[permaculture] deep mulch in Mediterannean climates. don't forget Jean Pain

Toby Hemenway toby at patternliteracy.com
Thu Dec 10 12:41:30 EST 2009

gavinraders at gmail.com wrote:
> But care to say why you think applying deep mulch is a "mistake" in 
> mediterranean climates? I live and practice permaculture in california 
> and I have watched deep mulches do wonders for buidling soil and 
> productivity. Especially when partnered with urine fertilizers, 
> compost teas, and comfrey/nettle extracts. 
Okay, can't resist, so forgive me but (heh-heh), if you are irrigating 
and fertilizing, then it's not a Mediterranean climate any more, right?

I've seen several instances where pastures, orchards, and other 
less-managed (non-irrigated) areas in Med climates were mulched blindly, 
and the result was wildfire in the dry season with loss of trees (mulch 
is flammable), loss of native forb species that could no longer come up 
through the mulch, and loss of ants as soil decomposers, greatly slowing 
return of organic matter to the soil. Often in drier Med climates ants 
replace worms as principal decomposers. Mulch favors worms over ants, 
and can actually interfere with dryland soil building. Sometimes. There 
are times when mulch works, and Jean Pain's method appears to be one of 
them. The cookie cutter is not a permacultural tool, and YMMV.

I was irritated at the following


where the author claimed that permaculture didn't work as well as 
holistic management, because, they said, Pc recommended mulch and other 
temperate/humid tropic methods in Med climates, while HM had much better 
techniques for brittle landscapes. They even admit using temperate and 
tropic strategies, calling that permaculture (the DM says: "permaculture 
designs for specific sites and climates") I don't know whether these 
folks ever took a PDC, but they had a weird idea of what permaculture 
is. There is nothing in HM that conflicts with permaculture, but they 
operate on different levels.

I agree with Skeeter about clear subject headings. However, there is an 
awkward transition period between threads (which I think my last post 
falls in; I thought about it) where if you are segueing between topics, 
changing the heading moves the post to a new slot in the archives, and 
just where that should occur is hard to say. People following the old 
thread won't see the new one.



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