Plant Systems — by David Spicer February 13, 2013
In Australia we really need to get back to our European roots of coppiced forest systems.
As Darren Doherty states, we push out the stump after we cut the tree, when the eucalypts coppice beautifully.
Ben Law, author of The Woodland Way, also talks about the various products that come from a coppiced forest in England.
In my travels to Morocco, I have seen quite clearly the value of coppicing, where there are eucalyptus trees coppiced about every five years for firewood, simple structures and formwork props for construction, just to name a few uses.Comments (15)
Biodiversity, Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Insects, Plant Systems, Trees — by Angelo Eliades February 12, 2013
Hearing Geoff Lawton speak about the effectiveness of natural pest control in food forests during my PDC studies is what originally prompted me to design and build a backyard food forest garden. Nature taking care of pests in the garden? It sounded too good to believe, and coming from a science background, I just had to test the concept out. After all, any good science can be replicated!
Four years later, after working out how to scale down a food forest into an urban backyard, and going through the designing, building, documenting and weighing of all produce, I inadvertently had created Melbourne’s first demonstration urban food forest and a proof of concept experiment that had more far-reaching outcomes than I first envisaged. Hundreds of people visit the garden each year to see it first hand and learn how it all works. Even our local government has taken a liking to the concept of permaculture and I’m often hired by them to present on the topics of permaculture and sustainable gardening to an equally interested general public. I put it down to a good teacher!
The garden productivity has been fantastic, and has been increasing steadily from year to year, but what has been even more impressive is how the garden I first designed has become a living ecosystem that has taken on a life of its own. Geoff warned us that would happen! With passing time, the system has increased in stability and resilience and the pests have clearly reduced. I would like to share some observations in this article which clearly demonstrate the proof of concept of natural pest control in food forests.Comments (17)
Biodiversity, Insects, Plant Systems — by Elspeth Brock February 11, 2013
Bee Friendly Planting Guide (8mb PDF)
I just came across an excellent new resource for beekeepers. It is published by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and entitled Bee Friendly — a planting guide for European honey bees and Australian native pollinators.
It contains over 300 pages of information on bee forage plants for Australia, for urban open space, private gardens and farms with a climate specific plant selection. The sections on street scapes is an excellent resource for people in urban areas who want to improve local biodiversity and not just plant street trees for aesthetics. It gives specific recommendations on species of eucalypt, tea tree, hakea and grevillea for bees — great if you only have room for one tree or want to plant out a native section of a farm.
There are a few plant surprises for me, such as Pig Face, a succulent native ground cover that will grow on tough slopes and verges, and gives you an excuse to include flowers in your permaculture garden — daisies, Zinnia, Coreopsis and Californian lilac are named as excellent bee fodders. Oregano, peppermint, lemon balm and rosemary are amongst other herbs listed as most beneficial to bees.
What’s best is it’s downloadable for free.
- How to Revive the Honeybee
- How to Attract Beneficial Predators & Pollinators
- Colony Collapse Disorder – a Moment for Reflection
Animal Forage, Bird Life, Breeds, Food Forests, Insects, Livestock, Plant Systems, Working Animals — by Eric Toensmeier January 24, 2013
Cattle grazing under alder in silvopasture system
at Las Canadas, Huatusco, Mexico
Integrating livestock seems to be the best way to have a larger-scale food forest (anything over one hectare or a couple of acres). If done properly, livestock integration can greatly reduce labor and fossil fuel needs. It can create the conditions for happy and healthy livestock. Done poorly, it can ruin soils and destroy crops. Here are a few things that I’ve been learning as I travel around and view this aspect of permaculture in action (plus some important tidbits from reading).Comments (30)
Conservation, Food Forests, Irrigation, Plant Systems, Trees — by Chris McLeod January 14, 2013
Someone remarked to me yesterday that the fruit trees in the food forests here at the farm must require an extensive irrigation system. But, in fact, the fruit trees in the food forest here have to survive on rainwater alone, as I only have enough water for the vegetables and herbs.Comments (4)
by Dr Samuel Alexander, co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs, University of Melbourne.
A huge ‘dome of heat’ over Australia has broken temperature records, and this heat has been so intense that the Bureau of Meteorology has been forced to create new colours for their charts, which had previously been capped at 50°C. Deep red has now been followed by a new deep purple. Bush fires have been raging across the country – a sign of a warming world, the impacts of which are destined only to intensify.
While urban areas are less prone to the risks of fire in such circumstances, my poor vegetable garden suffers terribly when we face extended periods of extreme heat. In my small corner of the world, this has called for some ‘Psychedelic Garden Love’. It’s not what you might think — much less interesting, but still very important.Comments (7)
Animal Forage, Commercial Farm Projects, Demonstration Sites, Land, Livestock, People Systems, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Trees — by Steve Hanson December 24, 2012
by Steve Hanson
2012 is our eighth year of small scale farming in France and has seen us move from income dependence to financial security and independence. Looking back over the last eight years at our mistakes and our successes in getting to this point demonstrates the value of an integrated approach.
When we arrived in France we had a single idea to provide us with income; that of breeding pigs and selling high quality organic free range pork and pork products. This worked well for three years but in our fourth year, 2008, a poor global grain harvest sent the price of grain skyward almost doubling the price from our local farmer. This gave us cause to rethink our future dependency on outside sources for anything which the global market could affect — this is of course everything!
