joe royce

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since Aug 11, 2009
Harvesting everything is wasteful.
Seattle, WA
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Recent posts by joe royce

The Fukuokian method has a trick to it: experimentation and observation.  I, being the rebel that I am, enjoy using this 'wild' method in even my zone 1 and 2 areas for growing all manner of plants.  It's a bit risky to be sure and one can never predict the outcome, but that's the point in some ways.  So experiment, observe and be willing to accept any yeild as being a success.  I learned a whole lot about plants, their relationships, how they live and die, and how the gardening books are flat wrong by using the 'grow and let go', no-till method.

I will say though that sheet mulching is a key factor in taking control of the ground back from things like sod and buttercup.  Without it, it's unlikely I would have seen as much success as I have thus far.
10 years ago

marina phillips wrote:
We're really excited to see exactly how tall Paul is.    

He's tall.  Monolithic tall.  Like a juggernaut or something(look it up).  It's scary.  Almost as scary as how much he knows about... everything.
10 years ago
Let's make clear the whole PDC cost issue since it seems to be a hurdle, mentally, for most to get over.

The average PDC tuition costs $1200, as where Larry Korn's PDC costs only $800.

Lodging costs are approximately $25 a night, with full laundry, interent, kitchen, hot tub, shower facilities, etc.  And that's the expensive option.  You will not beat that EVER with any conventional option and most PDC lodging is pretty convential.

Oh yeah.  Then all the food. Organic, cooked and catered, tailored to diet concerns be them medical or philosophical.  That's runs about $10 a day per person, with full pantry access.  Thats all your meals and snacks covered for the entire day for less than dinner at a cheap resturant. 

But where does all the rest of the money go after the instructors, the chef, the food, and the facility?  Well advertising, so you can know that this impossibly cheap deal is available, doesn't come free either.  Someone has to make it, print it, publicize it, work the network, travel to post flyer, run a website, make connections, get Paul Wheaton's support, etc.

And someone has to do the accounting, and the regisration, and then logistics, and the menu planning.  Oh, and the fees for guest instructors, plants, materials, demonstrations... Am I making myself clear?

And then there is the work trade discounts, and the scholarships so that genuinely intersted, and yet poor, people can come learn it too.  There are no institutional grants and government subsidies for permaculture education. 

So if you have thought to yourself, "Wow, that's a lot of money, this should be a community supported effort." Well it is.  It's more of a community supported effort than most PDCs you will find out there and yet it's still having a hard time meeting quota.
10 years ago
Regarding Fukuoka and the forest, that is covered in One Straw Revolution I believe as one fo Fukuoka's early and late abandoned methods, along with other expeirments like digging on organic matter to improve soil quality.  I got the impression he was pretty much done with all that silliness by the time Larry would have arrived. 

I love that you brought up how the forest needs it's own biomass Larry, so many forget that fact.  It's a difficult line to straddle, improving our own land within our short life without violating the complex and fragile structures nature has constructed.
10 years ago
HG, soil science is a funny subject and you would be benefited by talking to Larry Korn, a true to god soil scientist, regarding this subject as he knows far more than I do on the subject.  My short rebuttal would be that although there is a major short term of explosion in microscopic life in the soil directly after tilling, the reordering of the layers that are built in soil over time return the long term health of the soil to a beginning point; a point of having to build layers all over again.

Fukuoka, and later Bill Mollison, both talk heavily about the long term dangers of tilling and promote a no-till method all but exclusively.  I understand you are educated in your opinion about soil, but I have to observe that there are many well educated experts that disagree with you in part or whole.  Just a thought.
10 years ago
Hey Larry, in an attempt to get things back on track here let me ask you a question or two!

Firstly, what is all this "fukuoka x" stuff going on?  Fukuoka raised beds, Fukuoka Bonfils method, etc?  It's like Fukuoka is becoming a brand name somehow, and I'm not entirely sure that simply not tilling the soil makes it an "offical Fukuoka product".
How do you feel about that?  How would sensei Fukuoka-san feel about it?  Do these methods really parallel the Fukuokian method or are they merely borrowing his name?
10 years ago

helpfulgardener wrote:
Another conversation on another thread led me to this thought; what about soils so fungally or bacterially dominated that they chemically resist the move towards the balanced fungal:bacterial ratios our row crops want? This method seems ideal for a soil already near this median ideal, but isn't amendment a necessary "evil" in an unbalanced soil? Or should we be selecting crops that suit the soil?


Well, I'd have to say the core of your concerns can be remedied by getting away from row crop planting.  It's unnecessary to begin with and certainly less efficient than guild polycultures for the amount of space in raised bed.  The bacterial/fungal balance will even out on it's own if you stop tilling and amending.  Turning the soil is what sets the balance off to begin with and yearly amendment can actually set the soil health back to zero every year.  The plants themselves will adjust the soil, as there is no better soil amendment than biomass and no better biomass than roots, because they get underground without soil disruption.

Still, row cropping is the core of the problem in my mind and getting away from it is one of the hardest and most important step to success in the permaculture model.
10 years ago
Great stuff everyone, I'm pleasantly surprised to log in this morning and find such a great conversation suddenly going on!

