Al Loria

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since Apr 21, 2010
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Recent posts by Al Loria

wayne fajkus wrote:I have often thought about digging holes around a newly planted tree. Fill it up with kitchen scraps, fish guts, manure, whatever.  Space them where it may be a year or two before the roots get to them. Water infiltration is probably another benefit to doing this.

It absolutely will work. As you can see in the pics I posted there is a Thornless Honey Locust. Two years ago the branches were beginning to rub on the roof of the house and we needed to get it trimmed back. The arborist we’ve used many years back came over to take a look and said “That tree is about 60 years old.” My wife corrected him by saying we planted that back in 1989 after a tornado took out the previous tree, a Crimson Maple, that resided in that spot. The Locust was about 10 foot tall at the time and less thick than my wrist. It had to have side stabilizers put on it for the first few years or so. He was amazed at the size now. Well, the tree had been fed by septic runoff that had been deep in the soil for 30 years. We have sewers now, because the old septic systems did not work with the soil in our community. Our Perc was so bad that you could smell septic everywhere, and most yards and lawns were wet muck during the summer. By the time we got here in 1988, we already had the sewers in place. When the tree was being planted, the landscape guy said he could smell septic as he was digging the hole. Our septic tank was originally located at the back of the house, down slope of where the tree was planted. It was our neighborhood septic flow that had permeated the soil. Sure enough, after a couple of years that tree took off and has been as healthy as could be. I’m guessing the raw sewage in that soil must have gotten broken down and acted like super food for that tree. Doesn’t say much that we’re living on top of poop, but it has worked out well for the trees.
4 years ago

paul wheaton wrote:Al, if you get a chance, can you post an updated pic?

paul, I don’t know if you got notified that I posted the pics you asked for. I quoted one of my posts instead of yours. Anyway, they are up.
4 years ago

Al Loria wrote:

paul wheaton wrote:Al, if you get a chance, can you post an updated pic?

Paul, as soon as it stops raining and it can be mowed I will send some update pics. It may be a few days though.

Here are some pics of the same area as seven years ago. The brown area is from our female dog's urine and the dark patch on the lower right is where they dig to eat the dirt or insects.
4 years ago

paul wheaton wrote:I decided to call this thing a "earthworm town" and changed the subject line.  

Earthworms are a big part of getting a lawn healthy. We had very few before due to the artificial products and no organic material such as leaves or mulch. Now I know we have a good population now because the soil is less compact and has better drainage. One spot that had pooled water on it every time it rained hasn’t had standing water in years.
4 years ago

paul wheaton wrote:Al, if you get a chance, can you post an updated pic?

Paul, as soon as it stops raining and it can be mowed I will send some update pics. It may be a few days though.
4 years ago

Al Loria wrote:Now that the snow is gone and the rains have been consistent I thought I would post an update.

Last year's efforts paid off.  The grass is coming in a beautiful green and there are no dead spots as there were last year.  In fact, we greened up sooner than our neighbor's lawns.  The only places not filled in with grass are where the dogs have dug to eat the soil.  I still have not been able to figure out why they do this, but it is confined to two small areas, and all four dogs do it.

Lots of clover coming in, and a few dandelions.  That is fine by me.

Okay, so here's the plan.  The lazy man lawn starts now!  No more organic material, except for coffee grounds, no more compost, and most of all, no more getting nuts over this.  High mowing for the entire growing season and we'll see how it goes.  As soon as it all gets a good mow I'll post a few pics.

Now we can move on to other plans.  Started with chickens this year, the garden needs to be planted and we might add a few more trees and bushes.  Not having the lawn to worry about frees up time for better things.  The only thing we will work on with the lawn is to eventually make it smaller.  I have a plan for a small Hugelkultur bed there and have been setting up ideas for plantings.  Suggestions are welcomed.


I appreciate the bump Paul just had given to this old thread, and it’s a good reminder for me to update what has happened in the past 7 or so years. I came down with Psoriatic Arthritis which has literally wiped me out and kept me from doing mostly anything around the property. The drugs they have tried on me only worked well for a short time and the current immunosuppressive drugs I’m on are not helping much. With that, I’m happy to report that doing nothing of any consequence to the lawn has paid big dividends. The only thing I’ve done in seven years I happened to do this year, and it really didn’t need it. I did a small spreading of Ringers because the lawn was a little slow getting started this year. It has filled in every year where there were bare spots on its own and it is still greener than the neighbors. The dogs, of which we have three now (some have passed and we’ve added new rescues to the family) , do not seem to have any negative effect except in one area along the fence where our Pointer mix likes to run up and down when the neighbors go by. I had never thought that being lazy about the lawn would work as well as it has. We have the least amount of dandelions and crabgrass that we’ve ever had. We mow using the mulching setting and have not thatched in all these years. It is amazing to me how much nicer the lawn is now than it was seven or more years ago. We still have plenty of clover, but it’s green and there are no complaints from me. I would never again use anything, outside of Ringers if the lawn really needed it, ever again. I don’t even water the lawn anymore. Haven’t done that in at least five years.

To say the least, I’m impressed by not having to worry about the lawn other than having to mow it, which I don’t do much of myself anymore. I think once the lawn comes into its own balance of microbes, fungi and living critters it takes care of itself. If anyone has the patience to set up their lawn to run itself they will be rewarded with a fully functional and thriving bit of green space.

I can’t thank Paul and all of you enough for your quidance and advice. I still receive the email updates of Paul's adventures and always find he is busy and doing great things. Maybe I’ll check in more often to see what’s going on even if I can’t participate as I once did. Thanks again to all.  
4 years ago
This may be of some interest.

