Part of the scientific method? The scientific method would require that careful tests be conducted of the effectiveness of permaculture's ideas, then the methods used and results found would be published.
There is a remarkable absence of published evidence regarding the effectiveness of permaculture.
I've rather wondered if there aren't ways to use sweetclover in permaculture designs. As an introductory plant in a food forest, perhaps. It's such a common weed near me that finding practical uses for it would be quite helpful.
If you coat slices of apple with an antioxidant (even something as simple as vitamin C) they won't turn brown, because the browning is the result of oxidation of iron compounds in the fruit. If these 'miracle apples' don't brown when they're cut, and dry instead of rotting, my very first thought is that they're full of antioxidant compounds. Perhaps, just as his trees acted to eliminate leaves infected by fungus instead of simply continuing to grow because their nutrients were limited (as mentioned in the epilogue), the apple trees begin producing defensive compounds when their nutrients started running low.
I know various herbs produce the highest concentrations of essential oils when they're slightly nutrient-stressed. If they have more than they can use, they don't bother defending what they have as much. Maybe - just maybe - the apple trees act similarly?
Where I live, the original ecological equilibrium was destroyed. And no new one has truly formed - the succession has never been allowed to complete itself, and invasive plants have been taking over niches that were once filled by natives, displacing everything that relied upon them, and erasing the complex relationships that existed between them.
You can't learn much about ecology by looking at a solid understory of garlic mustard, or a dead forest covered in kudzu. Someone using those observations for inspiration would probably conclude that 1) monocultures are normal, and 2) we need to use potent weapons like pesticides to beat back nature, or else it will smother all our crops beneath rampant wild growth.
That's fascinating to hear. I'm glad you have something to serve as a control - I realize you can't conduct a truly extensive experiment, but we really need documented evidence that all these techniques work. We need to be able to convince the rational skeptics and silence the naysayers.
I am right smack in the middle of Pennsylvania. There's no way to ask anyone what things were like before farms - there were farms here before the United States was established.
When I started to learn about native and foreign plants, I eventually realized that virtually all of the forbs and grasses and suchlike that I could go out and encounter came from Europe. Our suburban and farm-border ecologies are completely dominated by the plants that were brought over, could thrive in disturbed areas, and happened not to have any biological checks - diseases and predators and so forth. The plants that didn't have such an advantage didn't spread, and those that happened to be vulnerable to something over here died - so what's spread out across the continent is the stuff that's lucky.
There are also the things that are missing. Ever hear of the Franklin tree? It's used for landscaping, sometimes. Named in honor of Benjamin Franklin. It went extinct in the wild in the decade or so after the first biological samples were taken - the samples that eventually became our landscaping option. It's speculated that some fungus spread by farming might have wiped it out, in something like the way the American chestnut was virtually exterminated, and the way the American elm is dying out now.
Did you know North America used to have its own native species of earthworms? Earthworms that were three feet long, white, smelled like lilies, and hissed? No, I'm totally serious. Go look it up.
I live in a small town that is surrounded by dozens and dozens - in some cases, hundreds - of miles of farmland, farmland that was once forest. There is some forest in places, but it's all second- or third-growth. There are no mostly untouched forests anywhere except in some state and national parks, a long ways away. And they're not truly old-growth, as I understand the term.
There are lots of forest plants which I've read about in foragers' manuals and ecological textbooks but never seen, anywhere. As far as I can determine they do not exist here any longer, even in the nature preserve I visit. The closest thing we have to a wildnerness is the local chain of 'mountains' (fairly biggish hills), one is which is ritually climbed by university students before they graduate, another of which hosts the local ski resort and amusement park.
Invasive, foreign plants are everywhere. Yes, even in the nature preserve. Our roadsides are mainly composed of tartarian honeysuckle and poison hemlock. And garlic mustard, of course.
Anyway, to return to the topic: I'd like to be able to observe nature and design gardening techniques which imitated it, a la Fukuoka or Holzer or whoever. But there doesn't seem to be any nature around for me to observe. Not really. The best I can do is read about Native American agriculture in this region - they seem to have been mimicking the ecological succession of lightning-fire forest clearings, possibly. That's as far as I can get.
