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Hi from an unusual allotment
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tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44983
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 20 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Welcome on board Rich

Slim



Joined: 05 Mar 2006
Posts: 6315
Location: New England (In the US of A)
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 20 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

rich59 wrote:
Hi Slim,
I've got some thoughts on the loss of vigour and I've seen similar on my allotment and I think I have got through it. But, can I first ask some questions? Are we talking S. Nigra or S. Nigra Canadensis? What sort of planting density? Mulched/ underplanted/ weeded? What is the management of area around the planting or the spaces between the rows?


Sambucus cannadensis, varieties like 'york' 'adams' etc.
Grown in rows with wood/bark mulch, drip irrigation.
Similar to highbush blueberries

rich59



Joined: 11 Jul 2020
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 20 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Slim wrote:
rich59 wrote:
Hi Slim,
I've got some thoughts on the loss of vigour and I've seen similar on my allotment and I think I have got through it. But, can I first ask some questions? Are we talking S. Nigra or S. Nigra Canadensis? What sort of planting density? Mulched/ underplanted/ weeded? What is the management of area around the planting or the spaces between the rows?


Sambucus cannadensis, varieties like 'york' 'adams' etc.
Grown in rows with wood/bark mulch, drip irrigation.
Similar to highbush blueberries


My experience is with the European Sambucus Nigra, so I can't give completely relevant comment.

I have noted articles like https://www.uvm.edu/sites/default/files/media/ElderberryGuideComplete.pdf that mention this problem and various solutions.

On my allotment in the UK - original plantings grew vigorously for 2-3 years. Then they seriously stalled. 2 things I have changed. Firstly, I now feed twice a year with an NPK granular fertilizer. Secondly, I am clearing weeds so that spaces are either bare soil or plastic woven sheet paths.

Again with S. Nigra - I have observed farmers of elderflowers/ berries. Both use organic fertilisers like chicken manure. The more mature farm prunes to near the ground every 3 years or so.

Observing nature - most of the vigorous flowering/ fruiting bushes are ones that get cut back every 2-3 years. They also love being interplanted with other bushes and over growing them. And, general observation that they have wide ranging superficial roots that are probably the main feeders so don't like competition for several feet around the bush.

So my provisional answers for S. Nigra are - feeding/ removing root competition for several feet around/ appropriate pruning, and speculatively possibly interplanting with another shrub crop?

With Canadensis I did recently see comment from a grower that they seem to wander away from the original planting site - New suckers are vigorous away from the original plant. Suggests they exhaust the ground of certain key nutrients.

rich59



Joined: 11 Jul 2020
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 20 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

dpack,

Many thanks. I will try again. I've got some pyrites in a drawer in the shed.

When I did try before I tried with true tinder fungus but I think the bits of broken rock smothered the small dim sparks.

Another dim spark method I have tried and failed with is the temiang bamboo and china cup method. I can get a "spark" that doesn't travel at all. So difficult to create a setup where that instantaneous spark gets together with a top notch tinder.

I guess in this modern age of video posts online I could probably learn about both. Videos like that didn't really exist back when I was trying before. I'm very self taught in many of my bushcraft ways. That allowed me occasionally to invent something no-one else was doing - such as fire lighting with damp fine kindling.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 42725
Location: yes
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 20 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

if you have had it a while the surface chemistry will "old" give the pyrites a scrape before trying for a decent spark

bow dril is the only friction one i can manage reliably, with sweat and swearing and it might take a while
perhaps several days

a spindle shaved from a strait sycamore branch approx 1 1/4 in dia to leave the heartwood as the spindle and a 1 1/2 "gyroscope" at full branch dia a couple of inches above the hearth tip works ok

if the top section is tapered towards the top, where the "bearing" goes it can make for some good tip speed rpm with a bow

as it has a mid range hardness you can sacrifice the tip or the hearth depending what is dry and available

i have got hot dust by hand, so far


re bearings a hand sized hardstone pebble with a cup in it is ideal, natural shaping ie weathered n washed about can provide but that plus a smooth imprint fossil of the inside of a shell is perfect

a bit of very hard wood with a shallow cup as a bearing can work but a decent holey pebble and a bit of earwax is ideal

mullain stalks? i think of it as medicine but how does it work for fire? what hearth material is best? hand or bow? what tinder/kindling?

rich59



Joined: 11 Jul 2020
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 20 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Mullein stalks are good for hand drill.

I started out with bow drill many years ago without a coach eventually getting a coal and much later a flame. Never seemed reliable so tried hand drill. Once I got the basics I personally I have for some time found it was both easier and more reliable. Practiced a lot and sometimes teach.

Later I returned to bow drill with a little internet coaching on the logic that I needed a back up method and one that could be applied to found materials. So, I worked on something that worked with hand made cordage - that turned out to be a modified Egyptian (multiple turns round the spindle) and a lot of knowledge of how to set up the drill, hearth and working surface, and modify the drill and hearth to adapt to different qualities of failing char.

