Kenny McBride

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since Jan 06, 2014
Glasgow, Scotland
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Recent posts by Kenny McBride

Thanks William. I think you make an interesting point about how toxic juglone can be. In such a small garden with such shallow soils though, I think it makes sense to take all the action I can to shield against it. Thankfully many of the plants the client is keen to grow (or keep in a few cases) are juglone-tolerant anyway. The mulberry idea seemed like a neat way of combining a great fruit with a way of helping the garden develop well regardless of the walnut.
It's English walnut, but I'm told a lot of English walnut is now grown on black walnut stock. Either way, we're assuming the worst. The rules of the community say you can't cut down the major tree in the garden though, so unless we could easily pretend it was diseased or falling down anyway, we're stuck with it. I don't mind too much. It's been interesting to learn about it and try to find some solutions.

The total size of the garden is just under 250m2. And yes, I'm pretty confident in the client's ability to manage the ducks and their crap!
Hi. I'm taking the Geoff Lawton online PDC right now and I've got a friend who I'm designing for as my design for the certificate. It's an interesting plot - she has a 9 year old walnut tree that can't be removed, so we've had to think about how to deal with the toxicity there. That's all been really interesting and I think we've got some really nice solutions. However, I still have a couple of issues I need to work out and I thought you guys might be able to offer some advice.

Firstly, I read somewhere that mulberries could help to shield against the effects of the walnut's juglone. Can anyone confirm if that's true?

Secondly, the client is interested in keeping ducks and wants to build a small pond for them, but the soil is only about 30cm deep and almost dead flat. Underneath that is a either the concrete roof of the underground garage or a layer of gravel. There is a slope of about 1:1 at a height of 45cm at the edge of the garage roof though, and cheap clay available locally. I wondered if it might be possible to build a dam wall directly on to the soil that's there (the soil is almost 100% clay right now) with a keyway going just 10-15cm down. Will that be safe if we seal the ground well inside? The wall would obviously only be about 45cm high.

Finally, if the pond seems like a plausible idea, what kind of plants can I grow there, either around the edges or in the water itself? Anything that can be either duck food or human food is great, but the client would like pretty things too. The garden is in southern Germany on the edge of Lake Constance. Temperatures there now are 25-30C, but they also get some of their heaviest rains in summer. Winters are pretty mild with only a few days of frost and very little snow. Local farms produce tons of carrots, tomatoes, squash, lettuces, apples, citrus, watermelons, corn, cherries and berries, amongst other things. She's interested in trying wild rice. Does that sound possible?

Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Ha! Socialism is a pretty loaded word and means very different things here than it does Stateside. In reality, most of our politics is the same old neoliberal BS with a dusting of social policies to keep us from rioting. I think people generally would be in favour of this kind of work, but politicians are centralising more and more power all the time. The City Council is starting to look at a "sustainable food policy" though and I'm going to be involved in some of the discussions around that, so maybe I can start to feed these ideas into it.
5 years ago
Thank you Walter. That's an incredibly useful set of information and insight. Obviously the details will be different for us, but as an example it gives me a way to start shaping a story people can buy into.

I agree with you about the education process. To do this right, I want to get schools, churches, community groups and businesses involved. The goal will be to train people to convert the city into growing space too, but at current population densities and land available to ordinary people, that's a bit further off. And it can always serve as an exemplar, to show what can be achieved all over the country, sharing that knowledge with other communities and spreading that training overseas too. At present there are lots of small projects but few showing what can be done with a bigger site. I think until people working in development can see how that scale might work, it's hard to convince them how a step change in addressing food security might work.
5 years ago
I would argue that urban poverty creates its own wee ecosystem and has survival strategies built in it. Uprooting yourself and moving elsewhere to change your situation is possible, but it's comparable to transplanting a plant. If it's not done carefully with appropriate support and nourishment in place, it fails in any number of ways. We should be careful about assuming anything about the circumstances and capabilities of people in marginal situations.
5 years ago
I never saw it as a dichotomy. I think it's a no contest. Poverty loses in the first round when people have access to land and the skills to get the most out of it.
5 years ago
There are lots of other little groups around the city growing things. There are already connections building up between them and we're already working on doing more things together and keeping poverty near the top of the agenda. This idea/proposal is about doing something bigger that can extend and demonstrate the concepts on a different scale with the hope that they are taken on to much more damaged lands and communities around the world.
5 years ago
I think one of my goals here is to convince international groups that a relatively small project to help people here can train people to use similar principles anywhere. And for what it's worth, I don't see Holzer as a hippy figure at all. He's a slightly romantic figure in some ways, but mostly he seems like a very smart farmer. Showing real commercial viability in a poor climate as well as potential in more desert climates is kind of an important strand to what I'm trying to promote.
5 years ago
Thanks Gilbert. You gave me the idea!
5 years ago