I remember the SOE [Sustaining Our Environment] forum on "GW". After recycling and basics were exhaused, it seemed to settle down into a "pecking order" of heavy hitters who looked down on ones of more moderate "political" persuasions. I hope this one is more genteel.
In my opinion it would be better to have 100 million people improving their environment genteely than 1 thousand people doing headstands.
Summerkid, I feel your frustration. LOL I have been rehabing my place slowely for about ten years. Take it slow, one step at a time, enjoy the process because it never ends. But its fun to improve your little place in the world if you take it in small bites and celebrate your successes. It gives you added confidence to take on the next project.
Yes Cindy, the point being there is no real beginning which we can put our finger on. As long as we start somewhere the rest will follow, I often go out with a job in mind and something else gets done instead, but progrees has been made. You can then say, well I didn't get done what I had intended but at least I did something!
That was in drivenbonkers words 'one bite at a time' but I don't know about the elephant, it puts an image in my mind of something huge and uneatable! Perhaps the clue is in the name, has drivenbonkers driven themselves bonkers with such a large goal? Tehe, such an image!
Riverland, surely you DO jest. But by all means come visit so I can put you to work.
This is my 2nd rehab project. The factor I hadn't counted on is that I went from a shack that I transformed into a gorgeous house over 10 years into living in a shack again but having gotten used to the beautiful place.
You forget what it was like to deal with poor water pressure & cabinet doors that swing free & conk you on the head.
I haven`t Summer, I have bad water well pressure on my shared well and we are the only one with bad pressure and we are the second closes to the well, no bueno. You know my landscape project has been a nightmare further frustrated by my dh`s desire to pay for someone to do the sprinklers which isn`t being done so the big troubles continue. I need to paint my house and a lot of other things to match in that same side yard. I grow faint. I need to win the lottery.
I just found out that horse manure breaks down clay soil really well. some guy told my friend he never has a problem with his horses walking on the hard clay because he tractors in all his horse dookey and it just breaks it down to a soft powder that stays soft even in the rainy times.
We have a lot of wind turbines here, no one knows where the power is being used, I heard it is not actually adding to the grid. I wouldn`t mind seeing a wind turbine in my area every 10 homes or so and as we all share a well, why not share the wind power together, it is windy here all year around to one degree or another. It would be more cost effective for a group to go in on a $ 20k tubine. We live in a part of town that is all acre to 5 acre parcels mostly so it would be more acceptable. What do you guys think?
As a favor, I am about to test a 100% post-consumer paper mulch product in my garden. The manufacturer states that it is 100% free of toxins, such as certain printers inks. I have used newspapers, but was always concerned at what seemed to be (by the smell) anaerobic activity underneath the layers. I am horrified by the tiny bits of plastic that were left in my soil after using weed block films and have vowed "never again." I am interested in hearing from anyone on this topic, regarding experiences, insights, etc. Thank you!
I imagine but do not know for sure how it works, but if you can make a healthy lasagna garden out of it anywhere, I`m thinking it is a good option. Paper comes from trees and organisms live in trees so I think that it seems a great safe and earth friendly plan.
Thanks, hellnzn11, I am going the lasagna route and will report back on the recipe and the result.
Victor gardener has a good point. .some tips for alternative energy from my way of thinking. . .avoiding lawn surface area, certainly. . .planting native varieties. . .heating your greenhouse with solar-heated water-filled drums. . .using whatever has the least processing and most utility. . .raised beds over double-dug foundations so you need only add mulch in growing season, compost overwinter, and dispense with seasonal tilling (gas guzzling). Encourage earthworms!
I agree with all but the tilling. Once you have an area going you can but for prepping an area, in this clay you need to to ammend the clay. Don`t all attack me. I`m still waiting for my lasagna to meld into soil. I need a pitchfork.
I deleted a thread tonight because it was politics, through and through.
Please respect the one stipulation that Dave launched this thread with. It doesn't really matter where you put your beliefs on the political spectrum, that type of political jousting is not allowed here.
