Biodiversity, Insects, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Working Animals — by Catherine Sullivan May 15, 2013
Photo © Craig Mackintosh
It’s score one for the bees. Last week the European Union banned neonicotinoid pesticides for a two-year period beginning early next year.
Key findings cited evidence of the role neonics play in destroying bee populations. The ban is specifically for flowering crops as neonics penetrate plants from treated seed through to affecting flower nectar and pollen, which bees and other non-target insects feed on. Bees in particular have a high acute toxicity to the systemic pesticides. It impairs their nervous systems, resulting in disorientation, navigational problems and coupled with damaged memory, affects their ability to forage. Neonic pesticides can also be retained in the soil profile for lengthy periods.Comments (1)
Biodiversity, Economics, Health & Disease, Insects, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by George Monbiot May 2, 2013
Amazingly, the UK government has not defined the precautionary principle and appears to have no idea what it is.
Here’s something remarkable I stumbled across while researching my column on Monday, but did not have room to include. I hope you’ll agree that it is worth sharing.
I was trying to understand the context for the new chief scientist’s cavalier treatment of scientific evidence, in an article he wrote opposing a European ban on neonicotinoid pesticides. These are the toxins which, several studies suggest, could be partly responsible for the rapid decline in bees and other pollinators.Comments (1)
Biodiversity, Health & Disease, Insects, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by George Monbiot April 30, 2013
How government science advisers misrepresent science.
What happens to people when they become government science advisers? Are their children taken hostage? Is a dossier of compromising photographs kept, ready to send to the Sun if they step out of line?Comments (4)
Biodiversity, Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Insects, Plant Systems, Trees — by Angelo Eliades February 12, 2013
Hearing Geoff Lawton speak about the effectiveness of natural pest control in food forests during my PDC studies is what originally prompted me to design and build a backyard food forest garden. Nature taking care of pests in the garden? It sounded too good to believe, and coming from a science background, I just had to test the concept out. After all, any good science can be replicated!
Four years later, after working out how to scale down a food forest into an urban backyard, and going through the designing, building, documenting and weighing of all produce, I inadvertently had created Melbourne’s first demonstration urban food forest and a proof of concept experiment that had more far-reaching outcomes than I first envisaged. Hundreds of people visit the garden each year to see it first hand and learn how it all works. Even our local government has taken a liking to the concept of permaculture and I’m often hired by them to present on the topics of permaculture and sustainable gardening to an equally interested general public. I put it down to a good teacher!
The garden productivity has been fantastic, and has been increasing steadily from year to year, but what has been even more impressive is how the garden I first designed has become a living ecosystem that has taken on a life of its own. Geoff warned us that would happen! With passing time, the system has increased in stability and resilience and the pests have clearly reduced. I would like to share some observations in this article which clearly demonstrate the proof of concept of natural pest control in food forests.Comments (17)
Biodiversity, Insects, Plant Systems — by Elspeth Brock February 11, 2013
Bee Friendly Planting Guide (8mb PDF)
I just came across an excellent new resource for beekeepers. It is published by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and entitled Bee Friendly — a planting guide for European honey bees and Australian native pollinators.
It contains over 300 pages of information on bee forage plants for Australia, for urban open space, private gardens and farms with a climate specific plant selection. The sections on street scapes is an excellent resource for people in urban areas who want to improve local biodiversity and not just plant street trees for aesthetics. It gives specific recommendations on species of eucalypt, tea tree, hakea and grevillea for bees — great if you only have room for one tree or want to plant out a native section of a farm.
There are a few plant surprises for me, such as Pig Face, a succulent native ground cover that will grow on tough slopes and verges, and gives you an excuse to include flowers in your permaculture garden — daisies, Zinnia, Coreopsis and Californian lilac are named as excellent bee fodders. Oregano, peppermint, lemon balm and rosemary are amongst other herbs listed as most beneficial to bees.
What’s best is it’s downloadable for free.
- How to Revive the Honeybee
- How to Attract Beneficial Predators & Pollinators
- Colony Collapse Disorder – a Moment for Reflection
Animal Housing, Bird Life, Breeds, Insects, Working Animals — by Catherine Griggs February 5, 2013
This article is for all those people out there who are under regular attack from the cursed slug. If you live in Great Britain or North Wales like I do, you know all to well about these little beasts. 2012 was a year of slug plagues for most gardeners in the UK due to the wet and humid weather which provided ideal breeding conditions. And with climate change these wet, humid summers are not likely to go away, so it’s best to get prepared.
