No-till farming - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 10-17-2006, 03:50 PM
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I am coming across this term "no-till farming" quite a lot in threads in conection with veganism, but I'll admit I am pretty clueless about the details. I'm guessing that some of this will be quite obvious when I learn it, and I will feel stupid for not realising it sooner.



I'd really appreciate some discussion about this. I am very opening to learning about this, and I am also open to thinking about changes I could make in my own life as a result.
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#2 Old 10-17-2006, 04:25 PM
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lets summon captain planet.. i mean Mr.Sun to shed light on this issue.

I'll start.







Wind!
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#3 Old 10-17-2006, 05:42 PM
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I too beckon the Sun ...
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#4 Old 10-17-2006, 06:17 PM
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Not to steal Mr Sun's thunder, but:



'"The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings," - Masanobu Fukuoka



Nazorean Essenes have multiple purposes in pursuing natural farming - producing safe wholesome food, extracting the Light Elements out of the ecosystem, and as a spiritual exercise. The preferred model is Fukuoka's no-till farming since this method disturbs the Cross of Light the least. Fukuoka writes:

"Natural farming is a Buddhist way of farming that originates in the philosophy of 'Mu,' or nothingness, and returns to a 'do-nothing' nature. it is a Buddhist way of farming that is boundless and yielding, and leaves the soil, the grasses, and the insects to themselves."Masanobu Fukuoka'



http://essenes.net/subindexgarden.htm



"Masanobu: I am a small man, as you can see, but I came to the States with a very big intention. This small man becomes smaller and smaller, and won't last very long, so I'd like to share my idea from 50 years ago. My dream is just like a balloon. It could get smaller and smaller, or it could get bigger and bigger. If it could be said in a brief way, it could be said as the word "nothingness." In a larger way it could wrap the entire earth.



I live on a small mountain doing farming. I don't have any knowledge, I don't do anything. My way of farming is no cultivation, no fertilizer, no chemicals. Ten years ago my book, One Straw Revolution, was published by Rodale Press in the United States. From that point I couldn't just sleep in the mountains. Seven years ago I took an airplane for the first time in my life and went to California, Boston, New York City. I was surprised because I thought the United States was full of green everywhere, but it looked like death land to me."



http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC14/Fukuoka.htm



"No-till farming and gardening are certainly not new concepts. From Patricia Lanza's Lasagne Gardening (Rodale Press) and Emilia Hazelip's concept of the "Synergistic Vegetable Garden" there are many styles of no-till gardening. And in terms of farming, Masanobu Fukuoka and his famous books: The One-Straw Revolution and The Natural Way of Farming lay down some unique techniques for larger scale no-till farming. These agricultural revolutionaries offer great insight into no-till farming, but why do they do it?



No till farming is seen as a gentler way of managing soil quality. Emilia Hazelip's methods are similar to what we would see in a forest, where nature continuously grows and dies and returns everything back to the soil. Both Hazelip and Lanza tout mulching as being one of the keys to effective no-till soil management. Mulching controls weed growth, retains water in the soil, adds nutrients as the mulch decomposes, and creates soil layers that are mixed by the movement of soil dwelling organisms."



http://www.certifiedorganic.bc.ca/rc...l-article2.htm



I'm a huge, huge fan of Masanobu Fukuoka!



See also Permaculture



http://www.permacultureactivist.net/intro/PcIntro.htm
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#5 Old 10-17-2006, 06:27 PM
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We grow veggies using no fertilizers (save for compost created by our own kitchen waste) or pesticides or herbicides.... we do all the digging by hand or using little garden utensils kneeling over the soil. Is that no-till farming? I wish we could do it year-round (and had more room) but the climate where we live does not permit it.
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#6 Old 10-17-2006, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by meatless View Post

We grow veggies using no fertilizers (save for compost created by our own kitchen waste) or pesticides or herbicides.... we do all the digging by hand or using little garden utensils kneeling over the soil. Is that no-till farming? I wish we could do it year-round (and had more room) but the climate where we live does not permit it.

Thats how I do it and I can grow year round but winter is pretty limited.

Like now the garden has cabbages, brussel sprouts, carrots, parsnips,onions and a few herbs and turnips those sort of things
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#7 Old 10-17-2006, 06:35 PM
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Winter is totally out here... two feet of snow covers our backyard.
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#8 Old 10-17-2006, 06:38 PM
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Most no-till small farming methods such as those described above do a little bit of disturbing the soil with hand tools to make a place for the seeds, and to cover them. What is avoided is any large-scale digging or overturning of the soil, and avoidance of killing any soil organisms such as worms, toads, etc.



