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Sepp Holzer

 
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If I wanted to grow blueberries on my land, which at one point I measured to have a pH of 6.5, how would I accomplish that? (Without the ongoing work of adding pH lowering dusts.) Are there plants that have the effect of lowering the pH around them enough to get me into the 6.0 of happy blueberry terrority?

I have a pond edge available. I have another drier spot beneath my live oak tree.


Mark Rose wrote:

Denise Lehtinen wrote:How did he get his blueberries to grow next to the roses, etc? Is his soil naturally acidic enough for them OR does he have a method of growing them without the soil being what people usually say is the right pH for them?



pH will naturally stratify over time in the soil if it's not tilled. Plants will put roots in the right pH layers.



 
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Sepp will be coming to Detroit next month for a 5 day course in the city. For more info, please visit:


http://teasso.com/The-Rebel-Farmer-comes-to-Detroit/
 
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Sepp's veiws on water:
I recently watched a documentary that may shed some light on Sepp's veiws on water.
I would be curious to know if he is familiar with the work of any of the people in this documentary, specifically Alois Gruber (from Austria) and Masaru Emoto.

Water the great mystery
http://www.voiceentertainment.net/movies/watermovie.html


Watch the first one minute and fifteen seconds of this.


This sounds very similar to what Sepp said about the flow of water affecting it's quality.

A LOT of what is said in this documentary I personally see as pseudo-science, but if any of it is true, it may explain Sepp's special water.


here is another snippet.


watch 6:40- 7:27
artificially purified water is dead
 
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I would love to hear about the"plant family's" I remember hearing him/Sepp mention in a video. I assume it is companion planting, and I am quite curious to hear about seed blends he uses and why, from his amazing point of view.
Have a great great time Paul!
Roxanne Sterling-Falkenstein
 
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nancy sutton wrote:I'm interested in the actual or potential income from permaculture farming, outside of any income from tours, speaking, consultation, workshops, etc., etc. (all good, but not included in this question). Regulations may prohibit Sepp from off-site selling, BUT, if he could sell retail or wholesale, what kind of revenue does he estimate, roughly speaking, that he could achieve from strictly selling his farm production, including U-pick (but not entrance fees) ? And, what would that be 'per acre'?

(As the "pope" of permaculture, I think his guesstimate would be very valuable. Thanks)
'.



This is the biggest permaculture question that remains, in my opinion. I, for one, believe it can be done sustainably, which means supporting the farmer and his family. I look forward to Sepp's comments in this regard.
 
Rory Beck
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Nathan Ayers wrote:Sepp will be coming to Detroit next month for a 5 day course in the city. For more info, please visit:

That's fantastic.


http://teasso.com/The-Rebel-Farmer-comes-to-Detroit/

 
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paul wheaton wrote:
Anybody have any questions that they think I should ask?



It's silly, and maybe someone can answer me already, but for years I was wondering what he was doing with all those ants. He and his family were collecting ants colonies and transporting them in bags to their land. He even talks about how he finds perfect spots for this colonies, but can't remember he explain what is he actualy doing. Is it somehow related to bees, that he mentions in the same chapter? Ants growing aphids, that produce sugar, that feed ants, and maybe bees?
 
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Collin Vickers wrote:Portugal. Pick Sepp's brain about arid environments, beyond capturing and storing water.



I assume you are asking because you believe Sepp has done good things in Portugal, and that it might translate to other dry areas (such as Texas !) Where can I read about/find out about what he has done in Portugal (where I live), and how long term it helped (or not) ?
 
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Sepp worked with the people at Tamera in Portugal to create a rain harvesting landscape: http://www.tamera.org/index.php?id=676
 
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in another thread people were wondering what seeds were in Sepps seed mix.
 
