Jeremy R. Campbell

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since Oct 02, 2017
Jeremy R. likes ...
Technologist and jr. Permaculturist
Midwest USA
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Recent posts by Jeremy R. Campbell

I've recently come across the concept of "Grape Girdling", which is apparently a common grape growing practice that increases table grape size and quality.  I'm interested in the groups thoughts on this practice, and in general the process of producing good quality table grapes.

Trunk girdling is the removal of a thin strip of bark all the way around the trunk. It is done each year on an area of the trunk or cordons that was not girdled in previous years. The practice temporarily disrupts the downward flow of carbohydrates and hormones through the phloem (inner bark) and, when timed properly, increases the berry size of most seedless table grape varieties. It can make berries about 10 to 30 percent larger when done correctly.


The practice of girdling removes the bark, phloem and cambium from around the trunk or cane...Removal of these tissues prevents the translocation of carbohydrates to the root system thus making more available for fruit growth until the girdle heals....


I've searched the forums and not found anything on this topic, so I wanted to open discussion on it.  

Does anyone here do this, and have positive or negative results?  
What would keep you from doing this, given its potential benefits?
Does anyone here have experience producing large quality grapes without this method, and if so what do you think contributes to this success?

More about my situation, for any other suggestions/feedback:

I'm on year 2 of my own grape growing education and learning a lot.  

I have about 30 clusters per vine, even after thinning over 75% of the clusters, on my Concord and Catawba vines.  They are quite vigorous.  

I've had less luck on my Marquis due to puppy bite, and on my Reliance due to the original nursery tag constricting the main vine and going unnoticed until a few weeks ago.  I'm expecting next year they will all be very well established.  

Perhaps I should have thinned more or all of the grapes being only their 2nd year, but I'm not that disciplined.

I have a good bilateral cordon system going, and the plants seem healthy.

My Concords are starting to ripen and I expect I may begin to harvest .  They're small compared to the grapes we buy in the store.

In general, my goals are simply to feed my household of 8 with as much as I can from my urban backyard.
1 week ago
Nathanael, keep up the good work and thanks for the updates!


Besides, many of our Western initiatives have VERY little benefit. You mention the 'zero defecation in open air' campaign. I have to confess, I'm a sceptic. The alternative to defecation out in the bush is defecation in a latrine. Have you been in one? There's urine all over the ground you have to walk in, and if you shine a flashlight down the hole the blackwater glistens with fly and roach larva. Because the place stays wet the diseases stay alive and are carried by every fly and roach that goes in and out of there--not to mention on my own feet as I leave the place! African latrines are an unmitigated disaster. And think of the lost nutrient! All of that manure that used to be placed in the surrounding fields through open-air defecation (and somewhat sterilized with intense UV rays) now gets encapsulated in a pit, often times lined with brick and ciment.

I want to make sure my primary point about CLTS wasn't missed, because I'm not qualified to try to justify the implementation or results of the work and that wasn't what I was trying to do.  What was most impressive to me about the CLTS is how it was seemingly able to do what many in this thread have bemoaned as insurmountable, and that you touch on in your response:

it is unrealistic, exhausting and condescending to tell local people to live differently than they want to.

I really wasn't intending to open a debate about the effectiveness of the solution provided by CLTS (less than effective wasteful latrines) or even a debate about the outcomes of those latrines vs. open air defecation.  That would require consideration of different context (eg, village of 500 vs 20,000... Time of year...) and would also require data that I simply don't have beyond anecdotes (eg, studies showing results of disease/infection reduction).  I think it would also require consideration that improvement is incremental, but seeing the need for improvement may be the hardest part at times.

What's interesting to me about CLTS is that they did what is so hard; they lead communities towards recognizing the way they were living isn't ideal, what that they had otherwise accepted as normal, and led them to consider improvements that would be beneficial them.  And their methodology in how they did this on a broad scale across thousands of communities was what was so interesting to me.  

Isn't this what the permaculture community seeks to do in influencing toward sustainable/regenerative growing practices?

I think there is potential inspiration in the CLTS methodology to consider in advocating permacultural principles on a broad scale.

1 month ago
I'm very excited to have found your thread, I've spent hours pouring over it today.  Unfortunately I don't think I have very much permaculture wisdom to impart that hasn't already been passed on, but permaculture application in Chad is something that has been on my mind and heart for years and is even what had originally inspired me to dig into permaculture in my home in the midwest USA starting ~5 years ago.  

I've spent a decent amount of time in Chad over the last several years, and have dear friends in Chad, multiple families, who have been living in the country for nearly a decade.  The challenges are so real.  My heart hurt with every familiar challenge you described, that is such a struggle to relay to other well-intention poster who hasn't experienced it.  The nomadic tribes and roaming livestock, the views on ownership, the termites, the dryness!  I laugh at our aversion to bare soil, if only!  All of my time spent in Chad (Mostly in Salamat) was in the April/May, so I only got to see the dryest hottest portions time of the year and never got to see the rainy season.

