Anthony Francis

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since Jan 23, 2016
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Recent posts by Anthony Francis

David Wood wrote:From what I saw of the cute hippie couple they're taking what looks like regrowth forest on very steep land, clearing it and adding some veggie etc beds enclosed by flimsy surrounds.

Clearing forest to grow crops on marginal land? Isn't that one of the poor sustainability practices that has contributed to the mess we're in?

By the look of the forest I'm guessing it's a reasonably high-rainfall area. Without trees to hold it together there's a reasonable chance that once they've cleared their block if they get a substantial amount of rain they'll almost definitely get sheet erosion and possibly a slip that will see their topsoil head off down the slope.

They're burning green waste that's just been clipped using an accelerant of some kind. Why not compost it? Setting a fire on top of soil does all sorts of damage to soil structure and health. And anything larger than twiggy stuff makes good kindling.

Bit of a mess IMO.

David, you've made a lot of assumptions in this post, that if were true, would make our garden look like "a bit of a mess". We catch lots of rainwater, build lots of soil, and grow a considerable quantity of food. Not really a mess at all. The regrowth we are cutting is about 30 years old, and mostly pine...not a very productive or diverse landscape. The topsoil had been washed away from pulpwood harvesting and extensive grazing. I have no concern about scorching the topsoil because there isn't any. Once an area has been cleared we terrace, swale, mulch and livestake to keep erosion in check. We don't bother much with annual crops and don't till. Tilling literally isn't an option on our hillside. We do grow tons of pumpkin throughout the system, tomatoes have naturalized, and we grow sweet potatoes in wood chip mounds.
Ironically, erosion was a problem befor we cleared and swaled the property. We're fixing problems, not creating them.
It also might surprise you that it doesn't rain much in our microclimate.
And just to set the record strait, we don't spray accelerants on our brush piles.
4 years ago
I'm gonna blabber a little bit more.
I understand the value of ramial wood piles and really wish I had space to devote to rotting brush mounds...but alas, I don't. I really can't justify loosing that much space to cumbersome we burn brush, but we do not use accelerants. I try to extinguish the brush fire before the char turns to ash. I use large limbs more responsibly. I either make check logs on contour with them, or bury them in the mounds of our larger swales. I get plenty of free wood chips from my arborist neighbors, so we have no shortage of OM.
Now, I will address slope stabilization. We use check logs, swales and mulch to arrest sheet erosion...and it works like a charm. For deeper stabilization we live stake willow and lombardy poplar coppice on contour in newly established zones every winter. This not only arrests erosion, but will drastically increase soil OM via root sloughing since we aggressively coppice these trees for rabbit fodder. Then the rabbit poop goes into red worm tubs.
And we make a lot of charr that gets charged with pee.
As for Camelia sinensis, we do not use any winter protection, and they've survived -10 degree nights.
4 years ago
This is Tony again.
This article sums up why I avoid the word permaculture.
If you want to save time just skip to page eight. I agree with everything this author has to say about permaculture.
This is my favorite excerpt from the article.
If you were in India, say, and encountered someone helping a blind beggar across the road, it would be odd to say "I see you are a Christian" as if Christianity had a monopoly on kindness. In the same way it seems odd to me if people say "Oh I see you're into Permaculture"; am I? I am inclined to answer "Yes" on the understanding that Permaculture is another name for the holistic approach. But then all hell breaks loose: people project so much baggage onto the term that using it at all leads to a godawful tangle of confusion and misunderstanding. I've learned to steer clear of it; I prefer to speak in plain English and say what I really mean

There was a time when I called myself a permaculturalist. I was young and idealistic. I am older and slightly wiser now, and I actively distance myself from ideologies...including permaculture. When people ask me what I do, I generally reply "I plant useful trees". This is concrete and tangible to anyone. Permaculture isn't something you can do, because it's an idea that exists only in the fertile imagination of homo sapiens. Planting a tree on the other hand is all need for need for a philosophical just plant the tree...done!
Here is a (in my opinion) funny video that hints at my dissatisfaction with permaculture.

To quote the opening line of the video "we can see permaculture as a musical symphony, a symphony to freedom". OH REALLY! Well, not only does that have nothing to do with my homestead, but it doesn't actually mean anything. This type of vague, feel good jargon is rampant in the permaculture community. Thus, my disatisfaction.
Life is short, I take concrete steps towards concrete goals and sometimes it works....that's what I am doing. It doesn't need a name.
Feel free to pick my brain if you wish.
And just a side note, I love Eleagnus! Let's talk about how cool Eleagnus is...especially the evergreen species...good winter fodder for rabbits.
And a side side note...I'm having huge successes growing Camelia sinensis!!!
4 years ago
This is Tony from the TV show. A friend of mine told me about this conversation so I created an account.
Feel free to ask me any questions...I'll have internet access the next couple of days.
4 years ago