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Neven

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Gardening
« on: January 09, 2014, 09:40:52 PM »
I thought it might be interesting/handy to open a central thread where folks can discuss and exchange their gardening experiences, as it is IMO one of the most useful things one can do, also with regards to the many global problems we face. You can't go more local.

I'm copying a discussion from a thread on global warming and food to kick off. Myself, I will be gardening for the first time for real this year, but starting small. I want to try and turn this into a lifetime hobby.

I use drip tape and like Jim says most of it goes to a recycling bin because calcium carbonate plugs up the emitter holes. I can use aluminum pipe hand lines( sprinklers ) but you use a lot more water. Wish I could figure how to keep my drip tape from plugging up.


On your drip tape issue I do not know of a solution.  We tired all kinds of drip tape fro the cheapest with the thinnest walls to the thickest which is supposed to last a few years, and, fo course, different makes with differently designed drip holes.  Our biggest problem was not mineral buildup (softer water I guess at our farm) but that in our climate gunk grows in the tubing and that algae plugged the holes.  We lived in an area which was very warm and humid and we used filtered pond water.  We had to  flush our filter at least every two days.  Maybe it was food for the plants?


For small gardens, instead of using drip irrigation, you may want to consider  a French Drain system. While commonly used to drain water away  from structures to prevent damage, they are, in fact, systems that move water fro one area where it is not desired to another where it is.

http://www.ndspro.com/drainage-systems/french-drains/ezflow-french-drain

I have installed these under my raised gardens with amazing results. The water from my downspouts fill the underground system and it migrates out through flow wells to surrounding soils as these soils dry out.

What are the advantages? All irrigation is delivered below ground, minimizing evaporation and encouraging deep root growth.

SH

Nice.  Did you build it yourself?  If so how long did it take to plan out and all that.  I assume you use pvc pipe with holes in it?


I did build it myself. It took my son and I a weekend to install the system for a single bed. I actually purchased everything I needed from the linked company. I have a single flow well in the middle of each 12' square raised bed. The piping from the downspouts are solid as I only want the water to disperse into the garden. It was amazingly easy to install, some planning, a little trenching and digging the hole for the flow well and connecting the various components of the system.

Caution: The system will only work if the soil adjacent to the flow wells have a decent percolation rate so that the water moves through the soil under the garden well. Fortunately, I live in a subdivision in Chicago that was built in the early 1900's, before they developed the neat trick of stripping all of the topsoil off before building and then selling you 1 inch of it back for a ridiculous profit. The dark topsoil is at least 3 feet deep. You will begin to hit some orange clay after that. This is another  reason why you want to construct a raised garden bed as you can insure better percolation. I did not bother measuring the percolation rate because of the quality of the topsoil.

Having clay under the system is not a bad thing either as it encourages the water to move horizontally through the garden bed.


SH, good idea in areas you don't plan on digging up again like raised beds or orchards. It would be nice to have a smaller diameter version available. A very slow rate biodegradable version would be even better IMO.  My goal is to reduce ff use in farm equipment first but ff plastic will also need replacing. Cornstarch greenhouse covers are possible I suppose but for now they are ff,


Bruce...the original French drain systems consisted of drain tiles and trenches filled with gravel. It is even necessary to fill the trench with different size gravel, the outer part should be very fine gravel which discourages soil infiltration and water escaping prior to reaching its desired destination. The core of the gravel is course so it can move the water faster. I toyed with the idea of using this approach but the thought of hauling thousands of pounds of gravel and the labor involved convinced me to use this off the shelf product.


Do you guys have any experience with these special pearl tubes (that's what they're called in German, Perlschlauch):



I'm thinking about using these in our raised, mulched beds, using the rainwater from our cistern. I'm really looking at ways to use as little water as possible, as we're also using the rainwater for our toilet and washing machine, and it can get pretty hot and dry here southeast of the Alps (in fact, a little too close to the Mediterranean Basin for my taste).
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ghoti

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2014, 10:21:24 PM »
I used what I guess is a North American equivalent (made of porous rubber I think) which dripped with a pattern the photo shows. I wasn't completely satisfied with it for a couple of reasons. One, I didn't feel comfortable leaving water running continuously even though the flow was very low. Two, I didn't feel I could judge how much water was being provided without poking around and digging up the soil to see the moisture spread.

In any case I stopped using this method and essentially stopped watering completely for the "ornamental" portion of the garden. If the wildflowers and perennials  can't cope they'll get replaced but what can. So far the effect is still pleasing to me and the garden is still green and colourful even in hot dry years.

For the food portion of the garden we mostly hand water using collected rain water off the roof of our house and garage. We have a very small patch of land so this really isn't an issue. Our lack of rigor in weeding is a much much bigger issue we'll have to work on.

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2014, 10:26:08 PM »
One, I didn't feel comfortable leaving water running continuously even though the flow was very low. Two, I didn't feel I could judge how much water was being provided without poking around and digging up the soil to see the moisture spread.

I see what you mean. I was thinking about combining the hose with a programmable clock so that things run pretty much automatic, after having calculated how much water is needed, and observed how things go.

But that's all theory.
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ccgwebmaster

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2014, 10:38:35 PM »
Just in case anyone reading this later wants to follow the original posts in the other topic:

https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,317.msg18602.html#msg18602

The first thing most people think about when gardening in the context of collapse (or in the name of increasing resilience if you prefer) is food.

Has anyone given any thought to pharmaceuticals? For example opium poppies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papaver_somniferum) are thought to have been used as a basis for painkillers (acute pain)  for thousands of years. Our socioeconomic overlords and corporate interests may want to try to regulate these options and ideas beyond the reach of the masses - but nonetheless I'm tossing the idea out there.

Another possible example is of course cannabis, which has a reputation for being useful for the management of chronic (albeit milder) pain. The closely related hemp has value as a fibre.

Fibres take one into fabrics and cordage - the usefulness of which perhaps shouldn't need spelled out.

Gardening - or small scale agriculture (more along the lines being discussed by JimD and BruceSteele) - need not be limited to only thinking about food. It actually opens up a lot more than that - potentially reaching into most aspects of less technologically dependent life (the word primitive carries negative connotations).

wili

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2014, 11:58:10 PM »
Thanks for starting this thread, neven...it's nice to think about green and growing things in the deepest dark of winter. For now, I would just like to know if anyone has any experience with hugelkultur.

http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/many-benefits-hugelkultur
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2014, 08:23:07 PM »
Do you guys have any experience with these special pearl tubes (that's what they're called in German, Perlschlauch):

Neven what kind of holes does that stuff have in it?    Is it just totally porous or are there manufactured holes on a specific spacing?  Normal drip tape is designed for farmers and comes in a variety of hole spacings from 6, 8, 12, 18 inches as these are the normal plant spacings used by row cropping.  This allows the farmer to have an emitter right next to the plant and none elsewhere (thus partially starving the weeds from water).  If your hose is porous everywhere it will waste some of your water and also water weeds thus increasing cultivation work.

