Conservation, Land, Plant Systems, Podcasts, Rehabilitation, Seeds, Soil Conservation, Structure, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 19, 2012
With the U.S. and other countries caught in unprecedented droughts, and arid areas of the world growing in tandem, this simple method for speeding revegetation at scale offers a lot of promise.
The barren, arid landscapes of the world are notoriously hard to revegetate. Indeed, the earth in these regions is usually very hard to describe as ’soil’. As vegetation dies off, the soil gets exposed to intense heat and evaporation, and any seeds that are present, or applied, are then unable to get the moisture they need to germinate and survive. With plant roots, organic matter and microorganisms no longer present in the soil, it rapidly loses any of the structure it once possessed. Soil erosion from rain events and harsh winds then easily undermine nature’s attempts at natural, progressive restoration, by sending any accumulated soil particles elsewhere, or out into the ocean.
Human intervention has been, in many cases, the driving force in starting this destructive cycle, and, as evidenced by the rapid advancement of desertification worldwide, it’s also clear that it will only be through human intervention that we can reverse it.Comments (10)
Animal Forage, Bird Life, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Land, Plant Systems, Trees — by Chris McLeod September 14, 2012
Writing the series about Food Forests has made me aware of how much interest there is in them and how they can vary from region to region, but it also highlighted to me just how difficult it may be for people to actually visit a food forest.
However, thanks to the wonders of the internet and YouTube, people have the opportunity to take a virtual tour of a food forest and see how it progresses over time without leaving their chair!Comments (4)
Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 10, 2012
Community Projects, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, GMOs, Health & Disease, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Seeds, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 6, 2012
Regular readers will know we are doing what we can to support Vandana Shiva’s "Occupy the Seed" campaign, running between 2 — 16 October, 2012. This worthy "Seed Freedom Fortnight of Action" is a call to respect and liberate the world’s seeds and to maximise their diversity — their being the very basis of our existence, and an absolute wonder of biological ‘magic’ in their own right. On Wednesday September 5th, as an act of solidarity of purpose between the Permaculture Research Institute and Vandana Shiva’s Navdanya Network (an organisation that has to date successfully conserved more than 5000 crop varieties), Geoff and Vandana talked together on how we can recreate a more successful and healthy world through increased diversity, in contrast to the systematic biodiversity loss currently seen through the reductionist systems of Big Agri. Take a watch, and be sure to get involved!Comments (4)
Biodiversity, Community Projects, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Health & Disease, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Trees — by Susan Kwong
This article and research proposal were initially inspired by reading Eric Toensmeier’s article User-Generated Food Forest Resource is Online, encouraging food forest gardeners to contribute to this expanding database, and the discussion ensuing from Angelo Eliade’s article on Perennial Plants and Permaculture, among others, debating the planting of annuals versus the planting of perennials, as well as, I have to say, a personal obsession about food forests and perennial food plants in general.
I have also been concerned by many comments in discussions about needing to continue with our annual grains. I wish to add some perspectives to these matters as a nutritionist, counselor, herbalist and naturopath, specialising in the use of food as a medicine, whether preventative medicine or otherwise, and to propose a research project that I hope will provide a furtherance of our permaculture goals.Comments (11)
Compost, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Composition, Structure, Trees, Urban Projects — by Joshua Finch September 4, 2012
November 2010-November 2011 went by quickly with a lot of hard labor double digging our compacted clay to see us produce a fair amount of veggie in a short period of time. After the summer months, we begin cover cropping.
by Joshua Finch
We started here in 2010:
November 2010: One section of our typical American lawn with some potential
pathways being imprinted on the landscape.
By the end of the sixth slide show (see YouTube slide shows further below), we wind up here:Comments (3)
Deforestation, Global Warming/Climate Change, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor September 3, 2012
For 15 years, in the 1980s and early 1990s, John worked as a television journalist in China for CBS News, Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI), and Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF German Television). Over the years he had to do virtually every job in remote television production and gained some skills that were in demand.
As John grew in his work he was also observing China as it emerged from isolation and poverty. It was exhilarating to see China stand up but terrifying to consider the pollution and environmental implications of its rise. John would go to his office and think, "someone should really do something about the environment", but what he meant was "someone else". After some time he began to feel that his own attitude was part of the problem. If John was unwilling to change his life, why would anyone else? At this point he decided to found the "Environmental Education Media Project for China (EEMPC)" and to devote his energies to understanding and communicating about the environment and ecology. Since the mid-1990s, the EEMPC has distributed hundreds of existing films in China and John have made dozens of environmental and ecological films in China and around the world.
Food Plants - Annual, Land, Plant Systems — by Ecofilms August 30, 2012
Making use of vertical wall space located in a sunny spot is a great way to grow your garden. In fact you don’t need pumps or complicated equipment to start growing your own vegetable garden. As long as you have a consistent amount of sunshine of around 6 hours per day and a collection of plastic drink containers and some ingenuity you can create a mini vegetable garden and have it self-water the system. Consider this novel approach to harnessing gravity to feed your garden.Comments (6)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Land, Plant Systems, Surveying — by Rick Pickett August 28, 2012
In our three-years of experience in the Peruvian Amazon we’ve learned that equipment and techniques tried and proven elsewhere often don’t function well here. The combination of primitive infrastructure, intense heat, and high humidity wreaks havoc with equipment. Luckily for us, and the community of Mazán, we have Rick Pickett to apply truly useful technology to our project. (And, thankfully, his technology has yet to fall victim to the jungle.)*Comments (3)
Biodiversity, Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Plant Systems, Trees — by Eric Toensmeier August 25, 2012
Note: this is a piece that was originally to be published in Edible Forest Gardens, which I coauthored with Dave Jacke. Yes, there are parts we cut out, it would have been even longer! Dave reviewed and edited that version of this article, though I have substantially updated it here and he is not to blame for any errors that have crept in. This article only addresses the species present in the Matrix of Edible Forest Gardens and, as such, only covers the eastern forest region of the US and Canada from Zones 4-7. Using the hotlinks in this and my last few posts you can construct a similar layout for any climate.
