Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Markets & Outlets, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Recipes, Trees, Urban Projects — by Nicola Chatham June 30, 2011
Pit-falls, projects and laughs from our Permaculture journey.
Ah… Autumn… beautiful!
“It’s just too hard!” the voice in my head said. “How am I going to cope with the house, garden, turbo-charged grass and eroding drive-way on my own, now that Chris has moved back to Brisbane for work?”
Then my eye was caught by something orange on the swale. Wandering over, I noticed flies were buzzing around it like mad. Closer inspection revealed, draped under the new navel orange tree, this!Comments (16)
Compost, Courses/Workshops, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Structure — by Steve Grace June 25, 2011
One of the major global concerns we face today is the heavily depleted state and continued degeneration of our soil. Without healthy soil, we cannot produce healthy food and however obvious it might seem, the food that we eat directly affects the nature of our being. It’s funny how the most common sense is no longer at all common.
In 1907, Theodore Roosevelt said: "the nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself". Since that time we have had a salivating appetite for destruction. At present 90% of Australian soil is considered to be of poor quality….
In order to appreciate the significance of this statistic, it is important that we understand the society of microorganisms that exist beneath our feet. In one tablespoon of healthy soil there lives a population of microbes that is greater than the population of human beings on earth – over 6.9 billion microorganisms, working together to make available nutrients to the soil in which we produce the food that enables us to survive. If only the human population of the world was as resourceful and harmonious as our micro acquaintances.Comments (13)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Economics, Food Forests, Fungi, Plant Systems, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor June 24, 2011
This video is from way back in 2004, so some of the political comments at the end are way out of date, but, that trivia aside, the rest of the video is one of the best presentations of holistic common sense I’ve heard in quite a while. I think many of you will find a lot of satisfaction in listening to David’s lucid observations on how natural systems work.Comments (2)
Animal Forage, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Trees — by Campbell Wilson June 15, 2011
Pasture cropped & time control grazed
Traditional Crop and set stock grazed
When you are trying to decide which method of soil improvement to take, sometimes it seems like there are as many different approaches as there are bacteria in a teaspoon of healthy soil.
This isn’t necessarily a huge problem when you’re talking about a suburban backyard scale. It’s easy in that situation to: do some aerating with a broad fork; balance the Calcium:Magnesium ratio and whatever trace minerals your soil test says are missing; build and add compost and worm castings; brew up some compost tea; add some seaweed extract, a handful of basalt rock dust, a bit of Charlie carp and the humified eyeballs of some rare mountain lion to top it off.
But what about the farmer who is planting 1000 Ha of Wheat and Rye so the armchair permaculturalists of this world can munch their organic sourdough toast while checking the next important forum posting written by someone else sitting at a computer at 10.30am. That farmer would quickly go broke if they did all the things a backyard gardener can do. So how to decide?Comments (22)
Biodiversity, Conservation, Consumerism, Deforestation, Economics, Food Forests, Food Shortages, Fungi, Land, Plant Systems, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Society, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor June 8, 2011
Yesterday we were talking about the great need to transition our agriculture (and our culture for that matter) to be based in systems (or integrated) thinking, rather than the segregated, reductionist monoculture mind set we have today. There’s perhaps no better example of systems-based thinking in practice than a well developed biodiverse ‘forest garden’ (or what is called a food forest in many places). Along with our own Geoff Lawton, Martin Crawford of the UK’s Agroforestry Research Trust is one of the world’s best recognised practitioners of the art. The following video gives us a peek at his work.
Compost, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor April 8, 2011
This video makes two things clear:
- We don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to make a compost tea brewer
- Things in the USA are too cheap! (I couldn’t get the items mentioned in this video for anything near as low a price as $30). It just goes to show how accustomed we are to buying mass-produced products based on cheap energy, cheap labour, impossible-to-sustain globalised trade and externalised costs!
Some of you do-it-yourselfers may well be able to come back to us with an even more environmentally-friendly version of this compost tea brewer. You may even want to out-do this guy by making a video of your own?Comments (16)
Compost, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure — by Nico Snyman March 10, 2011
7 week Border King maize produced with grass humus
There are many articles now written about organic farming and there are many experts in the field. Noteworthy from these articles is that the land as such is never addressed.
