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Eric Lehmann

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since Apr 08, 2019
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We are Sara and Eric and for the last years, we have been searching for ways to live a healthier life and to reduce our carbon footprint.
Currently, we are living in Barcelona but we realized that we want to move out of the city and start a life in the countryside.
Our dream is to live a self-sustainable life.
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Recent posts by Eric Lehmann

Thanks a lot for your info!

This already helps us to make a decision: we are going to chop and drop them where it's in the way.
All the others that are further down our land can flower and grow out until they eventually perish. The wildlife can have the rest.
2 years ago
Hi Permies,

We have a question for you all;

We have a piece of land that was planted with a barley monocrop as recently as last season; the barley was harvested but this year we still have a lot of volunteer barley growing all over the field.

My girlfriend thinks that it’s a good idea to chop and drop them all before the seed matures, mulching the field at the same time. She is scared that if we let it grow without harvesting it, the seed will drop and we would have a lot more barley growing next year, eventually getting out of control.
Since we want to apply permaculture, she would prefer to remove most of the barley crop to let other indigenous pioneer plants grow.
Would that chop and drop technique work?

I, on the other hand, think that we don't have to remove them all but only chop and drop those that are growing where we want to put other plants and trees, aka are in the way. I'd like to keep some growing wildly to draw resources from when needed.

What would you recommend...
Keeping the barley?
Keeping some of the barley? (how much of it?)
Getting rid of it?
Or a different strategy altogether?
2 years ago
I really appreciate all your comments, it's exactly what I hoped for as for myself some things are also unclear as I am still a permaculture rookie.

F Agricola wrote:When considering 'trees' are you referring to cropping ones that provide human food (fruit and nuts), trees for habitat, trees for wood production, or all the above?

In my case, I did the research for mostly for pioneer species. My problem during my research was, that I couldn't find much information on how much a tree needs. I only found one source claiming that a young tree (1-2 years old) would need 80 liters a week to get properly established.

I suppose, if one generally knows the water needs of their plants, one could change the number in "Daily tree consumption"

F Agricola wrote:
Typically, most cropping species will require a degree of frequent watering for good production, whereas most habitat/wood production species don't require much, if any, supplemental watering.

This is what I am currently speculating on, in my case, I would look for signs if supplemental watering is needed during dry periods.

F Agricola wrote:
We're in a similar climate, though with less rainfall. I would never provide any tree with 11 litres a day - it makes it seriously drought intolerant and susceptible to wind. I aim to force the tree to work hard for water - encouraging it to send its roots deep to get it.
It's important to only do deep watering at the drip line of the tree - where most of the feeder roots exist, but also to encourage it to send its roots out and down - just like a natural forest.

I totally agree with you here. Maybe the assumption of "Daily Water consumption" is misleading then? Waiting for rainy days seems then the way to go, as trees in nature, not close to a water source, have to wait for rain anyway. That should make them work hard for water for sure :)

Sue Reeves wrote:
I do not water my fruit trees and I go all summer and fall with no rain, so no rain for about 6 months.  Yes, I get lots of apples, plums and pears with this treatment.  

That's very encouraging for me!

Sue Reeves wrote:
SO, I kind of wonder about how one can realy generalize about water needs when there are so many variables ?  I mean, in answer to teh question, "how to find out if you can sustain your trees on rain alone" is often, try it and see !  Mulching in the early years is sure helpful, but I have an illness and let it go, and we sure were swimming in fruit this year.

I will definitely try it! My goal with the research was to get a rough idea whether it might be feasible and how permaculture design increases success. For myself, I wanted to know whether I better install an irrigation system which I would like to avoid as this would mean for me to be dependent on those who provide the water. It also does not seem very reliable.
2 years ago
Hello Permies!

I am currently researching the water needs of the trees I want to plant this year. I am trying to establish pioneer trees on rain water alone
I would like to share this with you and also hope to get some feedback on this.
I obviously left many factors out as it can become very complex, I am also not including the construction of swales or dams (although we will dig out some swales).
But I hope that I am was to catch a general feel of the challenges.

Here it goes:

I created a spreadsheet called Tree Satisfaction (you can view and copy it into your own library so you can use it for your own planning)

The example shows the data for Barcelona and we are going through the data based on the example. But don’t worry, I will also show you how to use it for your own location.

We want to know if we can sustain a young tree through the means of catching rainwater only. To find out the answer, we need to consider a few things:

  • how much does it rain?
  • how frequently does it rain?
  • what is the area a tree can draw water from?
  • how much rainwater can be caught when it rains?
  • how much water does a tree consume?
  • how much water is lost through evaporation, transpiration or other means?

  • Please note that we will only take the area around the tree into account. Other means of catching rainwater such as dams, diversion channels or swales are not considered here.

    Let’s study Barcelona

    First, we need to get relevant historical data regarding precipitation – ncdc.noaa.gov offers free historical data from weather stations around the world. In our example, we will study the years 2015 to 2018.