I'm sorry to be ignorant but what exactly is "sustainable alternatives"? Are you talking about gardening without chemicals? I'd really like to talk about that. I'm a new vegetable gardener and would like to know about alternatives to chemicals. I'm really having a tough time with the squash bug. It has killed my one zucchini plant. Anyone have a way of eliminating this pest without chemicals? I have hand-picked the bugs but apparently some have escaped from me.
I also put most kitchen scraps in the compost pile. I just read somewhere that it is no longer recommended to use bone meal or blood meal in the compost because of mad cow disease. Has anyone else read that?
your specific questions about gardening without chemicals are best answered on our 'organic gardening' forum here. sustainability if far more encompassing, including using rainwater, greywater, less harmful soaps, and many, many other topics.
The state of Alabama has imported Lady Bugs. They are all over the place. During warm weather in winter they come out of their hiding places. You have to watch your soup or coffee or you can find a lady bug floating in it. they do not have a very pleasant flavor should you accidently eat one.
Maybe a sugared cup of coffee in the garden would be a good pest control? But then I guess the good guys would wind up in it too. Fruit flies from bananas like to find my coffee cup. Thank goodness they float. There are people in other countries who eat insects. But I'd have to be near starvation first!
We think ha. In El Torito restraunt, My X worked there when we first met at age 21. and he had a friend who lived in the town where all the villiage comes out at a certain time to eat these big roach looking bugs called Jumiles and eat them off the trees. they put them in salsa and eat them dead or alive. My x tried it and said it wasn`t bad in the chili. I hontly think there are a few things that could make a difference that we couyld do to help the planet, but the big things, I think will be controlled. People need their money off fossil fuel and will use it as long as they can. I don`t want to get polictical but I think we need to still try to help.
Don't know, I doubt it, none are sold here even in the "sprawling metropolis" of Huntsville but you can order some. All of the ones I have run across have been American natives, but what is availale in Alabama is a far cry from California.
Sustainable really should be the word that replaces Organics. Organic can be a narrow minded lens to look at things through. Take fertilizers for example. An Organic fertilizer high in Urea can leach more into the waterways causing eutrhophication and red-tide even more so than a good slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote or Dynamite Plant Food. This notion of sustainability is such the right way to think about things.
Red Tide kills me, we beach camped one year when it was bad and we were all bawling by the day we left watching the Sea Lions and seals suffer a horrid death with people unable to help or touch them unless you wanted to go to jail.
Most organic fertilizers break down slowly and are less likely to run off into waterways, however I have also read about overuse of organic, high soluble nitrogen fertilizers leaching into water. Some organic fertilizers break down slowly, others release their nutrients quickly.
NZ or Australia cracked down on some of their organic wine grape growers because the excess use of copper sulfate (used as an organic fungicide) was polluting the water.
The key is in knowing what you are using and in using the materials wisely.
the amount of fertilizers in run off is also dependent upon the integrity of soil. The permaculture movement advocates no-dig gardening or no-till agricuture to preserve soil integrity and lessen run-off if excessive nutrients into streams and waterways.
For a historic approach Esther Deans in Australia and Ruth Stout in the USA as well as Masanobu Fukuoka. - The One Straw Revolution in Japan are considered to be founders of the no-dig, no-till approach, which is also called "natural gardening". Google searches on any of those names will lead you in the right direction.
gloria--is no till/no dig the same as building up compost on your garden beds--i read an interesting article at the compost site on dave's and it suggests that we imitate nature by building up our gardens by adding organic matter (leaves, scraps etc) on top and letting nature take over----i know you are most likely talking on a bigger scale but is that the concept?
Yes that is exactly the concept. It starts out with smothering existing vegetation by using wet newspaper and/or cardboard. Then pile on organic matter in a ratio of 30 carbon to 1 nitrogen. Carbon is essentially leaves, wood chips, pine bark mulch, shredded paper "browns". Nitrogen is table scraps, weeds, "greens". If these materials are layered "lasagna" style, they don't need to be dug or mixed just pile them on layering browns and greens.
