What a Pile of Mulch (Courtesy of Joe Hoover)
Mulching: We know we’ve got to do. Nothing else makes quite so much sense. It drastically lessens the water needed for growing plants, cutting the quantity easily in half and often much better than that. It feeds our plants by breaking down into fertile composted materials right where it’s needed. It protects the soil life, helps to prevent erosion and stops the compacting effects of rain. In the winter, it’s warm, and in the summer, it wards off evaporation. Oh, yes, and it’s thwarting off weeds while doing all of this. It’s just an amazing element for any garden.
What’s more is that mulch can come from so many sources. We can use cardboard boxes, old newspapers, shredded documents and other paper-based garbage. We can use the fallen leaves, grass clippings, pulled weeds, and pruned branches, often found already bagged up right at the end of the neighbors driveway. We can use bark or wood shavings or sawdust. We can use the greens from our veggies, all those carrot tops and discarded out leaves of cabbage. Straw. Hay. Pine needles. Nut shells. Rocks, even.
However, wouldn’t life just be a lot simpler if much of our mulch came right from the garden? I must confess straight out of the gate that I am a habitual bed maker: Sheet mulch beds, hugelkultur, raised beds, sunken beds, herb spirals, magic circles, swale berms, double-reach… Give me a space that ain’t a path, and in all likelihood, I’ll soon be deciding on what kind of bed will work best there. In all honesty, I often find myself in search of, sometimes short of, good mulching material. So, cultivating quality mulch just seems a good idea.
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Bees are the most incredible insects on the planet. They have been buzzing around for hundreds of thousands of years, and are responsible for the pollination of as much as 80 percent of flowering plants. In turn, at least 30 percent of the world’s food supply is reliant on pollination, which makes us highly reliant on bees.
On the downside, too many people don’t appreciate the value of bees, plus right now, billions of honeybees are dying all over the world. This doesn’t only affect honey supply, it affects our food chain; and the dire warning is that if we don’t save the world’s bees, we can expect the demise of humanity.
Of course bees make honey, which is considered by many to be a top survival food with incredible medicinal value. Described as a broad-spectrum healer, raw, organic, unfiltered, non-irradiated honey is a top nutrient packed with antioxidants, vitamins, probiotics and minerals. Although sugar-rich, raw organic honey can lower serum cholesterol and won’t spike blood-sugar levels. Local honey has also be shown, by some research studies, to help build immunity to seasonal allergies, by providing small quantities of the allergen (pollen for instance) in the same way as a vaccine does. This means that if you either have beehives that produce local honey, or source honey from hives close to where you live, you can help to protect your health.
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The example of the Hawley Hamlet | Tim Rinne | TEDxLincoln
We grow enough lawn to cover the state of Ohio.
This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Since 2010, Tim and his wife have gone from a measly little tomato patch to six tenths of an acre (the equivalent of roughly 65 yards of a football field). They have planted over 50 fruit and nut trees and two dozen berry beds, set up two chicken coops and two beehives, and now have 20 neighbors actively participating in what they call their hamlet.
They are growing food in the “Hawley Hamlet.” But equally important, they’re growing community. And that’s a good thing. Because given the risks climate change and extreme weather are posing to our environment, we’re going to need all the food and community the city can produce.
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Greece is in financial crisis. That’s unlikely to be news to anyone after updates on the Greek economy have been gracing our television screens, newspapers and radios for the last month or so. But most of the reports focus on the impact that the financial crisis and the third bailout programme will have on the country’s banking system and on its large, medium and small business; rather than taking a closer look at how it is affecting the people of Greece.
The government are being forced by the EU to accept new austerity plans which will see further cuts in public spending and these will have a direct impact on everybody living in Greece today. If businesses cannot function normally then they cannot afford to pay employees or order replacement stock, which again has a direct impact on the lives of ordinary people living in Greece. In the weeks and months ahead, unemployment will only continue to rise and the situation in Greece will have to get worse before it gets better.
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A permaculture enthusiast may want to inquire: how do the structures of both the Great Wall of China and Water Harvesting System relate
A Brief history of the Great Wall
Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, the Great Wall of China has always been the most visible symbol of power and influence of the past Chinese Empires. Initially built by Emperor Qin Shi Huang (c.259-210 B.C.) in the third century as a deterrent to prevent nomadic barbarians from finding their way into the Chinese Empire. Since then, from Qin, Sui to Tang dynasty, the Great Wall had undergone several transformations, the prominent one being its reconstruction under the powerful Ming dynasty (1363-1644), which considered the defense of China as its main priority and extended the Great Wall from East to West to cover places we know today as Beijing, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Gansu, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Hebei, Liaoning and Tianjin. Fortresses and gates (three inner and three outer passes) were constructed along the Wall to facilitate limited and monitored entry and exit into the Chinese Empire.
