Category Archives: Gardening

Farmscrapers Stack Agriculture to the Sky

This Mound-day’s Amazon link is to a book by MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and professor of microbiology and public health in environmental health sciences at Columbia University, where he was a multiple Best Teacher award winner, Dr. Dickson Despommier.

It’s a Library Journal Best Book of 2010, with diverse endorsements ranging from The Huffington Post to Businessworld, even including Sting, who raved, “A world-changing innovation whose time has come. This visionary book provides a blueprint for securing the world’s food supply and at the same time solving one of the greatest environmental crises facing us today.”

The book is The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century

Popular “vlog bro,” Hank Green, posted an article at Eco Geek in 2009 about plans for a Manhattan high rise vertical farm, New Skyscraper Farm Mimics Nature.

Dystopian Farm vertical growth.
Inhabitat: Spiraling Skyscraper Farms for a Future Manhattan.

More recently, plans for a green skyfarm are being made in China, according to this video from Vidello Productions, Shenzen Farmscrapers Tower Concept Design, also embedded below.

Paul Wheaton Preaches Permaculture (Explicit Language)

Paul Wheaton preaches it in this 2013 keynote talk to the S. California Permaculture Convergence (video also embedded below).

The Self Reliance Mastery book from Amazon here contains a contribution by Wheaton. He also has DVDs and books for sale at

The talk introduces dozens of permaculture related applications, presented to a good crowd in an actual church, where he nonetheless throws out expletives with abandon. (Some call him “The Bad Boy of Permaculture.”)

I’ve been a fan for years. He’s been a frequent guest on Jack Spirko’s The Survival Podcast. Paul’s own empire includes (information and forums) and (more media and products).

For libertarians, the talk includes how to build durable homes for hardly any money, which in itself avoids taxes, and avoiding “suck minimum wage jobs,” and if you don’t like Monsanto, frackers or other bad actors–he strongly suggests you don’t give them money!!! Forget idiotic protests. Wheaton gets a lot of hate comments for some of his controversial positions including his emphasis on permaculture techniques instead of the religious and political cult associated with it. He expresses the heretical hope permaculture farmers make more money than the ones that follow Monsanto.

Let Paul Wheaton’s sermon begin. Try not to laugh and amazingly, you might learn somethin’. Again, trigger warning! Explicit language and new ideas.

New Link Found for BBC’s “A Farm For The Future”

Organic gardening is often portrayed as an unproductive labor-intensive hobby for hippies. This Mound-day takes us to the UK.

A great BBC documentary with beautiful photography of wildlife and scenery, which I had linked to for years on my personal blog, had disappeared from YouTube. See it now on DailyMotion, or embedded below.

The documentary includes interesting methods of reducing labor while at the same time also reducing the need for petroleum, fertilizers, and pesticides.

A variety of grass species allows cattle to graze through the winter without baling hay, the most energy intensive part of ranching.

Most impressive and gratifying for me is the illustration of forest gardening with local examples and expert commentary by the likes of Patrick Whitefield on the subject, author of How to Make a Forest Garden

While the threat shown is “peak oil,” petroleum becoming scarce because of dwindling supplies (and a farming industry with many farmers past normal retirement age), my opinion is that we’re facing “peak money,” which would yield a similar result of shortages due to a busted economy. I also agree that someone will have to do the frickin’ farming! It better be a low labor activity if you expect a new generation to take up the slack.

A Farm For The Future. Hello, old friend!

A Farm For The Future – Documentary by ChannelHub

Aquaponics Startup in South Africa

Here’s a notable aquaponics story this Thirst-day. A 13-year-old girl from north of Pretoria, South Africa runs a promising aquaponics startup while still in school as shown in this inspiring video from October, 2015. On the Expresso Show.

Rikalize Reinecke employs assistants to care for the fish and check the system while she’s in class. Challenges include electricity, water quality testing, and temperature control.

From the YouTube video narration, “Not yet in high school, Rikalize is leading the way, showing that age is no barrier to success.”

Beacon Food Forest Monologue

Craig Ferguson mentioned the nation’s largest forest garden, the Beacon Food Forest in Seattle, on his show years ago. Play the YouTube clip above or go to YouTube directly, Craig’s remarks on the urban food forest begin at 2:11.

Food forests are sometimes called Wilderness Gardens or Forest Gardens. They can provide food all year round with minimal labor. Info about the Beacon Food Forest may be found here, or directly at their web presence,

A seven layered food forest (root, ground, herb, shrub, low fruit trees, high canopy trees and climbing vines–see Food Forest Chart) doesn’t require 7 acres or much in the way of herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers or labor to keep producing.

Most of the work is just harvesting the bounty.

Buckets of Life of Death

A Modern Honey Bucket.
I heard about food grade storage buckets and alcohol fermentation and distillation in buckets on The Survival Podcast, and got to thinking about The Bucket List after a recent memorial service.

You can kick the can down the road and achieve eternal youth, but not if you mistakenly kick the bucket.

