Category: Plant Systems

Multi-Functional Living: Wood Heat

This year Emma and I are taking something we did last year and making it more functional: We are heating with wood, full-time. Previously, we often had fires at night, giving the heating system a break and enjoying the atmosphere, but it was noncommittal. Some nights we didn’t bother. We used the wood-burning cook stove even less than that, though we did love the event it made of a meal, […]

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Useful Garden Projects for Autumn Leaves

Despite having spent many of my most recent years in the tropics, and despite having grown up in Louisiana, where the number of seasons is pretty wishy-washy, I’ve always kind of assumed that autumn could possibly be my favorite time of year. My birthday is in right in the middle of autumn. It’s a time when the weather slowly cools down to a comfortable temperature, which seems better than slowly […]

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7 Ways to Use the Humble Choko Vine

Its spring time in Australia, and our area in Far North Queensland has gratefully received a decent fall of rain. I’m gleefully anticipating the springing to life of our un-irrigated areas that had gone dull and dormant during the dry weather. Among other things, I’m looking forward again to abundant chokos. I used to think of choko as a bland, boring vegetable. I didn’t like skinning it, and I didn’t […]

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The Results – A Trial Looking at 5 Ways to Prepare Beds for Tree and Shrub Planting – Which one is the best?

Last year we started a trial to discover the best ways to prepare the ground for tree and shrub planting. We trialed five different methods and recorded the performance of each method looking at how long they took to implement and manage, how much they cost and how effective they are. I’ll start the post with why we prepare our ground in advance of planting then we will look at the […]

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Prickly Pear: a Miracle Future Fruit

THE IMPORTANCE OF CROP ECOLOGY After doing the blog post on water purification systems and Phytodepuration and the benefits of several plants. I thought this was a good time to step back and talk about plants ecology and one in particular, the Prickly Pear.“Green gold”, “fruit for the poor,” “treasure under its spines,” “world vegetable dromedary,” “future plant,” “sacred plant” and “monster tree” are all nicknames for this cactus. Why so […]

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Horseradish: Why I Should Try It Again

Earlier this year, in the spring, I was able to acquire a handful of horseradish roots to plant in a garden my wife Emma and I were putting together. I’d first encountered it as a plant the year before and was happy discover the leaves were edible with a flavor reminiscent, though milder, of the root. I’d never had horseradish in anything besides cocktail sauce, possibly some other condiments here […]

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Invasive Thoughts: A Battle with Conscientious Consciousness

I did a lot of research. I hummed and hawed, danced around the issue, came up with a veritable pros and cons type of list. Ultimately, the base of our food forest needed some fast-growing, nitrogen-fixing trees, and whether or not they were native came to feel somewhat moot. I found a good tree species. It was readily available (and free). What difference did it make if folks had deemed […]

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How to Green the Desert: Europe’s Heatwave and some Holistic Suggestions

In the Northern Hemisphere, the balance of light is turning ever more towards darkness as we approach the Autumn Equinox. This is following a summer which in many places was unusually hot and dry(1, 2). This is perhaps not unexpected; climate change scientists have been predicting extreme temperature spikes for a number of years(3). However, it seems that a lot of farmers were nevertheless unprepared and many crops have been lost(2). […]

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Weeds Aren’t Actually All That Bad

Weeds, many say, are but misunderstood plants, plants that have somehow fallen out of favor. Often, they are ready growers, keen to pop up where space has allowed, and typically they are doing so to perform some sort of vital ecological function. Geoff Lawton says they are “symptom” of a flawed situation rather than the actual problem.   Weeds are working to right wrongs. They cover the ground. They prevent erosion. […]

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How to Make Instant Garden Beds

A common problem when just starting a garden is dealing with the fact that we’ve not had time to condition the soil, fostering it into something heaving with fertility. Or, maybe we just aren’t that far into gardening yet anyway and don’t know what to do. Basically, it seems we are left with the option of using what we have and hoping for the best, or we can spend a […]

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Real food does not come from supermarkets: 6 steps from bare ground to homegrown cauliflowers

I imagine that when our grandchildren and great grandchildren read in history books about the supermarkets we relied upon for food, they’ll wonder what we were thinking.   My goal is to get to where our family can live without the supermarket entirely. There are many things we have yet to learn, but we’re well on our way.   We already raise all of our own meat and eggs, and most of […]

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Straw Bale Gardens

What do straw, paint brushes and the human blood circularity system have in common?     The answer is capillaries, very narrow, long tubes. It is this physical characteristic of straw which gives its remarkable ability to become the soil of a garden bed. Large amounts of water and nutrients can be held within the straws capillaries. This is an ideal environment for bacterial growth. This conversion from straw to soil makes […]

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