Off The Grid wrote: There's a video in there too, and that's from Groasis. They have a bunch of videos and a great website full of information. http://groasis.com/page/uk/index.php
This is very interesting - thanks for putting the info up for all to see.
A small bit of plastic, re-used a dozen or so times to start trees in an inhospitable environment.... probably no worse than using diggers for berms and swales.
Here in Ireland water tends not to be such a problem, but I can see how this Groasis could be a really useful bit of kit in hotter harsher climates. It seems it can be used for seed planting or for small transplants. Anything that encourages the re-greening of desertified areas should be encouraged.....
They have finally all got put in the ground. The strongest looking ones went closer to the house in a double row to make a sort of apple arch walk way. The remainder where then planted in a closer-spaced double row as a boundary to an new area of hard-standing close to a reclaimed barn we are about to reassemble!
The dwarf root stock plants look strong and this week end I plan to bud graft onto them. (I know the book says August, but things were hectic then.... )
I guess it'll be a few years before I can report on the taste of any of the fruit!
What NATURE wants from plants is not necessarily the same as what PEOPLE want from the same plants.
Leave a species that humans have selected over many centuries to produce a desirable crop to it's own breeding devices and the plants that don't waste energy producing the desired human product may well out compete the rest.
So left to nature your peas and beans may get smaller because perhaps nature favours a slightly smaller size than you want.
I sometimes wonder about the "observe for a year" thing..... certainly I wouldn't landscape a whole area without some long-term local knowledge, but I think "strike while the iron is hot" is also an important phrase. There is much that can be done as an early project that may or may not stay in the final plan. But doing something brings the individual to the area frequently, so observation is happening as a by product of the other projuct not just as an end itself.
In the horsey world there is a good phrase "The eye of the master maketh the horse"... and this is also relevant to permaculture. Be there and do stuff with your horse/garden often and you cannot fail to observe something. Actively think about what you are doing and make multiple small decisions towards a desired end.... and you will get there.
Don't do nothing but watch for a year, because you will not be up there often enough, or trying enough things to have the time to make appropriate observations.
So I'd bung a few raised beds in. Plant a few fruit bushes (that can be either moved or cuttings taken in later years) and make sure you have enough reason to go to the area often.....
William wrote: Sorry, my idea was that if you have some ponds plus some swales that are directing water to them, the ponds themselves would be constantly fed. No swales, no water moving toward the ponds.
A slope can be detected with and A frame structure. Tie a pendulum weight to the apex of the A. Hold the A upright on a known level surface and mark where the string crosses the cross bar of the A. Then when you move this around you can see when there is a slope due to where the string to the pendulum ends up. The larger the A structure (easiest made from light pieces of timber) the greater the reach of the thing and so the better a judgement can be made.
Edit.... 2 poles an a rope in your link seems to be the same idea.
On the topic of the swales. Why would the swales be constantly fed water when the pond goes dry? I agree they can create a catchment system on a slope, but if the land is flat, and the climate dry, then there may be little run off to catch?
Welcome - and I'm sure you'll get loads of advice on here.
Looks like you've got quite a project on your hands! Personally I would advise you to look for some work in the world at large in order to help you both pay for projects on the land and to give you something to live on.
I'm almost 50. We've lived on our land for over 20 years through various financial situations. I've found that: when you have time you don't have money, and when you have money you don't have time.
Yet for getting things done, I have done best when also working beyond the land. For the first ten years we were cash poor and so could do little on site. Lately, now that I work out 4 days a week, we have had more cash flow and we've got lots more projects going. I still save seed like mad, try to graft, and use every ruse I can to cut the costs..... but I CAN now buy in materials, equipment and plants to make the jobs happen.
Sounds like you have a nice site. Here the thorns and dog wood also thrive. I must try grafting onto the blackthorn - I've heard plums do well on them, but not yet tried it.
Clay is a good base I think as it is supposed to be mineral rich. I imagine a few ponds might work. We have clay and dug a pond here which filled itself from the water table. Just it is at the bottom of our land. Luckily Ireland is fairly wet most of the time.
