Last January I decided to try out some Jerusalem Artichokes in the garden, I planted them in the spring and just harvested them this past week. All I can say is wow!
Jerusalem Artichokes are the ginger looking tubers, lower left bucket
I planted them about 3 feet apart in some rows of mine and just left them there. A few weeks later I had these potato looking plants, which then shot up to 10 foot tall semi-wood stalks. Then they stayed there, all season long. The flowers bloomed and then the plant died a few weeks later. I literally didn't have to do anything all season except drop a drip tape and mulched over it. I came back, lopped off the stalks with a machete (which will be great for nitrogen in composting) and dug out the plants.
Most of the Jerusalem Artichokes stuck to the root ball. I shook off as much dirt as I could and then laid them out and power washed the root balls so that there was just the Jerusalem Artichokes and roots left. It was easy picking from there. I had a group of Foodies that really wanted them and was able to sell them at a pretty penny and keep some for me. I love these things, I can't wait to grow more!
Questions for folks who have grown these before. I have one plant still in the ground (dead) and I wanted to use most of the tubers to replant for next year.
[li]Do I need to do anything for next year to make sure they are viable? [/li] [li]Do they need to be a certain size to sprout? [/li] [li]Should I dig them up now for next year or leave them in the ground and just pull them out when I am ready to plant the row?[/li]
I think I need to reiterate two things: time frame and creation of matter.
A system, no matter how large, has a finite (countable) amount of everything. Period.
[li]A good system might be able to tap into more, open up access to more, but it all was ALREADY available resources[/li] [li]A system cannot create matter[/li] [li]In any physical or chemical change, matter is neither created nor destroyed but merely changed from one form to another.[/li] [li]conversion from one to another creates heat, which is lost into atmosphere[/li] [li]Heat is created at every step of the way, growth, human exertion to plant, growth, absorption of nutrients, exertion in harvest, preparation of food, consumption, digestion, excretion, composting, returning to land[/li] [li]That is a lot of heat created that over time adds up and we can't get back 100%[/li]
The time frame most here are considering is too short:
[li]We need to consider not 100 years, but 100 million years[/li] [li]Because of the above, eventually we lose a small portion over time[/li] [li]This loss is cumulative over millions of years, eventual degrading too much[/li]
I was thinking about things that I have read in permaculture one, Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, bio-intensive books etc. and there is one thing that bothers me about it. Even with this realization, I still plan to pursue permaculture endeavors, but I have to ask....
Is on-site sustainability possible?
What I mean by "on-site" is once you have setup your system, is it possible from that point on to meet the needs of maintaining soil fertility from things only on that site indefinitely? In this scenario I am assume a very very large plot of land and you bringing in a lot of initial inputs (sheet mulch, manures, compost, top soil, rock dusts, organic amendments). Living very very low impact, very modest and growing just enough to meet your true needs.
I am beginning to think that it is not actually possible, because any human impact, is eventually detrimental.
Here is my thought pattern, almost like a math proof if you will...
Inputs: Your soils, organic matter, bio mass, etc. on the property are a finite amount. However vast and mind bogglingly large, they at some point have a quantity.
We also know that energy coming into a system has a limited quantity. Also technically speaking, even though this is imperceivably slow, the sun's output is gradually declining and will some day be reduced to nothing.
Outputs: When plants grow, they require nutrients, this transfer from soil to plant is pretty efficient, but technically it is not 100% efficient. This means for each plant we grow, we lose a small portion of nutrients.
We know from Biomass Efficiency transfer principles of tropic levels, that each level is only 10% effcient meaning we lose 90% of inputs each level. For example (theoretical for demo only)
We also know that the law of thermo dynamics that once we convert something to heat (digestion of food) we can never regain the initial energy.
So in an ideal system we have a native edible plant that we grow. We eat some part of it, say 10%. So the 90% left we compost, which creates heat, meaning that only a portion of the nutrients from the original plant is around. We apply the compost and the next plant only can use a portion of it because of inefficiencies. Now that 10% we ate, we compost the human waste (humanure techniques), but our digestion process and composting process only returns a portion of the nutrients to the soil.
In the end, the plant that took the nutrients from the soil, only returned 60, 70, 80, 90, or even 99% of the original nutrients, but the point is, that it is physically impossible to return 100%.
