Lm McWilliams

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since Jul 11, 2013
USDA Zone 5
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Recent posts by Lm McWilliams

Adrien Lapointe wrote:Thanks Lm for the information about Salatin's seed management. Selecting for the adapted plants in ones grassland definitely sounds to me like the best way.

About the bio-remediation, I have heard that some plants and fungi will chelate heavy metals rendering them non-bioavailable. Yet, I am not sure I would be comfortable with using newspaper anyways. To prevent grass from growing, I think creating conditions where it does not thrive is a better approach. Newspaper and cardboard can then be used to make cellulose for insulation or recycled!

Lm McWilliams wrote:
*Columbus was impressed by the first people he met in the New World, remarking on
their generosity and harmony with nature, and said they were a people 'en Dios' or
Indios - a people in God. (The country we now call 'India' was then called 'Hindustan',
and was not known as India for at least a couple hundred years after Columbus'

wow! I had never heard that. Is this a quote from a book?

Totally agree with you that there has to be better uses for cardboard and paper than
taking the chance of putting (more) pollution into our soils. Recycling them into new
paper and cardboard seems like a good idea, but it would be wonderful if our paper
manufacturers returned to less chemically intensive methods of making paper.
(Look at how long Egyptian papyrus can survive; paper made without help from Dow
or DuPont or...)

There are a number of plants and fungi that will accumulate heavy metals, as you say.
While the natural bio-sphere continues is undoubtably more marvelous and capable
of rebalancing itself than people generally give it credit for, I had not heard about
plants or fungi making heavy metals unavailable through chelation, or other means.
Dr. Paul Stamets, fungi expert, warns against the consumption of otherwise nutritions
and safe mushroom species if grown on sites contaminated with heavy metals. (You
may be aware of his bio-remediation work with oyster mushrooms which break down
toxic petro-chemicals yeilding edible mushrooms, but only IF there is no heavy metal
contamination; and most petro-chemical waste sites will contain toxic levels of these

Other experts caution against the consumption of edible plants growing where heavy metals
may be found. Water hyacinth, for instance, is edible but when growing in polluted water,
it is not. (This demonized plant is a real resource- it can clean up polluted waterways,
it grows at an amazing rate with nearly unequaled bio-mass potential, apparantly it can be
used as livestock feed, and is edible by humans- the later two only IF grown in clean water.
And, it is beautiful.)

'Greene Deane' of EatTheWeeds (dot) com, says in his intro video on YouTube - Why Learn
About Wild Plants, that he had never been made ill by eating a wild plant, except when he
consumed plants that were growing in a polluted location. Since more and more of our
planet is polluted, it is pretty sad to see a natural abundance of food which survives that
pollution being made inedible by the man-made toxins they take up.

Which is not to say that some plants or fungi cannot help remedy the heavy metal situation,
just that I have no information on that; only the opposite. Livestock are also prone to poisoning
by eating plants which concentrate metals, like selenium (essential in micro-trace amounts),
even plants which are ordinarily edible by livestock, but which tend to concentrate metals
more under certain conditions, like drought (which is common in the areas of the US where
soil selenium levels are hight).

Yes, the info on 'the people in God' or Indios, aka Indians, came from a book; sorry
I cannot recall the title or author. It is easy enough for anyone to verify the information
for themselves. It is an interesting twist on the history we were taught, eh?!

James Colbert wrote:Holzer grows blueberries in hugelkultures planted at a 45 degree angle. My understanding is he uses no liming agents or amendments besides the wood. Perhaps he is starting with acidic soil but my thinking is that the wood or better yet the biomass creates the ideal conditions despite pH needs.

Maybe I'm confused, but you do realize that 'liming agents' sweeten the soil, or make it less acidic,
which is the opposite of what blueberries require?

Areas with high rainfall, like Austria, tend toward acid soils, except where limestone soils moderate
that effect. Regardless, there is no doubt that hugelkulture provides suitable growing conditions
for a wide range of plants.
5 years ago
Paul. you may be a bit of a 'Johnny Appleseed'; you plant the seeds and may not see them
grow and bear fruit. Not all the seeds you plant will grow. But many will, and in turn they
will spread the seeds further.

Just keep planting those seeds, and trust that they will grow! Thank you, Paul.
Yes! Yes!! YES!!!

One of the lies that contemporary society is based on is that we have a choice
between 'shivering in the back of a damp, drafty cave', a life that is 'harsh,
brutal and short' (which is actually a description of life in war) - or polluting our planet.
Polluting ourselves, actually.

How many people are aware that when people began to settle in larger cities with the
beginnings of exploitative type agriculture, humans actually began to get shorter? Or
that the Europeans were greatly disturbed by the native people of various places they
colonized, considering them 'lazy' because they did not work hard enough and enjoyed
life too much. In some ways, we may have the highest standard of living ever (?) yet
we are more sick, more polluted than any people ever in the history of history.

Spreading the word, and DEMONSTRATING (capiltals for emphasis) that a good life
can be lived, a comfortable life, without killing the bio-sphere that sustains us all-
is there a more worthy cause?

Kudos to you, Paul, for your efforts to do this!

