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Reforestation - Growing trees in arid, barren lands - by Seeds and Clay cubes (no watering)

 
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Very good observations  L. Johnson,

I was wondering...

Since you are in Japan, what can you tell us about the cedars and cypress trees that were planted after WII...
(See above for a brief discussion)

Can you elaborate on what is being done and the situation there?

(If you can)

Thank You

Kostas
 
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I'm no expert but I believe most of the forest in Japan is private property. So every conceivable thing is likely being done - Complete neglect, diversification, clear logging, controlled logging, guerilla planting... Etc.

I expect complete neglect is the largest because of the aging population.

Like I said though, I'm no expert and don't have any special insight.
 
L. Johnson
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Follow-up on my last reply -

From my observations in my locality it seems most of the forests remain cedar / cypress. If you look at the mountains in the spring though you can see a cherry blooming here and there or a wisteria if you're eyes are good enough to find the subtle purple. If you look at the mountains carefully in autumn you can sometimes find some deciduous trees shrugging off their brocade. All of that is through a blanket of cedar though. Bamboo thickets are common around the lower edges of the mountains and when I walk through our land I see fallen chestnuts and acorns. I can't identify most of the trees, but they're not all cedar.

Of the people I talk to that spend time and thought on the forests most everyone knows about forest thinning for growing good lumber trees.

Because of the prevalence of cedar and cypress pollen allergies its easy to convince people that the monoculture is a bad thing.

Some of the people I talk to are aware that the forests need to be diversified, but most don't seem interested in taking an active part.

The lumber mills around here primarily deal in cedar and cypress, but they do sometimes get other woods in. Lumber is a pretty big industry here, but less in recent years according to the older folks I talk to.

---

I'm just starting to walk around our own land with an eye for tree identification and thinking about the future. We have a little land, not a lot, right now we mostly just use it for harvesting bamboo shoots. I'm observing in my rare free time in the woods, thinking about what could be done. Maybe a retirement stand of hardwood lumber? Maybe a forest garden? Maybe growing shiitake? Use it as a place to camp with the kids? Plant it with a good variety of trees and let it be? I'm yet undecided.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Thank you L. Johnson,
Very interesting; are the old growth forest trees all gone? Are there any patches of forest with oak, maple and other broadleaf trees?

Maybe around monasteries…

Here the old forests were destroyed over a period of 2500 years. The oak trees were cut again and again, and the conifers came to fill the empty space. Now the pine trees are dying from fires and diseases.

It's an opportunity to plant trees other than conifers. An opportunity to turn a problem into an asset.

In Japan it happened over a much shorter period; the same end result...degraded landscapes. It's an opportunity to aggressively remove the cedar trees and plant maples and oaks.

I am amazed how much money and energy is spent on weapons of violence and in relation how little is spent to heal past mistakes; drones and weapons for destruction but not for food, reforesting and peaceful uses.  

On the olive trees...I/we should collect olives from 3 or more different olive trees, and mix them together, so each planting hole has olives from different trees. Give them a better chance to sprout and grow.

Your land sounds like your piece of heaven on earth...enjoy it, life is good and it's short !!!

Kostas
 
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Very interesting; are the old growth forest trees all gone? Are there any patches of forest with oak, maple and other broadleaf trees?

Maybe around monasteries…



I googled "virgin forest" in Japanese and found this site: https://ecotopia.earth/article-4860/ It's a Japanese language site, so you'll need Japanese ability or a site translator.

I have been to Yakushima. It is not truly virgin forest. They logged all the best wood and left the stragglers. But there are ancient trees there, one called Jomon-sugi is estimated to be a few thousand years old - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C5%8Dmon_Sugi

I haven't been to the other places so I can't say a thing about them.
 
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L. Johnson wrote:Looking forward to hearing the results of the olive plantings next year. I'm very curious about different tree planting regimes. It seems like in nature there are two basic patterns,

1. Tree drops fruit or nut, seeds establish, trees gradually spread.
2. Tree makes fruit, fauna eats fruit, deposits seed in dung, seed establishes somewhere farther away.

I assume scarification happens more in 2 than 1 and be more important for trees who rely on that method.

Do you have thoughts on this matter in your area?


In my area, Madrid mountains (Spain) there is a third possibility, which is quite common by the way:
Squirrels and a bird called jay (arrendajo in Spanish. Latin name: Garrulus glandarius) use to hide big seeds as acorns, nuts, olives, bay seeds, or whatever seed they consider as food. They use to hide them in a hole or hidden among dried weeds on the floor. So, those seeds use to sprout since those animals use to forget the food they hide. Not all of them but many.
 
