wayne fajkus wrote:I have often thought about digging holes around a newly planted tree. Fill it up with kitchen scraps, fish guts, manure, whatever. Space them where it may be a year or two before the roots get to them. Water infiltration is probably another benefit to doing this.
It absolutely will work. As you can see in the pics I posted there is a Thornless Honey Locust. Two years ago the branches were beginning to rub on the roof of the house and we needed to get it trimmed back. The arborist we’ve used many years back came over to take a look and said “That tree is about 60 years old.” My wife corrected him by saying we planted that back in 1989 after a tornado took out the previous tree, a Crimson Maple, that resided in that spot. The Locust was about 10 foot tall at the time and less thick than my wrist. It had to have side stabilizers put on it for the first few years or so. He was amazed at the size now. Well, the tree had been fed by septic runoff that had been deep in the soil for 30 years. We have sewers now, because the old septic systems did not work with the soil in our community. Our Perc was so bad that you could smell septic everywhere, and most yards and lawns were wet muck during the summer. By the time we got here in 1988, we already had the sewers in place. When the tree was being planted, the landscape guy said he could smell septic as he was digging the hole. Our septic tank was originally located at the back of the house, down slope of where the tree was planted. It was our neighborhood septic flow that had permeated the soil. Sure enough, after a couple of years that tree took off and has been as healthy as could be. I’m guessing the raw sewage in that soil must have gotten broken down and acted like super food for that tree. Doesn’t say much that we’re living on top of poop, but it has worked out well for the trees.
paul wheaton wrote:I decided to call this thing a "earthworm town" and changed the subject line.
Earthworms are a big part of getting a lawn healthy. We had very few before due to the artificial products and no organic material such as leaves or mulch. Now I know we have a good population now because the soil is less compact and has better drainage. One spot that had pooled water on it every time it rained hasn’t had standing water in years.
Al Loria wrote:Now that the snow is gone and the rains have been consistent I thought I would post an update.
Last year's efforts paid off. The grass is coming in a beautiful green and there are no dead spots as there were last year. In fact, we greened up sooner than our neighbor's lawns. The only places not filled in with grass are where the dogs have dug to eat the soil. I still have not been able to figure out why they do this, but it is confined to two small areas, and all four dogs do it.
Lots of clover coming in, and a few dandelions. That is fine by me.
Okay, so here's the plan. The lazy man lawn starts now! No more organic material, except for coffee grounds, no more compost, and most of all, no more getting nuts over this. High mowing for the entire growing season and we'll see how it goes. As soon as it all gets a good mow I'll post a few pics.
Now we can move on to other plans. Started with chickens this year, the garden needs to be planted and we might add a few more trees and bushes. Not having the lawn to worry about frees up time for better things. The only thing we will work on with the lawn is to eventually make it smaller. I have a plan for a small Hugelkultur bed there and have been setting up ideas for plantings. Suggestions are welcomed.
I appreciate the bump Paul just had given to this old thread, and it’s a good reminder for me to update what has happened in the past 7 or so years. I came down with Psoriatic Arthritis which has literally wiped me out and kept me from doing mostly anything around the property. The drugs they have tried on me only worked well for a short time and the current immunosuppressive drugs I’m on are not helping much. With that, I’m happy to report that doing nothing of any consequence to the lawn has paid big dividends. The only thing I’ve done in seven years I happened to do this year, and it really didn’t need it. I did a small spreading of Ringers because the lawn was a little slow getting started this year. It has filled in every year where there were bare spots on its own and it is still greener than the neighbors. The dogs, of which we have three now (some have passed and we’ve added new rescues to the family) , do not seem to have any negative effect except in one area along the fence where our Pointer mix likes to run up and down when the neighbors go by. I had never thought that being lazy about the lawn would work as well as it has. We have the least amount of dandelions and crabgrass that we’ve ever had. We mow using the mulching setting and have not thatched in all these years. It is amazing to me how much nicer the lawn is now than it was seven or more years ago. We still have plenty of clover, but it’s green and there are no complaints from me. I would never again use anything, outside of Ringers if the lawn really needed it, ever again. I don’t even water the lawn anymore. Haven’t done that in at least five years.
To say the least, I’m impressed by not having to worry about the lawn other than having to mow it, which I don’t do much of myself anymore. I think once the lawn comes into its own balance of microbes, fungi and living critters it takes care of itself. If anyone has the patience to set up their lawn to run itself they will be rewarded with a fully functional and thriving bit of green space.