We also have some bees - but 100 hives! WOW... you must have some fairly good sources of flowers locally. I can't imagine managing so many hives.
Anyway best wishes with your field... you're bound to get loads of ideas on here.... and probably a few disagreeing with my advice on work....
Quick reply from a Helpx host... ( www.helpx.net )
As a host I like the following in a Helper profile:
A full profile on the Helpx site as this shows some committment at the start A photo - preferably looking at the camera and smiling Details of your motivation and interests and where you might like to help (country, duration of stay, etc.) Your special skills Your past travel or work experiences Something about you that makes me think you might be good company... a little about what you enjoy I guess
When a helper makes contact:
Try not to ask questions that are answered in the Host profile Tell me why you liked the sound of my place (and not just because you think we live a wonderful life and you'd like to share it!) Indicate some enthusiasm for the projects mentioned in the host profile Give an indication of the ideal dates you'd like to stay and your degree of flexibility Offer to send more info or to answer further questions if required. (And poss offer references.)
However even the little I've read above suggests to me that you'd make a great helper.... Good luck and Happy Travelling!
dolmen wrote: Great thread, one that I hope brings out those that are really striving to grow most of their own food.
I too live in NI
Hello! Hope you too are enjoying the amazing heat these last couple of days.....
I now work in deep beds and grow what I actually eat most of, some potatoes, onions bulbs and greens, peas and beans, and lots of salad stuffs for the summer months, surplus goes to the hens, also grow apples, plums, pears, red/black currants, elderberries, gooseberry, garlic ..etc etc. I buy organic flour and bake our own bread, pastrys etc make jellys from the soft fruits for winter vitamins and minerals ... I have grapes in the greenhouse, along with some early strawberries.
PS Just read more of your post... are you a long lost twin? Or is there an echo between your garden and mine?
are we talking about permaculture or self-sufficiency?
because they really aren't the same!
I guess I'm interpreting the word Permaculture in this thread to mean Permanent Culture... In other words that this culture is something that could survive permanently (or as near as).
It does not mean self sufficiency (I thought I explained that) but rather the whole culture would be sufficient.
Now if everyone aiming towards a permanent culture, omits the same detail from their aims, then as a collective group we are not sufficient.
So, I was just trying to point out that as a collective group, Permies do not do the bulk calorie issue well. Most, in my experience, depend mostly on calories that are produced in the industrial food system.
Perhaps I'm wrong?
So, this is not really a criticism of any individual: indeed I am entirely in that boat myself. However from the perspective of this boat, I notice that many others are here with me.....
It's not really an issue I am addressing, because the time factor would be more than I have right now. However it is an observation on the general direction that Permaculture growers are taking....
I'm not saying growing all our own calories is impossible. Potatoes are one route to do it. Livestock another.
No what I am trying to point out is that most permaculturalists rely on the same factor of industrialised society. I know that it's not about "self" sufficiency alone, community resilience is important. But reading the books, and talking on here all permies seem to be ommitting the same thing..... bulk calories for their diet.
Loads of ideas here - thanks for all the thoughts - and also lots of folk in a similar position to me: Gaining the knowledge but a huge way off being able to feed a family without the industrial system in the background.
We are quite a way along the route here.... 21 years on a 25 acre property (although only in the last 8 have we been actively growing rather than dabbling). I have a dehydrator, a pressure canner and ample jars, a large freezer and a big store room. In the garden, I have a 40' polytunnel in cultivation along with several other growing areas too..... Yet I'm probably providing barely 1/10th of our calories. (Family of 6 - but 2 only home sometimes).
Trouble really is - right now the bulk calories are cheap to buy. Wheat flour, potatoes etc are not really expensive, so permaculturalists grow the fancy and expensive stuff, but still buy their bulk food from the industrial system.
I do too, and right now it makes economic and time sense. I may know how to do a potato patch, but scaling up is another thing....
ediblecities wrote: There's actually a good book from Carol Deppe it is called the resilient gardener.
Yes I bought it for my sister and had a quick read first!
You're Irish you must know about the values of potatoes.
Indeed yes.... I love them and we eat loads. Not 4kg a day though! I did calculate the area required to provide the calories my family needs for a year through potatoes once... I think it was quite shockingly huge!
