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Water Conservation; was: Do nothing

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  • Dieter Brand
    Bob, Thanks for the clay pot idea. Hadn’t heard of that one before. It may, however, be a little difficult to get porous clay pots releasing just the right
    Message 1 of 11 , May 19 2:56 PM
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      Bob,

      Thanks for the clay pot idea. Hadn’t heard of that one before. It may,
      however, be a little difficult to get porous clay pots releasing just the
      right amount of water.

      I live in a semi-arid zone - not a drop of rain from May through September with
      temperatures of up to 40 deg C in the July/August period. Therefore, water
      is the limiting factor in everything I do. In the last few years I have been able
      to reduce irrigation by about 80% mainly by converting to no-till and adding
      compost and mulch to the top. I also chucked out all that fancy irrigation
      equipment including sprinklers, mini-sprinklers, drip systems, etc. Now
      I’m only using an open watering hose modulating the water jet with my
      thumb into a film softly landing on the heavily mulched soil. Perhaps old
      man Fukuoka was right after all when he admonished us to "think about
      what you can do less".

      Dieter Brand
      Portugal

      Robert Monie <bobm20001@...> wrote:
      HI Dieter,

      The olla or ancient clay pot system of watering can still work well in many locations and gardens. A ceramicist in Australia has designed an "upscale" version of these that I have seen used in the Orinda/Berkeley area of California, but much cheaper and probably equally effective models can be built. See http://www.wateringsystems.net

      Some modern engineers have been especially attracted to the hows and whys of ancient watering systems. One notable engineer is Kenneth R. Wright; among his many investigations of ancient water-sparing irrigation systems are the following:

      Water for the Anasazi: How the Ancients of Mesa Verde Engineered Public Works

      Burried Clay Pot Irrigation

      Water Masters of Mesa Verde

      Tipon: Water Engineering Masterpieces of the Inca Empire

      Machu Picchu: A Civil Engineering Marvel

      Bob Monie
      New Orleans, LA


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    • Gloria C. Baikauskas
      Dieter, Have you read Albrecht s, The Myth of Drought? It can be read at http://www.soilandhealth.org The more organic material you have in and on the soil
      Message 2 of 11 , May 19 10:55 PM
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        Dieter, Have you read Albrecht's, The Myth of Drought? It can be
        read at http://www.soilandhealth.org

        The more organic material you have in and on the soil the more
        moisture the soil will hold.
        Gloria, Texas