Unfortunately, "no till" in a large scale commercial agricultural sense usually means killing weeds with herbicides, something which would never be considered under Fukuoka Natural Farming or permaculture.
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#9 Old 10-17-2006, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by meatless View Post

Winter is totally out here... two feet of snow covers our backyard.





You might want to get a copy of Eliot Coleman's "Four Season Harvest" about year-round gardening in Maine.
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#10 Old 10-17-2006, 07:27 PM
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Ok, everyone follow me. First go to your shed and grab your hoe (not your ho, Troub), your shovel, and your garden rake. We are going to build a pit fire and turn these instuments of war into an intrument of peace: a plough like the Old Testament prophet suggested. Next, we'll take the plough and throw it back into the fire pit and reform it into a true instrument of peace: a waterwheel.



Ok, everyone follow me. We're going out into the backyard to scoop up a handful of dirt. There's living organisms in there and they want to live too. Not only that but they'll help you live. We call that biocooperation.



Next we'll all go to post #4 and read the text and links because I have no idea what I'm talking about. It's just that when you're in the heat of the Heap you'll use any arguement to make your case. That's all I was doing.



I've actually heard of no-till farming and I find it very interesting. It follows the principles of nature. Ok, everyone, follow me -- we're going out into a deciduous forest. Now move some of those leaves and dig your hand into the earth. Best soil you'll ever see/feel. The organic matter is constantly being broken down by the micro-orgnisms and when land is tilled or hoed or shoveled it upsets the balance. So no-till farming is good for the mice, the insects and for the soil where you want to grow the best vegetables ever. And those huge corporate run farms are no good for many other reasons.



I first heard of no-till farming from my dad who has a book about this old German guy (I think he's dead now but his son took over) who was nicknamed "Bio papst" which means like "the pope of Gardening".
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#11 Old 10-17-2006, 10:25 PM
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You false prophet you!
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#12 Old 10-19-2006, 07:24 PM
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Ludi, what is your favourite biointensive farming site? Are there any sites that you've found that nicely combine biointensive and no-till?



And has everyone else given up on no-till???



All that research I did for nothing!!!
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#13 Old 10-19-2006, 07:37 PM
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I wonder if Sevenseas reads this thread. He mentioned omnis arguing against the vegan diet because of the deaths involved in tilling. I had actually never come across that until I was doing some surfing on this subject:



Quote:
Why is it right to kill the mouse and not the cow?



This question is central to a study of bioethics that explores the moral foundation of a strictly vegetarian, so-called vegan diet. The research, by Steven Davis, a professor of animal science at Oregon State University, adds a new perspective to a millennia-old debate: Is it right for people to kill animals in order to feed themselves?



Davis turns that question on its head. How many animals must die, he asks, in order for people to feed themselves?



To address the question, Davis applies a principle used by moral philosophers to measure the least amount of harm an action might cause, called the Least Harm Principle.



Davis's research focuses on the work of Tom Regan, a philosophy professor from North Carolina State University and founder of the contemporary animal rights movement. Regan argues that the least harm would be done to animals if people were to adopt a vegan diet - that is, a diet based only on plants, with no meat, eggs, or milk products.



What goes unaccounted for in Regan's vegan conclusion, according to Davis, is the number of animals who are inadvertently killed during crop production and harvest.



"Vegan diets are not bloodless diets," Davis said. "Millions of animals die every year to provide products used in vegan diets."



http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/news...ar02/vegan.htm
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#14 Old 10-20-2006, 07:40 AM
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well, since an omnivorous diet requires WAY more grains to feed the livestock they eat, the typical omni is still far ahead death causing-wise. Remember, it takes many pounds of harvested grains to make one pound of animal flesh.
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#15 Old 10-20-2006, 02:25 PM
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well, since an omnivorous diet requires WAY more grains to feed the livestock they eat, the typical omni is still far ahead death causing-wise. Remember, it takes many pounds of harvested grains to make one pound of animal flesh.



Interesting that you should bring that up meatless. I guess you didn't read the whole article (which isn't very long, btw) which goes on to say:



Quote:
Davis proposes a ruminant-pasture model of food production, which would replace all poultry, pig and lamb production with beef and dairy products. According to his calculations, such a model would result in the deaths of 300 million fewer animals annually (counting both field animals and cattle) than would a total vegan model.



