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Cal Edon

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since Jun 24, 2012
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Recent posts by Cal Edon

Part of the scientific method? The scientific method would require that careful tests be conducted of the effectiveness of permaculture's ideas, then the methods used and results found would be published.

There is a remarkable absence of published evidence regarding the effectiveness of permaculture.
7 years ago
Ah, my mistake. Thank you for the correction.

I've rather wondered if there aren't ways to use sweetclover in permaculture designs. As an introductory plant in a food forest, perhaps. It's such a common weed near me that finding practical uses for it would be quite helpful.
7 years ago
Excellent site, one I'll be bookmarking and directing people to!

PFAF's database can be oddly spotty, at times - I don't see a listing forMelilotus officinalis, although several other M. species are present. Hmmm.
7 years ago
If you coat slices of apple with an antioxidant (even something as simple as vitamin C) they won't turn brown, because the browning is the result of oxidation of iron compounds in the fruit. If these 'miracle apples' don't brown when they're cut, and dry instead of rotting, my very first thought is that they're full of antioxidant compounds. Perhaps, just as his trees acted to eliminate leaves infected by fungus instead of simply continuing to grow because their nutrients were limited (as mentioned in the epilogue), the apple trees begin producing defensive compounds when their nutrients started running low.

I know various herbs produce the highest concentrations of essential oils when they're slightly nutrient-stressed. If they have more than they can use, they don't bother defending what they have as much. Maybe - just maybe - the apple trees act similarly?
7 years ago
The latest podcast claims to be 150+ MB, but the download is only 50+. I think there's something wrong with the podcast display page.
It clearly lends itself to keeping out human intruders. Want to protect a delicate and thief-attracting crop? Plant it in the area you've surrounded by a thick hedge of poison ivy.
7 years ago
You're missing the point.

Where I live, the original ecological equilibrium was destroyed. And no new one has truly formed - the succession has never been allowed to complete itself, and invasive plants have been taking over niches that were once filled by natives, displacing everything that relied upon them, and erasing the complex relationships that existed between them.

You can't learn much about ecology by looking at a solid understory of garlic mustard, or a dead forest covered in kudzu. Someone using those observations for inspiration would probably conclude that 1) monocultures are normal, and 2) we need to use potent weapons like pesticides to beat back nature, or else it will smother all our crops beneath rampant wild growth.
7 years ago
That's fascinating to hear. I'm glad you have something to serve as a control - I realize you can't conduct a truly extensive experiment, but we really need documented evidence that all these techniques work. We need to be able to convince the rational skeptics and silence the naysayers.
7 years ago
I am right smack in the middle of Pennsylvania. There's no way to ask anyone what things were like before farms - there were farms here before the United States was established.

When I started to learn about native and foreign plants, I eventually realized that virtually all of the forbs and grasses and suchlike that I could go out and encounter came from Europe. Our suburban and farm-border ecologies are completely dominated by the plants that were brought over, could thrive in disturbed areas, and happened not to have any biological checks - diseases and predators and so forth. The plants that didn't have such an advantage didn't spread, and those that happened to be vulnerable to something over here died - so what's spread out across the continent is the stuff that's lucky.

There are also the things that are missing. Ever hear of the Franklin tree? It's used for landscaping, sometimes. Named in honor of Benjamin Franklin. It went extinct in the wild in the decade or so after the first biological samples were taken - the samples that eventually became our landscaping option. It's speculated that some fungus spread by farming might have wiped it out, in something like the way the American chestnut was virtually exterminated, and the way the American elm is dying out now.

Did you know North America used to have its own native species of earthworms? Earthworms that were three feet long, white, smelled like lilies, and hissed? No, I'm totally serious. Go look it up.
7 years ago
I live in a small town that is surrounded by dozens and dozens - in some cases, hundreds - of miles of farmland, farmland that was once forest. There is some forest in places, but it's all second- or third-growth. There are no mostly untouched forests anywhere except in some state and national parks, a long ways away. And they're not truly old-growth, as I understand the term.

There are lots of forest plants which I've read about in foragers' manuals and ecological textbooks but never seen, anywhere. As far as I can determine they do not exist here any longer, even in the nature preserve I visit. The closest thing we have to a wildnerness is the local chain of 'mountains' (fairly biggish hills), one is which is ritually climbed by university students before they graduate, another of which hosts the local ski resort and amusement park.

Invasive, foreign plants are everywhere. Yes, even in the nature preserve. Our roadsides are mainly composed of tartarian honeysuckle and poison hemlock. And garlic mustard, of course.

Anyway, to return to the topic: I'd like to be able to observe nature and design gardening techniques which imitated it, a la Fukuoka or Holzer or whoever. But there doesn't seem to be any nature around for me to observe. Not really. The best I can do is read about Native American agriculture in this region - they seem to have been mimicking the ecological succession of lightning-fire forest clearings, possibly. That's as far as I can get.

Any suggestions, Mr. Wheaton?
7 years ago