And big issue if that hose is very expensive (drip tape is very cheap) is that anything with holes in it is going to eventually plug up and not work anymore.  Then it has to be replaced.  So take into account how often you have to buy hose and factor that into your costs.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Laurent

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2014, 09:22:56 PM »
I won't go to buy that for the reasons mentioned by jimd, I have bough a drip systeme that I will try this summer, it will be plug on rain water collector. Because it will be plug on the rain water system it should not be so easily be jammed with CACO3 ! (the rain water is acid normally)...would it work with low pressure...let's see !

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2014, 10:33:10 PM »
I'm hoping to start my first real vegetable garden this year. I have shared a garden, and have done some container gardening when I was a city boy.  I'm thinkingfof starting small, 2 raised beds, each 4 feet x 8 feet. Zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, band, peas, and might do some herbs in containers.  Looking forward to this thread. 

Where I live, we receive enough rain that supplemental watering is only needed during the occasional dry spell.  Many people around here use hoses like you mentioned Neven. They are usually sold as "soaker" hoses.  Normally people run them through their garden, or shrubs, and only leave then on for a day at a time when necessary.  They work well, and seem to flow very slowly. But I only see then used sporadically, not as the primary water source.  I
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Re: Gardening
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2014, 01:11:57 AM »
And big issue if that hose is very expensive (drip tape is very cheap) is that anything with holes in it is going to eventually plug up and not work anymore.  Then it has to be replaced.  So take into account how often you have to buy hose and factor that into your costs.

I think even something as simple as this question about how to drip irrigate highlights a few things - particularly:

  • the differences between gardening and small scale agriculture (significance of cost and labour)
  • techniques that might not continue to be available post collapse due to dependence on externally manufactured items

In that context I think it's of particular interest (thinking selfishly at least) what people think are good answers without reliance upon external products and technologies, but that still maximise efficient usage of resources (water and labour).

Even today for many people the simple question of getting enough water to their crops is a major issue (note large regions that today rely upon rain for this and failure of rain alone assures hunger) that is decidedly non trivial following collapse.

It is even more non trivial when one considers many of the obvious options for irrigation can threaten the land in some way - for instance not just non sustainable depletion of ground water but also salinisation of the land.

What then - without using sophisticated pumps and high technology - but still sustainably irrigating crops in the absence of sufficient rain - are the options anyone can think of? Preferably less labour intensive than storing rain and manually carrying the water around?

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2014, 01:15:44 AM »
Neven what kind of holes does that stuff have in it?    Is it just totally porous or are there manufactured holes on a specific spacing?

I'm not sure, Jim, as I haven't worked with it yet, but I believe it's totally porous. I don't know that much about it.
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ccgwebmaster

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2014, 06:19:21 PM »
I'm pulling in this from Bruce Steele into this topic (from https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,714.msg18888.html#msg18888).

Field peas are grown commercially at 46 degrees north near Walla-Walla Washington . Both peas and fava beans can withstand some spring freeze. They provide the best nitrogen if plowed under in bloom and even then they won't provide enough for hungry crops like corn without supplements or two years in cover for every year with a crop.
 The advantage beans provide in arid climates is they are spring planted and you can get a good idea of soil moisture content before you plant unlike winter wheat. Around here you can get away with black eyed peas when there isn't enough soil moisture to get a Lima bean crop in. They run a cover crop of favas followed with a planting of safflower in the Calif.central valley but the fact that safflower can handle alkalinity may influence those crop choices.
 I think there are crop rotations that can provide complete protein. Amaranth grown following peas and fava could be part of a corn diet if amaranth was the focus and corn was a complimented rather than the main portion of the diet.Corn is a very hungry crop and very hard on soil health. Adding some more legumes would help keep soil fertility up but since all those crops except fava are new world crops grown for thousands of years I'm not really covering any new ground. 
 What we eat or what we want to eat seems deeply ingrained socially. Unless one chooses to become a vegetarian the amount of beans one consumes is probably similar to your parents diet. Beans take some planning and time for preparation. Soak night before and cook for several hours. That alone may result in relative lack of beans in the western diet?
 This I suppose should go into the gardening page but I have roots in the Lima business, couldn't
resist. There are historical examples we could follow if we choose to. Farming has much to do with repeating successes and learning from mistakes. The mistake of depending upon chemical fertilizers will become very obvious when those inputs begin to fail. Temperature or rain patterns changes can be adapted to much easier than trying to farm without fertilizer.

Firstly because it's got some good and relevant information in it.

Secondly because I wanted to add my note that as far as I understand legumes do not automatically improve soil nitrogen - they work in combination with bacteria - rhizobium. That presumably means you either need naturally present soil microbes to start with or you need to be using innoculated seeds which have artificially had this ensured by coating the seeds.

If anyone knows more about this I'm interested in:
  • being corrected if wrong
  • how widely distributed rhizobium is globally and in which types of soil does it occur?
  • if you take innoculated clover into an area without the bacteria, could you gradually "seed" the soil in that area (and a growing area or with portability to other areas) on an indefinite basis if you grew legumes at least some years?
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 06:39:52 PM by ccgwebmaster »

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2014, 06:32:42 PM »
Another one I'm pulling in here from Bruce Steele (https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,716.msg18978.html#msg18978):

Jack,   Corn, amaranth, peas and beans don't need bees so it is still possible to maintain a plant based and nutrient ( amino acid) balanced protein diet without bees. Some of these same crops are also drought tolerant and can handle heat. They were staples for thousands of years because they can be harvested and stored for winter use. I have only grown one crop of millet but it should also be included on this list as a hardy heat resistant crop. Food for thought.


My understanding is most (all?) grasses and grains are wind pollinated. Peas and beans are (mostly) self pollinated.

If you are growing these - and especially if you are trying to preserve, maintain or improve a heirloom non hybrid strain of a seed - you need to be especially careful with wind pollinated stuff. You need to ask yourself - what is your neighbour growing? What is that massive field of stuff the farmer has a few miles away? Wind pollination can be unhelpfully promiscuous at times.

Even insects raise that to some extent but because they tend to travel from plant to plant in a local area (far more efficient) I don't think the distances of concern will tend to be anywhere near as far.

