1. grace—jealousy—wisdom:




    Me participating in a group project.

    The more you watch it the funnier it gets

    I am DYING rn and my roommate is side eying me

    lol I know someone this would irritate. 

    (Source: ForGIFs.com)


  2. 3.4.2014 Mustikkamaa (Blueberryland, literally; or “blueberry patch,” but it is an island) and the site of Helsinki’s first Syötävä Puisto (Edible Park)

    Views from and of the site. Located at the bridge to the zoo island (Korkeasaari) and on zoo property, the edible park will be the first of its kind in Helsinki.

    There are already some currant bushes, red elderberry, rhubarb, horseradish, and crab apples growing. There are plans to grow sea buckthorn, plums, and other apples this spring. As the park will be public, they are hoping to have some other people experimenting with different plants and arrangements.

    Early this spring I plan to have a workshop there as part of my internship dealing with permaculture design relative to access and water harvesting stacking. 

    You can read more about the project here:


    Also by searching for “Mustikkamaa syötävä puisto” for Finnish news on the park.

    Anyway, thats the last of my updates for now. I’ll update with more information about these projects at another time when I’m not suffering from a cold and the cloudy mind that comes with it.


  3. 27.3.2014 Pasila, Helsinki

    More urban scenery from around the Turntable site. Concrete and railways. Not my ideal location for gardening :p


  4. 24.3.2014 Pasila train station

    The sun is back and… its the dusty season in the city.


  5. 24.3.2014 Pasila & Kääntöpöytä (Turntable) Urban Farming Project

    Some days I bring my camera to my internship and snap some pictures. Usually to document new plants coming up.

    Let’s just say that spring isn’t here yet (even now, almost a month later).

    If you read Finnish (or Google Translate’s terrible rendition into English), you can find more info here: http://kaantopoyta.fi/


  6. Decided to share one of the talks from the conference on soils and cover cropping with another audience. Hopefully it goes over well.

    Oh, Ray Archuleta is living in Greensboro NC, just 15 minutes down the highway from my parent’s place back in NC.


  7. Whoa. Lots of knowledge, good design, and money combine in this video for some great results.

    Here is this guy’s company: Josh Byrne and Associates.


  8. I was very happy that this was posted over at Permaculture News. A lot of people think I’m crazy for how much I go on about cover cropping, cover cropping, and cover cropping.

    Even fellow permies often fail to understand the value in making sure that something is growing for as long as possible in order to boost the life of your soil. Cover cropping is also one of the major reasons I dislike the idea of an “instant succession.” Our soils have been abused for generations. Our local ecologies are fractured. Cover cropping as a means to regenerate the soil and begin to open niches for beneficial organisms is just good design.

    Now, an instant succession makes sense in some situations, but probably not in a suburban lot that has not been properly managed for a number of years, if ever!

    It is my belief that regenerative designers- whether you are into permaculture, Holistic Management, biodynamic farming, whatever- need to study the ground beneath our feet and work towards getting that soil back to health before investing heavily in food producing crops. After years of not returning anything but the scraps to the soil, we have to repay our debt. That means the solar energy that lavishes a property for a good year at least should be reinvested into the ground it touches.

    Obviously we can produce food at the same time, but I sincerely believe that in order to build resilient, or even anti-fragile systems, that a period of smart cover cropping in concert with water harvesting and other fertility management processes is a very good way to start any regenerative system.


  9. I cannot recommend this video. 

    1) Taking all of the leaves deciduous plants drop to make leaf mold compost is a great way to ensure your trees lack the leaf litter they have come to expect after millions of years of evolution. Taking some to use as mulch or compost elsewhere isn’t a problem, but taking all of them? Highway robbery. There is no mention in this talk of leaving some for the trees or shrubs. Leaf litter is essential for soil development around trees and woodland species. Trees have been around for over 100 million years. Instead of blithely waving away the benefits of leaf litter, perhaps we should pay attention. 

    1a) One of the primary reasons to compost is for the biological activity inside the compost. Healthy, biologically active compost needs to be protected from solar radiation, wind, and rain. Leaves acting as a mulch do this. If you do take leaves and make compost and then return that compost to the tree, the compost should be mulched, else you lose many of the benefits that drove you to make compost in the first place. The only mention about a benefit to trees and shrubs of leaf litter is waved away rather cavalierly. 

