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

Well this seems to be a super old thread, but it was linked in the daily email, so....

I will add my bit.

I actually gave away pretty much everything I owned when I was 19. I lived in various places and worked where and when I felt the need. I didn't live without money, but I lived with a small handful of possessions. A few changes of clothes, a kettle, a radio. That was about it. The reason I needed money was for shelter, and for food. And because of this need, my soul did not feel at ease, I didn't want to be part of the rat race, or work 9-5 for the boss.

So when I met someone a few years later, who had bought and renovated an old ruin, and was attempting to grow their own food, I was very interested, and joined them to help with the process. We put in our own water supply and sewage, and we lived without electricity for many years. We worked on the land, and were lucky to have a lot of local stone and slate readily available to build and work with. (this is how I got into permaculture).

But no matter how hard we tried, for many years, we never managed to totally do without money. We lived on very little, but we never lived without any. Tools were the main thing we needed. None of us had any skill with smelting metal, and although I often used pieces of slate, attached to sticks, to hoe with, and other makeshift things, we needed saws, axes and so on, just to cut firewood to keep warm. Now a purist would say, all metal items can be replaced with flint, slate or pottery. And in theory this is true. But not many people in the modern world have the skill to make these things, or even the materials. Candles were another thing we never managed to have enough of, without buying them, even though we had several bee hives, but we could have expanded that. I did learn an amazing amount of skills though. I learned to spin, weave, make baskets, make flour from acorns, bake with the most random ingredients, forage for wild plants, treat basic ailments with herbs, make tinctures and infusions, grow stuff and save seed, take cuttings, make clay from what I dug from the earth, fire pots, work with wood.. the list goes on and on...

So my eventual summary on living without money, is that it is possible, however it is very very hard, and mostly it is hard because we don't have communities of people who are making different things to trade, but it is also hard because we can't run machines without fuel, or create them without metal, and although it is possible to make things with clay, wicker, twine and wool etc, it is super time consuming. Buying machine made things is something we have come to rely on very much in the modern world.

So eventually I opted for making a small living from my art. It is something I love to do, and also something that I managed to get a regular income from, but it doesn't take up all of my time, and I can work on my own timescale, as and when I feel the need. I use my small amount of money to buy things that I can't make, and that I do need.

And now I have quite a lot of things which I now call 'luxuries'. I have to admit, electricity is great, I love being able to read with an electric light, I love the computer/internet, I love my washing machine. Those are the things I missed the most, when we lived more frugally. But the things I miss about those early days, are the peace, it was so deeply peaceful. And also I miss the challenges, every day brought a new challenge, and I found it so invigorating and honestly satisfying to solve each one. And there are a few things that I never went back to, even after having more money again, television, dishwashers, soap, detergent, a car, to name but a few. Because some things we think we need, and we really just don't need them at all.

So I guess my take on this whole 'living without money' thing, is yes.. it is possible, if you want to give up a lot of the modern things we take for granted, mostly those related to electricity. Of course it is possible, because all human beings lived without money a few hundred years ago anyway, and they lived perfectly happily. I would recommend to anyone, who has never tried living with very little, to do it for a week, or a month, or a year, just so they can appreciate what they do have more keenly. But it is certainly not easy, and I would personally recommend that living more frugally, and naturally, is much better than trying to live without money altogether.
1 year ago
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.
2 years 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!
2 years ago
Here is an awesome black and white silent film, showing traditional spinners in New England... its really old... and free to watch.

https://archive.org/details/0972_Art_of_Spinning_and_Weaving_The_01_22_59_19
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
3 years 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

3 years 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.
3 years 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
4 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.
4 years ago