Also there are plants (brassicas come to mind) where my understanding is that you have to be careful native plants don't interfere with taking seed and breeding as they can also exchange pollen and have at least enough compatibility to ruin your expected harvest in the next generation.

http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/members/seed_saving/ssg18_brassicas.php

Some stuff on pollination in general:

http://howtosaveseeds.com/isolate.php

This just relates to corn, it cannot be assumed to apply to other plants, but highlights a point about GM contamination:

http://ohioline.osu.edu/agf-fact/0153.html

Other research has indicated that cross-pollination between corn fields could be limited to 1% or less on a whole field basis by a separation distance of 660 ft., and limited to 0.5% or less on a whole field basis by a separation distance of 984 ft. However, cross-pollination could not be limited to 0.1% consistently even with isolation distances of 1640 ft.


And just to highlight how conservative that is:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6421-wind-carries-gm-pollen-record-distances.html#.UtgWp7Ty2eY

Only a handful of studies have ever investigated gene flow from crops - GM or otherwise - at distances greater than a few hundred metres. Studies have found radish and sunflower genes travelling 1 km, marrow (or squash) genes travelling 1.3 km and oil-seed rape (or canola) genes travelling up to 3 km.

But the suspicion is that pollen from many crops could travel hundreds of kilometres on the winds.


I like the bit that we're growing a ton of GM stuff and haven't really even properly investigated the cross contamination big-Ag assures us isn't a f*cking threat!
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 06:40:18 PM by ccgwebmaster »

Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2014, 08:15:39 PM »
Ccg, I believe different legumes prefer different rhizobium. Although you can buy the correct  one to compliment your legume selections you will find replanting the same legume , in the same place, for a second year usually works without problems even without inoculating. I haven't ever inoculated and sometimes the first year is weak but second year there is always plenty of root nodules, you can easily see them . Legumes without lots of nodules are usually stunted. Legumes like clover or vetch can outcompete plants that don't fix their own nitrogen in soil that is low in nitrogen so there are usually rhizobium around. Sorry for not being scientific with sources etc., JimD probably knows better than I about which innoculant goes with which legume. Legumes don't fix their own phosphorus ,potassium or micronutrients so there are other things that can cause weak crops.     

JimD

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2014, 05:39:38 PM »
JayW

If you have very limited space you might consider locating your squash plant outside your raised bed as they get huge and crowd out your other plants.  One plant can produce more zucchini than most couples can stand to eat also.

ccg

What then - without using sophisticated pumps and high technology - but still sustainably irrigating crops in the absence of sufficient rain - are the options anyone can think of? Preferably less labour intensive than storing rain and manually carrying the water around?

An option just for small scale gardening that is similar to drip tape but will last almost forever is to use small diameter PVC pipe.  Say you had just 100 meters of plant rows.  You could obtain 3/4 inch pvc pipe and a bunch of couplings, end caps, a few tees and elbows (you get the picture).  Drill your emitter holes with a very small bit at specific intervals.  Obtain a few hose clamps and such to be able to attach a garden hose to this arrangement.  Hook it all up to your tank which  catches the rain from your roof and you have a gravity fed irrigation system.  If you are careful with it it should last 20 years.  If a hole gets plugged you poke a piano wire through it.  As required you take it apart and clean the inside out with a long heavy gauge wire with a swab on the end of it.  Don't glue anything together by the way.  If you don't have a lot which works for gravity feed you can rig a tank next to the garden and fill it with your collected water as required (though that might mean hauling the water which you did not want to do).

Secondly because I wanted to add my note that as far as I understand legumes do not automatically improve soil nitrogen - they work in combination with bacteria - rhizobium. That presumably means you either need naturally present soil microbes to start with or you need to be using innoculated seeds which have artificially had this ensured by coating the seeds.

All organic gardening catalogs have the various inoculants needed for sale in little packets you dust onto the seeds.  Costs is just a few dollars.

BTW watch out about using vetch as recommended in many books.  It is perhaps the best plant there is for putting nitrogen in the soil but it is invasive and very hard to get rid of.  I tried it once and hated it and most of the growers I know will not touch the stuff.  Biennial clover, field peas are better choices.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2014, 08:45:11 PM »
If you have very limited space you might consider locating your squash plant outside your raised bed as they get huge and crowd out your other plants.  One plant can produce more zucchini than most couples can stand to eat also.

I've grown courgettes before - one of the types of squash I actually like. We used to typically grow four plants and in a good year it would virtually inundate us with them. Once you start to get fed up of eating courgettes with most/every meal, you can let one or more grow a marrow and that nicely ties them up in a productive fashion. This is an aspect of total self sufficiency I think many people in affluent nations might not appreciate any more - the glut you get for a short period of the year and how so many things suddenly start to come on stream at once - many of them not really capable of being stored (especially if you didn't have a fridge).

An option just for small scale gardening that is similar to drip tape but will last almost forever is to use small diameter PVC pipe.  Say you had just 100 meters of plant rows.  You could obtain 3/4 inch pvc pipe and a bunch of couplings, end caps, a few tees and elbows (you get the picture).
[snip]
If you don't have a lot which works for gravity feed you can rig a tank next to the garden and fill it with your collected water as required (though that might mean hauling the water which you did not want to do).

Carrying water to a central point is still a lot less work than also spending a whole bunch of time walking along with a watering can or similar implement. That way your irrigation setup can do the work of distributing the water once you've made it available at the entry point.

One question remains - suppose you don't have PVC handy (it would problematic to make in a low technology setting) - what could you use in a more primitive setup? Maybe you could bury underground channels of porous material (gravel, sand, etc) surrounded by less porous material to do your irrigation underground? (this would at least combat evaporative losses).

All organic gardening catalogs have the various inoculants needed for sale in little packets you dust onto the seeds.  Costs is just a few dollars.

BTW watch out about using vetch as recommended in many books.  It is perhaps the best plant there is for putting nitrogen in the soil but it is invasive and very hard to get rid of.  I tried it once and hated it and most of the growers I know will not touch the stuff.  Biennial clover, field peas are better choices.

Actually the invasiveness and resilience might be a helpful feature if you were trying to improve the soil in a large area of unknown starting condition where boundary control was relatively unimportant? If it means it would both spread ahead of where you needed it and be less likely to die out from adverse conditions?

Ideally one would have every reasonable option available for use to maximise the chances of having something suitable for the conditions it would ultimately be used in (entirely unknown conditions) but of course one is more limited in practice.

JimD

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2014, 05:51:45 AM »
One question remains - suppose you don't have PVC handy (it would problematic to make in a low technology setting) - what could you use in a more primitive setup? Maybe you could bury underground channels of porous material (gravel, sand, etc) surrounded by less porous material to do your irrigation underground? (this would at least combat evaporative losses).