I can’t thank Paul and all of you enough for your quidance and advice. I still receive the email updates of Paul's adventures and always find he is busy and doing great things. Maybe I’ll check in more often to see what’s going on even if I can’t participate as I once did. Thanks again to all.
This article appeared in AM Cost Rica, today, April 12th, 2012. AMCR is an Internet news daily providing news in English about Costa Rica.
Before European settlers arrived, farmers on the rainforest savanna grew crops in raised beds, a practice which would be forgotten for 500 years.
Pre-Columbian raised beds
may save vanishing Amazon
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
The Amazon region of South America, the largest tropical rainforest and river basin on Earth, is disappearing at a rate of around 800,000 hectares a year, but a new study finds one possible strategy for reversing this trend in ancient Amazonian farming methods.
Analysis of a 1,000-year-old ecological record in the Amazon provides a rare glimpse at early farming practices before European explorers began arriving in the Americas more than 500 years ago.
The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds the ancient farming methods could slow the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
The rapid expansion of agriculture and cattle ranching, road and dam construction, and illegal logging are the biggest drivers of this massive deforestation.
Lead author Jose Iriarte, a paleoethnobotonist at the University of Exeter in England, focused on a coastal wetland savanna in present-day French Guyana, on South America’s northeastern coast, where ancient farm beds and canals remain, unaltered, on the landscape. In pre-colonial history, Iriarte says, this was a period when farmers reclaimed these seasonally flooded savannas into raised-field agricultural landscapes.
A sediment core from the site provided the team with an unusually intact archive of how farmers farmed these fields. It shows pollen, plant species and charcoal before and after the European colonization in the late 15th and 16th centuries.
Geographer Mitchell Power, curator of the Natural History Museum at the University of Utah, studied charcoal in the core. He says while evidence shows that naturally-occurring fires began decreasing globally around 1500 — a period of documented climate cooling — that’s not what they saw in the Amazonian record.
“When we went to the French Guyana site to try to understand the record, the most surprising thing to me was that it was the opposite trend. Fire was very low and then after 1500, fire increased," he said. "That was contrary to what 90 percent of the rest of the records around the world are telling us.”
Iriarte says the native farmers understood how fire could harm the land and agricultural production.
“We know that fire results in the loss of crucial nutrients for crops, fallows without fires are most effective in restoring soil organic matter and preserving soil structure," he said. "So we interpreted that they were limiting fires because it was better to grow crops in these raised field systems.”
Iriarte says use of this fire-free method by the pre-Columbian farmers helped them transform the seasonally-flooded savanna into productive cropland.
“Raised fields provided better drainage, soil aeration, and also moisture retention during the dry season. These raised fields were constructed mainly with the muck from these seasonally flooded savannas," he said. "So they are really fertile and they can be recycled every season.”
Mitchell Power says this labor-intensive approach ended abruptly when as much as 95 percent of the native population died from a variety of Old-World diseases brought by the European settlers.
“Once the Columbian encounter happens, we don’t see that type of agriculture any more," he said. "We start to see increased burning and a shift toward dry land farming. So people were then clearing forests and making their raised beds in the forests. And what we think is happening was a huge demographic collapse in this region.”
Slash-and-burn agriculture — introduced to the Amazon not by the native farmers but by European colonizers — remains today a major threat to the rainforest. Experts say if such practices continue at the current rate, more than half of the Amazon’s tropical rainforest could be gone by 2030.
Iriarte says pre-Columbian farming methods offer a tried-and-true alternative.
“It has the capability to help curb carbon emissions and at the same time provide food security for the more vulnerable and poorest rural populations of rural Amazonia,” he said.
The authors say bringing back these labor-intensive but productive farming systems to serve today’s and tomorrow’s food needs will require extensive farmer re-training and the political will of the region’s governments. And they believe that if the Amazon’s current stewards can reclaim the wisdom of their ancestors, the damage to the world’s greatest rainforest can be slowed.
paul wheaton wrote:From a frugality perspective, my lightbulb junk boils down to this:
1) I currently spend about $12 per year on electricity for lighting with incandescent. If I buy one CFL for $3 (instead of 50 cents for an incandescent) and try to put it where it could be the most efficient, then that would have to be to use it on the one light that I have on the most often. In that spot, it should last about two years and save me about $3 per year. So I spent $2.50 more and got $6 back. For all other lights in the house, I think CFLs would not save money because the bulb would burn out faster.
