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Scientific Neglect  RSS feed

 
Fred Morgan
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I figured it might be worth a separate thread to talk about the idea of scientific neglect. Unlike normal neglect which is the result of not being able to get around to something or just laziness, scientific neglect means you stop taking care of something in order to see if it really needs the care you are giving it - or what survives without so much work.

I find that culture convinces things that things that are easy, have no value. For example, the humble strawberry guava which grows volunteer all over the place actually is one of the best (if not the best) antioxidents in the world - but guess what? If it isn't in jam, the Ticos won't eat it.

I have coconuts falling off the trees I have so many - but aside from harvesting green to drink the green milk, they aren't used - even though pigs adore them (so do I actually but I limit myself)

The suckers and carp in the USA are considered trash fish and often overpopulate due to no fishing pressure. I have eaten both, and carp is considered a very good food fish in other parts of the world - so much so that people raise them to eat. Not a bad game fish either. But because they are easy, they are disdained.

I have papayas all over the place, volunteer. Well, we just made a papaya / pineapple salsa that is very very good. Total cost for so much that I will probably hate it - one dollar, I didn't have a ripe pineapple so I bought one.

Nothing wrong with attempting to grow something different - but by all means, if you are trying to be more self sufficient, eat what is easy.

So, what do you find is so easy to grow it is nearly a weed? Oh, I think Amaranth is going to be another one like that - looking out in the garden.
 
                              
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Location: Coast Range, Oregon--the New Magic Land
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anything berries (strawberry, raspberry, black berry, and a host of native berries) grows like weeds here, because this is just berry growing country. It's easy for them to grow, but that doesn't cheapen my enjoyment of them I just say thank you for the largesse.

Corn is hard to grow right where I am, so I don't try to force it. Some years it does okay, some years it tanks, depending on the weather(if it's a "good tomato year"--lots of early sun and the soil driesout/warms up early). So corn is a treat.

Probably a lot of the easy species disdain is because a tastier one is available for not a lot more money. Like salmon, halibut, snapper etc(I'm on the coast so it's more "natural/native" to eat those).

INdigenous food preferences are funny huh, my sister lived in Africa and in some parts eating chicken is considered GROSS. They eat the eggs tho.
 
                                  
Posts: 175
Location: Suwon, South Korea
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So true, Fred.  I think that in many cases, aside from culture, the cause of the neglect can be boiled down to one term:  shelf life.
 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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I like the idea except for one problem. Neglect, even scientific neglect, can be a windfall for diseases. If everyone were to plant Americaqn chestnuts then in 50 years we would have fewer AC's left because we would be building bridges for Chestnut blight. . Etc.

I've always called it the spaghetti approach.

I still really like the apprach in general, for reasons I'll cover later.
 
Fred Morgan
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Emerson White wrote:
I like the idea except for one problem. Neglect, even scientific neglect, can be a windfall for diseases. If everyone were to plant Americaqn chestnuts then in 50 years we would have fewer AC's left because we would be building bridges for Chestnut blight. . Etc.

I've always called it the spaghetti approach.

I still really like the apprach in general, for reasons I'll cover later.


That is a good example - trees - and it happens to be something I know a lot about. I could be growing mahogany, but man, everything wants to eat it if you grow it in a plantation - so it will have to be a second stage tree. (planted among pioneers) I have tried with limited success to grow it otherwise, but you battle nature, instead of working with nature.

I think part of scientific neglect is trying to understand how nature works - instead of how to defeat nature. And it is one tool, not the whole shed. Sometimes, instead of going nuts trying to achieve something, change your goals.

This isn't to say I don't fight nature - I do (especially ants!) And when growing trees for lumber, you have to keep the grass down and prune or you end up with nothing of value. But an example, I am now using sheep to help with this - and it is working very well. But I had to learn to not have too many rams, because otherwise they will damage trees.

A lot of time we can observe and learn, instead of read and force our will on nature. Sure is cheaper - and Mother Nature always bats last.
 
Emil Spoerri
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Waterfowl just grow so well. Never had a problem ever with any breed i have tried, though i have not tried the more advanced large geese like sebastapool and tufeted tooloose.

Purslain is a weed, was suposedly ghandi's favorite vegetable and is easily in my top 5.

Potatoes volunteer here like crazy, even though i had always thought they rot in the ground, here in central ohio, they always come back if you don't dig them. They also don't need to be watered if they have plenty of mulch.

