Archive for the ‘Climate change’ Category

The Anthropocene

May 15, 2019

Very disturbing video from Ian Angus :

A couple of important videos

May 14, 2019

The first is an interview with Guy McPherson, who writes Nature Bats Last blog. In it he mentions ‘global dimming’. I’d seen it referred to but wasn’t really up to speed on it. It’s what happens when particulates from the burning of fossil fuels (which is actually pollution) collect in the atmosphere and reflect incoming sunlight back into space, providing a cooling effect to oppose the heating effect from CO2 in the atmosphere, also caused by the burning of fossil fuels. It’s a catch 22 situation—one cools, one heats. If we stop burning fossil fuels we lose the dimming/cooling effect and the earth cops the full brunt of the warming caused by CO2. If we continue burning fossil fuels, we add more CO2 and we get more warming.

Here’s Guy :

https://archive.org/details/PBCInConversation042GuyMcPherson

The second is a documentary on global dimming itself :

https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/global-dimming/

A Surfeit of Tims

April 8, 2019

There are three bloggers called ‘Tim’ writing on the energy scene whose blogs I read regularly (and often get confused) —Tim Watkins, Tim Morgan and Tim Garrett.

Tim Watkins is a UK blogger and writes The Consciousness of Sheep. A huge variety of posts come under the headings, Economy, Energy, Environment and Society. He also has a book with the same title as the blog, which condenses writings on all the concepts into one place. The blog actually started as an offshoot from the book. Read his ‘about’ page for a bio. He says his aim is to provide…….”a running commentary on the slow motion train wreck that is Western civilisation in general and its British variant in particular.” If you want to understand Brexit or the ins and outs of fracking, he’s the one. I know I’ll be in for an interesting and informative read when I see his name in my blog feed reader.

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Tim Morgan, also from the UK, writes Surplus Energy Economics with the by-line, How the economy REALLY works. He says: “Although this blog will cover a wide range of topics, my main interest is in a radically new way of thinking about economics. This is explained in my 2013 book Life After Growth.”  I’m currently reading it (for the second time).

The ‘radically new way’ of thinking about economics is to see the economy as basically an energy system and not a monetary one. Everything we do, use, consume and buy is provided by energy, mostly fossil fuel energy (about 80% of the total energy mix). Tim says: “Money is the language used in the discussion of economics, but the real economy is not a monetary system at all. The economy is a function of energy, a term which needs to be defined to include human labour and nutrition as well as external inputs such as oil, natural gas and coal. The sophisticated societies of today are a function of enormous inputs of energy.”

The most important thing to understand is that, “whenever energy is accessed, some energy is consumed in the extraction process and it is surplus energy—that is, the difference between these amounts—that determines economic output.” Hence the blog’s name—surplus energy economics. Anyone familiar with the concept of EROEI—energy returned on energy invested—will see where this is going.

There’s plenty of information on how the financial system works—something that’s always been a mystery to me.

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Tim Garrett is physicist studying atmospheric science. His blog is called Nephologue—Exploring the interplay of thermodynamics, economics, and climate. He also has a home page with links to his papers here. I found lots of interesting information in the links. Tim has discovered a theory that explains and quantifies the relationship between wealth and energy consumption. The Wikipedia page explaining that is here.  I must admit that I’ve ignored the maths (not my thing) and just focused on the descriptions, such as: “Civilization is an open thermodynamic system. It uses external sources of primary energy and raw materials and dissipates waste heat and materials.” There are thus implications for sustainability and climate change. The Wikipedia page is a bit on the technical side for me, so I prefer his writings in the blog and home page.

“Renewables” – reality or illusion?

March 27, 2019

Preamble:
I haven’t posted here for about 6 months, because there are so many good food-growing blogs around and considerably better than this one. However, there are apparently people still reading the older posts and so it seemed silly not to capture that audience to spread more information about the three important concepts that are now the centre of my focus and interest:

  • financial collapse
  • net energy decline
  • climate change

There seems to be a general belief that “renewables will save us”. Not so. Increasing numbers of people ‘get’ that fact and why. But it seems from my reading and speaking to people that there are still those who don’t and are doing nothing to prepare themselves mentally and physically for the coming problems (and those crises already underway).