This article appeared in AM Cost Rica, today, April 12th, 2012. AMCR is an Internet news daily providing news in English about Costa Rica.

Before European settlers arrived, farmers on the rainforest savanna grew crops in raised beds, a practice which would be forgotten for 500 years.

Pre-Columbian raised beds
may save vanishing Amazon

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Amazon region of South America, the largest tropical rainforest and river basin on Earth, is disappearing at a rate of around 800,000 hectares a year, but a new study finds one possible strategy for reversing this trend in ancient Amazonian farming methods.

Analysis of a 1,000-year-old ecological record in the Amazon provides a rare glimpse at early farming practices before European explorers began arriving in the Americas more than 500 years ago.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds the ancient farming methods could slow the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

The rapid expansion of agriculture and cattle ranching, road and dam construction, and illegal logging are the biggest drivers of this massive deforestation. 

Lead author Jose Iriarte, a paleoethnobotonist at the University of Exeter in England, focused on a coastal wetland savanna in present-day French Guyana, on South America’s northeastern coast, where ancient farm beds and canals remain, unaltered, on the landscape.  In pre-colonial history, Iriarte says, this was a period when farmers reclaimed these seasonally flooded savannas into raised-field agricultural landscapes.

A sediment core from the site provided the team with an unusually intact archive of how farmers farmed these fields. It shows pollen, plant species and charcoal before and after the European colonization in the late 15th and 16th centuries.

Geographer Mitchell Power, curator of the Natural History Museum at the University of Utah, studied charcoal in the core. He says while evidence shows that naturally-occurring fires began decreasing globally around 1500 — a period of documented climate cooling — that’s not what they saw in the Amazonian record.

“When we went to the French Guyana site to try to understand the record, the most surprising thing to me was that it was the opposite trend.  Fire was very low and then after 1500, fire increased," he said. "That was contrary to what 90 percent of the rest of the records around the world are telling us.”

Iriarte says the native farmers understood how fire could harm the land and agricultural production.

“We know that fire results in the loss of crucial nutrients for crops, fallows without fires are most effective in restoring soil organic matter and preserving soil structure," he said. "So we interpreted that they were limiting fires because it was better to grow crops in these raised field systems.”

Iriarte says use of this fire-free method by the pre-Columbian farmers helped them transform the seasonally-flooded savanna into productive cropland.

“Raised fields provided better drainage, soil aeration, and also moisture retention during the dry season. These raised fields were constructed mainly with the muck from these seasonally flooded savannas," he said. "So they are really fertile and they can be recycled every season.”

Mitchell Power says this labor-intensive approach ended abruptly when as much as 95 percent of the native population died from a variety of Old-World diseases brought by the European settlers.

“Once the Columbian encounter happens, we don’t see that type of agriculture any more," he said. "We start to see increased burning and a shift toward dry land farming. So people were then clearing forests and making their raised beds in the forests. And what we think is happening was a huge demographic collapse in this region.”

Slash-and-burn agriculture — introduced to the Amazon not by the native farmers but by European colonizers — remains today a major threat to the rainforest. Experts say if such practices continue at the current rate, more than half of the Amazon’s tropical rainforest could be gone by 2030.

Iriarte says pre-Columbian farming methods offer a tried-and-true alternative.

“It has the capability to help curb carbon emissions and at the same time provide food security for the more vulnerable and poorest rural populations of rural Amazonia,” he said.

The authors say bringing back these labor-intensive but productive farming systems to serve today’s and tomorrow’s  food needs will require extensive farmer re-training and the political will of the region’s governments. And they believe that if the Amazon’s current stewards can reclaim the wisdom of their ancestors, the damage to the world’s greatest rainforest can be slowed.

11 years ago
And, they need to use energy to dispose of the used up CFL. No winner I can see in this technology.
11 years ago

paul wheaton wrote:From a frugality perspective, my lightbulb junk boils down to this:

1) I currently spend about $12 per year on electricity for lighting with incandescent. If I buy one CFL for $3 (instead of 50 cents for an incandescent) and try to put it where it could be the most efficient, then that would have to be to use it on the one light that I have on the most often. In that spot, it should last about two years and save me about $3 per year. So I spent $2.50 more and got $6 back. For all other lights in the house, I think CFLs would not save money because the bulb would burn out faster.

2) The CFL is subsidized. If there were no subsidy, then the light would cost about $11. So I would be paying $11 to get $6. Therefore, the CFL does not actually earn it's keep.

3) With the subsidy, the light is even more expensive because of all the red tape for all the subsidies.

4) When the light is running, it contributes to sickness. Sickness costs.

5) When the light is dead, it contributes to pollution which contributes to sickness. Sickness costs.

And, the CFL costs us more because it is we who pick up the tab for the subsidy. No free lunch...
11 years ago
"Unfortunately we cant control people's behavior very easily."

"Because coal is so cheap, there is not much motivation to change peoples behavior. Thank you US govt for picking the lowest hanging fruit to address this countries big energy problems."

I'm taking these quotes somewhat out of context, but, it still remains that we don't want to be told how we should behave. We'd be going down the path of the former Soviet Union. And, we all know how that turned out. Being green might be great, but some just don't see it that way, and they do have a right to their opinion.

Coal is cheap because there is so much of it. It just happens to be dirty. If there was a true groundswell of concern for clean energy, then we would already have clean coal burning equipment.

I'm not criticizing you in any way. Just wanted to bring up a point that I think is relevant to the conversation.

11 years ago