2) The CFL is subsidized. If there were no subsidy, then the light would cost about $11. So I would be paying $11 to get $6. Therefore, the CFL does not actually earn it's keep.
3) With the subsidy, the light is even more expensive because of all the red tape for all the subsidies.
4) When the light is running, it contributes to sickness. Sickness costs.
5) When the light is dead, it contributes to pollution which contributes to sickness. Sickness costs.
And, the CFL costs us more because it is we who pick up the tab for the subsidy. No free lunch...
"Unfortunately we cant control people's behavior very easily."
"Because coal is so cheap, there is not much motivation to change peoples behavior. Thank you US govt for picking the lowest hanging fruit to address this countries big energy problems."
I'm taking these quotes somewhat out of context, but, it still remains that we don't want to be told how we should behave. We'd be going down the path of the former Soviet Union. And, we all know how that turned out. Being green might be great, but some just don't see it that way, and they do have a right to their opinion.
Coal is cheap because there is so much of it. It just happens to be dirty. If there was a true groundswell of concern for clean energy, then we would already have clean coal burning equipment.
I'm not criticizing you in any way. Just wanted to bring up a point that I think is relevant to the conversation.
Interesting topic. Is the conspiracy created specifically to benefit a few, or is it an outgrowth of the capitalist system itself?
Competition has always been the engine that drives better prices for the consumer. It seems like since we are not manufacturing as much within our own country, then there is no incentive for innovation to create cheaper and better products. When the major source of manufacture becomes one country ( in this case china), and the stateside companies become just sales companies, then the consumer gets dumbed down into buying whatever gets marketed to them. And all this gets done under the auspices of a government that can be lobbied.
It's kind of like moonshine. You can't legally make it on your own, so you have to pay the taxes on booze to the government and the consumer pays that in the end pricing of the product. The lightbulbs can't be manufactured here anymore because they are illegal. The price goes up for a CFL, and consequently, so does the taxes paid in the purchase price. Big business wins, and so does the government.
Somewhere along the line, capitalism morphed from a private free enterprise system to a government sponsored one. They can lobby for subsidies, laws, and whatever else they need to make the bottom line larger. They win, we lose.
Now, we have seed that can be legally protected, so the food chain becomes part of the federally protected system. This is no longer a free enterprise system, but something far more sinister.
Living Wind wrote:My dad passed with a combination I suggested to him.. Lemon/Lime juice + extra virgin olive oil.. Citrus for the high vitamin C content and virgin olive oil for a smoother dispersal through the urethra.
I tried this for my last kidney stone, and the stone passed the next day. It had been problematic for weeks before. Don't know how or why it works, but it did in my case.
Just inserting my nosey self in here, but what did not find here? Was it practical uses of permaculture for you own specific needs, or something else? I was new to this, once, and do not have the acres of property to grow all the things I want to but was able to get help and adapt the small piece of land to, what for me, has been an exciting new way of doing things.
I really think this place is very relevant for those who want to go beyond organic and are willing to put a little sweat equity to arrive there. This site has a brain trust that is second to none when it comes to permaculture. Just ask the right questions in the right places and I know you will enjoy being here.
As much as you don't want to do it, a manual thatch might be in order this one time. I did it last year out of desperation, but I have a small lawn. Once your lawn is up and running with good microbial life, then you should not have to thatch. The "natural" dethatchers must work with some kind of living organism to breakdown thatch. A lawn that is full of life will do that automatically.
Add lots and lots of organic material, compost, mulched leaves and the like. Some organic fertilizer to get things going may not be all that bad either.
I had the same problem with lack of topsoil and found that adding the organic material will allow worms to come in on their own and start taking up residence. You may also want to incorporate Paul's worm pits. I did that too and it seemed better than aerating. The key is to get the soil to hold moisture and only organic material can do that well enough to establish a soil that is capable of supporting microbial and offer forms of life. Your soil has to be alive for it to work as intended. It will then feed the grass and lower the incidence of weeds. Clover should not be considered a weed as it brings nitrogen to your soil from the air.
This whole process may take a few years to get going, but it will be worth it. I did enough last year that I did not add anything this year. Only mulched the grass on the lawn. Another important point is to mow high. At least three inches, and more if you can. I leave the mower set at its highest setting, about three and a half inches for the season, then cut it short for the winter.
Since it is fall here, I am going to mulch the fallen leaves and maybe add a little compost. Do the last mow at about an inch and a half, and then leave it till spring. If it comes up like it did this year, I will be happy.