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:Thank you L. Johnson,
Very interesting; are the old growth forest trees all gone? Are there any patches of forest with oak, maple and other broadleaf trees?

Maybe around monasteries…

Here the old forests were destroyed over a period of 2500 years. The oak trees were cut again and again, and the conifers came to fill the empty space. Now the pine trees are dying from fires and diseases.

It's an opportunity to plant trees other than conifers. An opportunity to turn a problem into an asset.

In Japan it happened over a much shorter period; the same end result...degraded landscapes. It's an opportunity to aggressively remove the cedar trees and plant maples and oaks.

I am amazed how much money and energy is spent on weapons of violence and in relation how little is spent to heal past mistakes; drones and weapons for destruction but not for food, reforesting and peaceful uses.  

On the olive trees...I/we should collect olives from 3 or more different olive trees, and mix them together, so each planting hole has olives from different trees. Give them a better chance to sprout and grow.

Your land sounds like your piece of heaven on earth...enjoy it, life is good and it's short !!!

Kostas


Hi Kostas,
I got quite inspired also by this documentary that maybe you already know

The lesson I've learnt from it was that maybe some local species of shrubs (as the case of this film), were there before because are easy establishing on a particular area. And these shrubs are crucial for helping on the establishment of other tree species, that alone in the same place are not able thrive by themselves.
In our cases, Spain or Greece are countries where sun is very strong on summer to allow just sprouted seedlings to thrive and survive even one season.
In my region I found there is a shrub which thrive quite well, even having so dry seasons as our summer here. This is the rockrose (concretely Cistus ladanifer : crimson spot rockrose is the wild one in our area ).
As it is capable of thriving easily resisting our typical summer droughts, it is one of the wild shrubs that can colonize empty areas. When it develops some size, it is able of casting shadow on the floor and for other seedlings on its feet. And also to start generating biomass on the floor surface for soil recovery.



I don't know if in your area in Greece you have this same shrub or some of the same family. Have you heard about it ?
Maybe they are useful for the same purpose.

Regards,
Jesús.
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello Esteban,
Very interesting documentary.  Very inspirational (thank you).

Left alone the land will heal itself in many instances; but not all.
 

Continuous and repeated grazing of a depleted and degraded piece of land ensures its total destruction. But the notion, expressed in the documentary (and by others), that by doing nothing will in all cases create a healthy forest, is not correct. In some cases it will. Many ecosystems left alone will self repair.

I saw with my own eyes, a bay that was polluted by all kinds of human and industrial waste, become crystal clear within five years, after the source of pollution was terminated. Clean water and abundant aquatic life; a beautiful sight to see.

The man made conifer forests in Japan, or Greece/Spain will not self heal. The hills all over the countryside in Greece that are eroded down to pure stone need human input (seed placement/ dispersal). The pine forests that are burning, or dying from pests/disease all over the world present an opportunity to insert acorns and seeds of other broadleaf species and other plants/shrubs. The "do nothing" logic of the "nature - forestry people" will ensure that either the land will produce more pine trees, which will die again soon, or the land will be left bare and erode over time. Actively introducing tree seeds of the ancient forests will help.

You are absolutely right. Rockrose is an amazing plant; we have it here and it does all the things you mentioned and more. It's one of the best teas (my personal favorite)...it's leaves excrete a sticky substance that goats and sheep don't like.  You can plant trees under the rockrose and they will be protected from grazers in the first few years of their life.

See ...



I am planting about 50 trees in between the rockrose, outside Thessaloniki, and they are doing well. It's worth noting that a small herd of 100 plus goats grazes the area, and they have not found the trees (yet). I have undertaken this project to demonstrate how easy it is to plant trees, and to take risks. I know the man that owns the goats... once he sees the trees growing he will protect them. They are public property and he and his family will benefit from them - enjoy the free fruits. There are almonds, apricots, plums, apples , oaks etc growing - among the rockrose. Some have reached 30 to 50 cm height. In another 6 years they will start producing. Over the last 4 to 5 years, I have spent no more than 15 minutes each year to plant the seeds. Amazingly simple, easy and inexpensive.

It's important to revisit a site for 5 years or so and continue putting seeds in the ground...it's not enough to plant once and leave...many things can cause a seed not to sprout (mice, lack of rain, early frost, high temps, wild pigs...).
Besides, I think the land is pleased by the presence of an individual offering seeds.    

The rockrose seeds are very light, and if the conditions are favorable will sprout,  simply by scattering them on the ground. A drone can be used, loaded with 200 grams of seeds (thousands of seeds), and sent a kilometer or more away in remote areas to disperse the seeds.