Well we could cannibalize some pipe from left over houses of the rich people we get rid of? You could do the French drain idea you describe but it is not water efficient compared to a drip type irrigation. Plus you have to have your soil graded very carefully.  I am not aware of any true subsistence type of substitute for the pipe.  You would probably have to switch to ditch irrigation like of old.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2014, 11:12:23 AM »
Bamboo?
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

AndrewP

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2014, 07:56:09 AM »
Good for you Neven. Gardening for me has always been about seeing plants grow and eating good food. I get pretty obsessive about it. Hopefully, it will be the same for you.

A few years ago after I graduated college I attempted to grow all the produce my family needed during the summer. It was a lot of work but I had decent success. The tricky part was my parents would get tired of eating the same thing and would buy things to fill in the gap and make the dishes we are accustomed to eating.

Now I only have access to a few raised beds and containers and wasn't able to plant them until June 10th last year which was too late for the climate (high elevation desert). I'm looking forward to getting started 2-3 weeks earlier this year and figuring out a more consistent watering plan.

JimD

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2014, 05:14:02 PM »
Bamboo?

I have used bamboo on my farm for staking (I got it free just down the road from my place). It was very unsatisfactory as it could not reliably stand being pounded into the ground, the twine slipped on it, and it rotted very fast. 

But for using as pipe the kind I had access to was segmented and not completely hollow.  One would have had to drill it out.  Maybe that could be done and it would last for a season, but that would be some serious work.  Or maybe there are other kinds?
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2014, 05:35:02 PM »
ccgwebmaster:  Reply #14;
"One question remains - suppose you don't have PVC handy (it would problematic to make in a low technology setting) - what could you use in a more primitive setup? Maybe you could bury underground channels of porous material (gravel, sand, etc) surrounded by less porous material to do your irrigation underground? (this would at least combat evaporative losses)."

Sounds as if you are a step ahead of others in your thinking for use of non-technology products for more primitive situations.
Buried clay pipes/pots are perhaps of ancient origin.  Choose a locale with clay, hand form, can use an open flame to fire,,, etc...
Micro-irrigation   http://www.appropedia.org/Micro-irrigation
Pipe Irrigation  The use of buried clay pitchers is an ancient technique of subsurface irrigation. The use of clay pipes had been initially tried in Russia and Mexico. ITDG Southern Africa along with others in Zimbabwe developed a low cost variation of this irrigation method in which clay pipes were buried beneath vegetable beds of the 450 women members of garden groups.


ITDG and other tropical research groups along with support from a lot of people saying
"be damned if I'm going roll-over and fry without a fight due AGW-CC heat."

There may be some alternatives to a "give-up because we don't stand a chance approach."

Also, through a group I donated to in the past they had a link to the Journal of
http://www.mathematicsinindustry.com/content/1/1/8
about designing irrigation pipes.

For me and and my backyard-garden, I prefer distributing 55-gallon barrels of collected rainwater via siphons or a small fountain pump due to convenient elevation drop layout into plastic buckets, with 15/64 drilled holes for a seal around 1/4 pipe,  surface level or some sitting in a hole for subsurface irrigation.
I use a lot of http://www.raindrip.com/products/tubing/feeder-line/1-4/1-4-tubing-black
Also, they have "fitting barbs" which will reduce the I.D. of the hole to about one millimeter.

BTW, if you should ever decide to collect rainwater, from for example gutter down-spouts, do NOT choose white - translucent barrels which can have sunlight penetration because you will get a lot of algae and the water will turn rancid if stored for some time.  Though, I do have one relative that uses "barley-straw" to prevent algae.

JimD

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #20 on: January 23, 2014, 06:03:37 PM »
http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-01-23/the-trouble-with-permaculture

The Trouble with Permaculture

I’m not surprised that Permaculture hasn’t caught on with mainstream food growers.


...The persistent myth of the uber-productivity of forest gardens, perennial plants and polycultures, amongst other sacred cows, are why I have a lot of sympathy for Peter Harper’s critique on the lack of controlled trials and measured experiments. It’s not that there aren’t any instances of these types of food production being successful (though those that are, are rarely in this country), but how do you know that polycultures provide a higher total yield than comparative mono cropping, if you don’t measure it? How many people who have planted a forest garden have actually been able to feed themselves from it? When I watched the Youtube clip of Mike Feingold’s PC allotment, I was appalled at how little food was being grown on such a lush looking bit of land....


One of my main critiques. 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #21 on: January 23, 2014, 09:38:41 PM »
I guess I was thinking of images that you can see by checking google image for "bamboo irrigation."

But I'm not sure any of those are usable for the kind ground water systems we're discussing. The clay piping sounds interesting.

I have heard critiques of permaculture, too. Like many such things, I think it has promise in certain locations, but nothing like the hype that some of its promoters suggest. I do think that we can't really expect too many forms of ag to compete on productivity with commercial ag practices that put ten or more calories of ff energy into the process for every calorie of food energy that comes out (iirc).

ETA: Here's another critique (thanks to hank at RC):
 
  Recent example: Permaculturists advocate keyline tilling, and recently an extensive study of that technique was performed by a prof from the soil sciences department of a reputable university. The claim by the proponents of the theory is that it markedly increased soil fertility over conventional methods. The site selection and tilling was done by a proponent of the technique, who sells plows in the range of $7,000 to $10,000 each to do this kind of tilling. The study was done over a two and one-half year period, at four separate farms, with thousands of baseline samples, samples taken during the tilling study period, and samples taken after the study period.

    Result: No measurable increase or change in fertility by any criterion was found...

See: http://onpasture.com/2013/06/24/keyline-plowing-gets-you-522720-worms-for-280/
« Last Edit: January 23, 2014, 10:17:23 PM by wili »
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #22 on: January 24, 2014, 01:03:11 AM »
That critique of permaculture isn't actually a critique of permaculture (it praises the thinking behind it, and much of the techniques), but a critique of urban hippies who think they know it all after reading a book on permaculture. I should know, as I'm one of those as well, except that I don't put permaculture on a pedestal or altar. Or not anymore.

Permaculture is a way of thinking (like Bruce does for instance, with his efforts to increase EROEI) that overlaps with a lot of other gardening stuff. It's not some sort of technique that is an alternative to other techniques. It's a philosophy, and philosophies can't be measured. Modern agriculture can be measured better, because it's not a philosophy, but a war against nature, run by engineers.
Il faut cultiver notre jardin

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #23 on: January 24, 2014, 02:04:37 AM »
I guess I was thinking of images that you can see by checking google image for "bamboo irrigation."

