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By Greta Lorge

Oddballs of the produce stand, tomatoes and avocados are fruits, as most people know. Yet more often than not they’re found alongside vegetables in savory culinary preparations. Working on this issue of the magazine got me wondering what it is, exactly, that makes a fruit a fruit. It turns out that the plant world is full of strange cases of counterintuitive classification.

Botanists define a fruit as the portion of a flowering plant that develops from the ovary. It contains the seeds, protecting them and facilitating dispersal. (The definition of a vegetable is a little fuzzier: any edible part of a plant that isn’t a fruit.) Subcategories within the fruit family—citrus, berry, stonefruit or drupe (peaches, apricots), and pome (apples, pears)—are determined by which parts of the flower/ovary give rise to the skin, flesh and seeds.

Strawberries and raspberries aren’t really berries in the botanical sense. They are derived from a single flower with more than one ovary, making them an aggregate fruit. True berries are simple fruits stemming from one flower with one ovary and typically have several seeds. Tomatoes fall into this group, as do pomegranates, kiwis and—believe it or not—bananas. (Their seeds are so tiny it’s easy to forget they’re there.)

One might think that owing to their superficial similarities to stonefruits, avocados might be classified as drupes. But no, they’re actually considered a berry, too—with one, giant seed.

So, bananas are berries and raspberries aren’t. Who knew?

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Tomato Beds

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“The past couple of springs I’ve written about new research  on controlling tomato viruses, from Texas A & M University, and tried their recommended methods. It didn’t control all of the virus problems, thanks to an unusually wet, cool and humid spring we had last season, but I still saw considerable improvements, and will continue with their methods this year.

The methods I use for helping to control tomato virus (often called, “the wilt.”) are as follows. First, I incorporate agricultural cornmeal into the soil early in the year and again just before planting. Whether your local feed store calls it agricultural. cornmeal, or simply ground corn feed, it’s the same thing. Texas A & M has demonstrated that pulverized corn, with some cobs and husks, it’s worked into the soil and causes the growth of beneficial bacteria which attack tomato virus in the soil. I apply 2 lbs. of cornmeal and 1 lb. of dry molasses (which studies show helps the cornmeal work better) per 12 feet of tomato row, poured on top then mixed into the soil…”

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‘What is the difference between permaculture design and landscape design?’. This is a common question when people are first developing an understanding of permaculture design. It’s a good question!

Permaculture design goes deeper than landscape design. While both seek to create a functional and aesthetically pleasing environment, permaculture design thinks beyond the boundaries of your block. It aims to create connections that will sustain the design well beyond a lifestyle trend. The result is natural and urban elements that are better able to co-exist.

Permaculture design is systems thinking that can be applied to many situations beyond landscape garden design. This depth contributes to conditions that support permanent culture or as we know it, permaculture.

Let’s explore the difference between permaculture design and landscape design. Here are three points that make permaculture design stand out for us…

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Patterns in Nature

THIS IS PART OF: Patterns and Processes in Ecology

Regular spatial patterns abound in natural systems. Understanding how patterns arise in ecosystems provides insights into how these ecosystems function.

Spatial patterns occur in different ecosystems at various scales. In semi-arid ecosystems patterns in vegetation reflect the amount of water stress and how the ecosystem might respond to future changes. Another striking pattern in the African savanna is the regular arrangement of termite mounds across the landscape. The pattern arises from competition and conflict and results in optimal packing of termite mounds across the landscape. Mathematical modeling suggests that the spatial arrangement of the mounds makes the entire ecosystem more likely to withstand and recover from periods of drought.

Watch the lecture here

permacultureapprentice.com writes…

“Now that I have seven acres of countryside to steward, I’m feeling somewhat overwhelmed about where to begin. I’ve done my PDC and designed my property, but now I have all these pieces that I somehow need to fit together and I need to prioritise my tasks.

The problem is that permaculture is a set of principles, not a framework. While it is certainly a process, it lacks a set of linear steps to follow. Clearly, what permaculture lacks  is a clear decision-making process.

Taking a PDC doesn’t solve the issue, while it helps with the design phase and developing a site plan, what is frequently ignored is “how to install the design”.

It is most manageable when the design is implemented in stages which build upon each other. That’s why, having taken some time to read up more on the subject, I have created a multi-stage plan based upon the components of the ‘keyline scale of permanence’

This helps me develop my design incrementally, envisage the ‘big picture’ and, most importantly, I have an order in which to establish my farm.

In this post, I’ll share some advice on beginning your farm’s development and on how to implement your design in stages. Even if you haven’t yet designed your property you can still follow the process. Let’s dive in…”

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“Turning waste into gas and fertilizer, creating an in-house cycle of energy.

HomeBiogas is a family-sized affordable biogas system. It converts any organic waste into clean cooking gas and a high-quality liquid fertilizer for the garden. Your kitchen leftovers can turn into 3 hours of cooking per day. You’ll be cooking dinner with the gas produced from lunch’s leftovers. Pretty amazing, right?

HomeBiogas maintains a closed-loop eco-cycle: organic waste turns into energy and a liquid fertilizer byproduct which enables us to produce more food thus maintaining the critical cycle of life. Know exactly where your energy is coming from and where it’s going.”

Read more here.

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