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Confessions of an imperfect permaculturist - coming down to earth  RSS feed

 
master pollinator
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Destiny Hagest wrote:Oh no not at all, this is precisely the kind of line I want to toe - being open and encouraging, but not mincing words about truths.



I think in order to adhere to permies publishing standards, we actually do have to mince words about truths.

paul wheaton wrote:Something that I have said several dozen times in the past which appears to not be covered here is: I prefer to see posts that offer "my position" rather than "the truth". I've deleted a lot of stuff with "the truth". The reason is that if somebody posts "the truth" and a second somebody has an alternative position, then posting the alternative feels a lot like entering into conflict - so it is less likely to get posted. And it is that alternative that I want to see shared on this site.



http://www.permies.com/t/17422/tnk/permies-publishing-standards
 
pollinator
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Destiny Hagest wrote:

I'm not a happy go lucky skim over the truth kind of person, so this one is hard for me. I have a hard time not bringing down the iron fist of logic and truth. But I've also been wrong. And being as stubborn as I am, and wrong, well that's just damned humiliating



That could not possibly have hit more close to home
 
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If I ask a question on this site I want several different ways to approach the situation. If everyone on here believed the same thing, did the same way, y'all would have bored me to death a long time ago. Vive la difference.
 
pollinator
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Todd Parr wrote:

Destiny Hagest wrote:

I'm not a happy go lucky skim over the truth kind of person, so this one is hard for me. I have a hard time not bringing down the iron fist of logic and truth. But I've also been wrong. And being as stubborn as I am, and wrong, well that's just damned humiliating



That could not possibly have hit more close to home



Exactly what I was thinking!

But hey - being wrong is what forces us to change our views and practices.

When I direct seeded my first try with sunflowers/beans/squash three-sisters out in a field, freshly cleared of brush, with pretty much no soil prep, and what little did sprout got eaten by slugs, I was SOOO mad. I wasted literal pounds of seeds! When I then put clear plastic over the soil to warm it better in an area that had a season of rest between clearing brush and trying the same three-sisters direct seeded again and, again, what little sprouted got eaten by slugs, I was even more mad! More lbs of seed, more $$, down the tubes with nothing to show for it but more clumping perennial grasses and a larger crop of slugs than the ducks can eat.

Last year, I thickly sowed buckwheat over an area, then followed it up with heavy mulching and filling in dips/pits with partially rotted organic matter - this in preparation for "Yet Another Try" this season. If it doesn't go well, I'm going to be infinitely more mad, but at least I'll know of "one more thing" that didn't work

Am I going to post on here about how many times I've failed completely to get this to work? Heck yes. It's infuriating and humiliating, and I'd honestly prefer to not be sharing all my failures with people, but it's knowledge and needs to be shared... what *didn't* work is too often MORE important to the community than what did, especially when we're usually talking about trying to reduce the amount of work, disturbance and maintenance to the absolute minimum.
 
Tristan Vitali
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...what's wrong with being wrong once in a while?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Tristan Vitali wrote: I'd honestly prefer to not be sharing all my failures with people



I LOVE sharing my failures! If I can save one person from making all the dumbass mistakes I've made, it will have been worth my time on here. That's why I'm always begging people to read certain books or watch certain videos, to try to keep them from plummeting off that cliff.

 
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Interesting discussion: I've often thought to myself that it is impossible for me to be a permaculturist, because I till, which seems to violate a core principle of permaculture, therefore, it is impossible for me to be a permaculturist.

Oh, and I don't make hugelculture beds... That would also seem to disqualify me from being a permaculturist.

 
Tristan Vitali
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Interesting discussion: I've often thought to myself that it is impossible for me to be a permaculturist, because I till, which seems to violate a core principle of permaculture, therefore, it is impossible for me to be a permaculturist.

Oh, and I don't make hugelculture beds... That would also seem to disqualify me from being a permaculturist.



It's often hard for us to remember that there's a difference between the "tools" and "techniques" employed in "permaculture" systems and what "permaculture" actually *is* (gosh, feel like I'm back in Intro to Philosophy here and I should start writing the word "thing" with a capital "T"!)

