George Bastion

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since Feb 25, 2019
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Recent posts by George Bastion

Functional Analysis of a PawPaw Tree (Kudos to Clemson and North Carolina State extension articles, which provided much of this info)

Intrinsic Characteristics

1. Trees started from seed will produce fruit in 5-8 years, and grafted cuttings can produce fruit in as little as 3-4 years.

2. 20’ tall and less broad at full maturity

3. 5-10 feet spacing; closer for thicket to mimic natural conditions, further for separate trees.

4. Requires other cultivars present to bear fruit. Plant in groups with at least 3 different varieties.

5. Grow best in fertile, well-drained, slightly acidic soil (pH 5.5-7). Thrives in river bottoms.


1. Water. Plan to provide ample water to pawpaw trees, especially during the establishment year, either manually, or as a byproduct of site.

2. Training. To train the tree to grow as a single stem, remove suckers that sprout during the early years. Or, leave suckers on the tree to train the tree as a hedge or screen plant.

3. Shade. Young trees are very sensitive to sunlight and should be kept shaded until they are at least 1.5 feet tall. Can get full sun in mature years.


1. Highly nutritious fruit. Skin and seeds of fruit not edible.

2. Leaves, bark, and twigs produce anti-cancer and insecticidal compounds called acetogenins. Lab tests have show effectiveness against certain cancer cells. Can be used to create tonic.

3. Bark is very fibrous and good for cordage and rope, while wood is light and good for carving – flutes, spoons, etc.

Comments/More Specific Observations: The best time to plant pawpaws is while the tree is not actively growing- early spring or fall. the taproot is easily damaged during transplanting, which will often result in tree death. As a result, saplings grown in containers have a higher transplant survival rate. You can collect wild fruit, save the seed, and start saplings from these seeds. To save pawpaw seeds, collect ripe fruit, remove all pulp from the seed, and place in a cold, moist spot for 90-120 days. Do not let the seeds dry out before planting.

To mimic the understory conditions that the pawpaw needs for its establishment years you could plant on the north side of a fence where the pawpaw will be shaded while its young but receive full sunlight as it matures and grows above the fence line. Another option is to establish a quick growing nitrogen fixing tree or shrub on the south side of where you plan on planting your pawpaw. Get this tree established the year before so it can provide adequate shade for your newly planted pawpaw tree. Choosing nitrogen-fixing species gives you a quick growing tree that will properly shade your pawpaw as well as providing fertility for the tree. The shade tree can then be cut down a few years later once your paw paw is established and the danger of sunburnt leaves and shoots is no longer a threat. A third option is to plant quick growing annual legumes on the south side of the pawpaw while also building a simple bean or pea trellis over the top of the paw paw to provide quick shade, nitrogen fixation, as well as a crop from your leguminous shade-giving plants as you wait for your pawpaws to mature. Also, planting in a site that is as humid as possible is ideal for the pawpaw.

Fruit is extremely perishable and is amazingly delicious when it is perfectly ripe. It can be used much like you would use a banana. For longer-term storage you can freeze the fruit and make ice cream out of it.

Requires pollination, mostly by flies. Flower smells somewhat like rotting flesh to attract these creatures. A way to mimic these conditions is to put rotting meat near paw-paws to attract the pollinators.

1 month ago
EDIT: My post is describing why it's not so simple as those who chose and who do not. I'm not offering my opinion either way.

Because babies, people with auto-immune conditions, and other sub-populations cannot get vaccinated - sometimes temporarily and sometimes permanently due to medical conditions.

Those people are put into greater risk and harm, not because they chose to not get vaccinated, but because they could not. An otherwise healthy individual who does not get vaccinated can get the disease and pass it on to one of these vulnerable individuals, who are now infected because of the choices of said otherwise healthy individual.

