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Gaia's Garden and Toby Hemenway  RSS feed

 
Jeremy Stocks
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Hi there,

I was so impressed with the ideas in Toby's book I thought I'd start a Facebook group to see how many are interested in its contents.

It's over at:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=113047912060862
 
Aly Sanchez
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I joined your group -- thanks for initiating. I found Gaia's Garden really accessible for my situation (urban, but with decent size backyard).
 
Burra Maluca
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Gaia's Garden is the book that got me hooked on permaculture - I signed up to the facebook group.  That's three members so far!
 
Jeremy Stocks
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I've just created a slightly improved version of his raised horseshoe bed which my be useful. I've blogged about it. Check on my profile.
 
Karl Teceno
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I make four...
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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I'm five, LOL!  I don't care for the name of the book (don't believe in the so-called 'Gaia Hypothosis', but there's a LOT of good information inside of it.

Kathleen
 
                                            
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I'm in

 
paul wheaton
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I'm in.

Cosmic:  I was exchanging some email with toby today.  I'm trying to convince him to do a book promotion here.  He did one here a couple of years ago.  But not for his second edition.

(yes, I am a wicked name dropper)

 
paul wheaton
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It sounds like we'll be giving away a ticket to Toby's Seattle PDC ... 

If you know of anyone that might be interested, you might suggest that they register at permies.com now ....

 
                                            
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oh sweet, I just registered for that class with a friend of mine.  It'll be cool to get to meet one of the permies from here there
 
Brenda Groth
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His book is on order and I'm awaiting it excitedly.

I had a total misunderstanding about food forest type gardening until I read some notes on his site and googled food forests and read information on many other sites.

I had actually been doing food forest gardening on my property for 39 years and didn't realize that was what it was called !!! go figure..I thought it was more like adding food crops in understory, vines, perennials etc in the forests of your property.

I had always planted food forests around my home and on my property..even before I read Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison, but I had never really heard it called food forests and had no idea that is what i had done naturally.

I had just thought that it made sense to me to plant my canopy, understory, vines, shrubs, perennials and annuals all in the same beds, and have always done it that way, since we were married and I bought my first home.

the very first thing i did here was to plant trees, as there were not  many trees on the property, and then i proceeded to plant beds around the trees of smaller trees, shrubs, vines, etc..and have done it for 39 years..every year planting more and more trees and shrubs and perennials and vines..

Each year i buy as many as i can afford and add them to our mix. And now i found out that i've actually been planting food forests all the time..I'm very excited to read the book to tell me possibly some new ways i can do things and new directins to go..
 
Brenda Groth
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over half way through reading Gaia's Garden..good book...so far a lot of what I already knew but i have learned some new stuff
 
Al Loria
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Location: New York
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Finished reading my copy last night.  What a great book.  We did a quickie, modified keyhole garden this past weekend, and we love it.   First garden we've had in about eight or ten years. 

We will eventually use a swale to keep the erosion down on the slope we have. The additional benefit, is, it will keep water in a lens under the slope for the new trees and bushes we planted.

We have a small lot (1/4+ acre,) and the book has so much information for small pieces of property. It read as if it was written for us.

Thanks Toby!
 
Brenda Groth
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i also finished reading Gaia's garden last night..wow is my mind going 100 MPH

I have my lists of things that i can use in my superguild, have ordered a bunch of new plants for my food forest, and have lists of things that i'm going to start dividing and moving into the food forest from my other beds (have lots of other beds going all over the yard..most of which are forest type gardens but not necessarily FOOD..some are edible like the daylillies but not necessarily considered food.

i went back over the list of things that can grow around walnuts, and i am drawing up a guild for the walnuts and now that i'm aware of barrier plants, am planning the barrier plants to go between the walnuts and my precious apples and blackberries..and cole crops.

i would like to know what items on the walnut list might work best for barrier plants, i might set up another thread for ideas..but i have the list to start with at least..

