Scott Reil

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since Jan 19, 2010
The Helpful Gardener
Colchester, CT
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Recent posts by Scott Reil

My brother is currently heading up the food initiatives for Transition Town Albany (CA) and has gotten whole neighborhoods growing foods for local restaurants, started weekly garden swaps, and even gotten a rotational crew of folks helping knock each others gardens into shape. I love this movement; wish there was one near me... (I know, I know...) 

S
7 years ago
Topping is against the arborist's code and you can lose your license in some states...

Still I think powerline licenses are granted leeways regular arborists don't get...

Still it is an abhorrent practice and should be avoided at all costs...
 


HG
7 years ago
Had this discussion with an instructor for the NOFA Certification classes, no less, where he referred to black locust (Robinia psuedoacacia) as an invasive...

While it has been pushed south by glaciation, and is returnng to this area in a fairly agressive way, the fact that it is in the fossil record, pollen and seed, makes an invasive categorization pretty shaky. Plus this is a nitrogen fixing tree, and we all know the value there... Paul has a cool video about them and there is this whole other thread here...

We have a tendency to bring our personal prejudices to bear in the assignations we place on plants, good, bad, weed, herb, garden plant, invasive, etc. When a plant shows use, aesthetic or herbal, and finds it's way without challenging the other plants around it, or making a uneven impact on the ecosystem it resides in, we should cut it some slack. When it is native, we might even give it a little more room to move. When the plant shows signs of impinging on its neighbors and imbalancing ecosystems, we should give it a wide berth, not matter how useful or pretty...

HG
7 years ago
Mongolian nomads move the food production with them when they go because of the herding nature of their existance. When you have thousands of miles of empty step you can do that. Try it on Manhattan. Or Boise, even. Romantic, but impractical.

If we are to to sustain current population (let alone more people) and maintain a healthy ecosystem that provides necessary services (atmospheric recycling, water purification, carbon storage), we must shift to a less consumptive, more agrarian society that values quality food production of mostly plant sourced nutrition. Agriculture means ssettleing down; has since the very beginning. You might go as far as prot-farming in the New Guinean tradition (a style of agriculture virtually unchanged in 5000 years must have SOMETHING going for it), but even that restricts the population to a certain size (the population in New Guinea has not changed a whole lot in centuries either).


I think Bill and Dave had the right idea, and that's why I am here. Become part of the land; this lies at the root of permaculture. Can't do that moving about.

One man's opinion.

S
8 years ago
Hey Jason,

Clover and pigeon pea are both great ideas for building natural nitrogen into yoursoils, but don't forget the plant needs to die back for good notrogen release to the soil, so mowing/scything/burning or some such should figure in. These plant/bacterial symbiotes don't make nitrogen out of the goodness of their little green hearts; they make it for themselves and can be stingy...

Good on ya about the tea; it can be as easy as a good aquarium pump and a five gallon bucket, or a fancy commercial unit, but adding biology is the name of the game, whether we talk hugelkultur, bio-char (it ain't bio-char until you add bio) or compost.

Speaking of hugelkultur and bio-char, they are really just spokes of the same wheel; adding carbon to soil to provide food and home for soil biologies. Straight up char without the biological additions (think tea or compost again) can create a nutrient sink that gobbles and holds your nutrition indefinitely (as the carbon source is so much longer lived and less available to the biology). The wood will rot and release, but keeps the carbon in the soil for less time. Different tools for the same job, but both effective in their own ways. Why not use both tools?
8 years ago
Hey Jason,

Knowing your weeds helps to detrmine issues in your soil; clover and not much else usually means nitrogen starved soil. If they were bombing in the chemical ferts and you are not, you are probably going way short on N. ALL your issues could be attributed to low N.

Nature pushes nitrogen by way of bacteria, the highest nitrogen critter on the globe. Problem is you need to release the N from these critters, and predations is the only good way to do that. Luckily we have such a tool that provides all the above; Compost.