So I want to move the blog away from food-growing and concentrate on these important concepts. I won’t be doing much writing as there are so many people in Facebook Groups and in blogs that do it better than I. I’ll be linking to and copying what’s already out there.

The first is copied below. It’s from Erik Michaels. It’s an excellent summary of the problems with renewables. It’s long and there are lots of links but well worth the read.

“Renewables” – reality or illusion?

ERIK MICHAELS

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2019

Originally posted in the Methane News Group (a considerable additional amount of information and discussion can only be seen by joining): https://www.facebook.com/groups/methanehydratesnews/

Lately I have fielded some rather interesting perspectives on “solutions” to climate change; not just here but in many other groups as well. I have pointed out that the ideas proposed as solutions are in fact just ideas; most of which require substantial amounts of energy not only to build, transport, erect, maintain, and replace at the end of their service life, but most of which serve no useful purpose to any other life form on this planet but us. Not only are these ideas unsustainable; if they don’t benefit other species, then they are ecologically extinct. Building a sustainable future means that we must incorporate ideas and things that interact with our biosphere in a manner that provides some sort of ecosystem service.

“Renewables” do not fit that description, so they are patently unsustainable.

Ladies and Gentlemen, “optimism must be based in reality. If hope becomes something that you express through illusion, then it isn’t hope; it’s fantasy.” — Chris Hedges

I have spent a great deal of time lately discussing the issue of “renewables” and since this has been so pervasive as of late, I decided to draft a new file specifically for this purpose of outlining the facts.

Before proceeding, please view this short video featuring Chris Hedges: https://vimeo.com/293802639

Recently, I discussed the fact that “renewables” are not a solution, and in fact, are actually making our existing predicaments worse. A considerable number of individuals are questioning these facts using all types of logical fallacies. I understand these questions; as I once thought that “renewable” energy and “green” energy and other ideas would save us as well – as little as 5 years ago. As I joined more climate change groups, I recognized the constantly repeating attack on these devices as non-solutions; so I decided to find out for myself once and for all, precisely whether they would work or not.Before going into further detail, I need to explain that IF these devices had been developed and installed back in the 1970s and 80s, along with serious efforts to quell population growth and tackling other unsustainable practices, they may have been beneficial.

However, the popular conclusion is not simply that they do not work (to serve their original intended purpose); but that they are actually causing more trouble than if they hadn’t been built at all. Many claim that these “solutions” are better than utilizing fossil energy; but this too, is an illusion. Having said that, please note that this article is in NO WAY promoting fossil energy; fossil energy use is every bit as bad, if not worse, than these devices; AND its use created the desire to build these devices in the first place.

Many people are utilizing a false dichotomy to justify continuing to build and use these devices. Using them creates no real desire to learn how to live without externally-produced energy, a loss we ALL face as time moves forward. Once the fossil fuel platform that these devices currently depend on disappears, so will the devices. Some individuals claim that we can continue to extract resources, manufacture, transport, and erect these devices after fossil energy is no longer available. This is true only on a MUCH smaller scale than the energy systems we have today, and only in small localities. On top of that, the systems of the future will continue to degrade over time and eventually, electricity will disappear altogether. Given this imminent fact, it makes little sense to continue building these devices, recognizing the environmental damage they are causing which only promotes the continued use of fossil energy as well.In order to comprehend why these devices are such a delusion, one must understand many different predicaments at once.

First, an understanding of energy and resource decline is critical. Secondly, a thorough understanding of pollution loading is essential, especially of the electronics, rare earths, mining, metals, plastics, and transportation industries. Understanding climate change and how our energy “addiction” has propelled it and continues to fuel it is absolutely necessary. Comprehension of biology along with the ecological and environmental degradation of habitat destruction and fragmentation is also necessary.

New information is constantly being made available as well, highlighting yet more reasons to stop building these devices. They are little more than energy “traps” that chain us to the same paradigm that is already killing life on this planet. The secret to resolving these issues isn’t a “new or different” energy source. It is eliminating the energy addiction altogether.The reason that eliminating energy addiction altogether is the only real strategy towards living a sustainable lifestyle is because of one seriously inconvenient fact: the diminishing returns on increasing complexity along with the fact that continuing to build these devices requires the continuation of mining, energy use, and industrial civilization – the very things killing all life on this planet.

