Permaculture Design/Printable version


Permaculture Design

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Ethics, principles, methods and outcomes

Collaborative research project. Feel free to use the discussion tab at the top of this page to discuss this topic. Use the resources from the Permaculture design course, and conduct your own research and add summarised notes here to produce a useful quick reference page for others.

Permaculture contains ethics that lead to principles. Some of the ethics overlap the principles. The principles lead to methods. The principles and the methods overlap each-other. The methods lead to outcomes. The outcomes overlap everything because it works like the our cells work in our body. It is a self regulating perpetual cycle, and we are part of it. There is no "one solution." To me, permaculture is the synergy of all elements. Capt Benny Pants, an online participant in the Permaculture Design Course 2008.

EthicsEdit

  • Earthcare – recognising that the Earth is the source of all life (and is possibly itself a living entity- see Gaia theory) and that we recognise and respect that the Earth is our valuable home and we are a part of the Earth, not apart from it.
For example:
  • Conservation of Biodiversity
  • Clean air and water
  • Restoration and conservation of forests, habitats and soils
  • Recycling and pollution reduction
  • Conservation of energy and natural resources
  • Appropriate technology
  • Peoplecare – supporting and helping each other to change to ways of living that are not harming ourselves or the planet, and to develop healthy societies.
For example
  • Health and well-being
  • Nourishment with good food
  • Lifelong learning
  • Right livelihood and meaningful work
  • Community belonging
  • Open Communication
  • Trust and Respect
  • Fairshare (or placing limits on consumption) - ensuring that the Earth's limited resources are utilised in ways that are equitable and wise. Also if a wall retains heat, pass on the heat to a plant that needs it; if a plant provides shelter, place it on a wall that needs cooling.
For example
  • Co-operation
  • Networking and sharing
  • Distribution of resources and wealth
  • Reduction of consumerism
  • Rethinking current notions of growth, progress and development
  • Making a contribution

PrinciplesEdit

These restatements of the principles of permaculture appear in David Holmgren's Permaculture: [Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability http://www.holmgren.com.au]; Also see permacultureprinciples.com;

  1. Observe and interact - By taking the time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
  2. Catch and store energy - By developing systems that collect resources when they are abundant, we can use them in times of need.
  3. Obtain a yield - Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback - We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services - Make the best use of natures abundance to reduce our consumptive behaviour and dependence on non-renewable resources.
  6. Produce no waste - By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
  7. Design from patterns to details - By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
  8. Integrate rather than segregate - By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
  9. Use small and slow solutions - Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and produce more sustainable outcomes.
  10. Use and value diversity - Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
  11. Use edges and value the marginal - The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
  12. Creatively use and respond to change - We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.

MethodsEdit

There can be any number of methods for designing permaculture. The methods you develop should be informed by the ethics and principles above.

OutcomesEdit

Outcomes are the things that result from the methods. Outcomes should be accountable to the ethics and principles, and if they deviate, either the method must be reveiwed, or the ethics and principles adjusted.

ReferencesEdit



Fundamentals

Permaculture contains ethics that lead to principles. Some of the ethics overlap the principles. The principles lead to methods. The principles and the methods overlap each-other. The methods lead to outcomes. The outcomes overlap everything because it works like the our cells work in our body. It is a self regulating perpetual cycle, and we are part of it. There is no "one solution." To me, permaculture is the synergy of all elements.

The Aim of PermacultureEdit

Permaculture is a reaction to the developments of "military adventurism, the bomb, ruthless land exploitation, arrogance of pollution, and general insensitivity to human and environmental needs"[1]. In other words, it seeks to solve the many problems of the modern world, from public health and education to energy security/independence and climate change, which in the eyes of some have have their roots in food production[2] by finding a solution to an inefficient, unbalanced, and consequently unsustainable and destructive system. Aside from serving as a replacement culture and attempting to save humanity, and all life on earth, by being ethical permaculture has more specific, small scale goals on how this can be accomplished:

  1. Care for surviving natural assemblies
  2. Rehabilitate degraded or eroded land
  3. Create your own complex living environment