Kostas
 
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We have discussed in the past the Great Green Wall project.

Here is another NYTimes article. It is very informative. Great graphics.

NYTimes Great Green Wall article

It's encouraging to say the least. To see all these trees growing, and the land turning green !!!

The article does not answer one of the key questions; what percentage of the project is completed.

How can the goats be used to rehabilitate the land instead of degrading it?  

Its time to consider this.

Kostas

 
L. Johnson
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:We have discussed in the past the Great Green Wall project.

Here is another NYTimes article. It is very informative. Great graphics.

NYTimes Great Green Wall article

It's encouraging to say the least. To see all these trees growing, and the land turning green !!!



Just replying to link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Green_Wall_(Africa)

Kostas's link is behind a paywall, so you can see some of the basic information at Wikipedia.
 
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An update...Mulberry trees

Kostas
Mulberry-A.jpg
[Thumbnail for Mulberry-A.jpg]
Mulberry-B.jpg
[Thumbnail for Mulberry-B.jpg]
 
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Unlike almonds and acorns, Mulberry seeds are difficult to plant. The same applies to figs and grapes.

The young trees shown in the above photos will simply be burried in the soil (using a garden spade or screw driver), and will not be supported in any way. Its easy to grow these young trees...cost is negligible. A person can carry and easily plant 100 plus of these in an hour.

If the conditions are right, they will thrive. If 50% survive the  1st year it will be a success.

This experiment will be repeated for 3 to 5 years before calling it a success or failure.

Some place, somewhere, the Mulberry trees grow and thrive like "weeds" and are the tree of choice to plant. The question is will they thrive here.

Kostas
 
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Konstantinos Karoubas wrote:

Some place, somewhere, the Mulberry trees grow and thrive like "weeds" and are the tree of choice to plant. The question is will they thrive here.

Kostas



I know that once established, mulberries are supposed to be very drought tolerant. They have needed a lot of irrigation to get established for me, though (our summers are very hot and dry now)

Kostas, I've followed this thread off and on for a few years but I've gotten a little lost trying to go through all its pages looking for updates. Would you say that the trees you've planted have been successful, overall? I'm sure there have been losses, but have some survived?
 
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Good question James.

Yes ...they are doing very well... very very pleased with the results.

It's been a humbling experience.

The earth and nature is...the stuff that poets song writers write about.

I am putting down seeds in about 21 different locations near Thessaloniki, and each one is different. The microclimate, soil conditions etc all contribute to the survival and growth rates of trees.

Field mice...they love almonds. In the process of looking for almonds, they unearth all the other seeds planted (lost a few hundred plus seeds).

Wild pigs...early spring heat...very hot dry summers...all can contribute and have contributed to losses.

But persistence leads to trees growing.

It costs less than 10 cents per tree to plant this way...it includes going to the same place for 5 years, buying the seeds and paying someone to plant them...compared to 6 to 10 euros per tree planted by conventional means.

Kostas


 
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loquat (Eriobotrya japonica)

Kostas
loquat-(Eriobotrya-japonica)-1.jpg
[Thumbnail for loquat-(Eriobotrya-japonica)-1.jpg]
loquat-2.jpg
[Thumbnail for loquat-2.jpg]
loquat-3.jpg
[Thumbnail for loquat-3.jpg]
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello everyone  - an update...loquat trees

Similar to the Mulberry seeds, the loquat is difficult to plant with the seeds using our method.

If the seeds are planted in the ground when the fruit is ripe, and not watered all summer, they will most likely dry out. Its also difficult to store the seeds until October.

We are planting these young trees bare root, in 4 to 5 locations to see how they will do.

It's a great tree for a community food forest. They are easy to grow in a planter and easy to transplant.

Let's see how they do over the summer without any water.

Let's hope for the best.

Kostas




 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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One way to store acorns....

Kostas
acorns-1.jpg
[Thumbnail for acorns-1.jpg]
acorns-2.jpg
[Thumbnail for acorns-2.jpg]
acorns-3.jpg
[Thumbnail for acorns-3.jpg]
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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I been told....

The best time to plant acorns is right after they fall off the tree.

But some times, they need to be stored for 3, 4 weeks or more.

If kept exposed to the sun and wind, or at room temperature,  they dry out.

Underneath the oak trees, the falling leaves cover the acorns, and if it rains,  they begin to sprout. I can still find viable acorns underneath the oak trees around here.