That's a very interesting question indeed. There's very little resilience in our system.
It is the one weakness in Permaculture at the moment I think.
Interesting replies.... (and I forgot to mention we have chickens too.... )
However the scaling up problem is still immense. I have scaled up from a very basic "look what I can do" garden to a fairly productive one that in season provides us with frequent "all home grown" dinners. And we are still eating the tomato sauce & dried beans from last year. Indeed the last acorn squash went only a couple of weeks ago. But tomatoes, beans and squash all grow best inside the polytunnel for me - and the were not eaten up to now because we eat other things as well and so keep these for a change.
So calories? Potatoes are temperamental to store - so probably best left in the ground. Brassicas and carrots don't grow well for me. We also have one growing season and a long wet winter.
Discussions like this often dismiss the calorie question by saying - "There's more to a healthy diet than calories". But my point is that you DO need the calories if you want to be independent of the industrial system.
I'm not, and at the moment can't take the time to be so - however if I wanted to be independent, I now know just how difficult it would be.
There is a certain point where scaling up in order to take enough harvest to store as well as eat-now becomes incredibly intensive labour that requires a load of growing and storage space and facilities....
I wonder is there any food-forester/ permie here who does not buy the bulk of their annual calories?
Yes indeed.... even here in wet old Ireland we have dry spells that take us by surprise.
Water storage here is usually surplus to requirement, but provides resilience. Expensive resilience on a large scale.
Many modern countries need to learn to use less water. I was shocked that of the Helpers we've had here the Australian helpers seemed to have used most water, by showering more frequently and washing their clothes more frequently than we do....
Many/most PC gardens/forests I am aware of are great at providing diversity for the diet, but few could feed a family for all their needs for a year.
Of course "we" (on here) are all part of the industrialised world or we wouldn't be chatting on computers and so on. Yet we are also very dependent on industrial agriculture to provide many of our needs.
I work out 4 days a week & my other half full time. I have help here through help exchange. I grow more non-industrial food than most of my friends and neighbours. Yet still I could not feed myself for a year.
Part of that is a seasonal storage type of problem. N.Ireland is very seasonal.
So here I grow loads of fruits (apples, pears, plums, red/black currants, g'berries, rhubarb, raspberries etc.) some nut trees, some perennial veg (j.artichokes, cardoon, globe artichokes) and then a variety of annual veg (tomatoes, squashes, potatoes, leeks, onions, celeriac, garlic, beans, peas and various salad). I'm sure there's more stuff I've forgotten.... ah we also keep hens, rear pigs for the freezer and keep bees.
Yet to process all the fruit - I buy sugar, to keep the pork we have a freezer, and the bees have consumed more sugar than they've provided honey (hopefully just establishment phase). Also I buy in flour to make my own bread. And of course buy milk, cheese and loads of other "basics" from the shop.
To store sufficient potatoes to provide more calories for the year I'd need to completely restructure my storage abilities and extend the cultivated area substantially. So I grow only what we'll eat over the summer months and for short term storage.
So at what stage can permaculturists begin to live by permaculture? (And I don't mean by becoming a demo site, or teaching.)
Of course I don't expect to grow everything I need, but if there is a pattern where all permies are taking the same sort of things from the industrial world, then permies are not really getting closer to being a permanent culture....... if you see what I mean.
I love planting stuff to see if it succeeds. Some things just take off here. Rhubarb, redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries etc. are fabulous every year for very little effort. Spuds are good too.. & toms in the polytunnel
However I can't grow brassicas, or sweetcorn for love nor money.... they just die every year. So this was the last year of trying!
I always snip out side shoots and grow a single vine. I also trim off old leaves lower down as the toms start to ripen. I live in damp ole N.Ireland and this is needed even when growing in a polytunnel.
I've never had any success with toms outside no matter what variety or treatment. (Although I'm giving it one last attempt this year!)
I made it with some students one time. We used distillation apparatus and boiled the orange peel with water. Collected the evaporating water and cooled it, condensed it using a Leibig condenser. Then poured the liquid distillate into a burette. The oil floated, and we ran the water out the bottom of the burette and were left with the oil.