EthicsEdit

  • Earthcare – recognising that the Earth is the source of all life (and is possibly itself a living entity- see Gaia theory) and that we recognise and respect that the Earth is our valuable home and we are a part of the Earth, not apart from it.
For example:
  • Conservation of Biodiversity
  • Clean air and water
  • Restoration and conservation of forests, habitats and soils
  • Recycling and pollution reduction
  • Conservation of energy and natural resources
  • Appropriate technology
  • Peoplecare – supporting and helping each other to change to ways of living that are not harming ourselves or the planet, and to develop healthy societies.
For example
  • Health and well-being
  • Nourishment with good food
  • Lifelong learning
  • Right livelihood and meaningful work
  • Community belonging
  • Open Communication
  • Trust and Respect
  • Fairshare (or placing limits on consumption) - ensuring that the Earth's limited resources are utilised in ways that are equitable and wise. Also if a wall retains heat, pass on the heat to a plant that needs it; if a plant provides shelter, place it on a wall that needs cooling.
For example
  • Co-operation
  • Networking and sharing
  • Distribution of resources and wealth
  • Reduction of consumerism
  • Rethinking current notions of growth, progress and development
  • Making a contribution


PrinciplesEdit

As permaculture's goal is creating a sustainable ecosystem, it is useful to understand some basic principles of systems, and natural systems, as well as how these translate into creative design principles.

ExchangeEdit

Bill Mollison in "Permaculture: A Designers' Manual" posits that the most fundamental permaculture principle is:

  • The Law of Return[3]

It is a recognition of the thermodynamic laws of energy: No energy can be created or destroyed, it can only be transferred, but never with perfect efficiency; thus entropy in systems is always on the rise. However, this view of entropy only applies to closed thermodynamic systems, whereas an ecosystem is an open thermodynamic system, and as the second rule for open system is that the increase in the internal energy of a system is equal to the amount of energy added to the system by matter flowing in and by heating, minus the amount lost by matter flowing out and in the form of work done by the system, making sure that input does not fall below the outflow. Thus the crux of this becomes two fold:

  1. To take full advantage of energy before it is let out of their system.
  2. To always put back what you take out.

The keyword becomes: Exchange

BalanceEdit

The driving factor in balance in a natural system is:

  • The Principle of Disorder: Resources that surpass the ability of a system to absorb them are pollutants and resources that fall short of a system's needs are deficiencies; both deficiencies and needs push the system towards disorder.[4]

To understand this, first we need to look at the elements of natural systems. These are resources and pollutants. Resources are not a limited category. Though most fundamentally the only resource is energy: mechanical, thermal, chemical; when we dive into the realm of biology, resources bloom into soils, air, water, sunlight, seeds, plants, forests... So, we find it helpful to look at resources by category. The following are characteristics of different resource categories:

  1. Resources that increase with use.
  2. Resources that are unaffected by use.
  3. Resources that are available only for a short period of time.
  4. Resources that are reduced by use.

(Adapted from Permaculture: A Designer's Guide[5])

It should be recognized that one to three are resources that are readily produced in natural systems and are a solid and sustainable base, whereas four is a dead end road, with unusual byproducts, and its use should be carefully considered and used only to benefit the ecosystem.

And what of pollutants? In fact, resources themselves are pollutants (as pollutants are resources).

What separates a pollutant from a resources is merely a matter of Balance

YieldEdit

There are many definitions on yield, but most are a variation of giving, based on some effort or investment[6].

What is Yield?Edit

However, the concept of yield in permaculture rests on a fundamental principle (which is true at least until humans invent some sort of non-dependent abiological being, which... well...):

  • The Role of Life in Yield:"Living things are the only effective intervening systems to capture resources on this planet, and to produce a yield."[7]

The importance of this element is apparent in the aims of permaculture. Even technology as we know it rests on biological systems to support it, as it rests on humans for support and we cannot live without a biological system to support ourselves so, to create our own complex living environment we need a biological system, and to rehabilitate degraded or eroded land we should produce yields which support biological growth, and to care for surviving natural systems we need to have sustainable yield. Again:

  1. Yield requires a biological system.
  2. Yield should support biological growth.
  3. Yield should be sustainable.
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Practically this means that it is important that the system yields some resources that you can use, or to see it another way, that you figure out how to use some of the resources that the system yields.

