Scot Aldred

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since Oct 02, 2014
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Recent posts by Scot Aldred

Sawdust around your plants on top of the mulch, problem solved.

Travis Schultz wrote:Okay so some of you are familiar with who I am and my experience in starting a small scale biointensive type farm. I have relied mostly on close spacing for weed control but was really liking the idea of sheet mulching beds and pathways to make a more esthetically pleasing look and to greatly reduce the weeding. I just used my own hybrid method of cardboard newspaper and straw or dried grasses on top.

I didn't read Ruth stouts book but I doubt it would have changed anything.

In a temperate climate like my own sheet mulching seems to do more harm than good at least in my experience.

Everybody needs to find what works for them, in their climate and in their situation.

Slugs, cabbage worms, and voles..... These are now the bane of my existence. Why? Because sheet mulching basically makes a perfect habitat for these pests.

So do I spend $400 on sluggo for the season? I can't use poison on the voles in my organic garden. So now I have to resort to picking hundreds of slugs off the garden every night which is by far the easiest and most efficient method for large scale slug removal. I know what your all going to want to say, get ducks! Well I'm on a small lot, I already have chickens, and I couldn't release ducks or chickens into my polyculture garden untill the end of the season without spending more money on fencing and infrastructure to keep them out of the veggies. Ducks also do a very good job of trampling the plants they don't eat.

All of these are starting to seem like more work than a few days of properly timed weeding a season and a little more watering. Sheet mulching is no easy task when your doing half a 12k sq ft garden. It took days in itself and now will take many more days of fighting the pest battle to get them in check. Not to mention hunched over picking up slugs and 930 at night when I should be in bed with my wife.

I have had several people lately try telling me that sheet mulching is the only way to go (most of these members probably don't even have a garden they have just read books and watched Geoff lawtons videos) yet they assume they have the perfect system for EVERYONE.

I am here to tell you that just like any other method of farming or gardening you have to experiment and find what works for you. Do not just assume anything in farming until you yourself know how it works.

I am now left wondering why I wanted to fix a system that was already in balance. Because the sheet mulch threw my system way out of whack. I was attracted by laziness and the idea that I could plant and forget and then just harvest.

Damage done? My seedling flats in greenhouse were mowed down by voles, twice. Re bought seed, and had to buy seedling to replace the early starts that I couldn't replant in time. Slugs have eaten overnight a large number of broccoli, kale, collard, and chard that I can only replace in time to get a harvest by buying starts. Voles ate all my rutabega and turnips ( thousand or so).

In years past 1 application of sluggo and a few precisely placed mouse traps kept the voles and slugs way in check and I only saw little damage.

But now 2 resident cats, 60 in sluggo, and 24 mousetraps and I have finally gotten the damn voles under control, picked roughly 100 sluggs off herbs and brassicas last night, after making my round through the garden I started back at the beginning and another few dozen were picked the second pass through.

Started to think I made a mistake!!!

But on a much lighter note we just had our first day of market saturday, I have been reading about business and marketing and learning a lot from Jack spirko this winter. We brought maybe half the produce we would normally take to market but I made $100 more than my best market day to date. Testement that it's not just about selling your goods, but how can we increase the price paid for the same product without really changing anything about it?

Good luck to everyone on your endevours, and always take what people tell you with a grain of salt until you have experience in that regard. And please if something works for you, please stop telling everyone it's the perfect system and the only way to do it! Every piece of land is different, and for every question the answer is "depends".


2 years ago

Frank Brentwood wrote:

Dawn Hoff wrote:The invention of the internet is the biggest thing since the invention of the press... I personally do think that you can learn a lot, if not most of what permaculture is about from the internet - yet the experience of being at a PDC and meeting other permies and working with them for two weeks cannot be replaced - not even with a forum like this.

I totally agree. Forums and videos and podcasts are all a great starting point. They can expose you to a LOT of information and get you thinking in new ways, but that final step for me will always need to be a practical, HANDS-ON exercise. An on-line PDC might be great for some, but I've always been a tactile learner.

The problems I have finding a PDC are:
1) Affordable - Including things like travel/lodging/meals/incidentals on top of the cost of the course often pushes it out of my price range.
2) Efficient - I just cannot take 2 weeks off to go do "permie stuff" yet. If it was a weekends-only PDC spread out over a few months, it would be more likely to grab my attention.
3) Worthwhile - This is the hardest to quantify, but I think of it as "Name-brand Permaculture". If it's Geoff or Sepp (or even that guy Paul ), I'm a lot more likely to think of the PDC as valuable. I know that there are LOTS of people out there walking the walk every day that are very knowledgeable and excellent instructors. But there are also some that are examples of the old saying 'Those who cannot do, teach'. Unless there's a "Big Name" attached to a course, how do we know?

The issue is the convergence of these three. Big names mean big costs. Big names also can't commit to long-term things due to busy schedules. Affordable classes can't get big names for a few hours a week over several weeks/months. Catch-22, eh?

Dawn Hoff wrote:Private education costs money (public too, but you don't pay for it out of your own pocket).

A wise man once said, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." Somewhere along the line, the money that pays for public education IS coming out of YOUR pocket.

If you are interested in our permaculture journey so far check out:

I'm offering an online PDC next year that will solve the transport and meals issue. I'm an educator who specialises in online learning at university level--the PDC will be offered at $800AU, which is considerably cheaper than any comparable PDC and IMHO, much better. I will be offering some scholarships as well, so keep checking this forum for the details.

4 years ago

serj McCoy wrote:So this post will be sure to ruffle some feathers but I'm not one to mince words. 

It seems the more permaculture groups I join the more messages I see relating to "come take this class for x hundreds or thousands of dollars to learn permaculture" or even better "come take this class for x hundreds/thousands of dollars to learn how to TEACH permaculture".

Most classes look to be a few days of sessions.  To me these just amount to crash courses at which time you get a 'certificate' at the end.  If anyone is in I.T. it reminds me of the phrase "paper MCSE's"

I have never taken a course but troll/research/grow/experiment enough to know that there's no way you can learn enough to be a permaculture expert from a crash course.

It may be a good way to quickly cram some knowledge or a way to get a shiny certificate but the shear volume of these classes that are offered reeks of a way to funnel money up to those who have already taken classes and are looking to make a quick buck of those who just want knowledge.

I know some classes offer hands on at farms and tours during their sessions.  But nothing is going to compete with planting your own stuff and experimenting with it.  I guess I'd rather get outside and spend my money on plants to start my own setups than to waste that money on something I can research on the internet anyway...

oOOOooo I just went there =P

I understand not everyone has the knowledge or time to effectively search the internet for permaculture info, so for them the classes might make sense.  But really some of the 'teaching how to teach permaculture' threads I've seen on multiple permaculture mailing lists recently smells fishy to me.

Sorry for the rant that I'm sure will be unpopular.  I just want to see if anyone else out there feels this way as well.

The idea of learning permaculture from random searches on the web just don't work. Even watching free videos in a free PDC don't work. I tried reading Mollison's book on my own and that didn't work.
I learned more from my 2 week 72hour course than I could have learned from the other approaches. Why? Because the courses change the way you look at things. It challenges the norms that we have grown up with. A properly constructed PDC alters your world view and that is something that is unlikely to happen with independent research across the internet.
I'm willing to bet that there are some terrible permaculture teachers, but I was lucky.
The money they charge is small compared with universities and vocational education and you are accommodated and fed good organic food. It's a pretty good deal if you ask me.

4 years ago