Mark Harris
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Sepp worked with the people at Tamera in Portugal to create a rain harvesting landscape: http://www.tamera.org/index.php?id=676



Thanks Tyler for that link. Interesting reading. My good friend Burra Maluca from this forum is at Tamera for a few days right now. I look forward to hearing about what she sees there. I heard a podcast with Maddy Harland a few months ago re this place and Sepp. Unfortunately some of the information was not accurate, especially about Portugal's climate. The impression given was that Sepp had managed to make a desert into a lush green landscape. It was suggested Tamera only got a few inches of rain a year. In fact it would get at least 24 inches a year.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Mark Harris wrote: It was suggested Tamera only got a few inches of rain a year. In fact it would get at least 24 inches a year.



That might not seem like much to some people, but considering Portugal's latitude (almost 40 degrees N), 24 inches is effectively much more up there than down here, for instance.....
 
Mark Harris
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Its difficult to compare latitudes directly. The gulf stream for example has a very profound warming effect. Both our family and Mrs Maluca's are in an area North East of Tamara with only a tiny difference in climate to that of Tamera. We have temperatures probably on average around 1 deg C. cooler and similar rainfall. Its raining as I type. 30mm in the last two days.
 
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Mark Harris wrote: My good friend Burra Maluca from this forum is at Tamera for a few days right now. I look forward to hearing about what she sees there. I heard a podcast with Maddy Harland a few months ago re this place and Sepp. Unfortunately some of the information was not accurate, especially about Portugal's climate. The impression given was that Sepp had managed to make a desert into a lush green landscape. It was suggested Tamera only got a few inches of rain a year. In fact it would get at least 24 inches a year.



I'm back, Mark!

I'm busy sorting and uploading photos and trying to catch up with everything, then I'll start a new thread (with a link from here) to a slightly less rose-tinted view of what's going on there. In short, I'm impressed. No need for rose-tinted glasses to try to make it more impressive than it is, I think what we need is an objective look at what they do and how they do it, and how well it's working. I'm already starting to hatch a sneaky plot to go back in August to see how it all copes with some real heat.
 
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I spent time wandering the land with Sepp getting some pieces translated here and there. And then I got to have dinner with him. We talked about lots of very fascinating things and finished the evening going over some of his projects.

The thing that I remember most is when one of team sepp people told me that Sepp says that I am the #1 permaculture person in the US.

My impression is that he has now done a LOT more projects in the last few years. Really amazing stuff.

I asked about how much rainfall is at the portugal site because somebody suggested that the rainfall there may be over a meter per year. Sepp himself verified that while it was typically around 6 inches, this last year it was more like 3 inches.
 
Mark Harris
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I'm sorry Paul but 3 inches of rain a year at Tamera is Bull. Does Sepp live there, or spend a couple of weeks there ? We are not that far from that site, and have a very similar climate. I obtained alot of weather station info before I moved to Portugal, because it was critical for the sucess of my farming business here. It has been a very dry winter across Portugal, and western Europe. Ask your friend Burra if you don't believe me. Despite that we had 72mm just last month. That is is 3mm short of 3 inches. Plus we have had another 34mm in the first three days of this month. So that is close to 4 inches in less than 5 weeks. It is raining right now !! My wife has a calibrated rain gauge, and takes regular readings. Why do you believe Sepp who lives in Austria and needs a translator to communicate with you, rather than English speaking people actually living in that country ?

Rain for last few years here. Sometimes the rain gauge overflows so we are actually slightly UNDER recording rainfall.

2006 885mm
2007 551mm
2008 653mm
2009 Not recorded that year.
2010 1154mm
2011 756mm

remember 3 inches is only 75mm !!
 
paul wheaton
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dinner
sepp-dinner.JPG
[Thumbnail for sepp-dinner.JPG]
 
Mark Harris
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I listened to another podcast today where Paul was talking to Maddy Harland of permaculture magazine. I am pretty sure Paul said he was positively, absolutely sure that Tamera recieves only 6 inches of rain a year on average (thats 15cm) , and that he had thouroughly checked that out. People like me were wrong, wrong, wrong. he wanted to tell the world

One of the sources of that info was Sepp Holzer....I think he said he had spoken to him about it. I don't know what other evidence he had.

Yet despite that I have found an article written by Sepp himself saying that 50-60cm is the average for Tamera. Another article written by Silke Paulick of Tamera quotes 60cm is the norm.