While many definition for yields may exist, the definition that satisfies the restrictions of a permaculture world-view is:

  • Definition of Yield:"The sum total of surplus energy produced by, stored, conserved, reused, or converted [within the system, where surplus energy is that which exists beyond the needs of a system for its growth, reproduction and maintenance.]"[8]

Types of YieldEdit

Still, there are many types of yield:

  1. Inherent Yields (available in the system before design) and
  2. Designed Yields (made available by design).
  3. Energy Yields are the base form of all yields but yields may take the form of
  4. Product Yields are a possible form of energy yields.[9]
  5. Undelineable Yields and the third category of yields which, while ultimately based on products or energy, are a little more illusive. As our observational skills become more detailed these yields may become more delineable, but as of yet, and forever after, there will be some yields which we do not fully understand.
  6. Short Term Yields and
  7. Long Term Yields are simply yields in time and is more a recognition that different yields may occur on different time scales, rather than a fixed time scale.
  8. Cyclical Yields
  9. Export Yields
  10. Imported Resources

Cyclical yields are yields that do not leave the system, but are created within and used within the system. Examples are grass, turned milk, turned human waste, turned manure and cooking fuel. You might notice that cooking fuel is inevitably released into the atmosphere and may or may not be absorbed by the carbon storing trees of your plot of land. Thus, it might be an export yield, which leaves the system. Other examples of yields which leave the system are meats, vegetables, manure or seeds, sold or traded. The question then becomes, is this outward flow sustainable? What are the import resources (or import yields) that you acquire? Some systems may be in need of some supplements which can take the form of organic 'waste' (aka compost material), seeds, bacteria (for seed planting), or perhaps even in the form of information[10]. These import resources/yields may be yields of parts of the system are used to attain them (profit from products used to buy seed, trade of resources, etc.), or only resources if you're lucky enough to be getting them for free (like municipal mulch; though, really, you should realize,in the larger system you ARE taking them from somewhere.)

It is important to realize that the boundaries of a system are flexible and dependent on your perspective. For instance, back to the grass example, a location may have grazing land, a vegetable patch, and a house. The grazing land may produce milk and the vegetable patch vegetable which are consumed by humans who inhabit the house, but produce waste which is then converted, by bacteria and worms into viable manure for the vegetable patch. Here, on a local level the milk is an export yield for the grazing land (unless fed to calves), while it remains a cyclical yield for the greater system, but serves as an import yield for the vegetable garden (whose vegetables are cyclical unless sold) until it is released as cooking fuel, an export yield (unless the carbon is re-captured by carbon storing forests). These finer delineations may be useful in troubleshooting and assessing sustainability of a system and its subsystems.

Factors in YieldEdit

There are many factors that increase and decrease yield in a system. The following section is heavily adapted from Bill Mollison's, Permaculture: A Designers' Guide[11]

  • Limits to Yield: A system's yield is not fixed, rather it is a function of the ability of that system to efficiently use the plethora of resources in a system.
ImprovementsEdit

These are situations or techniques that can be used to create and improve yield.

