nourishment that the leaves provide, I could lose my entire crop in a matter of a few short days. I had to act fast, I could “Ask a Master Gardener”, or I could set out on my own to find this sinister fiend.
Gooseberries are not a common fruit crop in the area, a minor fruit that is a member of the Ribes family. Although the Gooseberry is indigenous to many parts of Europe and western, south and Southeast Asia, my memories of the Gooseberry revolve around the British countryside, provided in novels dating back to William Turner, the naturalist in his notes around the middle of the 16th century. He noted that the common pests are the magpie moth (Abraxas grossulariata) caterpillar, (Macaria wauaria) and Gooseberry sawfly (Nematus ribesii). Many of the early varieties of Gooseberry’s are susceptible to white pine blister rust, but that is not the problem that I am experiencing. Checking the previous mentioned pests, the Gooseberry sawfly was a perfect match for what I saw growing in front of me. The details of the pest are show immediately below. The documents also show that this pest will attack Currants, the sawfly had not gotten to my Currants which are next to the Gooseberry’s and I did not want them to get there.
Severe defoliation of the bushes can be caused by the caterpillar-like larvae of one of three species of sawfly.
Larvae of the common gooseberry sawfly are up to 20mm (almost 3/4in) long, pale green, with many black spots, and black heads The adult females are 5-7mm (up to 1/4in) long and are yellow with black heads and black markings on the thorax; males are similar but more extensively marked with black, including the upper surface of the abdomen.
Larvae of the pale spotted gooseberry sawfly are smaller than those of the common gooseberry sawfly and have pale green heads.
The small gooseberry sawfly can have up to four generations of pale green larvae from late April on-wards. The larvae of some moths may also eat the foliage of gooseberries and currants.
Methods of treatment include picking them off by hand, not an option I plan to execute. Chemicals are available, but my first choice is always an organic option if I have one. My course of action is to place Diatomaceous earth around the base of the plant to try and catch them before they drop to the soil and form a cocoon from which the next generation emerges, there may be three or four of these a year. I also used an application of Neem oil spray which will cause the sawfly to drop from the bush so they can be easily gathered and disposed of. Round one for the sawfly, but round two went to me, round three and all future rounds are within my control. Thank you to William Turner.
Every day we fight to lose weight, eat healthy and to strengthen our bodies against all sorts of attacks from pollution, environmental and biological agents. We rely on vitamins, minerals, and the foods we eat to provide the building blocks that our immune system needs to fight the everyday sicknesses such as the common cold, flu’s and ailments, along with a myriad of deadly attacks such as heart attacks, strokes, and cancers. Yet we forget that mushrooms can be used to maintain and boost our immune system to fight the daily attacks along with assisting or even combating the most deadly of our body’s illnesses.
My Wife and I were partners of a health food store for more than seven years, over that time we became familiar with the benefits of a variety of foodstuffs that many people relied on to function in their daily lives. The value of an herbal supplement came from a variety of sources; some were as common as a garden plant and other were complex blends of ingredients from all over the world. One of those singular ingredients is the chaga mushroom (Nonotus obliquus), grown and administered in Russia as a protocol against cancer. This mushroom looks like a large knot on a tree that has been burned, most would look at it and think to them selves that it was gross; I do not want to touch that. But if you cut it off the tree, slice it thin, dry it and powder it, you can make a tea out of it or place it in capsules for use.
We know that blueberries are good for us because of their anti-oxidant capacity; they provide an ORAC scale (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) of 2500 to 6900 depending on wild or domesticated, juiced or whole. The higher the number on the Orac scale, the higher the anti-oxidant capacity. But the chaga mushroom has a value of 110,000 on the Orac scale, almost 16 times the value of blueberries.
Another mushroom worthy of your consideration is the reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), probably the most respected medicinal mushroom in Asia. Once reserved for royalty to extend life and improve health, reishi mushrooms have historically been prepared as teas or infusions, other modern preparations including capsules and tinctures. The reishi is also quite beautiful to look at, deep reddish brown and saucer-shaped, sometimes referred to as “varnished conks”. Reishi is also added to chocolate bars, candies, energy drinks, and even coffee blends.
The turkey tail mushroom (Trametes versicolor) improves the immune systems of breast cancer patients. That is the conclusion of a multiyear study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The turkey tail mushroom assisted their immune systems, allowing them to rebound much quicker after their radiation therapy. I encourage you to take a look at the research for yourself at the link provided, make your own determination.
It is very easy to get started with medical mushrooms; you can consume only purchasing then in tea form, capsules, or simply dried to be rehydrated and added to your normal cooking, you may grow many varieties indoors with simple spore kits, or purchase outdoor kits which can be used for inoculation of a wood chip bed or logs. Purchase from someone you can trust, you need to know your source and enjoy the taste and health benefits, your body will.