Mitigation of loss: We do a lot in permaculture to return nutrients in the soil. Composting, using residues, Humanure, resting fields, natural approaches to farming, reducing or eliminating our consumption of meats.
We use nitrogen fixers like legumes to capture nutrients from the air and store in the form of soluble nitrogen.
We work to capture and store energy in unique ways at a level that might be higher than normal.
Ultimately a negative impact is created:
However small, however slow, it seems to me that our outputs out weigh the inputs. This is because the inputs are finite and the outputs are growing cumulatively. Permaculture is certainly better than how we doing things now in our world (for the majority of it), but I think there needs to be some recognition to the fact that no matter how we live, us living has a negative impact. Humanity isn't sustainable.
That said with very small populations in the world (a few million world wide) that migrates every decade or so, it might be able to slow this process down so much it is almost a non issue.
I run a community garden here and we are looking to figure out the best way to shred leaves to mulch next year. Where I live everyone bags their leave in plastic bags and set them on the curb, we just drive around and can get 500 huge bags of leaves in 1-2 hours. So what is the best way to quickly and easily shred leaves at this volume?
First off, I recommend keeping this open and free, ads are certainly fine.
I think it would be useful to have some search parameters when looking at guilds already assembled. I'd suggest a search function that lets you search by: -Region/climate guild is in use -allow me to put in one plant and see what others pair it with - others
Another thing I would recommend is allow a way for people to input sources to purchase seeds/plants/cuttings for a particular plant. I often run into the issue where someone recommends a particular type of plant, but I can't see to find it anywhere locally or online. Remember too that people from Australia, UK, USA and others might be accessing it, sources for plants in the UK don't do much good for people in the USA. Kind of along the same lines, somehow make it so you can't just put in the plant name, have it that it is specific. For example not comfrey, but russian comfrey. The other varieties aren't as good IMO.
I like their ideas in general, but before I jump in, I'd like to consider the alternatives and possible downsides to this approach or philosophy. If feel its important to consider the opposing viewpoints to evaluate things.
I didn't think about the building the soil, I of course was planning on bringing a bunch of compost/organic matter in the beginning to get things rolling, but is there more I can do? there is: -Sheet Mulching -Compost/Manure -Hoglekulture
When folks do "mapping" or observing, do they have a particular method? Tool? Resource?
Right now I am going through the process where I am making what essentially is a Project Management Timeline. So I am looking for some feedback and suggestions, etc.
Basically outlining all the tasks needed to take raw land and get a full Permaculture design started.
Before first year
[li]Attend PDC[/li] [li]Take introductory courses to skills not yet known[/li] [li]Research and learn[/li] [li]Search for land[/li] [li]Purchase Land[/li] [li]Establish website for notes and photos (wordpress blog)[/li]
[li]Building House (The House Plan: http://bit.ly/h1mXXl)[/li] [li]Observing the land[/li] [li]Taking lots of notes on patterns etc[/li] [li]re-reading all my permaculture materials[/li] [li]developing site plan[/li] [li]reviewing my plan with other permaculturalists[/li]
[li]Purchase shed and outfitting it with tools[/li] [li]Have Solar Array Installed[/li] [li]Do Major land sculpting with tractor[/li] [li]Build Green House[/li] [li]Start Intensive Beds[/li] [li]Establish areas for animals[/li] [li]Plan and Finalize Forest Garden[/li] [li]reviewing my forest garden plan with other permaculturalists[/li]
[li]Start Forest Garden[/li] [li]Plant tree, shrubs, long to establish plants[/li] [li]Establish smaller plants in guilds[/li]
What's next? What did I miss? Any feedback? I would love to hear other people's timelines and plans?
I use the deep litter method too, I just use hay/straw, it works great, I never have any issues with smell. I was out there the other day, the bottom was a little wet (it had just rained really hard for 3 days) and I haven't emptied it for 3-4 months. Now that it is nice out, I will be composting the bedding, doing a good cleaning and starting again.
I like the christmas tree idea, but if you grab a bunch of trees after xmas, they will dry out in a month or so won't they? Then they wouldn't be good for bedding?
So here in NC we can't buy raw milk for human consumption, but you can for your animals. Obviously the farmer knows what I really mean when I say it is for my pets, but in case he or someone asks what type of pets.