This difference, according to Davis, is mainly the result of fewer field animals killed in pasture and forage production than in the growing and harvest of grain, beans, and corn.



Applying the Least Harm Principle, Davis argues that people may be morally obliged to consume a diet based on plants and grazing ruminants in order to cause the least harm to animals.



http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/news...ar02/vegan.htm



My counter point to that would be that his position is strictly theoretical at this point. There are millions of cattle that cannot just graze because of the winter conditions. They would need to be fed harvested grain. His plan would also require a severe reduction in the amount of meat consumed. But still, his theory does have some validity. If his plan was implemented there would be fewer deaths as a result.



But that's where the theoretical possibility of widespread no-till farming comes in and I would suggest that such a plan would be just as difficult to implement and would result in next-to-no deaths. That's why even if us vegans cannot grow our own food or buy from farmers that use no-till methods it is good to know of the practice and how it works.



So your point is still valid, meatless. Under the current agricultural system more far more deaths must be attributed to the omni diet and with both the proposed changes being considered the no-till method would result in far fewer (if any) deaths.



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Originally Posted by meatless View Post

We grow veggies using no fertilizers (save for compost created by our own kitchen waste) or pesticides or herbicides.... we do all the digging by hand or using little garden utensils kneeling over the soil. Is that no-till farming? I wish we could do it year-round (and had more room) but the climate where we live does not permit it.



Technically yes, you are a no-till farmer. But technically you are not a no-till farmer. Lol. The no-till methods require no digging at all. The only time you would disturb the soil is when you are planting your seeds or seedlings. But you bring up another good point: your method would be very unlikely to cause a mouse to die (you'd actually have to dig into one by mistake) but would cause insects to die. Veganism in the extreme: kill no insects if possible. lol.





Where is the anarchist who started this thread? Where's Troub who passed wind in post #2 to summon me? I could smell that gas from the compost heap -- and the Heap has quite a smell itself.
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#16 Old 10-20-2006, 02:45 PM
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I actually do "till" a little bit, in that I sometimes use a broadfork to aerate the soil, which could crush a worm,and I do sometimes dig stones from my planting sites, because parts of the land here are very rocky.



I don't have any favorite no-till websites, but I do enjoy whatever I've read by Masanobu Fukuoka. There's some good no-till information in Toby Hemenway's book "Gaia's Garden," which is about permaculture.



I don't agree with Davis that an omni diet would be required for the "least harm." An omni diet might be easier, because animal products can be raised on land unsuited for growing crops or land which we might want to return to prairie, but in that case it might be better to allow native grazers such as bison and antelope rather than domestic species. Mixed native species are more productive than domestic herbivore monocultures (this is detailed in Bill Mollison's "Permaculture: a designers manual"). But, if we're just talking about producing the diet with least harm, the vegan diet grown using permaculture and Fukuoka no-till grain growing techniques is the best choice, in my opinion.
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#17 Old 10-20-2006, 02:45 PM
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Ludi, I read through the pages you linked to. I found the second one, and interview with Masanobu to be fascinating. I especially liked this part:



Quote:
Several years ago, I travelled around Europe. It seemed to me that Europe was very nice and beautiful, with lots of nature preserved. But three feet under the surface I felt desert slowly coming in. I kept wondering why. I realized it was the mistake they made in agriculture. The beginning of the mistake is from growing meat for the king and wine for the church. All around, cow, cow, cow, grape, grape, grape. European and American agriculture started with grazing cows and growing grapes for the king and the church. They changed nature by doing this, especially on the hill slopes. Then soil erosion occurs. Only the 20% of the soil in the valleys remains healthy, and 80% of the land is depleted. Because the land is depleted, they need chemical fertilizers and pesticides. United States, Europe, even in Japan, their agriculture started by tilling the land. Cultivation is also related to civilization, and that is the beginning of the mistake. True natural farming uses no cultivation, no plow. Using tractors and tools destroys the true nature. Trees' biggest enemies are the saw and ax. Soil's biggest enemies are cultivation and plowing. If people don't have those tools, it will be a better life for everything.



Since my farm uses no cultivation, no fertilizer, no chemicals, there are many insects and animals living there within the farm. They use pesticide to kill a certain kind of pest, and that destroys the balance of nature. If we allow it to be completely free, a perfect nature will come back.



