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A Homemade Vegan Version of Natural & Organic Fertilizer

A HOMEMADE VEGAN VERSION OF NATURAL & ORGANIC FERTILIZER

Last year I worked a couple of gardens with a friend/boss, Buck, who has been cultivating these spaces for decades. Though some of his techniques don’t jive with my permaculture sensibilities, such as tilling every year and walking in garden beds, on many things we were in lock-step. For example, once our seedlings had popped up a few inches high, we used leaves that had been piled the previous autumn to mulch the entire garden.

Up until then, I’d been dismayed with the amount of weeding we were doing each week. Once we’d applied the mulch, I asked why we’d not done it from the outset. Buck told me he preferred to keep a closer eye on the young seedlings—It was easier to amend the soil or address obvious issues without mulch being in the way—and thought of the early weeds, many of which were “chopped” into the soil, as nutrients for the plants. At the end of the growing season, he tilled the leaf-mulch into the garden to replace nutrients.

I have to admit, despite being a proponent of no-dig gardens and cultivating soil life (i.e. not killing it with a tiller), Buck’s technique had a lot about it that seemed sustainably conceived. Leaves had to be raked from the lawn and driveway (Buck is a caretaker for these properties) in the autumn; gardens had to be grown in spring. It made a lot of sense to me to do it this way. Other than adding a little soil enhancement to the hole when planting, the garden’s fertility was set-up to cyclically revive itself.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Polyculture Market Garden Study–Results From Year 4–2018

THE POLYCULTURE MARKET GARDEN STUDY – RESULTS FROM YEAR 4 – 2018

HERE ARE THE RESULTS FROM THE FOURTH YEAR OF OUR MARKET GARDEN POLYCULTURE STUDY. THIS STUDY LOOKS AT THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GROWING ANNUAL VEGETABLES AND HERBS IN POLYCULTURES VS GROWING THEM IN  TRADITIONAL BLOCKS.

In this post you will find an overview of the trial garden and the polycultures we are growing, a description of what we record and the 4th year results from the trial. You can find results from previous seasons here.

First of all we’d like to say a huge thank you to the team of volunteers that joined us for the study this year and that make it possible for us to carry out our experiments and research. It was a pleasure to work together with you. Thank you Victoria Bezhitashvili, Angela Rice, Malcolm Cannon, Elise Bijl, Alex Camilleri, Daniel Stradner, Emilce Nonquepan, Ezekiel Orba and Chris Kirby Lambert.

It was a great a mix of people from all over the world including university students, a crypto fund manager, ex-nintendo web editor and market gardeners. Thank you all for your valuable input, it was our pleasure to host you and we look forward to seeing you again some day.

The Polyculture Study 2018 Team

GARDEN OVERVIEW

Location: Bulgaria, Shipka
​Climate: Temperate
Köppen Climate Classification – Dfc borderline Cfb
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5b – 7a
Latitude: 42°
Elevation: 565 m
Average Annual Rainfall: 588.5 mm
Prevailing Wind: NW & NE
Garden Name: Aponia – Polyculture Market Garden

 

The six longer beds in the left hand corner of the photo on the right (the Aceaes) are the trial beds, the focus of this study.You can find the location of the Polyculture Market Garden on google maps here (labelled as Aponia on our Project map)

Garden area: 256.8 m2
Cultivated beds area: 165.6 m2
Paths: 50 cm wide – 91.2 m2
Bed Dimensions – 23 m x 1.2 m  Area – 27.6 m2 per bed
Number of beds: 6

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to Make Your Garden Have Less Weeds?

HOW TO MAKE YOUR GARDEN HAVE LESS WEEDS?

In crop gardens, we sometimes get into a spatial race with weeds, and the solution is to replace the weeds with “designed weeds” to take up the space. This can be done with green manure mulches to fertilize the gardens and supply quality mulch. This is an example of how understanding the inner workings of weeds allows us to harmonize with natural systems to both repair the earth and create production for ourselves.

