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John Suavecito

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since May 09, 2010
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Food forest in a suburban location. Teaches grafting and helps people learn how to grow food. Involved with a local food exchange group. Shares cuttings and knowledge with schoolchildren.
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Recent posts by John Suavecito

William Bronson wrote, "Fruit is good for for selling, creating value added goods and offsetting the cost of buying , but it is not much of a staple for most people. "

Hi William,
I am mostly a fruit grower/orchardist.  If you grow storage varieties, fruit is one of the best things that you can grow in your yard.  Organic, permaculture quality fruitin a store is expensive and dramatically worse quality than what you can grow.  Storage fruit would be mostly apples, but there is a huge amount of fruit that can be grown for eating fresh as well.  Worldwide, lack of fruit is the #1 problem in the diet.  Most Americans eat fruit "colored" processed sweets and think they're eating fruit.  It is simply astonishing how much food you can grow in an orchard and feed yourself with high quality, good tasting real food.  Grains and dried beans are astonishingly cheap to buy, and if you grow green leafy weeds as part of your greens, they are amazingly easy to grow, and basically free. One difference is that fruit is easier to grow in Portland, and vegetables in Cincinnati.   Anyway, I think you know that I dig your posts and I've learned a lot from you here on permies, but it feels like I may be disagreeing with you on this one.
John S
PDX OR
1 day ago
Hi Carla,
I assume that the cherry pitter you showed is set for Montmorency pie cherries? Does it reset the cherries well after you pit one? We might want to get one like that.
John S
PDX OR
1 day ago
Every area that you could live in has its pluses and minuses.  I often hear about the benefits of living in a rural area on this site, but very rarely do I hear about the advantages of living in the suburbs.  I am going to list a few. Perhaps you could add some of your own.

1.  Proximity to services: I can easily ride my bike to the library, hospital, dental clinic, many stores.

2. Variety of foods and cuisines: I can bike and even walk to many kinds of restaurants, like Thai, Indian, and Korean, that would be unlikely to be found out in the country somewhere. I can also buy exotic vegetables, fruits, and herbs easily here.

3. Live music varieties: I can hear live jazz, classical, folk, rock, punk, and many offshoots here.  I like country too, but that would still be available in the country.

4. Availability of gardening products: Specialty gardening products, like Surround, for organic plant care, free logs and wood chips, and zillions of things off of Craig's list are to be had here that would be an unreasonable distance in the country.

5. Neighbors: I have a lot of nice neighbors. It's not so lonely here. One of my neighbors left the country because he was so isolated.

6.  Access to wild places: I don't have to fight through city traffic to get to wild places, where I can recreate, forage, or relax in a quiet beautiful setting.

7. More help: If I have an especially difficult task, I can find someone to help, even if I have to pay them. More tools and knowledge to conquer especially difficult problems.

8. Free pollination: SInce the neighbors have flowering plants, there are a lot of pollinators living in their yards that want to pollinate my stuff too.

9. No deer/rabbits: I don't have these critters eating my garden like people I know who live in the country do.  I do have squirrels though. My dog is working on that.

John S
PDX OR
1 day ago
Little leaf linden (tilia cordata) is a pretty common street tree here in Portland. I find them when I'm out skateboarding. I just gathered some seeds and planted them.  Now I have two trees.  I have grown new ones from cuttings.  Just keep an eye on them because they will grow up to be big trees.  I chop up the leaves and put them in my beans, quinoa, millet, etc.  

John S
PDX OR
1 day ago
I think you're using the right approach, Mark  Compost tea is great, but it is for specific uses. I think you would get more out of it after some time adding organic material.  The research on it is very mixed, because it is just too complex of a process.  Even Elaine Ingham has changed how she makes it over the years.  If they had followed some of her early attempts, they should have been convinced that it doesn't work.  