You can also use cover crops to crowd out existing weeds and then build garden beds over those. Crops such as buckwheat are good for aereating clay soils. And there are other "subsoilers" with huge root systems that are good for cracking up hard soil and adding humus to the soil. The idea is to provide conditions for natural soil building processes so that the soil is intact and healthy. When you cultivate or dig soil you intercept all of these natural processes.
The little critters in there have no home. They leave. And when they go the soil becomes depleted, it needs amendments and many of those simply run off or erode away because there is no life in the soil to use them up in a natural way.
No-till agriculture using living mulches is now being incorporated on a commercial scale.
thank you gloria for such a good explanation--i have been trying just that this fall--last summer was my first gardening experience --i did do one lasagna bed then--now this fall i have been putting a layer of paper over new beds and then putting on lots of leaves, coffee grounds and shredded paper--i have a compost pile and i am using it to sort of speed up the beds by throwing it on the top of the leaf/grounds/shredded paper mix-----i love this whole concept because last summer i had the nicest lady teach me and help me get started in gardening--butttttttttt-----she uses round up like she has stock in the company! and pest killers and all manner of chemicals--and i just know that is not right--and it gets so expensive if you have a big yard to constantly add soil ammendments and turn over the soil etc---anyway-in my rambling i am trying to say thanks!!
Thanks Gloria, been doing this but i had no idea of the ratio, usually just leaves and manure, has been quite successful so far. One thing that I really like is using old pool covers for the weed smothering, doesn't sterilize the soil, like plastic and much more effective than cardboard as bermuda can't get through the 0verlaps, though i do use a good bit of cardboard on small infestations. I find all kinds of critters living under it when i move it, so it probley does litle harm, though it is mainly ants, crickets, wood roaches and yes snakes and a rare toad, so lift with caution, lol. So far just garters and a black racer, but the suprise does make me jump a bit till i check out the head from a distance, sometimes a far distance :) , glad they are around but not glad to see em, lol. Again thanks and I'll keep an eye out for yur article and check out the suggestions you posted, I'm sure it will add to my knowledge and will improve what I am doing.
planolinda: the best thanks of all would be to teach that nice lady that she doesn't need all those chemicals!
I am using roundup trying to get rid of an infestation of wisteria in my yard. But I put down a huge double sheet of clear plastic last year to solarize an area. To my surprise, the wisteria roots in that area seem to be dead as well as the perennial weeds I was trying to get rid of. Now the whole area is ready for my daylilies!
It has been a long time since this Alabama soil was functioning in a natural way. but it is just amazing what a season or two of dumping organic material back onto the soil will do. And you can use your boxes from internet shopping and your shredded junk mail to do it. Well I do have Henri, a New Zealand rabbit to help things along.
yes well it's kind of like taking a marine out to combat when she comes over! she even has a torch to kill big weeds!!! i love her but she is one tough lady and she likes her garden arsinal!! i won't be changing her but i am forever grateful to her!!
She reminds me of Me! I used to use a propane torch to clear weeds but I had two major accidents that cured me.
The first one was when I lit a bunch of ivy growing up into an Osage Orange tree on the edge of my property. Within seconds the whole tree was in flames. Fortunately it was not a windy day.
On the second and final occasion I apparently had a defective propane tank. The flames started shooting out the back of the tank and up my arm. At the same time the flames were shooting in bursts 30 feet out of the torch. I nearly started a fire on the old wood shingles on my garage. And I did have a serious burn on my arm and hand. I wound up in the emergency room in the hospital where they gave me morphine. Now I know why people would get addicted to that stuff.
So I learned my lesson. there must be a better way than using a propane torch to battle weeds.