It;s a messy topic because it isn't just about those who chose and those who do not. There are those who can not choose, and who are put at greater risk by others' choices.
2 months ago
Respectfully, I don't think I unilaterally declared that anyone should do anything. I asked if we, collectively, should decide for ourselves if we should us certain words. There's a difference in saying "you should" and asking "should we." I also never said anyone was understanding the word wrong. I pointed out how I understood and asked others how they felt, and affirmed their agency in choosing to use the words in question if they wish.

I don't think this justifies implying I am declaring from on high what folks should do, or that I am not being nice. If I am wrong, and my conduct is inappropriate, I am open to hearing about how I am wrong and having a discussion. If I am correct in my understanding of my own conduct, and this discussion makes anyone uncomfortable for other reasons, well, I have no control over that. Absent any personal attack, If a person is offended when someone expresses their opinion that these words evoke an ongoing legacy of indigenous genocide and abuse of land, then it is their responsibility, not mine, to examine why those feelings emerge.

I'll emphasize again that I am only proposing that those of us who feel this way and are interested in it come up with new ways of communicating our choices and lifestyles differently. Those who want to keep using these words are free to do so.

I like the idea of creating a more descriptive word. Something that explicitly applied to permaculture applied in the way we are discussing. Something that captures the small scale, long-term, and place-based nature of this kind of lifestyle. And infuses a sense of community into the description.

I was thinking about combining permaculture and villager, but then I got pillager lol.
2 months ago
And you should be able to call yourself a homesteader if you like Su.
2 months ago
In Urbanization without Cities, Murray Bookchin spent a lot of time tracing the development of cities and urbanization from an anthropological perspective, and the benefits they've had for humans.

Before cities, the concept of multiple ethnic and tribal groups living at relative peace within the same space, and ultimately identifying with their geographic community across religious, ethnic, and racial lines may not have developed. Cities were a natural stepping stone to breaking out of more parochial ways of thinking about human relationships and developing a concept of common humanity.

He also traced how cities have evolved into mega-cities or metropolises, how the civic ties of the city have given way to the centralized bureaucracy and impersonal scale of the metropolis.

But there is no reason cities cannot be re-imagined to be part of a sustainable, ecological society. Rural and urban do not have to be in tension. both can be different life-ways working to achieve the same goal - ecological, regenerative systems and the provision of human needs as part of this. It's a matter of returning to a human scale, or taking back direct control of the cities we live in, and re-imagining the relationship between cities and countryside. The countryside is often treated as the breadbasket for the city, a resource to be extracted for urban dwellers. Conversely, the city is often treated as the problem by country folk, who blame the city itself for this dynamic rather than the underlying logic on which cities are built. Change the logic, change the city.

Havana, Cuba grows most the food its people produce within the city. There are ways of bringing both country living and urban life into the fold of regenerative permaculture.
2 months ago
Words are immensely important. When you die, your words will remain. Your words and how people understand them shape their thoughts of you and everything or everyone you are associated with.

Also, I am not suggesting self-identified homesteaders be pushed out or persecuted in any way, so no need to call for them to be left alone.

I am proposing that those of us who are concerned with the historical baggage around terms like pioneer and homesteader come up with a new way of talking about who we are and what we do. I want to be able to talk about my goals and activities typically called "homesteading" without invoking the legacies of the indigenous genocide that continues today, which I and many other associate with those words.  
2 months ago
Thanks everyone. A lot of good fodder for thought.

I definitely agree that homesteading doesn't mean the same thing today as it did when the term originally was popularized in the U.S. But I also agree words have history and meaning - and the point of this thread is to consider whether these are the best words to describe what we in the permaculture community are doing when we do things typically considered "homesteading." Personally, I see no reason why a word can't be chosen that doesn't have the same historical baggage or murky legacy.

Permasteader actually sounds pretty good to me as a descriptor for permaculture applied on a small scale, long-term basis, primarily for the purposes of local-sufficiency. Emphasizing local sufficiency, rather than self-sufficiency could also differentiate the two, since I think community is an important component of permaculture.

