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Where does one get plant knowledge?

 
Posts: 40
Location: Dublin, Ireland
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Hi Rosemary.
I've just retired as a teacher of business. I've had health issues over the past 18 months and have read and read and watched all the Permaculture gurus on YouTube beginning with a substantial part of a PDC given by Bill Mollison, assisted by a very young Geoff Lawton! (Now taken down).
My question is where does one get the plant knowledge? I'm useless on all the 'weeds' that grow round my feet! My frustration is that I'd LOVE to be teaching this stuff but feel utterly unqualified and inexperienced. So many folks are so blind to what Permaculture is teaching.
Good luck during your visit to Permies.
 
gardener
Posts: 787
Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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Permaculture aside, you can get plant knowledge from books, Internet,and people in your area. I started with identifying plants and quickly realized I had to learn the terminology for leaf types and plant structures in order to do the deeper searches I wanted to do. I am ignorant of your location, but around here there are university Ag extensions you can call and they will help you identify the plants you find on your property.

Good luck
 
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I found a great resource through friends that are active in Civil Air Patrol. One of their members teaches foraging skills, and is a native plant expert. I think there is probably someone you could find in you region that may get you started.

We've taken a few evening pasture classes with the county agriculture extension office that got us started identifying some of the weed species on our property.

A good book.. I bought a field guide called "A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides)" and another called "Weeds of the Northeast" as they fit my regional needs.
 
Robert Jordan
Posts: 40
Location: Dublin, Ireland
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Thanks guys. Yeah ... it's not rocket science... I have recently bought a 'Field guide' just like you suggested Brian, but it seems a huge task when stand outside. the 'pasture class idea sound the most sensible or just a local 'expert' to walk me around my field a few times pointing out different things. It's so frustration because the books say things like plant XYZ indicates acidic ground, or low in potassium etc etc. Gimme gimme. So much to learn... so little time. I went to a community show last week and met one guy runs a "Social farm" where he trains people with intellectual and mental health challenges. he's a possibility; and another guy who raises vegetables in two tunnels and some raised beds. Can't beat local knowledge, I suppose.
Exciting isn't it? thanks everyone. Much appreciated.

The other thing I realise is that by getting my hands dirty, digging and rooting about in the field, i will gradually become familiar with individual plants and can read up on them one baby at a time. I've owned the field for years but never had time to spend in it but now I've retired (last month ... yayyy) I'll be out there more, cutting and slashing, taming the beast and learning its secrets.
 
Posts: 22
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Hello Robert:

Thanks for your query. Every now and again we find students who have missed out on plant knowledge. Like many things there are several routes to the knowledge you want. For example, Ive had students finish a PDC and then do a Horticulture Course. Others join a local Garden Club where amateurs know almost everything locally. Others join Land Care. Your local permaculture group will also help willingly. Plant people are generous and open and it is a lovely social way to learn. You are going to enjoy learning whichever pathway you take. The permaculture speciality is knowing where to put the plant so it functions well in your environment.

It depends on your learning preferences. For example I prefer a good informative class while other like the route of asking people and learning on the job so to speak.

In My book the Earth User's Guide Ive tried to give a simple but adequate guide to the main plants you need/could start with in permaculture. Included is information on Seedsaving which is now critical in local area. Many premies become passionate about this so look out! I also related plants to their regions of origin so if you know a plant belongs to the tomato family you have a fair idea where to put it and conditions it requires. Thinking in plant families is often a short cut. I also like a bit by bit approach so its not too forbidding. You'll do well if you follow how you like to learn.

Let me know if you need more information
 
Robert Jordan
Posts: 40
Location: Dublin, Ireland
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No, that's great Rosemary. Thank you. rc
 
gardener
Posts: 323
Location: AB, Canada (Zone 4a - Canadian Badlands)
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I recently came across this website on identifying plants - Wildflowers and Weeds
I haven't researched the information there at all (bookmarked to check out "later") but it looks like it could be a good starting point.
 
Posts: 92
Location: AB, Canada, Zone 3
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Read and apply. Since spring I have gone from zero to somebody who get's asked about plants all the time. I read a lot online, looked at pictures, bought some books, went to garden centres over and over again. I know more plants than most garden centre employees now. And can definitely chat with the more experienced ones no problem. You will start to recognize leaf patterns and plant style and connect the dots from there. I also drive out back (we are on a ranch) and just look at the wild prairie growth. Or when we go riding I started to analyse the woods, pastures, riparian areas. I feel like I learned to see. It's a crazy feeling!

One thing I am still struggling with is placement of plants as the information is sketchy if not downright wrong on plant tags. I am going to rearrange several plants now as they just don't do well. Most tags say "full sun" and I am starting to think that's a standard tag thing that has nothing to do with the actual plants. I mean how many plants really do get full sun in nature?
 
Rosemary Morrow
Posts: 22
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Good morning Josey:

You are right about the sun. Plant physiologist say that most plants only thrive up to temperatures of about 25oC. This means in full summer, anywhere you get 6 hours of sun a day, you probably need some shade cloth. When we think about it, so many plants evolved and adapted under filtered light. In fact once you become shade'/light conscious plants are easier to place. You can think of leaf canopies as being 50% shade, 70% and then with big old conifers, 100% shade. I think most plants like about 50%.

About plant placement, as you know we think how will this plant/s function in this place. There's often a conflict and so at my place I need very badly a good thick windbreak to the west, and I also need solar gain for passive solar in the house. so it is a careful balance to get the thickness, height, and filtered light. I spend many hours thinking about it. It is fundamentally windbreak design but I don't want a giant hedge. You can see how often there is a tension in placement of plants and not only because of the plants requirements but also your design.

The questions are never fully solved. So you get closer to the solutions you need. Another for me, is that I don't want to make future work. I don't want to be stuck with hedge pruning every year for the rest of my life.

You are obviously thinking permaculturally and will do a lovely design job.

warmly

Rosemary
 
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