If anyone knows of a permaculture-related forum that has ads for things that are permaculture related, please tell us about it. I would love to "take my business over there." This idea of playing games and "tricking" the big ag companies out of money by clicking on their ads is the kind of horse hockey I have no interest in whatsoever. Does anybody shoot straight anymore?
I know I'm not the only one with concerns about all the ads we're seeing on this forum for big ag - a chemical for this, a chemical for that. huh? That's not permaculture. This is a big time disconnect. I've been wondering how this forum, which is fantastic, can exist without the blizzard of advertising you see on every other web site. I'm not against advertising, I realize it pays the bills. But could we not develop an "approved advertiser" list somehow and bring the advertising into alignment with not only the subject matter of this forum but also the needs of the participants? We all may actually buy some stuff if it has at least something to do with permaculture. At the very least, it should not be so much in total opposition to permaculture.
The good news is that things look better this year than they have in the past.
That's a sure sign that you're doing the right things. Usually what happens is once you start to see improvement, the rate of improvement increases. Next year will be better, and the following year even better. Each plant has its own needs regarding sun, water, soil pH, and soil fertility, and some do better with certain companion plants. Some plants actually prefer infertile soil. It's so much easier now than when I started gardening 40 years ago, because you can find out exactly what any plant needs for free on the internet.
Because you have clay not far down, you may need to either build raised beds, hugelkultur beds, double dig, or just be patient and let earthworms work your mulch down into the clay. The problem with shallow clay is it can cause soggy roots, and most plants cannot take soggy roots, aka wet feet.
Some plants like wet feet, such as canna lily, for example. One key point in permaculture is to try to grow plants that like the conditions that you happen to have at your location. The more you can do that, the less you have to modify your conditions.
We're all guilty of not being patient enough when it comes to gardening. I catch myself doing it all the time. That's one of the things you will learn as you gain more experience. I'm still learning it. Keep up the good work!
The hydrilla would make a good compost ingredient. If more chemical agriculture were converted to organic ag, there would probably be a big enough market for the stuff to make harvesting it feasible. Hopefully, that day is not too far off.
Jim, They are both nice and low which would probably also be the case where we are because our soil is super sandy and infertile. Some day, when the food forest is well established and dropping lots of leaves, it'll be better but that's a ways off. The plan was actually to blitz a large area next spring during the dry season, but I'm thinking maybe it makes more sense to do sections at a time and continue to mow the grass and chop/drop the weeds. I would offer to do a swap, but honestly our garden is only 3 months old and nothing is abundant enough yet to divide. I can offer future cuttings though.
Does this sound off? Here's our rationale: We now have bermuda grass, bahia grass, and several other grasses and rhizomatous weeds on one entire side of the food forest, as well as one area inside the food forest. There are also some areas with a lot of annual weeds. The grasses and weeds are providing one valuable service which is erosion control, and they are also adding a bit of biomass which is sorely needed. About half of the 13,000 sqft food forest is on a moderate slope and our soil is super sandy (Florida sand hill). I figure that if we can replace all those grasses and weeds with some perennial N-fixing ground cover that's so thick that it stabilizes the soil and keeps weeds down, that's a big improvement. 3 inches of rhizomes is also a good bit of biomass that we really need in our beach sand. I guess the question is will the nitrogen supply be enough to out-weigh the competitive effect of the ground cover? My thoughts on that are 1) we'll continue to mulch around the other plants for a while longer, so competition shouldn't be too fierce while the plants are getting established, and 2) later there will be enough shade that the sun-loving ground cover will not be that aggresive. Besides, a lot of our trees, shrubs, and mulch plants have deep root systems anyway, by design.
Does this address your concern? I'll take any input I can get, as long as it's free.
Jim, How tall do those two ground covers get? I'm assuming the mimosa is a N-fixer? I may have asked before, but about where are you located? If I'm ever your way, might want to see what they look like.
It turns out buffalo clover is an annual, not readily available in bulk, takes 2-3 years to get established, should be planted in the fall rather than the spring when we'll be ready to plant, and the seeds have to be scarified.
Perennial peanut actually looks ideal for our location. I'm not sure how tall it gets, but it makes a 3 inch thick rhizome layer for soil stabilization and thrives in our poor sandy soil and heat. Good drought tolerance too and it is truly perennial with a 20 year old field somewhere in Florida. Once established, it looks like it is very good at preventing weed invasion. Thanks Ben.