        --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Dieter Brand <diebrand@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > Jamie,
        >
        > You live in a very favourable climate. Where I live there are no
        edible annuals
        > that will reseed without irrigation. Even with irrigation,
        reseeding doesn't
        > work very well, since without a selection of seeds, the variety
        will usually
        > deteriorate, that is, supposing the seeds aren't eaten by some
        animal
        > before the next growing season, which is usually the case. And
        to waste
        > precious irrigation water and time in the vague hope that
        something will
        > come up is hardly sensible.
        >
        > Dieter Brand
        > Portugal
        >
        > Jamie Nicol <souscayrous@...> wrote:
        > ...
        > Here are a few of the veg that reseed themselves or are natives
        already
        > growing: asparagus, artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke, cardoon, swiss
        chard and
        > other leaf beets, beetroot, borage (it is too dry for comfrey, but
        borage is
        > from the same family and grows prolifically), chicory, mache
        (miner's
        > lettuce?), lettuce (there is much cross pollination but the new
        varieties
        > while being smaller are very tasty), coriander (cilantro), rocket,
        mint,
        > sage, lavender, thyme, rosemary, most radishes (there are many
        good, long
        > radishes to seed if you can't get daikon), tomato, aubergine,
        peppers (these
        > are borderline as they require more water than the two previous),
        marigold
        > (calendular), tagetes, it is too dry for nasturtiums, water melon
        (they are
        > small but they do grow well), cucumber, and some other cucurbits
        (see what
        > works for you), parsnips, celery (small but have very strong
        flavour) and
        > then there are the cereal crops like winter and summer wheat and
        barley,
        > millet, amaranth and in good years maize.
        >
        > These are only a few, please add to the list if you can. I'll try
        and make a
        > more detailed list when I'm in the garden next time.
        >
        > Jamie
        > Souscayrous
        >
        > On 5/13/07, John Warner <daddyoat@...> wrote:
        > >
        > > Hello Jamie and Fukuoka List Members,
        > >
        > > Thanks, Jamie for the very significant question--a question to
        which I'm
        > > very pleased to respond.
        > >
        > > First, I might say that "do nothing" is an overstatement.
        Overstatement is
        > > deeply rooted in Eastern philosophy as seen particularly in the
        Tao Te Ching
        > > with respect to leadership, the emphasis of non-action over
        taking action
        > > and not meddling with the natural flow of things. It was Dante,
        perhaps,
        > > that gave Christianity the Mortal Sins [the first being pride],
        for a Sufi
        > > the greatest sin may be to forget God but a philosophical Taoist
        might make
        > > a good case for saying that the worst human being of all is
        a "cunning
        > > meddler". Taoism, as I understand it, had a very strong influence
        on some of
        > > the branches of Buddhism that reached Japan and I suspect that
        this is
        > > background to Mr. Fukuoka's philosophy. Overstatement is a
        literary
        > > technique and one I'm personally inclined to use myself--after
        all what good
        > > would writing be that, however technically correct, was
        uninspiring?
        > >
        > > It's in modern systems theory [and the disciplines sometimes
        referred to
        > > as the "new sciences"] where the scientist meets the Taoist
        philosopher and
        > > says "hello". This is reflected in books such as "The Tao of
        Physics" and
        > > "The Dancing Wu Lu Masters" and a number of others that have been
        published
        > > over the past 50 years of so. A book that particularly influenced
        me was
        > > Fritjof Capra's "The Turning Point" published in the 80s.
        > >
        > > Whole Systems Agriculture is a reflection of this union. Please
        visit our
        > > website where reference is made to this particularly, as I
        recall, in the
        > > section on species complexity. Also on the website is a paper by
        Dr. Joe
        > > Lewis and others, titled "A Total Systems Approach to Sustainable
        Pest
        > > Management" which gives a lot of theoretical information on how,
        with
        > > sufficient complexity, pest management can take care of itself--
        at least to
        > > a large extent. Examples from our farm follow.
        > >
        > > Last year we had record breaking heat--three days of 113F and a
        number of
        > > others well over 100F. Shortly afterward aphids hit all our beans
        like a
        > > whammy. We were experimenting with a number of old varieties
        like "Christmas
        > > Lima", "Willow-Leaf Lima", and some from Native Seed Search with
        long names
        > > I can't recall at the moment. But they all got it--absolutely
        dripping with
        > > honeydew. The infestation was so bad I had to compromise with my
        philosophy
        > > of non-intervention and I sprayed a solution of dish
        detergent.but it was
        > > to little avail. But Lo! In a couple of weeks lady bird beetle
        larvae, and
        > > later of course adults, began to appear.and eventually got thick
        enough to
        > > clean up most of the plants. But by that time the beans had been
        critically
        > > set back and a good part of the crop was lost.
        > >
        > > So I've woven a little theory on this. During the heat wave it
        got so hot
        > > and dry that the lady bird beetle population took a big hit. [I
        recall my
        > > old entomology professor asking rhetorically "what's the most
        common disease
        > > of insects?". Answer: "lack of water". Well, the heat wave might
        have set
        > > back all the insect life but, as we know, plant eaters, and
        aphids in
        > > particular, are real champs at reproduction. In fact, in the
        early stages of
        > > the aphid population cycle, they don't even have to bother with
        having sex.
        > > Only females hatch who reproduce parthogenically [that is, they
        clone
        > > themselves]. This resulted in an explosion the beetles couldn't
        keep up
        > > with.
        > >
        > > The above, although it resulted in a loss [still, some beans got
        > > harvested] it illustrates the do-nothing principles I'm talking
        about.
        > >
        > > We're looking at nature's self-organizing principle at work. For
        this to
        > > work there needs to be a lot of complexity Next week, the
        Agricultural
        > > Inspector will be coming for her annual visit to see if we are
        actually
        > > growing all the things we sell at the farmers market. On the
        forms required,
        > > I listed nearly 200 species--lumping, for the most part,
        varieties and
        > > colors together. This does not include the plants we don't sell
        but have set
        > > out and about for esthetic reasons and also as habitat for
        beneficials. Lots
        > > of shrubs here--brooms, acacias, privet and the champ of fast
        growth:
        > > butterfly bush. We have perhaps 30 oaks. [Jamie, a couple of
        these came from
        > > acorns you sent from France--thanks again.]. Mostly we have holly
        and cork
        > > oaks.
        > >
        > > I now have 2 sons that support themselves completely from their
        work on
        > > our little farm. I hold this up in support of the efficacy of our
        theory and
        > > our practice. One harvests and sells at the markets while the
        other works
        > > with me on production. How do they find their places, their
        niches, in the
        > > work on the farm? In the same way skunks find chicken pens and
        hollow
        > > logs--that is by the principles of self-organization. Or perhaps
        you could
        > > think of it as do-nothing management on my part.
        > >
        > > Sorry about a rather poor job of editing this. There's lots to do
        outside.
        > > But please visit our website for more about our work and read, if
        you're
        > > inclined, Dr. Lewis' important paper. Dr. Lewis and Mr. Fukukoka
        may not
        > > know of each other but if they met I suspect they'd find some
        common ground.
        > >
        > > Good wishes all,
        > >
        > > John Warner, Madera Whole Systems Agriculture near Fresno,
        California
        > > No-tractor, no tillage, permanent mulch market growers since 1996
        > > http://www.wholesystemsag.org
        > >
        > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        > >
        > >
        > >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
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      • Dieter Brand
        Gloria, Thanks for the Soil and Health Library Link. There seem to be a lot of interesting titles. I will download the Albrecht as soon as I can get to a
        Message 3 of 11 , May 19 11:21 PM
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          Gloria,