As a system increases its complexity, the returns on that increasing complexity decrease. As we find more new ways to reduce the harm caused by energy use, misuse, and abuse, we continue to increase the complexity of producing said energy. Resistance and friction cause losses in motors, and inefficiency and sheer transmission losses produce yet further losses in all electrical systems. All these losses produce waste heat, no differently than traditional mechanical systems.

There is NO system that can be made 100% efficient, so there will ALWAYS be losses. This waste heat does nothing but add to the existing predicaments we already face; considering that in order to produce the energy to begin with, one must also pollute our atmosphere, water, and soil with toxins and byproducts of the processes themselves. Watch these three videos to understand why building each of these devices is a disaster in and of itself to wildlife around it. Focus on the devastation of the land that each unit sits on, as well as the habitat fragmentation caused by each road:

Here is a handy reference guide about “renewables” with frequently asked questions:

https://deepgreenresistance.org/en/who-we-are/faqs/green-technology-renewable-energy

Here are some links to more information that will help you understand WHY “renewable” energy is NOT a solution to climate change in any way, shape, or form:

http://www.sixthtone.com/news/1002631/the-dark-side-of-chinas-solar-boom-
https://www.wired.co.uk/article/lithium-batteries-environment-impact
https://phys.org/news/2018-05-e-waste-wrong.html
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150402-the-worst-place-on-earth
https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2104162/chinas-ageing-solar-panels-are-going-be-big-environmental-problem
https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/06/solar-panel-waste-environmental-threat-clean-energy/
https://www.city-journal.org/wind-power-is-not-the-answer
https://www.resilience.org/stories/2018-08-01/an-engineer-an-economist-and-an-ecomodernist-walk-into-a-bar-and-order-a-free-lunch/
https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/10/large-scale-wind-power-has-its-down-side/
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aae102
https://phys.org/news/2018-11-farm-predator-effect-ecosystems.html
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/05/how-do-aliens-solve-climate-change/561479/
https://patzek-lifeitself.blogspot.com/2018/10/all-is-well-on-our-planet-earth-isnt-it.html
https://www.versobooks.com/blogs/3797-end-the-green-delusions-industrial-scale-renewable-energy-is-fossil-fuel

On a particular thread which featured the story link above, I wrote this detailed observation: “Ecocide is continuing BAU, which is precisely what “renewables” will allow for. They are nothing but a distraction for three reasons:

1. Building “renewables” does nothing to solve the predicament of energy use and energy growth. Replacing one type of energy with another is doing nothing but choosing a slightly less evil bad choice.

2. “Renewable” energy will never be able to replace the concentrated energy available in fossil fuels, and this fact is missed by both the MSM and most people in society. This is a recipe for disaster as the amount of fossil energy available inevitably dwindles and countries begin to fight for survival.

3. “Renewables” can not replace fossil energy in another way besides concentration of energy – each popular device such as solar panels and wind turbines only last around 20 years. This is if they survive that long – many have met an early demise due to extreme weather events. So not only do they represent a never-ending merry-go-round of maintain and replace, rinse and repeat; but due to continued energy growth, more are constantly needed as well. That is precisely what makes them every bit as unsustainable as fossil fuels.

4. Now, for a fourth issue that hasn’t been mentioned in the first three – building “renewables” doesn’t serve any truly needed service. Human beings and all other life forms on this planet don’t actually require external electricity in order to survive. So the ONLY species that benefits from building these devices is us. Sadly, building these devices kills off species through habitat destruction and habitat fragmentation along with pollution loading and other causes.

So in effect, these not only don’t solve the issue they were designed for, they continue the same ecological destruction that we are accomplishing through utilizing fossil energy. As we continue pulling the Jenga blocks out of the tree of life, how long will it be before we unwittingly become functionally extinct through using these to continue BAU? As one can clearly see, if humans want to continue living, they have no choice but to reduce fossil and all other energy use and bring it down to zero very quickly.