It’s important to understand that the term “weed” is applied to any plant that isn’t wanted in a particular area. While we now call dandelions weeds, they once were sought-after greens. Banana trees are so prone to take root in the tropics that someone might consider them a weed, removing them from the yard, though they are the best-selling fruit in the world. The point is that just because we call a plant a weed doesn’t mean it lacks value. “Weeds” can be useful, or they can be prevented. Often, it’s us, as cultivators, who make and foster these choices or pick our small battles.

Mulch – The best way to have a weed-free garden is to prevent them in the first place, and organic mulch is probably the best way to go about that. Thickly (about 5-10 cm) mulch gardens with straw or leaves to effectively suppress weeds, and those weeds that do make it through are much more easily pulled. Not only will mulching help with weeds, but it’ll reduce the need to water, support soil life, and prevent erosion. Ultimately, the mulch will break down and continually replenish and improve the soil.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Saving the Planet

SAVING THE PLANET

I have often found myself wincing as I hear people talking about saving the planet. It’s felt wrong!  I can hear the voices of condemnation screaming at me now … ‘What a horrible person you are not to agree with saving the planet.’… but let me explain.

I’m the same age as Geoff Lawton!  Though I think he’s doing better than me!

I was brought up in the 50s/60s. I had two dads, my biological one and my step dad. My father was a left wing, ‘why is the government giving money to the farmers just because they have a drought’ type of person. He was always railing against the government because it didn’t look after the poor people. He was also the one who would order me out of the room so he could spray DDT in the living room to kill the flies. We left when I was 10.

My step dad was right wing. He didn’t believe the government should be giving out free money to people. He believed in self responsibility. What can you do to get yourself out of the situation?  He was also a firm believer in organic farming, no poisons, and natural health solutions. (Yes, I know that sounds counterintuitive, but you’d be amazed how many right wing people believe in self responsibly and growing their own food!)

My teen years saw my parents growing all our produce organically and sharing produce with friends who also grew organically.

In Grade 10, a science teacher gave us a scenario. He explained that all energy can be quantified as BTUs, from the physical energy you put into something, to the energy it takes to make a product. He gave us an example…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Growing Grains at the Home-Scale Farm

GROWING GRAINS AT THE HOME-SCALE FARM

I dream of growing grains, of being so far down the line in establishing a kitchen garden, a vegetable garden, a food forest, that time can be allocated to developing a system for handling the cereal part of the food supply. Well, let me put that differently: I aspire to get to that project one day, and from time to time, I do catch myself daydreaming and wondering just how it’ll work. Today, this morning, is one of those times.

Now, the truth of the situation, at least from what I deduced, is that producing fruits and vegetables and adopting a diet centered around them is more proximately realistic than growing my own wheat or rice. In large part, I’m on my way. The vegetable garden produced well over the summer such that the pantry has a nice stock of relishes, stewed items, and pickles, and the freezer is stuffed with bags of green beans, okra, and pesto ice cubes. We foraged serious quantities of wild mushrooms and persimmons. We have a box of sweet potatoes and another of autumn squashes. With some tweaks and natural growths (in area), those gardens will be there to provide substenance. With our new property finally purchased, fruit trees and berry bushes will hopefully start this spring. In other words, I can truly visualize how this side of things will get going. It won’t end the way I see it now, but the general direction is real.

Home-scale grain systems, however, elude me. Other than growing some amaranth this year, what amounted to about a pound of dried seed, I have no real experience with producing grain.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Humanure Part 2: Dealing With It

HUMANURE PART 2: DEALING WITH IT

In part 1(1) of this article I explored a little into why humanure is beneficial to the planet, including the need to replenish our aquifers and for people to have access to safe drinking water, the high phosphorous content of human poo compared to the finite and dwindling supply of phosphate rock as an agricultural product, and the reconnection of the ‘human nutrient cycle’ (2). In this part I will look more deeply into the different ways you can safely use humanure, and make some practical suggestions for beginning the process of redressing the human nutrient balance, even while we live within an unbalanced system.