But I'm not sure any of those are usable for the kind ground water systems we're discussing. The clay piping sounds interesting.


The clay stuff does sound interesting - I imagine something similar (even just baking wet compacted soil) would help even in the absence of ideal clay. I have bamboo in mind as a potential structural material and can see it might be possible to make other things out of it - but philosophically I don't think one can assume on the availability of any single given plant (due to uncertain future climatic conditions).

I just found what seems to be good information (with some actual numbers) about bamboo drip irrigation (it actually sounds pretty interesting):

http://www.cseindia.org/node/2839

I have heard critiques of permaculture, too. Like many such things, I think it has promise in certain locations, but nothing like the hype that some of its promoters suggest. I do think that we can't really expect too many forms of ag to compete on productivity with commercial ag practices that put ten or more calories of ff energy into the process for every calorie of food energy that comes out (iirc).


I think the term productivity is a dangerous word here. What do we mean by it? Do we just mean instantaneous short term productivity of the sort so valued by a consumption based ideology? Or do we mean genuine ultimate productivity? Clearly if farmland is being depleted or nutrients and top soil allowed to blow or wash away much faster than it is being formed or revitalised - this is not a productive system. Sure - we might produce the short term illusion of productivity but our descendants inheriting the mess will produce little to nothing as a consequence. As you allude too it's also a strange measure of productivity when one is consuming so many calories in finite fossil fuel to produce the output. In the big picture there is nothing productive about that.

Anything that allows the land to continually produce therefore has a much better long term productivity. I think it is unhelpful to fixate too much on calory yields per area beyond the logistics of feeding mouths - in the sense that while some crops yield much more calories per area they will by definition also tend to be depleting the soil (in many cases) in the process (we should of course be returning to the soil what we take from it).

I think it's perhaps better to think of ways of producing food using land that do not treat it as a finite resource to consume - and that (looking forwards post collapse) produce the nutrition people require with a minimum of effort (to maximise time for other activities). Trying to keep productivity high enough to feed the projected population and support western lifestyles is likely to condemn the future to far less useable farmland (whether through direct degradation or additional climate change).

JimD

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2014, 03:50:26 PM »
That critique of permaculture isn't actually a critique of permaculture (it praises the thinking behind it, and much of the techniques), but a critique of urban hippies who think they know it all after reading a book on permaculture. I should know, as I'm one of those as well, except that I don't put permaculture on a pedestal or altar. Or not anymore.

Permaculture is a way of thinking (like Bruce does for instance, with his efforts to increase EROEI) that overlaps with a lot of other gardening stuff. It's not some sort of technique that is an alternative to other techniques. It's a philosophy, and philosophies can't be measured. Modern agriculture can be measured better, because it's not a philosophy, but a war against nature, run by engineers.

You mean philosophy does NOT exist just as a form of intellectual warfare entertainment?   :o

I am pretty sure that the original purpose of engineers was working for the Stoneage military industrial complex so we are just being true to form.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2014, 05:56:26 PM »
Ccg              Productivity or sustainability are words that need definition. Just because composting or growing legumes are organic doesn't mean they necessarily are conserving energy. Without EROEI how are we to agree on a definition? Hauling tons of compost from sites distant from where you grow crops may make for great soils but the trucks and fuel used have to be included in energy calculations. Pumping water and the energy required is an energy cost in areas without sufficient rainfall. Blood meal, bone meal,manure, greensand,fishmeal, or any other fertilizers also have embedded energy costs. Maintaining the animals on your farm necessary to reduce these embedded energy costs requires large landholdings and haymaking equipment, barns etc. Looking long and hard at how you minimize these costs means reducing everything to calories, watts, BTU or some other measure that can be quantified. Organic farming takes no measure of energy costs and although permaculture in theory is concerned with them it doesn't usually take their measure. I don't want to denigrate the value of either organic or permaculture methods but the large drivers of climate change are the consumption of fossil fuels and the clearing of forests.
 Pond culture with duckweed,fish, ducks,and pigs would probably get you closer to perfection than tilling  and fertilizing gardens like most western people are familiar with. There are forms of fishing that have EROEI figures that are far more efficient than any form of farming I am aware of. The more work that can be performed manually( by humans) the better your EROEI will look but just assuming that old methods are the best way forward, or what we may consider ascetically pleasing is probably a mistake. We need to deconstruct our value systems along with everything else and put better goals in place. We have failed , our values have failed us, and we are lost if we aren't willing to try something very different next time. That assumes we humans get a next time.       

Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #26 on: January 27, 2014, 05:28:05 PM »
Satire, I read your link on BIO-  standards and they do address some of the very issues I was talking about in the gardening post above.

http://www.bioland.de/fileadmin/dateien/HP_Dokumente/Allgemeine_Informationen/2012_12_12_Vergleich-BL-EGVO_englisch.pdf

Keeping your production close to all inputs for fertility e.g. intigrated animal / vegetable operations is just one of those obvious things any casual observer would recognize as beneficial. And for me it gets at my food energy calculations by reducing transport of manure and hay as well as reducing chemical ff costs.
What I  didn't see was whether a reduction of energy inputs were specifically considered ? Where they a goal? 

JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #27 on: January 27, 2014, 06:13:06 PM »
Maintaining the animals on your farm necessary to reduce these embedded energy costs requires large landholdings and haymaking equipment, barns etc.   
Off Topic I am.  If too personal - kind of ignore me.

What is the primary feed you maintain the "Mangalitsa" with?

About how many have you marketed from your farm?


Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #28 on: January 27, 2014, 07:38:37 PM »
Jack, Four fattened to about 230lbs last year. If you'd like to see pictures you can find me at
winfieldfarm.us


I bought some pigs initially as garbage disposals. During the summer farming season I feed a lot of overlarge summer squash and in the fall I feed some winter squash , fruitfall,and cleanup from summers efforts. I quickly outgrew what I could grow myself and rolled barley is the protein and bulk of their diet. Barley runs about 45 cents a pound so i am tracking down an alternative . There are a lot of dried beans grown locally with a processing and storage warehouse nearby.I can get bean culls for  ten cents a pound and beans are high in protein but they need cooking to make them palatable and increase their nutritive value. I am working on a very large passive solar heater to do the cooking.
I am going to run small clear plastic hoop houses up a very steep hill with old aluminum irrigation pipe painted black as a heat manifold inside the hoop houses. Within a large chimney hooked up to the pipe manifold I will have a large black cook pot with fresnel lenses concentrating additional heat. I'll let you know if I can get beans to cook.
 As an aside,  I am going to render some mangalitsa fat for some Bio-diesel. I would love to have the equipment to thrash an oilseed crop and press out some vegy oil but for now I am going to try some fat.I have used waste grease and ran everything for a couple years but decided the quality of the grease ( salt content) wasn't so good on my injector pumps. I grew a nice safflower crop but it was a real pain to harvest. Ended up as chicken feed but next time I think I'll just move the chickens to the safflower and let them do all the work. Safflower is very deer resistant and would make a good oil crop but I just don't have the equipment to get oil out of it.     
« Last Edit: January 28, 2014, 04:37:19 AM by Bruce Steele »

JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #29 on: January 27, 2014, 10:37:40 PM »
Jack, Four fattened to about 230lbs last year. If you'd like to see pictures you can find me at
 www.winfieldfarm.us

I bought some pigs initially as garbage disposals.