Sadly, I have little doubt that this will not be accomplished in any kind of reasonable time frame, IF AT ALL (we are currently going the wrong direction and have been for the last two decades DESPITE these devices having been built and installed), given what has transpired over the previous five decades even though we’ve known about these predicaments since then.” Here are several links to files that contain yet more links to more info:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/erik-michaels/climate-change-and-collapse/10156734475101878/

The modern version of “Let them eat cake”

November 19, 2016

“In this spontaneous conversation between two of Britain’s most vocal scientists on climate change and engineering, we see a frank analysis of the details that belie inconvenient truths for each one us.

Our current carbon pollution rate is taking us towards a planet that is on average 4°C warmer than today with regional variations far exceeding this and changes to the natural world that will be so profound that it is fair to say, this will not be the same planet.”

~~~~~~~~~~Mike Stasse (Damn the Matrix)

 

Well worth watching when you have half an hour to spare:

 

Anderson: “I take the view that we can actually make a big difference by making social changes now. We can still just make the 2ºC but it needs rapid and deep reductions by this relatively small set of big emitters.”

 

That small set of emitters is us. We in the industrialised, developed world with our computers, cars and electrical toys. I’m not hopeful that enough of us will make the necessary changes.

 

January update

February 3, 2016

It rained at last—48 mm in all—over the last four days of the month. Melbourne’s average for January is 47 mm, so a good result all round. Within a day all the tip growth on the native plants was showing fresh and green and the tomatoes, which I thought had been getting plenty of water, started to split their skins.

I’m getting plenty of tomatoes now, after a bad start when rats ate all the first lot of seedlings I put out (in one night!) and set me back a couple of weeks while I put down poison every night and watched and waited until it was no longer being taken. I found six dead rats and the chooks earned their keep by catching and killing another. I mixed the bait pellets with peanut butter, placed it on jar lids and hid these behind the line of wicking boxes and tubs which run alongside the base of the deck (which is where I’d planted the tomatoes). I put it out at dusk and removed any uneaten first thing in the morning. My only concern was birds eating it, but they couldn’t have entered the small space where it was hidden. I’d seen the rats running along there, so it was the best spot to put it. A good result and the next lot of seedlings I put out remained untouched.

Tomato harvest so far :

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The cherries will be dried, the paste varieties frozen for winter casseroles and the rest eaten fresh and fried. Loving fried toms with my evening meal at the moment!

Recently I was gifted another second-hand bath from a relative who knows I collect them :

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This makes three now. I use the first two to collect rainwater and grow azolla for the chooks. I need more growing space above ground, so I think I’ll use this one to grow veggies.

He also brought 3 bags of dried cow poo pats (they run beef cattle in Gippsland), so I’ll use those as a basis for the growing mix. That’s the black stuff in the bath.

I watered the cow pats to get them to absorb water and soften. I’ve covered them with all the organic material I can muster—mulched bracken, weeds, soft prunings, leaves, etc, and I’ve added some worms from the worm farm to let them break it all up. With any luck, I’ll have a whole new veggie bed to put my winter kale and broccoli in.

I would have liked to have made it into a wicking bed, but I wanted to get the material composting as quickly as possible and I didn’t want to spend time on the fiddly job of measuring and drilling drainage holes and getting it set up. Instead I’ve positioned it so the plughole end is higher than the other end, meaning that water won’t completely drain away, so a shallow, boggy layer will be maintained in the bottom. I can always stop up the plughole later and drill drainage holes to increase the depth of the boggy layer.

I’ve been growing New Zealand spinach for some years. It self-seeds readily and took over much of the bare ground around and under the fruit trees. I left it there because it was such a good ground cover, is green and lush through the winter and the rabbits don’t touch it. I pick the young leaf tips and steam them as a green :