In a lasagna set-up you apply the compost to the top, and let gravity and watering to migrate your biologies down through the soil profile. Hmmm. Slow... if you work it in you destroy fungal hyphae that benefit our plants. Bummer.

What if we had a way to not only provide a ready transport through the soil profile without harm to existing soil denizens, but to multiply the exsisting biologies in our compost ten fold? That would be great, right?

It's called compost tea, and it works great. I think it is the answer to a lot of your issues. Check it out.

s
8 years ago
Been reading Wendell Berry lately; The Unsettling Of America, so perhaps this colors my thinking, but so does Fukuoka-sensei and the permacultural ideals as a whole.

Both Berry and F-san talk about the knowledge of the place the need to bond to the land to understand it beyond scientific principle and agricultural technique. I think Casey is getting at that with the settling down to a piece of land; hunting/gathering is all romantical and such, but it is not a viable technique for anything larger than a tribal unit, and we are a bit past that...

If we plant to feed ourselves through the upcoming economic shift (and resulting turmoil), we need to establish our mental and spiritual bonds to the land that will sustain us. While one can certainly appreciate the majesty of varied landscape and the inherent beauties of any ecosystem, one will be ill equipped to wrest sustainance from any soil that he has not made part of his own being, through continued contact and habitation.


IMO, root where you are planted...

S
8 years ago
MT Goat raises the salient issue, the tragedy of the commons.

All the lovely "live and let live" scenarios are dissappearing under an avalanche of low level pesticide residues, BT corn detritus, carbon fumes and slow temperature creep. We in the Northern hemisphere are already burying the folks in the tropical regions, with low level islands flooding and searing heat manufactured from our infernal combustion. And those of us here making any effort are drowned in the din of "not damaging the economy", as if depleting natural resource and destroying reproductive systems that are providing free services we cannot replicate made some sort of economic sense (it DOESN'T).

We are beyond live and let live and well into live and let die. We have been for some time; our disregard of our fellow species is as long as our history on this planet. It is little wonder to me that it has extended itself to our fellow man, but it has clearly done that also. My imperative questions run more to the issues of water, air, food, and the rights of other species, and the answers bring me to native plants, alternative energy and technology, geothermal, and even thorium nukes. Sometimes it's lightbulbs. I'm thinking LED, though, All that mercury? How's that green?

"Burn im! 'Ees a witch!" 

Where is that line between eco-fascism and comitted eco-warrior? How does the tree hugger address the Hummer pilot? What right does the Hummer pilot have to damage the common? What right do Americans have to use 25% of the world's resources? And why does everyone want to be like us?

Or am I witch hunting?
8 years ago
Not to mention that there are few better habitat/feeder plants east of the Mississippi than Juniperus virginiana; more birds and wildlife use this one tree than about any other, short of the oaks (another story for another day).
8 years ago
Hey I'm sold on the family already, Kathleen, my Red Cedar is a Juniper too  plus this is a useful bunch, with tick and flea suppressive oils, and pretty trees too. And if they do well setting up that successional soil, and starting that new ecosystem like Storm talks about, well that is just following the natural inclination of soil and ecosystems.

Even the prairie soil yearns to be old growth forest, but it is stymied by herds of churning hooves and lack of rainfall. All soil yearns to move to it's full fungal capacity, replacing the bacterial compost of ungulate manures and high nitrogen grass vegetation with the carbon intense soils of rotting trees. And how much richer the cycle when the tree decays so slowly as the cedars do...

Paul Stamets recently discovered an amazing vaccine in deep forest in the Northwest; seems extracts from a rare fungus control all the cowpoxes, so check anthrax off of the list of terrorist threats, thanks to those deep forest ecosystems, Storm... cool, right? And would your downer lumber be as right for construction if it wasn't cedar? Deciduous stuff just rots but cedar cures.

Guess it's clear I like the tree(s).

S
8 years ago