50cm is around 20 inches, and 60cm is close to 24 inches. Thats alot more than 6 inches.

 
Burra Maluca
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The confusion is because, despite Paul's best efforts, Sepp and Maddy were talking about two different places.

Sepp was talking about the project in the Extremadura, in Spain, which I'm quite prepared to believe has only 6" of rain.

Maddy was talking about Tamera, which has 24" or so of rain.
 
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Burra Maluca wrote:
Sepp was talking about the project in the Extremadura, in Spain, which I'm quite prepared to believe has only 6" of rain.



Mmmmh, according to Wikipedia, Extremadura gets at least three times that amount ...
 
Burra Maluca
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Well short of going there myself and camping out for a year to see if that particular place has the same amount as the whole region or if it happens to be in a rain shadow, I'm not likely to ever be completely sure. From my point of view, if Sepp can restore land that had turned to desert, I'm really not fussed on the exact number of inches. We can argue about it forever, or we can learn what Sepp has to teach and apply it to our own lands that need restoring.

At the end of the day, it's not how many inches you have, it's what you do with it.
 
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Burra Maluca wrote:
At the end of the day, it's not how many inches you have, it's what you do with it.



AMEN!
 
Mark Harris
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But this is the problem. When Sepps foot soldiers say 'look at how amazing it is that Sepp has greened the desert', and you find out that in fact its not a desert, and gets 10 times the amount of rain you were initially told it got, you start to doubt Sepp. or at least I did. Then I find out he sells food for 20 times the normal value (which I could never afford to buy) and charges 100 people a day 95 euros each to visit his place. I got very cynical. I am new to the idea of permaculture. What am I supposed to think ?

The irony is that the more that I look at what Sepp can do I can see alot of good things. If I hadn't looked closer, I would have assumed we were all being lied to in order to make Sepp look more amazing.

Yet I am left with some cynicism. I still don't understand why Paul is telling me that I am wrong about the climate I live in. I think he would be mightily hacked off if somebody from Europe told him he was wrong about the climate of Montana.
 
Burra Maluca
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Well I'm never very good at thinking what other people seem to think I'm supposed to think, so I'd never presume to tell anyone else what they are supposed to think, either. But permaculture is about taking ideas and techniques and applying them to your own system in such a way as to make that system as self-sustaining as possible. I tend not to get too bogged down in individuals and the ins and out of their business, but instead to take ideas and concepts from them and see how I can apply them.

Sepp is particularly good at reading the landscape and visualising how to bring water into it. He's also good at learning 'from the book of nature', and reading his books helps me to develop that skill. I'm prepared to have a go at almost anything he recommends, just to see if it works for me. Some ideas might not be appropriate, but if they feel right to me I'll go for it. Salatin has ideas about raising chickens and apparently he can reduce the amount of purchased feed by 80%. To me, it's of no importance where he gets that feed from, but I'm certainly interested in his methods. Gradually I intend to get a system going where everything supports everything else - I'm a million miles from achieving that goal, but I'll happily take ideas from anyone. They don't have to be good teachers, or share my ethics, and I don't have to even like them or believe everything they say. If they have an idea that 'clicks' with me, I'll accept it at face value and try it. If it doesn't click, I'll likely ignore it. If I try something and it doesn't work, I'll either adapt it and try again, or ditch it completely. The important thing is to try, and then share the successes and failures. Permaculture isn't a set of ideas, it's the way we put all the ideas together. Some ideas are better than others, some work better in some place than in others, and it really doesn't matter who or where we get those ideas from.
 
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paul wheaton wrote:I'm not having anything translated.  I am looking forward to seeing the translated works!

I have read Rebel Farmer, which is the only english book of Sepp's I'm aware of at this time.


Paul,
What you say is confusing. I've heard podcasts you've done of Sepp Holzer's "Permaculture: A practical guide to small-scale, integrative farming and gardening".
A really great book.
Anne
 
Mark Harris
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Permaculture is still very much on the fringes. Its very easy to get into this community and get carried away with, and forget how insignificant it actually is in the real world. When I go to the shops, nothing has changed. I can't buy permaculture food in Portugal, or elsewhere in Europe as far as I know (unless I want to go to Sepps farm and pay 20 times the normal price).