Mark Sheppard pointed this out pretty well in this long ass lecture he gave (wont embed the youtube here, just link, but do watch if you have time...great presentation).

In essence:
no-till = tool/technique
huglekulture = tool/technique
herb spiral = tool/technique
food forest = tool/technique
banana circle = tool/technique
keyline ripping = tool/technique
cover cropping = tool/technique
and so on...

Permaculture, though, is an overarching design philosophy where you're looking at the whole system and designing based around the least input for most output. Basically, planting an herb spiral, building huglekulture mounds, or practicing no-till doesn't make someone a "Permie", but a Permie just might find some use for those tools and techniques in their overall design

In Bill Mollison's own words:
"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system."

So Joseph - you're definitely a permie. And, I must say, a very Brown one at that
 
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Eh, peeps just have to learn to take what they need and forget the rest. I read a ton of stuff that I'm just like.....no. I'm not a normal homesteader based on what I read on blogs. Also, I totally ate a nutty bar today and it was DELICIOUS! Around the home I'm "not" a permaculturist. I have a pretty amazing piece of property though. I believe commercial agriculture is wrong and harming the planet and if you ask me, I'm going to tell ya. I'll also encourage you to do what small things you can. Just don't ask my opinion if you don't want it.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Tristan Vitali wrote:Permaculture, though, is an overarching design philosophy where you're looking at the whole system and designing based around the least input for most output.

In Bill Mollison's own words:
"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour;



Oh my heck. Yes!!! I give tremendous thought to eliminating inputs: Of both materials and labor... Because I grow my own seeds, I eliminated the need to grow 350 dozen ears of corn per year to pay for them. If I select for super-tall corn, then it can out-compete the weeds, so I can save labor. If I plant squash over top of rhizomous grasses, it will shade them out for next growing season, and minimize weeding.

I'll tell a story... I have been working on a tomato selection and breeding project for years. It's slow going, because there are crosses to make, and records to keep, in addition to the actual growing. So in the last year or so, the idea entered my mind, that the tomato genome has a self-incompatibility gene. What if I incorporated that into my tomatoes? That would make them mandatory out-crossers. Then every tomato that I grow would end up being a unique F1 hybrid. That would take care of making hundreds of thousands of unique genetic combinations every year instead of the 3 that I was able to make in 2014, and the zero in 2015. It will require a lot of labor and attention for a few years, but once a self-incompatible tomato in available that is a mandatory out-crosser, then that genome can be thrown at all sorts of problems: bugs, viruses, blights, frost, weeds, flavor, etc... And it will basically be a self-breeding machine... That excites me. I've been daydreaming about it for months, and applying the science, and wondering about the unknowns, and coming up with schemes so that the project can breed itself, and I can get out of the way. I expect to have plants flowering within a week or two to make the first crosses to start this project.

 
Tyler Ludens
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I agree: Joseph is a permaculturist. Joseph, you inspire so many people here. Your enthusiasm about plants is infectious, I think you've got everyone thinking in a dramatically different way about plant breeding and seed saving. You are a one-man revolution!

(sorry about gushing, but I'm a big fan)
 
Todd Parr
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Tyler Ludens wrote:...but I'm a big fan)



As am I.
 
pollinator
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@Joe L.: "Oh my heck." Wow!....I haven't heard that expression since I lived in Slick City!....

Joe, just to add although you've probably already incorporated this into your scheme. Try to get a hold of wild, or near wild, tomato accessions (populations!) that are known to be mixed for the self-incompatibility gene -AND- may have already been evaluated for resistance to multiple diseases. If you were to inter-plant a stand of this this population with some of your favorite selected landraces the pollen from the wilds might hopefully, as a population, move not only self-compatibility per se into the landrace, but also the optimum amount of diversity at the self-incompatibility gene(s). In addition, if such a wild germplasm accession exists, you will be maximizing the amount of disease resistance diversity moving into your landrace from which you could then, in future plantings, select for those that combine the best resistance with the best of the landrace traits that you originally had. And that's not even mentioning the obvious wild-card varieties that will pop out that you might want to save due to novel traits.

