Scott Strough

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since Sep 08, 2014
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Recent posts by Scott Strough

Yes I have tested pasture cropping and yes I found success raising vegetables this way.

There is one way I tried it. I also tried it without the mulch for sweet corn.

With the mulch strips I found success every time for tomatoes and other similar seedling type crops and herbs.

Direct seeding with corn was great one year and really tough another year. I used this method for the successful year:
4 years ago
Sure you can, just be sure to compost it first. It's pretty easy to do, and would take only 30 days using a "hot compost" method. Well worth that extra effort.
7 years ago
I believe you are right dj niels. Of course one wouldn't want to be using tons of agrichemicals in that garden surrounded by a food forest. You would still want to apply sound organic methods like the use of mulches, companion planting etc.... But it is important to keep in mind that Permaculture is still agriculture. More than only agriculture, but agriculture at it's base. That means it isn't some actual wild ecosystem, it only appears and functions like a natural system. ie biomimicry. We humans get to actively participate and move that so called "natural" system along guiding it to produce more food in a long term sustainable and/or regenerative way. An annual vegetable garden is certainly compatible with that.
7 years ago

J.D. Ray wrote:OK, hawthorn identified.  Also, we've been told that this is tarweed, which is, contrary to the way the name sounds, a good thing.  It was evidently planted as a food crop by Native Americans.  Can anyone confirm?

Tarweed could mean several things. That to me doesn't look like the one the native Americans used for food. But there are so many hard to be sure. That one looks to me like another one from Europe used for ornamental flower gardens that went wild.

7 years ago

J.D. Ray wrote:If we're not so into herbalism, what's it good for?  Decoration doesn't mean much, considering that it's about 1000 feet from the house in an oak grove.

BTW, I didn't see any evidence of flower petals around when I took the picture.  Are they early bloomers?  The ones in the pictures at that link looked amazing, but I would expect there to be some evidence of petals still around in June.


One of the things Hawthorns were commonly used for was hedgerows as a living fence. Also good for windbreaks. Food for wildlife shouldn't be discounted.  And yes, they bloom early and what is in your photo is the pollinated fruit after blooming is finished. Also hawthorn jelly is pretty tasty.

Hawthorn jelly
7 years ago
Sure looks like a hawthorn to me too. I think it could be Paul's Scarlet English Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) or something very closely related.
Paul's Scarlet Hawthorne

If you are into herbalism, this is one of the  better herbs to have and even if not, it is a great permaculture plant, ornamental and supplying good food for wildlife!
7 years ago
I am in Oklahoma. Here climate change means flood or drought, little else. Our state is probably best known for being dead center of the "dust bowl" of the 1930s. We are also right in the middle of "tornado alley", right behind our neighbor Kansas in frequency and severity of supercell storms and tornados. Safe to say that "Sooners" as we are called are quite accustomed to severe weather events. The question for Oklahoma is how global warming and climate change effects our already extreme weather and maybe just as importantly our groundwater supplies.
The science predicts that climate change trends for us means rain-free periods will lengthen, but individual rainfall events will become more intense.[1] We know Oklahoma is already subject to extremes of weather, but the trends say it is getting worse, not better.[2][3]
According to the National Climate Assessment the last drought that just ended last year was both hotter and drier for Oklahoma than a similar period of the 1930s Dust Bowl. In 2012 we set the all time record for number of days over 100 degrees in a single year.[4] And what about floods? May 2015 set the record in recorded history for the wettest month in Oklahoma. Most of this rainfall occurring as part of supercell storms producing damaging EF5 tornados, hail and flooding.[5] So it seems our already extreme weather is getting even more extreme.
Sounds bad right? Well it might even be worse than it seems. To understand why we need to look at the water cycle and aquifer stocks and flows. Our aquifer basins are in a constant state of flux as inflow from groundwater seepage can fill them and we pump out water for human and agricultural uses. The largest aquifer in Oklahoma, the Ogallala is down 150 feet from historic levels. Some of the shallower aquifers are up a small amount, being somewhat replenished by these heavy rainfall events. However, taking all the aquifers into consideration the net flux overall is down. More is being pumped from the wells than is being replaced by groundwater seepage.
Since both usage (outflow) and climate (inflow) are controlling factors to aquifer levels (stocks), let's look at how climate change is affecting these fluxes, which in turn affects the basin total stocks of water.
So how does climate change to global warming affect the water cycle of Oklahoma? Droughts are pretty straight forward. Less water seepage into the aquifers and more farmers pumping larger amounts out of the ground to irrigate fields. Maybe less known is the effect severe storms has. Even though a lot of water falls as rain, it is less effective than gradual rainfall over a longer period of time. Less soaks into the ground and more runs off and creates floods. Also since this happens in a short time frame, before the water can soak far, the sun is back out causing evaporation.[1]
I believe this increased variability to extremes, hotter drier droughts and more severe storms, is primarily why overall our groundwater stocks are dropping. Less and less water is infiltrating to replenish our already overburdened aquifers. Climate change is already affecting us in Oklahoma in many ways, and trend is only getting worse.
I suspect most the earth has a similar story to tell. The effects of climate change different in each area, but already here, and ever so slowly increasing year by year. I investigated the impacts of my area, so that when I meet a person like that, I would be prepared to explain it in a way that gets their attention? Once I have their attention, I also mention what I personally am doing to mitigate it. (You guessed it, permaculture) They might think it is a good idea and try it too?