  1. Physical:
    1. Niche use of resources or space
    2. Soil Reconditioning: increases root penetration and water infiltration/absorption (decreases runoff), and supplies essential nutrients.
    3. Earth-working: Assures even, low work irrigation (no water-logging, or dry areas), reduces soil loss from runoff or salting, may reduce need for improve efficiency of pumps, makes water use-techniques possible.
    4. Water storage, recycling and diversion: harnesses superior efficiency and productivity of water systems and their animals compared to their land-based counterparts, as well as improved irrigation potential, nutrient quality from aquatic wildlife manure, as well as the effects of aquatic wildlife on pest and weed control, and additional benefits from micro-climatic buffering.
    5. Application of Reforestation, Wild Life Corridors and Windbreak/Food-forest: Shelters (increasing plant and animal yields, as well as micro-climate buffering both above and below ground), increases carrying capacity through shrub and tree foraging, recycles nutrients via legumes and trees, provides forest products (nectar, seeds, firewood, etc.), serves as general wildlife corridor providing habitat for pest predators, increased precipitation (due to night condensation, water penetration and , trees cross-wind), allows for improved perennial crops, reduces cost and increases capacity by providing self-forage browse (in the form of drought-proof stock-feed and medicinal plants), provides durable timber (for construction material), reduces livestock carcass loss due to elements (sweating and shivering, as well as reduced grazing due to seeking shelter), increased crop production due to sheltering, and reduced water loss from nearby water bodies.
    6. Integration of structures and landscape: can provide improved energy saving, conservation and production
    7. Stacking
    8. Tessellation
    9. Re-routing materials or energy
    10. Using effective shapes
    11. Zone, sector, slope, orientation and site strategies
  2. Temporal:
    1. Extending Yields: includes use of inclusive harvesting of leaf, fruit, seed and roots; diversity in the system; sequential stacking like the use of perennials, early/mid/late and long vs. short season varieties and planting patterns; use of self storing species such as tubers, hard seeds, fuel wood, and rhizomes, preservation techniques; and regional trade between communities in order to spread and preserve yields to provide fiscal and logistic benefits.
    2. Yield Storage
    3. Increasing cyclic frequency
    4. Tessellation of cycles and successions
  3. Biological:
    1. Low maintenance elements
    2. Proper supply of key nutrients
    3. Plant and animal guilds
  4. Technical:
    1. Application of technology/problem solving tools/ideas: electrics fencing improving grazing accessibility and rotation potential.
    2. Energy efficient structures.
  5. Conversational:
    1. Efficient routing of resources
    2. Recycling
    3. Proper storage
    4. Efficient work (no tillage)
    5. Durability, care and maintenance
    6. Catching run-off resources
    7. On-Premise Fuels
    8. Low or no-tillage farming: preserves soil and water resources, and reduces energy expenditure and time between crops.
  6. Socio-eco-cultural:
    1. Social Development: overcoming cultural barriers to efficient use, expanding choices in culture, removal of socio-legal barriers, and positive action to effect socio-economic and legal change.
    2. Innovative use of resources
    3. Cooperative endeavors, pooling and sharing: labor exchange, produce and marketing cooperatives, community-supported_agriculture, and structures to aid resource management.
    4. Financial recycling: may include local credit unions,
    5. Socio-legal-economic support for all energy inputs and outputs
    6. Market Based Crop Selection
    7. Diversified Marketing: Self-pick, mail order, direct dispatch,road-side sale.
    8. Processing of Products: growing, developing, and even manual processing of resources to higher order or more refined products.
    9. Income from Providing Services: income from field days and educational courses, rental or income from urban visitors,
    10. Direct investment from urban sources.
  1. Design:
    1. Harmonious connections
    2. Making informed choices
      1. Observation
      2. Application

ReductionsEdit

It would be superfluous to list all the ways you could NOT use the above to improve yields, here are a few examples of inefficient systems applied today. In fact, there are many pervasive modern designs that are inefficient.

  1. Systems like paved roads, or concrete structures halt production of many ecological resources, and are inefficient conservers.
  2. Many systems which depend on non-renewable, non-recyclable resources, such as fossil fuels.
  3. Systems which require undue upkeep, for instance the superhighways and sewers of large cities and states which exorbitant funds on upkeep.
  4. Many man-made systems also depend on destructive/pollutive systems.
  5. Counter-yield waste management legislation and civic projects.
  6. Cultural limitations such as a predisposal against particular plants and animals which can lead to negative excesses of others.
  7. Search for "Maximum Product Yields" by employing genetic selection, increased fertilizer and water, decreased competition for resources; these factors also contribute to imbalance due to unusual factors in such high yield plants and animals, such as limited reproductive ability, and low stress tolerance.
  8. Limited biodiversity expose systems to risks in the case of changes in climate or environment that could adversely affect yields due to crop or livestock losses, as well as showing inverse correlation to the resources available for yield in some systems.[12]
  9. Old age of elements in systems usually correlates to maturity, which means that energy is spend on maintenance, rather than growth, reducing yield. A range of ages in a system can ensure degrees of stability as well.[13]

First and foremost is mis-use and disposal of resources that results in pollution: An ideal permaculture system does not use resources which permanently reduce yields of sustainable resources.[14] This means that if use of a resource/yield results in a "waste" that cannot be absorbed by the system (pollution), and thus creates chaos in the system, it should not be used (or a way should be found to absorb the resource.