What animals drink cows milk..... other than a baby cow. Which if you had a cow, you probably wouldn't be buying milk. lol
Just a few days ago I purchased a cheese making kit from New England Cheese Making supply Co. Can't wait to get started. I have been able to find pasteurized milk (not ultra-pasteurized) but would like to find raw milk. I can't wait!
Ludi Ludi wrote: You need to find out what the carrying capacity is of the land you plan to buy. Carrying capacity is expressed in Animal Units. And Animal Unit is a mature 1000 lb cow. Other types of animals are calculated in Animal Unit equivalents.
So I have been trying to determine how much land I really need when purchasing land. I would like to figure out how much land I'd need to be mostly independent of external sources (but not completely). Obviously there are a lot of factors involved and I was wondering if anyone had a good way to calculate this, perhaps a guide or worksheet/spreadsheet?
I guess I'd need help on estimating: how much land to garden, how much land to graze, how much land to keep wooded
Location: North Carolina Rainfall: 42" per year # of people: 2 right now (possibly 10 later) # beehive: 3 # chickens: 30 # quail: 30 # goats: 10 # rabbits: 4 # dexter cows: 2 # horses: 2
Features I'd like to have:
[li]3 acre forest garden[/li] [li]nut trees[/li]
[li]pasture to feed the cows, horses, goats (ideally without having to supplement their diet)[/li]
[li]pasture to move chickens and rabbits around in tractors[/li]
[li]Wooded part to supply 2 cords a winter sustainably[/li]
So in a lot of permaculture resources you read about chickens, lots about chickens. But I have never read anything about quail in permaculture literature.
I got my baby chicks July 2010, Rhode Island Reds and been raising them ever since. I started with 5, just wanting them for eggs. Fast forward to now, I am still a bit off from getting my first egg.
Now compare this to quail. I got my baby quail chicks, brown cotournix and Texas A&M Cotournix (all white meat). I got them on November 1st 2010 (so 4 months later) and I will most likely get my first egg before the chickens first egg! Birth to maturity = 6 weeks!
Why Quail Might Be Better Than Chickens
[li]I have feed the chickens soooo much feed before I get one single egg, while quail eat a ton less and produce eggs in 5-6 weeks. [/li]
[li]A good chicken will get 150 eggs a year, average quail...300 eggs a year. While they are smaller, quantity might make up for it. [/li]
[li]in terms of housing quail, you only need 1 cubic foot per bird. Chickens 4 square feet inside and 10 outside[/li]
[li]In the event you need to have more birds for more eggs or meat, it will only take 17 days incubation and 6 weeks to mature. Chickens 21 days to incubate, 3-6 months to mature. [/li]
[li]The downside to quail is you can't just let them walk around your garden because they can actually fly (I haven't see how well they fly with their wings clipped)[/li]
[li]if I sell quail eggs, they fetch more than chicken eggs. [/li]
So i guess I am just testing things out at this point, but I just may ditch chickens completely.
I think real understanding of permaculture happens on three channels: intellectual understanding, practical application, and creative innovation. Different people are likely to pick things up more quickly on one channel or another—one person might be quick to grasp the information at an intellectual level but have a hard time with the kind of thinking necessary to apply it to a site themselves. Different people are also likely to do more work on different channels—some people might get just a little exposure to the ideas but then apply permaculture to their own site for years and years. But I think everyone needs at least a little of each in order to develop thorough understanding, not just of permaculture but any complex body of information. So to me, it wouldn't be enough to know that someone's read the books and talked a lot to people. I've read the books and talked a lot to people, but until I had spent time on a permaculture site doing the work, I didn't know what I was missing.
Any form of teaching permaculture that does all these things is valid and likely to be effective, no matter what it looks like or whether it results in a certificate.
Very good points, I really like you break down of the three parts: Intellectual, practical and innovation. Couldn't agree more. But I would say this, of the three, it is the innovation aspect that is most crucial. If you think about it, Permaculture focuses a lot on philosophies or abstract concepts, it doesn't do a lot of step by step procedures and this is by design. So the real test, the real meat of the subject is where you take these things and innovate from them. Without innovation, you have missed the bulk of the learning.