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But it’s shallow-rooted in the compacted soil there and doesn’t like to get dry, so with 3 months of below-average rainfall it died right back and became a tangle of dead stems. I decided to remove them as they were a tripping hazard and I knew it would regenerate from the thousands of seeds it had dropped, but when I got it all out I decided I liked the look of it better, walking wasn’t a hazard (especially not knowing if a snake was hidden under it!), so I’ve decided to keep it that way and not let it regenerate. I’ve raked all the litter up around the fruit trees as mulch, out to the drip line, which looks much nicer and makes it easier to add compost and wood ash and gives a cleared space for walking around them. I’ll just maintain a minimal layer of gum leaf mulch there to walk on and absorb the force of heavy rain. I’m still trying to find a ground cover to put under the fruit trees that the rabbits will leave alone. I don’t want to use Warrigal Greens again, because it grows so quickly and rampantly and will just take over again. I’d like to put comfrey there, but the rabbits demolished that too. Everything I like, they like.

I’ve had one zucchini from six plants and that was one I hand pollinated. When there were male flowers open, there were no females. Then when the females came along, the males didn’t show. They’re getting regular water and fertiliser, including extra potash and they’re varieties that have done well in the past. I’m really wondering if it’s worth growing them in future. It’s annoying, when others seem to have zucchini coming out of their ears.

I had a pepino growing in a wicking box on the deck for a couple of years. I pruned it back very hard, not really caring if it didn’t re-sprout and it didn’t. So I put another in a wicking box beside the chook run. It’s doing really well and there are some huge fruits forming (arrowed) :

pepino2

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When the pepino was still small, I planted a tomato at the edge of the box. It’s been overshadowed a bit (well squashed out of existence really), but not to be outdone, it’s produced a couple of huge fruits. From memory, it’s a Black Krim :

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Always curious as to what that black thing is she’s pointing at us. Is it something to eat? :

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The Girls have been laying continuously since March last year. I lost the second of the original three in that month so was down to one original and the three New Girls, who arrived in November 2014. Last year the four of them managed 339 eggs between them and I didn’t have to buy eggs at all over winter. Since Christmas only Bonny has been laying but I’m expecting her to stop any day. Who me? :

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With four consecutive spring/summer months of well-below-average rainfall, I’m learning some valuable lessons about growing my food. The main one is to keep fruit trees small by regular pruning, or else buy plants grafted onto dwarf rootstock. Small plants means a small root area, so it’s easy to keep the water up to the plant in dry times. It’s also easy to get a net or shadecloth over the plant when it’s fruiting, or a scorching 40+ temperature is forecast.

This was bought as a dwarf nectarine. It’s been in the ground four years and is still only 80 cm high :

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Mind you, it hasn’t had a lot of attention; it’s in sandy soil without much nutrient, but it’s behind a row of wicking boxes and tubs so probably receives some nutrient run-off from them and gets watered when I water them. In its first spring it produced flowers along every branch :

dwarf_nectarine

Because it was so small I didn’t allow it to set any fruit. The following year there were many fruit, so I thinned to just a few. As you can see the leaf growth has a compact weeping habit. The fruit was hidden under the leaves so I didn’t bother to net. Bad decision! The birds (or tall rabbits), got them all.  This year, as soon as it started to set fruit, I put a net over it. There weren’t many, but they were bigger than any of my other stone fruit and they ripened beautifully on the plant :

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I’m giving it regular feeds and water now, to try and speed up its growth a bit. This winter I’m going to buy a couple more. It’s a variety with white flesh and I’d like one with yellow flesh if they’re available.

Oh, and the label said it would get to about a metre and a half tall and wide. Just right!

I finally got around to pruning my Red Delicious apple so I could get a net over it. It didn’t set as much fruit as in previous years (the pruning was a bit drastic), but I was determined not to let the parrots have it :

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Only about two dozen apples in all but worth keeping for myself. I’ve been keeping the water up to it to swell the fruit and the rain helped, too. I tried one after taking the photo and it was crisp and crunchy and sweet enough that I can begin harvesting. I’m not a great apple eater, but I’ve set myself one a day :

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So the second month of official summer has passed. My calendar follows the solstices and equinoxes, so my summer started on the December solstice and ends on the March equinox. I’m counting the days—48 to go. It’s not that I don’t like the warm weather, but being on a bush block in a designated bushfire zone, summer is always a worrying time.

