I typically fast between Christmas and New Year. It's a great way to get some autophagy going. First time I did a long fast, my blood pressure plummeted from unhealthy to normal. Since then, I've made it a yearly tradition.
John: In my own life, I replaced The Corporation's oils (canola, corn, soybean, cottonseed) with olive oil, coconut oil, lard, or butter. That was initially for health reasons: The Corporation's oils are very high in omega 6 oils. I was getting a hyper-overabundance of Omega 6 oils compared to Omega 3 oils. They compete with each other for the same metabolic pathways in the body, and the balance was way off in my diet. It was easier for me to significantly reduce Omega 6 oils than it was to increase Omega 3 oils enough to compensate for the imbalance. I source the lard and butter locally. The pigs that produce the lard don't eat corn or soy. The cows that make the butter are probably tainted. The olive and coconut oils are from organic suppliers.
Then, I met Vandana Shiva, and she told me a couple stories about Ghandi. How The Corporations had taken over India. And the people were slaves to the cloth factories. So they people started making their own cloth via manual labor. It was illegal to collect salt from the sea. By royal decree, all salt had to be purchased from The Corporations. So the people made their own salt, even though it was illegal to do so. The stories inspired me! In my own life, I can make a principled stand for what I think is right. I think that it is wrong to poison the environment with toxic gick. Therefore, I don't want to eat foods that were produced using toxins. The big 4 foods that use toxic gick in their production are canola, corn, soybean, and cottonseed. Therefore, I choose to avoid oils from those crops in my life.
Life is messy. I'm not a purist or a fundamentalist about this. For example, I eat those oils at family and community parties. Then make sure to eat fish, flax, or chia the next day.
James, this thread earned you 3 apples. As far as I am concerned, they are well deserved. Wonderful topic to discuss. I learned a lot from the thread, some of it in face to face discussions with real world friends. That's valuable to me. It's rare that I talk about a permies post with my friends. (Due more to me being an introvert than anything else...)
I renewed my commitment to live a life without the cooking oils manufactured from The Corporation's seeds and associated poisons.
One breeding technique that I'd love to devote time to is creating new species through grafting. Every once in a while, when things are grafted together the DNA of two cells gets mixed together. If that particular cell happens to become the genesis of a new shoot on the plant, then a new species can arise. Might take thousands of grafts, but it sure could be clever if successful.
One seed misinformation statement that I hear all the time is:
You can't save seeds from hybrids
Of course you can. And the offspring don't end up being Franken-fruits. They are usually a blend of traits mid-way between the traits of the parents. The parents were great, so the offspring will tend towards greatness.
At least on my own farm, I don't want to put myself in a position where elite germplasm, and the results of the past 60 years of plant breeding can't be incorporated into my landraces because a plant variety/family was captured by The Corporation.
Looks like your garden has been about 0.14 acres. The most land that I can comfortably grow vegetables on, working by myself, as an experienced farmer, is approximately 2 acres.
On my farm, I went the low-input route. That means no weed barriers, drip-tape, compost, fertilizer, poisons, or helpers, unheated greenhouse, grow my own seed etc... I only weed newly planted rows once or twice, then allow the vegetables to fend for themselves. The weeds are next year's soil fertility and cover crop. I take a happy-go-lucky approach to farming.
Another farmer at my market goes the high-input route. He counts every vegetable he grows, he buys plastic to supress weeds, he uses poisons, and fertilizers, and replaces drip lines every year, and hires a bunch of help, and heats his greenhouse in the winter, and air-conditions it in the summer. He buys seed. He refrigerates his produce, and packages it in plastic. He is constantly late for market, and runs himself and his crew ragged.
To get an idea of how much of which things to grow, you might go to your local big-box grocery store and look at how much display space is taken up by the various vegetables, and then mimic that... Onions get 20 square feet. Parsnips get 1.
There are about 250 raspberries in a pint basket, which will sell for around $6 at my market. Each one has to be picked individually. Or, I could pick two winter squash and sell them for $3 each. Hmm. I know why squash is one of my biggest crops. Pretty much any berry sells fast, and for good money, but require significant labor to harvest, and they are highly perishable. I can take a winter squash to market for months until it sells.
Tomatoes are very popular. Everybody grows tomatoes, so meh! Unless you are first to market, then name your price!
Sweet corn is very popular, if it's fresh. You might do well planting an acre of sugary enhanced sweet corn. Plant successive crops when the previously planted crop is 3 inches tall. That can be problematic in early spring, because untreated sugary enhanced tends to germinate poorly in cooler soil. Maybe plant an su corn for your first two plantings.
If you can keep up with weeding, carrots and beets are popular, as bunches with the tops still on. Plant successive crops to keep them coming all summer.
