Dave de Basque

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since May 08, 2015
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Basque Country, Spain-42N lat-Köppen Cfb-Zone8b-1035mm/41" rain: 118mm/5" Dec., 48mm/2" July
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Recent posts by Dave de Basque

Daron Williams wrote:
Question 1: Why do you want to grow food in a way that's good for the environment?

Question 2: What's the hardest part about it?

Q1. I think it's literally insane NOT to grow food in a way that's good for the environment. Or do anything else in a way that's not good for the environment. I just don't really understand it on a basic level. What kind of nutso thinking got us here? I think our weird social-economic-psychological system at the moment is almost a one-off in human history. "Modern" society fantasizes that we can produce endless amounts of poison with no consequences. Continuing to sweep it all under the carpet when it's been clear we have a problem for my entire lifetime and then some. By keeping the consequences not-too-in-your-face-for-most-people for the longest time possible, we keep wishing away the day when our fantasy bubble will burst, when we run out of carpet to sweep under. So... I think we need to get our act together. Quickly. And I want to be part of it.

Q2. The hardest part for me is devoting the time necessary to do my part in a really great way (or even a half-decent way) while keeping my day job. For instance, I just started reading about Korean Natural Farming. It sounds great, and worth experimenting with. And it has a huge amount of depth. Imagining fitting in these experiments with my existing daily activities is making my head spin at the moment. And I still haven't read, much less digested all of Redhawk's Soil Series, nor have I prepared my last raised beds to plant my squashes, melons and hot peppers. And I have a couple of proposals due back at the day job. You get the idea.
3 days ago
Thanks F!

Like many (most?) places in the world, tomatoes are everyone's favorite garden plant here. And since the fungus (relative of the infamous Irish potato blight of the 1840s) is so prevalent, we're up on all the tricks.

- Exclusion and hygiene don't help too much as the spores are airborne and can travel very long distances. So if your neighbor has blighted tomato plants, yours are going down soon!

- Resistant varieties, at least the ones we've tried, help a little bit, they may delay the death of your plants by 1-2 weeks, but that's not long enough for most people to switch from a traditional heirloom they love to a totally different variety they may not like much. I've tried 3 resistant varieties so far and have not been impressed with the results yet. Another variety is in this year, we'll see...

nature chooses which ones survive and prosper

...ha, ha... Nature likes to remind us that we're at 43°N and tomatoes are from Mexico, and that we're out of our minds trying to grow them here in the cool and damp this far from the Equator! Nature sentences all our tomatoes to death, it's just us stubborn humans that persist in this madness because we like tomatoes so much. Another problem is that maybe the difference between varieties is how bad the blight gets how fast. By leaving your blighted tomatoes in the ground to see, you're helping broadcast more spores into the atmosphere to ruin everyone else's plants. So...

- Timing: That would be nice, but it's not a luxury we have in our climate except if we use greenhouses. Freezes are possible up until 5 weeks before the summer solstice! If I had a bigger and more isolated garden I would run more trials and plant out at several dates and see how the weather holds up. But since I don't have much space and our season is just long enough to get some good production from late July to maybe mid-October here, it's a bit of a one shot deal.

People who plant some new plants late, say around the summer solstice, say that their plants, being younger, sometimes resist the blight for a week or two more than the older plants do.

Thanks for the input, and still looking for anyone who's used the Korean remedy. I'll probably do the experiment anyway this Fall and hope I'll remember to report back. But a comrade in arms or two would be nice. There is late tomato blight on the East Coast of the US now, so it's not just a European thing anymore.
I'm very curious about Korean Natural Farming and Jadam, but have barely scratched the surface.

In reading our friend Gurkan's list of KNF preparations and other abbreviations, I came across OHN, Oriental Herbal Nutrients

OHN - Oriental Herbal Nutrients
Garlic, Angelica, ginger or turmeric, licorice and cinnamon tinctured using vodka. This is a strong antifungal and used as a medicine on plants  

Where I live, every single tomato plant in every garden in the country reliably falls to phytophtera infestans (late blight), a fungus and a form of mildew, every autumn, whenever the weather starts getting coldish and wet, usually sometime in October, but sometimes we get a spell even in the summer that can wipe out all our plants in a flash.

The only remedy allowed in organic ag is a preventative one (cannot help once the plant is infested), which is to spray with some form of copper. This was going to be removed from the organic standard years ago as excessive copper gradually poisons the soil, but with many years warning and many research euros spent, no one was able to find an effective alternative, so good old (bad old) copper sulfate (and other forms of copper) were restored and are permitted in commercial organic since they're officially the only game in town.

So I keep hoping for and experimenting with biosphere-enhancing alternatives.

It occurred to me that phytophtera infestans is limited in its extent geographically and I've never heard of it in East Asia. So perhaps there's never been much experimentation with OHN versus Late Blight. Does anyone have any experience or know of any trials?
Agriculture originated in temperate climates, probably for a reason. A warm temperate climate (Mediterranean) is an "edge" climate between desert and cold temperate, and can often host productive plants from both of its neighbor climates. Edges are usually more productive than centers for that reason, as Bill Mollison liked to point out. Temperate climates can even grow some tropical plants in the summertime. (But of course, in Mediterranean climate, you need to worry about wildfires!)

Rene did a great job of explaining the major categories of tropical climates: high-altitude tropics (often a bit more like a temperate climate with no cold season), wet tropics and wet/dry tropics. But characteristics they all share I think are that nature is running at 110% all year round, so keeping up with growth is a challenge. The sun and the rain are amazingly powerful -- if you've ever been in a tropical rainstorm or gotten a tropical sunburn you know what I mean -- and designing to accommodate their strength and power is a big challenge. All that rain washes fertility out of the soil very easily, so perhaps surprisingly, hanging onto soil fertility is a very important focus.

Tropical climates are hugely productive but it's even more important to design well because the natural forces can easily overwhelm you. So a good design and hopefully a good team of people to deal with it all are a good idea.

Temperate climates are less of a hot potato to handle, but then you have to deal with winter. So putting work and resources into season extension (greenhouses, row covers, etc.) is a good idea.

As Redhawk said, every climate has its characteristics, and there are great permaculture ways to deal with all of them. So maybe it's more a matter of personal taste (if you're thinking of relocating), or being content and designing things well for where you are.

5 days ago
Also my raw foodie friends insist that things last longer if you keep them in glass jars rather than plastic containers.

Thanks for the rice and parchment trick, Stacy! That's brilliant. I had been saving the little dessicant packets ("do not eat") that come with various products, and thinking I would like to have some alternative.
5 days ago

David Huang wrote:
Still even if they oxidized a lot the volume of greens in these just has to be healthy for a person, esp. anyone who might otherwise be eating a standard American diet!

🤣🤣🤣 Ain't that the truth!

David Huang wrote:
I am quite excited about the range of possibilities this whole approach opens up.

So am I! If I could award you a Michelin star, I would, but unfortunately I'm not on the committee... 🙁 You got my thumbs up though...
6 days ago
Wow David, I read the above and your complete blog post. What a great idea for making thicker kale chips, and ones you can combine with other ingredients! Bravo! I will try this soon.

105, still alive

In raw vegan circles (I sympathize but I am not one), they have a saying for dehydrator temps. The objective is to preserve the enzymes naturally present in the raw veg and not allow them to disintegrate as they do above 41°C. (Sorry, as hard-core pro-metric as I am, this saying only works in Fahrenheit.) "A hundred and five, still alive." So you might try a batch that is not heated above 105°F at any point. Of course, it takes a bit longer to dehydrate. You may not notice a difference in the final product, but who knows, your body might.

Greens intended for use as dried herbs or for teas tend to be dehydrated at about 35°C (95°F) to preserve the delicate leaves and the volatile essential oils. As far as I understand, this is mainly a matter of taste, though in the case of some volatile essential oils from certain plants, the difference might be medicinal too I suppose. I don't know if these concerns would be very relevant to your kale chips. At least taste-wise, I doubt the flavor is so subtle that the delicate essential oils of some green you've used would be ruined! Though who knows, with some sorrell or spinach and shiro miso... ??? Anyway, just throwing that out there for what it's worth.

The only thing I worry about when whizzing up veggies and fruit is oxidation. Once whizzed, there's a huge surface available to be oxidized. As far as I know, an acid such as lemon juice or cider vinegar is what best helps keep the degree of oxidation down. So I think the vinegar in your recipe is valuable for more reasons that just the taste.

Congratulations on opening new doors in ultra-healthy eating. This one has endless possibilities behind it! Thanks!
6 days ago
I found an interesting diagram of a typical Malay house, for instance.
1 week ago
Your climate makes all the difference, careful about importing "permaculture solutions" designed for a different climate.

You are in the hot, wet/dry tropics, so these solutions developed for desert and temperate regions are not appropriate for you.

Thermal mass is not your friend at all in the tropics. The average yearly temperature is warmer than is comfortable. So thermal mass evening out day/night temperature swings just makes it too hot 24/7. A light, elevated house as Brett suggests above, ready to capture all available breeze, with wide verandas all around and hopefully high shade above like palms is probably your ticket. With kick-ass netting of course. And ceiling fans for when the breeze dies down.
1 week ago
Let's not forget Black Soldier Fly larvae. May not do the whole job, but they can make a dent!
1 week ago