Ways to deal with our crap

In ‘The Humanure Handbook’ (2) , Joseph Jenkins points out that we as a species have four different ways to deal with human excrement:

  1. To treat it as a waste product and dispose of it – this includes all water-based sanitation techniques such as flush toilets. As mentioned in part 1, this method ends up contaminating water even if the sewage is later treated, exacerbates the spread of water-borne diseases, and ignores the principle of ‘Produce No Waste’.
  2. To use it unprocessed in agriculture – at the time of the Handbook’s publication (1999) this was apparently still a common practice in parts of Asia (2). As you may guess, spreading unprocessed human waste on fields can be quite a large health risk because of the pathogens which are present in fresh humanure. This practice, euphemistically known as ‘night soil collection’ (3) , has apparently now been banned in many countries although there are some reports of people continuing to use fresh human waste, or ‘faecal sludge’ on their crops, for example in India (4) .

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Excerpt From “De-growth in the Suburbs, A Radical Urban Imaginary.”

EXCERPT FROM “DE-GROWTH IN THE SUBURBS, A RADICAL URBAN IMAGINARY.”

Over the next 4 weeks we will be sharing with you excerpt from Samuel Alexander and Brendan Gleeson’s new book, “Degrowth in the Suburbs: A Radical Urban Imaginary”.

This book addresses a central dilemma of the urban age: how to make suburban landscapes sustainable in the face of planetary ecological crisis.  The authors argue that degrowth, a planned contraction of overgrown economies, is the most coherent paradigm for suburban renewal. They depart from the anti-suburban sentiment of much environmentalism to show that existing suburbia can be the centre-ground of transition to a new social dispensation based on the principle of enlightened material and energy restraint.


Prelude: The Great Resettlement

This book opens, as it must, by acknowledging that the human species stands at the precipice of self-made destruction. At the very hour when modern humanity arrived at the pinnacle of triumph – a global market economy promising riches for all—the skies have been darkened by the terrible spectres of ecological and social threat. Global warming is only one of these storm clouds, but this alone has the potential to lay waste to our species, as well as most others. At the same time, vast oceans of debilitating poverty surround small islands of unfathomable plenty, exposing the violent betrayal of the growth agenda, euphemistically (or just deceptively) known in public discourse as ‘sustainable development’. This is a race leading towards an abyss, both enabled and entrenched by a sterility of imagination.

The late German scholar Ulrich Beck spoke of how triumph and crisis simultaneously emerge and remerge in a world pervasively and con- tinuously remade by capitalist modernisation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Backyard Chickens, and the Interconnectedness of All Things, Part 3

BACKYARD CHICKENS, AND THE INTERCONNECTEDNESS OF ALL THINGS. PART 3

This article is Part 3 of a Series that is mostly about chickens. It’s not a how-to-care-for-chickens article, but a how-to-appreciate-the-specialness-of-chickens article.

If you are interested only in chickens and would like to read about the funny things one of our roosters gets up to, this article will be fine to read by itself.

But if you missed the earlier articles in the series, and you’re interested in what backyard chickens have to do with the interconnectedness of all things, you’ll need to go back to the beginning of Part 1.

ROOSTERS ARE A LOT OF FUN TO WATCH

Roosters are gentle, generous, and protective, particularly as they get older, feel they have their place well established, and don’t have to compete with other roosters for space or mates.

They show the hens all the good things to eat that they find, calling them and sharing the food in a similar way to how a mother hen shares with her chicks. And they come running to defend the hens when they hear one in distress.

Rooster and hens, midday siesta

In our flock of about 30 hens, there are currently three adult roosters. The oldest has his own family group of hens who go with him to forage in the same areas each day, to rest in the same shady spots, to dust bath in their designated dust baths.