Gloria, Sorry I don't have a source, I snagged the first one off the side of the road when I was getting leaves, I need between 20 to 30 truckloads of leaves a year, can't afford to mulch this property with anything bought and even more in grass clippings. but i save those for the flower and meadow area. The second one belonged to friends and when they replaced their cover they gave it to me, that would be your best bet as they are heavy and you could cut it in 2 or more pieces befre you loaded it. Got a 3rd promised, real old one found in one of the servant's quarters at my brother's, 2 owners before used it as the pool house, They start reparing it shortly, I have no idea if a pool shop would accomodate you but worth checking. If you have the option, borrow a truck or 1/4 it, sissors work well, they are very awkward to handle, I'm fairly strong and I drag the 1/2's around instead of picking them up, not just weight but critters enter into that as well. Good luck
One of my friends on DG named Summer girl gets road kill that isn't too smashed and puts in the truck and composts it in her lasagna garden. That is good fertilizer though morbid in a way, smart in another. My dh would freak and I'd feel wierd but I'd consider it if it wasn't too close to my house like my lasagna bed is now.
I agree that with the clay I have it is time consuming to break the straw down where we had drought last year at a record amount. We have a bit above average rain this year and the cardboard and phonebooks and straw are mostly broken down. I did it in layers over the last year, the early stuff is broke down but the latter card board and straw need more rain. I also put amonium nitrate over it 2xs to speed it up but can't now that I want to plant this year.
You should all go to the feed store and buy those alfalfa cubes with the molassis in them because man do the worms love that. I never use to dig up a worm, ever but as long as they get water, it brings tons of them. In a lasagna garden you do not have to dig either, at all or much so you kill less of them anyhow.
When we moved here 12 years ago, there had been several nasty environmental 'disasters' that
made our soil almost uninhabitable.
1) The property was logged and NOT with any sense of the land in mind.
They took the largest and best trees whileleaving the weakilings and a LOT of slash piles behind.
2) drought for several years
3) a forest fire, though the fire itself did no damage the 'back burning' done by novice Forest Service Employees
scorched many of the trees left behind, destroying most all protection for the land that normally survive a forest fire.
My WONDERFUL husband spent countless hours tearing apart those slash piles. Reclaiming the still good logs for firewood and winter heat. He then SIFTED the composted topsoil and gave to me to rebuild the soil around the house.
In the first 3-4 years we had hard, if not impossible time trying to find bugs or worms in our soil.
But now after years of sweat ... we have WORMS!!!
I'd love to see some pictures of your homestead. It may give me hope. It has been an uphill battle with alot of sliding downhill on my butt over the gopher holes.
It really has to be broken down into smaller goals and takes time and patience. The first few years were spent killing weeds from the desert that took over during the repo years prior to us living here.
The soil is just pure alkaline and clay with heavy calcium in the water which needs a sprinkling system to water here.
Our soil is very rocky, lots of natural pumice, sand, and the PH is low.
This is not a picture that tells the story. But you can at least get an idea
of the terrain and how it appeared in 2006.
In the early years we were actually glad to have some of those 'weeds' like mullin
fireweed, basically anything green that would grow. They have their cycle and
eventually add to the soil for other more desirable species to thrive.
Believe me ... 10 years ago the entire area around the house was BROWN/GREY
Somewhere I do have better pictures of the flower/vegetable beds in front of the house.
Sunnyvale is ~12 miles WNW from downtown San Jose and ~40miles SE of San Franscisco. North Sunnyvale is cooler and breezier than south Sunnyvale, since we are closer to the Bay.
We are just west of Santa Clara. The Santa Clara Valley used to be called "The Valley of Heart's Delight" due the mild climate and fertile soils that gave rise to many fruit orchards and farms. During the late 1970's continuing on until the bust in the current decade, the orchards and farms were paved over to create "Silicon Valley".
Santa Clara county does still have several active farms and ranches on the border of the "newly" urbanized areas, but not enough for the state to still list it with the ag counties.
This area doesn't normally have hard freezes, but in January 2007 we had almost a week of 17'F weather (per my garden thermometer). Pipes froze and burst in many homes because local building codes are designed for that level of cold. Many folks had to rethink their landscaping. We also had a record heat wave later that year.