Robert: How have you applied your method to the deserts?



Masanobu: Chemical agriculture can't change the desert. Even if they have a tractor and a big irrigation system, they are not able to do it. I came to the realization that to make the desert green requires natural farming. The method is very simple. You just need to sow seeds in the desert. Here is a picture of experimentation in Ethiopia. This area was beautiful 90 years ago, and now it looks like the desert in Colorado. I gave seeds for 100 varieties of plants to people in Ethiopia and Somalia. Children planted seeds, and watered them for three days. Because of high temperature and not having water, the root goes down quickly. Now the large Daikon radishes are growing there. People think there isn't any water in the desert, but even in Somalia and Ethiopia, they have a big river. It is not that they do not have water; the water just stays underneath the earth. They find the water under 6 to 12 feet.



In a book I read, Pain, the Gift Nobody Wants , the author (Paul Brand, I believe) relates how this fellow was able to turn a hot and deserty area into a cooler and plant-thriving area by planting drought resistant trees.



I remember reading an article about someone who had aquired a piece of land in California that had become hard and compacted. That person used Daikon radishes to replenish the land. Apparently they can grow in places that other plants cannot and as they push their roots into the dirt they start to loosen everything up. I can't remember if this person left the radishes in the ground to continue working year after year or if the radishes died off and reseeded themselves. Anyway, I think it took three years for the soil to become good growing soil and over time it became excellent growing soil. This is an important note because a lot of people assume you must use a tractor or at least an oxen/plow method in difficult areas.



I should also note that if one is planning on turning a grassy area into a garden no digging is required. My dad turned grass into a garden simply by puttin enough dirt on top of the grass. I think he needed about six inches of soil to do the trick. The grass simply becomes part of the organic matter in the soil. Putting wet leaves on top of grass will also turn it into organic matter. I think you'd need probably only 1 1/2 to 2 inches of wet leaves to do this. The wet leaves will stay in place better than dry ones and they stay compact as well which is important so the grass doesn't grow through.





Ludi, do you do any no-till or biointensive gardening yourself? (eta: ok, I just read your post there)
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#18 Old 10-20-2006, 02:50 PM
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But, if we're just talking about producing the diet with least harm, the vegan diet grown using permaculture and Fukuoka no-till grain growing techniques is the best choice, in my opinion.



Ok, so Fukuoka grows grains, too, using no-till. Does he say how he plants the grain? I'm just wondering if the seeds would grow through the mulch or would he have to make tiny trench rows through the mulch.
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#19 Old 10-20-2006, 02:53 PM
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Mr Sun, I've been practicing something more like "low-till." I initially remove rocks from the soil, and in subsequent years I sometimes aerate some of the beds with a broadfork, but others I'm just putting mulch on top and planting into the mulch. I planted Daikon this fall and they are doing spectacularly well. I'm eager to see how they do through the winter and then next year through our very hot summer. I understand there are different kinds to plant during the different seasons; some bolt to seed if planted during the wrong season. Unfortunately I've not found a cheap source for large quantities of daikon seeds.
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#20 Old 10-20-2006, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Sun View Post

Ok, so Fukuoka grows grains, too, using no-till. Does he say how he plants the grain? I'm just wondering if the seeds would grow through the mulch or would he have to make tiny trench rows through the mulch.



Sometimes the seeds are just tossed into the deep mulch of grain straw and clover, and sometimes they are coated with clay to make "seed balls" which helps protect them from birds and insects. His fields are never dug at all, not even little seed trenches. (Last I heard Fukuoka was in a wheelchair - he's probably in his 90's if he's still alive, and not actually farming himself anymore).
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#21 Old 10-20-2006, 03:05 PM
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This thread brings up so many questions for me! First though, I'm not sure if anyone's familiar with it, but what do you think about Earthbound Farms and other large organic produce companies? I live in the midwest, so during the winter, spring, and late fall, I have to get all my produce from my co-op, which is mostly organic, but from large companies. Would it be possible to have no-till farms that could supply enough produce? Obviously we need more farms in general, but it seems like no matter what, there will always be a need for a large produce company. Is no-till possible on a really large scale?
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#22 Old 10-20-2006, 03:09 PM
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And...I'm planning on starting a garden next summer. I want to start out trying to grow carrots, potatoes, and cucumbers since I eat those the most. I have a spot picked out, so should I not dig into the ground at all? I could certainly put a layer of leaves over the area, is that what I should do? Also, do you just put topsoil over the area? Any info would be great, since I really never thought of not digging up the grass...but this stuff is all really interesting.
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#23 Old 10-20-2006, 03:22 PM
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I think large scale organic farming is a step in the right direction but still, in the long term, not sustainable. Plow or till farming, and monocultural farming, is not sustainable in the long term because it damages the soil and eliminates habitat for other creatures. Large scale organic farms look just like other farms, except they don't spray chemicals. But they may still use organic pesticides, such as rotenone and pyrethrin. So they are not "no harm" or even especially "low harm" as they are intending to kill insect "pests." Truly sustainable and Earth-friendly farming requires respect for all creatures and the willingness to share with them. True no-till (not "no till" which uses herbicides) eliminates the use of large-scale equipment such as tractors, and uses mainly hand labor, so it is not suitable for our current social organization (a social organization which I believe is not sustainable).
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#24 Old 10-20-2006, 03:24 PM
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Here's a description of a no-till method:



