After more than a decade of trying my hand at different types of agricultural styles, I’ve finally settled with one- Syntropic Farming. I’ve tried my hand at growing conventionally, organically, using permaculture, and dabbling in biodynamics. None, however, can seem to touch what I’ve been learning about Syntropic Farming/permaculture.
I started having this feeling that our land and gardens could produce more abundantly if they had perennial plants and trees in the system. It was a reoccurring concept that wouldn’t go away. I knew there must have been something to it for the thoughts to not go away. I blame our elder beautiful live oak trees, Elsa and Agatha…they whisper to me their thoughts all the time. So, I can’t really take the credit for perennial plants in the gardens. I only started to have those thoughts after we bought our land.
Anyway, as the plans started to form for creating a perennial market garden, I started searching for something that seemed to be missing from my overall plan. And I found it!
Syntropic Farming and Permadynamics sent me down a rabbit hole…forever!
I’ll never look at gardening and farming the same again.
The concepts are easy to grasp and if you’ve practiced permaculture you’ll get that ah-ha moment.
I used to view how I grew a garden as someone who tended to the system. I was the one who planted, watered, fed, pruned, harvested, cleaned it up, helped to create abundance. But I never considered that I was a vital part of the system like the honey bee. I can get so caught up in doing that I forget about being.
Here is a definition the syntropy:
From Greek syn=together, tropos=tendency. It was first coined by the mathematician Luigi Fantappiè, in 1941, in order to describe the mathematical properties of the advanced waves solution of the Klein-Gordon equation which unites Quantum Mechanics with Special Relativity. As noted by Viterbo, syntropy is “the tendency towards energy concentration, order, organization and life” (http://www.syntropy.org/). In contradistinction to “entropy,” syntropy is a result of retrocausality leading to persistent and more complex organization. This is akin to the concept of dissipative structures developed by Ilya Prigogine, expostulated in Order Out of Chaos, by Prigogine & Stengers (1984). Buckminster Fuller developed a definition in relation to “whole systems” as “A tendency towards order and symmetrical combinations, designs of ever more advantageous and orderly patterns. Evolutionary cooperation. Anti-entropy” (http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Syntropy).
I love that syntropy is described as “the tendency towards energy concentration order, organization, and life.” It is the opposite of entropy.
As I’ve grasped some of the concepts of syntropic permaculture, what stuck out the greatest for me was how the use of grasses and perennials when pruned sends out hormones to other plants to invigorate the growth of those plants around them. Things are planted densely in guilds where each plant helps the next in cooperation. It isn’t about competition in the system.
The next important thing is that the ground is always covered to protect soil organisms and life that are extremely light-sensitive. Even all the walkways are covered in a thick layer of mulch.
Our perennial market garden is ground zero to start making beautiful mistakes. I’ve had to throw out much of what I’ve known about gardening and farming in order to make way for syntropic agriculture. I have to put away my impulse to rip weeds out of the ground and instead chop and drop them so as to not disturb the soil as it comes into balance.
It’s exciting! This weekend we got started with our second market garden bed. Dom and Noah have been working on the perimeter of the market garden for weeks, fortifying the fencing, adding taller posts and stringing wire. When they’re done, there will be 8 foot high posts attached to the existing posts we have and then strung with wire to prevent the deer from jumping in and eating our garden.
A 2′ high chicken wire is then put along the bottom of the fencing to deter bunnies from getting in.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done about the mutant squirrels that live here. Some are as large as a cat.
You can never trust a squirrel.
The area pictured above is our second market garden row. The first one we created a few weeks earlier.
This second row will be planted with:
- Four apricot trees
- Five black locust trees
- Artichokes between the trees
- Hairy Vetch
- Dutch Clover
- Sudan Grass at the edge
Amazing that so much can be planted in just one row, right? I found a nursery in Silver City and I was finally able to get apricot trees. I searched high and low for apricot trees for months. Most places online are sold out, Home Depot and Lowes didn’t have any, and I thought for sure I would not get any this year and then I found a nursery hiding in plain sight!
There’s a new carwash in Silver City and as Simmi and I were getting our car washed, I noticed a greenhouse and trees and roses. I couldn’t wait to get out of that carwash to see if it was actually a nursery.
They have apricots, cherries, apples, figs, and more. Not only that but they weren’t little tiny 2′ tall trees.
