Ella Irati

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since Jun 01, 2017
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Recent posts by Ella Irati

Bryant RedHawk wrote:
Several Native Cultures burned fields after the harvest so the land could be used the next growing season, in these areas there is little evidence of terra preta like soil.

They burn the fields in Spain after the harvest, and the soil is... eroded.
1 year ago

Greg Martin wrote:A forest of trees has been shown to create rain in at least two ways, through deep root systems that pump water up from the depths and transpire it out through their leaves and through using those leaves as a substrate for rain forming bacteria to reside on.  What's not to love about trees!

Wait, wait, rain forming bacteria? RAIN FORMING BACTERIA? Am I dreaming? How many trees are needed for this effect?
1 year ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:

Ella Irati wrote:I heard the plains were man made, with fires, to produce grassland so the bison could thrive.

The North American Prairie was not man-made, but made by a partnership of grass, fire, bison and humans.

Thanks, who do you know? Could you indicate any worthy source?
1 year ago

Bryant RedHawk wrote:Biochar was first discovered by Lieutenant Francisco de Orellana who was under orders from Conquistador Gonzalo Pizarro on an expedition into the Amazon Basin, but he didn't know that he had discovered anything important since Conquistadors were all about the gold and silver.

This is from a paper by Emily Wayne
Oxford University  (Queens College)

surveys have confirmed the correlation
between the situation of the terra preta sites
and the civilizations Orellana described
back in the 16th Century. Furthermore, the
presence of pottery shreds and food and
animal waste in the soils demonstrates that
they are anthropogenic in nature. Through
careful cultivation over many centuries, the
people of the Amazon were able to
compensate for the limitations of their
natural environment, creating a sustainable
agricultural system capable of supporting
possibly millions of inhabitants.

Based on linguistic and ceramic evidence, Donald Lathrap hypothesized in the 1960s
that the confluence of the Amazon, Negro and Madeira River formed the centre of a
vast and advanced civilization spanning from Brazil to the Caribbean. Its rapid decline
has been predominately explained by the Old World diseases brought over by the
Spanish, to which the Amerindians had no immunity.
The rediscovery of this lost civilization is fascinating. Perhaps more surprisingly, so is
terra preta itself: even chemical fertilizers cannot maintain crop yields into a third
consecutive growing season, yet these dark earths have retained their fertility for
centuries. A crop planted on terra preta can produce a yield up to four times greater
than one planted on soil from similar parent material.
Furthermore, as first reported by Wim Sombroek in 1966, the earth seems to increase
in biomass. Local farmers who mine the soil commercially claim that, as long as a
patch of 20 square centimetres is left undisturbed, it can double in size within about 20
years. It is suspected that this phenomenon is caused by a combination of bacterial
and fungal activity, though as yet no firm conclusion has been reached. So what is the
secret behind the soil’s unusually high
The key ingredient, it appears, is carbon.
Terra preta soils contain up to 9 per cent
carbon, compared with 0.5 per cent in
surrounding soils. This is the cause of the
earth’s dark black colouring. The charcoal-like
materials found in terra preta are most likely
to originate from fireplaces used for cooking
and firing clay pots: the patches with the
highest carbon concentrations appear to be
those situated by village refuse sites."

There is work still going on about the best method for using biochar to recreate terra preta.
The particles found in old world sites is finely chopped and the biology found in terra preta is vastly superior to what is found in soil where new biochar has been placed, this is the result of time most likely.
It is also possible that new biochar that is inoculated with both bacteria and fungi would perform in the same way true terra preta does.


Oh, look at that, I thought I found El Dorado and you were here already, ha ha ha ha. So, was the Amazon forest man made?

And more seriously, can I make biochar in one of those european high temperature clean burning fireplaces?
1 year ago

Len Ovens wrote:

Victor Johanson wrote: Now, instead of a "black list" of plants that are prohibited, it is being proposed to institute a "white list" of permitted plants, all else forbidden.