    2) Leaves decompose without human intervention. Yes, even leaves from oak trees decompose. Sorry they don’t conform to the dominant cultural desire for tidiness or instant gratification. Trees were dropping leaves well before humans climbed down from them. Perhaps it is an evolutionary advantage rather than something to be improved upon by human intervention. And if anyone believes in creationism or intelligent design, perhaps the creator had a reason why trees don’t shred their leaves? (Hint: fungi, bacteria, and insects do a wonderful job of this if we allow them)

    3) Trees are not bullies. They are trees. Taking species from one ecosystem and forcing them to live with some from another and expecting all of them to get along is nonsense. Research desired species thoroughly for their needs before planting them together. If your flowers are not from an environment where trees exist, don’t plant them under a tree and then complain when they get smothered by leaves or if they are outcompeted by the tree.
    3a) Mycorrhizal fungi and interspecies root grafting are two prime examples of how trees cooperate rather than compete. Yes, they do compete too, but they primarily cooperate with organisms that thrive in their same habitat. Also, take a look at a forest about this time of year and notice the many species of herbaceous plants that have a) survived being “smothered” by leaves and b) are blooming before the canopy closes in late spring. I wonder why they didn’t die? Could the leaf layer have something to do with protecting them from early and late frost? Could the leaf litter have something to do with regulating moisture too? 

    It should also be noted that the timing of these early spring, woodland species growth has been observed to be a key method of retaining nutrients that would otherwise be leached away during spring thaw (look up the “Trout Lily and vernal dam” hypothesis). So trees aren’t bullies. Trees are trees and trees have evolved alongside other plants. Choose plants that get along with trees to live with trees, not the other way around. Likewise, if you want a lawn, don’t plant a specimen tree into it unless that tree gets along with grasses. The types of soil most trees actively encourage through root exudates are dominated by fungi, not bacteria (which most grasses favor). Your grass and tree will be competing until the end of their days to develop soil in the way that suits them. Try to avoid forcing plants to compete because of cultural pressure. If you have to have a tree in grass, be kind and let it have at at least some area that is mulched with its own leaves and perhaps some wood chips so that its feeder roots and soil life associates can do their evolutionary thing. 

    4) Composting has precious little to do with physics and everything to do with biology. There are many ways to both build and manage a compost pile. One of them is to layer greens and browns in appropriate ratios, search for the Berkeley Compost Method. In some climates, people have managed to “finish” one of these compost piles in just 18 days. Yes, they do wind up “mixing” the layers as the pile is managed, but the biological processes are initialized by layering materials. One advantage of initially layering a pile is that it is easier to visualize the ratios. Mixing the two together from the outset works too. Do what works best for you. Again, composting is all about fostering biology. Human beings don’t create compost, they create the conditions for decomposer organisms to thrive. That is what you are doing when you build a compost pile, you are fulfilling the niche requirements for the organisms that do the work. We don’t make compost. We help make compost.

    The one thing that I completely agree with in this video is partnering with composting worms (especially Eisenia fetida) to process kitchen scraps. This is a highly underrated activity and its benefits are, as he says, enormous. See the work coming out of North Carolina State University and Cornell for starters. 

    The last two minutes of the video, from worms on, was the best part of this talk. Trees are not bullies, they are not benign, they are simply trees. Understanding what organisms do and why should be the foundation of land management, not how we can exploit one organism for our own b[enefit].


  10. Great infographic, however…

    Why are fungi considered a fruit or vegetable?

    OSU, you could have replaced those mushrooms with a daikon radish, jerusalem artichoke, or some other plant that has white edible parts.

    Fungi are accorded their own biological kingdom when it comes to scientifically classifying organisms. Fungi are not plants. In fact, they are more closely related to animals than plants. 

    Fungi are vastly under appreciated and misconceived. Continuing to lump them in with plants isn’t helping.

    (Source: media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com, via mylittlerewolution)


  11. The Finnish Useful Plant Society sells quite a bit of seed. Biodynamic, organic, heirlooms, perennials, annuals… 

    And, apparently, “The Distressed Heart” tomato.

