Rarna Vanda

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since Mar 27, 2016
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cat forest garden trees
South Wales UK
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Recent posts by Rarna Vanda

Probably not so easy to do, because it would need to be fired, but I would think the best type would be of clay. Make the inside shiny with a glaze, and the outside rough like bricks. Ever felt a red brick wall that has been in the sun? They get super hot. So that would certainly warm up your clay oven. I'm not sure how you would manage the reflective part on the top, but perhaps that could be made with just a metal sheet, or foil on card, without any styrofoam.
6 months ago
Very useful and comprehensive list, thank you. I never knew Monstera Cheese Plant was poisonous!

Another thing to think of when growing your own food, that I only found out recently, is that some plants just suck up toxins. For improving the soil this is a great feature, but if you are going to eat the plants, you must be sure to grow them in soil that has no toxins in it.

Sunflowers and Tomatos are two of the best toxin suckers.

So if you need to remove toxins from the soil, you can grow tomatos or sunflowers on the soil, then destroy the plants. But if you are eating lots of homegrown tomatos make sure to grow them in good soil!
8 months ago
Here is an awesome black and white silent film, showing traditional spinners in New England... its really old... and free to watch.

Old traditional methods of building roads are less toxic, but unfortunately it is the toxic nature of asphalt that makes it work better for roads. It stops plants from growing, because it is toxic, so the road surface does not get broken down by roots, and covered over with grass.

If you want to do something less toxic, it will not be as long lasting.

In Wales, the traditional way to build roads, was by firstly putting down large rock, then smaller rock, these were both for drainage, and stability. Then they would literally build a wall on the ground, out of stone. Called cobblestones. It is a very labour intensive job and you need a lot of readily available stone, of good quality, with at least one flat side to it. So it is not easy for most people to do. It is like the modern brick paving, but with rocks. After putting down cobbles, they would sometimes add crushed stone, which was always the most toxic stone they could find, to keep plants from growing on it. This was only suitable on flatter areas, where the crushed stone would not wash away. On steep roads, the cobbles would be left bare, but obviously would then get grass growing in between them, and need clearing every year. Traditionally this clearing was done by a team of men with hoes. Modern version is a council worker with a canister of weedkiller, but either way, it has to be cleared if you use non-toxic materials. Or you will end up with an unstable road, full of muddy puddles. Certainly this is better for nature, and for permaculture principles, but not so good if you need to drive on it lol
1 year ago
Animals are great, but trees are the best.. at most things really...

Any type of tree you can grow or plant, that will survive in your current soil, will help your future soil. Trees are the absolute best to both break down the underlying rock, and also dump heaps of potential soil on the ground each year, when they drop their leaves in the fall. Those leaves are soil, in potential, once the frost, worms and so on get to them, they will create lovely soil wherever they fall. Certainly do not cut down any trees you currently have, but let them shed, and build up your soil. Trees help with moisture balance in your soil and surrounding area too.

I'm in Wales UK, and we live up on a mountainside, which was ex-industrial. Lots of old mining and quarrying, and some recent industry too, so our soil was as you can imagine.. awful. We did two areas, one which we planted with stuff ourselves, and another area that we just left to nature. The natural area built up soil much more quickly. And I think a lot of lessons can be learned from this.

Nature starts with very hardy plants, like thorny plants, and trees that can grow on rock. Here in Wales that means birch and gorse. Both of these plants grow quite quickly, even in the poorest of soils, and shed a lot of biomass each year. They also have very threadlike roots that quickly become thicker, so they break down the rock, as well as building up the soil layer on the top. Literally in a couple of years the soil was improved, and in 5 years all sorts of plants were flourishing on it. Of course in order to use this land, we now have to clear the trees and bushes, which is not an easy job in itself. But it certainly was an easy way to build up soil..watch and wait and enjoy the sun

If you wanted to speed up this process, then you could plant young trees, whichever ones in your area, naturally grow on rocky or poor soil. If you don't want to buy them, then just go to a wild place where they grow, and dig up a few 'babies'. They will not all survive in their natural spots, as nature always grows more than needed to allow for those that die, or get overcrowded, so think of it like adoption, that will help them have a better life

1 year ago
What a wonderful read, thank you everyone.

As a general rule...

Long thick fibres  ...  Use for string or rope
Long thin fibres   ...  Use for thread to weave with.
Short fibres        ...   Use for making paper.

I know that wood ash can be used to soften and break down fibres, if they are too long and coarse then try this. Also boiling can loosen and break down fibres. These techniques can break your fibre length though, so for keeping them long, use a rolling pin, or big smooth stick to beat the fibres along their length.

The ideal fibre for making really lovely cloth, is one that can be spun very thin. The thinner the better. If you find that your spun fibres are so thin that they are weak, then you can coat them in starch, from boiled rice or potatoes. Traditionally the starch is brushed onto the fibres after they are strung out for weaving, and warmth is used beneath the fibres to allow the starch to seep into the fibres. This starch coating gives the fibres strength and also an almost shiny surface, when woven.

