Planet X Town Hall

Socrates & R.R. Book - PERMACULTURE, and methods for gathering food and water => PERMACULTURE => Topic started by: SocratesR on July 02, 2014, 06:01:47 PM

Title: post-cataclysmic soil
Post by: SocratesR on July 02, 2014, 06:01:47 PM
This is an extension of an old topic The soil in the Aftertime ( which mainly mentions seaweed as a source of iodine to neutralize toxins, and to keep worms in storage.

Geoff Lawton is the 'prince of permaculture', the successor to the permaculture throne worn by Bill Mollison. On YouTube one can see his Greening the Desert project where he creates a self-sustaining fruit-bearing forest in the harshest place on Earth.
I made a 5 min. compilation. (
In a place with minimal annual rainfall and terrible heat, he has created an oasis. It did not take long and it did not take loads of water.

Most impressive of all, perhaps, is how his efforts there produced fruit in soils that had been deemed too saline to work with. It turns out that if you give plants half a chance, they will deal with soil problems themselves.
I suggest you take the 5 minutes to watch this famous initiative. It proves once again that it is knowledge and not effort that brings success.

I personally plan to bring some good soil into storage. If one is to sprout seeds successfully, one will be needing good soil.
However, if the Earth is physically rocked, the atmosphere that's always turning around with the planet at 1000kph will quickly turn into winds twice the speed of those found in the worst tornadoes. Not only will that mean that every single tree on the planet will be swept away, but so will a lot of topsoil. (It is Paul LaViolette's opinion that it is such forces that create coal reserves, for organic matter will wind up in great piles and end up as coal after millennia.)

Title: Re: post-cataclysmic soil
Post by: Socrates on July 19, 2016, 12:44:56 PM
So i greatly elaborated on the topic of soil in my post Proper Soil Management ( but the fact remains that after a global cataclysm (still) having soil could mean the difference between life and death (including the difference between survival and cannibalism...).

One might consider burying a stash of soil and covering it with a layer of concrete, or stashing some in a cave, etc. etc.
You saved seeds... Turns out dried and pulverized cow dung makes a perfect medium in which to sprout your dear seeds. So you might at least have some of that kept in a safe place.
As i mentioned in Proper Soil Management, woodchips make a fine medium in which to grow crops. Thankfully, some companies and city services will bring you their mountain of woodchips, to your home, for free; otherwise THEY have to deal with it. So let this pile of potential soil mature somewhere safe and Bob's your uncle. You can go dig it out and bring it to where it's most needed after TSHTF.
Title: Re: post-cataclysmic soil
Post by: redhairedgirl on July 19, 2016, 04:53:55 PM
Again, thanks for this post. I will follow the link and your advice.

I think you're a brain trust......
Will look at your other tidbits at the site you indicate... As always, if I can ever help you, please don't hesitate.
Thank you!
Title: Securing soil
Post by: Socrates on December 12, 2016, 08:32:50 AM
Talking about soil a thought did strike me about how to go about securing it.

Not all trees root deep [like Sequoia and many fruit trees that are more shallow and wide rooting] but trees that do root deep do great work in anchoring the soil. Having said that, tall trees would be the first to blow away in a megagale and would the tree break off or would it carry away tons of soil with it when it goes...?

Here are 2 ideas to go about securing soil:
- plant vetiver in a grid pattern; it roots deeply but the wind has no hold on the grassy top
- plant deep-rooting trees but be ready to cut them down to stumps should you see Nibiru in the sky; that way the roots will stay to anchor the soil since the wind will have no great hold on stumps. Not only that, but after TSHTF these stumps might sprout forth new shoots that grow into trees that you'll be very grateful to have.
Title: Growing soil 1.01
Post by: Socrates on April 17, 2017, 07:23:27 AM
First, understand: what is soil?

Conventional sources will tell you soil is a mystery and that it's a 'limited resource'. That's because conventional sources tow the party line of megacorps out to sell you pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, hybrid seeds, fertilizer etc. and it is this very party line that has already desertified 30% of the world's arable lands. These megacorps basically run the world because their influence of government is so great. So when their model of business destroys [!] soil, it's sold to the general public that the destruction of soil is inevitable and not the fault of megacorps making trillions...
If you're looking for the truth about soil, therefore, government and business are the exact wrong place to go looking.