Due to busy schedules and the strong interest in a weekend class, Great Lakes Permaculture will be providing a weekend set of classes starting in April 5/6, 12/13, 26/27, May 3/4, 10/11. The classes will be on Saturday and Sunday of each week, from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm with a suitable time for lunch. There will not be a class on Easter weekend.
The 72 hour course covers sustainable living systems for a wide variety of landscapes and climates. It includes the application of permaculture principles to food production, home design & construction, energy conservation and generation, and explores the social and economic structures that support a culture that cares for the planet and all its inhabitants. When completed, you will receive your certificate stating that you have completed a full 72 hour PDC course.
Topics that we will cover include.
Concepts and themes in design
The local ecosystem
Forms of eco-gardening and farming
Broad scale site design
The application of specific methods, laws and principles to design
Plants and trees and their energy interactions
Water, soils, earth-working and earth resources
Food forests and small animal husbandry
Zone and sector analysis
Harvest and natural forests
Planning the homestead
Craftwork and chores
Equipment, tools and vehicles
Renewable energy and energy conservation
Waste management and recycling
Permaculture strategies for different climates
Urban and suburban Permaculture
Small farm and garden management and marketing
Strategies of an alternative global nation
Practical work on design
Who Could Benefit from a Permaculture Design Certificate Course?
Just about everyone! If you’re interested in learning about sustainable design, green architecture, abundant gardening, alternative building, organic agriculture, generating renewable energy, creating authentic relationships and community, learning new skills, or considering a new career or way of living, then you will get much from this course. Although there is much to be covered, we will provide all material in a fun engaging and cooperative manner.
What to Pack & Other Details: About 3-4 weeks before a training begins, students receive more information concerning what to expect, arrival details, what to pack, access to maps, etc.
Group and Personal Design projects
For all PDC trainings, students work on various design exercises and projects, individually and in small groups. This is a requirement of certification and important to help anchor the learning experience.
Personal Design Project Invitation:
If one of the reasons you as a student might be taking a PDC Course with us is to learn the skills necessary to create a Permaculture design for your own home or property, we invite you to bring information about your site to the training. For example, bring a sketch or map of your property in fairly accurate proportions and/or an aerial view, a plant list of what is on your property now (does not have to be exhaustive – what are the dominant species – place them on the sketch), note the sunny and shady parts of the property and what direction is south, and what your current dreams or visions for the property might be. We will spend time during our class schedule where individual/personal projects can be explored.
Snacks of organic fruit, nuts, coffee, tea and water will be provided as part of the course tuition and will be available during the entire class. We will not be providing a lunch as part of the class, you are encouraged to pack a lunch or bring something to share with the class. You will also have a ability to visit one of our fine local restaurants if you so desire, we can provide a listing of the restaurants for you at the start of class.
If you require lodging during any part of your class, please contact us in advance. We may be able to assist you with local residents that would be open to sharing their homes with you for a small fee which we can help to arrange. Please let us know this before the start of class.
Students who complete this design course will receive a “Certificate of Completion” from Great Lakes Permaculture which in the permaculture tradition, allows one to use the word “permaculture” in the promotion of their work or business. Graduates may offer workshops, lectures and design services.
The standard course which includes the pre-course materials, all books and handouts, and guest speakers. Costs for the class are as follows.
Early registration costs $700 (registration must be made by February 14, 2014)
Standard Course $750
Senior Discount $700 (Age 62 or older)
Family Discount – $750 for the first applicant, $650 for the second, $500 for each remaining family member.
Additional discounts may be applied if you have a skill or ability to offer during the course of the class, contact me directly to discuss this. A deposit of $200 will hold your place in class, but all training must be paid for by the class start date. Payments may be made by check, money order, or Paypal.
Location – Franciscan Earth Literacy Center (FELC) – http://felctiffin.org
FELC located at 194 St. Francis Avenue, Tiffin Ohio 44883 has become home to many environmental projects which include a zero energy straw bale house project, organic gardens, wild flower and wetland projects, walking paths, and the FELC training center with it’s Permaculture renovations.
GREAT LAKES PERMACULTURE
26 Schonhardt Street
Tiffin, Ohio 44883
I am always looking for information to provide clients regarding their site specifics, sometimes at remote locations this can be quite a chore. This handy little program provides sunrise and sunset along with solar path information on a variety of smart phone platforms such as the Apple products, Android, and the Windows phones along with standard Windows PC’s. Here is the best part, the programs are called freeware, meaning they can be used for personal and commercial use and they cost nothing. So take a look at the following website for more information and to download your specific software.
And like all things, take a little time to send the company an email and thank them for providing such a program and maintaining it as freeware.