Which leads me to say I agree Michael - that's partially why I recoil at the word homesteading. The Wikipedia page for homesteading says "Pursued in different ways around the world—and in different historical eras—homesteading is generally differentiated from rural village or commune living by isolation (either socially or physically) of the homestead. " Now, Wiki isn't some super authoritative source, but I think this reinforces what you are saying. Homesteading, as opposed to, say, village living, is an attempt at so-called self-sufficiency - building independence from others. But village or communal living is about building community interdependence and resiliency, which includes meeting the needs of the self, but extends beyond that.

Maybe instead of redefining homesteading, permasteading can apply to the same sort of life-style but done in the context of community resiliency, not self-sufficiency, and specifically practicing permaculture. Not all homesteaders are permaculturists after all.

2 months ago
Thanks Su. I appreciate your telling of your experience.

I guess my concern is less with the "mode" of homesteading - how it actually works as you described in the here and now, than I am with the language and confronting the legacy. We can't undo the past nor just magically exist within a world where indigenous, commonly managed lands are not broken up and dolled out to individuals.

How is it possible that you, or I, or anyone can buy a piece of land in the U.S.? Because this common land was broken up through suppression of indigenous peoples and given to settlers who were willing to populate a place. Then, it was sold, traded, etc.

I guess I just worry the over-fascination with the terms and romanticization of the "pioneer" or "homestead" lifestyles obscures this legacy. I would much rather use language that focuses on healing and reconciliation with indigenous communities, rather than language which draws from and replicates the logic of that which destroyed their life ways.

EDIT to Response:

Hi Greg. I would say permaculturist is just fine. But in the context of what homesteading is, specifically, maybe land partner, or something like that? Sounds weird though. Still thinking it through.
2 months ago
I don't think mold killed the hive - like others are saying. They usually keep up with mold pretty well, if healthy.

I lost all my hives this winter.

It is hard to know what exactly happens with dead hives. Sometimes you can see things that give it away - lots of dead bees at the entrace and chewed up wax may indicate robbing by yellow jackets or others bees; the state of brood cells may indicate different types of diseases; and no honey in the hive with no signs of robbing may indicate starvation.

But in reality it always seems more messy. Often I've observed a dead hive having struggled with multiple things - yellow jackets, maybe I saw some small hive beetles, but the bees were dead in a cluster - did they freeze? - all of these are possible. Unless the cause is obvious, it's sometimes really hard to tell, and can honestly be a combination of several factors.

Unless you can readily tell what happened, all you can really do is note what you've seen for later and try again. Better to learn what you can, try again, and compare notes if you continue having issues. Focusing too much on the dead hives can be depressing and, ultimately, fruitless if you can't figure it out.
2 months ago
Should we in the permaculture community really be identifying with and using the language of pioneering and homesteading? Permaculture draws heavily from the wisdom and methods of primarily indigenous peoples, emphasizes the importance of the commons, and fundamentally insists that human activities be regenerative toward the environment and resdistributive in terms of surplus (i.e. the fair share principle).

In the U.S. context, a pioneer was one who participated in the seizure of common lands held by indigenous people with the backing of the armed U.S. state. This land, often much more sustainably managed by indigenous inhabitants, was broken up into private parcels dolled out to pioneers who were willing to go to the land. Often, these efforts included devastating logging and other acts of environmental destruction, as well as displacement of and violence towards native peoples. This was a movement of domination of human beings and land in the interest of individual property accumulation and colonialism. Homesteader in this context is often interchangeable with pioneer, and mostly references those who acquired their land through the Homestead Act.

Basically, the legacy of pioneering and homesteading is isolated parcels of private land separated from the commons that permaculture promotes; forcible seizure of lands from indigenous peoples who contributed much of what we call permaculture; and highly destructive and extractive relations with the environment, which is at odds with permaculture. Honestly, the only thing I see in common is that some homesteaders planted food and tried to provide their own needs as much as possible. Isn't permacultue more that that?

It seems to be a confusing thing to equate these two approaches, and even more confusing to want to claim to be a continuation of these legacies.
2 months ago