Still teaching at times and that helps keep the interest in the subject. I try to practice on holidays and down the allotment.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 42725
Location: yes
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 20 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

i will give mullein a try, thanks.

with a bow i recon the springiness and adjustment of the bow is important

using resin on the string helps mobile friction, i get tangled with more than one turn on the spindle

some time i will have a go with nettle cordage(or similar strings)

ps for the bearing a limpet shell works if you can get fire before burning or drilling your holding paw

imho a good bearing, suitable stick /hearth combo and a springy bit of tree are ideal

zippo and petrol are not bad until you run out of sparker "flints" and petrol

a bit of an aside but lighting stuff found in a winter temperate rain forest or up a hill in a semi arctic blizzard is a whole different game, as is on snow or in a swamp

wettish blizzard, it took a whole magnesium block to ignite some bits of fresh, green, windswept and alone on a mountain, Scots pine to cook a yummy tasty victim (another story) and keep me alive
that one is probably my most extreme , in several ways, fire lighting so far

i did have food and kit but fire was essential by then as my fairly minimal kit was wet and it was starting to get a bit iffy
if it had gone wrong my remains would probably still be there

maybe we should do a fire thread:wink:

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 14217

PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 20 6:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Have spent many unhappy hours trying to get a fire going in adverse conditions; usually wet. When I was a Guide, we used to carry what we called a 'punk tin' which contained dry birch bark and similar to get a fire going. We were allowed matches, but only 2, which was 'interesting' if it was windy. Not so good at firelighting now, and husband is very good, so I leave it to him.

rich59



Joined: 11 Jul 2020
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 20 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

dpack

I did once spend a winter week on a January Norwegian mountain frozen lake. I worked out that almost all the dead material was absolutely saturated in frozen water making fire lighting a major challenge. So, I guess you need a huge, pre dried bundle to get that going. I did get flame from friction in that environment using hand drill and a small tinder bundle of flakes of bark from pine trees, but that is not to say that I succeeded by my own efforts to get the fire properly alight. A little help from large waxed pre prepared fire lighters I recall as a key element in what we put into the mix!

rich59



Joined: 11 Jul 2020
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 20 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Mistress Rose wrote:
Have spent many unhappy hours trying to get a fire going in adverse conditions; usually wet. When I was a Guide, we used to carry what we called a 'punk tin' which contained dry birch bark and similar to get a fire going. We were allowed matches, but only 2, which was 'interesting' if it was windy. Not so good at firelighting now, and husband is very good, so I leave it to him.


The best adverse conditions to practice with are at the end of your own garden if you are lucky enough to have one, where there is a warm dry house as backup.

Doing it for real can be a bit miserable. I recall arriving to camp in a sodden woodland a few years back. No house backup. When the clever friction stuff and the collected dry tinder (woefully too small amount) failed I did however have more than 2 matches and a fat candle that gave me a constant flame to work from.

I might as dpack suggests move fire discussion to a dedicated fire thread.

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 14217

PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 22 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Going back to the elder. I have noticed that it dies out after a few years in a hedge, but carries on longer in the open. Probably because, as you say, it either exhausts the soil or it just needs cutting back. As hedge laying is done about every 7 years, elder is not encouraged in hedges to be layed.

gil
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 08 Jun 2005
Posts: 18399

PostPosted: Sun Sep 11, 22 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Slim wrote:
Welcome to the nuthouse!

Perhaps you can help me provide better advice to the folks I work with here in the US. Many want to grow elderberries, but every cultivated planting I've seen loses vigor dramatically after the first one or two years of good harvests.


You might want to as ask the folks at Cairn o'Mohr winery in Perthshire how their orchards of elder trees turned out. I've not kept up with the winery since they were just planting the trees as saplings.

Perhaps the solution is to have a series of new plantings every couple of years, so that they come to peak harvest in succession. Bit like rotation coppice, but requiring more ground. Or planting new raspberry canes.

Nicky cigreen



Joined: 25 Jun 2007
Posts: 9265
Location: Devon, uk
PostPosted: Sun Sep 11, 22 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

I wonder if it is more about soil type? Have no trouble growing elders here - they last in the hedges for years, and I have an accidental elder tree that came about because I stacked some elder logs against a shed... they rooted and grew.. had that one at least 10 years now...

NorthernMonkeyGirl



Joined: 10 Apr 2011
Posts: 4461
Location: Peeping over your shoulder
PostPosted: Sun Sep 11, 22 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

I tend to see elder (S. nigra presumably) popping up almost like a weed, I wonder if it is "supposed" to be a short-lived pioneer species?

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 42725
Location: yes
PostPosted: Sun Sep 11, 22 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

gil wrote:
Slim wrote:
Welcome to the nuthouse!

Perhaps you can help me provide better advice to the folks I work with here in the US. Many want to grow elderberries, but every cultivated planting I've seen loses vigor dramatically after the first one or two years of good harvests.


You might want to as ask the folks at Cairn o'Mohr winery in Perthshire how their orchards of elder trees turned out. I've not kept up with the winery since they were just planting the trees as saplings.

Perhaps the solution is to have a series of new plantings every couple of years, so that they come to peak harvest in succession. Bit like rotation coppice, but requiring more ground. Or planting new raspberry canes.


hi there, how you?

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