Saturday, June 6, 2015

Natural sequences

Natural Sequence Farming, are techniques discovered by pioneer farmer, Peter Andrews. His intent was to demonstrate a way, farmers could make products on their land, without relying on expensive inputs or practices which would ultimately destroy their land.

I love everything Peter Andrews has been calling people to pay attention to, but I'm not a serious farmer. Sadly, not even to feed our own family, let alone making money to feed others. But I know a natural sequence when I see one, and I just had to share it.

This is a spoon drain which is in front of our house. Its on a small incline to drain water away from the front of the house. It attaches to a swale (level on contour) which has a lot more greenery because the water isn't designed to drain away.

Due to the draining nature of this spoon drain, however, its mostly sandy soil and will hardly grow anything. But then this happened...

Care to take a stab at how these green clumps have suddenly emerged in our spoon drain? Clumps two and three, were the initial ones to form, but then clump one became the main festoon of disturbance to the soil.

Any and all guesses are accepted. But I bet you didn't say, it's our cat's toilet!

I have been watching this development since we started to let our cat venture outside. Because she was effectively raised inside as a kitten, when it came to letting her outside, she would always come back in to use her kitty litter. Nature eventually dawned on her instincts though, and she decided this nice sandy area, would make a great toilet.

Our cat wouldn't just do her business here though. She effectively became an earth mover too! Scraping up the sand to cover her kitty-business, which formed blockages in the spoon drain. When the water came in, it was held back a little with most of it getting away. But the organic matter in the sand, along with the moisture, formed little islands of greenery.

Much to our cat's dismay, her lovely sandy area is turning into a jungle! That's why clumps three and two were initially abandoned, to start clump one. I imagine she'll be moving to other sandy areas in this location, and I'll have a lovely swathe of greenery, to show for it.

I'll be picking some of this grass soon to feed the guinea pigs. While I may not be a farmer, in the traditional sense of the word, it seems my critters are into natural sequence farming regardless!


  1. I'd hesitate to pick this because of Toxoplasma gondi. I don't know if this is U.S. specific or not but this is a good explanation:
    Not sure if this would pass onto other animals either so a little more research maybe?

  2. Thanks for sharing the article. I knew about Toxoplasma gondi and factored it into the final picking stage of the grass.

    This cat litter is being treated by natural biodegradable processes. The cat has covered her faeces and the grass is now overwhelming it with its own bio-organisms. The rapid growth demonstrates the faeces is being processed. There is a likelihood Toxoplasma could still exist underground, which is why I planned to trim the grass with scissors, as opposed to snapping it off and risking the soil being disturbed.

    If my cat carried the Toxoplasma gondi already, I'd be in more danger of getting it from scooping out her kitty litter inside, than leaving it undisturbed in the soil outside. Although it does raise the question, if we shouldn't use pet litter near the foods we consume (ie: in ground vegetables) then is it possible I could contaminate the guinea pigs by feeding them the grass?

    I guess all things are possible and its best to err on the side of caution. I saw the grass going to seed this morning, before I got online, and was considering leaving the grass to reseed itself anyway - rather than cutting it and losing the seed heads. I know in nature, herbivores tend to steer clear of fresh carnivore faeces and won't feed near it - but once nature has processed that faeces, its likely the herbivores consume grass where carnivores once defecated.

    I'm a firm believer, plants and all the micro-organisms involved in their life cycle, have the ability to treat dangerous organisms and reinstate the soil to a healthy, non-toxic state. I'm pretty confident, after observing the natural processes which have taken place (our hot growing season, the area being washed out by water on a regular basis and the grass putting on healthy, green growth) that any toxins carried in the faeces, are being wrought to virtually nil.

    Still, I will err on the side of caution, and allow the grass to reseed itself as nature would in treating carnivore faeces elsewhere. :)

    1. You are right that if your cat carried Toxoplasma you'd be in danger because of the litter box-mostly if you are vulnerable in some way is what I have always read. I was always told never to compost cat poop because unless I had really hot compost and even then its supposed to take a long time.
      I think that the water diluting it or taking it elsewhere might be helpful but again, I have not clue as to how this virus duplicates itself or if it dies outside the host after a time, if it does any of that at all. I haven't done alot of research on it but I was concerned for you and wanted to bring it up. I am however, very pleased that the grass is growing there!

    2. No worries...I didn't mind you bringing it up at all. Because it is something people should be talking about to avoid accidental contamination. I would never deliberately use cat litter for compost (stuff I make myself) but watching how nature dealt with it, was very fascinating to observe.

      The cat covers their faeces, plants move in to populate the soil, along with other healthy microbes. Anything bad is kept below the surface, so long as the soil isn't disturbed. Nature is very good at composting toxic and non-toxic organisms. Much better than we humans! ;)

    3. I'm glad you didn't mind. I think that the cat disturbed the area and then the rains so that things didn't heat up enough yet. Maybe with more time, I'd feel it was safe:) But yes, nature is amazing, its doing its thing and doing it very well:)


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