As shown in the photos above, I used damp straw - not dripping wet - and covered the acorns, top and bottom.  The bin was put inside a dark plastic bag, closed air tight and placed underneath a tree in complete shade.

So far, its been 4 weeks, and they are holding up.

I plan on planting them in Southern Greece.

Wether, they sprout and survive is another matter.

They got a lot going against them, but you never know.

Its worth a try.

Kostsas
 
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Conventional Reforestation.

See


And

Chios Island Tree Planting Feb 20 2022

This is what conventional reforestation looks like in present-day Greece.

Machines digging holes, water hoses, mostly pine and cypress trees.

Plenty of good energy - people wanting to help....BRAVO !!!

The cost of the whole operation ?

What we are trying to do here, is accomplish what all these good people did, with a much much lower cost, and to produce a drought tolerant and fire resistant forest.

With two people in one day or less - plant  the right seeds. Then repeat this for the next 5 years. Total 10 working days.

That's the objective.

We have no choice but to try something new.


Kostas


 
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Tree Planting continued...

Kostas
Tree-Planting1.jpg
[Thumbnail for Tree-Planting1.jpg]
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello everyone,
The small picture shown above, and the video in the previous post,  in a sense demonstrate what is involved in the reforestation process currently.

The costs incurred in planting this pine tree are many,  and these are significantly increased if you are planting away from roads.

Among the costs:
Buy the tree
Dig hole
Plant tree
Water tree as needed in the summer
Labor required for the above
Cost of transportation - energy.

Faced with the high cost of tree planting, planners and experts  recommend letting nature heal itself. In pine tree dominated forests, that means hoping that pine trees will reemerge. But pine tree (conifer) monocultures create a toxic environment that degrades soil and water.

See Japan Mistake

Once an area is burned, it's an opportunity to reintroduce broadleaf species, such as oak trees and others, that originally (many years ago) occupied the area, and were forcibly removed.

In summary the goal is to plant 10, 20, 100 or more trees instead of just one, with the same effort. Plant not just conifers,  but a variety of trees including fruit trees, broadleaf species, and some conifers !!


Kostas
 
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Hello everyone,

Here are some of the ways I have tried planting trees, shrubs and grasses.

The attempt is to cover the earth in a low cost, low energy way and to produce a healthy forest that will be a benefit to all.

1. Grow seedlings in pots and transplant bare root. See above for pictures of mulberry and loquat trees and a discussion. Sixty to one hundred trees can be planted in an hour. No further input is required. If the conditions are favorable over 50% should survive.

 2. Place seeds directly in the ground This is done in October, November and early December around here. Trees such as oaks, almonds, plums, apricots, apples, wild pears, the golden rain tree and others thrive  around here. The land loves them and will grow them without any assistance. All we have to do is plant the seeds. Every piece of land is different…we have to observe and experiment to figure out what is appropriate. Sone trees like oaks, will thrive in many places. Up to 250 seeds per hour can be placed on the ground, depending on the terrain.

 3.  Scatter seeds directly on the ground surface Small seeds like arugula, Mediterranean hartwort, rockrose, wild oregano, wild leaks, medick tree seeds (alfalfa tree), alfalfa seeds, and others. These plants, I have seen thrive and become established, by just throwing them on the ground surface. The ants and other creatures will take many,  but if you scatter enough, and the conditions are favorable, they will become established and cover the earth year after year. In many cases, in dry difficult conditions, we may need to cover the soil first, before planting tree seeds. These seeds tend to be very small…a drone can be used to scatter them over large inaccessible areas.

  4. Make small clay balls/cubes ....Make small clay balls/cubes (Masanobu Fukuoka, San) and encase small seeds like apple, pear, alfalfa etc. Bury these small clay cubes in the ground, as you would the almonds. This protects the clay cubes from excessive dry periods and pests. I tried this for the first time this year - waiting to see the results. Cautiously optimistic.

All of the above allow an individual to have a major, significant, positive effect on his/her surroundings at a small cost in time and money.

Kostas
 
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Just a note...

It has taken 22 years to get to this point...during the 1st 12, not a single tree was grown (the wrong seeds were choosen).

Kostas
 
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A Tree That Could Stop Wildfires
          The thin green line


Interesting article on the Mediterranean cypress tree.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Management researchers found that Mediterranean Cypress trees were resistant to wildfires, and could be a potential deterrent to wildfires in the future.

cypress tree

It's worth looking into whether it will fill our requirements.

If anyone has experience on growing them by seed...

Kostas

 
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Collected some Mediterranean cypress tree seeds...soaked them and will try to grow them in a pot...

