This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  jim 1 month, 1 week ago.

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  • #6556

    Helen
    Participant

    I have been watching the first videos on permaculture fundamentals and am curious about the idea of planting trees as the solution to desertification and trees as the end point of succession. Where I live, trees do not grow naturally. Before the Europeans came, this was short grass prairie and trees only grew along the creeks. So planting trees is not following nature. I see how beneficial it is though. I am thinking of it as an ethical issue. Should there not be human settlements here or should we “improve” on nature to provide for ourselves? We are already here. Any thoughts?

    #6602

    Joan Schoepfer
    Participant

    I think adding trees as part of a human occupied permaculture installation in a grasslands is ok. Although trees may not be endogenous to the area, neither are humans. Humans use, and pass on water in a different way than the other residents in a grassland. This means that trees may be able to be supported in a human installation where they were not before. The installation will undoubtedly include water catchment and a way to hold the water in the soil so even if the people no longer inhabit the area, it will most likely still support the trees. With the number of trees we are taking out of our world, putting them back when we can is usually a good idea.

    You do raise a good point about making major changes to natural settings, though. I think that part of the answer to this comes in that period of “watching”, looking, and meditating that Larry talked about before starting any permaculture design. Understanding what lives there, how it lives, and how it likes to live can make the difference between real permaculture and just another human intrusion. When we take the time to design WITH the environment we reach a much more harmonious state in our design.

    #6610

    jim
    Participant

    Where do you live?
    How long have you been watching?
    How often does it rain?
    Are there lots of plants growing without human help?
    Do you live on a hill?
    If you live in the American mid-west on the planes where most of the grasses have been plowed under and replaced with industrial food factories then what part of interfering with what was here 150 years ago can we even start to consider.

    If you live in New Mexico or Arizona buy all means plant trees and reverse the desertification that apparently started in pre-columbian times.

    Trees bring rain and help to create regularity.
    We do not live on the planet we were born on.
    With CO2 at 400 parts/million we know nothing and there is no “known regular or indigenous normal”.
    So the thing to do is watch, and softly allow nature to re-express herself with abundance. It may be that trees just wont grow where you live and some other way is what nature will show us. Whatever that is, sow every seed you can find and let the ones that grow this season make way for the seeds that will grow in the next. All the while keeping in mind what Joan said about getting the readings right too.

    #6828

    Helen
    Participant

    I live in the Denver metro area. The landscape is dominated by lawns and big trees. This growth is supported by diverting water (melted snow) from the western slope of the Rockies. Most of our precipitation comes in the form of snow. I live about 1/4 mile from the South Platte river and about 200 ft up from it on a flat spot with sandy soil. Everything is so built up, it is impossible to tell what would grow without supplemental irrigation. I think I wouldn’t mind so much if we were growing food, but it all seems like such vanity.

    #6829

    Joan Schoepfer
    Participant

    I agree that planting a bunch of ornamentals in that spot and then irrigating them is vanity, not to mention a waste of water. However, that doesn’t mean that the land could not be returned to a healthy, food producing, ecosystem. Take some time to look at the site. See if you can find a representation of what used to be there (some virgin land or something) in the immediate vicinity. Then start trying to nurture what is there already. Remember, the concept of succession is that the plants that grow naturally are there for a reason, to help return the land to its natural state. Nurture what is there and supplement it with things that seem to have similar growing habits that you would like to have around you, maybe some annual and/or perennial vegetables, flowers, or fruit.

    Water, of course, is an issue if there is little rainfall and the water comes from snow melt. However, if you are living there, you are already diverting water for your own needs. Most of the water that we use as humans goes back down the drain. A grey water recycling system can support your ecosystem while decreasing the need for sewage treatment. It can be as easy as taking shower and bath water out in a bucket or there are several guidelines out there for setting up gray water irrigation through the plumbing. Do check the local codes, especially if you live in an urban area.

    If you have mostly sand, you will want to add as much organic matter as you can to start holding water in the soil. Return all garden “waste” directly. Add from surrounding areas (lawn clippings, composted manure, etc) if you want to. As the ecosystem develops, work with it. Add things you would like to have (things you can use or eat) as it grows. As you proceed, if a tree or two will work there, you will know it.

    #6830

    jim
    Participant

    Gee in light of last weeks weather i am glad to see you still have a home.
    Succession in our case starts with the strange artificial twentieth century green concrete lawns and anti-nature conundrum that is what i think you are seeing as vanity. Embrace that as the starting point. Build the guilds from there. In the parts you have control over turn off the piped in water and start swaling, gray water projects will be instructive. Some of the existing plant life will survive and others will become soil enhancers. Like Larry suggests sheet mulch everywhere possible. i read Sowing Seeds in the Desert and wow is that eye opening. I take issue with the “do nothing farming’ stance in that Fukuoka, was not idle. He was very active. i see Natural Farming as Fukuoka practiced as a Farming of Allowing. Engaging with nature, ridding along with and allowing all the various partners to do the work they do and not to interfere is perhaps what is meant by Doing Nothing. Knowing our place is the one of the biggest lessons we have to learn. Another book recently added to my library is Teaming with Microbes by Lowenfels & Lewis this volume explains in great depth the nature of many of the partners i am referring to above.
    i was born in Aurora but left there before i had any memories and returned for the first grade before moving to California. i mention this because i have out sized feelings of the mountains pushing a wall into the blue blue sky filled with big thunder heads all to the west and then the vacancy of the east the empty plains falling off the endless horizon. The dry gulches that i was admonished not to play in because flash floods can roll you over on a sunny day in the spring. Yes standing in nature in Denver is very different than lounging in Los Angeles where the air is soft with lots of water hiding the mountains, that just don’t seem so formidable. The endless western horizon is different too because it is water and the demarcation easy to explain. Finding a sense of place and security in the high western edges of the great planes would be difficult and trees might help define an interior shelter, a grounding relation for frightened human critters. It is alright to leave evidence of our lives and time. Planting trees that the ground did not know and altering the landscape to provide sustenance that will feed your great-grand children’s great-grand children is not wrong. Trees bring rain, funny that. As trees grow the roots cycle water from deep in the soil and into the air where it will condense and help with the cycle. Cutting swales is part of our natural place in this allowing dance. Doing things that keep the water in place is the trick and where the water has nested trees will grow making way for more trees. Gentle self reinforcing feedback loops leading to abundance and peace. The Great Eastern Colorado Food Forest what stretches all the way to Omaha and Abilene. Would Wes Jackson really object?

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by  jim.
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