Have you ever considered trying this with beans?: (see clips below)
BeanClip.JPG
[Thumbnail for BeanClip.JPG]
BeanClip2.JPG
[Thumbnail for BeanClip2.JPG]
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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John: You can take the boy out of the church. It's much harder to take the church out of the boy.

I started a new thread for discussion about Auto-Hybridizing Tomatoes. It's the perfect permaculture project! Let the plants do their own breeding.

Thanks for the idea about making more promiscuous common beans. I watch closely for naturally occurring common bean hybrids. So varieties with higher out-crossing rates get planted in greater numbers in my garden. And I have been encouraging natural hybridization within the runner beans. Last summer, I planted the descendants of the most promiscuous common beans right next to the runner beans. The cross works best if runner beans are the pollen donor. Therefore, this growing season I intend to pay close attention to any common beans with traits that may have originated from being pollinated by runner beans (scarlet flowers, vining tendrils). If I find any inter-species hybrids I'll start a thread for them at that time. Again. Letting the plants do their own breeding, and just paying attention to what is going on. Then guiding it gently. How permacultural-ish of me. Even if the crossing rate is very low, I grow a heck of a lot of beans, so if I pay attention...

All: Perhaps I have a more permacultural nature inside me that I knew. Thanks for helping me feel more at home here.

Runner Bean Flowers attract bumblebees and hummingbirds in my garden.
 
John Weiland
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Chocolate covered potato chips..... Mmmmmmmm http://www.littlefiggy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Potato-Chips-4.jpg
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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"Champagne" $6 a bottle.
 
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I must confess that my interests just happen to coincide with what a lot of permies and survivalists are doing. I like making stuff and inventing stuff and brainstorming and looking for new ways to do things and I find a lot of people with whom I share those interests within the two subcultures. As far as actual "permaculture" goes, it's not really my bag. I like it because it's super fun - not for the purpose of "saving the planet". I think the planet's just fine and can take care of herself. If we cross the line, she'll just hiccup or burp or something and we'll be gone.

Other than that, people can preach all they want. I might draw a little blood with bits of hyper-logic, here and there, if somebody's activism interferes with my hoot-having but, other than that I don't really hear it. I love everybody - the "drama" and I don't actually run into one another very often. I'm kind of like that mother whose kids can "do no wrong". What people get up to when I'm not around doesn't interest me. If an ax-murderer wants to build a rocket stove? See ya later! We'll be at the fireplace/stove shop if ya need us!
 
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Cindy Clark said: I must confess that my interests just happen to coincide with what a lot of permies and survivalists are doing. I like making stuff and inventing stuff and brainstorming and looking for new ways to do things and I find a lot of people with whom I share those interests within the two subcultures. As far as actual "permaculture" goes



As far as actual "permaculture" goes  ... I had never heard or saw the word until a few months ago. So I am just learning but have enjoyed reading these forum and learning.

I have been interested in Recycling and against the use of chemicals for many years, but have never met a single person who was also interested.  When I tried to talk to people about this they would say "Why bother".  I have never lived where the community did recycling.  For several years I had no trash service available so I tried to recycle the best I could.  I don't want my place to look like a trash heap, I keep it neat and tidy.  

My confession would have to be that I have never believed in "Organics".  I decided years ago that 1) I couldn't afford them and 2) I didn't really believe they didn't use chemicals.  Maybe a lot has changed over the years.  My thanks goes to those that made it happen for my daughter's sake.

I grow my organics the best I can.  I eat a lot of deer meat as I can't afford much meat at the grocery store.  And I like chocolate and chips.

My thanks to everyone for sharing.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Anne Miller wrote:
My confession would have to be that I have never believed in "Organics".  



I don't think there's much to believe in with industrial organic agriculture.  It's only "less bad" it isn't anywhere near "good."  

http://permaculturenews.org/2014/12/06/when-organics-goes-bad/
 
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I love double digging my garden beds.  I drag mulch in from other places.   There are weeds that I think should be eradicated.   The moment I hear "should" is often the moment that I do the opposite just for spite.   I even garden in raised beds.

I see permaculture as a tool, not a religion and tools are good for some jobs and not others.  

