“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”
 - Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad


For most crops, irrigation simply provides water for the plant’s roots. But in a Balinese rice terrace, water is used to construct a complex, pulsed artificial ecosystem. Water temples manipulate the states of the system, at ascending levels in regional hierarchies. The permanence of water temple networks contrasts sharply with the instability of the traditional Balinese states. Since the water temples are real, perhaps it is the Balinese “state” that is chimerical.

J. Stephen Lansing, “Balinese ‘Water Temples’ and the Management of Irrigation” American Anthropologist, vol 89, issue 2.


Building Habitat

Though I have finished most of the digging, and extracted some clay, I am not quite finished laying stones in this stormwater pond/rain garden. I’m using salvaged paving slabs, concrete waste, and free local stones to prevent erosion on the banks and base, and planting more semi-aquatic irises to filter the water.

Unlike my stormwater swale, this water reservoir is partially sealed: I used a thin layer of clay around the banks so water would remain in the landscape a little longer.

When it is completely dry, it can be easily filled up by emptying a rain barrel, but I count on it going dry every ten days or less in order to mechanically kill mosquito larvae.

Despite the fact it it still “under construction,” several local Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) have begun making much more frequent and extended visits. I’m contemplating building a duck house or a nesting box out in the yard and seeing if they will dare nest here.

They seem to mind me less and less as we share the space out there without incident. It took awhile for them to warm up and realise I’m harmless, but as long as I give them some space and don’t make too many sudden movements, they’ll go about their business in quite close proximity.

Related: Insect Hotels; Squirrel Habitats


The Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, China, in Southern Yunnan, cascade down the slopes of the towering Ailao Mountains to the banks of the Hong River. Over the past 1300 years, the Hani people have developed a complex system of channels to bring water from the forested mountaintops to the terraces. They have also created an integrated farming system that involves buffalos, cattle, ducks, fish and eel and supports the production of red rice.

From here and here via here

Photos by Isabelle Chauvel


Now that the mini-greenhouse has a roof, I have moved the trees and shrubs I stratified outdoors, and the ones I germinated in the bathroom closet into it. Once everything has germinated, I’ll hazard a guess that I’ll have planted my 100 trees a year in these pots alone.

There is also room to start perennial vegetables like cardoons, which I will seed in a flat tomorrow.

I appreciate having my young plants so close to a rain barrel: I never have to use any household water to support these plants.

(And yes, that is also a kayak in the background.)


The widely used centre pivot irrigation systems create fallow corners marking the difference between the economic logic of irrigation technology and the grid structure imposed on the landscape.
On a typical “quarter section” in the American mid- and southwest, tessellating pivot circles will leave up 15 percent of each field thirsty.
Additional corner swing systems can be installed but are expensive and are generally used only for valuable crops. The result is a delicate equation that balances land value, potential yield without irrigation, water availability, and crop prices.

These corners are sometimes leased from neighbours to grow less thirsty crops or graze cattle, or are advocated by ecologists to restore complexity by providing biodiversity and movement corridors in a simplified landscape of monoculture crop circles.

From Edible Geography

Healthier Tomatoes Grown in Seawater

by Charles Q. Choi, on Live Science

Tomatoes irrigated with diluted seawater grow with significantly higher levels of healthy antioxidant compounds, new research shows.

The option to use salty water on crops might help farmers deal with growing irrigation woes. Irrigation water, as well as drinking water, is growing scarce and deteriorating in quality around the world.

Nearly 70 percent of all available freshwater is used for agriculture. Use of water for irrigation has increased globally by more than 60 percent since 1960, according to United Nation statistics. At the same time, poor irrigation and drainage practices have led to salt buildup in roughly one-eighth of all irrigated land.

Although desalination plants that remove salt from saltwater now exist, they remain expensive. For example, distillation processes that separate out any dissolved minerals by boiling and condensing water require costly amounts of fuel.

Riccardo Izzo at the University of Pisa in Italy and his colleagues reasoned that diluted saltwater could drive crops to generate more healthy antioxidants, such as vitamins C or E. Plants generate antioxidants to protect themselves when stressed out by salt, drought or various other burdens.

Read more

#halophytes #tomatoes #antioxidants