(I saw a wooden keyboard for sale somewhere... but am using one that qualifies as
a techno-antique instead.)
It is difficult to blame the Indians* for wanting to buy back their land, isn't it?

*Columbus was impressed by the first people he met in the New World, remarking on
their generosity and harmony with nature, and said they were a people 'en Dios' or
Indios - a people in God. (The country we now call 'India' was then called 'Hindustan',
and was not known as India for at least a couple hundred years after Columbus'

On the 4" - 8" of soil instead of newspaper or cardboard, or without the newspaper or cardboard layer
underneath- in places I have lived (not Montana) the pampered lawn grasses might not survive under
that soil layer, but there are plenty of so-called WEEDS that would easily come up through that amound
of soil. (And/or sprout from it, but the paper/cardboard layer would not prevent that!)

Paul Stamets, PhD (mycologist aka 'fungi/mushroom guru') is concerned about the massive amounts of
cardboard and paper that are disposed of each year. I cannot speak for him, of course, but I think he
sees the use of these materials in bio-systems as a preferable way to dispose of them.

I wonder if making new paper and cardboard from recycled material might be an even better way to get
rid of it. His work with fungi in bio-remediation of toxic sites is awesome, but I do not know enough about
what chemicals may remain in cardboard or paper to be comfortable relying on 'sheet mulching' techniques
to break them down. Concentrations of heavy metals are a particular concern, especially in the inks on
newspapers, even just the black ink.

Would like to know if anyone here has more info on what chemical /heavy metal issues we might need to
be aware of if we are considering using paper or cardboard in compost or mulch. If not, what is the best
way to dispose of these materials?
On Salatin and seeding - if he was asked, Salatin would likely tell you that the dormant seeds
already present on his land, the 'seed bank', provided most of the seed for his farm, rather
than seeds dropped by birds. 'Bird seed' may also have been a factor, but research has shown
that seed can remain dormant in the ground for many years, decades even (some say longer,
depending on conditions and seed type), sprouting when conditions are right for that plant.

Isn't nature cool!

One reason Salatin does this, apparantly, is that he wants plants that are naturally suited to thriving
in his area on his land in that climate without being coddled. Over a period of time, the plants that
thrive on his farm, under his style of management, will be 'naturally selected' to be more and more
successful under those conditions. Seed we can buy will likely never be as suited to our land as
seed we are essentially breeding on our own properties. This is not unlike the traditional practice
of saving garden seeds from the vegetables that do the best in that garden.

Setting up a home for 'Compact Living' reminds me of living on a yacht.
The multiple uses for the same space and the storage and furniture units
are absolutely ingenious.

Many of these concepts and designs are useful in less compact homes, too,
to help us to organize our stuff and our lives. This book is a valuable resource!

5 years ago
May I cast a vote for the deck as originally produced by Alexander Ojeda?

(Perhaps with a correction on the plural of fungus: fungi.)

If I was being considered for being honored with a card in the deck, I would rather
the deck be produced with intriguing information to help people 'get it', or at least
stir viewers curiosity. I understand that not everyone would see it the same way.

Honoring some on the cards means leaving others out, maybe equally worthy, eh?

5 years ago

Jane Reed wrote:It's a truth of psychology that the most interesting thing in the world to people is -- other people. I very much like to know about the accomplishments of the greats and near-greats in the permaculture and sustainability movement.
For example, knowing about Owen Hablutzel's grazing system on his ranch led me to look up his web site and it is now bookmarked so I can read his posts. Placing people on the face cards seems the right (and smart) thing to do.

And this deck of cards is meant to be used. In my experience, there is little more distracting in a card game than a deck that is fussy and self-conscious by being too far out from what we are accustomed to. My additional vote is for cards that make it easier to notice the number and suit. I have used alternative cards in the past and, for me, it's not fun to have to continuously put my concentration on the cards in my hand in order to figure out what it is I hold. Paul, perhaps you are not very concerned about this aspect of things. Me, I would take out these cards once or twice, but for serious playing, I would not. If you actually want people to use these cards frequently, and not just on the one-off "isn't this clever", I hope you will take this into consideration.

Great points!

Yet, if I know nothing of permaculture, why would the people who are 'bigwigs' in permaculture be of any interest?
I think the topic comes first, then the interest in the people are noted in that field. It could just be me... but I am
having a hard time seeing how cards featuring people will help to introduce people to WHAT permaculture is (in a
nutshell, so to speak) and WHY it is important - to me, and to them, whether they are yet aware of it or not.

You have a good point, too about the legibility of suit and number. But I don't see myself taking these out for
intense competition games. The striking designs and juicy tidbits of information on each card would make
them fun to use when playing with a congenial group of our friends and family, where conversation and fellowship
is the point of the card games....and gradually exposing them to more info on permaculture, while sparing them
from trying to listen to me explain. <smile!>

Mostly I see myself carrying these around as eye-catching and quick 'visual aids' whenever I find myself
talking to people who have never heard of permaculture. Or who do not know what that word really means.
These cards would be very useful for that even if they had not been designed as 'playing cards'.

Best regards!
5 years ago