13 February 2014

No giraffes please, we're Danish.

Now is not a happy time to be a young randy male giraffe in Denmark. Forget all that stuff about clean, tolerant Scandinavia - if you're tall and spotty, you're a marked Marius. Well, yesterday was Darwin Day, but in the spirit of the times, here's a Lamarck Fish you can print out and attach to the bumper of your car.

The ORIGINAL Lamarck Fish!

07 February 2014

How do you like your Permaculture? Purple or Brown?

Permaculture is sort-of my current fad. I do this from time to time - become inordinately interested in a topic for a while, read and pontificate about it, maybe even put some into practice for a bit, then drop it. However, I think gardening in general will stick with me, and applying "permaculture" (at least as I choose to see it) to that end is likely to be a long term thingy.

However, Permaculture means different things to different people, and Paul Wheaton (who is insanely proud of being dubbed "The Duke of Permaculture" by Geoff Lawton "The Crown-Prince of Permaculture") discerns a division. On the one hand he has "Purple Permaculture", which involves hugging trees, attuning oneself to the energies of the universe, seeing spirituality in trees and streams and shit. On the other hand, there is "Brown Permaculture", which is perhaps more earthy (hence the brown) and practical - what works; how can we combine complex systems to reduce waste and effort and optimise beneficial outputs and interactions. Paul sees himself (and he has never formally declared for Geoff) on the brown end of the spectrum. That's where I would put Geoff, and where I would put my own inclinations.

I don't believe in Ley Lines, biorhythms, homeopathy, life forces, pixies or fairies of any kind. Indeed, I think such fantasies are bonkers. However I do recognise a few simple principles:
  1. Our planet was doing very well in terms of biological output before we got here
  2. Life and evolution are pretty amazing at coming up with counter-intuitive solutions or work-arounds to problems that they face
  3. Many biological systems greatly out-produce the base needs of the system (so we can potentially tap into that surplus)
  4. By simple linear thinking we are making serious errors in the maintenance of our biosphere.
At present many of our processes are not harnessing the rather spectacular power of biology to produce yummy stuff without much in the way of inputs. Indeed, we have done this sort of Garden-of-Eden-Departure thing of assuming that in order for plants to grow and flourish, WE have to make them do it. And we fight with nature in order to make that happen. I think there are smarter ways. One of the smartest ways turns out to be one of the easiest ways - we should all grow at least a proportion of the veg we use.

So do it! Plant some spuds or tomatoes or something, and harvest them and eat them! Not only are you benefiting your health and well-being, you're sticking it to Mr Tesco, who only pays farmers a pittance for the produce anyway. Every little helps, as they say.

But keep it brown. Remember where you came from. Hydrothermal vents to seas to trees to here. You're a product of the system you should be trying to protect. Oh, and remember, we *are* still going to go to Mars.