Jason Hernandez

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since May 15, 2016
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Recent posts by Jason Hernandez

Are you thinking only of long term help, or short term also?
3 weeks ago

S Bengi wrote:
You want a nitrogen fixer/legume, this should be 90% at establishment and then culled/dieback to 25% at maturity

In the tropics, the possibilities are endless. Pigeon pea was mentioned earlier in the thread. Now, I don't know which legumes you have in India, but I can give you an idea of the diversity by telling you about the Caribbean ones I know.

The most ubiquitous tree in the Dominican countryside is known as the "fence post tree' (Gliricidia sepium). Literally every barbed wire fence uses this for the posts, because all you have to do is cut vertical limbs off an existing fence post tree, set them as fence posts, and most of them will take root and become trees themselves. As a secondary use, farmers will also cut its leafy boughs for cattle feed.

In the open pastures, the most wide-spreading shade tree is the monkey pod (Albizia saman). Besides providing shade (valuable in the tropics), it is also the best quality local wood for furniture (except for mahogany, which is expensive and mainly for export). I have seen cow pats full of monkey pod seedlings (I have attached a picture), which tells me that its pods are another cattle feed.

Then there is West Indian locust (Hymenea courbaril). A local person told me it was "algarroba," which means carob, and I did indeed find that the powder inside its pods could be used like carob. (The real carob (Ceratonia siliqua) is also a legume.)

We have the tamarind (Tamarindus indica), whose scientific name tells me that you have it in India, too -- so you surely know about its tart pulp, which, I now see in Wikipedia's table, is especially rich in Thiamine (that is, vitamin B1).

And that's just the trees! My point being that if you choose carefully, the legumes you put in for nitrogen fixation can serve additional purposes over and above that.
3 weeks ago
Looking through my pictures, I came across one of a very strange formation that appeared on my red bananas: there is the normal hand of bananas, then a stretch of empty stem. All this is as expected. But then came the unexpected: a tight mass of stunted bananas, forming a ball. I asked my local friend about it, and he said that it means that something must have physically damaged the stem at that point, so that not enough sap flowed to the end. He further advised me that normally, the way people there manage bananas, they would cut off the flower as soon as they see the empty stretch of stem; that way, the plant will put its energy into enlarging the bananas that are there, instead of growing more flowers.

I really hate food waste, so I kept the strange mass. Sure enough, in time, they all ripened, and tasted the same as regular red bananas, albeit one bite each.

When Hurricane Irma came through a few years ago, it wind threw the red banana plants. But, not one to give up easily, I found that by cutting off all but the top most leaf, I could get them to a light enough weight for me to lift them manually back upright. They recovered nicely -- and as an added bonus, when Hurricane Maria came along a week later, their lack of large leaves permitted them to avoid being wind thrown again.

I prefer the red bananas because they are sweeter than the yellow, and so I have preferentially propagated them more, but I do also have the yellow ones, and also plantains, each kind in its own grove. It's a good thing I'm so bananas for bananas, because on my 1/8 acre, they take up a substantial amount of space.
3 weeks ago
Peace to me means freedom from oppression. And freedom from oppression to me means freedom from hierarchy, among other things.
1 month ago

J Davis wrote:Are you sure thats edible? How do you know for sure?

In that conversation, here is what I would do: Ask them in turn, if you went to a supermarket, and none of the produce had any labels, how much of it could you identify? When they think about it that way, probably the light bulb in their head would turn on as they realize, yes, they actually could identify a lot of it. Then you can turn the conversation toward showing them how each wild edible has as distinct an appearance as each kind of produce.
1 month ago
Thank you for this!

I have 1/8 acre to work with, so I was frustrated that the PEP gardening badge was so heavy on hugelkultur. I have many years experience in gardening, but never in a location that would make hugelkultur a viable option. So I was pleased to see that the PEA gardening badge adapts the same idea to a manageable scale.

Had to chuckle a bit, though: some of those houseplants, I could grow outside!
1 month ago
Also, interstate regulations can come into play. California, for instance, has restrictions on certain kinds being brought from other states within the U.S.
1 month ago

Güneş Bodur wrote:https://www.directionsmag.com/article/6864

A possible reason why Fukuoka's rice fields were more successful than his neighbors'. They were probably using the traditional method, causing the excess water to spread multiple plant diseases around.

And that is important to note. Traditions develop because they are the best solution people found at the time. But if conditions change in some way, then the traditional way might not automatically be a better way.

Permaculture honors tradition in many ways, such as recognizing the value of landraces of plants and animals, and of intact ecosystems, but it is not wedded to tradition-for-tradition's-sake.
1 month ago