Field of Gold – The Fog will Follow

InAField

“Field of Gold” – Keystone State Park – Westmoreland County, PA – A collaboration with nature…

Sitting in a flowering meadow… Myself and the swallows…
When this wind stops blowing the evening fog follows…
Sunset… Magic in nature… Magic in our short little lives…
Like these tiny swallows our energy rises and dives…

Water droplets from the relentless rains… Clinging to the trees…
A warblers song suddenly brings me to my knees…
Persistent decrescendo… Thunder rolling in the distance…
Between sunshine I imagine cooperative coexistence…

Existence with nature is simpler than existence with each other…
It’s easy to hug a tree but impossible to hug your brother…
Community is common unity… Unity is a social experiment…
The idea we can all get along is somewhat of an embarrassment…

We all have best friends… And we will all make enemies…
Value both… Learning experience taken from the centuries…
Unconditional love is thicker than water… Like a raging flood…
After the clouds comes the sun… Then the rain becomes mud…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Snow and Sun – The First Melt

This gallery contains 6 photos.

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Morning Thoughts – Honeybee Drone

Rose

“Perfectly Pink” – © chriscondello 2013 – Alley – Wilkinsburg, PA – I swear to God the insects are messing with me… I found this rose in an unmarked alley here in Wilkinsburg… Actually part of a bad ass alleyway rose garden…

Motionless morning… End of May…
Intense atmosphere… On a hot and muggy day…
I can feel the atmosphere rising…
Air comprising moisture and lightning…

All my senses are telling me it will rain…
Fuck the weather channel… My knees in pain…
And my back is out of whack…
Taking my observations slightly off track…

Coneflower bones and honeybee drones…
Fragrance of locust blossoms… Like honey and rain…
Compliment this ninety degree weather…
Fragrance of spring… Heat of summer…

Together…

The heat is unbearable… Visually oppressive…
Waving lines rise from the street… Deadly suggestive…
The plants bow… They are begging for rain…
An easy fix… Yet all the signs say abstain…

Rain is on the horizon… It is in the air…
Cumulus clouds rise in the heat…
Till they reach the stratosphere…
Anvil head forms in the ice-cold atmosphere…

Still a few hours away… But I promise… It will Rain…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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The Eyes of Spring

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Spring is slowly waking up from her slumber…
The crocus open like eyes in the rising sun…
And close with the imminent sunset…
Survival… Evolution…
Peace…

When the gardens wake up in the spring…
We open our eyes in the rising sun…
And close them after the sunset…
Human rhythms… Perpetual…
Peace…

When the robins start to sing in the spring…
Winters tears will melt into rain…
And the ground will come alive…
Natures song… Harmony…
Peace…

peace – chriscondello

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Practical Permaculture – Albedo and Absorption of Solar Energy in the Garden

albedo

First of all let me say that Spring is almost here, but it is still very cold outside… I am running out of photos to use and I’m sorry,  but for now these will have to do… I promise I’ll be taking many new photos as soon as I can… But I am starting to run out of steam as far as Winter is concerned… I really need Spring to get here…

Albedo, or reflection coefficient, is the diffuse reflectivity or reflecting power of a surface. It is defined as the ratio of reflected radiation from the surface to incident radiation upon it. Being a dimensionless fraction, it may also be expressed as a percentage, and is measured on a scale from zero for no reflecting power of a perfectly black surface, to 1 for perfect reflection of a white surface.

The opposite of albedo is absorption, which is defined in this case as the interception of radiant energy. Either one of these principles can benefit the garden when working alone, but when you team the two principles up, you can bend the rules… If not break them…

Essentially, it all boils down to bright colors reflect light, and dark colors absorb them… Simple enough… Now the question becomes, how do we adapt these effects into the permaculture based garden? 100_1798Since forests are generally attributed a low albedo, (as the majority of the ultraviolet and visible spectrum is absorbed through photosynthesis), it has been wrongly assumed that removing forests would lead to cooling on the grounds of increased albedo. Through the evapotranspiration of water, trees discharge excess heat from the forest canopy. This water vapour rises resulting in cloud cover which also has a high albedo, thereby further increasing the net global cooling effect attributable to forests.

