Jonathan Hontz

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since Feb 12, 2012
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Recent posts by Jonathan Hontz

1. Yes, you'll want to add any organic matter in the same way it would happen without human intervention. All the material would just fall on the surface and the various creatures responsible for decomposition do the rest. Keep in mind that those creatures can only do so much at a time, but they are well-equipped to build soil from what drops to the ground.

2. There is another thread somewhere on these forums about the fruit trees. To apply his method, I believe you'll need to find trees that not only have never been pruned, but also that have never been grafted. Once grafted or pruned, a tree is dependent upon you for constant care throughout its life. Trees in untouched forests grow happy and healthy without people hacking off limbs or stitching together various parts. Fukuoka simply applied that to his orchard and made a fruit forest that never needed pruning. But if you try that on a tree that's already been cut or altered in some way, you run the risk of killing the tree.

That's how I understand it.
8 years ago
It's all making a bit more sense to me now.

But what we've been talking about with all this "guarded" knowledge...it's probably the most potent enemy faced by permaculture. People need to feel empowered to take the knowledge and play with it, rather than worry about what the founding fathers would say if they were to walk through the playground. If Open Content (I like that better.) is one way to do that, then we need it.

About the "turf war": I think Mr. Wheaton experiences that with his evil empire here. There are those who feel that what he is doing isn't permaculture, that he shouldn't call it by that name, and that he should pick up his toys and go home. Let's call their brand of the discipline "Fundamentalist Permaculture." The Fundamentalists have copies of Permaculture: A Designer's Manual on their nightstands and refuse to view deviation from its principles as anything other than treasonous and damaging. These folks are just as loony as any other intolerant wanks, but the fact remains that sometimes they are the first people to come in contact with others who are curious about permaculture.

Getting people past that initial barrier and letting them feel free to experiment is cruicial. Making sure they aren't turned away by intolerance and false apprenticeship is too. Paul just raises his middle finger.
8 years ago
Well, as far as a permaculture project goes, knock yourselves out. We need every bit of help we can get.

However, I disagree with the necessity of such a project and genuinely feel that the effort and finances would be better spent doing something else, since all of the permaculture information is already widely distributed, all of it is completely free for the reading, and the only restrictions placed on the word "permaculture" are that it can't be used in academic or other research work without attending a PDC and you must be certified in order to teach it. I agree whole-heartedly with both of those restrictions. Mollison and Holmgren invented the discipline and should be able to do whatever they want to ensure that people aren't misrepresenting it. If I don't like that, I can just turn the other cheek. The Australians seem to be doing just that with regard to many uses of their word in describing things that they had never intended. Formally, permaculture is closed-source, but in practice it's "free as in freedom".

If people think the information is "guarded", they are just mistaken, as Tyler points out. I'm not sure where that belief originated or if it persists, but it's flat wrong. If people desperately want to use the word permaculture to ride its coat tails toward recognition for whatever project they're working on, then let them be certified. If they can't afford to be certified, then they can just do their own thing and call it permaculture. In the unlikely event that the project gets tagged by the permaculture police for misuse of the term, then just come up with another term.

I'm still foggy on the purpose of this Open Source Permaculture project. Chris, you said that they want to work with Appropedia rather than create a new wiki, but they're creating a new site anyway. I'll re-iterate that Permaculture Media Blog is already fantastic as a permaculture resource. I stand by my statement that we need all the help we can get, but it's confusing when people already have two great resources up and running, and then they choose to delve into a third for no other apparent reason than a fundraiser and a book launch. If poor people already know about Appropedia, then just flesh that out. Splintering resources into all these different areas in the name of an ideal that's best applied to software and other intellectual property isn't really helping the cause, but if the spirit moves someone, then I guess they need to move.

I apologize if that comes across as overly cynical, but it's what I think.
8 years ago
I am puzzled. Is permaculture currently proprietary? It seems like they're basically just attempting to pay for a website and book about permaculture, which is fine, but then there's this from their website:

We believe that sustainability is for everyone. That's why we're creating Open Source Permaculture, a free online resource for anyone who wants to create a more sustainable world. Imagine having all the resources you need at your fingertips to enhance the sustainability of your home or land.



Free for anyone who has a computer, that is. And all of these resources they discuss are already online. I'm just not totally clear on what it is they're trying to accomplish. I'm a big fan of Ms. Novack's Permaculture Media Blog, which seems to already do the work that this Open Source Permaculture site is destined to do.
8 years ago
Thanks for the link. Now let's just hope people actually pay attention and do something about it.
8 years ago
Have a look at this thread: https://permies.com/t/13174/organic-sustainable-practices/Toxicity-Concrete

We discussed all sorts of issues related to concrete and it'll probably help.
8 years ago
Start throwing all your kitchen scraps on the hugelkultur bed to let them decompose in place. If you have a compost pile, empty whatever is in it right now and use it as a top-dressing on the bed. Urine is also a great fertilizer, but it depends heavily on the diet of the urinator and your social situation, etcetera. The hugelkultur is basically just like a huge compost pile itself, with a gigantic amount of "brown" material in it. Find anything listed as "green" material in the multitude of lists devoted to composting, and that should give you plenty of ideas for things to add.
8 years ago

Brenda Groth wrote:there are some trees that do quite well from seed


Yet another good point. If you can't afford the saplings, just start burying your apple cores wherever you'd like to eventually have trees. After all, the fruits of trees aren't there to feed people; they're there to grow new trees. They'll know what to do once they get into the soil if you pick a fruit that was grown on a local tree.
8 years ago
Tall and steep are attributes of hugelkultur beds. Mulch it a bit to keep the soil in place until the plant roots can do that. Use something heavier, like wood chips, that will stay in place on such a slope. It needs to be planted densely enough that this will occur, so no rows or bare patches of soil are allowed. Between the mulch, the plants, and all the decomposing wood underneath, the bed will not dry out very quickly, and should hold water like a sponge. The more wood you've buried, the more noticable this effect should be.
8 years ago
The good: thank you for linking to the podcast, as I didn't notice that they talked about it. That makes three people who've raised the issue of toxicity in concrete to me.

The bad: after listening to the discussion, the jury is still out. I think the most important thing to remember is that concrete is porous, which can be difficult to remember when you're dealing with such a hard, robust material. Because it is porous, it will hold onto many things that come into contact with it, including toxins. In those cases, yes, concrete is toxic. However, there are probably far more instances of concrete being used for applications that don't expose it to harmful substances, and there's little if any danger from using it if you're in a pinch.

I'd also like to point out that in the podcast, cement and concrete are used interchangeably, but they're not the same thing: cement is the binding agent that holds aggregate together to make concrete. Also, the burns that Ms. Birkas described getting from handling cement are a result of the lime found in it. The lime changes chemically when water is added to the cement, which is what cures it. The curing process also thereby eliminates the burning, which is why you won't get a chemical burn from concrete if you touch your skin to it. If I remember my mason's chemistry correctly, that is.
8 years ago