[permaculture] Crabgrass, Bermuda grass, etc.
diebrand at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 22 08:43:19 EDT 2007
Jamie Nicol <souscayrous at gmail.com> wrote:
>Nature is forever particular to place and moment, any comments I make will
>always lack complete understanding. I make my remarks fully aware of this.
>But I made them finally because I felt that while you do know your
>environment you don't understand it!
Rational understanding always is incomplete. However, living on this land
for the last 10 or more years, I make an effort every day to understand the
particularities of the place, throwing overboard one conceived wisdom after
the other as I go along. I have found this to be a practical application in
a myriad ways of Fukuokas idea of "no action", which, to me, is beyond
intellectual speculation and mystical befuddlement and most of all beyond
linguistic niceties about understanding and knowing.
>You claim you must cut down the madronho to enable the oak forest to
>regenerate. But the madronho is the necessary natural precursor for oak
>forests in this region of Europe. ...
I think that is a misunderstanding. I like the madrone just as much as I
like the cork oaks and would never eliminate the one in favour of the other.
Besides, you know just as well as I do that it is impossible to remove
most Mediterranean perennials, such as madrone, by cutting; it is like
having your hair cut or cutting the lawn: the more you cut the better it
grows. Im simply thinning out a place that has known decades of neglect.
Cutting the tangled mass of wood, I let the best ones standing, allowing
the others to grow again with fresh green. Of what I cut, every gram of
organic matter is put to good use by making furniture, beams for the
house to be build, firewood to keep warm in the winter, shredded mulches
of the branches for growing our food and to keep the forest floor covered.
This is what I understand by the term sustainable living.
2 years ago, I simply tried to voice my reservations regarding the general
applicability of a "theory of succession" (or something like that) which
you seemed to consider to possess absolute validity without any regard
for local circumstances. I dont know that theory and have no reasons
to object to its conclusions. I simply said that a theory of succession
which may lead to certain developments in woodlands over a period of
100 or 200 hundred years, can hardly be applicable to a place where
forest plantations are cut down every 9 years by the national pulp
industry or where millions of hectares of woodland are destroyed every
year by wildfire because economic conditions and a mistaken view
of nature conservation are driving people off the land. The resulting
neglect of cultured land, and not climate change, is the reason for the
devastating wildfires. And let me tell you, a wildfire is just as destructive
to nature as it is to humans and the environment. While, only half of our
place has burned down in the last 10 years, a neighbour has had 2 complete
losses in that same time. Even when we are not directly affected, we
always have our bags packed from July to September so as to be able to
evacuate at short notice and not to get into a death trap. During the last
few years there was hardly a summer in which we didnt have to evacuate
at least once or twice.
>The grass 'problem' you have occurs simply because you try to maintain a
>bare field agricultural system. In a Mediterranean climate forest gardens
>(the incorporation of many types of trees with cereals, fruits and veg) are
>the most 'natural' agricultural form - especially when you seed everything
>and allow nature to choose what grows, where and when.
Another misunderstanding! There is not an inch of bare ground on the
30 or so acres we are the temporary stewards of. Where I cant use
vegetation or organic mulches around the house or on the access roads
I use stones or gravel. If you read my previous messages to this and
other groups you will understand that I have repeatedly and insistently
argued in favour of a strategy using a combination of woody perennials
and green annuals to rehabilitate a land degraded by years of abusive
forms of agriculture. This has allowed me to significantly improve the
soil of fields in a mere 5 years, while other fields, left untouched for
10 years, still dont show any sign of improvement.
If you let nature choose what to grow in the arid or semi-arid regions of
the world there will be nothing edible for humans to eat and we would
all have to come and enjoy the dolce vita in the South of France.
A semi-arid climate has nothing to do with drought either. It is simply
a climatic pattern dividing the year into a wet season and a dry season,
just like in the North you have snow in the winter and warmth in the
summer. To think that you can fiddle around with the climate by planting
a few more trees in a place that already has more trees than at any
time in history is nothing but absurd.
>You seem preoccupied with the problems nature throws up, but what the
>problems are all due to the previous human actions. If you continue to
>intervene then all your interventions will only produce their own problems
>which you will then desire to correct and these corrections will in turn
>produce problems that must be corrected etc etc
Jamie, Im in no way preoccupied by the problems nature throws at me
(your words). But I do enjoy finding solutions for making better use of
the resources (soil, plants, wood, stones, clay, etc.) that nature has
blessed us with and try to remedy some of the damage done by
previous owners who have moved on to continue the abusive practices
on another piece of land after all the topsoil had been washed away
on this one.
I do take issue, though, with a line of thought, popular among
followers of alternative life styles, according to which "you are to
blame when something goes wrong in the garden." "You have a
pest in your garden? OK, then reflect upon your evil ways and
return to the pure way of nature." Arguments of this type are
used like a magic wand to solve every and each problem,
where in reality, far from solving anything, they often enough
lead into the wrong direction.
If people who dish out remedies of this sort had to pay, out of
their own pocket, for any damage that such an advice might
result in, each and every one of them would have had to file for
bankruptcy long ago. It is easy to be generous with advice
if one doesnt have to be responsible for the consequences.
Even though the Christian churches are on the retreat in the
Western world, the fathers of the church have nevertheless left
us with a legacy of "guilt", instrument of choice for keeping
the lid on the populous in the past. Like the phantom pain in
an amputated limb, this phantom guilt, let loose from its former
moorings, seems to haunt modern man (and woman) in
environmental and nature issues like in issues relating to the
third world. I have heard people ask: what did we do wrong to
cause the Tsunami?
>Please disregard these comments if all you were asking for were other
>techniques to fix the problems left by the techniques of previous farmers of
>your land. I offer no new techniques, simply another perspective.
>I am trying to say one simple thing in these posts, trying because we seem
>to share so much in common: there is no technique to use and no technique
>not to use, what must come first is understanding not knowledge.
Jamie, I respect anybody who wants to go in quest of spirituality.
My own spirituality is nobodies business. However, I feel that
Fukuoka´s type of farming may not be well served by claiming
that you can practice natural farming without farming. To me
farming must necessarily include growing the stuff for holding
body and soul together. That is exactly what Fukuoka has done.
After 30 years of practicing organic no-till for small-scale non-
mechanized farming (for which he provided a very detailed
working model) he was able to say: "the proof is growing in
front of your eyes." All the theories aside, that is the only thing
Today, 30 years after Fukuoka first published his way of farming,
which he developed over 60 years ago, this type of farming
is not practiced anywhere; with the possible exception of a
couple of places in India. And, as a person with a sense of
responsibility, I would certainly not advise my neighbour to
convert to natural farming, since I do not have the financial
resources to provide for his family when such an advice results
in the loss of his farming income. He knows that he can grow
enough food by traditional dryland farming which involves
pulverizing the soil by ploughing so as to create a dirt mulch
which will conserve soil humidity. I have not come across
any example in which this could have been achieved without
ploughing and leaving the soil bare.
Spirituality is fine as far as it goes, but alas, so far it has not
provided us with any working model for implementing natural
farming, and many who are interested in this sort of farming
most probably rely on other sources of income (like teaching
farming) and the local supermarket to provide their food.
Jamie, it is impossible to describe all of the local caractistics
of a place without writing volumes, and even then it is still
possible that others may misunderstand because of
How is the land coming along?
Pinpoint customers who are looking for what you sell.
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