Found your farm when we were talking in another thread about wells in riparian river zone.
Forgot to mention - looks GREAT - I hope your dream is prosperous.
You mean you feed your pigs 'slop' - LOL
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Very interesting to me because as a youngster ca~ 1957 I won a "Blue Ribbon" in county wide 4-H contest for best sow (less than one year old) and next year made me some real spending  money selling five shoat's (Hampshire's), had to give one sow back to the program as I had got mine for free.

In summer of 1992 while going to Barcelona, in the town of Girona we got off the train for a few days,  at an evening meal we were served some very thin sliced (Iberian) ham with a slice of very sweet cantaloupe on top, forget the name of the dish, but fantastic and reminded me of my youth. Truly smoke cured without salt or sugar nor nitrates.  Just like we did it > 55 years ago.

A reminder to the people who are going for survival farming - gardening - without commercial refrigeration preserving farm slaughtered meat (and produce) is possible, but woe is it hard work. Most of ours used salt, easy.

Some special each year, hickory wood for the smokehouse, tend it 24-hrs/day until curing process is complete. Wood had to be cured first (dried). Try that with an ax, crosscut saw, mule to snake logs close enough to be cut - split for the wheelbarrow.

Yep, I grew up in a rural farming community area.  Numerous people in extended family.
I'll spare you from other sunrise-to-sunset back-breaking details. 

« Last Edit: January 28, 2014, 01:37:30 PM by JackTaylor »

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #30 on: January 27, 2014, 11:33:12 PM »
Nice website, Bruce!
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Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #31 on: January 28, 2014, 12:23:38 AM »
Neven , Thanks. Your first spring with the house up will be a memorable garden season I am sure.
Enjoy

Jack, Charcuterie is popular these days, you may have some skills that most of us are re-discovering
from books and enterprising restauranteurs. I have a dry cured ham hanging for my first attempt at Prosciutto. It takes about ten months 60F degrees and ~ 65% humidity. Charantais melons are, I believe, the melon of choice for the pairing.   

sidd

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #32 on: January 28, 2014, 06:42:22 AM »
Mr. Steele writes:

Re:biodiesel

"I would love to have the equipment to thrash an oilseed crop and press out some vegy oil"

i think the equipment will run 10KUS$ or so. Gotto count in  seed cleaner, augers, bins, hoppers, tanks.

but don't make biodiesel with the oil directly. rent the oil to restaurants (sell with collection discount)
collect back and then make biodiesel with the used oil.

if you use animal fats for biodiesel. watch FFA on the feedstock, and cloud,get points on products. I would be careful in cold weather.

if you make biodiesel be very careful with the methanol (or ethanol)
methanol especially is very dangerous, poison and explosive in one.

implement (m)ethanol recovery once you understand your process well enough.

sidd

Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #33 on: January 28, 2014, 07:12:44 AM »
Sidd, I did make bio-diesel using fryer grease for a couple years and I had misters for cleaning the fuel. After noticing the frozen French fries were pre-salted I quit producing fuel but I still have the electric water heater with recirculating pumps ready to use again. Do you have any thoughts on salt in used fryer grease?  I also misspelled thresh. I haven't ever seen a small scale threshing machine. I farm on less than ~ 8 acres so buying equipment doesn't usually pencil out unless it's fairly cheap. 

JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #34 on: January 28, 2014, 02:00:39 PM »
"~~"
Jack, Charcuterie is popular these days, you may have some skills that most of us are re-discovering
from books and enterprising restauranteurs. I have a dry cured ham hanging for my first attempt at Prosciutto. It takes about ten months 60F degrees and ~ 65% humidity. Charantais melons are, I believe, the melon of choice for the pairing.

Skills of getting blistered hands and severe sun-burns is about all that remains of my skills.
Most of the work I did on the farm was under the knowledge & at the direction of an older relative.
I left that life at 18 to join the military.  Think I'll consider starving before going back to that lifestyle, terrible I am.  Nowadays I do some back-yard gardening, moved here in 2008 so not much room, strictly a few "table vegetables".  During the past 50 years never had a garden plot(s) much over an acre.

After not being able to identify by name the Iberian/Catalonia ham like Prosciutto went looking,
it's name was "Jamón ibérico" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jam%C3%B3n_ib%C3%A9rico or was it "Jamón serrano" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jam%C3%B3n_serrano

At the bottom of the "Jamón ibérico" Link there is a reference to
"The first jamones ibéricos were released for sale in the United States in December 2007, with the bellota hams due to follow in July 2008. The basic jamón ibérico is priced upwards of $52 a pound, and the bellota is priced upwards of $96 a pound, making these hams some of the most expensive in the world."

WOW - If your Prosciutto becomes high quality - you may be on to something.

sidd

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #35 on: January 28, 2014, 11:05:01 PM »
we hire a local guy with a massey-ferguson combine to harvest, couple hundred for 10 acres. seed is augered from dump truck to holding bin, augered thence to seed cleaner, augered to grain hopper above seed press, meal is augered out, oil is collected in tanks.

salt hasnt been a problem, dissolves out with water


Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #36 on: January 28, 2014, 11:50:10 PM »
Sidd, If I might ask, does your bio-fuel produced offset most or all of your equipment uses?  I don't know about if you use solar or wind but do you think your farm could potentially run with most of it's energy demands generated on site?  I'd like to think such things possible.

sidd

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #37 on: January 29, 2014, 04:29:01 AM »
typically by the time all is done and dusted i figger i will go thru 10 gallon diesel per acre (hilly country, better in flatland Kansas)

this can be supported with say 1/3 of the oil derived from canola on that acre. Your yields may vary. Also, complications as you know. eg, if i use GMO canola i gotto count on more diesel to spray roundup. non gmo, i got to get in the ground a week or two b4 first frost so it has a few leaves, then it survives and leaps up next year and crowds out the weeds and also no roundup required. Soy is a different calculation, you might get only a third of the oil, by weight, compared to canola, so your yield per acre must be larger to have any oil left over. but you dont need mebbe to add so much fertilizer, soy is N-fixing, so you might save a few gallon of diesel there. whatcha wanna grow ? for oil, its hard to beat canola.