Willy_K wrote: Salkeela, will that water stay in your pond do you think? Or do you intend to try to seal it in some way?
The water will stay. We are in rainy N.Ireland. Even in dry spells the spring that feeds this pond still runs and the shuck above the pond never dries out.
I doubt we could get all the water out now in order to "seal" it.... LOL! The undersoil is boulder clay and naturally sealed I think. Either that or the water table is that high already...... If it drys up over the summer I'll be really surprised!
By that chart we had a zone 7 winter this winter. Loads of plants died that usually survive. I had an Escalonia hedge that I planted about 10 years ago die - every single plant of it! Previously they all lived through the winter.
In Belfast all the gardens that had palm trees now have dead sticks.
We did have a very unusual winter though. First time that I recall that all the water drinkers for the fields froze in the ground. We used to break the ice on the drinkers, but have never had to set up a whole alternative drinking system for the field before. Basically the hose pipe lived in the house for a couple of months, because left outsided it froze. (Okay so we thawed it a few times in the shower before we realised the cold snap was gonna stay!)
Normally we are fairly mild all year. Mild and wet. Thankfully we don't usually get the scorching hot summers.....
Now- Irish Strawberry tree? I think I'll have to see if I can find one of those? What are they?
We've always talked of doing this.... so a couple of weeks ago in the dry weather my son made a start with the digger.
This is the site as he was starting:
Then over the course of several days it increased in size:
It started to fill with water - which in that warm weather just "needed" to be tested:
At the end of last weekend it looked like this:
View from other end on same day:
A bit more has been dug out, but I've no pictures from yesterday's activity yet.
The plan is to spread the dug stuff out over the thin soil of the surrounding field (rock close under) and to spread the more black shucky stuff on top.... and hopefully to plant some of my apple pip treelets into that. Probably, will need to add some sand, forked into the base of the planting hole to help with drainage as the clay is well clayey!
There is another angle to a PDC - a two week course is something like a themed holiday. Many folk take adventure or activity holidays relevant to their interests and a 2 week residential PDC is probably quite like this.
I actually did my PDC online by distance learning (which suited as I am a teacher and none of the local courses ran during my holidays, and anyway my holidays "belong" to my children...) I did it because I at the time I thought I might get an avenue to do something permacultury through the college I teach in. It didn't come to fruition.
However I then thought it might be a good idea to do some sort of course in order to talk to some real live Permies. So my daughter (then 14) and I went and did one of Patrick Whitefield's courses over 5 days and although very informative and most interesting, there was also a themed holiday atmosphere. I met some lovely people there and spent some fun times with my daughter....
So running PDCs as a money venture as part of an alternative tourism venture is surely fine.
If anyone really wants the info, then they don't need a course to find it. The courses are for folk who want that sort of interaction, or who "need" the PDC .... and it's also for folk who don't live in the country already and need the green time!
I'm a Biology teacher 4 days a week. I have a PDC. I live on 25 acres that has been quietly increasing Permacultury stuff since I learned about P. in the early '90s. It's not perfect. Nor am I. I don't earn my income off the site, but do grow a load of food.
Yet were I to "teach" permaculture I would probably be putting massive effort in for little to no return (even if this was a paid thing). I am unlikely to ever use my teaching skills to this end.
However, lots of folk see what I'm up to. Not just friends and family, but also visitors we have staying through the Helpx.net site.
So I echo what a poster above said. If you want to learn, go and work somewhere...... Permaculture is about the "doing" in my opinion. An actual qualification is a nice touch but not in any way required for the "doing".
Indeed for a load of stuff I like to think for myself. So in some ways the things I do may simply be my own blend of many different schools of thought. I don't do moon stuff, I do like organic, I don't like chemicals, I'm not biodynamic, I am into wholesome foods, I sometimes use "rows", I sometimes don't.... etc. etc.
I know it's tough to learn without money (but I don't teach Biology for free either - just the government picks up much of the tab for that....) but it's cheap to "do".
So read up, think around it all, get out and get down to the "doing"! That's the best learning technique out.....