Archive for July, 2007
Here’s a list of some plants that are walnut-tolerant. Many are not, especially apples, pears and peaches! Usually the chemical secreted by the roots of the walnut do not extend beyond the tree line.
Shrubs and Vines
- Burning Bush
- Mock Orange
- Black Raspberry
Veggies and Small plants
- Coral Bells
- Lima Beans
- May Apple
- Solomon’s Seal
- Black Eyed Susan
- Toad Lily
- White Clover
Just read an article in the Independent by a journalist who visits the Utopia Experiment in self-sufficiency for a month. The site is located just outside Inverness, Scotland. The good news is that people learn quickly, especially when the food is at stake. The less good news is that they haven’t gone a winter yet, with no water or electricity, or faced the “hungry gap” in March.
They must be aware that there’s a similar experiment just 20 miles east of there that’s been running successfully for nearly forty years. I had the good luck to visit Findhorn in my college years, if only for a month. My experience with the learning I can echo, as within a day or two I had adopted what I can only call the rhythm of the place. The pace there seemed much slower, and people rarely blinked. They kept their eyes open. And so did I, once I let go to this energy and let it carry me.
It was there on the Moray Firth that I, too, learned to cook: something for which I can never be sufficiently grateful. I learned about working in a bindery, about meditation, about demolition work, about pine trees and the connection between natural resources, sustainability and peace. George Galloway recently had a video piece with David Strahan (hat tip TOD)looking specifically at the recent wars and their connection to resources.
I’ve been thinking about plant guilds and developing a web database of plant groupings that combine synergistically. I thought this could possibly done as a “mashup”, pointing to some existing open database and adding metadata to map the combinations or guild groupings.
In looking for a database I came across the USDA’s PLANTS Database and found I can link to specific plants using a query mechanism. I didn’t see anything on there about an API or web service that would allow for a real mashup application, but it’s a start.
I finally found a Permaculture Certification program that I think I can afford in terms of time and money, through Hancock Permaculture just east of Binghamton. One of the teachers there is Geoff Lawton, who’s project in the Jordan desert I profiled earlier.
The program runs 5 weekends, first weekend of each month, starting in February. Binghamton’s about 2-3 hours from here, but this was definitely better than the every weekend all winter or two-week intensive time investments needed for other nearby programs.
As I was looking for vacant lots I got a call back from the South Wedge NET officer, Peter Saxe, who was very generous with information and ideas. He recommended I get hooked up with Rochester Roots, and one way to do so was to visit the South Wedge Farmers market, which meets Thursday from 4-8 pm, behind Boulder Coffee at S. Clinton and Alexander.
So I went and met Jan McDonald, the director of Rochester Roots School Garden program and told her I was looking for opportunities to do some Permaculture projects and also to connect with established communities and organizations. She told me about the garden project at Clara Barton School near Corn Hill, and I set up an appointment to go meet her there this morning.
More to follow.
I finally finished my herb garden this weekend. This ended up being about a 6 week, $400 project. Aesthetically I’m pretty happy with the result. See for yourself.
I did this all by hand which, for me, is always a good thing. I think people may think I’m crazy or stupid for doing it this way, but there are a couple of clear arguments:
- human labor is very fuel efficient
- power tools make a lot of noise
- tools seem to intermediate, and the higher the technology, the more the intermediation
What I find myself doing is creating these things in the landscape from a semi-baked design and then looking for a permaculture justification after the fact. This is backwards, obviously, but I’m also trying to include visual aesthetics in the design, something Mollison eschews completely. Actually I think there is something in the Permaculture Designer’s Manual about creating a new aesthetics- a thought for future posts.
I went to see SiCKO last night, and I have to say I have mixed feelings. The movie wasn’t particularly good. I didn’t have the same sense of rage I had after Fahrenheit 911. I just basically felt depressed.
On the one hand it does make me start to think about what life would be like without $9000 in insurance bills out of pocket each year, plus the $300 membership to the Chamber of Commerce. Or without the pressure to put thousands away for my kids for college. It makes me want to take a much closer look at how tax revenues are actually apportioned in this country (highways over rail, for example, or farm subsidies, corporate welfare, defense spending irregularities, and various pork projects).
I’m also pretty pissed about the plight of the three 911 rescue workers depicted, and the many more who are suffering.
However, I have to say I’m tired of Moore’s mug onscreen, and irritated by the more clearly self-serving gestures, like taking credit for bailing out the owner of Moorewatch.com with an “anonymous” check. And tales of how fabulous things are in Cuba are pretty suspect.
Overall, I’m glad I went, but it makes me less likely to see the next one, if there is to be another.
Hat tip to Practical Action for this simple device for finding and marking lines on contour. This is useful for swaling as well as the use in dead level contours described in the brief I downloaded.
To calibrate, find a level spot and mark where the string attached to the round plumb bob or weight crosses the cross piece. This now indicates level.
To use, place one leg at the starting point and swing the other leg up and down the grade until the string lines up with your calibrated center point. Then swing the first leg around the second and mark the next level point. Place stones or pegs to mark each successive leg position. Simple!
I discovered this excellent documentary on Bill Mollison available on YouTube. The movie is about an hour, broken up into 6 segments. The date is 1989. The theme I keep coming up against this week (Hansen, Mollison, Rickover) is why we’ve taken so damn long to understand what these people have been saying for decades.