 but i dont do it that way, i move the oil first thru food service, and see a mebbe 15% to 30% loss there by the time it gets back, some walks out in your tummy from the restaurant in the french fries ...

sidd

JimD

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #38 on: January 29, 2014, 04:49:36 PM »
Bruce

I know a small farmer who does not have the acreage to work a system like sidd does, but what he does is sell his organically grown vegetables to a few restaurants right next to where his farmers markets are for a very good price.  They advertise that they are using his vegetables and he gets the used oil from them each week at the cost of supplying the containers (very minimal investment).  The restaurants customers come to the market to get his veggies as they eat them at there and want to buy from him.  He also advertises the restaurant at the market.  No extra trips for the oil as he just walks back and forth from his truck.  He has a homebuilt set up to purify the oil next to one of his buildings.  He generates all the fuel his tractors use for the entire year.  And sells the excess to some other small farmers on the side (without telling the govt of course). 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #39 on: January 29, 2014, 06:25:24 PM »
JimD, I have window shopped for oil- presses , antique seed cleaners, homemade seed cleaners, etc. I know there are farmers like Sidd with working systems in place. I have heard different yields but
growing and pressing your own fuel supply has to be one of the most practical ways out there for farmers or farm co-ops to reduce their ff uses. In combination with wind and solar in places like Kansas a farm in the 100 acre range should be able to be energy self sufficient and I am sure such farms exist. I have carried around 55 gallon drums of methanol and tracked down 50 lb. bags of sodium hydroxide. So long as I used my bio for farm uses it was legal but collecting restaurant grease was competing with tallow haulers and without permits, inspections of tanks, etc. not legal. There was some legislation to allow small amounts but I really don't know where things currently stand.
 I would think zero fossil fuel farms would be something to promote but if someone has to skirt the law then those working examples will not be advertised. This is one of those places where government could think things through and provide incentive rather than impediments. The rules whatever they may be are not consistent state to state and I am sure European farmers have their own legal hurdles  to jump. There are also stills necessary for methanol reclamation from the glycerine  ,requiring permits I suppose. The glycerine leftovers can be used as a feed supplement .
 It is a pet peeve of mine that very practical off the shelf solutions can't be put together as working examples. Satire is correct about selling solutions , pulling more people on board with seductive promotions , and committing to the hard work involved. Part of that work is politics and a political party with the stated goal of addressing climate change needs it's day. Farming, clean food, and healthy solutions for wildlife are issues that span the political spectrum. Politics that addressed these issues without the rest of the liberal or conservative agendas would be a refreshing change. We need a third party. The Carbon Party.   For gardeners everywhere.     

sidd

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #40 on: January 29, 2014, 08:17:36 PM »
re: glycerine

1)can find glycerine burners for process heat
2)soap ... we make soap 55 gallons at a pop, and its popular, all the restaurants love it, they ask our drivers for it all the time.
3)feed additive, as Mr. Steele points out


but get the methanol out first, especially if you intend to feed a burner with it, will go kaboom if you dont watch out. In this game, if you smell methanol _AT ALL_

1) you risk blindness, madness and death in that order
2)you risk vapor explosion
3)you are wasting methanol, throwing money away,

we have procedure that calls for
1) shutdown any processing immediately, evacuate, lockout electric panels (we have electric feed cutoff 200' from processing) and carefully (no sparking motors, breakers, flames) ventilate. in our case, means opening front and back 20'x20' sliding doors so we get big wind thru.
2)come back after all processing has cooled off (handheld IR thermometer for standoff measurement is useful here) drain tankage
3)find and fix leak that allowed you to smell methanol in the first place.

TerryM

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #41 on: January 31, 2014, 12:58:51 PM »
I first want to congratulate the posters here for the successes they've had with their gardening & cultivation. I've never been successful in any of my attempts.


On one of the threads I'd mentioned agave as something that requires no maintenance and has a number of uses that might be valuable if normal trade were to suffer. Agave Utahensis will grow in any well drained soil as long as it gets sunlight. Almost every part of it is edible and it can be tapped to produce a sugar water that was often fermented. The leaves can even be processed to make a soap like product. It will withstand frosts and can be used to make rope, cloth, pins or needles and the skin can be peeled to make an edible Saran like wrapper.


It's versatility hardiness and low maintenance might make it a handy cultivar as a backup when other crops fail for one reason or another. There are few plants that I'm aware of that offer so much for so little effort. In pre-contact times stones were placed around plants to reduce evaporation & they'd thrive even during drought conditions in the South Western deserts.
http://www.academia.edu/4471620/Agave_Agave_spp._and_its_Traditional_Products_as_a_Source_of_Bioactive_Compounds

Terry
« Last Edit: January 31, 2014, 01:23:22 PM by TerryM »

ritter

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #42 on: January 31, 2014, 05:22:20 PM »
Agave Utahensis

Thanks for this, Terry. Since it's looking like our only source of irrigation water this summer will be from shower/laundry gray water, I'm looking to do some relandscaping of our more water-intensive plants. Agave will certainly be part of the effort!

Martin Gisser

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #43 on: January 31, 2014, 10:52:54 PM »
Hi Neven and all,
time to join the forum,
and great to see Neven think of gardening!

Irrigation:

I hate having plastics around in the garden. Some place should be kept free of civilisational garbage. (But when I'm getting overworked or start starving I won't hesitate to think of exceptions.) Sooner or later you get plastic chips in your soil. And enough comes in via careless composting. Once I harvested an Angelica root with a little "bio" sticker already attached...

So, I would first focus on increasing water holding capacity of the soil. And this is easy if you have good biochar. Too much of it (ca. >60% vol.) can even "drown" some plants (root rot), but 20% vol. gives excellent flood and drought resistance. (Tested it with mom's tomatoes 2013 here in Bavaria: Last year was first exceptionally wet, then exceptionally dry. The biochar tomatoes grew best by far.)

Problem is to get and prepare good biochar.  In my garden (now left behind) the first thing I started was the fireplace. Luckily the forest was not far. Also, there were no nonsupervised hominids around, who are a major risk of fire pollution.  Forget about putting BBQ char directly into soil - it has the wrong char-acteristics and any untreated char spoils the soil at first. But BBQ is a good start: When BBQing is finished, throw the glowing embers in a (nonplastic) bucket of water to activate water holding capacity. Then put them in your urine barrel for 1-3 months (depending on temperature) to balance C/N ratio and seed with anaerobic bacteria (which could give an extra twist in nitrogen cycling if you chance anammox bacteria). Then mix in compost. If you don't have the 21st century urine barrel, put the fresh char under your compost first, pee on the pile often, and later mix it all. I would wait 2 full years before putting the char compost into the productive garden: Then it has had a good chance of being biologically stabilized and possible polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons decomposed.

