Monday, April 25, 2011

Economics of Happiness - A Plaidoyer for a better, simpler life

It's true, a lot of our time working, is time spent to buy more stuff. Often stuff we don't need. How many clothes and shoes does one need. How often do we really need to replace our TV and other electronics. I once knew people that had to redecorate their house for every season that even  included furniture, curtains. Do we really need all that stuff?                                                                                                                     I grew up with just a few changes of clothes, you know what, I never felt I was missing more clothes. It is not just that we buy and owe money to get more stuff, but to do that we use up a lot of natural resources and we produce a lot of trash. People generally don't buy most of the stuff because they need it, they buy it because they want it. Many would be financially much better off then spending their money on stuff they could do without.
The fact is an economy that is dependent on the population to buy more and more is an unsustainable economy and it will one day crash. As I see it, we are already on a fast decline.
We all need a simpler life, with time to enjoy the pleasures of being!

I am eagerly waiting for this documentary to be screened around where I live. It sounds like a great film

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Vegetable gardening with nature-Biodynamic gardening

I have been a bit lazy to write on my blog lately......or actually I have been keeping busy with other things in life. Sometimes I don't know where to find all the time to do all the things I am doing or want to do.

Occasionally the sun has come out and it was dry enough to do some work in the garden. One really has to take advantage of each dry day that comes in spring in the North West.
Since my vegetable garden has not produced as much as I thought it should, I have been doing a lot of reading and researching online how to improve my garden. You might remember the draining issue I am having, water just runs out of my bed into the pathways, watering the weeds and letting my vegetables starve of water and this even I use drip irrigation. It not just makes growing the vegetables very difficult but it's a big waste of a natural resource we don't have enough in this world, that is Water.
I really think the problem is the city growing compost I have been getting. Since we are in the Pacific Northwest we have an abundance of wood waste, the garden soil mix is predominantly made with wood-waste, you can also feel it, when it is new you get tiny, hairline splinters into your skin. I also think it does not hold any water because it is missing good humus and loam. I think this garden-compost is very imbalanced. It shows that you can't just use any crap out there, just because it is there in abundance and make good compost.
So I got a load of good garden loam and I mixed into some of my empty beds a few inches of loam, covered this with 2 inches of my home-made compost, then spread some seed meal all over it and covered it with leaf mulch I can pick up for free at the community gardens.
I hope it will give me a little bit of a better growing season, this year. But I know now I have lot's to do to balance my soil and get it healthy again.

While the weather has been keeping me inside I have been reading a few books about vegetable gardening, trying to learn new tricks to improve my harvest and gardening or actually I am still reading most of them. I got so many I am reading them all at the same time. Most of the books have to do with Intensive gardening, and Companion planting, which are based on the Gardening philosophy of Bio-Dynamic gardening, so I had to get a book about that also. A few have to do with Perma-culture which after reading about the Bio-Dynamic method, I think really is a method build onto the Bio-Dynamic method.

Bio-dynamic gardening is often attributed to the French in the USA but it really was started by Rudolf Steiner who was also the founder of the Waldorf Schools and was Austrian. 

I found this older book that gives a nice introduction to the method 

This gardening philosophy practically is gardening with nature, using a holistic approach. The goal is to make your garden a self-contained, self-sustaining ecosystem. Using what nature offers you, building a community of plants, soil, fungus, wild and domestic animals, climate and water. Where all the elements come together and thrive, because they support each other. It is gardening with nature instead against it. This gardening philosophy understands that everything in the garden-environment is interrelated, that the dynamics, or life forces in nature have to be included in our gardens if we want to heal and sustain the earth, so the earth can feed us into the future.

So you work with nature, plant at specific times following natures planting calendar, what they call Phenomenology - the science of the relations between climatic and periodic biological phenomena, such as migration and birthing of birds and the fruiting of plants. 
You put fertility back into the soil, restoring the micro-life and conditions that encourage the invisible micro-life in it, to balance the interaction of substance and energy in the soil and growing plants. A balanced soil, will grow your vegetables, and will transmit substance (nutrition) and energy as food for us and our animals. The animals will give us manure, the plants compost, which if properly composted will feed again the soil that feed us. Proper crop rotations, cover crops and green manuring will also support the soil health that is another important factor in Bio-dynamic gardening.
Working with nature also means recognizing how important the entire environment of the garden is for a good growing environment , so you restore the most beneficial environmental conditions for your garden for example forest, wind protection, water regulation and realizing that the soil has not just a chemical-mineral organic system, but also a physical structure. The goal is a crumbly, friable, deep, well-aerated structure if you want to have fertile soil so the bio-dynamic method is very specific about the proper cultivation of the soil to avoid structural damage.

This vineyard is growing their wine grapes in the Bio-dynamic way and he made 10 videos explaining the
Top Ten Elements of Biodynamics that explain the method very nicely.
you can watch them all on You Tube

Doesn't this sound like a neat way to garden? Everything is so interconnected out there, I really wonder now how anyone could ever even think growing food any other way........anyway reading all these great books made me really understand how bad the soil I got from my local composting facility is and how imbalanced it made my soil in my garden.

So this is where I am going to have to focus on, on my soil!