Picked up 3 cast iron pans at this weeks flea market. Got a Griswold #3 for $15, a Wagner 10" for $5, and an unknown #8 in great shape for $4. Right now I am cleaning the Griswold and Wagner with oven cleaner (lye.) not the most permie think to use but it should get all the grunge off these pans. Got me in a plastic bag and letting them sit for at least 8 hours, maybe 24. Then plan to reseason with bacon fat.
If anyone uses lye, be careful, as I burned a hole in my wrist with a drop that got on me. I used rubber gloves but they were the surgical kind...Not good. I will do the cleanup with those dishwashing Playtex gloves.
Seems like a good way to get them clean instead of putting in the self cleaning oven or scraping them.
I always leave a filled feeder in the coop so if they come off roost earlier than I get up they can have their fill. They also can eat before roosting if the outside feeder is empty.
Must be working because we are in the middle of October and still getting six eggs out of our six girls a day.
Because we are on a small suburban lot we free range them late in the day when we are home. The area they range in is enclosed with a silt fence and it can be moved easily according to their and our needs.
This may not fit your program, but for our small space it seems to work quite well.
Listening to #52 with Toby Hemenway at the moment. What an awesome person Toby is. Honest, even humble maybe. And certainly on the money when it comes to not taking himself too seriously, and allowing himself to adjust his opinions as he observes results.
Great hearing the podcasts, and I would like to continue listening and enjoying. Paul is intelligent and manages never to pontificate on any point. He's also incredibly funny and down to earth. Not wanting to be a brown-noser. but his stuff is good.
We switched our chickens to a soy-free organic layer from Countryside Organics a month ago and they are doing very well on it. They also get to do a supervised free range, an hour or two a day on our small lot.
I have read about the sprouted grains and think we will do some of that in the winter. I too was not sure how the protein elevates when sprouted but it does, according to what I've read. This is an explanation in fairly simple terms. http://www.foodforlife.com/our-products/sprouted-grain
Ludi is right about not wanting to repair a hole in a tree. It might live for a while but eventually will succumb to the bugs eating it out and rot from dampness and possibly fall.
I took a Bloodgood maple that had a split trunk when a tornado came through, wired it back together and tarred the wound. The tree lived and 20 years later that side had begun to show signs of dying. I cut it off and saw that wood had rotted from within. Whe trees are diseased or stressed, especially when older, it may be time to take them down before they take you or your house out.
Took two of our dogs to the Vet today and the new Dr. who we saw tried selling us on a new replacement for Frontline. I can't remember the 3 letter name, but it is also a neurotoxin and she said it did not affect mammals. She also said the Frontline did not either. I had told her we are using an essential oil spray and DE and asked her if the dogs had any fleas. She said, none that she could see. So I guess our way of treating works just fine without the chemicals. And at about 1/5th the cost. So why would we want to buy the stuff she was pushing?
We're sticking to the essential oil spray. It is made by a company called Natural Chemistry, and it even smells nice.
Thanks Jami McB. for recommending the essential oil treatment a while back. The premixed spray is easier for us to use even though it may be more expensive this way.
Brice Moss wrote: chickens ain't gonna be real friendly, just not in their nature.
once its good and dark you can pick them up without any trouble though as they just kind of shut down at night
Rob, I realized after reading further that your chickens were not raised by you and therefore they have to re-home. It may take a while to get them to do that depending on how old they are. Probably the reason they are running at the the fence too. They have no idea where home is now or how to get there. Patience, and keeping them cooped up for a while is probably going to do it.
Leave them locked in the coop for a few days to a week until they figure it out that this is home. I've heard that is the best way.
First week was the hardest with three of ours staying out after dark and the other three finding their roost. They can't see at night and get firghtened easily. Some are slow learners, but they will get the idea eventually.
The ore I see of permaculture in practice, the more I become a believer. By personal observation, polycultures do much better at surviving than monocultures. Organic practices are great until the beasties figure out you have lots of the same plants in rows or large plots that they like. Then you have to go about figuring all the ways of organically killing the pests without losing the whole crop, or your mind.
Last year we started raised bed gardening using Toby Hemenway's methods and found the only thing we lost was the Zuchini squash to vine borers. The other plants that did not do well were cucumbers. We either did something wrong or have to understand Zuchini and cucumbers are not best for our area. They did well when we had a garden 20 years ago, but not now, something had changed. Whatever brought those bugs to the are has not been mitigated by the other insects and natural balancing factors. So, guess what we didn't plant this year?