Second comment for you is this, for a long time the body of knowledge was largely exchange through talking about it, before the books, the websites, the courses or certificates. So I feel there is some value in just talking about it, but I do also feel that since this school of thought is ever evolving, the formalizing of the knowledge in books, websites, and courses brings an aspect of peer review, consolidating knowledge into structured curricula, bring about debate, and thus I feel is better for it.
gardenlen wrote: i dunno to me it is an unstructured curriculum, with no meaning in the greater community more so than a piece of paper to hang on the wall, every one who does a course then takes on that they too can try and earn some money and run their own course. bottom line it is a way of trying to sell permaculture and a way that frightens many new players off due to over emphasis of something that can be learnt from a book. as one person in the US said he paid for a course to learn that he was really a paying woofer doing the course holders projects. and that learning was more just grab a book from the library and read it, his final comment if nothing else it was a different paid holiday.
unless there is a career path then a certificate is only a piece of paper.
if you don't like what i say that is your right as much as it is my right to voice my feelings and concerns.
Certainly good points, while books are good, I would like to get some hands on training. It is almost like learning math, we could just get a used book and teach it to ourselves, but sometimes it is easier to have a teacher there. Different learning styles come into play with this I suppose. Here in Charlotte I can't seem to find anyone to even talk with about permaculture.
As for the cost of it, I run a community garden and we have a fund for training money, so I won't be footing the bill, just need to take the time to do it, which seems like a good deal to me.
Kathleen Sanderson wrote: You can put chickens on beds that are fallow or have been harvested and aren't replanted yet, but don't put them on anything that has been planted. Even if they don't eat your seeds (and they probably will), they will move them all over the place as they scratch around. And they will definitely eat the young plants as fast as they sprout.
I just have rows in the ground, no beds. What I am talking about is running the tractor between the rows of plants with a tractor just smaller than the distance between the plants. This way they can't reach the plants, but can eat the weeds, scratch the soil up and poop fertilizes.
I have to confess, I do garden in rows for some of my garden, but it is what it is.
I came up with this idea of having a chicken tractor slightly smaller than the width of my rows. I could drop some of my chickens in (I have a larger chicken tractor) and they could eat all the weeds, then scoot it a few feet. Now granted this will only work for a while until things really take off, but at that point weeds will have a lot of competition making it harder on them.
Has anyone done this? Does it work well? Know website that talk about this? More info?
Scott Alexander wrote: Soil is correct, the foundation must be pretty solid, but, unless you are on very shaky ground, and/or there has been much settling of the earth that it sits on, I wouldn't be concerned about the stability of the foundation. This is an issue that most likely wouldn't show up for a couple months, and would only get worse.
Ardilla is also correct, you need to ensure that the sand/clay ratio is correct. In fact that was my first thought, but then I wrote my reply with the assumption that the original poster actually read Kiko's book and followed his instructions on how to determine the correct sand/clay ratio ... it totally possible that this is why there is cracking in the oven.
My reply was taken from a conversation with Kiko about when to remove the sand. When you remove the sand is dependent on how wet your mud was. The correct answer is, "when the roof of your dome will support itself" when, exactly, that is becomes a difficult question that relys heavily on how wet your material was when you put it on. And what makes the question tricky is that if you take out the sand too soon, you get a collapse, if you wait too long there may be cracking from the shrinkage (because as clay drys, it shrinks). One thing to keep in mind with this delema is that the insulation layer helps give a little extra structure to help keep the dome up
Do you need to start over? I don't know, you havn't posted a picture of what you have NOW. do you think it would collapse if you cleared the sand? if so, it would probably be best to start over. If you do start over and you think that the mixture was correct, it can be re-constituted (just add water )
I have read Kiko's book and followed his directions on determining the correct mixture. After several test blocks I found that this 1:2 ration produced the best test brick (strongest, least shrink, etc). As for removing the sand, the inside of the thermal layer can still be dented (test kiko describes) so I am still waiting to take the sand out. Here are some photos of the cracks, they don't look so bad at second glance.
So I got Kiko's book a little bit ago, last weekend I decided to start. I laid the foundation, the fire bricks, the sand form then added the 4" thick thermal layer. At this point I stopped. I used 1 part clay to 2 parts sand. I live in NC so our soil is very high clay content.
Fast forward 3 days there are 1/4" cracks on the top of the thermal layer and it is still drying. Is this a lost cause or should I not worry?