CyclesEdit

  • The Principle of Cyclic Opportunity: Every Cyclic event increases the opportunity for yield. To increase cycling is to increase yield.[15]

A cycle repeats. You take an input, use it, output, and re-use. This is done everywhere in the universe, on a range of time scales from nano-seconds to millennia and perpetrated by living and non-living things alike. Cycles can be entropic, or in the case of living, open systems, increasing in energy. Some cycles have as output something that cannot be re-used by itself, this is where a niche in a cycle can appear: one or more elements can bridge the gap in a continuous garbage out-garbage in cycle in which there is no waste. In nature, each new element in the cycle offers a new opportunity for efficient conservation of the open system's input (for nature this can be any number of things, but sunlight takes a special place). Some things to remember:

  1. Life itself is not the end but simply the facilitator of the many stepping stones.
  2. Niches in a cycle are always filled by something.
  3. No element in a cycle claims full right to the system.
  4. Conflict is generally not due to space alone, but being out of schedule within a cycle.
  5. Stacking uses cycles and can be applied to plant and animal life, both wild and domesticated (grazing).


Food WebsEdit

Example of a food web

The basic trophic pyramid is something to the effect of plants eaten by bugs, eaten by other animals, and still other animals, eaten by humans. However, nature is much more complex and food webs attempt to make this complexity apparent. Feedback and the cyclical nature of ecological systems is also an important aspect to consider. In addition to consuming, plants and animals also contribute to the food sources of lower animals. Further, mature specimens have different food intake a requirements and uses than growing specimens, which is a factor to be considered in cropping and system growth. As a large part of very important vegetation is not digestible by all species (most pertinently humans), the food chain provides processing for indigestible foods for larger species. Sharks cannot live on plankton, nor humans on grass and tree-leaves.

When considering your place in the food system it's important to consider the real socio-ecological effects of the complete system on which your diet depends, including ecological destruction like deforestation and biodiversity dives due to mono-cropping, as well as social factors such as patented crops (soya), as well as the sustainability, efficiency, and effectiveness of the products your buying from farms. The whole system should be considered, both taking and giving, with special consideration given to urban settings and the transport, storage and waste pathways involved.

When complete systems are evaluated considering food sources, and special availability factors (sea sources, extreme climates), vegetarian, omnivorous and even primarily carnivorous diets all prove themselves as extremely valid provided they match their position in the system.

Complexity and ConnectionsEdit

Efficiency is increased with the number of cycles that occur in a system, and stability by the number of energy pathways, or connections available in the system. Consider the species found on an average plot of corn or soy in an industrialized agricultural system which has been leveled, drained, and fertilized for a specific crop, and compare it to that found in places with varied micro-elevation, drainage, and energy pathways, such as hill and valley systems; compared even to the complete biodiversity of plant and animal systems of a nearly mono-specie coastal mangrove system in which mobile species occupy a great variety of niches within a single tree or swamp within the high/low tide schedules, such simple systems are frightfully limited. Other simple systems can be found in newly desertification areas, which might harbor as few as 150 woody plant species, compared to the 3000 woody plants of old desert ecosystems. Constructive changes can be made to such ecosystems by introduction of suitable species to such ecosystems and fostering long term re-afforestation, rather than soil loss and environmental degradation due to cultivation of other mono-crop systems.

The complexity of a system increase the number of niche cycles that occur. The complexity of interactions in such systems increases as a square of the number of elements as each element interacts with the rest[16]. While it is of course possible that two elements in a system may not have a direct interaction, the ways in a which an earthworm or bird may interact with other elements in the system are a mystery even unto themselves. The lesson to take is the value of connection between elements, but realize that these connections do not confine themselves to our perceptions, but follow instead their own nature and are able to extend beyond our design expectations creating new relationships with elements we had not considered.

While complexity can be a positive factor supporting stability, it can also be a driving force toward instability as cooperative complexity is replaced with competitive or inharmonious complexity. It's a matter of what you need out of a system. [17]

Order and ChaosEdit

The true test of order vs chaos is that of yield. Order is not the visual simplicity, squares and ovals of a system, but the mutual sustainability of supporting connections within that system. As a system devolves into entropy and more and more energy becomes unusable, chaos is found as the system struggles to fulfill the needs of its existing elements and new elements move in to replace the ineffective system.

  • Principle of Disorder: Order and harmony produce energy for other uses. Disorder consumes energy without yield. Neatness, tidiness, and uniformity are the mark of energy-maintained disorder.[18]

Order is balance and productive cyclical flux, and chaos is the state of non-cyclical change which devolves into system energy loss, but what you look for in yields and elements defines your perception of systemic order or chaos. To the soya farmer, anything other than soy in their field is a loss, unless they can bring themselves to accept alternative yields, or see how these elements work for them.