Most people probably haven't even heard of permaculture, or have a clue what it is. The rest of you who do know what it is, and care about it, should be interested in what people like me who are possible converts to the cause, think.

As a 'newbie' what I see is not much evidence that these ideas are going to feed the world. I would love to know how much food Sepps place really does, or could produce. But I cannot see the evidence that Sepp's ideas could feed the world. Thats not to say he is wrong or that his ideas are rubbish, its just that in the real world Sepps place is a permaculture visitor attraction not a place producing food for normal people. As a 'newbie' I can't help thinking that if Sepp sells food for 20 times the normal price then that would suggest that permaculture food is never going to be affordable to buy for the masses.

I feel really strongly that the extremely high price of Sepps food sends out a really bad message.

I keep reading that there is a whole load of red tape that stops Sepp just getting on with being a farmer rather than a tour guide, but certainly in Britain a country run on the same European community agricultural rules, the country is covered with farms selling all sorts of foods direct to the masses. There are farmers markets and farm shops springing up all over the place. In Portugal also you can go to the markets in town where small farmers sell their produce.

Maybe Sepp has just found he can make more money by operating the way he does. This doesn't prove his ideas are rubbish and cannot feed the world, but it certainly to me doesn't prove that his ideas will feed the world.

So what I suspect is that there are alot of people who dip into permaculture, the sort of people who are ripe for 'conversion'. These people are probably already half way there, very anti GM, anti agrochemicals etc, and what do they see ? I suspect many of them like me very quickly get cynical when they see some of the things they see. Assuming that permaculture matters, then if there are lots of people who quickly get cynical or see little evidence that it actually is something that can feed the majority of us, then that should matter.

It is very easy I am afraid to get cynical when it looks like we are being misled about Sepps ability to green a 'desert', when in fact its a place that in fact has quite decent natural rainfall figures. The problem is that it would easy then to ignore the good work he has done there. But still according to what I have read here on this forum, Tamera may only be able to produce a small fraction of its own food with all the advantages of the land being 'Seppified' and with permacultural practices being applied.

You have to have a lot of blind faith if you decide to start getting big diggers in to build great big hugel beds all over the place. But I think until the masses start seeing evidence that Permaculture can feed them, they are going to assume it is just a fringe activity. Alot of permaculturalists seem to have alot more of that 'blind faith'. Permaculture in my view needs to be able to prove to the masses that it can come up with the goods if it is going to break out of being a fringe activity.





 
Burra Maluca
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Anne Wright wrote:

paul wheaton wrote:I'm not having anything translated.  I am looking forward to seeing the translated works!

I have read Rebel Farmer, which is the only english book of Sepp's I'm aware of at this time.


Paul,
What you say is confusing. I've heard podcasts you've done of Sepp Holzer's "Permaculture: A practical guide to small-scale, integrative farming and gardening".
A really great book.
Anne



Anne - Paul wrote that post in 2009, before the Sepp's "Permaculture" book was translated into English.
 
                        
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Hello,

the impermanence film project did some filming at Holzers place 2 weeks ago.
Part 2 of the project is going to be released soon i guess.
I organized them a meeting with Holzers son.
Its hard do get in touch with Holzer himself.

The books of Holzer are good in a way, but don't expect books with much details, as most of pc-books. No details about seemixes, but at least some info.
But the more general things, like how to restore or rebuild land, how to increase water availability thats great in his books.
The only way to get real details about his work is to attend his teachings. There are also no youtube videos, also not in german.

Link: http://www.impermanencefilm.org/
Film: http://www.permaculture.at/?p=435 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhUh6mPo8Ms]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhUh6mPo8Ms[/youtube]

christian
 
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.
Anne - Paul wrote that post in 2009, before the Sepp's "Permaculture" book was translated into English.

Thank you Burra for pointing this out. I realized as much after I had written it and tried to stop the post going through but was unsuccessful.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Mark Harris wrote:
You have to have a lot of blind faith if you decide to start getting big diggers in to build great big hugel beds all over the place.