It does not suit us to acknowledge that we, as agriculturists, know nothing of the biological ground. It is claimed that we currently have only discovered 2% of the soil biology, this while everyone moans about food security and future shortages.
Billions of US$ are spent annually on space research, astronomy and basic nuclear research, while the knowledge of agriculture is controlled by private sector companies who are basically profit based. Such awkward problems are not researched. This situation lends itself to “experts” who advise the farmer and also manage his finances. The farmer is thus conditioned to always have a professional Hi-tech solution expectation.Comments (4)
Compost, Courses/Workshops, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Salination, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure — by Bonnie Freibergs February 25, 2011
Join us at The Permaculture Research Institute, Zaytuna Farm in Northern NSW, for Paul Taylors’ Compost Soil Biology Natural Fertilizer Course starting on the 7th of March.
Learn how to repair the soil through both a deeper understanding of the fascinating science of soil biology and plant nutrition combined with techniques like composting and compost teas.
Use less water and replace your fertilizers! You will discover methods and DIY products that will convert your soil and increase your productivity.
Where: The Permaculture Research Institute, Zaytuna Farm, The Channon, NSW.
When: March 7th – 11th
Click here for more details and to book, or call +61 (0) 419 741 358 now!Comments (4)
Compost, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor February 24, 2011
If you missed it, be sure to check out Part I of this interview, and then come back to this post to catch the finale.
Part II of Sustainable World Radio’s interview with Doug gets into the nitty gritty of bacterial/fungi ratios and how and when to favour them, carbon sequestration and how to protect and improve your soil quality.
Click play to hear the talk!Interview with Doug Weatherbee: Life Within the Soil, Part II Comments (9)
Compost, Fungi, Podcasts, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Structure — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor January 28, 2011
I had the pleasure of meeting Doug Weatherbee at Geoff Lawton’s PDC course at Quail Springs in California in August 2008. With his coming from an IT background, it’s great, and interesting, to see his metamorphosis into an expert in all things soil.
Given that the soil beneath our feet is the source of all we eat, breathe, possess, and are, and given that it’s disappearing fast, it is imperative that we begin to protect and even restore it. Understanding a little better how it works is one giant step towards accomplishing this.
The content of Sustainable World Radio’s interview with Doug brings one face to face with the absurdity of a monocrop, industrialised, product-based agriculture, as he looks at the real secrets of a healthy soil — mega-diversity in soil life — and its potential to bring not only resiliency, but also gift us with a self-perpetuating system.
Click play to hear the talk!Interview with Doug Weatherbee: Life Within the Soil, Part I
Continue to Part IIComments (4)
Compost, Demonstration Sites, Fungi, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees — by Niki Neave December 8, 2010
by Niki Neave
It’s not the soil itself — it’s the soil life that is the most important element. — Geoff Lawton, Permaculture Soils DVD
When the question came up, "How could permaculture be applied on a commercial scale successfully?" it led to an amazing opportunity to meet up with Nico Snyman, a long time South African farmer, and his wife Janie, who are using soil organisms to rehabilitate polluted and damaged soils.
Nico & Texas Grano onions. It was the 5th consecutive trial where the
soil is now fertile enough that it does not need GROW AGRA for the time
being, only raw material for food for the organisms. The image on the
right: a single onion was placed on a side plate with 18cm diameter.
These onions are too big for the market, but sweet and tasty. We donated
10 to the church fair where they fetched R4-00 each.
Over the years Mr. Snyman has noticed a decrease in the number of farmers countrywide due to ever increasing input costs. He mentioned that farmers’ major expenses are the purchase of fertilizers and pesticides. (Many farmers of his time were brought up and taught at university to farm with these products.) His son, Peter, B.Sc Agric (Hons.), who is farming in Zambia, also noticed that after a number of years of the soil been treated with fertilizers, it had become infertile, infested with eelworm and nothing would grow at all.Comments (6)
Compost, DVDs/Books, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure — by Ecofilms November 12, 2010
Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture Soils DVD is now shipping. A special thanks go out to all the people that pre-ordered this disk and waited patiently for their DVD to arrive. If you haven’t received them already, your DVDs are now in the mail and will arrive very shortly.