Permitted and Forced FunctionsEdit

While all elements in a system interact and provide for the system, forcing these interactions can lead to collapse. Just like people, who appreciate a degree of variety and depend on their rest, so animals do to. Elements can be utilized, but not stressed, through proper design. The Principle of Stress and Harmony:

  1. Stress is the prevention of natural function, or forced function.
  2. Harmony is the integration of chosen and natural functions, and the supply of essential needs.

DiversityEdit

Diversity, and biodiversity, when not integrated into the system, does not necessarily contribute to stability or increased yield. In fact, maintained systems can have many elements which are not integrated with the system and if left unattended will disappear. Some diversity is desired for yields, this is where we come in and manage and maintain diversity. Diversity, if not integrated, can create disorder and chaos. A balance must be found. In some cases, diversity can even be incompatible, as in apple and walnut trees, but can be corrected, as with the mulberry. [19]

  • Principle of Stability: It is not the number of elements, but the beneficial connections between them, that leads to diversity.

Therefore, adding diversity, just for diversity's sake is not necessarily positive. However, when made to do something useful, it can be a benefit. Here is where information, which is a resources only when acted upon, becomes useful.

The distinctions between richness(the number of species in an area), diversity(their relative abundance), and evenness(how species contribute to total biomass) are important distinctions to consider.

Different stressors lead to different situations, such as the difference between pruned and uncut fields; diversity of plants vs animals may shift.[20]

StabilityEdit

Stability in ecosystems is not about the end point, but about the regulation over the lifespan of a system. Unlike the rigid stability of a concrete pylon, stability here is more like that of a slackliner. Aside from obvious imbalances, instability can be caused by slow nutrient loss due to fire and water (even simply water leaching to lower depths) even in old, stable ecosystems unless there are new nutrients made available somehow. Pathogens can also cause instability as the environment adjust to new pressures. Humans can play a role in maintaining stability, but short and long term.[21]

Design ApplicationEdit

To see how these principles play out when designing a sustainable system that both gives and receives effectively are:

  1. Work with nature, not against it: This involves using the positive elements of a system to support more positive elements, rather than only seeing their negatives. In essence,
  2. The problem is the solution: Having a flexible pattern of application is the key to this design principle. If you can do this then it allows you to
  3. Make the lest change for the greatest possible effect: This involves choosing the most suitable location, plant, animal, etc. for a given system, or better yet, using what you have. And remember,
  4. A system's yield is theoretically infinite: the limit is not what the system gives, but what you have the creativity and prowess to use, whether it be vacant niches, or a new use or market for something. Finally,
  5. Everything gardens: Every element, from bacteria to fungi, plants to animals, affects its environment. [22]

Problem Solving MethodsEdit

  • Improving Tools
  • Collecting Extensive Observations
  • New Perspectives (Like a Eureka! - Perhaps a result of collecting observations)
  • Tests and Trials
  • Guesses (after all, you can't know everything. Educated guessing is best though.)
  • Noting Unique Observations
  • Accidents (accepting the unexpected in trial and observation)
  • Imitation
  • Patterning (deriving the effects from a series of events)
  • Commonsense AKA. "management"

[23]


ElementsEdit

It will be useful to give a quick overview of the elements considered in premaculture design, both as a quick explanation for those who desire it, and as an introduction to prepare for later in the text where these factors will be discussed in more detail.

Natural SystemsEdit

To understand balance we need to consider the elements of a natural system. First we need to understand how natural systems function. Bill Mollison suggests something similar to the following principles of natural systems, which are claimed to have come from Charles Birch (but reference cannot be found)[24], and have been further modified here:

  1. No organism or material stays in one form forever.
  2. Materials and organisms require balance to continue existing.
  3. Disorder is caused by both too great, or too low a resource input.
  4. Maintaining global bio-chemical cycles is necessary to retain such a balance.
  5. While many limiting factors may exist, usually an imbalance is (initially) only of a few factors.
  6. Ability to change increases faster than the ability to predict effects of those changes. (Perhaps we need time to learn what the effects of these new forms of change are. For instance, global warming, which has been the result of unprecedented increases in fossil fuel use was not predicted until long after the ability for large scale had been put to use.)
  7. Living organisms are themselves ends, as well as serving as the means of other organisms to survive.