If there is a vegetable that thrives and tastes really great when grown by you in your soil, that would be a good thing to grow. I was startled when the university conducted a study of my customers, and asked why they were buying my vegetables. The number one answer was taste. I grow all my own seed, and taste every fruit before saving seeds from it, so I had been improving the taste for my customers without even really being aware that they had picked up on how great my vegetables taste.
You might find a niche that works really well for you. One farmer at my market focuses on garlic. Another focuses on greens. Another focuses on raspberries. Another on cut flowers. Another on bedding plants. There are a few of us that are generalists, or that focus on things that nobody else brings to market, for example, I take nopales, sunroots, and medicinal herbs.
If I grow carrots, or beets, they can stay in the ground, and get picked when I want to pick them. They just get a little bit bigger each week. If I grow berries, they have to be picked several times per week, or they rot. I can pick carrots the day before market. Greens pretty much have to be picked in the morning before market. If I pick tomatoes at first blush, there are fewer that spoil in the field, and I can shift the harvest to mid-week, rather than during the day before market frenzy.
My gardening is greatly simplified by a wheel hoe, an Earthway seeder, and a planting tube. I made customized hoes.
Tube planter. 5 seconds per tomato plant!!!
My favorite custom hoe.
Wheel hoe, except the double wheels were the wrong choice! Switched to single wheel.
One of these days, I'm intending to push the boundaries with OSSI, and pledge a hybrid variety... If both parents are OSSI pledged, and I make a hybrid, then the offspring are also OSSI pledged... It's super easy to make hybrids with corn and squash, that might be a good place to start.
Well, I finally injured myself by barefoot living... You know how I keep saying to transition slowly? I've been transitioning for almost a year, and I still went too fast.
When transitioning from wearing shoes to going barefoot, the Achilles tendon, and calf muscles have to lengthen to make up for not having a heel under them. That went OK for me. I've been running barefoot, and gradually increasing distance. My runs were becoming too long to run on flat areas, so I started running up hills. We have some great hills around here! Problem is, that running up hills requires additional lengthening of the Achilles tendon, and calf muscles. That would have been fine, if I had approached it like I had previously with slow and steady change. But I didn't think about it, and kept running on a sore calf muscle, then went for a run, up a hill, in cold weather, without warming up! Yup, tore my calf muscle. Ooops! Didn't pay attention to my body. It gave me fair warning. Looking back on it, last summer I was having a lot of pain in my calves. I was running in a park with hills! The pain only went away when I got tird of the slippery slime growing on the running path and switched to a dry level surface.
So I'm taking a break from running for about 6 weeks. I expect my recuperation to involve a lot of hill walking. And no barefoot running up hills for some time.
I'm wearing high-heeled boots now, to take the pressure off the calf muscle while it knits back together. I'm not minding. It was 17 F tonight when I went out to run an errand.
One time, I spent an hour harvesting grain. During that time, I harvested and cleaned about 5 pounds of rye. It was a joyful, pleasant experience, feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin. Enjoying the gentle touch of the breeze. Listening to the birds and the insects. Smelling the odor of the tobacco plants flowering in the next row over. Nibbling on lambsquarters weeds. I enjoyed the sensations of a supple, flexible, and strong body working in a peaceful, pleasant environment.
Then I went to work in a different field. My neighbor was harvesting his wheat. He harvested more in a few seconds, with his combine, than I harvested in an hour. Dust filled the air making breathing difficult and unpleasant, and triggering allergies for days after. The odor of grease and a burning belt filled the air. The deafening roar of equipment thundered through the field. His fat, weak, stiff body was shaken like a rattle by the bumps in the field. He harvested in a state of dread and anxiety. Would the harvest be enough to pay for the mortgage on the combine? And for the fuel, fertilizers, poisons, and seeds? What if the equipment broke down? Would parts be available?
There are hundreds of technological things that can go wrong with that farmer's harvest: Lack of spare parts, fuel, greases, poisons, fertilizers, financing. Etc etc etc... If you dropped me off in the mountains, naked, and with a one pound bag of rye seed, that would be sufficient for me to grow enough bread to feed myself for a year.
On my farm, I am choosing more all the time to farm without petroleum. I don't use poisons nor fertilizers. I travel to my fields on foot, or bicycle. I let weeds grow rather than cultivating with a rototiller. Heck, I even stopped wearing shoes. I smile when people make comments about how they could never go barefoot, because _____________. Then they name a symptom of foot damage which was caused by wearing shoes, and could often be resolved by going barefoot. I'm coming to believe that a lot of technological fixes are the same way. That they cause more problems than they solve.
I'm also moving more all the time towards biology to solve problems rather than mechanisms... For example, I grow covercrops rather than apply fertilizers. I use genetics to deal with disease and pests rather than poisons or sprays. I select for plants that thrive in my soil exactly as it is today, rather than trying to change soil chemistry. I use plants to supress weeds rather than herbicides. I harvest and eat weeds. I believe that we are living in a finite world in which petroleum is becoming scarcer. Seems like it becomes harder each year to live in the petroleum meme. Biology however is self replicating. It won't run out any time soon.
I think that in day-to-day life, people send a tremendous amount of money to the hegemonic seed companies by buying seeds of corn, soybean, cotton, and canola in the form of vegetable oils. Those are the seeds that those companies produce in overwhelming abundance, and those are the seeds that end up filling the diets of unaware shoppers. In my personal life, I avoid supporting the hegemonic seed companies by not buying the cooking oils that are derived from their seeds. That requires that I read labels, or more simply that I don't eat processed foods, or deep fried foods.
Jamie Chevalier wrote:There is another kind of testing: a lab test can be done to test for GMO contamination. Unfortunately, it requires hi-tech equipment and is very expensive.
Last time I had seed tested for GMO, the cost was $15 per sample. That seemed very affordable to me. Something that any seed company could aspire to. And the test only required a couple tablespoons of seed.
For example, Charleston Grey watermelon has been a variety since before I was born. I'm really good at internet searching, but can't find any instance anywhere of "Charleston Grey TM". If a trademark ever existed for Charleston Grey, it has long since been lost due to everyone and their dog growing it and selling it.
Some of the companies on the list of "safe" seed companies sell Charleston Grey watermelon: For example, Baker Creek, and Botanical Interests.
Just cause a big company sells an old variety, doesn't mean that they own it, or have a trademark on it.
I'm not going to do the research on every variety on that list. But in my way of looking at the world, if the authors of that article got it wrong on one variety, it's likely that the whole list is flawed and inaccurate.
I find that it's easiest if I don't quote other people...
The most recent moderation clusterfuck happened because someone said something inflammatory. Then other people quoted the inflammatory comment in their responses. So instead of one copy of the inflammatory comment, there were a number of copies. If the original comment is not nice, then quoting it is also not nice.
Baruch Kogan wrote:To go from the highest terrace to my project would mean building about 400 meters worth of terrace.
Rebuilding 5 meters of terrace per day gets the project done in less than 2 months... Building 5 meters per week gets it done in 1.5 years.
I don't see how a forest can be self-perpetuating unless it is growing where water flows naturally. You might consider relocating your project to where it can take advantage of the wadi and terrace structure.
If moving the wadi water to the project is beyond your means, then is it within your means to use the water where it currently exists: In the wadi? The nearer to the wadi you project is, the easier it seems to use the water from it.
I built 120 meters of swale by hand in a couple days...
I wouldn't expect a tarp laid on the ground to do much killing of grass before spring. Is the grass currently dormant? My wheat and rye are currently growing, even under snowcover.
I'm not an advocate of no-till farming, and I especially wouldn't plant anything into a grassy lawn, but I observe plenty of wild rye growing in the wildlands. It sprouted with the fall monsoons in about September, and has spent all that time getting ready to out-compete the slower growing grasses in the spring.
Now is a great time to sow grassy grains. Just throw seeds out onto the ground. Some will avoid getting eaten by predators. Some will germinate, and grow a little bit all winter long, and be ready to have a good shot at out-competing the existing vegetation in the spring. The sooner they get into the ground (after about September) the better chance they have of getting ahead of the weeds.
I really like grains that grow 4 to 6 feet tall in no-till settings. Not many weeds will be growing taller than them... Winter rye is my favorite for growing in non-tilled areas which on my farm are called the wild-lands.
I'm working on a walnut breeding project in my valley. My strategy is to give away or sell as many seedlings as possible, and then more or less forget about them for the next 15 years. I'm watching a number of trees that are growing on properties that have changed hands several times since the trees were planted. When the trees get mature enough to produce seeds, it's my intention to knock on the door of whomever owns the property at that time, and ask for seeds. Some of the trees are growing in the city right of way, or at parks, or along trails. I can take seeds from those whenever they become available. No permission necessary. People love to find out that they have inadvertently been involved in a multi-generational plant breeding project. I don't even have to know where the trees ended up. I watch what's happening in my community. If a beautiful walnut tree shows up somewhere, I don't require that it is a descendant of my breeding project. If it's a great tree that produces great nuts, then it can become an ancestor to the next generation.
I also plant walnut trees on the properties of people who have been stable members of my community for decades. Chances are good that the owners of the land, or their children will still be living in the same house 50 years from now.
For what it's worth "owning" land is no guarantee that I'll still have access to it next week, next year, or next decade.
At my place, I don't try to capture the torrential flash floods that rip through the wadi. They are too extreme. They carry too much sediment. What I can capture, is a heck of a lot of water filled sediment. And I can aspire to fill the preexisting sediments with water. Then the water in the soil can be used by plants, that grow roots that can help stabilize the soil, and they grow stems that can slow the flow of the next flash flood.
The wire fence is a singe layer of wire. A gabion is a wire basket filled with rocks. Gabions are much more stable.
At my place in the desert I have two materials that are great for making small check dams. Rocks, and tree branches obtained while doing fire-suppression pruning. Both go into the wadi to help slow the flash floods.
I also make swales at my place. The swales are not put in the wadi. They are put in areas where there is only gentle sheet flow of water. As with the checkdams, the purpose of the swales is not to capture water for irrigation, it is to put water into the soil. Plants can use the water from the soil, or the water can seep into the ground and perhaps it will come out down-slope as a spring or seep.
Hopefully, by the time a gabion fails, there is enough vegetation growing in the area to retain the soil.
In my ideal world, I would like the flash flood water in the wadi to be an inch deep and 60 feet wide, rather than a foot deep and 5 feet wide. Much of my work in the wadi, is designed to spread a shallower flow across a wider surface area.
My experience, is that water comes down the wadi and washes everything away with it. And anything left behind is swamped with sediment. Brad Lancaster's Water Harvesting for Drylands was very valuable to me. The most important lesson to me was that it's the small things that are most appropriate. All of my big structures washed away with the first rain. It was the small ones that survived.
What I found worked best was single layer rock checkdams, laid perpendicular to the water flow. They fill up with sediment after the first rain. Then add another layer. They fill up with sediment after the second rain. etc... Just keep adding layers over the years and capture the sediment and make a nice flat area in the ravine. The sediment gets saturated with water after every runoff event, and slowly releases it downhill. And retains water in the sediment for plants to use. Throw a pipe in before you start if you want, which may release some water for a while after runoffs. Springs are likely to show up downhill anyway. Especially if a bit of bedrock is exposed.
Best to start work at the top of the drainage, and work down-stream.
Rock-filled wire-basket gabions may be a better material to work with than cement, because they can shift with the stream.
Here's a few photos from a wadi that I take care of...
First photo is a single-layer rock checkdam that was built on top of bedrock. The area behind it filled with sediment during the first big rain storm. I built a second single-layer rock checkdam on top of it and it filled with sediment during the second runoff. Water pools on the bedrock below for about a month after runoff events.
Second photo is a wire-fence checkdam. It captured trees and vegetation during the first runoff after it's construction, and more than 6 feet of sediment, so it is equivalent to a hugel check dam.
Third photo shows vegetation growing in the moist sediment collected by the wire-fence checkdam.
Fourth photo shows a wire-gabion checkdam. It likewise filled with sediment during the first runoff event after it's construction. It leaks water onto the bedrock below for a month or two after runoff events.
My vegan friend could have ate what I ate today: Spinach harvested fresh from the garden. Steamed lightly. It was sweet as can be cause it did all of it's growing in cold weather. And a maxima winter squash, harvested in September. Baked in the oven, and served with coconut oil, salt, and pepper.
For what it's worth, I'm putting a lot of effort into developing varieties, and teaching myself to grow crops overwinter, so that I can have greens at times other than when my cultural-training taught me to grow them. It's December, and I'm harvesting spinach, bok choi, chickweed, mallow, parsley, sage, thyme, kale, onions, etc.
stephen lowe wrote:... are you only doing these tests because you sell the seed and want to be able to promise a certain level of vitality?
Yes. For example, I only sell squash and tomato seed if germination is 75% or better. And I pay attention to the seedlings to make sure that they are strong, and healthy looking. People give me feedback about my seeds being vigorous. I'd rather not sell a variety than send out something that would harm my reputation by germinating non-vigorously.
I keep a notebook to record the results of the testing. And also write test results on each bottle of seed. If a batch of seed fails to germinate well, I segregate it into the archive, so it won't get mixed up with high-germination seed. I plant low germ seed myself, or give it away, but I don't sell it.
One thing that has been very interesting to me, is to test germination for the same batch of seed year after year. It's remarkable to me how stable and long-lived seeds can be.
Stephen: I'm counting out seeds, and planting them in coconut coir. Then a few days later counting them again. This is to insure that the seed is vigorous and healthy.
With corn or beans, I count out 100 seeds, and put them in a jar, soak them overnight, then rinse them twice a day until they germinate. Smaller seeds are easier to deal with if planted into potting soil.
Then I'm composting the seedlings. There are some tomatoes and a pot of yarrow that I intend to grow indoors over winter. The tomatoes are from a breeding project I'm working on. I want to make crosses between them, and try to get another generation of seeds before spring.
It's December, and I'm still living barefoot. I run about a mile per day, and walk about a mile a day. Still wondering when I'll finally cave in and put on a pair of shoes. It was about 37 F for today's run.