Right now, the property I am revitalizing was scraped almost down to hardpan is is mostly clay with little organic matter other than a smattering of weeds.  So I am dragging in mulch, i have raised beds that I mulch between, the goal being at some point removing the beds, rototilling all the decomposed mulch from the paths and the soil in the raised beds into something that can be row cropped and at that point, I will probably moved toward tilling less if any.    

I think there are things that do well in a guild certainly but its also amazing what burying a few carp in your orchard will do it for it as well.

Oh, and I second the potato chips and coffee, just finishing my morning cup now...
 
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LOL, I think if most people had to work through all their imperfections before setting out to learn and implement new things, we should probably all just hang it up.

I own sport horses.  My carbon footprint from owning horses is massive. I've flown a horse over from Europe and hauled up from LAX because I was tired of flying all over the U.S. looking for the right horse.  I'm aware of the environmental pitfalls.  It's also a behavior that I'm not going to change and I wish far more people owned horses.  They also provide great utility in our modern culture, inspiring little girls to get outside in the dirt and communities to maintain large greenspaces.  But, as long as I own sport horses, I don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to judging other peoples' choices.  

I'm not here because I think I am a perfect permaculturist or necessarily even want to be one.  But there are many, many ways I can be taking better care of myself and the space directly around me and we both seem to get a bit healthier the further down this road I go.  

 
Tyler Ludens
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Michael Bushman wrote:I love double digging my garden beds.  I drag mulch in from other places.   There are weeds that I think should be eradicated.   The moment I hear "should" is often the moment that I do the opposite just for spite.   I even garden in raised beds..



I don't personally see anything there that isn't permacultural.  I sometimes wonder what people think permaculture is.  It is a design system, not a set of techniques.

 
pollinator
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Love this thread!

I drink way too much coffee, I'm messy, I suck at organising & logistics, I can't read maps (not good for a permie!) and I get lost easily, I'm clumsy and often illogical.  Because of our frugal lifestyle we cannot afford organic food which is kind of a ridiculous paradox. We produce most of our own food but what we can't produce ourselves we buy from the supermarket and choose the cheapest brands.

I could go on and on but I'm stopping now   Far from perfect is the conclusion!
 
pollinator
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my weakness is the Internet. I start telling myself 'I am only going to look one informative permaculture video'... and then half an hour later I am still 'surfing' permies and other interesting sites ...  
... or maybe even hours later ...
 
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I have a few bad permaculture habits...
I LOVE my truck. I don't like her, I love her.
But as I bought a Toyota knowing from experience that they can last 30 years maybe that one isn't so bad.
Imported Single Malt Scotch. There is a local beekeeper who makes an excellent honey whiskey nearby...but I still buy expensive peaty deliciousness that has to be flown over the ocean.
My pets get regular food from the petstore. They are all rescues. It's what they are used to and what I can afford...unless I knock off with the scotch which isn't going to happen😜
My last vice is that I get so darned enthusiastic about gardening and good food and the joys...and the hardships...of living off grid finally that one, people may think you have to be slightly crazy to be a "permie"  and two, when I do have to compromise for whatever reason... from finances to exhaustion... I feel like I'm not living up to what I so enthusiastically talk up to others. i.e. I am being a hypocrite.
But if you guys all have such issues too then I can just blithely say "Bless my little heart." And go back to making bread and sipping whiskey!
 
pollinator
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I'm a sinner. I loved technology way before I loved anything else. Worse, I like to make things with plastics and I feel guilty :(
I can't imagine living without my garden and I can't imagine living without electronics. What to do??
 
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Skateboarding mostly requires synthetic rubber and pavement.

My kayak and canoe are both made of plastic.

I go to a regular Christian church and got married as a sacrament in one.

My worst sin, however, is that I like sports.  I play baseball regularly I help coach basketball.   I even watch football on TV. And I enjoy it.  I am not apologizing either.

John S
PDX OR
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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I mentioned one ... but I have more 'sins'...
I'm in love with the Caribbean island of Curaçao. I FLY over there at least once every two years. That's 10 hours in a plane
Maybe one day it will be possible to start a living there ... but then probably I'll have to fly to the Netherlands once in a while ...
 