Soil is neither a limited resource nor as mystical as TPTB would have us all believe. Actually, in the end soil is basically carbon + nitrogen. And a child can understand as much if we take compost heaps as an example:
A compost heap is built up of nearly equal parts of carbon-rich ingredients called browns and nitrogen-rich ingredients called greens. Layer them, keep the heap moist, and your browns and greens will soon turn into soil.
Yeah, there are bacteria and other lifeforms involved and, yeah, you can speed things up by inocculating your pile with fresh soil, but in the end such lifeforms are not your worry; they will come, sooner or later.

Mineral content is an issue, for the trees and plants you grow in soil require them. Trees will dig down and actually get minerals from rock underground. Plants are generally more about 'recycling' minerals, getting them from the soil or from decomposing twigs and leaves and such. You can add minerals, like adding diluted seawater, but this, too, is generally not your worry.

Now, imagine a world void of soil. Actually, 500,000,000 years ago there was no soil; that's about when such things started to develop. Anyway, you create soil by leaving browns and greens together in a moist environment. It's not rocket science. But there are a few basic ways in which one goes about setting up a soil-producing environment.
- @ Fordhall ( they teach that one can keep ruminants on grasslands that are composed of many varieties of grass and other herbs. These lawns actually thrive when grazed regularly; understand that flora and fauna evolved in unison and ruminants are not some kind of 'parasites' on flora. They need each other.
The important thing is to let the flora be grazed but then allow it to recuperate for a few months before putting ruminants on it again. The soil underneath will grow and grow and after a few years, one might till it and use it for planting a garden or something.
- the second most natural way to create soil is to plant trees. Permaculture teaches to plant a so-called food forest by putting down many more trees than will ultimately end up at that location. As the trees root down and grow higher, more and more of them are sacrificed to serve the forest as a whole. The forest will soon grow to be self-sustainable, needing neither irrigation nor protection from winds.

There are things one can do to support the production of good soil.
- Terra preta ( is about soil with inocculated charcoal, pieces of pottery and bones; the charcoal supplies carbon that allows for great fungal life, while the pottery shards slowly give off water during dry periods. So one might create biochar, leave it in a ditch with manure/urine/etc. for a few weeks, then bury it with bone and pottery. Terra preta served Amazonian cultures for a thousand years since jungle soil tends to be shallow.
- Just adding biochar/charcoal to the soil can do wonders. Your soil can be up to 50% charcoal.
- Black sands are largely magnetite; up to 10% of the soil can be made up of it and it will greatly increase your yield and size of fruits.
- wood chips are the ultimate ground coverage; however, other ground cover can be very supportive as well, like hay, grass or straw. Whatever you do, you have to keep the ground covered. Adding a few inches to start with and perhaps an inch every year after that is a great idea. When you wish to plant a seed or seedling, move some covering aside and use the soil underneath. But understand a few things:
- you can't plant in wood chips themselves
- you can't mix the wood chips with soil; it has to decompose on top of the soil
- things like manure and wood chips take time to decompose before they're useful to flora

You may at some point find yourself in immediate need of soil. You can scavenge for it, digging it up from around trees, shrubs or plants. If you've a little more time but no great flora to harvest, get what organic material you find and collect it in heaps that can turn into soil. Know that a compost pile needs to be a certain minimal size or it will not turn into soil properly, quickly or at all.
You can enrich a compost pile with fish leftovers or seaweed; just cover the fish with enough (greens and) browns so you don't create terrible smells.
Obviously manure from either domesticated or wild animals can also be harvested/scavenged/collected and added to a compost pile; it's similar to harvesting fruit, it's just 'food' that you're collecting for your plants...

When collecting humanure, there's a reason people cover excrement with sawdust and the like: the sawdust are browns, the rest are greens, i.e. nitrogen-rich. Together they work to create soil (in time). So just make sure you at least have some leaves or twigs to add to human waste. This also stops the smells (and you won't have to keep the 'outhouse' far from your home).

Similarly, excrement from animals can be dealt with so you neither have to deal with odours or flies. As long as you combine greens and browns, things will decompose nicely. And if you have chickens and the like going over dung heaps, your fly problems should stay away.