    Equipped with this data, we can already print some useful graphs that can tell us something about the situation:

    Temperatures fluctuate between 2 and 37° throughout the year. Winters are cold but don’t go below 0° C.

    Minimum and maximum temperatures in Barcelona 2015 – 2018

    The precipitation shows us that 2015/16 were much dryer than 2017/18. Something interesting is going on here and we should look at the data on a much longer timescale. 4 years of data are not enough to jump to conclusions.

    Precipitation in Barcelona 2015 – 2018

    Especially interesting is the chart of days without rain. The red triangles, that are building up mostly peak between 20 – 25 days but in the Winter of 2015/16, we had a staggering 73 days without rain.

    Days without rain in Barcelona 2015 – 2018

    So many days without rain
    20 – 25 days without rain… It looks like we can’t rely on rain alone, right? Well, don’t underestimate how much water can be held in the soil.

    You know, when it rains, the soil can stay wet days after the rain occurred. Let’s have a deeper look.

    Regular soil can hold water up to a quarter of its volume. A cubic meter, therefore, can hold up to 250 liters.

    Water, once in the soil, can only disappear through 3 main ways:

    evaporation through sun and wind influences
    water flow within the soil to other areas
    evapotranspiration by the plants
    The more we are able to reduce these factors, the longer the soil can retain the water and make it available to our plants.

    Tree satisfaction

    In order to combine it all together, I will use the term tree satisfaction. It’s a metric that tells us how happy trees are based on how much water they have available in the soil.

    When they receive water, the satisfaction rises. When the soil is completely dry, the satisfaction is basically 0.

    Let’s assume a few things…

    Assumptions for tree satisfaction calculation

    A tree younger than 2 years usually requires around 80 liters a week, or 11 liters a day. We assume they can draw water from a 2 meters radius which gives us the area of rainwater a tree can collect (12.57 m²).

    As a starting point, we also assume that we can collect 100% of the rain and don’t lose any water. Let’s have a look at the following chart.

    Tree satisfaction in a perfect world

    A lot comes together in this chart, let me break it down for you.

    The green line is the tree satisfaction. In a perfect world, it is constantly rising until the soil cannot hold more water.

    The blue columns show the precipitation of the day. You can see that when it rains, tree satisfaction rises.

    The red triangles, in the beginning, are sad tree days. Those are the days when the tree has absolutely no more water to drink from. We want to avoid them.

    Finally, the orange line is the anticipated tree consumption. During winter the consumption is lower due to less direct sun. The calculation in the spreadsheets makes this assumption based on temperature.

    A more realistic example
    In reality, we cannot catch all the water and also lose water every day through the soil:

    Water loss/day 5%
    Catchment Coefficient 70%

    A more realistic example of tree satisfaction

    As you can immediately see, the sad tree days increased significantly and tree satisfaction stays low most of the time. There are 3 major periods ranging from 50 to 80 days. In a Mediterranean climate as we have in Barcelona, plants usually don’t go into dormancy as temperatures stay constantly above 0° C.

    In this case, we have to step in and make sure that our trees receive the water they need.

    or we apply water harvesting and retention techniques
    There are many things, we can do to harvest more water and to retain it over longer periods of time. Let’s assume the following improvement:

    Water loss/day 2%
    Catchment Coefficient 90%

    Tree satisfaction when applying water harvesting techniques

    We can see that our trees most likely stay happier throughout the years. Granted, there are still 3 major periods of sad tree days, but they seem less scary.

    I think those periods can then be mitigated by installing swales and dams.
    2 years ago
    I was using it a lot 6 years ago to learn the basics of Spanish. Then I moved to Spain and it helped me a lot!

    I recently picked it up again and stengthen my Spanish fluency and started learning Catalan as well.

    One of the best educational apps out there, hands down!
    2 years ago

    Tyler Ludens wrote:

    Eric Lehmann wrote:Luckily we don't have much frost and if so, only at night and not much.

    I encourage you to try growing Moringa if you don't already plan to.  It is currently my favorite tree.  Grows ten feet tall in one season!  Leaves, flowers, and pods are edible.  Also good for mulch production.  

    Yes!, a friend of ours, she is a conservational biologist, highly recommended this tree! It's certainly on our wish list :)
    2 years ago
    Hi everyone,

    I have randomly seen this little helpful text about how to add a search link to Google on this forum.

    I immediately thought: "Wouldn't it be much better to add Ecosia Search links instead?"

    For those, who don't know yet. There is a much more ethical alternative to Google. It is ecosia.org.
    They are really amazing. They decided to use almost all of their profits to plant trees! So roughly 45 searches plant 1 tree. And so far they have planted over 76 million trees.

    I really suggest to support them. Can we have Ecosia Search Snippet either instead or next to the google snipped?

    Best regards,

    Tyler Ludens wrote:Look at rainwater harvesting earthworks as a first step in your plan.