most of my perennials need dividing badly..so i'll be putting a LOT of the baby divisions in the future root/dripine zones of the adult size my walnuts will be..and i'm also thrilled that a lot of the plants that will grow under them are things that i can transplant also from my woods, like canadian hemlocks..which i dearly love and can use as a windbreak West of the walnuts..(spruce and pine aren't supposed to grow near them so i need an evergreen that will do ok)

also i have tons of woodbine vines which are suposed to do well also..so i can use those in that area over an arborand i love the bright red they turn in the fall..
also many of the pants on the list are plants that are already growing within 50' of the walnuts..so they should all be ok too.

well i'm rambling, but as you can see ..i have a lot of new thoughs going through my head
 
                                
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Attended a workshop by Toby in the Ann Arbor area recently. He had some extra books he didn't want to lug home, so I offered to sell them for him. If anyone is looking for a new copy, let me know.

Cheers
 
                                        
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Brenda, the same thing happened to me after I read the book.  I started gushing with ideas.  I love it when that happens, it's a testimony to the book.  I found these forums after reading the book.  My journey into the permaculture world has only just begun, but I'm so excited.  Just finished sheet mulching my cherry tree a few days ago and am planning my first guild to plant around and under it.  And so it begins.
 
Brenda Groth
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sneaky me, when my MIL died we flipped her property next door and sold it to a pilot out of Detroit, there is 18 acres that adjoins us on the west.

WELL ..I lent her my Gaia's Garden  book this week for her to read while they are here..and she is reading it.

the METHOD to my MADNESS is for them to make a wonderland next to my wonderland and we'll have a huge wonderland..no chemicals..great draw in for wildlife..etc.

my son owns on the other side of me and i'll be working on him to you can be sure..basically he'll let me plant anything i want on his property.

yesterday after planting 5 apple trees on their property they TILLED..yes TILLED some new garden areas and planted perennial plants in them, rhubarb, asparagus, etc..and then they proceeded to put an 8' high fence around the entire thing..to keep the deer and rabbits out.

well they are only here occasionally so i understand their frustration with the deer.


at least they are planting..they have also done me a super huge favor, as they want more privacy and they love trees, they hav been planting dozens and dozens of evergreens along their east, my west property line..which will make a west wind windbreak for my entire yard..hallelujah  I said to John, thank you for planting me a windbreak, and he just chuckled..you  are welcome. they can afford larger trees than i can so let them buy them ..they'll benefit my property as much or more than their own
 
                            
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I read the first edition last fall.  It was a borrowed book.  My very own copy of the 2nd ed. just came last week.  I've read a lot of PC books and articles, so I'm not sure if it had anything new, but it sure showed how the pieces fit together.

I showed it to a friend and told her, "read this book and you'll realize everything you thought you knew about gardening is wrong."  I'll loan it to her when I'm done with it.

==>paul
 
Brenda Groth
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i was just talking to the neighbor that i loand the book to last evening and it was amazing as to how it changed her thinking in less than 24 hours, and she hasn't even finished the book yet.

she has just spent the last 2 days fencing in her apple trees, and now she is thinking GUILDS..tee hee.

she has just now planted 50 asparagus plants and a couple dozen rhubarb plants under the outer driplines of her 5 dwarf apple trees, i'm so thrilled to see them planning for their future in this way ..they are young and just had their 2nd child.

I'm sure that reading this book will have them well on their way toward a much more beneficial place not only for them, but for us next door.

I mentioned in another thread that they have been planting hundreds of trees..and they have put several dozen evergreen trees on their east property line..which will only really benefit THEM as a privacy screen, but it is on OUR WEST property line, and it will hugely benefit us as a windbreak.

every tree that they plant on their east is a windbreak for our west. As well as a few of the deciduous trees that they plant will drop leaves into our property as well..

They are also providing more cover for the wildlife in this area..which will draw in more and more birds and predators.

