Urgent Evoke

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ReGardening Eden - Establishing Permanent Sustenance Gardens

A permanent sustenance garden is a garden that naturally renews and regenerates itself through reseeding and sending out shoots and starts all on its own with little human intervention other than harvesting it's bounty. It is a garden that tends itself, waters itself, tills itself, weeds itself, composts itself, becoming ever more lush and abundant year after year. This garden provides sustenance for humans, habitat for wildlife and restores the balance essential for addressing climate and pollution issues.

View an example of one permanent sustenance garden here.

What obstacles to establishing these gardens can you identify?

Please comment below.

Views: 239

Comment by Chris Breslin on March 6, 2010 at 11:48pm
One solution for the urban environment that I believe might help, is to modify buildings to have the top floors turned into giant greenhouses. The '1 meter gardens' are a great starting point - just scale up.

@ Crystal: Feeding humans does not take that much space IF we all were vegetarians. However, since meat tastes great, it will be a tough sell convincing everyone to switch over. A better approach would be to, again, educate people just how much more land is being used for every pound of meat they eat. Most people still won't become vegetarians but at least they might cut their diet from eating meat twice a day to perhaps 2-3 times a week. THAT, would have an incredible impact on agribusiness, the environment, and people's health.
Comment by The Garden Earth Project on March 7, 2010 at 12:33am
@Jared Golub I hear you. I once played a game called "creatures" (from developer Steve Grand) that was based on an artificially intelligent species called "Norns". These Norns hatched from eggs. They "ate" in a garden and developed behaviors that included "emotions" You could breed them and train them.

What surprised me was the players who took great "pleasure" from breeding disfunctional Norns and torturing them. Sadly, there was quite a lot of them.

Check. One of the obstacles is that "Some people just want to see the world burn." It certainly makes it difficult to establish deep roots.

On the positive side - one of the miracles of this Vietnamese garden is that it survived the devastation of war, no doubt with the assistance of some very clever and dedicated stewards.

For me, that provides hope.
Comment by The Garden Earth Project on March 7, 2010 at 12:40am
@Chris Breslin - Are "1 meter gardens" the same thing as "square foot" gardens? Square foot gardening is one of the methods integrated in the ReGardening method. It is a highly productive form of gardening.

And yes, good points on the difference in land use producing vegetable foods vs. animal.
Comment by Nick Heyming on March 7, 2010 at 1:49am
Have you tried orach (mountain spinach) for salt remediation? Its delicious, and works well to that end. Several other relatives of it like New Zealand Spinach also pull alot of salt from the ground.

Some issues you may run into would be pests (there's a reason people rotate crops by family), hybridization (many cucurbits and tomatoes won't be true to type if grown close by each other), maintenance (it sounds like a 'no work' garden, but if you really want it to succeed you'll have to do alot of thinning, weeding, and transplanting).

Still, sounds totally worth the effort. You've got a perfect climate in Ashland to do something like that, with your buckets of rain and whatnot. We can grow tons of stuff here in Southern California, but our rainflow ain't enough to sustain a garden year round...
Comment by The Garden Earth Project on March 7, 2010 at 2:14am
@Nick Heyming. I'll look into the orach - not sure if it will work for us, as the salting issue is not sodium, but magnesium, copper and boron in a high PH (+8) soup. We are dealing with high arsenic levels as well. So far, thistles, teasel, purselane, horsetail, vetch, mullein and some other plants most people consider weeds seem to be helping to correct the soil balance. I welcome suggestions.

As far as crop rotation - In a permanent sustenance garden, the crops rotate themselves through migration. Yes, it is a 'no work' garden - sounds like you are familiar with F**uoka's one straw revolution. And yes, the first 3-5 years of establishing a permanent garden there is much "tending" in order to shape it to fulfill our human needs. Once established however, it pretty much tends itself, with harvesting, or the introduction of new desirable species being the bulk of the "work".

Permanent food gardens can be adapted to any climate. Here in Ashland we have both a few months of very cold weather over the winter (we are expecting 26 degrees this coming Monday) and we have a couple of months of very hot, dry weather in the summer.

Permanent doesn't necessarily mean year round, as is possible in the tropics. It simply means maximizing local conditions and species to be as productive as possible. It also means allowing the plants to propagate themselves - to allow them to complete their full growth/reproduction/death cycle without digging everything up and replanting year after year.

Knowing that there are roughly four months out of the year where little food grows in Southern Oregon, we know we must harvest during the fullness of the growing seasons and put food away for the less productive seasons.
Comment by Chris Breslin on March 7, 2010 at 4:08pm
Yes, 1 meter / 1 foot, I guess it depends on your marketing strategy, but same concept.

And nano-engineering is just the manipulation of materials on the nano scale :-)
Comment by Murray Britton on March 10, 2010 at 2:59am
This is very similar to the idea of a permaculture. I am doing a research paper this semester on that very topic, i'm absolutely delighted to have stumbled upon this as it takes the concept to another level.

One of the main reasons why this type of gardening is more efficient than current methods is that it takes advantage of the 3rd dimension. Climbers growing up tree's etc.

An obstacle is going to be motivating people to take the time, even though it isnt much once its established, to grow any kind of garden. People have become too accustomed to cheap, quick, and easy. Maybe if we appeal to their taste buds, and show just how tastey home grown can be, others may be willing to put forth the effort.
Comment by Sayel Cortes on March 11, 2010 at 6:45am
This is a great idea and it kind of happened to my accidentally a few years ago in my compost. I forgot to take care of it for a few weeks and the nutrients and water from the organic waste was enough to build a small jungle there pretty fast! (maybe 3-4wks)
I'm sure that if we provide sun, some nutrients and some water, nature will do the rest, we will just need to make it go in the direction we want it (get food and not just any plant).
Comment by Jane A.W. on March 12, 2010 at 4:09am
I see a potential 'small size' barrier. I assume (open to being informed otherwise) that it takes a fair amount of land to achieve "a garden that tends itself, waters itself, tills itself, weeds itself, composts itself, becoming ever more lush and abundant year after year" Probably enough land could be found when a community gets behind it - but perhaps difficult where 'zoning' is unfriendly.


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