Glad to hear you merely wanted to stir up some conversation Paul and it looks like I've done my part in making that happen.  Well, while the topic is hot I'll weigh in with a less 'harsh' tone regarding my point of view and real world practice in zone 2 development, especially regarding grass dominated areas.

I am a staunch believer in the very low input systems design method.  I don't like to work, I don't like to weed and certainly don't like to do anything that does not promote life on my site.  That being said, I will admit that in a heavily grass dominated area there is a limited level of success with direct seeding.  Grass cultures maintain dominance by their root mass and though it is possible to overseed(as nature is apt to do)it does lack some efficiency.  However, for woody, tall and/or bushy plants I have never had a problem digging a hole and plopping one in.  Once the shade gets started, direct seeding is no longer an issue as the grass has lost it's full sun dominance.

Otherwise I resort to sheet composting.  For the uninitiated, sheet composting is a 4-layer composting method.  Cardboard, manure, leaves/straw, and compost on top.  The cardboard blocks the grass and promotes mycelium growth through the corrugated channels, the manure provides the bacteria, the leaves/straw provide the food and the compost makes a lid you can plant into.  This is the highest input I will personally invest in, and with some preparation it's all but free and is done in an afternoon.  Additionally this method hurdles the bacteria/mycelium issue helpfulgardener brought up as well as allows for an immediately accessible planting area for herbaceous perennials and ground cover.  It's key though to direct seed a vast and diverse ecosystem into the compost as soon as possible to promote a polyculture right away.  Without the installation of a diverse selection of herbaceous and ground cover species into the top layer, edible or otherwise, the heartiest and most difficult to control weeds will have an unchecked advantage in the system.  This is how I prevent the 2 years of follow up maintenance:  I let my own selection of 'weeds' do it for me.  After that I leave it alone and see what happens, removing nothing and adding nothing for 6 months.  When 6 months has passed the cardboard is gone and I can dig right into the ground.  I never use wood chips for anything but my paths and I get those from the city's tree service, again for free.

And what do I do to eat for those first 6 months?  Well, if I'm that hard up for food then there is more I need to be worrying about than zone 2 development to begin with, but hypothetically I would subsist off of my zone 1.  Even Fukuoka-san had a moderately intensive zone 1 area(you can ask Larry Korn about that in the Fukuoka thread)and usually I at least have a series of whiskey barrels nearby that can grow a great variety of useful polyculture guilds in a controlled environment.

Hope that helps Paul.  I guess you could read Steve Soloman's ideas on the subject, but that's getting ever further away from the permacultural model than what we've started with in this thread.
10 years ago
I am going to have to strongly disagree with your proposed hypothesis on pretty much all counts.  It's not permaculture, and it's not true.

You statement is exclusive, implying that there are no other methods that are superior or more effecient.  This is untrue.  For starters, I am pretty certain someone else can come up with a more productive method without the amount of material and physical inputs you are suggesting.

What do I mean?  I mean that you are stating that you MUST use a deep mulching of free arboist wood chips.  This is an unnessecary external input that violates the idea of growing within an advanced polyculture - a fundamental permacultural technique that would take pages to fully extrapolate on.  You then state your need 2 YEARS of intensive "proactive" tinkering to "control any species that would undermine long term goals".  That is a lot of work.

Are you honestly suggesting I spend my labor and money wiping out all native life in the exisiting zone 2 area with a very specific and possibly costly material input and THEN persist in picking and choosing what life does and does not get to exist in my zone 2 area, further destroying anything that looks like a dynamic and natually occuring polyculture?

Who am I though to shoot down your obviously considered and planned proposal though?  You're right, I'm no one really.  Just a guy with an opinon.  I'll let the work of Masonobu Fukuoka do that for me!

Fukuoka tried this kind of zone 2 experiement.  It failed.  A lot of his experiments failed this way.  He did succeed in 25 inches of topsoil though, starting from red clay pan that wasn't even fit to grow potatoes however.  How did he do it?  He left well enough alone.  In fact EVERY SINGLE TIME he tinkered with the area for his own "efficency" it only made things worse and caused a need for MORE inputs not less.

Since we are defining "efficency" as "the ability to reach long term goals with a minimum of ecological, economic, or labor costs over the period of establishment" I'm going to say that more inputs than NOTHING over 2 years is probably less efficenct than just leaving well enough alone and letting the hard workers(weeds)do thier thing.
10 years ago
Wow Rose.  I couldn't even understand what you wrote at first.  That's an issue.

If I peiced out your writing correctly then I would have to say you didn't even read what I wrote properly.

I didn't saying anything about Geoff Lawton's other projects, just this one.

I didn't say Fukuoka was better than Lawton, I said he is using one of Fukuoka's principals to validate his perspective.

And where did I mention the chemical fertilizers that make up 80% of your [ comments ]?  Oh yes, I see, I didn't mention them AT ALL.

[ stuff deleted ]  ask Geoff why he isn't out there teaching the locals to do what he believes can be done?  I'm seeing him toot his own horn, not feed the people.

[ edited to comply with "be nice" - pw ]
10 years ago