Then I thought about how many of life’s needs can be met by the use of buckets until the final kick-off, including personal waste as reported in this Anchorage Daily News story, “Honey buckets remain a sanitation concern in Bethel.”

I found that story from Bethel, Alaska by chance. One resident, Tim Meyers, grows fresh vegetables in the permafrost there, and according to Mark Dowie, using heat from composting in a greenhouse. More info is linked from my post at PermaKent, “Better Than The Best Idea.”

The Meyers Farm website tells the story and has a link to an audio interview on the Press page.

Rainwater can be captured in buckets, and plants grown in them when full of soil and allowing for drainage.

There are even “bucketponics” combinations of fish and plants able to feed the fish and the fish in return able to feed and fertilize the plants. Only sun and water agitation and filtration might be needed to keep the system going. And perhaps some added compost as fish and plants are consumed.

Buckets might catch the wind or serve as part of a water wheel generator. A bucket brigade can deliver a steady amount of water if no hose or pressure is available to fight a fire.

Other writers on the web have explored the multiple uses of the typical 5-gallon bucket, including Wikipedia, “Buckets–Types and Uses.”

Other uses include as a musical instrument, seat, and trash can.

Why Permaculture?

Got this from Paul Wheaton’s email list with the title “podcast: replacing irrigation with permaculture.” But I concur with Paul’s suggestion that this be shared with those wanting to know the benefit of permaculture in general.

For me, permaculture designs are best when they require the least labor AND the least petroleum.

Quoting Paul Wheaton:

“If you like podcasts with lots of technical information in permaculture, this podcast might be your ultimate fantasy.

I talk about hugelkultur, Sepp Holzer, Willie Smits, Geoff Lawton, desertification, reversing desertification, tomatoes that are able to survive without our help, polyculture, tap roots, edge, terracing, starting from seeds instead of transplanting, Alan Savory …

I’ve had people tell me that they have listened to all of my podcasts at least twice, and the podcasts with Helen Atthowe four times.  I suspect that this would be the one that rates eight times.

This one podcast, might, I think, convey more about “what is the real benefit of permaculture” than any other podcast.

This is the podcast that you can send to others to help them understand your passion about “permaculture”.

Jenny Cohen, Gardeners and Farmers

MP3 audio for the June 6th meeting is available here, Gardening and Entrepreneurship

Our speaker, Jenny Cohen, told us how her early experiences in gardening gave her the skills to succeed in business when she grew up.

She also described post-war Britain as a nation of gardeners, but was concerned that in a later visit, pervasive surveillance cameras gave evidence that freedoms had eroded.

Maybe gardening persists as a popular activity in the UK, but the following video sounds the alarm for the survival of farming in that country, citing for example that most farmers there are over the typical retirement age for other professions, and oil shortages won’t be able to continue fueling large scale mechanization.

This BBC Natural World episode, “A Farm For The Future,” replaced the video under the “Permaculture Video” link at my personal PermaKent blog when the old one about an international permaculture conference went missing.

Patrick Whitefield makes a brief appearance when Forest Gardening is discussed. It’s a clever way to increase yields yet eliminate much of the labor despite the projected low petroleum inputs we’ll have available in the future.

In another example of polyculture, using deeply rooted multiple grass species is shown to support cattle grazing all winter without them destroying the field or using gas to bale hay.

Monday, June 6, OC KHCTF Meeting

Jenny CohenKarl Hess
Community Technology Forum

A Very Rare Sixth Monday in a Month
(So rare in fact, that it’s actually the First Monday of the next month)

June 6, 2011

Pre-meeting: 6:00 p.m.
Dinner 7:00 p.m.
Announcements: 7:45 p.m. Howard Hinman, Master of Ceremonies
Presentation: 8:00 p.m. Jenny Cohen:
“Gardening and Entrepreneurship”

Questions: 8:45 p.m. Q&A via written cards for at least the first round of questions.
Close by 9:30 p.m.

Location: Asian Buffet (Oriental buffet)
23552 El Toro Rd., Lake Forest, CA 92630
At Raymond, behind a bank, near the public (gov’t) library branch.

View Larger Map
Tel: (949) 206-9988 – Fax: (949) 206-9098

Howard Hinman of Orange County, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies for the event. In honor of the event, he will offer a Toast to the evening’s festivities.

Jenny Cohen‘s professional background includes success in multiple fields, such as real estate sales and as a Neuro Linguistics Programming (NLP) instructor.

Drawing upon life lessons from her father; who as a closet astronomer and avid gardener taught her about the riches of the universe and the joys of nature; Jenny Cohen went on a personal quest to discover the missing element in her life. How could she achieve both financial freedom and spiritual growth and happiness? Was it possible to have both? Find out the answer at tonight’s meeting.

For the first round of questions, audience members are asked to submit their questions in writing to Master of Ceremonies, so that they may be presented to the speaker most effectively.

Cost is dinner (approximately 15.00 FRNS) plus a 5.00 room charge per attendee. (Cash only for the room charge please.) MasterCard and Visa accepted by the restaurant. Beer and wine available at an additional charge.