We also will appreciate the privacy and the windbreak will also mediate the snow drifting..good to train your neigobrs the right way to do things
 
                                  
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That's one of the things about Gaia's Garden and some of the other Pc books -- they're very inspiring and can get you brainstorming in totally new ways.  I very much recognize your friend's experience

Re: your other(?) neighbor, there you go -- "the problem is the solution! as Mollison says."  They've given you a wind break and, it sounds like, half a sun trap, copious amounts of pine/spruce(?) needle tea, resin, tanin, mulch, habitat, and maybe pine nuts and the nutritious inner bark of pine trees/limbs in an emergency.
 
Brenda Groth
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i couldn't agree more, and I didn't have to spend a penny on them. The trees they put in were blue, black and Hoopsi spruce, white spruce, canadian hemlock and austrian and white pine...they will mix well with my white pine, black spruce and canadian hemlock on my side of the fence farther south, they also planted some of THEIR trees farther south too, which will just add depth to the ones i have planted on my side of that same fence.

Some of mine are already 12 to 15 feet tall, and there are a few that are already 25 or so feet tall..in the same area..but south of where they planted theirs..and then i have full grown pines, spruce, cedar, hemlock in an L shaped mixed hedge in the front yard, that finish up the property line and then turn and go across my front yard along the road..creating dense privacy as well as wonderful animal habitat (the deer love to sleep under our hemlocks in the winter)
 
                                
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I just finished reading it a week or so ago and I feel like my brain is on fire! This was my intro to PC, but I've been gardening organically since the mid 1970's. All sorts of vague ideas I've had for years have suddenly come into focus.
 
Lf London
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Location: Chapel Hill, NC
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
I'm five, LOL!  I don't care for the name of the book (don't believe in the so-called 'Gaia Hypothosis', but there's a LOT of good information inside of it.

Kathleen


So you don't feel that there is/has been some sort of unified biological progression from the earliest lifeforms present on Earth,
evolving, coevolving for survival, creating conditions favorable for continued existence, producing an environment in which all lifeforms 
can incubate, evolve, succeed, coexist and cooperate for mutual benefit and survival as a whole?

It is a fascinating concept, one that I am very fond of. It is disturbing to think that it might just be someone's fantasy and not scientific fact. Why do you not accept the Gaia Hypothesis, Kathleen?
 
Burra Maluca
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Er, perhaps I'm missing something here, but I thought that the Gaia hypothesis was about the way that the earth operates as a complete system with feedback loops which help stabilise everything.  And that Gaia's Garden was about understanding how such systems work in relation to our gardens so they can be designed to be self sustaining. 

What's there not to believe? 
 
Brenda Groth
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i agree that this isn't a place or thread to argue religious beliefs..and that no one will change their beliefs in arguing in such a forum.

I loved the book Gaia's garden, but I also don't care much for the title or any evolutionary references, however, I've leared a long time ago to take the information that is good and ignore that which has beleifs that disagree with mine, as you probably have as well, Kathleen.

I do find that most christians are able to take from non christian teaching and learn from it, but that those who are not believers in christ tend to dismiss all Christian teaching and are unable to learn from it, so to argue with them is a total waste of time.

As I said I loved the book, learned a lot, but also believe that God created everything all ready "grown up" only just over 7,000 years ago, but I also believe that the earth became a void space (the earth was without form and void) because of some catastrophic situation prior to the 7 day creation period..but because no one was there and science isn't able to "prove" anything beyond 7,000 years ago with any sort of fact, that all so called science before that is only speculation..hunches, theories, etc. And that all people have a right to choose what they belieeve, even Christ left it up to the individual to choose what they wanted to believe.
 
                                
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I think the concept of Gaia is a useful one on the level of myth - a story about how we think things should be or wish that they were, a story that can neither be proved or disproved. If you let go of proven fact and take a little step into what might be, and ask yourself what if there is a Gaia  The way you think and feel may be changed, and if you find those changes good, hold on to them. What does it matter what stimulated the changes in the first place?
 
                                  
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I think the basic question is whether the earth itself is alive or simply an inert host to life.  I find the latter view most persuasive.  I don't think it's useful to consider rocks alive no matter how many measurable vibrations they have or immeasurable souls and spirits people ascribe to them.  You can still view the earth as part of/host to an ecological system or balance without assuming that it is itself alive.
 