We used to just drop into the 40's during winter nights, and then only during the coldest months. My Wriggly Wranch is out on the deck and seems to stay warm enough.
What a cutie Beatie Boy is!
My cats would probably just make friends with the rabbits and invite them over to play.
Not sure about moles. The general rule seems to be that squirrels and rabbits are friends, mice and rats look out. LOL!
I used to live in San Jose and worked in Sunnyvale. As I remember its Zone 8 just like it is here in West-Central Alabama, but there is still some ocean influence so it is much more moderated in climate than we have here. Our low is usually in the 20s.
I wish I could have your kitty, he is so freaking cute. My doggies eat kitties that enter so i could not ever chance it while i have these ones.
If I had a orphan kitten that was abandoned young then my dogs would leave it be, most assuredly they would be afraid of it, I witnessed that one time when my x turned the sprinklers on a cat in labor and it had new babies in the garden. They had their umbilicals attached and they were all twisted up in plants, one was dead and two were alive. It was cold and they would have died, once I knew 8 hours later. I took them to the pound to be put down humanely and my dogs were in the car and terrified of them. I'd never take that chance though.
These types of programs have helped raise awareness of earth friendly agriculture and inspired many otherwise out of touch urbanites to support local farmers markets and get involved with their food supply.
What is big here is trying to get people to buy water wise xeriscapr plants and natives. We are always under a chance of water conservation that is mandatory and we have had a bad drought for years here in Cal. No water, no crops, no life.
I wish they'd force the nursuries and Lowes and HD to carry mostly low water useage plants.
Phoenix does a great job with this and it is 1000 x's prettier than here.
Despite our snowy winters, we have very dry summers with little to no rain
from July to October. Planting natives that are accustomed to this climate is imperative.
I have very few non- native species but use extra measures to insure what water they get is direct
I also have a mixed 'garden' in front of the house. Vegetables / garlic/ herbs mixed in with my flowers.
Since one of our season is 'Fire Season', we also use the guides from Firewise for landscaping.
That is what they said too, it was real expensive for a small place all close in on 0 lot lines or something. They ended up not offering it to him and filling the position from within the community but he said he would not have taken it for the pay and the cost of living. From Susanville CA to there was a jump in the $$$ to live.
hellen: we are about 15 miles outside of town and luckily bought before the boom.
Rarely go to town except for the hardwares store, bank, mail, and groceries.
So we aren't really involved with the town or lake itself.
It is a very different life than what the visitor sees.
GardenMermaid: I knew there was a reason I didn't plant any. lol
There are so many 'native' plants that are so gorgeous and can thrive here without much help.
Yes there is a great article about wildflower gardens on DG this month that is great for people like us with crappy soil.
My friend here told me there is a great thing to replace DeerScram that is way more affordable called Milorganite fertilizer, do you have any experience w/ it, any of you? I guess it comes from human waste.
MILORGANITE~~~ Made in MILwaukee WI. Specifically Jones Island
sewage waste and good lawn fertilizer but I have heard it is n NOT for vegetables etc
because of heavy metals. ??!
That is just hearsay, I haven't done any research or ever used it. But I grew up in the midwest and it was a
big deal when they started. Haven't heard of it in decades.
My friend just told me about it and I have never heard of it so I do not know if it is even here in California. I will have to look up the Website, now that I have more info. My friend said it repels vermin. I have a gopher that needs some.
some more 'sustainable alternatives'...
We have a lot of wildlife and what little gardening I do is limited to near the house.
I have worked out a win-win situation though with friends.
This area has a lot of fruit, apples, peaches, pears, etc. And most of my orcharding friends also
put in huge gardens. When fruit harvest time comes they find themselves swamped and can't get
to the veggie garden. I work out of the house so they give me boxes fruit and veggies and you name it.
I pickle jam and can my little heart out for about 6 weeks. 1/2 goes back to the grower and half for us.
In addition to canning, have you tried any of the old techniques that preceeded electricity?
This book "Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation http://www.amazon.com/Preserving-Food-without-Freezing-Canning" looks interesting.
