Monday, April 27, 2009


This is what happens when we try to force issues with nature , nature hits back with a much virulent form . Like the bacteria mutating to superbacteria due to overuse of bacteria , now we have weeds that can withstand the wonder chemical ROUNDUP .
“Superweeds” are plaguing high-tech Monsanto crops in southern US states, driving farmers to use more herbicides, return to conventional crops or even abandon their farms.
The rest of the story here . I like to believe what Bill Mollison said
You don''t have a slug problem, but a Duck shortage
the idea being that instead of going against the grain of nature and bludgeoning everything that pops up to submission , we need to find ways to integrate it into the overall solution . But than modern agriculture is not based on the logic of a sustainable system , on the contrary it is based on creating dependancies for maximizing profit . So Monsanto soon enough will come up with something even deadlier and will , I am sure , mange to convince everyone that this thing is pure magic till some other weed develops a liking to their wonderful new poison .

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fruit trees everywhere

For all of you who have wondered why trees in the city are just ornamentals and not something that can provide food , the city of Manchester is going ahead with a plan to plant fruit trees, vegetables , establish bee hives in all public parks .Sounds like a wonderful idea to educate and to utilize unused urban areas to grow food .
Fruit tree revolution Exclusive Yakub Qureshi April 21, 2009 THOUSANDS of fruit trees and bushes are to be planted in Manchester - with an invitation to `Help Yourself'. Vegetable patches and beehives will also be set up as part of the £200,000 scheme. The council fears local children don't know where fruit comes from. The plans involve: Putting fruit and nut trees or vegetable patches in each of the city's 135 parks and woods Planting 20,000 strawberry, raspberry and soft fruit bushes around the city Setting up beehives in a dozen parks and allotments Planting free herbs such as mint and parsley in every city park
The whole story here .

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Planting log 090409

Photos of the garden, everything looking very much not there but the tank for the greywater system is in place , there is tons of organic stuff in the beds , had to do a lot of digging to take out stones and concrete from the soil but from now on it is going to be a no dig garden with organic mulch . The Pomegranate The strawberries along with chickpea Herbs Lemon Almonds Beds with mulch and the greywater filter The Plum tree hasn't shown any inclination to acknowledge it is spring.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Small farms give better bang for buck

According to the NYT small farms are more productive than large farms

Until now, food production has been controlled by Big Agriculture, with its macho fixation on “average tonnage” and “record harvests.” But there’s a cost to its breadbasket-to-the-world bragging rights. Like those big Industrial Age factories that once billowed black smoke, American agriculture is mired in a mind-set that relies on capital, chemistry and machines. Food production is dependent on oil, in the form of fertilizers and pesticides, in the distances produce travels from farm to plate and in the energy it takes to process it.

For decades, environmentalists and small farmers have claimed that this is several kinds of madness. But industrial agriculture has simply responded that if we’re feeding more people more cheaply using less land, how terrible can our food system be?

Now that argument no longer holds true. With the price of oil at more than $120 a barrel (up from less than $30 for most of the last 50 years), small and midsize nonpolluting farms, the ones growing the healthiest and best-tasting food, are gaining a competitive advantage. They aren’t as reliant on oil, because they use fewer large machines and less pesticide and fertilizer.

In fact, small farms are the most productive on earth. A four-acre farm in the United States nets, on average, $1,400 per acre; a 1,364-acre farm nets $39 an acre. Big farms have long compensated for the disequilibrium with sheer quantity. But their economies of scale come from mass distribution, and with diesel fuel costing more than $4 per gallon in many locations, it’s no longer efficient to transport food 1,500 miles from where it’s grown.

More in a similar vein Organic farming can feed the world .

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Yesterday I found a huge pile of yard waste from the neighbouring building . All in all I brought in nearly a cube of biomass to the garden to add to the nearly sterile soil in the garden . A lot of grass , a significant amount of mustard and similar weeds . On the way to work I saw quite a few of these biomass piles all destined for the municipal dump .

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

They water lawns with mineral water

Ein Gedi (Hebrew: עֵין גֶּדִי‎, lit. Kid Spring (as in young goat); KJV Bible Engedi) is an oasis in Israel, located west of the Dead Sea, close to Masada and the caves of Qumran. Location [show location on an interactive map] 31°27′N 35°23′E / 31.45°N 35.383°E / 31.45; 35.383. It is known for its caves, springs, and its rich diversity of flora and fauna. Ein Gedi is mentioned several times in biblical writings, for example, in the Song of Songs; "My beloved is unto me as a cluster of henna flowers in the vineyards of Ein Gedi" (1:14). According to Jewish tradition, David hid from Saul in the caves here; "And David went up from thence, and dwelt in the strongholds of Ein Gedi" (1 Samuel 24:1). A kibbutz, founded in 1956, is located about a kilometer from the oasis. It offers various tourist attractions and takes advantage of the local weather patterns and the abundance of natural water to cultivate out-of-season produce. Prior to the founding of the kibbutz, the Ein Gedi area had not been permanently inhabited for 500 years.
Wikipedia A random series of thoughts beginning from my greywater system to bottled water , Kibbutz Ein Gedi with it's many manicured lawns , they probably use the same water that they charge 4 shekels for two liters for watering their lawns in an absolutely arid area . Here is what haaretx said about Ein Gedi a few years back . Makes one think of the sustainability of agriculture in the Biqa valley as well .

Greywater system update

The greywater system is up and running. The water goes to the first tank and once the water crosses a point , the pump kicks in and pumps up the water to the filter cum tank . We had a very water intensive day today with a few loads of washing and kids in the bath but from what it appears we might have more water than what we need !! Next stage is to connect the water to the drip system . Visually the water seems ok , no turbidity , a bit of soap coming through , a few days more till the biological filter or schmutzdecke kicks in.
The removal of contaminants in slow sand filters occurs mainly in the colmation layer or schmutzdecke - a biologically active layer consisting of algae, bacteria, diatoms and zooplankton. A ripening period of 6 - 8 weeks is required for this layer to form, during which time filter performance is sub-optimal.
From here The amount of water makes me think that maybe we are underutilising the greywater system and should have integrated it with the flush water . But maybe I will just earn some 'brownie points' by offering to water my neighbours patch .