That is not necessary in order to practice permaculture.

 
Mark Harris
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I agree with you, but I suspect we might be in a minority who believe that !

I just just don't get the idea of creating a raised bed the shape of a roof of a house. We all know why the roof of a house is shaped the way it is, and its not to retain water.

I am not far off thinking hugelkultur is some sort of elaborate Austrian hoax/joke.
 
Burra Maluca
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So why not try making one with a flat 'roof'?

It really isn't the function of this forum to provide 'proof' to cynics. Permies exists as a way for people to share ideas, information and experiences. Maybe you'd be happier in the Permaculture Research Institute forum.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Hugelkultur is a traditional gardening technique in that region. It may not be appropriate for every region. Permaculture is not about specific techniques. To obsess about hugelkultur is to miss out on most of what permaculture is about. It might be helpful to look at other examples besides Sepp Holzer, who is not part of the "mainstream" permaculture tradition of Mollison, Holmgren, Lawton, he came by his concepts independently as did others like Fukuoka. Sepp Holzer is not the entirety of permaculture. Hugelkultur is just one technique among hundreds or thousands. Like Burra said, permaculture is not the ideas (or techniques), it's how they're put together as a system of design. How the system of design is applied is specific to each locale. Leveling criticism at Sepp Holzer may be appropriate, but to criticize the entirety of permaculture because of the example of Sepp Holzer is misguided, in my opinion.
 
Michael Radelut
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Hugelkultur is a traditional gardening technique in that region.


I don't think it is, otherwise his neighbours wouldn't have called him a madman for building them.


And on the topic of what he's actually done in Portugal - here's something similar, adapted for the desert proper:
http://permaculture.org.au/2010/11/25/gabions-water-soaks-in-the-desert/

The Designer's Manual contains quite a bit on this topic (both traditional and modern constructions).
 
Tyler Ludens
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Michael Radelut wrote:

Tyler Ludens wrote:Hugelkultur is a traditional gardening technique in that region.


I don't think it is, otherwise his neighbours wouldn't have called him a madman for building them.



My comment was in response to the "Austrian hoax" comment, as if Sepp personally invented hugelkultur to hoax people, when he did not invent it, it has been around for centuries.

"Used for centuries in Eastern Europe and Germany, hugelkultur (in German hugelkultur translates roughly as “mound culture”) is a gardening and farming technique whereby woody debris (fallen branches and/or logs) are used as a resource."

http://permaculture.org.au/2010/08/03/the-art-and-science-of-making-a-hugelkultur-bed-transforming-woody-debris-into-a-garden-resource/

I suppose it is possible the technique of hugelkultur was never used in Sepp's part of Austria. But I suspect it might have been in Ye Olde Days. Other traditional techniques such as fallowing have disappeared from many agricultural regions.

 
paul wheaton
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I think there are schools of thought that say "nobody has ever gone to mars, therefore we should not go to mars". I think this school of thought ends up with people not going to mars.

At the same time, there are other schools of thought that say "nobody has ever gone to mars, but I think it can be done" and they set about figuring out how to pull it off.

Its very easy to get into this community and get carried away with, and forget how insignificant it actually is in the real world. When I go to the shops, nothing has changed. I can't buy permaculture food in Portugal, or elsewhere in Europe as far as I know



I want to make permaculture be significant to the world.

I want all the food in all the shops to end up being permaculture food.

As a 'newbie' what I see is not much evidence that these ideas are going to feed the world.



As an "oldie" I have seen gobs of evidence that these techniques can feed the world without petroleum or irrigation.

As a 'newbie' I can't help thinking that if Sepp sells food for 20 times the normal price then that would suggest that permaculture food is never going to be affordable to buy for the masses.



Sepp does many projects. For most of his projects, the food is free. Or freaky cheap. And for the krameterhof he shows how farmers can make serious coin if they want.

The electric car was considered pretty lame (slow and ugly) until the $100,000 tesla.