The New Year

January 3, 2016

I don’t ‘do’ New Year resolutions. It’s too easy to let them go. But one I have made is to try and do a regular monthly update to this blog, with at least a few smaller posts in between. The small ones will probably be of not much consequence, as I’ll probably just be desperate to write something, but I hope some readers will get some information of value from them.

So here we go with the first for 2016.

I staggered out of bed on New Year’s Day after a hot night of non-sleep to let the chooks out and see what had suffered due to the heat the previous day. The temperature had reached 39 Celsius in Melbourne.

Luckily I went down the back past the bath full of water in which I grow azolla fern for the chooks. A little sugar glider was flailing about in the water. I don’t know how long she’d* been there but she was wet and exhausted. I lifted her out and took her inside. She was still pretty feisty—yelling loudly in protest—so I dried her off as best as I could, trying to avoid the sharp little teeth—I’ve been nipped by one previously—and found a pillow case to put her in. Sorry, it’s not a very good photo. Look at those tiny feet. She gripped my hands really hard with them, maybe thankful to have something solid to hang on to at last :

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I’m fortunate there’s a very good wildlife carer not far from me. It was 6.30 am, but I hoped she’d be up and she was. So there I was, at (almost) the crack of dawn, driving the 10 minutes to her home. I didn’t see another car on the roads.

The glider will be in good hands. The carer will keep her there, giving her nourishing feeds with an eye dropper until she’s ready to come home and then she’ll ring me and I’ll go and pick her up. Probably around dusk when her nest mates will come out of their tree hollow for the night’s feeding routine. I know which tree they’re in so will put her on the trunk and let her be off to join them. An interesting start to the New Year!

(*note: I don’t really know what sex she/he was but I can’t refer to something so tiny and beautiful as ‘it’, so I’m assuming  the most important sex).

I picked my first tomato a couple of days before the end of December. Cheating really, because it’s a very early variety anyway—Silvery Fir Tree, with pretty divided foliage :

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Since I never buy the tasteless cricket balls that pass for supermarket tomatoes, I’m going to relish eating this, the first home-grown tomato I’ve had since last autumn.

The lettuces in the milk bottle planters had reached their use-by date so I removed them and replaced them with Purple King climbing beans :

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The planters are on the side of the deck and I’ve attached strings so that the beans can climb up and onto the deck railings :

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I’ve added more planters since I wrote about them previously, so it’s looking like a feature wall of sorts :

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I’m growing endive now, instead of lettuce. I find it easier to grow; it doesn’t run to seed in hot weather like lettuce and the chooks prefer it to lettuce. It doesn’t have the sweeter flavour of lettuce, but put it in a mixed salad with a decent dressing and you wouldn’t know the difference :

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There’s more here, in a wicking box with capsicums :

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And in another wicking box with basil :

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You can see from the photos that with small plants like these, I can get six to a wicking box. The boxes are 60 cm long x 40 cm wide x 25  cm deep. Sometimes a bit of thought is necessary to decide what plants will go together. The basil and capsicums will grow taller than the endive, which grows flatter, and they’ll shade it from the sun. That will keep the leaves soft and lush and tastier.

The thornless blackberries are colouring up :

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I can’t wait to try these. Meanwhile their little apple pouches will stay on until they’re fully ripe :

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This Naranka Gold pumpkin is doing well in an old recycling crate (not a wicking box—it has drainage at the bottom—but about the same size). I wrote about this variety here. This season I made sure I planted seed early so it would have time to flower and hopefully set fruit. It’s starting to trail and since the crate is beside the wood heap, I’m going to train it over the top :

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The passionfruit climbing over the chook run has finally flowered and is setting fruit. It’s been there long enough; maybe it can read my mind—I was thinking of removing it :

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Funnily enough, a lot of food plants that haven’t flowered well previously, did so this season. Does the (changing) climate have something to do with it? Do they know something I don’t? As long as I get more food from the garden, I’m happy.