In seasonally snow-covered zones, winter albedos of treeless areas are 10% to 50% higher than nearby forested areas because snow does not cover the trees as readily. Deciduous trees have an albedo value of about 0.15 to 0.18 while coniferous trees have a value of about 0.09 to 0.15.

pine-trees-in-the-snowIn winter landscapes, conifers can also be heat magnets, they provide a relatively flat surface that is often the only dark color in a snow-covered area. Conifers can absorb enough heat to melt the snow around them, this is often evident in the amount of bird nests you will find in a conifer in the winter. Properly selected and planted conifer trees can help you cheat zones, this will allow you to experiment with plants that may not be suited to your area…

A variety of factors influence the ability of plants to reflect sunlight. At the most simplistic level, dark coloration provides the greatest absorption and hence the lowest albedo. However, leaf shape is quite important, with leaf shapes that are planar providing a higher reflectivity. Furthermore, leaf aspect is also contributory, with leaves that have surfaces parallel to the ground surface having the highest albedo.

A common way of hardening off seedlings and extending the growing season is the use of cold frames, in the Northern Hemisphere these structures should always face south to take advantage of the low winter sun. A few properly placed concrete pavers, when situated on the ground to the south of your cold frame, will reflect energy onto the cold frame that would have otherwise been lost…

Furthermore, a semi-circle of conifer trees, with the opening facing south, creates what is known as a heat dam. The conifer trees not only reflect the energy towards the center of the circle, they also absorb some energy to be released over night and serve as a wind break from the cold winds that commonly blow from the north. A cold frame or garden can be placed inside of the heat dam, that is just one example of how a thrifty permaculturist can get away without having to purchase row covers or other expensive season extending products.

100_1772I have always dreamed of having a south-facing stone face, the possibilities would be immense. I am not going to have my own cliff any time soon, but my house does have a south-facing wall… And I’d be willing to bet yours does too… The reflected energy from the sun can and will melt snow in the middle of winter, I have a patch of canna Lilies in my front yard that keeps surviving through the winter… The roots have become so massive that I wish it would die just so I could remove the damn thing…

Some objects have variable effects dependant on season. Ponds for instance, have a reflective quality that can focus the low winter suns energy in a specific location. This same pond, in the Summer, absorb the sun’s energy creating a cooling effect to the area directly around it. Think of it like this… If you take a rock, and throw it at an angle to the water… It will skip… But that same rock… When dropped in the water… Falls right through… Sunlight basically does the same thing…

Several years ago I had a permaculture epiphany while sitting on a hillside… What I found was that the hill I was sitting on had slopes that equally faced both East and West, the side of the slope that faced East was bone dry… But the side that faced West was wet and swampy… Both of these slopes received equal hours of daylight, but one side was considerably drier. What I realized was that the side that received the morning sun would absorb that sun for the first part of the day, then have the afternoon heat to help retain that warmth for the rest of the day. The side that did not have the morning sun only received direct heat in the afternoon, the night air makes quick work of eliminating the heat absorbed in the afternoon.

So you may be sitting there scratching your head wondering what in the hell does this have to do with my garden?.. When looking for a property for your farm or homestead in the northern hemisphere, never buy on a slope that faces north or west… The morning sun is the key element when designing your garden…

Many of the older houses in my neighborhood have the majority of the windows facing south and east, this is not by accident, it is by design… West and north facing windows are very inefficient, losing more heat than they absorb… Avoid them in your designs when possible…

Furthermore, many of the local houses have aluminum awnings overtop of the windows, believe it or not, these often tacky additions serve an ingenious purpose… In the winter when the sun is low on the horizon the awnings let the sun in the window… But in the summer, when the sun is high, it shades the window and reflects much of the heat away…

A proper understanding of albedo and absorption can be powerful tools in any gardeners repertoire. It will allow you to grow what I like to call “WTF” plants, turning the heads of your garden visitors every time… This is the type of information that will set you apart from the rest, and that is what I hope to build on from now on… The stuff that will set you apart from the rest…

home

This graphic is just a simple example of using the reflected heat from the pond, as well as from the conifers behind. The conifers also block the wind when it is blowing from the north, typically cold wind blows from the north and warm winds blow from the south.

Not bad for a dude who barely graduated high school… I hope you find this information helpful in your garden this year…

peace – chriscondello

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Sunshine And Rainbows

The first drops of life roll out of the sky… A sign of things to come… Cold fronts coming from the west… But the clouds are from the south… Puffy and cumulus… Probably full of rain… Coming to wash the earth… Of the filth and pain…

Winter weather often lacks moisture… Because the forest lacks leaves… powerful cold fronts crawl across the country… And tap into the gulf of mexico… Warm moist air is pulled up the east coast… Mixing with the cold… And we have snow…

Sometimes this front originates in the south… Starts off as heavy tropical rains… Eventually the storm will break free of the tropics… And rush up the coast… When the warm gulf air meets the icy grip of the north… We have snow… We have a nor’easter…