The start of the cypress tree journey !!!

Hope for the best

Kostas
cypress-seeds.jpg
cypress-seeds-Cupressus sempervirens
 
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Update

The following was posted 4 months ago...the results are coming in...

A forest fire burned a small part of the pine forest we have nearby.

The heavy fall rains have washed away part of the topsoil and probably some of the seeds.

We scattered some seeds that we know sprout easily when scattered on the surface. They include arugula, Mediterranean hartwort, vetch, alfalfa and others.

There are many questions about the condition that the fire has created...how toxic is the soil now? will the seeds we scattered grow and improve and hold the soil? will the oaks and almonds grow in this area?

If the seeds we scattered do well, we should consider using this in a wider area to help protect the soil after fires.





Today I visited the area...



The wild pigs did some damage...but limited.




We need to wait a few weeks to see if the other trees will sprout.

By next fall we will know what trees survived the summer heat.

It's a nice small experiment that can guide us on how to respond to the fires at the pine tree forests.


Kostas
 
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(The work of the wild pigs)



Kostas
 
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NYTimes Article on Tree Planting

A good article, covers many issues....it seems, greed and love of money causes many of the problems, as usual !!!

It does not discuss the need to immediately convert to no till farming, and to have farmland permanently covered with crops  and green manure vegetation...see Masanobu Fukuoka, San, and Gabe Brown and friends - good informative article.

Kostas



 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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1000 Year Old Oak Tree

I am confused as to why they plant the acorns in a greenhouse and then transplant them. Why the additional cost, when all they have go do is plant them directly in the soil.


1000 year old oak

Kostas
 
Konstantinos Karoubas
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Happy Spring... Easter to everyone,

As the man said...Peace on Earth !!!

An update of hope

See the photos below.

The 1st photo...an oak tree survived last year's brutal summer heat, and is growing new leaves,

The 2nd photo...we planted acorns in between pine trees to see how they do. In this area in the past, the almonds, apricots, plums etc we planted did not survive. Let's see how the oak trees do.

The 3rd photo, shows an almond tree emerging in a pine forest that burned last year. What we should we do with these areas?

And the 4th photo shows a young tree that was planted bare root this winter... let's see if it will grow roots fast enough to survive without any watering.

Kostas

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Photo 1
Photo 1
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Photo 2
Photo 2
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Photo 3
Photo 3
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Photo 4
Photo 4
 
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Before leaving Los Angeles County, Altadena to be specific, I went around collecting the copious amounts of diverse seed I was able to get in just a few blocks in my neighborhood. I ended up with about 6 shoe boxes filled with paper envelopes of dried seeds. Some of the fruit I'd eaten, bought from Whole Foods, were not dry when I put them in the envelopes due to a lack of time, and those molded. But I think even some of the seeds from those boxes are probably still viable. I picked literally everything that had a seed on it from trees to shrubs except for things I didn't really care for aesthetically. In addition to this I also spent about $600 purchasing seeds from seed companies. I plan on using Fukuoka's sowing seeds in the desert book and have already made quite a lot of seed bombs. I need to do a great deal more earth work in order to capture all the water that is washing across my property every year in the monsoon. We haven't had a monsoon yet this year here in west Texas because of drought according to the locals, and I moved out here about five months ago. But it's really obvious what's happening because not only is the pattern of water clearly written on my property but also to the north of me which is down slope there is a large area I call the patch and it is green year round and has grass taller than my head.
 
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kids duck forest garden chicken pig bee greening the desert homestead
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On the subject of Japanese forests I saw an interesting video on it. Because of the monoculture forests a lot of the animals have been going down to the farms to eat. Allergies are also huge, obvs. When we lived there I had allergies for the first time in my life. It sucked. Anyway, they have a few organizations who are going up and planting other trees to help feed the wildlife and replace the monoculture trees. I thought that was interesting.
 
                        
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Very helpful,, I’m considering a move to New Mexico to a very arid environment snd it both scares snd exhilarates me,, I am used to a fertile , urban habitat with copious amounts of water and organic matter. Anyone in NM?
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Konstantinos Karoubas
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Hello everyone,

Unfortunately been very busy…many updates need to be provided….but…

Five months ago, we posted a photo with a note:

"This is could be a badger like animal - it likes wild pears and vetch seeds"


A new photo taken yesterday shows dozens of wild pear trees growing…

Nature at its best…I love it.

Kostas

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You can thank my dental hygienist for my untimely aliveness. So tiny:
Free, earth friendly heat - Kickstarter going on now!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/paulwheaton/free-heat
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