This is pretty frightening

December 27, 2015

Watch this video of the decline of Arctic sea ice.

Something about the climate is definitely changing.

I don’t like it.

 

(Thanks to notsomethingelse blog for posting the link).

Heat

December 18, 2015

Environmental writer George Monbiot wrote a book called Heat, about climate change (should those c’s be capitalised now?).

Yeah, George, I know. It’s outside now. It was outside yesterday and the day before. And it will be there tomorrow and the next day. Three days of high 30’s temperatures and one topping 40. (I won’t bother to convert to fahrenheit for any American readers; you don’t want to know).

It’s 30 degrees in the living room now. Coming in from outside it seems positively frigid. I venture out only to shift the sprinklers coming from the water tanks and put more ice in the chook’s water. It’s said they won’t drink water if it’s above their body temperature and if they don’t drink for a day they will die. I give them watermelon and say useless things like, “keep your fluids up, Girls”. I’ve covered the run with an old sheet which I keep wet. They sit in the shade with beaks open. I apologise for the stupidity of my species which is causing these hotter summer days.

Four months of below average rainfall; well below average. The most important rainfall months, when fruit is swelling on the trees. It’s triage time for the garden.

The gloss has gone off the leaves of so many hard-leaved plants; a sure sign of dryness. Next the lower leaves will yellow and drop to the ground. The leaves of softer plants hang floppily beside the stems. Even if there is water at the roots, they can’t take it up quickly enough and wilted leaves will fry in the hot sun. Touch them and they crumble into fragments.

I can’t water every single thing in the ground. The ground-based food garden (I laughingly refer to it as a food forest) is on a slope with heavy clay-based soil that water doesn’t penetrate readily. Nor presumably, do roots. I’ve dug swales behind most of the fruit trees and fill them daily with water. Trying to keep ahead of the curling, wilting leaves is all I can do at the moment.

What can I let die?

Most of the feijoas are useless. They don’t flower much and set only small fruit which magically seems to disappear before it gets any bigger. Possums or parrots? I don’t know. The feijoas can be allowed to die.

Even the rosemary is stressed. Rosemary is supposed to be a Mediterranean plant…drought-tolerant. Nobody told it about climate change. Still, rosemary grows readily from cuttings…easy to replace. Maybe I could let them go as well.

The persimmon HAS to be watered. There are a dozen or so fruits forming. With no yields to speak of for a couple of years, and the promise of something this year, I can’t let that go.

The only good thing about deciding to let a plant die is planning what I can put in to replace it. After 15 years at this self-sufficiency thing, I’m starting to get a handle on what will survive where, what the rabbits will and won’t eat and what will give the most useful yields. I think about those who haven’t started on self-sufficiency yet; when the energy available to agriculture starts to seriously decline and supermarket shelves become increasingly barer, their learning curve will be pretty much vertical.

What about pumpkins and zucchini and their ilk. There are fewer bees around each year now. Hand pollination is mandatory. But excess yield can be dried. That’s worth having. Cucumbers can be pickled. I’m still eating last season’s bread & butter pickles. Cucumbers have to be kept going (anyway I grow them in wicking boxes now).

Speaking of wicking boxes….these have been worth their weight in gold. At last count I had over 40. Tomatoes, basil, beans, peas, lettuce, capsicums, parsley, kale and leeks, and much more. They thrive with constant water at the roots and with a regular topping of chook poo compost.  I can’t believe the growth in this one:

image

Two tomatoes (the front one going bananas…that upturned pot is holding it up), some climbing beans at the rear and a cucumber at either end. It gets about 4 litres of water once a day of course, but it has a 60 litre water storage bin beside it and it’s on the deck where I can keep an eye on it. Wicking beds and/or boxes are the way to go in a water-stressed future. Every time I get a load of chook poo compost to fill it, I make another wicking box.

Well, I’m off out to brave the heat again and offer ice and sympathy to the chooks.

Soon be winter, Girls.

 

Looking At Climate Change Like A Farmer

December 3, 2015

This is the link to a post of the same name as my title above from Gene Logsdon (for some unknown reason I can’t seem to do a straight reblog of WordPress posts anymore).

Gene is a semi-retired farmer who scatters pearls of wisdom throughout his blog, The Contrary Farmer. I really like the way he views climate change from a farmer’s perspective in his latest post. Have a read and maybe re-think your own attitudes. I’m re-thinking mine.