The Great Wall’s Contour Structure
Of utmost interest to structural engineers or anyone who cares about structural strength is all the intricacies that went into the construction of the Great Wall. The Great Wall is a more than 10,000 li (a li is a third of a mile) strong, mammoth fortification that extends across Chinese states, from the China Sea port of Shanhaiguan to Gansu Province. The Wall was made from stone and earth, and a huge number of soldiers, commoners and convicts were used as construction workers. In certain areas, some parts of the Wall overlapped to provide the much-needed strength for the structure, and a long, undulating contours could be seen all along the Wall. With a base width of 15 to 50 feet and a height of 15 to 30 feet, China’s Great Wall towered high into the sky with 12-feet ramparts mounted on its top. Guard towers were scattered at intervals on top of the Wall. The Wall’s design takes after the contours of the land and mountains it meanders through. This is an interesting perspective in the overall structural aesthetics of this World Heritage treasure, because these contours may have been responsible for its enduring strength and, surprisingly enough, help it withstand hundreds of years of all manners of climatic and circumstantial pressures without falling into a state of disrepair.
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Swales are amongst my favorite permaculture projects. Though they can be laborious, especially for a shovel and pick fellow like me, they show results quickly and look amazing, texturing the landscape with both purpose and beauty. They are easy to explain: Everyone understands the concept of plants needing water. Swales are also perfect for those of us wanting to build no-dig garden beds, as digging the (swale) paths provides the necessary topsoil.
There are so many more reasons. Modern inclination is to get rid of rainwater as quickly as possible, ushering it into gutters and drainage systems, which often lead to a plethora of contaminants, including sewage getting into fresh water sources. Afterwards, when there’s a dry spell for a few days, the sprinklers come out. Instead, swales stop the deluge and allow the water to slowly, passively enter the soil and keep stuff working, preventing overfilling drainage systems and the need for compulsive watering. What a concept!
So, with such an endorsement, surely everyone is salivating at having a swale of their very own, even those who still aren’t quite certain what a swale is. Well, if that’s the case, hang on for another paragraph or few, and let’s get to it.
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An interview with Permaculture pioneer, Geoff Lawton.
Geoff is an expert in this growing field. Since the mid-nineties he has specialised in all things permaculture, including the education, design, implementation, system establishment, administration and community development of it across the world. He is a true leader in building a sustainable and healthy future for humanity.
In the video he moves through many aspects of permaculture, including its positive environmental, practical, cultural and philosophical impacts. He talks about the patterns of nature, the diversity of foods it can offer, the values it endorses, the quality of living it offers and the meaning and hope it can give to one’s life:
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Permaculture design can be applied to all aspects of our lives. Whether it is communities, farms, gardens or urban areas.
With over 50% of the population living in urban areas, the London Permablitz team is working hard to spread permaculture across the city, transforming community spaces and individual gardens into wildlife-friendly, edible havens. Learn how they implement designs and create productive and beautiful urban environments.
A Permablitz, which is a global movement, is the creation of a garden according to a permaculture design over the course of a day. A group of people meet and set to work transforming neglected spaces into homes for creatures big and small.
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Much has been written on domestic permaculture(zones 1-3) and by now we all know the basics on growing domestic plants in accordance with natural systems. But, how do you encourage the wild edges of your land to produce more food and useful resources?
In this article, I will discuss how to create a wild food forest in the often ignored zones 4 and 5. Zone 4 is used to denote a semi-wild area and zone 5 is used to denote wilderness. These zones are usually far away from the house and are likewise last in priority and importance to permaculturists. Yet before agriculture, indigenous populations exclusively tended the wilderness to increase food production.
Historically, there has been extensive human management of wild forests. The amazon rain forest has an unusually high percentage of edible plants and is said to be one giant food forest. Indigenous people of the region planted seeds around their villages and along their elaborate trail systems. But indigenous people all around the world did much more than plant the seeds of their favorite foods. Kat Anderson claims in her book Tending the Wild“ that “much of what we consider wilderness today was in fact shaped by Indian burning, harvesting, tilling, pruning, sowing, and tending”(1). Indigenous horticulturalists expanded the food production of the wild plants by utilizing ecological processes on the landscape.
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Samuel Alexander – is a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs and research fellow at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI), University of Melbourne. He also co-directs the Simplicity Institute.
For those in Victoria, here are details of an upcoming “Tiny House on Wheels” workshop out at Wurruk’an. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to apply as spots are limited and are likely to be filled quickly. I’ve been part of four of these workshops now – this will be my fifth – and each of them have been utterly fantastic.
Come to Wurruk’an and learn the process of building a low-cost tiny house on wheels using reclaimed building materials. Work along side an experienced carpenter and learn a wide range of carpentry and building skills. The workshop will be suitable for all people (over 18 yrs), irrespective of building experience.
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I’m currently undertaking a Diploma of Permaculture through the Permaculture Institute! A requirement of the Diploma is to have had designed at least seven successful permaculture properties. SO, I’ve decided to offer TEN FREE PERMACULTURE SITE DESIGNS a.k.a. MASTER PLANS for your urban food forest dreams in the Melbourne region this winter!
For the past several years I’ve worked on several permaculture plots in Australia, India and Thailand.
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Tom Kendall from the Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast talks about and shows the site of the new Permaculture Research Institute Luganville, Vanuatu. The site is surveyed by Tom, Dani, Anne and Meriem and they are determining the location of the first swale, the house and gardens. Follow us on www.permacultureluganville.org.
Inaugural PDC course 30 May – 17 June 2016, 12 day PDC course with 3 days practical integration. Every paying student allow PRI Luganville to sponsor 2 – 3 local Ni-Van students to participate in the course.
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