I like the idea that the food in stores is all permaculture because farmers earn more money with permaculture techniques.


I feel really strongly that the extremely high price of Sepps food sends out a really bad message



I feel really strongly that the extremely high price of Sepp's food sends out a really excellent message: people WILL pay that much for food. If people want to sell it for less (fukuoka was a great example) they can.

This doesn't prove his ideas are rubbish and cannot feed the world, but it certainly to me doesn't prove that his ideas will feed the world.



Apparently somebody just completed a five year study of Sepp's techniques showing how Sepp's techniques can feed 21 billion people without petroleum or irrigation.

when in fact its a place that in fact has quite decent natural rainfall figures.



(putting on my moderator hat)

I almost deleted your post for this. I have rules about stating "the truth" on these forums vs. "my position". In the last two months I have has 20 different people call "bullshit" on my precipitation figures for different projects. So then I look into it and find out that they are going by the average precipitation for a region, only to find out that they have not considered things like mountains and rain shadows.

So, we have Sepp Holzer, and two people who worked with him on the project, that I talked to. These three people stood on the land. These three people are experts in estimating annual precipitation and are familiar with rain shadows and the like. These people are saying "six inches". Then there is Maddy Harland and Burra Maluca who both stood on that property. And then I have a person who heard from a person who heard from somebody else that it was more. And then your report. It seems like the was to settle this is to actually have some instrumentation there that meaures it for one year.

Saying that your word beats up the word of five other people to the point that you have "truth" and "fact" on your side, thus making these other people "fucking liars" does not work for me, or for this site.

Are you an expert in rain shadow and estimating annual precipitation? Have you stood on that exact piece of land?

(taking off my moderator hat)

You have to have a lot of blind faith if you decide to start getting big diggers in to build great big hugel beds all over the place.



The body of knowledge in this space is immense.

I suppose one could skip the body of knowledge and use faith if they want to.

Permaculture in my view needs to be able to prove to the masses that it can come up with the goods if it is going to break out of being a fringe activity.



The proof is done. Podcasts, videos, books, articles .... I just gave a two hour presentation last night.



 
Michael Radelut
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Got that wrong, sorry.

However, the article you're linking to is another classical example of someone who doesn't speak a language relying on hearsay.
I've yet to come across a reliable source of information stating that peasants of times gone by used horses or oxen to haul trees into their fields.

If we're talking about hilling, any region above a certain level of precipitation has its methods for improving drainage, but I think wood would have
been considered to valuable to bury underground - either too scarce to ignite any sort of tradition, and almost always reserved for the aristocracy.

There are chinampas and there are traditional raised beds in the Pacific, but ancient Hügelbeete in Germany/Austria ?
(Maybe James Cook mentioned them somewhere, and someone got an idea.)
 
Tyler Ludens
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Michael Radelut wrote:G
I've yet to come across a reliable source of information stating that peasants of times gone by used horses or oxen to haul trees into their fields.



I'm leaping to the conclusion they used fallen logs and branches, and probably used the technique for gardening, not in their fields. But what do I know? Virtually nothing!

 
Michael Radelut
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I'm leaping to the conclusion they used fallen logs and branches, and probably used the technique for gardening, not in their fields. But what do I know? Virtually nothing!



I have two quite exhaustive books here on the subject of wood use by peasants (that I wish you could read), and logs and branches were used very carefully, but not below the surface of a field or garden.
Building hedges, stabilizing steep areas and gullies, feed for livestock in the wintertime, litter, craftsmanship - wood that was not burned was used in innumerable ways, but I've never seen a Hügelbeet mentioned.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Maybe hugelkultur never existed until Sepp Holzer invented it.

I guess my question then is, why would someone assume he invented it as a hoax? Or why does the lack of historical evidence for hugelkultur make it any less valuable a technique? If Holzer invented it, and it works (which it does), shouldn't we be more impressed by Holzer? Or is a technique only valid if it is traditional? I'm willing to concede the source I linked to is wrong, like I say, I don't know, and in many ways I don't care. I care if a technique works.


edited because I thought I was being too harsh or something not nice.

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