Ben, Is perennial peanut low and dense? I'm trying to find something that is very low and dense like grass, and perennial like grass, but cooperative rather than competitive. It needs to be able to prevent erosion on a sandy slope. We just got our second day in the last few weeks of 10 or more inches of rain in one day! Once I make the decision to take the grass out, I'll need something that can take its place quickly before the next deluge! Buffalo clover does look very promising. Since sweet potato is growing so well here, I'll use a lot of that too, but more in the flatter areas. My plan is to replace the grass in two steps - the first step being buckwheat this fall, then something like buffalo clover in the spring.
The link about urine storage for the purpose of sterilization seems credible to me, although I've never done it myself so I can't vouch for it. Ammonia is certainly toxic, so it makes sense to me that the decomposition of urea to ammonia could eventually sterilize the solution. It's important to note that storage changes the solution chemically to something that does not resemble urine, but rather a very high pH ammonia solution. So I would think it would need to be diluted so that it doesn't burn the plants. When fresh urine is diluted and used in an aerated soil, the potential for pathogen problems is very low. That's because the urine itself starts out sterile, and when applied to a healthy microherd, it will be oxidized and biologically and chemically consumed before pathogens get a chance to get established. So, I personally don't see the need to put a sterile solution into a container which is contaminated with pathogens, which then must be stored to kill those same pathogens.
Here in central Florida, the sun is intense enough that very small fig trees need some mid-day shade, however once the tree is a couple feet tall, they can usually take full sun all day long. Figs have invasive root systems so it's not a good idea to plant them anywhere near septic systems.
If an area is over-run by rabbits, it is likely a result of an ecological imbalance - not enough rabbit predators. What I would probably do in that situation is fill the need by removing rabbits. Less rabbits = less ticks. If removing rabbits is not your thing, then supplying tick predators as has been suggested would help, but that's a lot more work and up-front expense. At least you may not have much to worry about regarding animals praying on your birds since there doesn't seem to be any predators around to eat the rabbits.
We are trying to identify a perennial N-fixing ground cover for our location here in central Florida. A hardy perennial would be preferred, but even a tender perennial would be okay, especially since we don't have but a few frosty mornings each winter. Something mat forming would be excellent. Any suggestions?
Has anyone seen anything like this: 2 months ago I planted 5 true rozelle plants (aka cranberry hibiscus). They were only 3 inch long sprouts. Two of them were planted right next to other plants, while the other 3 had lots of empty space around them. All 5 were planted in soil of equal quality - pretty sandy with a little composted cow manure mixed in. They were all mulched with a couple of inches of shredded oak leaves/pine straw mix. All 5 are in full sun all day, and have received about the same amount of water.
I thought that perhaps the two that were planted close to other plants might not do as well because of the competition they would have to endure. However, the complete opposite has happened. Those two plants are now 24 inches high and wide and 3 to 4 times more massive than the other 3. The two "companion plants" are similar - one is apple mint and the other is greek oregano.
Is this an effective companion plant combo? Or is it just a coincidence? It would be interesting to see if anyone could duplicate this "experiment" and help answer that question. Or maybe someone's already seen something like this?
I hope things have changed but as of just a few years ago, our entire 3.5 acre property and all our neighbors would get sprayed by crop dusters as they sprayed their defoliant on cotton crops in Alabama. It was unintentional drift, but regardless, we got some of it every time. It smelled nasty, too. I never did anything about it, and we moved away from there after a few years. Seems to me it would be illegal to spray anything on someone else's property without permission. Now there's a thought every time you put on your underwear.
Will urine stored in a sealed plastic whitish/translucent milk jug become sterilized after 6 months if the temperature reaches 37 degrees Centigrade, or 100F? The temperature will remain between 30-38C for the majority of the storage during the summer months here. Does it need to be kept from direct sunlight during that time? What about indirect sunlight?
My understanding is that human urine is sterile to begin with unless the donor has a urinary tract infection.
Yes, banana plants are soft and easy to cut down. Copious amounts of water are released, too. But, I've never seen any plant resprout from its roots as vigorously as banana, except maybe grass or bamboo. Well, that's understandable because they are all monocots. Banana and bamboo are basically huge grass plants. They all have a lot of energy stored in the roots, and it takes a long time for them to give up the ghost. As I mentioned above, after my our bananas finally gave it up, the ghost took up residence in a nearby hibiscus and also a fig. Their roots must have tapped into the nutrients and energy left behind by the banana root network. They grew huge this year.