The urine thing throws a finger at Sigmund Freud: I regard it an essential ritual for anybody interested in saving the world. And that turns Freud's funny theory on The Acquisition of Control Over Fire upside down. https://archive.org/stream/Imago-ZeitschriftFrAnwendungDerPsychoanalyseAufDieNatur-Und/Imago_1932_XVIII_Heft_1#page/n3/mode/2up :-) (ugh, doing decent links seems no possible and is undocumented)
Why is the earth silent at this destruction? (Martin Heidegger ca. 1937)

SATire

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #44 on: February 16, 2014, 02:57:53 PM »
Spring is in the air and gardening joys are starting early this year.

For now, I would just like to know if anyone has any experience with hugelkultur.

http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/many-benefits-hugelkultur

Yes, two of such things (but in more round configuration) did recover the soil after I killed the rhododendron planted by previous owner - nasty trees those rhododendron...
This "Hügelbeet" things are perfect for cucumber, zucchini and pumpkin.

A even nicer variation is to put big stones in a spiral and fill the center with old wood/stones/sandy soil: http://www.google.de/imgres?imgurl=http://www.kraeuterei.de/kraeuterspirale-ov2.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.kraeuterei.de/kraeuterspirale.htm&h=277&w=400&sz=25&tbnid=hVbbeyK2HitjsM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=130&zoom=1&usg=__rhLfRWZTsi3goz3zMzAU0u2Zk_A=&docid=C43FB9EovwKhoM&sa=X&ei=tsIAU4TfDcrZtQaRmYGgDQ&sqi=2&ved=0CFkQ9QEwAA&dur=323
That is very nice to look at and perfect for spices and herbs. After 1 year it is allready productive and overcrowded so 2 families can benefit from it and to share the herbs-knowledge (we placed it at the boarder for that purpose). 

JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #45 on: February 18, 2014, 02:24:43 PM »
Spring is in the air and gardening joys are starting early this year.
Great to hear that from your part of the world.  Wish you good growing luck this year.

It's surprising, after our wettest year on record and coldest temperature ever three weeks ago,  but yesterday afternoon while checking the soil in my backyard garden space it was thawed enough to allow running the tiller across the top one inch of a 10ft x 20ft (edit size) asparagus patch to loosen the soil in preparation of hoeing weeds and applying spring fertilizer.

Now today if dry - deep enough will start to prepare for some spring onion bulbs (scallions/green onions) and beet - radish - spinach seeds.   Cabin Fever "good-bye."

 
« Last Edit: February 18, 2014, 09:22:26 PM by JackTaylor »

Lucas Durand

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #46 on: February 20, 2014, 08:30:25 PM »
"For now, I would just like to know if anyone has any experience with hugelkultur.
http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/many-benefits-hugelkultur"

Not much, but I have an experimental hugelkultur bed that I have been growing herbs in.
This bed seems to be doing well enough that I may eventually build some larger beds.

Hugelkultur is probably of interest to those worried about irrigation - its main advantage being (as far as I can tell) a means of water conservation.
Apparently, if beds are done large enough and correctly, they become something like a "water battery" that needs charging about once annually.
Mileage may very...
http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/


bkpr

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #47 on: March 02, 2014, 11:00:46 PM »
For those looking for the chance of significant gain in your garden(s) and orchard trees, add a colony of honeybees or purchase some Blue Orchard Mason bees.

We raise honeybees and keep 2 colonies in close proximity to our garden(s) and orchard trees.  Even with ozone degradation, and all the assaults on the biosphere, we realize a significant increase in fruits, nuts, vegetables and herbs by having our pollinators close by.

Watching our bees work the cherry blossoms for example is a wonder to behold.  Observing this super organism, I can spend hours (if I had them) just sitting and watching the coming and going, the interaction between the different type of workers, all fascinating.

Weather and ionizing radiation on the West Coast is making it very tough to make a honey crop, whether there will any to share with us is this summer is a crap shoot.

Surely mentioned elsewhere in this thread, is you can't keep bees, and can't find Blue Orchard Mason bees, then plant some food to attract pollinators.  A suggestion is to look in most heirloom or organic seed catalogs. Most sell bee seed for the growing zone you live in. They are very affordable.  Purchase a pound or two and scatter anywhere moisture might give this mix a chance. Usually there is something for bees that bloom early Spring into late Fall. Give them out to kids at any occasion, they WANT to help.

We beekeepers thank you, and who knows, maybe a tiny difference in leaving something for what comes after us.

bkpr 

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #48 on: March 03, 2014, 09:44:12 AM »
Thanks, bkpr!

I certainly plan to do some beekeeping next year or the year after that. I have a friend who is a hardcore anthroposophist and makes beehives out of reeds.

Last year we planted a large part of our plot (no house standing on it yet) with phacelia and it was amazing to see how many bees and bumblebees this attracted. We're planning to do the same this year, and combine the phaceila with Egyptian clover.
Il faut cultiver notre jardin

bkpr

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #49 on: March 05, 2014, 09:11:58 PM »
Thanks Admin;

If you or readers plan on keeping bees soon, planting for pollinators is a good bet on making a honey crop. Honey prices are high and will remain so, for true local raw honey. 

If you have a zone or area that your confident the spray nazis or big Ag, is not close, consider yourself lucky, as these safe zones will be held a bit sacred.

The newest advice for those who raise honey and other hive products, is to plant as large of parcel with a early Spring to late Fall sources of pollen and nectar. Let me repeat for emphasis, those of us primarily raising a honey crop are advised to plant acreage to insure pollen and nectar diversity.

The lack of habitat, monoculture, industrial toxins, poor beekeeping is what is at cause.

The days of setting hives on any but organic or alternatives to toxicides are coming to a close, we suspect. We are advised not to move our bees and we don't pursue pollination contracts.

If your trying to attract pollinators while waiting to put up some sort of shelter, these three plants will bring the pollinators calling.

Lavender
Mint
Sanfroen (sp) mine, a new seed for the farmer that wants to raise food for livestock, store nitrogen in their soil, and provide lots of pollen and nectar for the pollinators.

Google the local source for Blue Orchard Mason bees if you don't want the steep learning curve that beekeeping requires for success.

Happy Growing

bkpr