That is just plain scary. It seems there is an agenda to wipe out life in general.

Yup. Yes. Is. Da. Emphatically yes. The monetary profit is the dumb middle man. Yup. There are forces above greed.
1 year ago

Meg Mitchell wrote:I don't know much about the South American landscape but I do know that a lot of the North American landscape was intentionally cultivated. There are many reports of it looking like a magical garden, about how it could somehow provide for the needs of people much better than wild landscapes in Europe, etc. The manner of farming/landscaping that native peoples in Canada practiced was different from the manner practiced in Europe but it was still there and it was still very important. The indigenous people were quite intentionally selecting towards the plants that were edible or otherwise useful and away from those that weren't.

I do think we have to keep in mind that the historical mindset towards intentional cultivation would be different to the modern-day one. Most historical people wouldn't have as much understanding towards what would damage or protect our current ecosystem; but to say that people from this era didn't care about biological continuity seems very unfair. They were doing the best they could do under difficult circumstances, and in most cases they actually did pretty well.

I personally think a big part of permaculture and sustainable living is ensuring that you're not producing more children than you can personally care for. As far as I know, the indigenous people in my area had no issue with that, but nowadays there are an awful lot of non-indigenous people who have kids without really thinking about it. In my life, I see a lot of people having kids that they don't know how to raise without abusing them physically or verbally. Nowadays if you don't know how to have children without causing issues, I think you should wait to have children until you're in an environment where you can trust. It's not that complicated.

Hi Meg, you raise a lot of interesting points. I vaguely heard that this area of New York was plentiful with birds and fish. There is a suspicion that it was not an accident. It was not that it was  naturally occurring abundance as we think of a virgin area that man arrives and depletes its natural riches fist, and then it is necessary to carefully preserve that reflection of brilliance. The land had been invigorated by the people, was not a indigenous person who said that we had to think 7 generations ahead? I head the plains were man made, with fires, to produce grassland so the bison could thrive. This is all I know. But it forms an intriguing concept I can not shake off my head. What else do you know? Are there any sources?

If the indigenous people created the plains, what should we protect, the plains with the bisons or the primordial forests? Or do we agree that if we can plant trees and grow forests, natural forests everywhere and as much as we can, the better? (I am a tree person and my origins are from the mountains so forests do it for me). Preserve means something is dwindling, how about push forward and invigorate?
1 year ago
Hi Chris,

Chris Kott wrote:I think, as mentioned earlier, that technically they would have been practicing elements of what we now call permaculture. I would term theirs, or anything that happened before Mollison coined the term as "proto-permaculture." There wasn't really a baseline, or anything to compare it to.

Yup, what I am trying to communicate is a paradigm change. We no longer see the Amazon jungle as a pristine forest inhabited by small bands of indigenous people that given their small numbers do not damage their ecosystem and basically learn to live in harmony with the jungle they found when they arrived, and to which they adapted.

No no no no no... what the data is suggesting is mind bloggling, the story that the ancient pollen is telling, for the first time, is a song, the song is saying that first, the Amazon had rain and sand, and it was a poor land that naturally had grasses, grasses that had adapted to the poor, unsatisfying terrain, in which torrential rains alternated drought... just like vast areas of East Africa right now, from Ethiopia to Tanzania.

Now, men came to this grassland, and in a few centuries CHANGED the grassland into a PERMANENT JUNGLE. That is big. Lets not give religious reverence to words like "Mollison" or "Permaculture", because if what the pollen is telling is true, permaculture is a very small example of what has been done.

Think of it, if men made the Amazon, do you realize the implications? This goes beyond what a bunch of farmers are dreaming to do here. Lets dream bigger then.

1 year ago

Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Ella, It is always wonderful to see a person arrive at their "AH Ha" moment, no matter what that moment is focusing on. It is especially gratifying to see someone's eyes sparkle with their focus on rejuvenating our earth mother.