    1. Water
    2. Access
    3. Structures (includes buildings, gardens, food forest)

    Be sure to include a huge amount of support species:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLlig9tRJvQ

    Michelle Bisson wrote:Study how the rainwater flows in your land: the normal rains as well as the heavy rains.

    Since you live in a dry area, you will especially need to profit from the rainwater you can harvest through earthworks (if you have access to equipment) or other means of slowing down & sinking water into the land through the laying out of rocks, branches, logs, mulch berms across the surface of the land. if you use logs above ground, you have to be careful that they are not in the flow of heavy rains that could send the log to do damage.

    Thank you both Michelle and Tyler! Your two posts really nudged us in the right direction. We have been studying intensively Permaculture Design by reading Bill Mollison's book and reading up on the internet.

    We established our contour lines and know where we are going to place our swales. We recently started digging the first one by hand. In the meantime, we got our building permits which means that very soon we will have an excavator on the land for the build which we are going to sidequest with some swale digging.

    It was also a good thing that we didn't start earlier because some weeks ago we had very heavy rainfall in our region. 200 mm per sqm within a day! That's almost half as much as our yearly average rainfall here! I suppose our earthworks would have been destroyed by those forces.

    Next week, we are supposed to receive a few thousand seeds of many pioneer species such as Acacias, Honeylocust, and other nitrogen-fixing shrubs and ground cover species.
    We are already growing a few saplings of Carob and Tipuana Tipu at home and to get a headstart we want to construct a small polytunnel to sprout all the other trees. Luckily we don't have much frost and if so, only at night and not much.

    Ty Greene wrote:
    My plans next are to get some soil testing done, and contact the government departments associated with land conservation/farmland/forestry to see what help they might have to offer, you should look into your local authorities and see if they offer any assistance.

    I am fairly certain that some grant money (or at least low interest loans) and low cost (maybe even free?) native plants/trees can be obtained through them where I am at here in the US.

    And if you can locate any near by farms or companies that could hook you up with compost or mulch that would be great! There are a few tree service places I see on the way to my property and soon I plan on stopping in and seeing if they want a free dump site :)

    Since you mentioned it, I have often thought about that but I could not locate such programs in Catalonia/Spain. At least their official websites don't offer that. I think it would be much more helpful if I could fully speak Catalan. I want to call them up and hopefully somebody could point me in the right direction.

    But for now I acquired many seeds from local species during my hikes.

    I wish you all the best with your plans!
    2 years ago
    Hello everybody,

    we recently bought 7 acres of land in a nice place in the middle of Catalonia (Spain) and plan to live there once the house there is fully restored.

    Not long ago Barley was growing there. The person who took care of this recently harvested everything. We also have a couple of almond trees.

    Our idea is to create a food forest and a main crop garden area. Now, while we are occupied by the restoration of the house we won't have much time to start planting and everything.

    So, I thought, it might be a good idea, to first let the land do its own thing. Having weeds grow wherever they want. The idea is to analyze what is growing where when we can focus on cultivating, so we get an idea of how the soil is like. Also thinking about how weeds are a pioneer species preparing the soil for what is to come. Thinking of trees that build biomass quickly as well as shrubs, cover crops, etc...

    We have access to irrigation water.

    This is a new experience for us and we haven't attended a PDC, yet. I know that it might sound naive to tackle such a project then. But we don't have the feeling that this is such a daunting task.

    In any case, do you think that this is a viable strategy to start out? Are there things we should get in place already or get informed about?

    Your input is much appreciated.

    Best regards,
    3 years ago
    Hi everybody,

    I have posted this in a different thread before but I think it fits better in here.

    Listening to the Passive Income Stream podcasts has made a big impression on me. Many years ago, I have tried selling stock photos once which never really took off. But now I am motivated again to try every thing imaginable within my capabilities.

    I already uploaded all my photos on stock photo platforms and some of my records on music streaming service with better conditions for artists and listeners than spotify.

    I have already found the big list of passive income streams and other related threads. While I think that most of the ideas are legit, I found that I most likely won't do many of them. They don't all apply to what I am capable of doing, either through lack of skill, money or time.
    All the lists, one can find on the Internet, are a good addition to what can be found here. But again, I won't be trying them all.

    I thought, wouldn't it be nice if I could get suggestions based on my situation? Unfortunately I didn't find any website or an app for this.

    So, I did it myself: I wrote an app, that exactly does that. I have come up with a bunch of questions and as soon as a suggestion fits to you, you get it presented.

    But I didn't stop there. I decided to include money saving tips as well. Many of which also align with the permaculture lifestyle. Heck, I even included "Go poo-less" if someone is "willing to try something out of the norm".

    You can probably guess, that it also contains some affiliate links, because this is supposed to be part of my passive income stream. The app is also very open about it, when you get suggested to use affiliate links ;)

    I wanted to know how you think about it. Do I do justice or mess things up? I hope this app is useful, even to more seasoned permies.

    I am open to any criticism, positive or negative.

    You can find the app here for android