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  • VA2SFX 8:03 pm on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Growth,   

    Wild cultivation at scale 

    Growth-hacking your seed round

    There’s a principle in permaculture that says we should strive to “work with Nature, rather than against it.” It’s a nice idea and I guess that works sometimes, but with establishing a new garden of approximately 16,500 sq. ft., I’ve been hard-pressed to make it work. And the season has barely kicked off.

    From satellite view, it looks like this:

    Of this, I’m trying to cultivate about 230 feet across, which is my largest gardening experiment to date. There’s simply no way I’m going to be able to maintain this space with conventional kneel-in-the-dirt style weeding. And I’m no longer attempting to run a business or earn any kind of living from this.

    So what does you do when you have a field and a feeling?

    You roll with it.

    The field in question has not been cultivated in I’m not sure how long, but it’s not in anyone’s recent memory. So this means that weeds and moreover grasses have been running riot for years.

    I’v set out trying to apply a kind of compromise between “working with nature” and “doing what I want” — which is basically set it and forget it.

    Sow and let grow.

    In other words: take a bunch of different seeds —

    And go to town.

    It’s wildflowers, perennials and annuals. It’s grains and cereals and legumes. It’s “ordinary” garden variety veggies. Thrown out in a big field at random (-ish).

    A family member came by and harrowed the plot before I got started — just to open up the soil a little bit without totally tilling. Which sounded like a good start until the grass started growing back in — completely undiminished.

    Pretty much just looked like it was going to be a big field of grass that choked out all my pretty experiments.

    Though, if you knelt down and looked closely, you could see some of the desired germination happening:

    The grass, we finally decided, had too much of a head-start against these little emerging seedlings. So we had another family member come in with a rototiller and apply a rough clumpy finish. This knocked back the grass hard, cutting everything up.

    It’s unclear yet what the fate of those tiny emerging seedlings will be: if they will push through from their new positions, or will fade away.

    The field now looks something like:

    And close up for you dirt lovers:

    It’s rough, it’s choppy. If you’re planting directly, you would want something much finer. But I’m on an experimental kick, and was hoping to potentially be able to preserve the viability of some of those little sprouts.

    We’ll see how it goes; it’s only been a couple of days.

    So the above was germination from my first phase of mixed sowing. I immediately followed up with the remainder of my stock to set another layer into the soil seed bank.

    And above that I sowed two big sacks of oats, and one of sunflower in a band near the back. This over-sowing (which I actually did already in the previous seed-round too) has a two-fold purpose: oats because they grow fast, easily and don’t have tough rhizomatic root systems like most perennial grasses do. I’m hoping to eventually out-compete the grasses already there. And also to give the birds something to eat that’s more visible/obvious target than my mixed “fancy” seeds.

    Anyway, success or failure remains to be seen, as our temps are not quite high enough for widespread germination across the board. I have another smaller test field of a sort of similar method from last year now entering it’s second season. The goal is basically to create a forager’s garden, combining human desire and folly with whatever Nature’s rhyme or reason decides to call forth out of the assembled possibilities.

    Worst case scenario is all the grass grows back and I have to start over next year. I think the likelihood of that happening across the whole field uniformly is low, but we’ll see what my simulated “weed pressure” can do to fight the grass down and force some spontaneous plant communities to agglomerate.

    I’m also planning to, throughout the season, supplement with whatever organic materials I can, added to the top of the soil. Given the square footage, I’ll never be able to cover all of it equally, so I’ll just do it in clumps and patches and try to work alongside Nature to figure it out. I guess I’m not exactly fighing Nature, but it remains to be seen at this point what ultimate effect “working with it” will have in this scheme of mine.

    Will keep you posted.

  • VA2SFX 10:06 pm on January 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Growth, , , ,   

    Write for scanners 

    Do you scan while reading the internet?

    Of course you do.

    View story at Medium.com

    It’s impossible not to.

    There’s too much information being “fed” to you constantly to all over the internet everyday to ever possible read all of it…

    And you wouldn’t want to read all of it anyway, because most of it is shit 💩 input.

    In fact, my brain is numb from reading pointless things on the internet everyday (like perhaps, ironically, this very article to some) — and yes I do already blame my self, thank you.

    So why fight it?

    This is kind of evolving as I experiment with it, but the premise I’ve developed is:

    Take advantage of visual scanning habits, 
    rather than try to fight them.
    Try to drive them...

    Driving Attention

    Some ideas to explore:

    1. Shorten line lengths:
      (narrower over-all column effect,
      2/3 → to enable faster “box”
      pattern scanning)
    2. Add inline code as a text formatting effect. 

      Add bold,
    3. Make things bold to trap eye movement. (Or use H2+short phrasing). Things that are bold seem to draw and slow eye movement
    4. Make liberal use of section breaks and headers.
    5. Practice keyword redundancy. Say the same thing in different ways in other places in the piece using different formatting or in correlation with other elements, embeds, images, etc.
    6. Don’t get bogged down in huge paragraphs.
    7. Keyword. Redundancy.
    8. Use links as false underline. Things that are underlined draw more attention. Sad, but observably true if you scan a lot.
       //might be risky... buyer beware.
    9. Experiment. Like use embeds in weird ways:


    Testing for scan-iness…

    I made this video of a friend’s Medium post, trying to show a slowed down version of how my eye as a scanner (represented by the mouse cursor in the circle) just quickly looks through this story to try and figure out what I think it’s about without outright reading it. (It’s self-defense against authors who turn out to be time-burglars..)

    Here is the test story for reference:


    And below is a modified version of the above story after Jeremy applied some of these structural and formatting modifications to see what the “cyber-outcome” would be for scanners like me…

    Getting the gist

    There’s definitely a slowing effect on the eye and attention, and I feel like I’m more driven to look at the good words and story locations to rapidly consume the “general gist” of the piece and map out what I think the meaning/value relative to me the user really is.

    Speed reading times

    I haven’t obviously done much of a scientific test here, but Medium lists Jeremy’s story as a 5 min read.

    • Before editorial changes to his piece, I scanned it while recording and it took me 1:02 min to “complete” my recording of the page (without actually reading word-by-word, and perhaps at a slower speed than I would under real “in the wild” scanning conditions)
    • After some editing, I scanned it again and my time of recording was 1:16 min which means I spent 14 whole more seconds consuming that content, and I think ended up with much greater digestion since keywords and concepts popped out at me more.

    What do you think? Good idea / Bad idea?

    Other possible applications.

    I suspect there’s even a way you could train software with your visual scanning patterns, and use machine learning to then extrapolate highlighted parts of articles which it could automatically scan for you (anywhere on the net). So it would be sort of like custom blurbs for you. And you could drill down on the blurbs to open up the full story, commentary from other users, layers of linked information pulled in from other sources, etc.

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