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Volume One Chapter Five - Structures of the Underground Economy

 
Mother Tree
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5: Structures of the Underground Economy

The anatomy of self-renewing fertility
Box 5.1: the concept of limiting factors
Feature article 4: parent materials: the soil's nutritional constitution
Plant roots: engines of the underground economy
Box 5.2: specific replant disease
The soil food web
Dabbling in the underground economy
 
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I confess I have been a little behind on posting, due to the pressing desire to finish the big Permaculture Deign Manual (Mollison) before starting Geoff Lawton's PDC just a few short weeks ago (I did it! Whew!). That added to the fact that spring seems to have sprung VERY early around here, and well, I am a busy bee.

However. This chapter was mind blowing to me, and I promise to post my questions soon.
 
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Congrats Zenais on getting on the online Geoff Lawton PDC! It was my introduction to permaculture. Geoff mentioned these volumes in one of his Q&As. So I bought them. I didn't regret it.

These volumes are worth millions of dollars in knowledge! We're so rich, we're dirt poor! (plenty of puns here!) We're dealing in the black market of dirt. The currencies are the major plant nutrients, the banks are bedrock, mineral soil particles, soil water, and organic matter, and the players are soil organisms, and plants. Each of the currencies have different amounts being traded and the less common ones may need to be added for stimulus. Major economic downturns caused by acid rain, major water events, or loss to the atmosphere are controlled by the banks and the players. The more diverse the number of banks and players, the more the currency stays around to be traded. The plants play a major role like the government or the Fed controlling markets for currencies, removing/adding stimulus (removing water to reduce leaching), government welfare feeding soil microbes, and storing currencies for use later. Soil organisms are companies and individuals doing the main economy.

I don't think I can continue the metaphor. As anyone can see, it is a complex situation under our feet. Roots are fascinating! They can avoid other plants or work with them? What? Or even graft onto each other. I watched a Paul Stamets video where he said trees found in the dense shade of an old growth forest shouldn't be alive except they are root grafted to trees to give them nourishment. The roots are the bulk of the tree, even reaching way beyond the canopy. The discussion on herb roots seems too much for me. I have no background of seeing any of it and I'll need to reread this a couple of times to get it. The kinds of herb roots identifies the means of moving around. Relating the two will help me out later. So, the take home message about roots in a polyculture is, "it would appear that mixing plants with different root pattern types, aboveground phenology, and nutritional profiles will lead to fuller use of the soil profile - and hence, reduced competition and increased production."

Not everyone can have get a biology degree in soil science to get it. Luckily, the info can lead you to other permaculturalist who can help. The Soil Food Web part felt like an introduction to Elaine Ingham's work. She has an online class I would love to take. It would really help with my understanding of soil life.
 
Zenais Buck
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This chapter was so dense as to be mind-boggling! I am very appreciative that the authors included such great illustrations. I feel like I will be coming back to the chapter again and again in order to grasp the concepts.

One thing that freaked me out: Utisols! (pp. 184-185). I live in one of the dreaded 'blue' areas on the ultisol map. Sigh. While I would love to think that I could just plant a guild and never look back, it is good to realize that I will need to adopt some long-term nutrient strategies to guarantee fertility. Looking around, I can see this in action: while I imagine the East to be full of layered forest full of medicinal herbs and food bearing trees, all I see around here are pine needles

Great chapter- difficult to summarize (!) but thoroughly enjoyable and mind-blowing.
 
I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay, I sleep all night and work all day. Tiny lumberjack ad:

World Domination Gardening 3-DVD set. Gardening with an excavator.
richsoil.com/wdg


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