We added more herbs, garlic, onions and those types of plantings in between the tomatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, lettuce and cabbage. This year the lettuce is going like gangbusters with not a leaf being touched. The cabbages started off with a few bugs nibbling, but now that has stopped. I even let the weeds grow up in between now to see if they take the hit or help in keeping things balanced. Only when they become invasive or are out competing what I want to grow do I cut them down.
Face it, you are going to lose some of what you grow to insects, blight, or whatever. Learn what works, and then adapt to any changes by planting the things that will grow as something else succumbs to whatever it is that is killing it. When the balance gets restored you may be able to plant those that have not done well in the past, once again.
We replanted our slope, which was always a problem with fruit trees, berry bushes and beneficial flowering plants. I loaded it up on clover seed last year for the nitrogen. We used to have wild Sumac trees always trying to establish on that slope. And they only appear at the the edges of the woods, never in thick wooded areas. This year, not a one has popped up. We get tons of weeds, wild rhubarb with leaves like elephant ears, poke berry and the like, but we slash them down and let it mulch and start the process all over. All of the trees and berry bushes survived the winter and are flourishing. We have enough diversity that the Sumac has not even tried to make a stand. It is usually one of the pioneer trees as it grows like a weed here and 20 feet way is a large one which we let remain. Yet, for some reason it does not need to grow on the slope anymore. I'm thinking we did something right in the choices we made for diversity of the plantings on the slope.
We haven't got the permaculture thing down pat by any means. But, we see how it works. Even the observations of the local woodlands tells me that a polyculture system is what comes naturally when the woods are left to their own devices. Our challenge is how to bring that to what we do, in order to maximize the benefit with what we are growing.
One last comment. Our lawn was a mess last year, and I know how most of you feel about lawns. I added compost, organic material, organic fertilizer, dug Paul's worm pits and threw on a load of clover seed. This year it has never looked more healthy. It is loaded with clover, dandelion, plantains, some other creeping weeds like violets and a few others, but it is green and all the bare spots filled in by themselves. Our neighbor's monocot lawns are burning in the heat we had the past 3 days and ours is still green and perky. As we move toward changing the lawn to plantings of a beneficial nature, we can, from what was observed with the lawn, see the advantages of one plant helping another survive.
Nice looking garlic beds. Looks like you have plenty of seaweed on them.
You must be right about the salts if you have not had any problems using the seaweed that way. Every time I read something I've found it is better to have the opinion of someone who actually tries it. There must be enough trace minerals to warrant not washing it first. Good to know this.
I noticed that too with the scapes continuing to grow if you cut them early on the tender tip. Guess you could get a continuing harvest of scapes that way. I've heard it is best to cut them off so the garlic plant will put more energy into making the bulb larger. I've not heard of harvesting at three curls of the scape, but that would be a better indicator than waiting for the leaves to wilt. I have one I saw last night that is one and a half curls, so I am going to leave it and pull up the bulb at three to see if it is true.
Willy, I added dried and ground Kelp last year, and it does work. I wish we were close enough to the ocean to get fresh seaweed. Make sure you wash it off to get the salt off first.
We have about 40 planted too and I wish now that we had done more. As a first timer I wasn't sure how they would grow, but as the guy who sold me the garlic said, just kick your heel in the dirt and drop in a clove and it will grow. He was right as they all sprouted and are doing well. You are correct about the deer not touching them at all, and I have not seen one leaf with a bug bite. Pretty much the same with the onions we planted.
If you have the hardneck variety you should be getting the scapes. Man, are they great sauteed!
We'll be ready to harvest them in July. Should be great with the San Marzano tomatoes we're growing for making a killer sauce.
Ken, I planted ours last fall and they even sprouted before the first freeze. They kept poking up through the snow all winter and I thought they would not survive. They seem to have almost all made it and are so hardy and untouched by any bugs, so far. As a first time garlic grower, and seeing the positive results, I know we will increase the size of next years plantings.
Feeding the girls Green Mountain organic grower pellets as they are just 10 weeks old. Also supplementing with grass, dandelions, weeds and clover that I harvest each morning. Organic plain whole milk yogurt, instant oatmeal, dried mealworms, live worms from the compost pile, pill bugs and other assorted insects I can find.
As soon as we are able to construct either a tractor or a paddock (most likely a paddock) we will let them out of the run to range some. Not easy in suburbia with a small lot and neighbors, but we will make due.
So far it is more work, but I enjoy it. Nothing like opening up the door in the morning and getting greeted with happy faces running out to see what I have for them.