Good food. Some vegetarian dishes available.

For this meeting, leave a reservation message with the subject “OC KHCTF” on the web at or email:

If you have additional questions contact Kent Hastings toll free at 1.877.867-8209 or leave a voice mail message.

Currently scheduled dinner talks at the Karl Hess Community Technology Forum include J. Kent Hastings of Pahrump, Nevada visiting us on Monday, August 29, 2011. His topic is “Survive with Ham Radio When the Internet is Set to Kill.”

While every effort will be made to adhere to this schedule, it is subject to change – with or without notice!

Resilient Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization. Its mission is to support a resilient community, including respect for personal rights and responsibilities.

For information about this event (other than reservations) and/or future events, please contact Howard Hinman, Director of Communications, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Legal Researcher, at (714) 244-2291. His email is:

Karl Hess Institute on Facebook

Link to the Karl Hess Institute on Facebook.

Excerpt of Karl’s organizational philosophy:

“I favor a world of neighborhoods in which all social organization is voluntary and the ways of life are established in small, consenting groups.”

According to the organizer, their website is coming soon.

Here’s an excerpt at YouTube from Toward Liberty, “a 1980 Academy Award-winner for Best Documentary Short Subject.”

Wovel Snow and Contour Dirt

Wovel at Amazon
Boing Boing‘s recent item titled “Wheel + Shovel =Wovel” embeds a video showing the device being used for shoveling snow.

While timely due to cold weather throughout the nation, the Wovel isn’t exactly “hot news,” so I hope I’m forgiven for jumping on the topic right after seeing it.

Quoting Maggie Koerth-Baker’s BB post, “It came out in 2005 and has since inspired a ton of YouTube fan videos.”

It looks like a great advance over a regular shovel for avoiding back pain and also without the expensive mechanics and fuel burning of a snow blower.

A commenter on the post recommended a cheaper snow shovel replacement that doesn’t have the cool wheel, the Suncast SF1725 17.5-Inch No Lift Easy Glide Snow Shovel Blade Scoop with Wear Strip.

Autonomous Cars and Growbots

  Wikimedia Commons
Desert to City robot car
If there’s any life in the new car industry in the near future, it looks like any sales will come from the long anticipated finally maturing technological revolution of robotics.

Nobody seems as impressed as I am that several production cars and trucks you could actually buy at a dealer for the last couple of years can freakin’ parallel park themselves! (with some limitations).

Slashdot reports that on the same day a completely unmanned car successfully drove over tricky mountain terrain, a manned aircraft filming it for a commercial crashed. Read the story, “Helicopter Crashes While Filming Autonomous Audi” and the PopSci article it links to for all the details.

I remember reading a similar story a few years ago about the DARPA Urban Challenge in 2007. Here’s a link I just found to that description in the The Sunday Times in the UK, in a long article titled “What’s your place in the brave new future?.” Futurist Paul Saffo is quoted in this excerpt:

“The same morning as the Darpa challenge there was a 108-car pile-up on a California freeway. The simple fact is that people shouldn’t drive,” said Saffo.

The writing is on the wall. Human driving will be outlawed–robots only. Skynet said so. Check out Will Smith in I, Robot for another movie with an army of autonomous drivers. Here’s a Wikipedia entry about the DARPA Challenges, with the quite challenging goal for 2007.

“The Urban Challenge required designers to build vehicles able to obey all traffic laws while they detect and avoid other robots on the course.”

With everyone unemployed, cars will transport the aging Baby Boomers places and deliver the groceries right from the nearest Growbot Garden.

For you techies, it looks like an agriculture automation microcontroller project with lots of different sensors is available from Libelium. It has a solar power option. I’d like to see permaculture aware growbot networks providing our food. If we’re lucky, they will replace the current dumb mechanized systems.

We won’t have our biggest export being the topsoil lost by tilling, fewer toxic chemicals needed to handle weeds and pests targeted by growbots, and local gardens eliminating the need for energy hogging transportation. Or at least reducing delivery traffic injuries by using clean electric robot vehicles instead.

New Book on Small-Space Edible Gardens

  Coming Soon. . .
I was updating the page and decided to follow the Heavy Petal (a.k.a. Andrea Bellamy) website link to see what’s new.

Turns out there is something of interest to anyone interested in off-grid or self-reliant living, her new book! “World, please meet Sugar Snaps and Strawberries.”

Timber Press is publishing Andrea Bellamy’s book about small-scale edible gardens, Sugar Snaps and Strawberries. The subtitle is Simple Solutions for Creating Your Own Small-Space Edible Garden.

Jackie Connelly did the photography for the book and wrote about it on her blog, “Sugar Snaps and Strawberries has arrived!.”

If you want to read something before the release date, perhaps you’d enjoy the popular book, The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre! or one that’s not so well known, Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden And Your Neighborhood into a Community.

The photographer has videos at her YouTube channel, jackieconnellyphoto. Here’s one about sustainable food art.