I've seen so many poor folk 'sitting on their butts', killing time, when they might be making themselves useful by making soil in which they could grow things. They're surrounded by all kinds of plant life, but because those plants can't be harvested or don't produce fruit, they reckon they'll just ignore them... This is ignorance in action!
Even if YOU don't have anything to eat, the least you can do is collect greens to feed to goats or rabbits or something; then you can eat THESE in time.
Ignorance of what soil is and how it is created has untold millions sitting around on their hands while they could be creating soil, planting food forests and keeping animals. And Geoff Lawton proved to the world ( that there are just about no places in the entire world that are too hot or too dry to grow food; it's almost always all about ignorance, not opportunity.
Title: Growing soil 1.02
Post by: Socrates on April 18, 2017, 09:34:57 AM
I've linked to this farmer before who has amazing numbers in his soil, and he talks about neighbors who have only 1, 5 or 10% the results he does.
This 'permaculture farmer' does 3 things:
- polyculture [i.e. no monocrops]
- no-till farming [no ploughing and no emptying a field of unused organic matter]
- no fertilizers, chemicals, pesticides, etc.

He talks about his neighbors, one of which also applies polyculture, the other does no-till farming and the other doesn't use any chemicals or anything; yet they all fall way short of his own results. And it's easy to understand why...

Just don't get in Mother Nature's way! You should be working with nature, not fighting her at every turn. Emulate nature:
- does one see monocrops in nature?
- is there ploughing going on in nature?
- is anyone spraying chemicals in nature?
You can pat yourself on the back because you stopped spraying chemicals, but if you're still tilling the soil and laying waste to underground environments, why do you really even bother? It may help a little bit but in the end you're still not respecting what naturally needs to take place for soil to do well.

So let's say, for instance, you're using wood chips; in nature twigs and other organic matter fall on top of the ground and start decomposing there. But then there are people who hear about wood chips and think: "Hey! I'm gonna 'help nature along' and mix the wood chips with the soil!" Does that happen in nature? No. So why bother? Why do all that extra effort? Fact is, it doesn't help; it hurts [something about the wood chips sucking nitrogen out of the soil, i'm not sure].

Emulate forests; emulate great herds of animals. Let's take another for instance:
you've heard herbivores eat grass and that this stimulates the growth of grass. So now perhaps you're thinking: "Hey! If i just cut the grass, then the animals won't be trampling the grass and that'll be even better!" Except you'd be wrong.
When a herd of animals comes by, they defecate and pee and walk it all into the soil, massaging it, then birds come by and scatter it all some more; predators kill some of the herbivores and remains of the kill work themselves into the soil, etc. etc. etc.
So how could you coming by to cut the grass ever emulate all of that?
The best you can do is take over the role of the predator and keep your animals on the move so they don't overgraze or overmanure or overtrample a spot.

Just always keep nature in mind. (Just like Masanobu Fukuoka ( taught, as well.)
Title: Re: post-cataclysmic soil
Post by: Yowbarb on November 19, 2017, 03:04:48 PM
Socrates, great posts...
Title: Re: post-cataclysmic soil
Post by: Yowbarb on November 19, 2017, 03:05:08 PM
The Earth Around Us: Maintaining A Livable Planet

screen shot of excerpt, when searching for chicken poop as decontaminant
Title: Re: post-cataclysmic soil will take time
Post by: Socrates on March 26, 2019, 11:49:40 AM
"What did i wish i'd known when i started farming?" (, this farmer asks. Answer: Stuff takes time.

Planting a food forest and growing soil all take time. I know many folk think composting is the way to go, but that is based on the assumption that there's something to compost...
Well, if Doug Vogt's ideas about entire oceans running off ( is anywhere near correct, i predict that the only thing left in nature will be seeds. There won't be forests to forage or hunt, there won't be trees to burn, animals to catch; nothing. Nothing but what you manage to save.
But even then, it's going to take time to get things going.

I predict that the greatest challenge will be to keep your animals, containing genetic information, alive long enough to reestablish a viable homestead. If there are other survivors, they will try to eat your creatures [and you, most likely] and if you haven't put away enough food, or enough variety of foods, you may be tempted to harvest them (prematurely) yourself.
However, for your own long term sake, the sake of your children and the sake of mankind, the information that makes it through TEOTWAWKI must be protected and kept alive. This will take time. Dedication. Vision.
Forewarned is forearmed. Disappointment is the result of unrealistic expectations so better not to entertain overly optimistic hopes and dreams. Save those for later...