Levente Andras

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since Apr 20, 2010
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Le Marche, Central Italy
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Recent posts by Levente Andras

Hello permies!

Peaches are my favourite fruit, and a healthy peach tree is one of the most beautiful sights in a garden. However, it is frustrating and saddening to see how, in my climate, these trees get mutilated (and eventually killed) by peach leaf curl.

Over the years, people have kept telling me that if I want to eat peaches from my trees, I have to spray each year with copper fungicides. I have refused to do that. (I do spray them with potassium bicarbonate and some home-made concoctions obtained from horsetail and nettle - but to be honest, I'm not sure these treatments are helping much.)

Some of the first trees I planted got sick in their first spring, and died within a couple of years.  

Other trees - especially of the Red Haven and Crest Haven variety - seemed more resilient, they got hit by the disease, lost some leaves, but quickly grew new ones and managed to produce fruit AND some (modest) new growth.

Then I also planted peach trees that were sold to me as "wild peach" - perhaps just trees grown from seed? - which turned out to be fast growers, but were still susceptible to peach leaf curl, although seemed to completely recover from the disease. These trees produced good quality (though smallish) fruit, BUT ONLY IF they were not hit too hard by the disease.

This year I'm trying some Italian varieties that are purported to be leaf curl resistant (or, according to one source, immune !!). Fingers crossed...

With this in mind, my questions to the Permies fruit grower community are the following:

I've been wondering how such a disease-susceptible tree could be cultivated thousands of years ago in China, in a region whose climate is not so different from the one I'm in now (central Italy)?

Considering that this tree seems to be so intent on getting sick and dying, what did ancient Chinese growers know about it that we don't? Did they spray copper fungicides? Did they spray anything? Did they have resistant or immune varieties?

Are there REALLY immune varieties?

PS: I've seen ornamental peach varieties with red / purple leaves that never got sick - beautiful trees, with very vigorous growth - however, I suspect that their fruit is not very tasty. Does anyone have experience with these trees?
2 months ago

Jay Angler wrote:"

I worry that some of the language purists, will only consider it a true "hugelkulture" if it's large enough and tall enough to not need any irrigation. I think that's part of where terms like hugelbeet and hugelbed may have arose.

As a language purist and hair splitter, I would insist on Hügelkultur / Hügelbeet (or Huegelkultur / Huegelbeet) - in both spelling AND pronunciation :-)

In German, Hügel = mound; Beet = bed; Kultur = culture

It also needs to be said here that sometimes, labelling a thing (an earthen mound, for instance) with a foreign word makes that thing sound more special than it is... :-)
2 months ago
You've listed all the possible reasons why a huegel bed won't work (or is always at very high risk of failing): it dries out too fast, hence requires watering; watering is ineffective, as it runs off too fast; it attracts unwanted wildlife (gophers, voles, rats).

To me, huegelkultur only makes sense as a dump of organic matter +/- soil, where you plant something and forget about it, never nurturing any hopes for a harvest. If you do reap a harvest, it will be a bonus, a nice surprise. It worked like that for me - but I've never believed in using huegel beds for serious veg gardening.

Note: chickens have no blame in your case - at least during the growing season, they should be kept away from any type of vegetable garden, period. Especially if you have permanent beds.
2 months ago

Anthony Dougherty wrote:

Levente Andras wrote:I use a mix of sand and ash in my coop. About 5 cm layer on the floor of the coop.  I've been using the method for 3 years, and the result has been excellent - no smell AT ALL, easy to clean (I use a small rake and a cat litter scoop), and suitable also as dustbath when the hens don't feel like going out (e.g., because of bad weather).

True KNF coop needs no cleaning, it is microbially cleaned

If the KNF coop requires organic matter like the one you described - e.g., hardwood sawdust, or any kind of sawdust - the sourcing of that material can be a problem (at least in my area) as nowadays all woody biomass is gobbled up for fuel. Whereas with my method, the sand lasts virtually for ever (the rake & scoop ensure that only minimal amounts of the sand litter are removed during cleaning), and supply of ash is usually not an issue if you have a wood-burning stove or boiler.
1 year ago
I use a mix of sand and ash in my coop. About 5 cm layer on the floor of the coop.  I've been using the method for 3 years, and the result has been excellent - no smell AT ALL, easy to clean (I use a small rake and a cat litter scoop), and suitable also as dustbath when the hens don't feel like going out (e.g., because of bad weather).
1 year ago

Stacy Witscher wrote:
Personally, on my land, I take a multi-faceted approach. Everything from rainwater harvesting, greywater systems, drip irrigation and hugelkultur. Ponds are generally not allowed  but I do have a few.