I have mulched my trees, shrubs, and a few other plants, but outside of those relatively small mulched areas, I still have a lot of bare ground and weeds. I need to get a lot of ground cover going because the amount of mulch that it would take to cover most of the rest of the 13,000 square foot area would be enormous. It's going to be years before we have an appreciable amount of leaf fall, so we need to do something in the mean time. I'll be planting buckwheat this fall, and more cow peas this summer, but a perennial is what we really need to cover the ground. I have noticed that our sweet potatoes are growing fastest of everything that could be used as a ground cover. We really enjoy sweet potatoes which are perennial here. So, I'm considering planting a lot more sweet potato. Anybody else using sweet potato as a ground cover for your food forest? If not, what ground covers are yall using?
Len, You haven't mentioned anything about your soil. Is it mulched well? Do you prevent it from drying out? A good organic mulching and composting program will create a resilient microherd in only a few weeks, and plants will thrive. A strong microherd also breaks down chemical residues, and the more robust it is, the faster it breaks down toxins in the environment, and the more capable it is at preventing toxic effects from drift.
Paul, There are two books on evolutionary psychology that, if you haven't read them, you may find interesting. The Moral Animal by Robert Wright and The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. Researchers like them who are re-inventing the field of human psychology by analyzing it from the perspective of genetics and evolution are finding some interesting things about "human nature" and behavior of animals in general. For example, some research using computer modelling seems to indicate that a species is not stable over evolutionary time unless a certain percentage of the popupalation "cheats" in some way. In the models, if the percentage of cheaters is either increased or decreased, the population goes extinct. Genetic variability between individuals means that there will always be a spectrum of any tendency, including honesty, in all populations.
Personally, I believe that we humans have to, collectively, change our behavior away from the behavior that our genes have program us for. That's because that programming was the result of eons of time when resources were plentiful, and competition was rewarded more than cooperation, both within and outside of our species. Now that we are approaching the carrying capacity of the planet, we have to behave in ways that go very much against what our genes are telling us to do. That is much more difficult than it sounds. In fact, it has been proposed that everything we do, science, religion, culture, is merely the result of what our genes direct, as if we are not in control - our genes are.
We have to stop and even reverse population growth and cooperate much more with other species, and we have to do so even though our gut tells us not to. I see permaculture as one method to gain superiority over our instincts.
My experience removing bananas last year was that they kept sprouting from the roots. After several months of removing sprouts and burying them in mulch only to find more new sprouts, I finally covered it with weed block and 6 inches of mulch. It still pushed up the weedblock for a while before finally giving up the ghost. The hibiscus nearby is now growing like crazy.
A common way of using microclimates is how you plant around the house. I'll use our place for some examples. We are in central Florida, so we can use the south side of our stucco home for growing veggies in the fall and winter. It is so hot there in spring and summer, we move over to the north side for the annual veggies where our tomatoes and other plants do much better because it's cooler and we don't have to water as much. Back on the south side of the house, we also grow drought tolerant plants like jujube trees and pigeon peas. Not only can they take the heat, they seem to thrive on it. We also grow muscadine grapes on the south side and they love the heat and the intense sun too. In summer, the jujubes and grapes shade the south side of the house, and when they drop their leaves in winter, the sun can warm the home.
Large trees can also be utilized for similar effect. Yesterday, I transplanted my leek only about 20 feet, but to a very different microclimate. They were suffering from too much sun on the west side of a large pine, so I moved them to the east side where they get morning shade from oaks a little further to the east. They are now planted in a depression rather than on a hill side, but our sand drains quite well (too well). So, they went from hot, dry, scorching sun to partly shady, moist and I expect they will do much better, only 20 ft from where they were. Now I won't have to water them as often.
Hemenway and Jacke describe how to increase warmth by planting from lowest to highest as you go from south to north. Where you're at in New York that would probably be a good strategy.
Hugelkultur creates a warmer microclimate due to the heat released by the decaying logs, plus it increases moisture and nutrients.
Hope that helps. Good thread - I'm anticipating reading about some more interesting ways to create microclimates.
The pond weeds are great for mulch or sheet composting. If it were me, I'd probably sell the donkeys and let the land undergo succesion to build biomass. You might consider planting drought tolerant fruit such as mulberry,jujube, and thornless prickly pear. You should have a lot of permies in your part of the country to consult with. Best wishes!
For me, the majic of a food forest comes from the self fertilization provided by dynamicnutrient accumulators, mulch plants, and eventually just leaf fall. I would loveto see that somewhere. Edited to add nitrogen fixers too.