We had the same soil situation: thick clay, soaked in pesticides and fertilizers, with sod on top.  It's taken a few years, but we have good soil now, and it was almost all just due to adding wood chips over time. Now that I have a food forest, the diverse leaves add organic material.  The soil now drains enough that complex webs of life can grow and breathe.  The tree roots have been giving off their exudates for years, setting up complex and resilient mycorrhizal relationships in the soil.  

Every year will be a fun, surprising adventure. You will notice all kinds of cool experiences all the way to a sustainable bounty of harvests.  And you're inspiring other people to join in as well.

John S
PDX OR
There are many things you can do to make this happen. In general, point in that direction and make your life more that way over time each year, so that it becomes easier and easier. It's easier if you don't move every 5 years.

Plant perennial vegetables that come back every year and you don't have to use a lot of energy to harvest. Leeks, asparagus, horseradish, dandelions, salsify, etc. It will be slightly different in each place depending on your soil and climate.  

Learn about which weeds either already are on your land or will survive on your land that you can eat. They are generally healthier than the other vegetables you grow or buy and they grow like weeds!  I probably eat 20-50 species.  Take out the weeds so that these are your only weeds.  Now you are harvesting instead of weeding.  

Plant fruit trees.  In a while, you'll just be harvesting every year, and your soil quality will improve over time.

John S
PDX OR
3 days ago
You are entering a great adventure, Mark.
I"ve been doing this for about 20 years.  I find that I get focused on one particular thing due to  what's going on in my garden, like compost tea, biochar, lasagna gardening, raised beds, hugulkultur, biodynamic approaches, permaculture, exotic fruit, etc,  then incorporate them into my quiver and add one more, but keep them.  Permies.com is a great place to share ideas with others. There are so many experienced and knowledgeable people here!

It's good to hear from another person in the suburbs.  Most Americans live in the suburbs, and if we're going to turn our country (and our world) into a better direction, we need to be a part of it.  

John S
PDX OR

Charli Wilson wrote:

Lee Gee wrote:Charli,

Please make lots of these and I bet you could sell them on Etsy.

They are beautiful. Your creativity is a inspiration.



Thanks :)

There's a lot of legislation here involved in selling cosmetics and candles- it would cost me hundreds of pounds in getting recipes approved/etc- only useful if you do it full time! I'm quite happy to give them away as xmas presents though!



Unfortunately, almost none of that legislation has to do with removing lead, mercury or other toxins from the cosmetics that people use on their body, including their lips and face.  Quick, deceitful profit is apparently much more valuable than people's health.

John S
PDX OR
5 days ago
Professor Suzanne Simard out of UBC has done a lot of very influential experiments about how trees cooperate with fungi, covering a lot of these topics. I think she has a TED talk.  When you add phosphate fertilizer from another place, you discourage the mycelium from gathering the phosphate in the ecosystem and distributing it. Elaine Ingham has also done a lot of research in this area.  Also adding pesticides kills a lot of the microbes that are cooperating to develop these systems of sharing nutrients.  The mycorrhiza can actually communicate among several different species, warning each other that an animal is munching a non-related tree leaf too much, thereby signaling to the other trees to add more foul-tasting antioxidants into their leaves so that the animals will stop eating so many of the leaves. Our current forestry practices are not developed on this important information, and they will need to be changed soon.

John S
PDX OR
1 week ago
A lot of these posts are pointing to the same thing: humans are a natural part of the food forest.  In the book 1491, the author shows that Native Americans cultivated many nut and fruit trees to help them be in harmony with that forest.  A Mediterranean open forest is a little bit different.  The Native Americans here in the PNWet didn't cultivate douglas fir. It is a huge,  200' tall tree, that doesn't give a lot of food to people.  They burned the valley floor. leaving an open oak savannah, like what Mark Shepherd has in Wisconsin.  Robert Hart's forest garden has trees that are so tall that they shade the whole forest, so maybe it's better for squirrels than people.  My tallest trees are about 15 foot tall semi-dwarf fruit trees, so the open forest can let more light in for smaller plants, pollinators, and bushes.  It's built for humans to live in harmony with nature.  That's what works for me.

John S
PDX OR
1 week ago