We had a few issues with transport delays which were outside our control but supplies are now all fixed and flowing normally.
The DVD starts with a short introduction to modern industrial chemical fertilisers (NPK) and how monoculture has destroyed the bio-diversity of many living soils.
Geoff seeks to redress this problem through adopting Permaculture management systems, showing you a number of techniques you can use to redress this imbalance.
With probably the most comprehensive instruction on compost creation, using animation and various manures and inoculums, Geoff spends the first 30 minutes explaining the composting process and shows you ways to reintroduce rich bio-diverse organisms back into your soil that feed the plants and actively help build soil. Whether you want to favour tree plantations like food forest systems or green leafy vegetable crops, Geoff will show ways to create the right kind of compost.
Part two of the DVD focuses on building a Permaculture Kitchen garden using small animal systems like worms, ducks and chickens to return nutrients back to the soil.
Part three takes us into broader pasture management techniques from using cattle and chickens together, cell grazing techniques and re-mineralization strategies for pasture management.
The DVD also explains ways to turbo charge larger main crop gardens using biological compost teas. Every step is explained in Geoff’s unique hands-on approach, right in the field.Comments (1)
Aid Projects, Commercial Farm Projects, Community Projects, Compost, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Alex McCausland November 8, 2010
At Strawberry Fields Eco-Lodge (SFEL) we use a fast hot composting system that can deliver well decomposed compost within 3 weeks. It was developed based on the technique we we’re taught by Dan Palmer when he co-facilitated two PDCs with us in 2008 along with Rosemary Morrow.
Hot composting is an aerobic process of fast oxidation which breaks raw organic materials into humus at temperatures of up to 80°C within three weeks. It is performed by a particular type of bacteria, that you can recognise as a white crust which starts to appear on the materials within the steaming interior heap once you really have the process working. I am not really up on the exact biological details of the bacteria, whether it is just one species or there are a range of species which can do the job, but once you have it working you have to maintain it, a bit like a culture of yoghurt, to get the best results. Like any living organism the bacteria has an ecological niche, that is to say a specific range of conditions in which it can live and within which it can thrive, so we have to maintain those as best we can if we want the organism to do this job of producing compost for us as best it can.Comments (5)
Biological Cleaning, Compost, Courses/Workshops, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water, Water Harvesting — by Andrew Jones October 29, 2010
The dry tropics cover a significant land area of the planet, particularly around the regions of the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Characterized by a majority of the year when evaporation potential is greater than rainfall, they also support rapid biomass growth during and following the rainy season. Legume species normally form a significant portion of the species present, and provide for rapid biomass production.
Management of this biomass can be tricky, particularly when left above ground in dry mulch piles, as it normally stays dry, inhibiting both fungal and bacterial breakdown. On the flip side, dry tropics soils, whether sandy or clay-based are in need of organic matter to balance structure, enhance water retention or drainage and build humus. One approach for creating such conditions are mulch pit gardens.
Papaya, banana, and coconut circles are developed by digging pits up to two meters in diameter (for papaya or banana – up to three meters for coconuts) and about 1 meter deep. These are then filled with dampened, compacted organic material to a height of 1 meter above ground. Up to seven plants of the appropriate type are then planted in the rim of the pit. Taro or other moisture loving plants may be planted on the inside edge, and sweet potato along the outside edge to provide a living mulch as well as extra production.
Double mulch pit greywater system being developed at Baja BioSana, Baja
Compost, DVDs/Books, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Salination, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure — by Ecofilms September 6, 2010
Geoff Lawton and Frank Gapinski
I just came back from filming all the links to Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture Soils DVD over the weekend. It’s a wrap – finally – with all principal photography completed and now it’s just a matter of finishing off the edit. Squeezing it all down to 90 minutes will be difficult as there’s heaps of good Permaculture information in this DVD. From Compost Teas, Kitchen Gardens to Ripping the Soil, working with cows, ducks, chickens and worms – and in the middle of it all, Geoff’s 18 day Compost formula – Geoff was in top form. Despite not drinking any water all day and being exhausted from nursing a cow the previous evening that was expecting to calf at any moment, Geoff was able to stay awake, stay focused and deliver on queue.Comments (8)