Persimmons and Mulberries bear reliably and extremely heavily. So do Chestnuts. So does eleagnus. So does a lot of other things, i have heard. Oh and berries, yes berries.
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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this thread reminded me of my reading of the one straw revolution and Fukoka's do nothing approach.

or stop doing it and see if it is needed.

right now i'm trying to decide how much of the quack grass i really need to eliminate and if it has any real benefit to my gardens..i hate the stuff but have injured my back removing it..accdg to the dr, a permenant back injury too..

well i might have to draw a truce with the quackgrass ..and stop apologizing for it in my gardens when people come to visit.

i have also realized through Fukoka and through Gaia's garden..that i can allow a few mroe weeds than i would have normally allowed in my beds..and have instructed my husband with a list of things i  no longer want him to pull out of the garden.

of course there are the weeds that i totally love ..to eat..like the lambsquarters..right now it is my staple daily food green added to some swiss chard and some spinach...i'm so very thankful for it (i'm a total spinach addict but it is hard to grow here , there is a small crop right now)..so yes, the lambsquarters is my profit of neglect in my garden..and i love it.
 
Matt Ferrall
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Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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Interesting term Fred.Did you coin it?It fits about halfway for me as there is an element of serendipity to it for me and also as an anamist,Im communicating with the plants around me so there is an intuition factor that plays into my decisions as well.Also recognizing the practical aspects of if its worth the truble.And that comes easy when your way too buisy as I am.Stuff just falls through the cracks and the fitest survive and somehow it all seems perfect as if we are shown how to live in harmony.But yes,acceptance is huge!Humble acceptance comes hard for wealthy cultures but limitations are what give us meaning and direction lest our energies be dispersed to widely.
 
Emil Spoerri
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quackgrass is one of the most palatable of all grass to foraging species. ducks and geese should help you out quit amiably.
 
                                  
Posts: 175
Location: Suwon, South Korea
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Fred Morgan wrote:
A lot of time we can observe and learn, instead of read and force our will on nature. Sure is cheaper - and Mother Nature always bats last.


Interesting notion -- if you read you force your will on nature??  Depends on what you read.  Much of the Pc literature is, itself, others' enlightened observations and the conclusions drawn from them.  Also, you have to have knowledge and some language and concepts with which to interpret the observations.  In addition, constantly reinventing the wheel is wasteful and slow.  Why not learn from others who have cared enough to have documented their experiences to save us lots of time and other resources?   Experience is great... unless it's just a lot of experience practicing your mistakes or experience doing dumb stuff or experience ignoring what's already out there. 
 
Fred Morgan
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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bruc33ef wrote:
Interesting notion -- if you read you force your will on nature??  Depends on what you read.  Much of the Pc literature is, itself, others' enlightened observations and the conclusions drawn from them.  Also, you have to have knowledge and some language and concepts with which to interpret the observations.  In addition, constantly reinventing the wheel is wasteful and slow.  Why not learn from others who have cared enough to have documented their experiences to save us lots of time and other resources?   Experience is great... unless it's just a lot of experience practicing your mistakes or experience doing dumb stuff or experience ignoring what's already out there. 


More of an iterative process. I get the idea you feel one should sit down with a plan and then implement it. Fine if it works for you. I prefer to do prototypes. I get an idea, I do a pilot, then I adjust.

I deal with pretty large scale projects when they become production. My experiment with sheep was 30 to 100, now I am increasing to 1,000 to 4,000.  All the book knowledge in the world would not cause me to invest that kind of money, till I did a prototype.

And please, don't talk down to me and assume that what you are saying isn't the most basic of concepts to me.

My point is to learn from what you observe, don't assume the "masters" have it all figured out. You must adjust to your own environment, your own skills, and your own resources.

And just my opinion, if permaculture is so complicated that you can't explain it in a few sentences, it is doomed to failure. Unless someone can state a concept so simply that the average person can grasp it, they don't understand it themselves. Often we hide our confusion behind big words and jargon. I should know, I spent much of my life in computers and engineering. 

 
                                  
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Location: Suwon, South Korea
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It is an iterative process, to be sure.  Don't know where/how you got the idea, or are just pretending you got the idea, that I call for just implementing a plan or that I've talked down to you or something, without even being specific.  Not right.  Don't put yourself below me by thinking that.

Since you've opened the door to our 'feelings,' though, mine is that you're basically agreeing with me at the top of your lungs.  I think that's great.  It's good for people to get their hackles up sometimes. 
 
Fred Morgan
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bruc33ef wrote:
It is an iterative process, to be sure.  Don't know where/how you got the idea, or are just pretending you got the idea, that I call for just implementing a plan or that I've talked down to you or something, without even being specific.  Not right.  Don't put yourself below me by thinking that.

Since you've opened the door to our 'feelings,' though, mine is that you're basically agreeing with me at the top of your lungs.  I think that's great.  It's good for people to get their hackles up sometimes.   


Well, perhaps we are just getting off on the wrong foot. 
 
Emerson White
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bruc33ef wrote:
Don't put yourself below me by thinking that.


I'm stealing this line as well 
 
Matt Ferrall
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Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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I think we can all agree that doing some homework is a great way to avoid reinventing the wheel.The books out there have extreme limitations though because they are not on your site.The book might say grow such and such but their are no guarenties as my 10 years on one site have thouroughly beaten into me.Likewize the book might say build this and this way but all bets are off when you actually assess what is available where you are at..If your not careful about how much energy you are willing to spend on stuff you might be operating at a very low efficiency by following the book.Scientific neglect is the prossess of weeding out the inefficiencies.
 
                          
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I wouldn't call it "scientific neglect".  It's cultural traditions as far as food goes.  I'm all for identifying what grows locally and keeping it if it's useful.  In some cases it may need a little transformation.  I think grafting is a great tool, for instance.  In my area we have lots of fruit trees, but they are in disguise.  Crabapples can be grafted to better varieties.  Dogwoods can be grafted to cornelian cherry, or if they are kousas, they are already edible.  Ornamental cherries can be grafted to better varieties.  Wild blackberries can be propagated via cuttings to a dedicated area.  You can also try reintroducing things that grow natively in your area, but aren't on your property.  I started some dwarf lingonberry and lowbush blueberries that are both native to New England, even though I have never seen any of it in this town.  But they should grow in these soil and climate conditions without a lot of fuss.

 
Matt Ferrall
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Location: Western WA,usda zone 6/7,80inches of rain,250feet elevation
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I prefer to look at scientific neglect as a tactic,just as grafting is a tactic.One does not negate the other.As someone who has spent over 15k on plants in 10yrs,I am highly sceptical of language like "should grow well here"and such as experience has taught me that the proof is in the pudding .Scientific neglect has reduced my plant collection by a third.Thats one third of purchased plants that I could have sustained but didnt.
 
Fred Morgan
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Mt.goat wrote:
I prefer to look at scientific neglect as a tactic,just as grafting is a tactic.One does not negate the other.As someone who has spent over 15k on plants in 10yrs,I am highly sceptical of language like "should grow well here"and such as experience has taught me that the proof is in the pudding .Scientific neglect has reduced my plant collection by a third.Thats one third of purchased plants that I could have sustained but didnt.


Yes, this is merely another tool. Books are a tool, observation and experimentation is a tool, and the more tools you have, the more likely you will be successful.
 
Mike Turner
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Location: Upstate SC
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Around here in the pastures, it is the native persimmons that self seed everywhere.  Around the vegetable garden, I don't have to plant cherry tomatoes because they prolifically self-seed and its simply a matter of weeding them out of whatever places I want to allow other vegetables to grow.  Othe prolific self seeders include peaches, apples, citranges, lettuce, miner's lettuce, Seminole winter squash, edible gourd, and cucumbers.  Amaranth, yard long bean, pole bean, swiss chard, and carrots self seed enough to maintain a continuing presence in the garden.  Sunchokes and potatoes are vegetatively perennial in the garden and sunchokes self-seed around a lot.  Strawberries vegetatively spread via runners and would take over much of the garden if left to their own devices. Amoung self seeding garden weeds, the main edible one here is chickweed in the winter.
 
                                
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I think Masanobu Fukuoka said it best. I don't remember the exact quote, but it was something like, "what can we not do." I love simple elegant design and engineering. No matter what it is, when I'm told how to do something and given a series of steps, I'm always very skeptical that all those steps are really relevant to the final output. I try to investigate to find out which ones are, and generally find that the solution can be simplified. Our culture sees more beauty in complexity, than simplicity, so most people don't approach problems in this way.
 
DSF DSF
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Loquats.  Not sure it's simplicity that's the issue here, though they are--nearly care-free in our area, pest-resistant, drought-tolerant, only a small rust issue that can often be outwaited.  They're sold as ornamentals with no mention of the edible fruits on nursery cards, and a lot of the folks who grow them don't know that they can be eaten, or don't care. 

Or, perhaps, believe me.  One guy told me "If it was food, it'd be at the grocery store."  I thought about buying him the canned (product of Mexico, bottled in syrup) loquats our local chain grocery carries in its very own store brand, but...

DSF
Austin, TX

 
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