                
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I'm of two minds on the book, myself.

First of all, I loved it. It got me really excited about the notion of permaculture, which in turn led me to seeking out as much information about it as I could find (which indirectly led me here!) For firing up the enthusiasm, it was fantastic.

But.

I have to admit, I cringed a little at some of his plant choices. Probably it's because I live in a totally different climate, and we've had to deal with totally different plant problems, but...Russian olive? Really? In this day and age, someone is still advocating planting Russian olive? Both Russian and autumn olive are on pretty much every "worst invasive plants" list in the United States, up there with tree-of-heaven and purple-loosestrife--planting them for berries is kinda like planting kudzu for a privacy screen. It's not just a plant that fills holes in sunny roadsides, either--it's one of those unfortunate thugs that rapidly invades undisturbed areas and forms monocultural stands, and since it's spread by birds, it's not something you can be sure of containing on your own property, either.

A friend who took one of his seminars said that he also advocated garlic mustard as a compost crop, which is...um....novel, anyway, since practically everything written about garlic mustard includes warnings in all caps not to compost it, since unless your compost heap is on the surface of the sun, the seeds won't cook. Can't speak to the truth of that either way, but...yeah.

And this just isn't something you can fix with a positive attitude towards weeds. I'm all for respecting Nature trying to plug holes,  but some of these plants make their own holes--and when you plant a seriously invasive plant, somebody ELSE is going to spend a lot of time killing it when it spreads to their area, and they're probably gonna use all kinds of nasty poisons to do it.

So honestly, as much as I love the book--and I've wedged bookmarks into it and am building a hugulkultur in the backyard as we speak--a lot of his plant choices did bother me. Sure, maybe it's a matter of attitude towards these plants, but it still seems kind of disingenuous to go to so much effort to reduce one's footprint, and then to plant things that mean a lot of other people are drenching the world with herbicides trying to kill it.


 
                          
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People shouldn't have an all-or-nothing attitude towards these things.  The motto "take what works, leave the rest" applies here.

 
                                  
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UrsulaV wrote:
I'm of two minds on the book, myself.
First of all, I loved it. It got me really excited about the notion of permaculture, which in turn led me to seeking out as much information about it as I could find (which indirectly led me here!) For firing up the enthusiasm, it was fantastic.
But.
I have to admit, I cringed a little at some of his plant choices. Probably it's because I live in a totally different climate, and we've had to deal with totally different plant problems, but...Russian olive? Really? In this day and age, someone is still advocating planting Russian olive? Both Russian and autumn olive are on pretty much every "worst invasive plants" list in the United States, up there with tree-of-heaven and purple-loosestrife--planting them for berries is kinda like planting kudzu for a privacy screen. It's not just a plant that fills holes in sunny roadsides, either--it's one of those unfortunate thugs that rapidly invades undisturbed areas and forms monocultural stands, and since it's spread by birds, it's not something you can be sure of containing on your own property, either.
A friend who took one of his seminars said that he also advocated garlic mustard as a compost crop, which is...um....novel, anyway, since practically everything written about garlic mustard includes warnings in all caps not to compost it, since unless your compost heap is on the surface of the sun, the seeds won't cook. Can't speak to the truth of that either way, but...yeah.
And this just isn't something you can fix with a positive attitude towards weeds. I'm all for respecting Nature trying to plug holes,  but some of these plants make their own holes--and when you plant a seriously invasive plant, somebody ELSE is going to spend a lot of time killing it when it spreads to their area, and they're probably gonna use all kinds of nasty poisons to do it.
So honestly, as much as I love the book--and I've wedged bookmarks into it and am building a hugulkultur in the backyard as we speak--a lot of his plant choices did bother me. Sure, maybe it's a matter of attitude towards these plants, but it still seems kind of disingenuous to go to so much effort to reduce one's footprint, and then to plant things that mean a lot of other people are drenching the world with herbicides trying to kill it.