It would be very difficult for genes from this GMO apple to contaminate other apple crops, because the seeds from apples are not generally planted.
However, the genes could enter the wild crabapple gene pool. And the gene pools of anyone who is trying to breed new apple varieties, or planting the seeds from their orchard just to see what they'll get, could be contaminated.
Several sources have recipes for country wine made from rowan berries. The berries are so bitter because of their high concentrations of tannins, to the point that they've been used as mordants for dyes.
They contain mostly sorbic acid, but some parasorbic acid, which is toxic and causes kidney damage. But freezing or drying the fruits seems to degrade this chemical into sorbic acid, as well as reducing their bitterness. Try collecting them after the first frost, or putting them in your freezer, for a time.
May I recommend the works of Samuel Thayer - The Forager's Harvest and Nature's Garden? They are probably the best books on foraging and wild foods I've ever come across.
For wild carrot - the roots are the original form of carrots, and are harvested and eaten rather like carrots. The shoots of second-year plants are peeled and eaten. Conveniently, they're available right when carrots aren't. Their leaves can be eaten in salads when young and in soups when older. The seeds, when stripped from their bristly covers, are used as seasoning rather like dill or caraway, or to make tea.
NOTE: the seeds of wild carrot contain high levels of various hormones which can interfere with pregnancy or embryonic implantation, and were used as a form of morning-after birth control in several societies with a surprisingly high rate of success. Do not ingest them if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Everything in the celery family contains these hormones as a means of defense against predators (see the lost spice, silphium, for an example), but carrot seeds are particularly potent. They're a pretty good spice, too, which is sort of a shame, depending on how you look at it.
wayne stephen wrote:Actually , I noticed a few plants last fall. That is it. This year they are everywhere. 1/3 of my garden is covered - every inch.
In a year or two they'll probably be gone unless the ground is disturbed again.
The seed is edible too, remember - it's such a close relative of quinoa that the plants will interbreed. Only the young leaves are really suitable for eating, unfortunately. It's great for opening up compacted soil, though. And browsers won't touch the stuff!
Eleven thousand years is more than enough time for certain kinds of evolutionary change to take place. And again, the gene for thornlessness in Honey Locust is dominant - so even if having or losing thorns has no evolutionary benefit, we should expect thornlessness to be a common trait. But it isn't. Why not?
I've read claims that these trees evolved thorns to repel browsing animals back in the days when North America still had megafauna. The sweetish pods of Honey Locust might even have been intended to induce mammoths to eat them (something like Osage Oranges). But it's been thousands of years since those animals existed, and at least in Honey Locusts, the allele that removes the thorns is dominant. So why haven't the trees lost their thorns?
I can't help but wonder if the popularity of thornless varieties of these trees is missing something important, and possibly contaminating the gene pools of these species.
Be sure to protect the young seedlings from browsers. All of the potted plants I had were eaten to within two inches of the soil - basically a stalk with one or two leaves remaining. And this despite their having quarter-inch long thorns.
I suspect that the general lack of rain has something to do with the thoroughness with which the rabbits and groundhogs are ravaging my local community garden. Everything that they can eat, has been eaten. Everything.
Wardeh: do you think it might be feasible to substitute certain traditional salts (like the completely-burned ashes from certain plants) for sodium chloride when fermenting foods? Are there any obvious disadvantages you can think of?
It basically sounds like the landowner is the employer/boss, except that everyone lives with them instead of going somewhere else at the end of the day, and the employees' "salary" isn't necessarily always in money. I can't see why it should be controversial - it's a much better tested and proven method of group organization than consensus. Most human societies worked on a mix of tradition, benign anarchy, and limited autocracy. I'd expect a successful intentional community to be similar.
The most successful alternate culture communities I know of - monasteries and nunneries - were/are very selective in who was let in, were unified by powerful belief systems, and were extremely autocratic in theory. In practice, working autocracies involve surprisingly little exertion of authority.