The other two are younger, and very different. One, a large white rooster who stars in the stories I’ll share below, seems to be where-ever there is food to share with hens, or where-ever there are good spots for hens to lay eggs.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

5 HA Polyculture Farm Design–Suhi Dol Revisited

5 HA POLYCULTURE FARM DESIGN – SUHI DOL REVISITED

Paul Alfrey from Balkan Ecology Project shares with us his observations and thoughts in regards to a visit he made to a farm he designed and how it slowly developed into a polyculture of fruit trees, aquaculture and vegetable gardens. 

Last week Dylan and I set off on a road trip to discover the flora and fauna of the North East of Bulgaria. Our first stop was to Catherine Zanev ‘s farm in Todorovo, North Bulgaria. As those of you familiar with our project may recall, this was a farm I designed in 2013. I had not visited the place for some time and was very excited to see how the plans had emerged into reality.

Catherine’s goals for the plot were to create a polyculture farm with focus on producing fruit for juicing, to include vegetable production for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) scheme and to experiment with dye plants. The design was complete by 2015 and implementation began that year.

The 5 ha polyculture plot Suhi Dol on the right, locally practiced intensive monoculture farming on the left

The design concept for Suhi Dol was to create an agroforestry system of “Belts” that are comprised of mixed species fruit trees, soft fruits and nitrogen fixing shrubs planted in “Rows” under-storied with support plants, herbs and perennial vegetables. Between the rows are the “Alleys”. The Alleys have potential to be used for growing hay, cereals, vegetables, herbs or rearing pasture raised poultry such as chickens or turkeys. Integrated throughout the belts and around the perimeter are various beneficial habitats to enhance biodiversity. The designed system is an elaboration of Alley Cropping and is based on tried and tested models of our small scale forest garden systems scaled up.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to Green the Desert: Europe’s Heatwave and Some Holistic Suggestions

HOW TO GREEN THE DESERT: EUROPE’S HEATWAVE AND SOME HOLISTIC SUGGESTIONS

In the Northern Hemisphere, the balance of light is turning ever more towards darkness as we approach the Autumn Equinox. This is following a summer which in many places was unusually hot and dry(1, 2). This is perhaps not unexpected; climate change scientists have been predicting extreme temperature spikes for a number of years(3). However, it seems that a lot of farmers were nevertheless unprepared and many crops have been lost(2). Such occurrences can be seen as unfortunate; but can also serve as lessons for us. When you look at the factors exacerbating aridity, it seems clearer than ever that industrial farming is ill-equipped to deal with adaptation. This article will explore a little what happened in the heatwave, particularly in the UK and look at an example of a permaculture site which survived unharmed.

Dry continent

Throughout Europe, rainfall in the summer of 2018 was so low that many places were reported as having droughts. While some of the affected areas of the drought were wild places, such as the forest fires which swept through the coniferous forests of Norway and Sweden in June and July(4), the main losses were from the farming industry. Both Lithuania and Latvia declared national states of emergency in July(2, 5). Germany and Poland were reported as experiencing severe losses in wheat production(2), with many farmers in Germany resorting to destroying their crops since they did not have the resources to continue watering them(2). Many cattle farmers, such as in the UK, had to use their winter supply of animal food to feed their cows(6), since the grass had all withered and dried, creating a temporary solution and more problems in the months to come.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

DIY Antibiotics

Garlic Tower Planter

DIY ANTBIOTICS

Watch this short 2:31 video by backyard food production expert and author Marjory Wildcraft on DIY antibiotics.

Most people will want to do this in their backyards, on a patio, or rooftop. No, you won’t need a laboratory or chemistry set. No, you won’t need microscopes or chemicals. Nope, you won’t even need a spectrum analyzer or centrifuge. You won’t even need a degree in biochemistry or organic formulations.

This particular antibiotic not only helps boost your immune system for any time you have an infection, but it is also good for when you have a cold, it’s known to help lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, it’s been known to help balance blood sugar, fight cancer, and fungus. Yet it is completely natural.

Marjory will host a free online event from March 7th – 13th, which features 30 backyard farming experts who will reveal secrets to growing your own gorgeous organic fruit, vegetables, herbs, wildflowers, livestock, even bees all in your own backyard!

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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