Compositional diversity, the mix of plant species and other living and non-living elements, is a critical element of a stable forest garden ecosystem. This is particularly important in the case of pests and diseases, which frequently only attack closely related plant species. For example, many of the fruits that grow in our climate are from the Rose family, including apples, pears, cherries, peaches, and plums. While these are delicious fruits, they share many pests and diseases, like the dreaded plum curculio. By diversifying the forest garden to include unrelated fruits like kiwi, pawpaw, and persimmon, you can make sure that curculios will not ruin all of your harvest in a bad year. Maximizing compositional diversity can also help to create resource-partitioning guilds, because plants from different families frequently have different strategies and use different nutrients, have different root patterns, or may be otherwise less likely to compete. For example, plants in the lily order tend to have bulbs or tubers close to the soil surface, while many members of the Apiaceae (in the aralia order) are typically taprooted or have deep, branching roots.
Edible fruits of blue bean, Decaisnea fargesii. A member of the very minor
Lardizabalaceae family, in the buttercup order Ranunculales. This species
is barely related to common forest garden fruits like pears, blueberries, or
grapes, sharing few or no pests and diseases with them, and thus an
example of omega level diversity in action. Plus it looks super cool!
Aid Projects, Biological Cleaning, Building, Community Projects, Compost, Conservation, Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Energy Systems, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Land, Medicinal Plants, Nurseries & Propogation, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Surveying, Swales, Urban Projects, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water, Water Harvesting — by Melissa Andrews August 23, 2012
Olive trees stand the test of time in Palestine
All images © Christopher List Photography
It was a brisk, rather harried morning when my husband, photographer Christopher List, and I set off on a trip to delve deeper into the relatively unheard of phenomenon of permaculture.
It felt like only yesterday when we’d announced to friends and family that were were going to Palestine, to study a 14-day intensive permaculture course. After discovering some of the principles of permaculture on a recent trip to SA, I knew we were in for a gruelling, yet worthwhile experience.Comments (4)
Compost, Fungi, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Trees — by Chris McLeod August 22, 2012
A while back, the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia presented an article on hugelkultur raised beds (see also here and here). I found the idea of planting out raised beds made of tree saplings covered in a bit of soil and woody mulch to be intriguing.
I’d never heard of hugelkultur before, but living surrounded by eucalyptus forest started me thinking about the possibilities. I’m not sure that hugelkultur techniques are practiced in Australia and perhaps the reason for this is that eucalyptus trees can take many decades to break down into soil. This is probably a bit slow compared to the tree species used in hugelkultur beds in Europe.Comments (16)
Aquaculture, Biological Cleaning, Bird Life, Food Plants - Annual, Irrigation, Livestock, Plant Systems, Urban Projects, Waste Systems & Recycling, Working Animals — by Charlie Jones
You don’t need to eat fish to set up a backyard aquaponics system! Ducks are a great alternative and produce a huge amount of nutrient for growing veggies (not to mention providing eggs, meat and snail and slug control!) and they’re generally good friends to have around. At the Farm of Fluff, Chris and James set up this ‘quaquaponics’ system with a few bits and pieces we’d collected from the side of the road — and so far it’s doing brilliantly! You need a strong pump and good filtration to cope with the large particles coming through though! (We found a whole tomato blocking the drain one day, so check and clean regularly!)Comments (7)
Plant Systems, Trees — by Eric Toensmeier August 18, 2012
Nitrogen fixation is an important ecological phenomenon and a critical element of agroecological systems. Nitrogen fixing plants, through a symbiosis with various microorganisms, can convert atmospheric nitrogen to essential nitrogen fertilizer. A great diversity of species from many widely-separated orders fix nitrogen. This is an interesting lens through which to view higher-order taxonomy, and see why it is of interest.
Wild tamarind (Lysiloma latisiliquum), a nitrogen-fixing legume native
from Florida through Central America.
There are several living great divisions of plants, representing ancient lineages. The enormous division of the flowering plants is only one of these. Here are some of the major groups and their relation to nitrogen fixation.Comments (7)
Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Plant Systems, Trees — by Eric Toensmeier August 15, 2012
When I started to learn about useful plants and their scientific (Latin) names, I quickly came to realize that there were many more than I could easily keep track of. Fortunately botany comes with a pre-made filing system to organize every species. Use of this system has made it easy for me to keep track of the 10,000 or so species that are important to me and add new ones as they come into my life. It’s not hard to use once you get the hang of it, and it can teach you a lot about the relationships between plants including fascinating insights that you would not otherwise come across.
First a little basic botany: when you learn a Latin name it’s more than just the word for a plant in an obscure language. Scientific names are the accepted and official international classification system for plants. In my library I have plant books in many languages, but they all feature Latin names. More importantly for our purposes here, Latin names are the entry point to understanding the evolutionary relationships between plants.
Nuts of beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta)