Here's a photo from today. The apple tree on the right blew down onto the fence a bit in a storm we had but the fence kept it from blowing over. I'm sure its roots were impacted by the pool removal but it will survive. Morels grow from the area surrounding its root system so I'm glad about that.
I planted the slope below the tree with clovers peas greens chicory and comfrey in the fall. Some of the little greens are still alive through a hard frost and I'm sure the comfrey is there for good because I planted it from a hearty root
I'm excited to report that finally this summer the pool was removed! It was a big job and cost $$ but it was worth it to have that piece of the design added to zone 1.
Having dug a lot of holes by hand, I decided to keep the deep end deep and make the shallow end slope naturally. I used the opportunity of having the trucks here to dig another hole I wanted for an earth sheltered greenhouse, and I used the topsoil and subsoil from that hole to fill in the shallow end.
Lina Joana wrote:I listened to this set awhile ago, and have been mulling it over ever since, partially because I was frustrated while listening without quite knowing why. I think I've put my finger on it.
This is supposed to be a permaculture way of building community. Where is the permaculture?
A permaculture system is one where you have set up the system so that the elements in the system thrive and are happy, while producing what they need and making a surplus with minimum input from the permaculturalist. All parts of the system get more than they give. It is the ultimate win/win situation.
The impression I got from this and the previous three podcasts was that a significant number of the "elements" - the ants - had left because they were not happy, not thriving, and felt like they had put in more than they got out - years of work, run through their savings, and had nothing to show. For his part, Paul has often mentioned that Ant Village runs in the red, and certainly doesn't seem to feel like he has gotten back more than he has given. So it was the ultimate lose/lose situation - the opposite of what permaculture is going for!
What I was hoping for at the end of the series, and was frustrated not to see happening, was a permaculture analysis of the things that went wrong, and how the system could be designed to head off problems in the future. It is easy to say that 47 is just a jerk and an icky person - but when someone has been around and gotten along for several years, does not sound like someone who is inherently a trouble maker. Most humans, under certain situations, can turn icky. Just like, in an improperly designed permaculture system, the cows will eat the apple trees, poison ivy will overrun everything, and the hugel bed will get washed down the hill and cause lots of damage. The challenge of the designer is how to minimize the problems and bring out the best in people.
Just from listening to the podcast (have not tracked down 47's material), a couple of things occurred to me:
Complaint: The lock was always stuck, making some ant villagers feel like they were trapped. Paul didn't even know it was happening and Fred can't be everywhere.
Root Problem: The villagers had fallen into the mindset of renters: if there is a problem with the common facilities, let the manager know. Feel cheated because the manager is slow and the facilities are terrible.
Possible solution: Build an outdoor bulletin board (like they have in parks) in some common space at the village. Have paper and pens. Encourage people to write, sign and post problems they have come across, along with the fix they have devised. So there would be a piece of paper saying Problem: the lock sticks. Fix: oil it with the oil can in the cubby by the gate. if the can is empty, go to the hardware store and buy a new on for $x The idea here is to both give people the idea (without lectures) that they are the ones who can and should solve problems, while giving them a tool to do so and troubleshoot.
Complaint: The ants wanted to be allowed to commute to work in Missoula to earn money. Paul does not want a commuter community and said no. He thought there were ways they could have earned money at the lab if they were just willing to work for it, so it was their fault, and there was no reason he should compromise.
Root problem: Homesteading on raw land costs money, even when you have access to tools and equipment. Ants need to buy food and supplies, and even if they came with savings, they faced the pressure of those savings running out, not earning more, and the uncertainty about future rents/expenses with no income.
Possible solutions: Require every ant to have a passive income before they live full time on the lab. Maybe it doesn't have to be much - $50 a month? $100? Set some number that will cover their basic expenses. If someone doesn't have that and really wants to get started, maybe do a starter package where they can live in town, live according to ERE principles, and save their pennies while they come and start building on the weekends. The goal is to avoid the situation where someone comes with a savings account and then burns through it without getting their acre to where it needs to be. Then they are stuck, forced to leave what they have built, and will feel cheated, etc.
There are probably many possible solutions, especially to someone who knows more of the situation. The beauty of the dictatorship is that Paul can choose the ones he likes best. But it is frustrating to me to hear the complains without any discussion of the real problems underlying them, and how to solve those.
Ok, break is over - gotta plant beets!
I think these are useful observations. A permaculture system will accept feedback and make adjustments.
There have been adjustments to the community systems on the lab but there seems to be a consistent human resources drain. Who can identify the problem?
We always call the weird looking veggies "farmer food" and leave the perfect looking ones for the customers. I don't usually go looking for ugly food but we do eat a lot of it! Most of the produce at our grocery stores is uniform and "perfect"
The county fair has a contest for oddest looking vegetable. This might be my favorite thing about the county fair.
I too have had good success with Ruth Stout methods keeping weeds down. I also have an outrageous population of Amber snails, slugs and voles. The voles are the biggest most serious problems because of deer ticks and lyme disease. Voles love the hugelkultur too. If anyone has had success with vole control I'd love to hear about it.
As for adding nitrogen, I think the chickens will add plenty. The mulch breaks down plenty fast anyway, in my experience.
1. dig kratergarden or sunken greenhouse
2. transform inground pool hole into kratergarden, filling it only as much as needed for stability with earth dug out of kratergarden in 1.
3. build better herb drying setup and better quarters for wwoofers in attic of barn
4. get good at grafting, practice a lot, especially grafting the most yummy of apple trees which happens to be the farthest away from the house onto the numerous crab apple trees that are close to the house
5. when the twins turn seven in July give them knives and teach them knife safety, sharpening and technique
I'd love to meet up, Annie! We have many growie successes here and plenty of failures too. We're on three acres in Matunuck. Some weekend this January maybe? I'm happy to host and show you our projects here or if you'd like to host the first time we could come to you. I love seeing what permies are up to.
I have been hesitant to invest much in squash since that year, which is a pity because it was a staple. I grew only volunteer gourds last year and this year again. It's not susceptible to the bugs but also not delicious. Not susceptible to soup.
I had a few years of great squash yields and then two years ago a neighboring farmer (chemical/fossil fuel based) grew acres of squash. There were so many squash bugs that I got almost crop. It was just as you describe.
I think sometimes crop failure is part of a permaculture system. I filed my squash experience under "accept feedback"
Being verbally straightforward and clear is polite and is likely to achieve long term success. It might be nice to have a little card printed with the basics on it. Laminated, even. I used to carry a little notebook with me when i was younger. It seemed like men could not hear me or take me seriously when i spoke out loud but the written word sometimes got through.
Nonverbal cues are nice to have handy too
I love the clipboard idea. I have also used headphones. They don't have to be on, just in your ears. Having a physical retreat out of sight is pleasant.
I have morels that grow in my orchard and garden beds. My neighbor tried to grow them a few years ago and failed so far but I got lucky. It helps that I have decades old apple trees, woodchip mulch paths all over, above and below ground hugelkulture/buried wood, a relatively moist climate and neighbors who experiment with mycology.
Important to note- the bullseye does not always appear near where the bite was. It is also not always a complete circle.
Also! Lyme is not the only tick borne disease to consider. I have had Lyme a few times and it doesn't compare to the misery and long term effects I have had from Erlichiosis.
Keep an eye out for fevers, even low ones. I get tested if a tick gets engorged but not if it's only a few hours. I think I have so many antibodies in me that I am sensitized to tick bites, I can feel them the moment they start sucking my blood. I have found a tiny nymph biting in a thicket of my hair from feeling it. I live in the very thick of Lyme tick country. After years of this and every kid getting lyme eventually we have learned some precautions.
As for diet, I have read that eliminating blood sugar spikes is helpful. The standard high fiber moderately high fat and protein, low carb, no refined carb diet. Also, 500-1000 mg vitamin c every four hours for a couple of days makes it inhospitable for spirochetes. Just a few days!
I have just finished the book "Neurotribes" which is a very well done discussion of the history of our understanding of neurodiversity and the autism spectrum. It's really worth a read, although some of the history is so sad and infuriating. I'm very encouraged by the mainstream nature of the conversation and the direction our culture is moving. Permaculture and neurodiversity are such a natural fit.
I'm following your progress with interest. You seem to be having some of the same ideals and experiences as I, no till, some great success, some pest trouble, CSAs a huge amount of work. Focusing on a few good crops and planting trees. Trying to make a living! Best of luck and keep us posted.
I drink coffee every day. No coffee grows in Rhode Island! Mmmmmmmm, coffee...
And I drive my car to the supermarket and buy lots of food wrapped in too much plastic. I homestead and grow a lot of food and preserve food and press apple cider and make vinegar with it etc etc... but it's not enough.
I agree that the permaculture crowd can seem zealous enough to be offputting.
File this under "catch and store resources"- my twins are getting strong enough to beat their own rug.
This swing thing was from an old wooden bench swing. The swing broke but we use this for various functions. Small hammock, of course, but also beating rugs and hanging heavy wet things that are too heavy for the clothesline.
I live in an all wood structure in a seasonally very moist climate. Mold is always just around the corner! Our shoes grow fur in the summer.
The experts around here swear by the "shut the windows and run AC all summer" plan. I have found that encouraging air flow with fans and showering outside helps. I also have been cutting down, year after year, on storing organic materials. For example, storing things in cardboard boxes or packing delicate xmas ornaments in paper. It all ferries mold. . Minimalism is the wave of the future.
My side of the mountain! I love that book! I read it to my older kids who are now teens and look forward to reading it to my little kids when they get a little older. Living in a hollow tree! With a peregrine falcon. Tiny house indeed.
All those Bill Bryson books are on audio books now. Those are sometimes funny and sometimes have useful or illuminating bits of information. Barbara Kingsolver too, although her humor is sometimes dark or wry. I like a little history or science thrown in like they do.
It really depends what kind of grass. Rhizomal grasses like quackgrass or Bermuda grass are very tenacious.
I have been experimenting with this for years now and my best success has been with an initial removal of perennials and their roots, addition of organic material, and heavy seeing with a little scratching in. Also, early consistent watering of little seedlings tapering off once they've taken hold.