          Thanks for the Soil and Health Library Link. There seem to be
          a lot of interesting titles. I will download the Albrecht as soon
          as I can get to a place with a faster Internet access.

          I absolutely agree about the importance of soil organic matter,
          especially if you combine it with a no-till system so as to keep
          the organic web intact.

          Dieter Brand
          Portugal

          "Gloria C. Baikauskas" <gcb49@...> wrote:
          Dieter, Have you read Albrecht's, The Myth of Drought? It can be
          read at http://www.soilandhealth.org

          The more organic material you have in and on the soil the more
          moisture the soil will hold.
          Gloria, Texas



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        • michael
          Same here. We eat more and more the things which have self seeded around from our original plantings of years/decades ago, mostly Asian and European species of
          Message 4 of 11 , Jun 12, 2007
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            Same here. We eat more and more the things which have self seeded
            around from our original plantings of years/decades ago, mostly Asian
            and European species of origin, not the hybrids of millennia, and
            also many so-called weed plants. The daikon have reverted to their
            wild form and need only thinning, by eating green of course. Some go
            to seed and the young seed pods are eaten. The arugula is all over
            the place, as is the shungiku and wild broccoli. I can't keep them or
            the purslane out of the gravel driveway; not that i want to. Things
            have spread to the orchard and for some reason the European alien
            (sorry EU, that what the books call them) grasses are in decline as
            the edible things increase. Who knows where this will all go but
            after 25 years, OSR is looking more obvious. It takes a long time to
            figure out how to do nothing.