Let me know if you get anything off the ground, Mr. Wheaton. I don't have the resources to get MG certification, but I have read hundreds of gardening books. And it'd be way more interesting than part-time.
I've grown a few of those, although never as part of a guild. Woad seems to be a terrific nutrient hog - it's supposed to delete the soils it's grown in, and I believe it. I don't know what effects any of those plants would have in a guild, but I'll make an educated guess and say that woad wouldn't be a good companion plant for most trees, and probably for no fruit trees. Weld has some very specific preferences for soil types that might limit its usefulness in a tree association - high pH and dryish - but attracts so many pollinators it might be useful regardless.
Amaranth is way, way more tolerant of drought and poor soil than corn. But it won't produce super well under those conditions, so you'll probably want to give it *some* water and quality soil.
It's quite rich in protein, and is close to being a perfectly balanced amino acid source. But - and this is very important - it contains various anti-nutritional substances that means amaranth grain should not be eaten raw. Lots of food sources are like this, actually, so don't be too concerned. But if given to chickens as a major part of their diet, the raw grain will eventually kill them. Cooked amaranth is a great animal feed, if for some reason you don't want to eat it yourself. The leaves of both 'vegetable' and 'grain' varieties are edible and very nutritious, though a bit bland.
The biggest problem I had with it is getting the seeds out of the heads without bringing along countless tiny insects and arachnids.
Carol Deppe (author of The Resilient Gardener, among other books) says that certain varieties of zucchini are delicious when dried. And dehydrating seems to result in a distinctly different flavor, too. Some varieties don't lend themselves to this due to strange off-tastes, some are just bland, but the good-tasting varieties are supposedly something special. Deppe makes a winter soup out of dried summer squash.
Even if you're growing a variety that's bland when dried, they make good substitutes for potato chips as vehicles for flavorings or dips.
Thank you for the responses. However, I am no more interested in stockpiling processed salt and using it to make fermented foods than organic growers are in using pesticides or permaculturists in growing extensive annual crops. If you don't appreciate that, I don't need to hear from you.
Again: if anyone has heard of alternatives to the use of sodium chloride in pickling, or knows of them, I would be grateful if they would respond and tell us about them. Thanks in advance.
I recommend planting cereal rye when fall comes. It's well known for breaking through impacted or clay soil - some people have called it a living shovel. It will also produce a lot of organic matter which you can till under next spring if you wish.
I have, very rarely, come across instructions for preserving vegetables by lactic acid fermentation that didn't involve sodium chloride. The single complete recipe involved soaking chard stems in unchlorinated water, then washing them off and changing the water, three times. I've never encountered any other way of slowing down the bacterial decay enough for preservation by acid to occur.
Are there any substitutes for sodium chloride? In a survival or post-apocalyptic scenario, true salt will be a very valuable and extremely limited resource for those of us not lucky enough to live near a mine or by the sea. I want something that can be relatively easily acquired regardless of the local environment, that's not poisonous, and that would serve the same function in LAF.
Can the mineral salts found in completely burned ash work?
anndelise McCoy wrote:So basically, YOU came up with a food system that established YOU as filling the food niche, and without the input, discussions, ideas of the others? And then you complained because they left it to YOU to fill that food niche you had already claimed?
THEY didn't seem to have any problems eating the food. THEY participated in the system - just not the parts that had THEM contributing, only the parts where THEY took from the system.
"Never... ever suggest they don't have to pay you. What they pay for, they'll value. What they get for free, they'll take for granted, and then demand as a right. Hold them up for all the market will bear."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold
That quote is in-character, rather than being in her own person, but I don't think Ms. Bujold would suggest much differently herself.
'Album' refers neither to albumin, nor to the flowers of white goosefoot, which are green, wind-pollinated, and not obviously blooms at first glance.
The new growth of the plant, and most especially fresh leaves of young plants, are covered in a white, mealy powder which rubs off easily and reflects light in the same way that the tiny glass spheres in road paint and road signs do - back towards the source. It's this powdery substance that is referred to in the name.