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  • in reply to: Mulch at trunk killing trees #43987


    Hi Maire,

    Good question, but it points to a lack of some basic knowledge on your part about plant health and cultural practices, which seems to be assumed in the course.

    Moisture in mulch around the trunk can cause the trunk to rot (which can ring bark the tree) and/or create conditions ripe for fungal and bacterial infections that spread to other parts of the plant. Keeping the trunk clear promotes air movement and dry conditions around the trunk.

    in reply to: What Plant & Trees for India #43680


    Namaste Ramakrishna,

    I think you will find the books are good for general principles in the books but you would benefit from more research to adapt these to your local situation. There is an abundance of information on line.

    I don’t know where you are in India, but when I visited Rajasthan I was struck by similiarities to some Australian and South African landscapes where Acacia species (nitrogen fixers) grow. Acacia species can be found in a range of habitats.

    Many of the legumes popular in India might be suitable for your situation. There is lot of information on line. For example below is an extract from Wikipedia on Nitrogen Fixing Crops. You could try contacting the Indian Botanical Society for information or referral to sources closer to where you live.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae – with taxa such as clover, soybeans, alfalfa, lupines, peanuts, and rooibos. They contain symbiotic bacteria called Rhizobia within nodules in their root systems, producing nitrogen compounds that help the plant to grow and compete with other plants. When the plant dies, the fixed nitrogen is released, making it available to other plants and this helps to fertilize the soil. The great majority of legumes have this association, but a few genera (e.g., Styphnolobium) do not. In many traditional and organic farming practices, fields are rotated through various types of crops, which usually includes one consisting mainly or entirely of clover or buckwheat (family Polygonaceae), which were often referred to as “green manure.”

    The following 16 pages are in this category…

    Cover crop
    Crotalaria juncea
    Lupinus subg. Platycarpos
    Mucuna pruriens
    Trifolium repens
    Vicia faba
    Vicia sativa

    in reply to: manure #43674


    I believe manure has greater benefits in terms of building organic matter in the soil than as a fertiliser. Different types of manure contain different nutrient levels, and these are relatively concentrated in fresh manure, which is an important consideration underpinning the idea of allowing manures to break down before applying them to your plants.

    From a horticultural perspective Nitrogen (N), Potassium (K),and Phosphorus (P) in manure are the macro nutrients most likely to impact plants. Other nutrients are usually only available as trace elements. Soil conditions such as pH, soil moisture, soil structure and existing nutrient levels may have a bearing on how trace elements accumulate in soil or are adsorbed by plants. However generally it is N, P and K you need to be more concerned about.

    In which case you need to consider how a sudden injection of nutrients will affect the soil conditions and existing plants. For example chicken manure is very high in phosphorus compared to other manures, and applying it fresh to soil around phosphorus sensitive plants will result in toxic conditions for those plants, but not necessarily for others.

    Looking to manure as a primary source of N is not such a good idea. Think more of using nitrogen fixing plants, and building organic matter in the soil.

    Nitrogen is taken up by plants and leaches rapidly; which is why it is important to keep soils enriched with nitrogen. However too much N applied to soils can be a problem due to leaching and run off into waterways, which creates downstream problems such conditions conducive to algal blooms, and altering nutrient levels in marine and riparian ecosystems.

    Generally, you would have to apply HUGE amounts of organic matter to cause nitrogen toxicity, because the concentrations of N in organic matter is actually relatively low (and variable between different types of manure); particularly compared to the levels in chemical preparations, such as ammonium nitrate.

    The application of manure/organic matter to soils is more likely to result in nitrogen drawdown (where nitrogen becomes temporarily unavailable to plants) during the time that bacteria work on breaking down the nitrogen in the manure. For this reason applying fresh manure to existing plants can see the plants set back until the nutrient conditions in the soil stabilise again. However, this does not contraindicate applying a large amounts of manure to build organic matter and improve soil conditions.

    in reply to: Advice on lemons #37961


    Hi Teresa, As I understand it, a purist permaculture approach would advise to just leave the tree, soil and fruits to look after themselves however if you have less than optimal conditions you will probably have “problems” until such time as that natural balance is established.

    It sounds like you have a very productive tree, but from your description the growing environment is currently conducive to pests and diseases. From a more conventional horticultural perspective, I would be taking a more active management approach and pruning the tree to improve air circulation and sunlight in the centre of the tree. This should help to reduce the conditions for fungal problems.

    Pruning is also indicated to enhance access to fruit in the tree and to remove dead,crossing and decaying stems and branches. By reducing the growing stems you might also reduce the fruit crop too (addressing your abundance problem), although you may find that the fruit is better quality because the tree is able to direct energy and nuturients more efficiently. I would also suggest remove rotting fruit from the ground as this can also provide habitat for pests and diseases.

    Whilst the fruit may be acidic, I am not sure that this is going to acidify your compost heap; particularly if you also add plenty of other organic matter. I’m guessing that once it is broken down, it will all tend to balance out

    in reply to: Political bashing in the ethics lesson #36213


    Malcolm, I think you are entitled to your beliefs, but I think you need to exercise balance and respect in expressing them.

    You suggest that people should be blamed for (their) harmful actions. Personally, I think people should be responsible for their actions, rather than blamed. To my mind, blaming is more about anger, fear, insecurity and retribution; which I think is anathema to the spirit of permaculture.

    In my opinion, too many people at all levels get away with domineering, abusive, violent, aggressive and anti social behaviour; often using moral justification or other self serving rationalisations. In this dynamic others are often disempowered, hurt and victimised. Isn’t this the kind of social conditions that permaculture fundamentally seeks to redress?

    I don’t think the permaculture forum is a place for venting or debating the politics of which you speak. The diversity of the permaculture community virtually guarantees that there will never be consensus on these issues, and the lack of respectful expression and engagement is likely to cause unnecessary offence and disaffection.

    in reply to: site design issue/suggestion #36186


    Nicole, you have resurrected an issue from November that has been bothering me too. I’m starting to think that the “lady in red” is not just distracting, but WATCHING me too, so constant is her gaze. My paranoia levels are rising!

    in reply to: Backyard Soil/sand question #32696


    I agree with Eliza, but I wouldn’t bother trying to incorporate the sand. From your description you are talking about sand that has been imported and laid to provide a base for the concrete/tiles (per standard construction practice). Soil was probably excavated to create sufficient depth for the sand and paving to be laid. I would excavate the sand and rebuild the soil, being mindful of the underlying soil horizon (eg it may be compacted and need soil structure to be improved). Collect the excavated sand and recycle into some other useful purpose (e.g., kid’s sand pit, home made seed raising mix)

    in reply to: Compost #28721


    If you have used fresh grass clippings, there is a high chance the resultant nitrogen drawdown in the soil has contributed to the demise of your plants. I wouldn’t automatically conclude that it was due to chemical residues. Also use of lawn clippings can prevent water penetration. Better to mix it up with other (coarser) organic matter.

    in reply to: Sandy soil strategies #28554


    Hi Richard,
    If rain is sinking into the soil so fast, it seems that building swales is less important than building up your soil and soil structure. You could use swales to capture runoff, but based on what you said there isn’t much, so would having swales be of any benefit before you build your soils up? If it was me I’d start building up soil using the natural features of the site such as gullies and along the edge of the line between the hillslope and flat, to optimise capturing runoff and ground water that might be closer to the surface at these points. Can you mow, or cut the grass you have on site as a source of organic matter? If not you may need to import organic matter such as hay and manure to get you started. Once you’ve got some biomass you can start to progressively move “out” from these zones as your vegetation and water holding capacity improves. Cheers, Andy

Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)