You make a persuasive case for the harmfulness of invasives.  But I don't think he's advocating a Johnny Appleseed approach for the plants you've mentioned, simply sustainable usage in a backyard permaculture ecosystem in balance with other flora and fauna.  In addition, the plants you've mentioned have lots of uses for the soil, wildlife and humans.  Protecting land from invasives can itself be taken to excess and actually make an ecosystem even more vulnerable in the long run.  As you know, a lot of invasive take root in disturbed soil which, unfortunately, we also have in excess.  Finally, the invasives don't necessarily last forever.  As pioneers they can eventually die out as a result of nature's succession process.
 
                
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With a lot of invasives, absolutely, they're a creature of disturbed land, and if we stopped disturbing land, we'd have a lot less problems. Unfortunately, there are also plants that get in and creates their own disturbance. If the stuff just hung out on sunny roadsides and along highway cuts--meh, that's life, absolutely we should just plug those holes with desirables and stop whining. But then you get something that spreads aggressively into undisturbed areas, like Russian/autumn olive (that being what makes it such a thug!)...and he recommends them no less than...checking... twenty times in the book, according to the index, and it's hard to find the upside to that.

Which is a shame, because damn, I loved this book!

I think what I'm trying to get at is that with some of these plants, it may not actually possible to grow them and BE sustainable? We're talking about plants that aren't in balance with other flora and fauna, and honestly, I'm not sure if a single grower can KEEP it in balance.

Okay, take bamboo. Bamboo spreads like crazy wildfire, but I believe there are ways to plant it where you accept its rampant growth habit and contain it--and I think it would be irresponsible NOT to grow it in that manner, and certainly the neighbors won't thank you!--but you accept that it's gonna throw crazy runners, you take responsibility for what you planted, you sink baffles, the bamboo stays contained, that's great, I got no problem with that, shine on, you crazy bamboo-lovin' diamond.

But then you get something like, oh, silk tree, which seeds by wind, or Russian olive which seeds by birds. You can't control those seeds, unless you choose to deadhead the tree obsessively and make sure it never sets seeds, or that you get every single berry before the birds do. So you--you, yourself, the grower--are directly and personally responsible for creating several hundred seedlings a year, not on your property but widely broadcast, and quite possibly not desired by whoever gets them. And these things often have amazing germination rates, and the end result is that your silk tree means I'm out in the yard weeding and cursing or chopping and cursing, or, in some cases, spraying and cursing...and so is everybody else in the block and the DNR in the woodlot a mile away. (Oh, the silk trees I've weeded...) You the grower have, in a measurable and detectable fashion, made all our lives a little tiny bit worse. (And for anything directly under the glyphosate, probably quite a lot worse.)

And that's just unkind.

So I guess I don't know if those plants CAN be grown sustainably. Perhaps with obsessive deadheading, perhaps in a greenhouse...but otherwise can it really be considered sustainable to plant things that you know A) are almost guaranteed to spread outside your control and B) will have a definite negative impact on somebody/somewhere else?
 
Leila Rich
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I've known I needed to change my attitude about 'weeds' for a while, and the book's given me some useful tools to encourage that.
I also agree with Ursula on the difficulty of the invasive/opportunistic/pioneer question. There's so many variables and every country has its own special situations.
Here in New Zealand, gorse drives the farmers nuts, but makes a great nurse-plant for natives, wildling pines drive everyone nuts and have no redeeming features. Don't think I've seen a Russian olive though!
 
                                  
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UrsulaV wrote:
I'm not sure if a single grower can KEEP it in balance.


Well, something is obviously keeping it in some sort of balance since it isn't taking over the world.  It may not be what you or I would consider the preferred balance, however.

UrsulaV wrote:
Okay, take bamboo. Bamboo spreads like crazy wildfire, but I believe there are ways to plant it where you accept its rampant growth habit and contain it--and I think it would be irresponsible NOT to grow it in that manner, and certainly the neighbors won't thank you!--but you accept that it's gonna throw crazy runners, you take responsibility for what you planted, you sink baffles, the bamboo stays contained, that's great, I got no problem with that, shine on, you crazy bamboo-lovin' diamond.