Slug plagues are of course a symptom of an unbalanced ecosystem in that their natural predators and parasites are not abundant enough to balance the slug population. A balanced ecosystem takes time to establish so slugs can be a big problem in newly created permaculture gardens, especially when mulch is used. I would like to tell you about the fastest most entertaining and resourceful way of getting rid of your slugs.Comments (10)
Animal Forage, Bird Life, Breeds, Food Forests, Insects, Livestock, Plant Systems, Working Animals — by Eric Toensmeier January 24, 2013
Cattle grazing under alder in silvopasture system
at Las Canadas, Huatusco, Mexico
Integrating livestock seems to be the best way to have a larger-scale food forest (anything over one hectare or a couple of acres). If done properly, livestock integration can greatly reduce labor and fossil fuel needs. It can create the conditions for happy and healthy livestock. Done poorly, it can ruin soils and destroy crops. Here are a few things that I’ve been learning as I travel around and view this aspect of permaculture in action (plus some important tidbits from reading).Comments (30)
Insects — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor January 16, 2013
We all love seeing nature at work. Although we’ve done immense damage to natural systems worldwide, the earth’s beauty still seems boundless, as is the spectacular complexity of the creatures that inhabit it. But beyond its beauty lies something arguably more valuable — lessons that help us in our own lives. People who are in regular contact with nature and nature’s systems know well what I’m trying to say here.Comments (1)
Insects, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by I-SIS November 9, 2012
GM technologies have led to a 7% increase in pesticide use.
A new peer-reviewed study has blown away the persistent claims made by agritech corporations that GM crops are beneficial to both the environment and human health by reducing pesticide use.Comments (1)
Insects, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination — by Zaia Kendall September 26, 2012
It came to my attention recently that a lot of people do not understand the importance of healthy soil. This article attempts to explain the importance of soil health for plants and people.
People are very concerned about pests and disease in their garden — slugs, caterpillars, moths and numerous other critters that seem to make a scrumptious meal out of the fruits and vegetables so lovingly tended in back yards; molds and fungus that inexplicably appear on otherwise healthy looking plants.
What we have to understand is that pests and disease are symptoms. Just as a sore on your skin is only a symptom of a deeper, underlying issue, pests and disease are signs of unhealthy plants — the plant’s natural ‘immune system’ is unable to fight them off. So if we look at things holistically, as we do when approaching disease in our own bodies with natural medicine, we have to look at the cause. Squashing or spraying bugs is ultimately only a band aid solution.Comments (2)
Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Insects, Medicinal Plants, Seeds — by Zaia Kendall August 10, 2012
Our abundant garden: pineapple, leeks, spring onions, strawberry beds,
greens, broccoli and numerous other edible plants visible in this picture.
I love this time of year! Here on the Sunshine Coast, the sun shines brightly during the day, creating a wonderful 23 – 25 degrees C and then cooling down at night, which enables us to run the wood stove as well. Best of both worlds really!
The garden loves this time of year as well, green leafy vegetables are abundant, as are citrus and strawberries. Some pineapples are ripening, and the snow peas are ready to be picked.Comments (0)
Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Insects, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems — by Briana Lyon August 7, 2012
It was recently reported in a research study conducted by Michigan University that predatory insect attracting plants saved American farmers “an estimated $4.6 billion last year on insecticides.” Let us hope they continue to up their creativity in their predatory insect attractant planting techniques and quit using insecticides at all!
Having predatory insect attracting plants will dramatically improve your garden’s safety and health, especially from herbivorous insect plagues. And the best part is that you probably already have a lot of insect attracting plants in your garden already!Comments (4)
Biodiversity, Insects, Society, Urban Projects — by Anthea Hudson March 6, 2012
Involving our children in hands-on explorations of the natural world is essential if we are to create a generation who are able to undertake the vital tasks of re-establishing a resilient life on this planet. What better place to start nurturing this than in our gardens!Comments (5)
Building, Insects, Working Animals — by Anthony Andrist February 6, 2012
Editor’s Note: Those keen to gain more expert insights into beekeeping would do well to take Anthony’s upcoming 1-day Introduction to Beekeeping using Permaculture Principles course, to be held March 25, 2012 at Lansdowne in the scenic Manning Valley on the Mid North Coast of NSW, Australia.
Go to the bee, thou poet: consider her ways and be wise.
– George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman
Looking for simplicity and compatibility between styles, we moved next towards a top-bar design. Essentially, it is a wooden bar placed horizontally across the width of the hive and has a starter strip of foundation comb or a wax bead along the centre to encourage the bees to build comb. The bar can be flat on the bottom, have a notch along the centre to place a wax strip, a semi-circle, a triangle or even a comb footprint, to give the bees a starting point. The bars are set side by side across the top of the hive and can be any length. Most bars are between 3.175 to 3.5cm wide and from 40 to 50cm long.Comments (10)
Insects, Processing & Food Preservation — by Milkwood Permaculture January 24, 2012
Once you’ve harvested your natural honeycomb from your Warré (or other kind of top bar) beehive, it’s time to get some of that goodness into jars! Fortunately, like many other aspects of natural beekeeping, getting the honey out of natural comb is easy and simple, once you know how.
We’re just at the start of our beekeeping journey, but still, even though we don’t have whizz-bang equipment, we found this a wonderfully tactile and rewarding experience. It’s pretty much just a case of crushing the comb, sieving it, and bottling the results. 100% organic yum, with all the goodness of the honey still utterly intact.Comments (11)