            On May 14, 2007, at 7:34 AM, Jamie Nicol wrote:

            > So I now try not to dig beds at all, seed but not transplant, seed
            > everything I can get my hands on, especially those that will reseed
            > themselves annually, irrigate only when forced to by drought, leave
            > no earth
            > bare (both above ground and below), harvest a fraction of the plants
            > growing, never weed by pulling (just cut the volunteer at the
            > moment it
            > flowers), return volunteer or unused crop to beds, use anything
            > growing
            > nearby as mulch for the beds, always leave volunteer leguminous plants
            > (nitrogen fixing), leave some native leguminous trees or fruit
            > trees or
            > shrubs (trees are the prerequisite for a mediterranean natural
            > agriculture)...
            >
            > do-nothing seems to me to be about giving up any control and
            > beginning to
            > play with nature. Not caring what grows (for if there are enough
            > seeds,
            > irrespective of the weather, the soil will be covered by growth), just
            > casting seeds and watching what happens.



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Jamie Nicol
            Dear michael, it s good to hear your thoughts after practicising so many years of doing nothing and that you find that One-Straw becomes more obvious as
            Message 5 of 11 , Jun 13, 2007
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              Dear michael, it's good to hear your thoughts after practicising so many
              years of 'doing nothing' and that you find that 'One-Straw' becomes more
              obvious as time passes. You mention purslane, which I forgot to mention in
              my list, but is just about my favourite veg to eat and doesn't take any
              space in the garden as, like you, it grows on the gravel track beside the
              garden and requires (thrives) no intervention from me.
              I have a video of Fukuoka speaking in India (thanks to Michiyo) where he
              insists that there be no soil disturbance at all and that NF is nothing
              other than casting seedballs. But, given enough seeds, I suspect that one
              can do without the clay entirely (and letting plants go to seed and then
              seed themselves is an excellent way of ensuring enough seed). All we need do
              is return seeds to the land left bare of plants (and thus bare of seeds) and
              the green will return.

              And yes, this also means in droughty areas! Rain doesn't fall from the sky
              but grows up from the ground.

              Jamie
              Souscayrous

              On 6/12/07, michael <mdearing@...> wrote:
              >
              > Same here. We eat more and more the things which have self seeded
              > around from our original plantings of years/decades ago, mostly Asian
              > and European species of origin, not the hybrids of millennia, and
              > also many so-called weed plants. The daikon have reverted to their
              > wild form and need only thinning, by eating green of course. Some go
              > to seed and the young seed pods are eaten. The arugula is all over
              > the place, as is the shungiku and wild broccoli. I can't keep them or
              > the purslane out of the gravel driveway; not that i want to. Things
              > have spread to the orchard and for some reason the European alien
              > (sorry EU, that what the books call them) grasses are in decline as
              > the edible things increase. Who knows where this will all go but
              > after 25 years, OSR is looking more obvious. It takes a long time to
              > figure out how to do nothing.
              >
              > On May 14, 2007, at 7:34 AM, Jamie Nicol wrote:
              >
              > > So I now try not to dig beds at all, seed but not transplant, seed
              > > everything I can get my hands on, especially those that will reseed
              > > themselves annually, irrigate only when forced to by drought, leave
              > > no earth
              > > bare (both above ground and below), harvest a fraction of the plants
              > > growing, never weed by pulling (just cut the volunteer at the
              > > moment it
              > > flowers), return volunteer or unused crop to beds, use anything
              > > growing
              > > nearby as mulch for the beds, always leave volunteer leguminous plants
              > > (nitrogen fixing), leave some native leguminous trees or fruit
              > > trees or
              > > shrubs (trees are the prerequisite for a mediterranean natural
              > > agriculture)...
              > >
              > > do-nothing seems to me to be about giving up any control and
              > > beginning to
              > > play with nature. Not caring what grows (for if there are enough
              > > seeds,
              > > irrespective of the weather, the soil will be covered by growth), just
              > > casting seeds and watching what happens.
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
              >


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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