There are definitely ways to contain it, for example by first choosing the right type.  There are clumping bamboos that don't wander, for instance.  Also, as is so important, by eating or finding ways to use any such plant they become infinitely more popular.  In permaculture, "the problem is the solution."  A 'pollutant' is simply an output that we haven't found a use for yet.  An 'invasive' can be seen in the same way.  Comfrey has often been considered invasive but you rarely hear it labeled that way by permaculturists because it's so damn useful as a chop-and-drop mulch, etc.  People who eat dandelions and cattails don't consider them invasive.  The Chinese and Japanese grow kudzu as a crop.  Also, 'volunteer plants' are indicators/symptoms of soil condition that tell us what the soil is comprised of and deficient in, a useful thing to know.  It can be wiser to improve the soil than to hack away the 'invasives.'  Let's find some uses for Russian olive and the like.  (I wish we had a greater number of 'invasive' gold deposits and oil reserves, preferably not off-shore, though!)
 
Brenda Groth
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oh please don't hate me, but i love love love autumn and russian olive and plant them as well as goumi, i adore the intense fragrance of the flowers in the spring, love it near a window or where i set outside.

sure it can be invasive in some areas..but I plant it here. Maybe our zone is too rough on it to become invasive as it has been planted around here for over 50 years and hasn't taken over the world yet. I first saw it when a neighbor put in a hedgrow of it..50 years ago.

I also plant the sterile version of Lyhtrum here. I have to use cuttings to propagate it as it will not grow from seed, but i had it before it was deemed a noxious weed, and i still set a few cuttings now and then to move it around my property.

as for the things that people worry about seeds not dying in their compost? then shouldn't they cut and compost them "before" they go to seed?

Maybe I'm a bit of a rebel..there are a few things that got planted on this property that I wish had never arrived..but not the ones mentioned above.
 
tel jetson
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I'm guilty, too: autumn olive, goumi, black locust, honey locust, even brooms and more.  and I'm not sorry.
 
                          
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One of the things I particularly respect about permaculture is that it's not a set of one-size-fits-all techniques; it's a framework for looking at a site and deciding what to do with it. Where people go wrong with permaculture is forgetting that, and thinking "Well, Famous Permaculturist says it's okay to plant autumn olive, so it must be fine for my site too!" Every site is different. If you're in the middle of a city, you've got way more invasives than natives to begin with, so you might weigh the advantages and disadvantages of adding one more invasive to the mix. If you're bordering wildlands, bringing in invasives could be particularly damaging. But it's worth remembering what the invasive species are that are doing the most damage to our wildlands: Corn. Soy. Oil palms. Cotton. Canola. When we rely on industrial foods, we're supporting the conversion of acres and acres of wildlands to monocrops, which wipes out habitat, kills animals, and poisons the soil. So some permaculturists feel that introducing a plant that will go crazy and produce lots of berries and eventually naturalize in a particular area, if it allows them to not buy oranges from hundreds of miles away, is still a net benefit. Every situation is different, of course.

I'm skeptical of the seemingly reflexive disregard for invasive species concerns that I've heard from some permaculture types, and some of the reasons given (I think that book "Invasion Biology: Critique of a pseudoscience" is way more vitriol and way less evidential than my teachers seem to think). At the same time, I've also taken a much less reflexive position on invasive species than I have in the past. I feel we need to be fighting industrial agriculture much more than worrying about what some hobbyists are planting in their backyards. The damage being done to our soil and our climate by industrial ag far outstrips the damage kudzu is doing in the South, and that really is saying something. At the place I'm living currently, they've been planting locust and bamboo (for timber and shoots) in certain places, but they haven't seen any signs of invasiveness because the sites were chosen with care and if the plants try to overrun, they'll outstrip their water availability and die back. But we also don't allow plants like yellow star thistle to take hold, and we're restoring native grasslands in certain zones.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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well toby hemenway in the book doesn't Like the term Invasive, but prefers opportunistic, and that is the way i tend to look at most aggressive plants, but some are darn tootin  invasive..and hard to kill...like bittersweet which is in a couple areas of my property and sends underground runners for a mile (well hardly)..and shoots up somewhere else..however..mine are not evidently the proper sex to produce the berries, so i have ugly green vines that kill my trees.