I'm wondering if anyone on DG has this book and has tried any of the techniques/recipes described.
some, not much. I do an a lot of pickling in a crock, the old layers method, as well as other fermentation, sauer kraut etc.
Use honey not sugar. Salt and alcohol I have not bothered with because of the expense.
Although one neighbor does do his own wine, and we often swap a bottle of his wine for one of my pies. ;)
I use a steam canner which uses a small portion of the water that water bath does, it is less time and much quicker.
Our power is all Hydro (renewable) and we only pay 3cents a kwh so canning only add nickels to our electric bill.
Drying, ALL THE TIME! especially for my herbs and fruits.
lactic fermentation sounds like cheese. we don't use enough to bother.
And I am waiting for my husband to dig that root cellar LOL
And a 4th. I've done some preserving of various kinds and had 2 other kinds described in detail, drying, salt curing, sugar ( jams, preserves, jellies and candied fruits and flowers) Packing fruit , apples best bet, both in ice and straw and in newspapers in a cold attic (described). Wine making, specimen preservation in alcohol, but not food, except for left over cherries, apricots and fruit peel when making liquers, tinctures. and canning type pickling. Kem, chee, but that was fridge pickling, stuff in ground i pitched, looked dangerous all 3 times I tried. If you include buttermilk and yogurt making , I've done those as well. Tried cheese, I'll buy it, mine was foul, lol. I am not an expert by any means, about 1/2 of there were being around and helping others as they did it. but happy to answer any ? if I can.
I haven't done veggies or food of any kind but I may with a hay bale or two just as soon as it gets closer to not freezing here. Got too many classes and my seeds to sow in bottles. Pickling and canning are not my element. Cool though for yall that do it. My aunt did it and I liked most of it. I'd give us botchulism.
it was HUGE! lots of fair trade items made by people from around the world out of things we throw away--pretty baskets made from wooden chop sticks--they had kind of a modern look and could collapse and fold in --bamboo clothing that is so soft--purses etc made from wrappers--lots of unusual foods --a drink called mate or mucho mate--can be like a tea or coffee--natural stimulant with all kinds of health benefits--beautiful wooden floors made from bamboo--looked like oak--website is mymrbamboo.com
I think I found the Beginning , this was an awesome read, I wish I had found this site 4 years ago, when I began my Sustainable Garden's, There would have been fewer mistake's, and yet I wouldn't have experimented as much as I did.After the Holiday's wind down I will purchase a membership, and invite a few friends, Thank You.
I know what you mean. I sure have been thinking about a whole new yard plan which is against my normal way of gardening to be even more sustainable in the event of crisis. I really would like to continue on working on our emergency prepping, but go a little further into planning and buying and maybe even building solar panels to operate things in the event of a big issue here.
hellnzn11...that's a lot to attempt...I'm in the same Boat,,, I am trying to Grow "EVERYTHING"... even attempting a solution to attaching a Mill Stone Harness to my Beagle...LOL... I am Serious though...this is scary...
Ok. Lets stand back and look at this from a distance. If you heard someone telling you they were thinking of harnessing their dog up to a mill stone, would you not get a vision of the Grinch being drug in his sled, Whip in hand and dog in front. lol
LOL, that was my vision from the beginning, but a more, Purposed Solution, would have been the result. BTW, all of my Pet's where Rescued.
Hellnzn11,,, The only place I have found to build your own Solar Panels is on Mother Earth New's, Unfortunately I live in the wood's, so I can't have them now, but I am Diabolically thinking of how I could ... even if I have to remove a few tree's.
I am new to DG and this group--I am trying to abide by the rules.
I got this link to a very interesting crop development in sweet potatoes via a web site that reflects my political concerns, (Grist Online) none the less it is really a neutral news item that should fascinate all plant lovers...giant sweet potatoes that look like brains from a bad sci fi movie and can produce power ( cue mad scientist laughter- Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!)
OK enough sci- fi... that's power as in ethanol energy. Grown in North Carolina. kewl.