Category: Plant Systems

The Victorian Stumpery Meets Hugelkultur: Timeless Matchmaking With Permaculture (Panama)

The Inspirational Stumpery by Jane-Ann Liddle I’m crazy about hugelkultur. I love the concept of burying old fallen and felled trees to provide years of slow-release compost for crops to come. I love using waste material for something useful. I love not having to turn or move compost about. I love the chance to sculpt a really raised bed, something behemoth — hulking if you will — that makes a […]

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Seeding Into Frost Heaves: Leveraging a Natural Soil Disturbance Event

A close up of frost heaves A common winter sight in most cold temperate regions are frost-heaves; areas of water-saturated soil that have been uplifted due to freezing. Frost-heaving is generally regarded as an undesirable dynamic, because it evidences a lack of organic material or mulch capable of sheltering the soil (and it’s microinhabitants) from freezing. However, on degraded and compacted sites, frost heaves are really a great opportunity for […]

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Growing Trees and Reforestation

Acacia tree With Autumn in the Southern hemisphere it is an ideal time to plant trees, as the sap of the tree is descending, and especially in hot environments the trees get a chance to acclimatize during the cooler weather and if you are in a winter rainfall area your trees can be well watered in before the hot summer days start again. In all forests there are the pioneer […]

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Bone Sauce: A Tool for Deterring Browsing

Applying the bone sauce Bone sauce is a product of the destructive distillation of bones — a process which separates the volatile organic components (aka bone sauce, or Dippel’s oil) from the inorganic components (aka bone char — mostly calcium, carbon and phosphorous compounds). Bone sauce has a potent smell, somewhere between wood-creosote and rancid meat. When applied to the bole, branches, and shoots of dormant woody perennials it deters […]

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Propagation Using Willow Water

There are many ways to propagate plants, which can be broadly divided into sexual and asexual. Taking cuttings is an asexual method, as your new plants will be clones of the mother. The method is simply to cut a new shoot from an existing plant and encourage it to take root itself. Information abounds about which plants are best to take cuttings from, and how to go about the process, […]

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Building Up Soil for a Nutrient-Rich Raised Bed

All photos by David Ashwanden A lot of permaculture involves utilising waste streams and turning problems into solutions, and I often bring these into practice by looking at what’s available around me and how I can use it effectively. With this in mind, having come across some old bath tubs, I decided to create some raised beds, building up the soil using a layer mulch recipe rich in a mix […]

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Fernglade Farm – Autumn Update (May 2014, Victoria, Australia)

Well, the summer just past was interesting. Heat and drought were constant companions in all parts of the Australian continent other than the Northern Territory. Down in the south eastern corner of the continent the farm here had to deal with 10 days of temperatures exceeding 40°C (104°F) during January and February. At one point in early February a bush fire came closer here than I was comfortable with and […]

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Designing Food Forests Across Three Climate Zones with Geoff Lawton

Got 10 minutes? Here’s a great little video of Geoff Lawton outlining the construction of food forests across three different climate zones. Whether you live in the tropics, drylands or the cool to cold North American climate, there is something to glean from this instructional and entertaining video. Watch it now!

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Agroforestry Support Species for Cold Climates

A silk tree in my garden, serving as living trellis to arctic kiwifruit; also shade provider for shade crops including currant, mayapple, fuki, and edible hosta. Also fixes nitrogen. Rafter Ferguson’s recent excellent article “Permaculture for Agroecology” (PDF) challenges the permaculture movement to read up on what’s happening in related fields like agroecology and agroforestry. I’m particularly interested in learning from the well-established agroforestry practices of the tropics to see […]

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Omaha Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health – Presentation Resources

Recently, I had the honor of attending a national conference on cover crops and soil health. The conference was held in Omaha, Nebraska on February 17th to the 19th, sponsored primarily by the Howard G Buffett foundation and SARE (Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education). The attendees represented university specialists, seed vendors, farmers, non-profit groups, and government organizations focused on how to improve the health of our nation’s soils.

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Banana Circles

Banana circles can be used in tropical and sub-tropical areas to utilise waste water, run-off or overflow from rainwater tanks, and even urine waste from dry composting toilets. It is possible to use other plants in a similar system, but bananas are an excellent choice as they are very heavy feeders and also need a lot of water to be productive. The fruit from banana palms is highly nutritious and […]

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Does Comfrey Really Improve Soil?

All of us who have studied permaculture have heard some impressive claims about comfrey. It is a dynamic nutrient accumulator; it improves the soil; it is “a slow motion fountain” of nutrients, bringing them up from the subsoil to improve the topsoil. We’ve heard lots of anecdotal evidence, but where is the empirical data for these claims? Peter Harper’s article in The Land last summer, “Permaculture: the Big Rock Candy […]

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