THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Sep04

Sepp Holzer

Sepp Holzer (who wrote this book Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture) is an Austrian farmer, who until recently farmed the Kramertehof – 45 hectares of land 1500m above sea level. He is known as a guru of Permaculture. Although it seems the methods he follows are similar in philosophy to those of permaculture – to live lightly on the land, to garden with instead of in opposition to nature – he has very much developed his own interpretation of how to grow food, keep livestock and earn a living off his land.

Here is Sepp Holzer on video – though it is in German, which we don’t speak – but it may be something you can spend time enjoying, and is definitely worth watching just for the scenery on the farm…

We have recently been reading his book Permaculture for the third time. We still pick up new ideas on each read, but also feel more and more confused. The book is supposed to be a practical guide on how to garden the Sepp Holzer way, but we find it often does more to stir the imagination than provide solid practical advice. Perhaps we need to see the farm itself to gain a better understanding of how it works in practise – although as of 2013 the Kramertehof now belongs to Sepp’s son, and Sepp is now gardening 23 acres in the driest region of Austria at a farm called the Holzerhof.

Reading a book that confuses you but also keeps you coming back to it is an exhilarating experience – you know there is something there to understand, but it is causing you discomfort (which you must learn to enjoy) and a lot of energy trying to discover what it is you are missing. This post is really just a gathering up of Sepp related material, rather than a critique, as we don’t feel we ‘get it’ enough to start throwing around opinions…

Another video then of Sepp, in English…

And this is a large website full of articles written by a guy who spent time with Sepp discussing permaculture techniques… this is what he wrote about meeting Sepp, “it was bizarre to meet him and shake his hand! And his hands are freaky huge! My hands are freaky huge, but I’m a giant. His hands are bigger than mine.”

This made us laugh a lot!

This is Sepp Holzer himself, from his book Permaculture…

On Helpers in the Garden

“Nature is perfect. Therefore, I must think about what effects my system has on nature… if I have too many aphids on my fruit trees, that means there are not enough natural predators (among these are ladybirds, earwigs, hoverflies, lacewings, various spiders, beetles and birds) and frequently there is not enough shelter or suitable habitat for them. If… the ground is richly structured with stones, branches and leaves, the number of creatures which prey on aphids will increase. It is not necessary to take additional measures.”

On Waterscapes

“Water is life, so it is of great importance to deal with this resource carefully… in a permaculture landscape every resouce and advantage is made use of exactly where it is. This is why I often consider drainage to be a bad idea. Where water is found is where it should be made use of. If I want to make money out of wetlands I do not drain them, instead I cultivate plants like orchids or a variety of aquatic and marsh plants that prefer damp or wet conditions… by doing things this way and paying attention to the natural conditions of the land I have always had excellent results.”

On Keeping Livestock

“In a time when the focus is always on high performance and this unhealthy drive for profit has affected the breeding and keeping of livestock, it is especially important to preserve diversity, which represents a significant cultural heritage. Old domestic breeds are not only significantly hardier, they are also more intelligent and adaptable than their over-bred and degenerate cousins.”

You can support Old Breeds in the UK by giving £34 to become a member of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. We are thrilled to help them this way.

On Soil

“A healthy soil that is rich in micro-organisms is a fertile soil. This is a fact that a farmer should never forget, because it is the main requirement for succesful farming.”

Last of all then Sepp Holzer has written 3 books, including the one we have quoted from above. They are:

Permaculture.

Desert or Paradise.

The Rebel Farmer.

We hope this gives you a useful introduction to Sepp Holzer and his work. And do contact us if you have a better understanding of his books than we do – we would love to open this discussion up to more people with experience!

Thank you!

Jun28

Make Your Own Microbes

We are fans of effective microbes, and use the in our topiary work. They help keep plants healthy, meaning the plants have more tools in their toolbox and energy in their lives to stave off any diseases. Here is a lovely article that tells you how to make your own microbes. Right at the end. Make Your Own Microbes

Jun15

Boxwood – Dealing With Blight & The Caterpillar

Boxwood is one of our absolute favourite plants. The evergreen leaf that shines in winter, the smell as you clip it, the brilliant shapes you can make from it… but it is suffering somewhat from two major problems: Box Blight Boxwood Caterpillar and Moth None of this is the be all and end all for boxwood, but it helps to be aware of it and know a little about what you can do should either of these problems arise. Boxwood Caterpillar & Moth I hadn’t seen this in a garden I worked on until this spring, when a client I …

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Jun06

Orchard Design At Brogdale, National Fruit Collection In Kent

Last weekend I visited the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale, to take part in an orchard design course they were running. Beautiful place and a warm day, I recommend a visit. I came home with 3 bottles of cider. Drank them all. Then realised they were weighing in at 8%. I don’t recover that quickly (no longer being 20 years old) and so had something of a musty head the next morning. The power of apples I say! Below are some notes I made from the day. They may be of use to you, although really they are there for …

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