Joshua Msika

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since Jun 06, 2010
Nova Scotia, Canada, zone 5b, 44 degrees N
Nova Scotia
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Recent posts by Joshua Msika

About nine months ago I started something that I've heard a lot about: no shampoo or soap in the shower. I've been having really excellent success with it. And, I think it cuts more than half the time off of my showers.

I'm glad I'm not the only one . Works fine.
7 years ago
I just go to the blog to check out your latest podcasts and listen to them online. I don't have enough disk space on my (cheap) netbook to download all the episodes. And frankly, some aren't as interesting as others anyway...

I recently listened to the one you did with Skeeter, loved it. What a great guy. The Geoff Lawton ones were also pretty special, some of the things he said resonated quite deeply.
If Paul (or someone he can interview) has any experience of anaerobic digesters for methane production I'd love to hear about it. Seems to me that biogas is part of the energy future and thus quite important for permaculture.
sweet chestnuts: great, tall majestic trees that produce a staple food equivalent to corn in nutrition and yield. I've got two in the ground at my parents' place. They might feed me when I'm 50...

Come on Paul, more trees! Trees are awesome!
7 years ago
I just bought the Designer's Manual, hard copy. £70. Ouch.

I have on my computer a scanned copy of it. It was sent to me by a friend and the temptation was so great that I couldn't resist downloading it. I'd resisted the temptation to do just that for the past 7 years. But it was right there, available, and I was weak...

When I started reading it, I felt amazing: I was having a conversation about permaculture and its implications with someone who had thought about it for far longer than I have. My brain hurt because it was so good.

Listening to the interview with Geoff Lawton today reminded me that there is nothing I care more about than spreading permaculture. That there are people like him and Bill Mollison who do it much better than I do. That I owe them something for the ideas they have given me. That I had an unpaid-for copy of Mollison's book. That the said book is absolutely mind-blowing. That I'm a student, I'm supposed to buy books. That I'm on a scholarship and I can afford books.

That's why I bought the book. Just thought I'd share that with the forums.
7 years ago
Jen, the biogas and composting combo was all I was talking about. This:

I guess the principle behind the sugar palm's success is a high sugar content sap produced year-round. The limiting factors are:
- The proportion of the year that a plant actually has leaves to photosynthesise.
- The proportion of sugars that go towards growth.
- The availability of water for photosynthesis.
- The temperature variations of the environment. Every plant has an optimal temperature for photosynthesis.

I think the optimal combination of those factors can only exist in the tropics. In other areas you'd have to look for different opportunities rather than trying to emulate an inappropriate solution.
The most challenging thing for me was (after getting off my butt to actually start something) sourcing things. Everything. You need organic material, you need cardboard if you're sheet mulching, you need seeds, seedlings, chicks, etc.

I had so many great ideas about what I wanted to do but eventually I realised that I had to take into account what was available and work from there. See what's around and start building your system from there, that way you're always ready to integrate anything you can get your hands on.

People say experiment and try new things but it's really hard to experiment if you've got nothing to experiment with...

You can never have enough organic matter or enough seeds.
7 years ago
As far as I can tell, there is no temperate/sub-tropical equivalent. I'd say Jean Pain methods are probably about as good as you're going to get.

There is an Australian sub-tropical (zone 8 or 9 I think) plant that produces sap with about 20-30% sugar content but I've forgotten it's name. It's in Edible Forest Gardens volume 2 in the appendix. Sadly I don't have the book with me at uni.

When I think about it though, these sugar palms have been bred by the Christian Indonesians for several hundred years to yield the highest sugar content so they could make the best palm wine. If similar breeding efforts were applied to sugar maples (I'm from Eastern Canada), the best cultivars of which already yield about 16%, then you might be able to get to 40% eventually. I doubt you could ever match the day-in day-out production of sugar palms in non-tropical areas though because the maples only run in spring...

Jean Pain's techniques are probably what we should be looking into in colder regions.
Thanks all. I'll definitely record weather. I think the extremes (max and min temperatures) are probably the most important ones to note as well as the amount of rainfall.

For future reference: After some messing around with various blog services, journal programs and online garden journals, I settled on Google Calendar. I'll just write a description of my observations and actions for the day and keep it on there.

The most important thing, if you're bothering to do it on a computer, is a good search function so you can find what you wrote years later. Google Calendar has that and can also be edited by several people which is important for me because I am away for nine months of the year.

Had I been the only person keeping the journal, then I would have used RedNoteBook ( It has a amazing search function and is simply very user-friendly.
7 years ago
Hi all,

I was just wondering how many people went to the bother of recording things that happened in their garden, what is worth recording and how you record it.

I'm going to start my own garden journal but I figure I could get some ideas on the what and how from you all.

I've considered paper but I think a computer-based journal might be more useful. I found a really neat piece of software for ubuntu (rednotebook) that would allow me to tag my notes and search back through them (find all the days where I wrote something about "amaranth" or "rain" for example).

I think this is pretty important in permaculture especially because the garden is an evolving system and you want to track the changes over the years to see how you're progressing.
7 years ago