So how do we remove ourselves as far from external influences and gain self-reliance at the same time?Comments (14)
Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Trees — by Albert Bates December 21, 2012
As we approach the winter solstice and the end of one long count and the beginning of another, our understanding of the Mayan world is rapidly being transformed by new knowledge.
The traditional Mayan narrative in western literature is perhaps best exemplified by the writings of Jared Diamond and Joseph Tainter, who ascribe the collapse of the Classic Period to an over-exploitation of resources, and in particular, a deforestation of the lowlands that exacerbated climate swings, leading to extreme drought, fire and famine. Some now-familiar scenes in Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto were of lime-quarry workers, dusted head-to-toe in white powder, slaking lime to make renders for buildings and pyramids. These images resonate with our stereotypes of tone-deaf ruling classes directing their work-slaves to perform catastrophically civilization-destructive activity.
There is another story of Mesoamerica that is emerging through the work of biologists, botanists, and ethno-agronomists exploring and attempting to replicate the ancient systems that produced traditional foods. One example now familiar to permaculturists can be seen the chinampas of Xochlimilco, near modern-day Mexico City, which combined urban waste-disposal, canal dredging, and plant and animal production from both aquatic and terrestrial horticultural complexes. The Aztec’s elegantly interconnected system, which was not confined to just that society or to the tropics, produces more food per hectare than any system discovered before or since, and it does it by cooperating with nature.Comments (2)
Animal Forage, Community Projects, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor December 19, 2012
Fresh onto the interweb is a project that I had on my own things-to-do list for some time now, but this new site may well have saved me the pain. It’s a great new plant database, with over 7400 plant profiles and the very cool ability to drill-down to suitable plants by ticking off what you’re looking for based on the micro-situation of the spot you want to plant in (sun tolerance, water requirements, pH, soil type, etc.).
Being a wiki site, it’s open for everyone to help improve. And, unlike similar databases I’ve seen, this one is permaculture-oriented. As the name suggests, it is profiling ‘practical plants’ — i.e. plants with a use — as opposed to just edible plants.
Take a look around, and let me know your thoughts via comments below. My first impressions are that it’s an excellent start towards creating an extremely valuable resource.Comments (18)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Earth Banks, Education Centres, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Swales, Village Development, Water Harvesting — by Sabrina Faubert November 22, 2012
I’m not sure it’s possible, looking back now, to say exactly what I was expecting when I hopped on that plane and flew to Ethiopia for an internship at Strawberry Fields, but one thing I am sure of is that it’s been one of the most transformative, edifying experiences I’ve had in my life.Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Community Projects, Conservation, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Plant Systems, Population, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by John D. Liu November 17, 2012
Before (below) and after (above), Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabiliation Project
A Breakthough of Worldwide Importance
In 1995, as the Chinese government and people were beginning an ambitious effort to restore the cradle of Chinese civilization, I was asked by the World Bank to document the “Loess Plateau Watershed Rehabilitation Project”. Originally the Loess Plateau had been fully vegetated with massive forests and grasslands. Resources extracted from the giant forests, rushing rivers, and abundance of the earth in this place blossomed into the magnificence of the Han, the Qin and the Tang dynasties. The accomplishments of the early Chinese dynasties, based in this area, rank among the greatest human scientific and artistic achievements of any age. The Loess Plateau gave birth to the Han race, the largest ethnic group on the planet, and the plateau is generally considered by historians and geographers to be the second place on Earth where human beings began to use settled agriculture.Comments (9)
Bird Life, Plant Systems — by Zaia Kendall November 15, 2012
Using a safe deterrent for bush turkeys…
A good friend of mine had a problem with a bush turkey (also called scrub turkeys, bush chooks and I am sure a number of other names not suitable for publication…). The bush turkey had decided to make a nest very close to his home, and he was not happy about that at all. After shooing the turkey away numerous times, whereupon it, of course, returned every time, he pondered the problem….Comments (4)
DVDs/Books, Dams, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Swales, Trees, Water Harvesting, peak oil — by Geoff Lawton November 12, 2012
At time of writing, our Zaytuna Farm Video Tour video has had almost 11,000 views, after only six months. A lot of people expressed their appreciation for this video, with some describing it as a "free DVD". Where we can, we want to provide more inspirational/instructional material for free, and today I’m writing to let you know about our latest effort towards fulfilling this goal.
Click here to go to an introductory video titled ‘How to Survive the Coming Crises‘. This is a FREE 34-minute video that looks at:Comments (5)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Global Warming/Climate Change, Plant Systems, Population, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Structure, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor November 10, 2012
I love the nice progression of logic in this presentation. Running the numbers like this shows not only how powerful a carbon sink our earth’s soils can be, under the right management, but also just how futile and what a goose-chasing diversion most contemporary technological ‘fixes’ for climate change really are.Comments (2)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Swales, Trees, Water Harvesting — by Neal Spackman November 9, 2012
This week the project started planting the swales with 1000 very hardy desert trees. The team is working in shifts of laying drip line, digging holes, manuring and mulching swales, putting in compost, planting, mulching again, and then adjusting the drip emitter.Comments (7)