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my motto is everything in moderation



my favorite line in the moderation poem is "While ladies languidly await you attentions on your way, shun, .....but well.... be moderate, even in moderation".

My secret sin is that I'm impatiently awaiting my oportunity to sell out here and move out west, where my grandkids and kids are.  I am having a hell of a time generating any enthusiasm for working on this property, knowing I'm selling out within a year or so.  I just waste my time doing searches on landwatch.com and any other site I can find.  I need to fix this place up for sale, just having a hard time getting enthusiastic.

I told my wife I was going to retire, she got a wild look in her eyes and said "How are we going to get by?"  Joking, I told her she might have to go out and get a job.  Her response, not joking "to hell with that!  I've done my job, now you do yours.  (we're on the tail end of raising 9 kids, so I guess she's done her job)"  A few months later I told her that I wouldn't mind being homeless if I could retire  With a smile and arched eyebrow, she responded.  "You might be homeless, but I won't be.  It's ok though, I will probably need to hire  homeless guy to do things around the house."  
 
Mick Fisch
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I have a belief system that is a bit different than most folks I'm around.  Over the years I've noticed that if a subject comes up in a conversation and I express my views, as long as I don't tie it to my "church" the viewpoint is accepted or at least is seen as a viable alternative viewpoint.  If I mention my church, it instantly becomes an us vs them thing in the other persons mind and is usually rejected out of hand.

For all our modern sophistication we're still basically tribal.  We've just reassigned the tribe names (red neck,hippie,emo, liberal, conservative, pick a religion)

Towards the end of Uncle Sam's southeast Asian foray I found myself in boot camp.  We automatically segregated ourselves into our groups (red neck and stoner were the two biggest).  We stayed that way for day or to.  Then they shaved our heads and put us in uniforms.  Without our group identifying features, the groups blended within a few days. We weren't really that different once we got to talking.

 Our automatic response is to reject the "other".  Anytime we can avoid triggering the tribal response our message can be judged on its own merits, rather than being rejected due to group identity.
 
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I am trying to go as sustainable as I can, but I'm horrible about taking on more projects than I aught to,  so we have a half insulated attic, loose tile around the wood burner,  barely room to move in the project room, a green house with no roof, a giant pile of dirt in our drive way, large holes in the landscaping, several wood piles for cutting,...you get the picture.

And so in theory I'm trying to be all sustainable, but until I clone myself about 50 times I'm not even close because I can't keep up with it all. To save time, and to theoretically get ahead of the projects, I do a lot of online shopping for all our needs/ wants.  I do burn the boxes and recycle the bubble plastic though!

Glad I got that off my chest.
 
Mick Fisch
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I am trying to go as sustainable as I can, but I'm horrible about taking on more projects than I aught to



Amit, quit talking about me!  Seriously, brother, I know what your talking about.  I tend to fly in many directions, starting lots of things, but because there's so much cool stuff to do, I don't finish, or at least am slow to finish a lot of things.  Frustrates my wife, who is a slow, careful planner who is very hesitant to start anything new.  If we could just blend into one, we'ld be perfect.  Oh wait, we've been trying to do that for about 36 years.  Not quite there yet.

Having lots of things half finished is the price we pay for living in a world where there are so many wonderful, cool things that we simply MUST do, because, well, they are so cool.  And useful to, they would really help us.  And I need to quit typing and get something done......
 
Amit Enventres
gardener
Posts: 878
Location: Ohio, USA
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Mick Fisch wrote:

Amit, quit talking about me!  Seriously, brother, I know what your talking about.  I tend to fly in many directions, starting lots of things, but because there's so much cool stuff to do, I don't finish, or at least am slow to finish a lot of things.  Frustrates my wife, who is a slow, careful planner who is very hesitant to start anything new.  If we could just blend into one, we'ld be perfect.  Oh wait, we've been trying to do that for about 36 years.  Not quite there yet.

Having lots of things half finished is the price we pay for living in a world where there are so many wonderful, cool things that we simply MUST do, because, well, they are so cool.  And useful to, they would really help us.  And I need to quit typing and get something done......



Hahaha!!!😁 good to have company!
 
It's in the permaculture playing cards. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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