http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organ...agna_Gardening
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#25 Old 10-20-2006, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Sun View Post

Interesting that you should bring that up meatless. I guess you didn't read the whole article



You're right, I didn't.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Sun View Post

So your point is still valid, meatless. Under the current agricultural system more far more deaths must be attributed to the omni diet and with both the proposed changes being considered the no-till method would result in far fewer (if any) deaths.



Yes, I did think about grazing animals, but since that isn't the reality of the current animal agriculture system (as you have pointed out) I added in the part about the "typical" omnivorous diet. Another example: Ludi's diet would be similar in impact to a typical vegan diet, possibly less death involved overall if that vegan eats exclusively food that is harvested on a large-scale farm.



I don't think it would be possible to graze as many cows as would be needed to sustain the authour's model...





Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Sun View Post

Technically yes, you are a no-till farmer. But technically you are not a no-till farmer. Lol. The no-till methods require no digging at all. The only time you would disturb the soil is when you are planting your seeds or seedlings. But you bring up another good point: your method would be very unlikely to cause a mouse to die (you'd actually have to dig into one by mistake) but would cause insects to die. Veganism in the extreme: kill no insects if possible. lol.



Actually, the only time we disturb the soil is when we are planting. and we're REALLY careful when we're doing that digging to make sure we don't harm any worms or anything visible. I love worms.
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#26 Old 10-20-2006, 05:28 PM
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It sounds like it would be quite difficult for an average person in an apartment or house in a city (no garden) to get commercial no till produce.

"If you want to know where you would have stood on slavery before the civil war, don't look at where you stand on slavery today, look at where you stand on animal rights." - Paul Watson.

 

Every animal you eat
was running for her life

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#27 Old 10-20-2006, 06:02 PM
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Yes, it would be extremely difficult. There's a huge unmet need for no-till, permaculture, and veganic urban farms and community gardens.
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#28 Old 10-20-2006, 07:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irizary View Post

It sounds like it would be quite difficult for an average person in an apartment or house in a city (no garden) to get commercial no till produce.



I like this site for the nice pictures:

http://www.toronto.ca/parks/programs/community.htm



This one describes some community gardens in the Vancouver area:

http://www.cityfarmer.org/communitygarden7.html
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#29 Old 10-20-2006, 07:25 PM
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Quote:
How do I find a Community Garden near me?



There are an estimated 18,000 Community Gardens throughout the United States and Canada. This website provides Links to the Community Garden Programs with known websites. The ACGA Member Directory, available to Members, is another source of information, or join and pose a questions to the Email List.



If further help is needed, contact your local or county park agency or contact the land grant college cooperative extension program for your state.



http://www.communitygarden.org/faq.php
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#30 Old 10-20-2006, 07:45 PM
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Even the Aussie's are into it. Here's a site with some more great pictures. I love pictures of gardens:



Quote:
IMAGINE THE IDEAL URBAN LANDSCAPE – in the distance, medium density apartments above a commercial centre that blends into a public park with a children’s playground. In the foreground is a productive community garden that produces food for some of those whose homes are the apartments. This is no mere imagining – it is reality in Bondi Junction, one of Sydney’s most populous suburbs...



...With Sydney suffering drought over the summer and restriction imposed on the frequency and times of garden irrigation, the community gardeners are keen to demonstrate water conservation. The mulching of gardens is one strategy and water harvesting the other.



http://www.communitygarden.org.au/ex...s/og_escg.html
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