Yes, yes, it was an aha moment, a big one! You are very perceptive. I wonder, was it a aha moment or was it really really something the people did there? Because if the Amazon were to be the result of the Native people, not the result of a plan and a vision per se, but the magnificent result of the appropriate cumulative practices, it would be much more than my little armchair farmer aha moment, don't you think?

Bryant RedHawk wrote: Any time we look at the indigenous peoples, of any area, we should study their ways of doing things and learn from them, these ways are developed over thousands of years by observation, trials and the errors are thrown out, keeping only what works best for them.

Yes, yes, Redhawk. Some people in America had achieved an amazing atunement with nature, and a way of life that was very harmonious and happy (not all, not all, not all, but some).

Bryant RedHawk wrote: Too bad that "modern" man only follows the paths of the European style mind set, where artificial production of food is thought to be the best method instead of working with nature this mind set is always fighting nature, that makes it a loosing battle, all the time.

Always fighting nature, yes, that was my impression too. That didn't agree with me. I guess I searched and observed and one time I read something about apple trees, that a Japanese man had observed that the apples were all sick because the transplanted trees main root was damaged and the visible part because disorganized, apples in the shade got moldy and pesticides were applied... while the apple tree from seed was as beautifully organized above earth than bellow, and I was hooked.

Now I have a few acres and I think and think about what to do with it, but I got the bug, and am looking at a little piece of desert to do water play. How much terrain is need to affect the microclimate on an area?

1 year ago

Borislav Iliev wrote:Hi Ella

Yes for sure looking after every species the way nature intended cant be wrong, after all every species exist exactly because it is doing something very specific in the best way there is, so thats what is earning its
Here people have planted a lot the horse chestnut, as a decoration tree, you can see it all over the city, the trouble is in the end of summer its leafs are all sick and dead, it is some disease, but in some places  it is not the case, the difference is that they are being provided some water.
It is exactly like humans, bad nutrition, stress, lack of other essential things will rise the chance  for developing or catching any disease there is.
Planting trees from seeds is really the long term solution of problems, I understand well I may not benefit from it myself, for me the end product of raising plants(the food) is not the most important thing, otherwise using grafted varieties and poison makes the most sense(its how most people see it).

Hi Borislav,

Thank you for answering, I am enjoying our conversation because I like your thinking and your observations of the natural world around you. My little cold water aquarium with no filter nor oxygen pump is doing very well, the white film on top is diminishing thanks to your advice of giving it more light. I am really pleased that the sand itself is becoming the bacteria's home and I will not need the matala net I put at the bottom to hold bacteria. My original idea was to figure out how to naturally hold water inside the ground like Zephaniah Phiri did in his piece of desert and eroded land.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXLD0akTmrI
I am obsessed with water, that is why I am looking into very cheap pieces of land in the South of Spain, so I can convert a piece of desert into... I do not know yet. This is my big project in the making.

That you are obssesed with chestnuts is fascinating to me. My mother remembered eating roasted chestnuts as a little girl, and 500 year old chestnuts in the area tell me that in spite of the Roman´s wheat introduction, in the harsh cold mountains, the original diet of mu people was meat and milk, of course, but for carbohydrates that stored over the winter, it had to be chestnut, introduced maybe 5000 years before, that substituted the oldest staple, that had to be beechnut, which I suspect was loosely cultivated or promoted by the people and acorns, which I now suspect where promoted too. I am beginning to suspect that the beech and oak forests we enjoy now are not as pristine and primordial a we thought. Traditional fields for cows or sheep have one oak in the middle that gave shade in the summer, and probably more grass and acorns in the fall... Now, can to the chestnuts, I would love to know what about chestnuts obsess you, types of chestnuts etc.

Another topic you mention that interests me intensely is the issue of planting trees from seeds, which takes so long, but also transplanting older trees, which can shorten the wait for an impatient late come gardener like me. I see that in the local paper they sell old date palms and old olive trees, and I wonder about it, if I get a few older trees I could get an insta-garden, with shade.

1 year ago