Friday, November 29, 2013

Global Permaculture?

Globalization has weighed heavily on my mind over the last few years. It has brought us prices that can't be beat and many products from the far corners of the earth. But at the same time I can't help feeling that the price has come too high.

Specialists in many fields might agree with that. They might point to solution, the spread of invasive species, or the plight of the worker in the the developing world to prove the price is too high. I don't need to go that far to prove it to myself. I only have to look for a locally owned shop where I can buy a simple t-shirt for work.

In my town of over 50,000 it is not possible. All the t-shirts are handled by chain stores or international retailers. If I go one town over the situation improves a little, there are two regional farm shops that might handle a couple of t-shirts, but chances are better that I will get a better shot at a western styled button down or a pare of the most expensive work jeans available. I could keep going, but reality is I will have to go nearly half the county away to find a simple item from a locally owned store.

When I was growing up in this same town I could go to at least three stores to get jeans, two of them carried cowboy boots, if I cared to wear them! Now there is just one big box store and I have to pick jeans there or go to the next town over.

While it would be easier to blame the big box stores, I think things have changed enough in the world that if one of these stores didn't exist another would instantly take its place. I don't recommend avoiding or demonizing the big boxes either. They are just following the time honored tradition of trying to make the biggest dollar.

No, I just recommend that you take the Saturday after Thanksgiving and shop at smaller, locally owned shops. I promise you they won't have everything you need, like t-shirts, but they will have a lot of useful stuff and will return the money back to your community. You may not even like the shop, that is ok, you don't have to go back if they treat you or their employees badly.

But if you like what you see, you will look for excuses to go back. And really, that is the only thing that will sell sustainability and permaculture in the long run. Good results from good practices. 


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Color in a Drought

This was taken at foreclosed home in Draper UT in September of
2013. The yard was planted with many drought resistant plants
several years before being abandoned. Not every spot was as colorful
as this one, but only the lawn looked worse than the neighbors.

The idea that waterwise plantings in Utah have to be gravel and cactus is absurd. While there are a few spots with little other choice, most of the Wasatch Front is open to a huge array of colors and plants. The planting above combines introduced 'Blue Mist' spirea with native rabbit brush. Both plants do well in Utah with little care.

If you want to cut down on your landscape water, the best way is to chose the right perennials and shrubs. But remember, don't over water them!

If live in Utah County and need help, give me a call.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Secret to Dark Brown Soil

Photo courtesy of JC Shannon
The soil in this photo is dark brown and rich looking. That means it is good soil. Getting the soil to look like this was fairly easy. Before this patch became a flower bed, it was covered by large junipers that dropped needles on it for decades. I left all those needles in the bed to improve it for the flowers.

After I initially shaped and otherwise prepared the bed, I have never tilled it. But twice a year during planting I mulch it with a layer of compost.

That's it. That is the simple secret of creating good garden soil. Mulch the top and don't till.