We understand permaculture as a system, and it's the challenges you face that show just how far that system extends beyond just the boundaries of your plot that lead to successful harvest.  Societal, cultural, infrastructure, spiritual.  I'm reminded how much we in developed nations and western cultures take for granted in the systems we enjoy that support our efforts.

I'm so excited to hear about and keep up with and support you in your efforts.

It was my visits to Chad and seeing the struggles there specifically that have inspired me to try to create digital technologies / web based tools to help enable better sharing of information and technique related to regenerative/sustainable agriculture for regional/climate specific challenges.  This forum is great, but there is a wealth of articles/blogs/scientific literature that is probably applicable as well, and nothing to structure it for your needs.  I want to structure it and make it available to the millions coming online via smartphones every year.  I see so much opportunity for better connection of existing resources and information to those in challenging climates to be connected with others who are experimenting and have solved problems they're facing.  

I'm burdened for Chad and other developing nations and their agricultural practices.  The practices that are going to receive funding, training, resources, be it via NGO support, local government, World Bank / WHO funding, or commercially, are going to all be based on industrial practices where there is commercial interest or mainstream commercial agricultural support.  Indigenous and sustainable practices will be lost.  What I saw in Chad was a history of misuse, mis-application, and destructive practices that we've even already learned from in the 'western' world but those mistakes we've made and learned from have not been caught up on.  I never got a picture, but if you could find some of the large scale 'agricultural fields' in Chad during the dry season and post it here, the vastness of the dry cracked nothingness extending for miles, it is astonishing.

One of the families I spent time with spent a lot of time learning, experimenting, and trying to grow and be fruitful and I tried to assist with ideas/inspiration as I could, though I certainly didn't have as good of advice as the masses on this forum.   That family was successful with raising rabbits, banana circles, and several trees in their limited/typical sized lot in Am Timan.  Malabar Spinach was a favorite I don't think I've seen mentioned yet. Chickens were great to combat the scorpions and other pests.  Their brick-stone wall surrounding their plot was instrumental in their ability to create a good microclimate for living, growing.  It protected from the roaming livestock and wind.  With eventual shade from trees, and walls to keep the cool air in moisture in, it made a tremendous difference.  It was culturally acceptable for them, it was standard in their location.  Everyone had one.  It would seem like that should be a high priority for you, though I know you have a sizable lot.

One of the tools I've created helps you find your climate analogue.  It takes the city you input, considers its Köppen-Geiger climate classification as well as your elevation and latitude, and looks for other cities in the world with similarities.  Learning these cities can help you expand your research base.  There are probably not a lot resources written for Boudamasa, but there are a good number of other cities around the world that have similar characteristics that might help you learn other ideas/techniques/inspiration.

Here are the analogues for Boudamasa:

There are cities (some quite large, >1million in population) in Nigeria, Venezuela, Columbia, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Peru, Ethiopia, Brazil, Curaçao, Cameroon, Angola, CAR, and Samolia with similar characteristics. This tool doesn't verify an exact match, eg their wet/dry seasons may be different than yours, but they might enable more research possibilities.

I hope you can take a respite at Zakouma at some point.  You should consider it important for your native wildlife and plant life, and permaculture related studies and observations.

Finally, if you've never heard of CLTS (Community Lead Total Sanitation), I'd recommend you check it out.  My friends in Chad were involved with this program for a brief time, in seeking to help eliminate open deification in some of the communities they served.  I believe, though I have never validated or developed this idea, that some of the principles in this approach could be powerful and/or helpful in considering ways to introduce helpful change and support in the community for some of the things you may be looking to implement.  

A good book that briefly covers the CLTS approach, and a book I recommend for ANYONE that seeks to influence, is "The Power of Moments" by Chip and Dan Heath.  Fascinating book, and good brief coverage of CLTS, and speaks to why I think this methodology may have merit to your situation.

I wish you the best and hope to hear more from you as the years go on.  If you have a blog or ministry email list I'd love to be added.  I can connect you with some tremendous people in NDJ, hopefully you are already well-connected and supported 'locally'.

1 month ago
My currently 3 year old spent his first year hanging out with me outside in an exersauser.

He loved it.  I would move him throughout the day to keep him near me and in the shade. These days he can’t get enough outside time with me even when his older siblings are inside getting the rare movie treat.
1 month ago
Thanks for the replies/input/ideas!  Here are some responses:

that would be helpful, question would it be set up to put in either zones or zipcodes?

Good question.  I've gone down the route of using city/towns as the 'anchor' point for climate data, planning, etc.  And then used the Köppen-Geiger climate classification to group similar climates across 29 unique climate characteristics.  (eg, tropical Savannah, cold with hot summers, etc).  I've stayed away from USDA hardiness zones and Zipcodes since those are not ubiquitous across the globe, and it is a priority to me to make a resource that has global applicability.

I was very impressed!  And particularly fascinated to learn the other places in the world with similar climate!

Thanks!  This is foundational to the tool I seek to build.  I want to learn helpful, regenerative, sustainable growing practices, specific and applicable to my climate, and learned from practitioners around the globe.  