another opportunistic plant i have battled in the past is knotweed..right now we have a few plants that don't spread and thrive where they are..they are fine, not bothering anyone..but we had it before our housefire to where it would climb into the walls of our house and grow up through the foundation..that was nasty.

there is another opportunistic plant that i love ..but it can take over. It is Aegopodium. I will rake leaves and pine needles up into piles under neath my deep shade areas and put in a few roots of that, and wihtin a year it iwll grow into the entire mulch bed and completely cover the ground under the deep shade trees, and provide food and cover for wildlife. The flowers are similiar to queen annes lace and the leaves are variegated green and cream color and are very dnese..they grow like strawberries from runners..and they grow in that shady area nothing else will grow..you can even eat it..but don't let it loose in the woods..it will take over.
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=23386&id=1846485863&l=500c304934
here is a link to one of my two photo albums and you can see the aegopodium growing under a lot of our deep shade tree areas

 
                
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Brenda Groth wrote:
there is another opportunistic plant that i love ..but it can take over. It is Aegopodium. I will rake leaves and pine needles up into piles under neath my deep shade areas and put in a few roots of that, and wihtin a year it iwll grow into the entire mulch bed and completely cover the ground under the deep shade trees, and provide food and cover for wildlife. The flowers are similiar to queen annes lace and the leaves are variegated green and cream color and are very dnese..they grow like strawberries from runners..and they grow in that shady area nothing else will grow..you can even eat it..but don't let it loose in the woods..it will take over.


Out of curiosity, and not to derail the thread, but since you've got some experience with Aegopodium (goutweed is what I usually see it called) do you know any good way to STOP it spreading? One of my blog readers was bemoaning the fact that her neighbors had planted it awhile back and it had spread aggressively over both yards. Since it's seriously allelopathic--more so than black walnut, even!--it's pretty much killed anything else living in her yard. The only solution either of us could think of involved aggressive sheet mulching, which I've read will kill it...but she was worried that she'll put in all this backbreaking effort, and it'll just come right back in from the neighbors, and of course, the neighbor being the sort who believes that no pretty plant could do anything bad* there's no help from that quarter.

The whole situation has left her depressed and ready to just abandon the notion of gardening there, which is a terrible thought, but since I've never dealt with the stuff, I don't know anything to suggest--whether a barrier method would work, or how far down she'd have to sink it to stop the runners. (I hate to think of somebody giving up on their garden!) Have you got any experience with keeping it out of an area you don't want it in?



*If azaleas grew teeth and started eating people tomorrow, I swear there would still be people saying "But it's so pretty!" while theirs ate the neighbor's dog.
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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oh dear lord the poor lady.

well a mower will keep it in bounds..it never crosses my mowed areas..but that is here in our zone and climate..i'm not sure about other zones and climates..

it LOVES shade and grows similarly to a strawberry by making all those cute little runners.

I've never known it to be allopathic, but it possibly could be..it has never killed any plants here other than things it overran that were too fragile to withstand it..however..anything large enough to rear it's head above it grows just fine with it at its feet.

Kinda like a living mulch.

it will swamp more tiny and fragile plants, so i wouldn't ever leave them in the path of it's spread.

it works well under trees and shrubs..so if the friend..would like to put trees and shrubs in the area..there shouldn't be any problem with that..also things like daylillies and iris grow fine in its care..

I have many  shrubs and trees and perennial flowers in large beds that are full of Aegopodium..it is also around many large trees and in the most dense shade of pines and other evergreens.

as far as a barrier..i don't see where any barrier would have to be very deep to stop it..as its roots are very shallow. I'm not sure if it spread by seed, but it surely might..mine spreads so well by runners that i'm not aware of it spreading by seed..as i don't have it in my lawn areas that are next to the beds that have it in it..except a few tiny pieces that get mown over..

good luck with that..i'm sure sprays would likely kill it.
 
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