If you want really strong thread, for leather-work or waterproof thread, then run your spun fibres thread over a block of beeswax to wax coat it.
1 year ago
The title of this thread is very good, and yes, personally I am all for diversity in permaculture, of thoughts, of knowledge, of personality and so on.

I see that the debate here, is how can we have diversity when there is a right and a wrong way of doing a thing? Well, in terms of building something safely, there can be very little diversity, if you put a heavy roof on spindly timbers then you will wake up buried, if you wake up at all, so in that sense we cannot have diversity of building. There is a safe way, and an unsafe way. I'm sure we would all agree too, that diversity is not good if we talk about using tonnes of chemicals on our plants, this is also a type of diversity that we would wish to exclude.

But I think the title of this thread, was meant to encourage acceptance of diversity in good ways, not to include obviously bad situations in the name of being all-inclusive.

Diversity is good, when it is applied to finding a place for all to flourish, and I think that the principles of companion planting can be applied to people too. Some people are good for each other, put them together and they will flourish. Some people do not do well with certain other types of people, and so they should be in other circles. In permaculture terms, this does not mean that our garden has to exclude any plants, only that we need to be careful in our design. And so too with people, there are no types of people who should be excluded, but people need to find, or be shown, where they do fit in, and where they can flourish.

As for the unfortunate side effect of confidence, which is apparent arrogance, there is only one solution for this, which is learning humility, and that takes a lot of years. But we do need confident people, even if they can seem confrontational, and if we give them time, and the right situation, they will grow and flourish too
2 years ago
Thank you for sharing this video, I really enjoyed it, so very inspiring.

I used to sell tree seedlings, which I did not grow from seeds, but I cleared a patch of ground one year, and as there was so much to do, where I was living, I did not get around to using that patch, until later the following year. I will explain that the patch was in a canyon, the rough walls of the canyon were thick with young birch trees, clinging into the rocks. When I went to look at the patch, it was covered in tiny birch seedlings, each with around 6 or 7 leaves, and growing at a density of about one sapling per cm, so far too dense for them all to survive. The entire patch would only have been enough space to contain one fully grown birch, and yet here were nearly 200 seedlings. So I carefully moved them, one at a time. Some I sold, so that they would have a good home with someone, in a garden somewhere. And others I transplanted to spaces where they would be able to grow.

Certainly my little venture was not as inspiring as 'The man who grew trees', but for me, it was a wonderful example of the bounty of nature, and a rewarding endeavor too.
2 years ago
Well done for making the effort to get some seriously good food into your family's diet.

Swapping out the wheat...

Acorn nut and flour

I have tried this myself, although I do not use acorn flour on a regular basis, it is great to do on the odd occasion when you have plenty of time, soak acorns in fresh water, preferably for 24 hours, change water every few hours, (obviously not needed overnight as you would be sleeping!). When water is clear then you are done. This leaches out all the tannin which can otherwise be harmful and very bitter tasting. Once acorns are leached, then dry them off, and roast them in a low oven. This may take an hour or two, do not let them go black. Once cooked then shell them. You can shell them before cooking, but I find it is easier to get the shells off afterwards. Put the shells in compost bin, then use the central part of the acorn. Grind it up, blender or pestle and mortar are both fine, or use whatever method you find easiest. Even wrapping them in a tea-towel and bashing them with a rolling pin works haha. The desired consistency for your finished product is small nutty chunks, if you want to use them to flavor food, in place of other nuts. They can also be used in place of peanuts for peanut acorn butter. The desired consistency if you want to use them as flour is more milled, so use the pestle and mortar on the chunky bits, and grind them right down. Then use as you would normally use wheat flour. Personally when I am making bread with acorns, I tend to use wheat flour and acorn flour half and half, and toss in the smaller chunks of acorns, aswell as the more ground down floury stuff, this makes a lovely nutty loaf. But if you want 100% perennial crops, or have allergy to wheat products, then 100% acorn flour is great to use, as long as you have done the leaching process to remove the tannin.

One oak tree can give a huge harvest every year, literally thousands of pounds from a mature oak, if you can beat the squirrels to them. But if you are going to plant your own oak, then remember 2 things...

1. Obviously they do grow very slowly, but can live for hundreds of years, and you will not get much of a crop for at least 5 years, 10 years before you have an actual tree sized oak.

2. Oaks come up as male and female trees. So if you are planting oaks, it is a good idea to plant more than one, and also not all females produce a lot of acorns. Traditionally many oaks were planted, and then the best croppers and a couple of the largest males were left to grow, the rest thinned out for timber. However they do not need to be planted very close together to pollinate each other, an oak at one end of a football field can easily pollinate an oak at the opposite end of the field.

Having brought up 4 children, I can also say that no matter what you put on the table, at least one of them will make some fuss about it, but remain firm, remember you are helping them to be more healthy, which is a very important task, and don't just throw out every recipe that they turn their nose up to, try it a few times and they will get used to it, and grow to love it
2 years ago