I've been troubled when I visit developing countries and see them abandon their traditional and sustainable agricultural practices for 'western' industrial methods that are destructive to their natural resources.  These people are only a smartphone away if we can provide and structure the tools for them to learn and share sustainable practices.

I'm not sure this current tool is the solution to that problem, but it's an experiment that hopefully leads to better tools.

Agreed, the climate analogue is a potentially great feature.  It would be very interesting to see that  output plotted as a global map.  Not sure how hard that would be to do.  Imagine if you could turn on and off variables like temperatures, rain, frost dates.  Just dreaming here a little about how to find our global doppelganger sites.

Thanks for the suggestion!  This would be an interesting visual.  I'll give it some thought on what it would take to accomplish this.  I am trying get climate classification data into practitioner hands, and it will be very interesting to hear what people do with it.

I'm trying to create something to help people grow better, and using sustainable/regenerative methods.  I'd appreciate feedback on my creation:

Target beneficiaries:
- New growers, who don't know what to do or when to do it.
- Intermediate growers, who sometimes forget or don't know about some helpful things they could do.  (this is me!)

Books/Blogs/Videos/et al are all great, but they're often too generic, or too technical, when it comes to timing and climate consideration, requiring the reader to adjust/translate for themselves.  A new gardener in a dry climate may not know how to discern what may not apply to them that was targeted to a wetter climate.

I appreciate any feedback.
Thanks everyone for the feedback and ideas.

I've taken your input and tried to summarize it across 17 distinct 'values' that describe ones priorities in selecting what to grow.  See attached.

Why do you grow what you grow?

How does that differ across different types of growers?  I made 4 general classifications:  "City Grower", "Hobby Farmer", "CSA Grower", "Industrial Grower", and tried to balance priorities appropriately for each type (0 meaning no importance, 3 being critical importance).

This, to me, illustrates why we grow, and why we don't completely delegate our food supply needs to industrial growers and modern day food distribution systems as is standard in the most 'industrialized' civilizations.


3 months ago
I've got new creation I'd appreciate some input on.

I'm creating a tool that will provide location-specific growing related tasks.  It will provide location-specific timing, based on worldwide climate data I've compiled.

Right now I only have Kansas City, MO, USA tasks generated.  You can take it for a spin here.

(Note that that page is 'hidden' while I work on it; you can't get to it via site navigation.  Also it's a work in progress, lots of tuning and editing still needs to be done.)

Target users would be for new/beginner growers who are looking for high-level direction on what they can do now, or intermediate growers who need some ideas or inspiration.  As a personal example, I've forgotten to order and plant garlic at the right time for about 3 years straight, though I'd love to have a garlic crop.

It's pretty simple right now, but it's a foundation I want to build other helpful capabilities into.  For example, potentially additional collaboration, resource sharing, both regionally, and/or climate classification based.

One thing to note is that my current method of task timing calculation is based on the average frost dates.  That only works for climates that have freezing weather, and doesn't take into account growing seasons that are based on seasons of precipitation. I'm going to have to work through this to apply to those types of locations.

I'd appreciate any thoughts/input on this.  Overall approach?  Usefulness?  Additional tasks to add?  Etc.

3 months ago

Jondo Almondo wrote:To anyone making or using an app, it's worth noting that most companion planting schemes are somewhat region specific.
Very few companion planting traditions from the northern hemisphere work in the southern hemisphere - this has prompted us southerners to write our own books (J. French) and disregard all the traditional matchings.

That is an interesting concept, I’d be curious to understand this better?  At first glance it would seem to me that companions would work regardless of the hemisphere.  Three sisters is three sisters.  Maybe there are region/local-specific varieties or even different crops entirely being grown, or dealing with different pests.  That would make sense.

I couldn’t find the book you were referring to by a J. French, could you give me a little more direction on that?

4 months ago
I'm always interested in the Why.  Why do we grow what we grow?  I've been thinking about the differences in priorities people have in their food growing efforts.  I'd appreciate this communities input/ideas in helping me mature this thought process.

How do the priorities of a industrial farmer differ from a small home veggie gardener or other growers (eg, small/hobby farmers, csa farmers, subsistence farmers, others?) in the selection of what to grow and how to grow it?  

All are growing food, but what are the different priorities behind their food growing efforts, that will affect their selection as well as methods and approach to the process of growing food?

Here are some of the factors that I think would come into the decision making of an individual deciding what and how to grow...

- Mechanized harvest-ability
- Uniformity of product ripening/timing (Related to mechanized harvest-ability)
- Productivity / Output per space used
- Shelf-life of product
- Ability to transport product without waste, eg, distribution to consumer.  (Related to shelf-life)
- Quality of micro-nutritional content, vs macro-nutritional content (Mass/Calories)
- Desire for Variety vs. Staple
- Quality of Flavor of product
- Disease and Pest resistance / reliability of production / need for interventions
- Distributor and Consumer demand for product, vs personal demand
- Dollar value of product, either in selling product, or reducing household expense

Anything to add?  Any other thoughts, or recommendations on resources/articles/books that address this concept?

What would be your top 5 priorities from this list as you grow?  (And what type of grower are you?)

4 months ago