A multi-faceted approach is the right way to go. The old principle of redundancy, and of one function being performed by multiple elements.
1 year ago

Sam Bush wrote:

All those questions are answered on the primary water website.  The Primary Water Institute is dedicated to teaching what is known about the volcanic origin of water

I'm afraid they're not answered. Even if (and I'd emphasise the 'if') it were true that primary water was an "unlimited" and "renewable" resource, the proprietary technologies for locating the best points for extracting it are not accessible to everyone - which practically makes primary water a restricted, if not limited, resource.

What will it cost my village of 500 inhabitants to replace their current spring-fed drinking water supply with a primary water source? (NB: the village self-financed and self-built the current water system in the 1980's - no proprietary technologies, no expensive consultants, no government, no NGO involvement - just straightforward plumbing know-how, and simple earthworks to aid aquifer recharge...)

And what will it cost me to explore & drill for primary water on my 2-acre plot, assuming that the location is even suitable at all for cost-effective extraction of primary water?

Sam Bush wrote:Those links you gave is for the ground water and not much deeper Primary Water

Indeed. They were only meant to illustrate a point, not directly related to primary water: namely, that extracting water (or any other resource that was originally scarce or not within easy reach) can lead to unintended and undesirable social and environmental consequences.
1 year ago

Sam Bush wrote:If you are going to drill a well or have the money, drill into rock. There are oceans of water far below the aquifer. It is under pressure and comes up thru vertical rock fissures. Once tapped it doesn't stop, unless rarely an earthquake might alter water path thru the rock. It has been drilled for since the 1920's but it's hardly mentioned since water control is power and unlimited water is not wanted. Search, primary water.

Since antiquity, the source of water generated deep within the Earth, clearly defying the conventional scientific hydrologic cycle explanation, has been a mystery..."


"One cubic kilometer of granite, under the right conditions, will yield one billion gallons of primary water." — Stephan Riess

"Primary water wells are not a new phenomenon.  Stephan Riess was drilling wells all over California and in the Middle East as far back as the early 1930s.  Pal has traveled to Africa numerous times, drilled six wells in Kenya and Tanzania, producing over 3,000 gallons per minute in an arid land with less than 10 inches of rainfall per year."

For me, this raises more questions than it answers:

Is primary water a renewable resource?
In other words: Is it renewed by nature at a speed at least as fast as the speed of its consumption by humans? And here we should pause and consider the current mainstream thinking paradigm of (theoretically) limitless economic growth, limitless consumption, urbanisation, and all the other "wonders" of our times.

Is the technology for drilling for primary water accessible to everyone? Can Farmer John from Anywhere drill a well to extract primary water from under his fields? (And here we're not even considering the geology of the place...)

Given the law of unintended consequences, what happens when abundant *primary* water is made available in arid regions? Can you or anyone predict with a fair degree of certainty that the sudden abundance of water in, say, Kenya will only lead to desirable things? We know of cases from history where the availability & intensive extraction of a resource led to the over-use and depletion of that resource, AND to a re-shaping of the socio-economic fabric of communities, with far-reaching consequences.

Here's this example of (unintended) effects of water (from bore holes) being made available in an arid zone:
and this:
1 year ago

Jan White wrote:

It's interesting that a couple people have had trouble growing hazelnuts without irrigation. They grow like weeds here, in sandy, rocky soil, with no water. They're wild ones with small nuts, though.

Perhaps the answer is in the soil.  Mine is heavy clay, and even though this type of soil retains moisture for a long time (February snow melt was enough to keep the soil moist until late June, with no precipitation in between), it's probably less inviting to tree roots.  I suspect that in heavy clay soil, hazel roots expand very slowly, and perhaps don't go deep enough, hence they are less able to deal with the effects of drought. In fact, between May and June there was a lot of new growth on the hazel bushes, everything looked promising, then in July the growth stopped, and there appeared significant signs of stress, such as yellowing / falling leaves.
1 year ago