1) Dr. Ken Crawford and Gary McManus, STATEMENT ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR OKLAHOMA, Oklahoma Climatological Survey,
2) Climate change in Oklahoma,
3) JOE WERTZ, Drier, Hotter, More Extreme Weather: How Climate Change is Already Affecting Oklahoma,
4) National Climate Assessment, Great Plains, U.S. Global Change Research Program 2014,
5) Chris Dolce, Nick Wiltgen, Jonathan Erdman, Texas and Oklahoma Set All-Time Record Wet Month; Other May Rain Records Shattered in Arkansas, Nebraska, The Weather Channel Jun 1 2015,
7 years ago

Michael Cox wrote:What about building your compost heap over it? The warmth, nutrients and moisture will all help speed up its break down.

I am trying that this year on my cottonwood stump.

John Weiland wrote:@Sebastian K: "Science is an art with different disciplines ...... However they share something in common. The urge to understand and reason about the world."

Less for the technical aspects regarding the practice of science and more to your previous point that "I don't know who said the following, but I will try to get close to the original: To discover something new in science, one has to study the history of science."

Here is something worth considering when thinking about the history of science and subconscious motivations that gave birth to must consider for themselves whether or not they feel these motivations to be operating in present day science:

"Two aspects of the writings of Francis Bacon (often considered to be the father of the scientific method) stand out:

1) He established an approach of using data gathering to develop and test scientific theories. He stressed the importance of inductive logic in generalizing from data to theory and proposed techniques for using further experimentation to look for exceptions to--and refutations of--those theories. The Platonic approach of looking within for knowledge was replaced by the Aristotelian, empirical, approach of looking out into nature for knowledge. Bacon's empirical approach helped to clearly separate science from philosophy.

2) Bacon also had some 'interesting' things to say about the relationship between science and nature. He was attorney general of King James 1 during the time of the witch trials. In speaking of the role of science, he advocated that nature be "hounded in her wanderings and made into a slave". He proposed that nature's secrets should be "tortured from her". His anti-woman, anti-nature stand reflects his culture, but it also reveals the origin of an important aspect of science that is still evident today, that the goal of science is to dominate nature. This goal, however, is more cultural than logical, it is not an inevitable consequence of the scientific method."

Both Bill Mollison and Joel Salatin had interesting things to say on that very subject.

"I think science without ethics is sociopathology. To say, "I’ll apply what I know regardless of the outcome" is to take absolutely no responsibility for your actions. I don’t want to be associated with that sort of science." Bill Mollison

"In our culture we view the pigs as just so much inanimate protoplasmic structure to be manipulated however cleverly hubris can imagine to manipulate it. And I would suggest that a culture that views its plants and animals in that type of disrespectful, arrogant, manipulative standpoint will view its citizens the same way...and other cultures" Joel Salatin

Food for thought.
7 years ago
It seems to me that Science has 2 main characteristics, first the breaking down into smaller and smaller bits, to remove variables and see how each bit functions. This is commonly called "reductionist science". Then once each bit is understood, building it back up to see how things function as a whole, keeping in mind there are often emergent properties of the whole not seen in each bit. This is commonly called "holistic science". However there are ways to gain knowledge intuitively without necessarily going through the whole reductionist holistic process. The human brain can work out some things in this manner too. Commonly called an "aha" moment, or described with "woolly" unscientific terms like "It just came to me in a dream", or some such. Some might even describe it as a "spiritual" experience. Often after such understandings a person might want to work backwards and find scientific evidence for what they first understood though intuitive means. All of these things can advance human knowledge and the human condition. It's the great advantage a human being has over a computer. We can do both.

I had one of those "aha" moments myself when I contemplated the irreconcilable differences between science robustly showing the harm large herbivores have on ecological systems and difficulty in incorporating them into sustainable systems, with the observation that the most fertile and productive ecosystems on the land surface all historically had huge herds large herbivores. Bill Mollison gave me wise guidance to this paradox with this quote, "Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labor; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system." and another quote from the famous scientist that founded organic agriculture, Sir Albert Howard: “As the small trickle of results grows into an avalanche — as is now happening overseas — it will soon be realized that the animal is our farming partner and no practice and no knowledge which ignores this fact will contribute anything to human welfare or indeed will have any chance either of usefulness or of survival.”

What did these two great men and most respected scientists figure out that I am missing? First I broke down their quotes. Bill had it right about agriculture for sure. It is a lot of work. I come from a farming background and while we may substitute tractors and combines for manual labor, it is still requiring vast effort and energy to conduct agriculture. often more energy goes into agriculture than returns in calories of food. So I dug deeper into that quote. "looking at plants & animals in all their functions" What function(s) am I missing? Maybe Sir Albert had a clue? "small trickle of results". So this wouldn't be found in mainstream agricultural scientific consensus  This has to be one or more unexpected emergent properties of the whole reductionism missed. So understanding that holism in science is a better way to find those unexpected properties of the whole, I began looking for minority opinions that used a holistic approach. Took a while and the "protracted & thoughtful observation" took years. Also took years of reading countless published papers on the subject. But ultimately I came to the conclusion that both men were right, and actually while reductionist science may point to ultimately no sustainable system that includes large herbivores, actually the opposite was closer to the truth. It may be that actually is not a sustainable path that excludes large herbivores, and small herbivores and in fact all animals have their function. What we needed to do was figure out those missing functions and reincorporate those functions. All sorts of highly nuanced interdependencies then began to start happening. That's when I knew I wasn't going to be "just" an organic farmer, but rather I would take it the next step and become a permie instead. I have a ways to go yet, but that path is making all the difference.
7 years ago