What are Effective Microorganisms?

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Effective Microorganisms (EM) are mixed cultures of beneficial naturally-occurring organisms that can be applied as inoculants to increase the microbial diversity of soil ecosystem. They consist mainly of the photosynthesizing bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, yeasts, actinomycetes and fermenting fungi. These microorganisms are physiologically compatible with one another and can coexist in liquid culture. There is evidence that EM inoculation to the soil can improve the quality of soil, plant growth […]

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Converting a Swimming Pool to Grow Fish

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Aquaponics is becoming an increasingly popular method of permaculture, probably because it can start with a backyard swimming pool. While creating an ecosystem on one’s own may seem like a daunting task to many, one of the most appealing aspects of aquaponics lies in the fact that nature can do most of the work. For suburban couple Les and Annette Mulder, the first step to farming one hundred fish in […]

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A Global Wiki of Perennial Crops, Polycultures, and Food Forest Sites

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Designing perennial polycultures (guilds) can be a big challenge. It can be hard to find information on perennial crops and support species. There is a need for information, sample polycultures, and design templates.

Since 2007 we have worked to address these key needs on our site, a crowdsourced tool featuring perennial crops, polycultures, and food forests. Thus far our focus has been on humid temperate systems, but we are raising funds to expand to a global resource. At the same time we’ll be implementing a major overhaul of our site. This will include the open-access addition of the 700 perennial crop species from Eric Toensmeier’s forthcoming book The Carbon Farming Solution.

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Fungal Growth Energetic Constraints

Fungal Growth Energetic Constraints

Saprotrophic fungi utilize energy to grow, reproduce, and substrate digestion. To understand the mechanism of how this takes place, researchers Luke L. M. Heaton from the University of Oxford, Nick S. Jones from the Imperial College London, and Mark D. Fricker from the University of Oxford developed a model that given any growth rate one can identify the strategy that maximizes the fraction of energy that could be spent on […]

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If That’s Not Permaculture, What Is?

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I call myself a permaculturalist, a word that still doesn’t officially register as valid on my spell check. I read about permaculture daily, and I write about it weekly. I’ve been asked hundreds of times by strangers, friends, and family to define permaculture, and to varying degrees, I’ve done so with practiced proficiency. I often find myself listening to permaculture podcasts, enthused by unusual topics—how to grow mushrooms in the […]

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Guidelines for Perennial Polyculture Design

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Polyculture design can be bewildering and even intimidating. I’ve been planting and thinking about polycultures for over two decades. During that time I’ve planted a lot of failed polycultures that didn’t work for one reason or another, as well as some successful ones. I’ve also visited many sites in many climates and seen polycultures functioning very well – especially in the tropics, where agroforestry systems are much farther along than my cold temperate home.

I’ve assembled a set of guidelines for designing polycultures, that I’d like to share with you. They are a work in progress and far from perfect, but, in concert with the design process shown below, they have helped hundreds of people in my courses and workshops to feel ready to go home and design and install their own polycultures.

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Nature Produces Renewable Energy — Let’s Capture it!

Nature Produces Renewable Energy — Let’s Capture it!

Transitioning away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy is a hot topic right now. Well, natural processes harvest renewable energy all the time, and release it in excess to be recycled! When the focus is on stacking functions and transforming waste into resources, this becomes apparent–a concept we are intimate with as permaculturists. Let’s cover some sources of renewable energy that haven’t been given as much media coverage as […]

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Using Ducks in the Urban Garden

Using Ducks in the Urban Garden

When you think of urban farming, the birds that come to mind are probably chickens. Well, the truth is that there are some significant advantages to keeping ducks in your garden as opposed to their non-flying relatives. Plus, unlike most people think, ducks don’t require large spaces and huge coops to live long, happy and productive lives. Furthermore, the common assumption that these birds are messy, destructive and lay hardly […]

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Tiny Homes – The Future of Sustainable Living

Tiny Homes – The Future of Sustainable Living

With creativity and a passion for building, Robert Johnson has built a lovely example of how individual and welcoming a tiny home can be. With his one-of-a-kind tiny home concept, Robert has built a spacious home that only takes up 280 square feet. With inventive thinking he created effective ladders that add to the ambience of the tiny home and allow for himself or guests to easily access the loft […]

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Easy to Build Polypipe Greenhouse

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Every productive urban garden needs a greenhouse. Whether you need a way to isolate an airoponic/aquaponic system, or just want to give your young seedlings a better chance at survival, a greenhouse is, beyond a doubt, your best option. It protects crops from birds, insects and pets, while also allowing you to fully control their habitat by eliminating unwanted rain, harsh sunlight and strong wind. The problem is, a small […]

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Land for Sale – $20 Per Acre – To Good to be True?

Land for Sale – $20 Per Acre – To Good to be True?

Life on mars may not be science fiction any longer, gone are the days of aliens and UFO’s. Today people are investigating the possibility of human life on Mars. The question everyone is asking is, will Mars be able to sustain a human population? President Obama seems to think it may be a possibility with his new law that encourages space exploration and capitalism. Private companies are more interested in […]

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Working with Predators

Working with Predators

As summer kicks in, and with everything growing well due to consistent rains, we are noticing more and more predators in the gardens. Well, I think there are more. This is great because on some days we inspect the fruits trees or berries, or almost any other food plant for the menace – and end up squashing dozens of grasshoppers like the one below: They eat almost everything, even rhubarb […]

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