I purchased three apricot trees to start, and I need one more to complete the row. I would have liked it if they had at least three varieties of apricots, but two varieties will work.
All fruit trees planted become my mother fruit trees to produce more fruit trees from.
The pattern of trees will be black locust, artichoke, apricot, black locust, artichoke, apricot, until the full row is complete.
Currently only three apricots are in. Two Tilton and one Harglow. This week I’ll be getting a second Harglow.
The black locust and artichoke I’ve started from seed a little more than a week ago and they just started poking through the soil this weekend.
Thursday the fourth apricot will be planted and the bed will be seeded, then covered in a layer of straw.
I had to wait on ordering the irrigation lines because Simmi’s birthday is coming up fast and we are getting a pool for her to have a pool party. Once the pool is ordered, I’ll be able to continue ordering supplies for the garden.
To the right, you can see the first bed planted. That bed is right up against the goat pen.
This bed has been planted with three bare root peach trees, three blueberry bushes, catmint, cucumber, Blackeye Susans, and milkweed. I’ve started Sea Kale from seed and when it’s ready it’ll be planted in between the fruit trees and berry bushes.
It has taken a good long while for Dom to fall in love with the wonkiness of nature. As a builder, it was difficult for him to marry straight lines with the curves of nature. Something clicked for him last year and he started re-learning how to build with nature. I’ve loved watching the evolution of his creations. I think this gate is my favorite so far! The only thing purchased to make the gate was the hinges. The welded wire is scrap that was just laying around.
B2 and B1 contain a countless amount of black locust seedlings. I wasn’t sure how many would grow so I planted a shit ton. Haha When they get their true leaves and have doubled their size they’ll be transplanted to their own containers.
Aren’t they so cute! It’s amazing that these little babies will grow to feed all the other plants around it, but it will also create the most beautiful tree that can be pollarded and fed to the poultry or dropped on the garden bed and create a mulch. The bees are crazy for this tree, and when I plant a large area of these trees close together, they’ll grow tall in a few years and we can coppice them are create fence posts, tool handles, and use for firewood as well.
The usefulness of this tree is unbelievable. Just think…I have 5 pounds of black locust seed. Ha!
I’ve started nearly 100 Colorado Star Artichokes from seed. They just woke up this weekend. By the time we’re done installing all the market garden rows, they’ll be ready to transplant.
Ginger! I plan on planting the ginger in a shady spot of the market garden.
Six itty bitty fig trees in three pots. When they’ve doubled in size, they’ll be transplanted into a larger container, and when their garden beds are ready they’ll be planted out in the market garden. I’m shooting to have them in the ground by the first week in July. Right now their just about ready to be moved to a sunny location.
The horseradish box is doing well. I planted the horseradish last year right next to our front door. Interplanted are Chinese garlic chives. I ordered the garlic chives last week and they should start growing this week.
The goats are doing well. We’ll be taking them out on the leash into the market garden to chomp down on all the glorious weeds coming up. They’re going to love it!
The goat pen is shaded by a large tree that is kind of like a willow and kind of like an elm. We’re still not sure exactly what kind of tree it is. It’s delicious to the goats, and the horses when we had them in this area. The tree becomes a reprieve to the goats as well as the full market garden area by 6:30 pm. The sun is blocked by the large tree at that time and it cools down the market garden area giving plants a chance to recover from the long hot day of the high desert sun.
It’s incredible that by the end of September this Syntropic Market Garden will be thriving and producing for us.
This is a view outside the market garden. Along that fence line are asparagus. There are also two fig trees that just leafed out. I expect they’ll grow at least three feet this year.
We’ll update this weekend when we create the next two market garden beds. In bed three, Four cherry trees, five black locust, and eight globe artichoke will occupy that space, and in bed four, four apple trees, five black locust, and eight globe artichoke will do the job. I haven’t decided on the annual fruits and veggies that will also be planted there…yet.
All total so far that we have planted and at various stages of growth:
- 2 plum trees
- 1 apple tree
- 8 fig trees
- 3 peach trees
- 2 pear trees
- 3 berry bushes
- 95 Colorado Star Globe Artichokes
- Asparagus (not sure how much!)
- 4 varieties of tomatoes started
- Sea Kale
- Cat Mint
- Blackeyed Susan
Have a great week!