Paul Wheaton and Kelda Miller continue reviewing chapter 1 of Sepp Holzer‘s Permaculture (the book). Sepp goes over some general questions concerning setting up a permaculture system. He then asks: what is your goal and what do you expect from your land? Paul talks about how both he and Sepp don’t like to fit inside of the ideas those they consult have–they want to observe the land and do what seems appropriate, period. Sepp prefers to be able to just observe for the first year on a piece of land. Quick consulting is difficult. Kelda mentions the importance ofgetting to the values of those she consults. Dave Boehnlein of the Bullock Brothers Homestead makes a book of maps, pictures, and information when he is hired to consult someone on their land. Sepp shares about how seeds can be grown in cracks, crefts, or holes in steep slopes and rock faces. The microclimate helps the seeds to thrive and be sweet and beautiful. He also creates small south facing slopes on north facing slopes, with heat traps. He uses windbreaks and reflecting ponds to keep the heat hanging around.
The book then describes indicator plants for different kinds of soils: nitrogen rich/poor, alkaline/acid, and compacted/loose. For example, if there are nettles, hogweed, or orag, then the soil is rich in nitrogen. Helen Atthowe insists nettles are not a nitrogen indicator. Kelda shares about silverweed and the Native Americans of the Pacific NW, and Paul shares how Sepp loves Native American stuff. Sepp writes that if there’s sorrel, then the soil is good for jerusalem artichokes and sunflowers. Paul shares about how ferns indicate this too. Kelda points out a section that explains why slugs are attracted to plants in compacted soil. Sepp talks about creating test areas for design ideas. He is able to grow kiwi, lemons, and grapes in sun traps. Paul compares Seattle growing seasons, temperature, and rainfall to Missoula, and he and Kelda talk about growing citrus in the Pacific NW. Sepp says that old varietes of seeds thrive compared to government approved ones. He also says that the nutritional value of fruits (and their flavor) goes up in harsher climates with “unfavorable” conditions. Sepp gets a higher than market price for his fruit. Paul talks about the value of finding a niche market to fill rather than working harder than you have to. Sepp also introduces mushrooms into his colder climates, such as his shitakes at 1500 meters above sea level.
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