[permaculture] overly optimistic permaculture

Rain Tenaqiya raincascadia at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 3 14:37:27 EST 2009

I don't deny that miracles can be made to happen on marginal land, and I've heard of many examples.  I'm just saying that we need to be more specific in our recommendations and that we should warn people about the serious work and other inputs involved.  I assumed that the land I live with would respond more quickly to my work as it seemed similar to a lot of the land in Australia, where permaculture was born:  poor soil, erratic rainfall with hot and dry Summers, etc.  I did position myself near trees and forest, so I have a lot of organic matter I can haul in, and I am currently doing this for the fifth year, one wheelbarrow of leaves at a time.  However, the dry infertile soil has relatively little life in it and the leaves are taking a long time to decompose and integrate into the soil.  All my new plantings will have forest soil mixed in first, to speed up the process, despite the permaculture preference for top dressing.  If I had enough
 water to overhead irrigate like mad all Summer (or if I lived in a more humid climate), I bet I would have much quicker results.  In any case, I am scaling back the amount of food I hope to grow (I'll have to bring in food for guests), and I often wonder if foraging or livestock production is really the appropriate lifestyle for this area in the long-term, especially if plastic pipe and pumps become unavailable.
If I had to categorize myself, I would say I am more of the Holmgren school of permaculture, which I view as much more realistic than the Mollison school (uh oh, now the schism begins!).  I secretly despise the itinerant, landless permaculture preachers, even though I know they are serving a purpose at this time, who preach pie in the sky with their glittering eyes.  I also love to complain and criticize and moan about life, so there!


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