Tracking is everything… And computers make observation easy… When you know bad weather is coming… Go out and observe… Observe the trees… Observe the animals… Observe the energy… It’s all around you… You just have to learn how to see… The weatherman has taken all of the guesswork out of the equation… We now know when it is going to storm… Now take that computer information and relate it to real life… Fill in the natural blanks… Learn how to read natures map…

Distant rain has a smell… Wind often pushes that smell out in front of the storm… One of the first signs of things to come… Something I always notice… Something you should too… Because it’s not always sunshine and rainbows… When it rains it pours… But nature always informs those who listen…

Learn that a rainbow doesn’t always signify the end of the storm… It can also signify the start… Not every storm is destructive… Not all destruction is bad… It’s possible that destruction… Can create beauty and life…

the rainbows over me, but it never lands on me – chriscondello

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Trees And Their Interactions With The Earth

Trees are, for the earth, the ultimate translators and moderators of incoming energies. – Bill Mollison

As far as a forest is concerned trees are the backbone, they are the definition of the word “forest”. They are the physical workhorse, doing most of the heavy lifting. Trees are a part of our daily lives, we could not exist without them. If you ever really wanted to conquer a people, all you would have to do is eliminate all of their trees.

There is a direct correlation between the size of a tree and the size of the root system, the roots of a tree will grow large enough to support the tree with a full load of leaves on it. If you were to remove all of the leaves from a tree, the roots would temporarily stop absorbing water. Leguminous trees on the other hand, will proportionately abort  roots when the top of the tree is cut.

One of the few times the earth is disturbed in a natural forest is when a tree is uprooted, this is one of natures methods of tillage. Seeds that would not have had a chance to germinate in solid ground will now have a chance to grow. Some seeds have developed the ability to lay dormant until this opening occurs, these trees are pioneer trees. Pioneer trees are nothing more than quick carbon pathways, they grow fast, die fast and decompose fast, while the roots decompose and create compost corridors in the soil.

As the wind blows across land, it picks up particles. These particles are maintained until the speed of the wind slows down, often occurring at the edge of a forest. It is partly because of this, that trees on the edge of a forest grow larger. Typically 40% of this wind continues over the forest picking up a new payload, and 60% goes into the forest and deposits its payload. The fog rising from the forest that’s commonly seen when driving down the highway is a result of this cool wind forcing warm air out of the forest… Decomposition is what causes this heat.

Often at the edge of an old growth forest you will find a small mound, this is caused by a buildup of material deposited by the wind. The material is often composed of nutrient rich organic particles, depending on your region this can also be a toxic pile of pollution. When these nutrients are coupled with the high energy biologically diverse micro climate created at the forests edge, plants and trees will thrive.

A tree is simply a large column of water, and a forest could be considered a lake. A tree has the ability to catch 98% of the water that falls on it, that water is absorbed by the roots and transpired from the leaves creating rain clouds. Inland rainfall will often contain no traces of the ocean, only water from the trees. An interesting little side note is that wind blowing over the top of trees has a tendency to pick up a positive charge, this coupled with already forming rain clouds creates a recipe for some pretty nasty thunderstorms.

In a forest most of the magic happens on the edge, without human intervention the edge of the forest would constantly progress. In the Summer months although the sun cannot penetrate the canopy of a forest, it can penetrate the edges causing pioneer species to rampantly grow. These pioneer species quickly grow to a climax and die, creating a quick means of building up biomass. As the pioneer species reach maturity and begin to die, the tall hardwood trees break the canopy and take over.

Pioneer trees can also be thought of as the support structure of a forest, the other end of the spectrum is production trees. In the early years a forest is 90% support species and 10% production species, as the forest matures this ratio flips to 10% support and 90% production. Think of the small trees growing on the edge of a forest compared to the giant trees of an old-growth forest. In forest creation you would want 8 or 9 support species trees to every production tree.

Trees that do get an opportunity to grow in an old forest grow very fast, light is at a premium and the tree has to stretch for the light. There is a common practice when planting a new forest that involves planting the trees closer than you would normally plant them, this creates a sense of competition and in turn the trees grow faster. In my experience it is better to plant to many trees and have to cut a few down than it is to figure out five years in that you have a bare spot that needs filled.

Trees are just one of the ways that the heavens interact with the earth, but they are one of the most precious. I always get a special feeling when planting a tree, something about planting something for the future that just gets me all… happy inside!..

The next “Nature/permaculture” post will be “Trees And Their Interactions With Us”, it will be a little more on the spiritual side… I am really looking forward to working on it, it will probably take me a week.

never be ashamed to hug a tree – chriscondello

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