    I can imagine the scene now, mid-November and the seeds are being packed for winter.

    Boss: We’ve got this really exciting new tomato in that looks like a heart!  Wouldn’t it be just perfect on a balcony? All we need is an enticing drawing.

    Illustrator: Oh, yes, no problem! I love hearts, love, and the hot summer sun!

    Boss: Great, you have five minutes.

    [Boss leaves]

    Illustrator: Vitun sydän, perkele.

    [scribble, scribble, is that a strawberry?]

    (For comparison, see the Tumbler F1 variety’s drawing)


  12. Seeds… use them please!

    As I am interning with an environmental non profit that has an urban farming wing, I have been set the task to catalogue their seed collection.

    Multiple, unopened packets that are up to 5 years old. Packets of 3000+ carrots sitting unused for over two years.

    Most seeds last if properly stored. Sure, your germination rate will fall off. But before going out and purchasing new seed (I know, hard to do… I have a habit of wanting every packet I see too!), try planting it.

    Grow some out for your own use. Dig some up and give to friends. Dig some up and sell. Plant for sale. It doesn’t really matter, but I’m surrounded by hundreds of euros worth of seeds right now- which translates to thousands of euros of produce. Crazy!


  13. Uncritically blaming climate change for species extinction is dangerous, Kinzelbach adds. Such an approach could transform climate change into a cheap excuse for failing to address pressing problems. "Monocultures, over-fertilization and soil destruction wipe out more species than a temperature rise of a few degrees Celsius," he says. [emphasis added]

    Switching our agricultural system over to agroecology and applying the ecological lessons from marine systems to the oceans is imperative if we are to reverse these fundamental problems with human civilization.


  14. I want to repost a diary (what blog posts are called over at the Great Orange Satan™) that I wrote just over a year ago.

    It covers similar territory to an article up on PermacultureNews.org right now, called “Permaculture and Managing Holistically.

    Simply put, I wanted to make clear that Permaculture, Holistic Management, Natural Farming, and Biodynamics are not all the same thing. 

    The reason I wrote this last year was because these (and other) ways of looking at the world are becoming increasingly popular. As things become popular, some people tend to pass on their enthusiasm without taking the time to familiarize themselves with what things actually are.

    Hopefully, this old article of mine will help define these things (as I see them, obviously many will have completely different ideas as to what they are). Of course, what something is can evolve overtime and I in no way intend on locking up these dynamic terms and throwing away the key.

    I also briefly take on the habit of some folks to conflate techniques with ideology. Here is an excerpt from the article on that:

    A Technique Does Not an Ideology Make

    I hope that I have made the case that each of these ideologies are distinct entities in their own right. That they have definitions, that they are not amorphous and should not be used as catch-phrases for a set of techniques that one uses.

    It takes a conscious decision on the part of a person to adopt these ideologies and apply them.

    For this reason, one must not confuse techniques utilized by them with the ideology itself.

    Here are some examples:

    +Rotational grazing is not Holistic Management. If I move livestock from one paddock to another without going through the Holistic Management design process- I cannot call it Holistic Management. It remains rotational grazing. I would be mistaking a technique for a decision making framework, they are not synonymous.

    +Hugelkultur is not Permaculture. Hugelkultur is a type of raised bed made popular by Sepp Holzer. The decision to build such a bed may be born out of my permaculture design process, but it remains one of many techniques. It will never be “permaculture.”  Why? Because permaculture is an ethical design process- not a technique. It also isn’t a dozen or a hundred techniques. It is an ethical design process.

    Anyway, I hope that someone may find this post useful :)

    Later, I want to share some photographs of where I am interning, hopefully this weekend. 


  15. 14.3.2014 Kasavuori, Espoo. Blackbird.

    While on the ledge photographing the swans, a black bird flew right by my lens and seemed startled that I was in her territory. Which got me making up a silly tune from the Beatles “Blackbird” (yeah yeah cliche) as a I walked back home after the sun set.

    On the main trail is a huge pile of logs and branches cut from the forest. Low and behold a blackbird was, well, perched up there and singing. He/she didn’t seem to mind when I quietly laid my tripod down and starting taking some photos. 

    A good way to end the day out.