Learning ExerciseEdit

The following are restatements of principles of permaculture that appear in David Holmgren's Permaculture: [Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability http://www.holmgren.com.au]; Also see permacultureprinciples.com; For this exercise you will try to see which of the above principles apply to each of the following and how. In fact, though restated differently, are only another way of saying the same things. Can you see how? Can you make your own restatements?

  1. Observe and interact - By taking the time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
  2. Catch and store energy - By developing systems that collect resources when they are abundant, we can use them in times of need.
  3. Obtain a yield - Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback - We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services - Make the best use of natures abundance to reduce our consumptive behaviour and dependence on non-renewable resources.
  6. Produce no waste - By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
  7. Design from patterns to details - By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
  8. Integrate rather than segregate - By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
  9. Use small and slow solutions - Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and produce more sustainable outcomes.
  10. Use and value diversity - Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
  11. Use edges and value the marginal - The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
  12. Creatively use and respond to change - We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.

Characteristics of a Permaculture SystemEdit

These are all common characteristics that you will find in Permaculture systems. Each system will be unique as the conditions of climate, soils, aspects, culture, time & energy resources will guide its design & development

  • Small scale land use. By using the least possible area, marginal land is preserved in, or returned to, natural ecosystems.
  • Diversity of species & cultivars (types of plants) yields, microclimates, habitats, functions social roles & work.
  • Interweaving of agriculture, animal care, forestry, aquaculture, (water food systems), wilderness management, foraging, economics, culture, & land form engineering (such as dams).
  • Use of wild & domestic plants & animals. Rare, endangered & indigenous are included.
  • Uses the natural ways of plants, animals & their relationships to the characteristics of landscape to create environmentally safe sustainable agriculture. This means energy & biological resources including water & soil, are conserved rebuilt, self-regulating & self- repairing.
  • Long ~ term sustainability. Permaculture systems can be designed to adjust to environmental changes.
  • Does not use resources with permanently reduce yields of sustainable resources.

To sum it up in a few words:

  • Diverse
  • Interwoven
  • Multi layered
  • Conservative (of resources!)
  • Self-regulating
  • Self-repairing
  • Low inputs
  • High yields

ReferencesEdit

  1. Mollison 1979, p.ix.
  2. Bill Moyer (host), Micheal Pollan (guest). (2008-11-28) (in en) (TV). Bill Moyer's Journal. US: PBS. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhuNAQ16J24. "the challenge is not just what we do with agriculture, it's connecting the dots between agriculture and public health, between agriculture and energy and climate change, agriculture and education." 
  3. Mollison 1979, p. 13.
  4. Mollison, 1979, p. 18.
  5. Mollison, 1979, p. 16.
  6. ? (18 November 2010). "Dictionary.com;yield". http://dictionary.reference.com/help/terms.html. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/yield. Retrieved 18 November 2010. 
  7. Mollison 1979, p. 19.
  8. Mollison 1979, p. 18.
  9. Mollison 1979, p. 18.
  10. Stephen Battersby (15 November 2010). "Summon a 'demon' to turn information into energy". Newscientist. Reed Business Information Limited, Quadrant House, Sutton SM2 5AS, UK. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19723-summon-a-demon-to-turn-information-into-energy.html. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  11. Mollison 1979, p. 19-20.
  12. Mollison 1979, p. 33.
  13. Mollision 1979, p. 33.
  14. Mollison 1979, p.17.
  15. Mollison 1979, p.23.
  16. Metcalfe's_law
  17. Mollison 1979, p. 30-31.
  18. Mollison 1979, p. 31.
  19. Mollison 1979, pg. 32.
  20. Mollison 1979, p. 32.
  21. Mollison 1979, p. 33.
  22. Mollison 1979, p. 15-16.
  23. Mollison 1979, p. 12.
  24. Mollison 1979, p. 15.



Observation

Below are lists of suggested questions to seek answers to when visiting permaculture projects. The lists here are based on actual permaculture projects underway in Dunedin, New Zealand. You might have to adapt these to meet the specific areas you are inquiring on.

Jason & Kate WaitatiEdit

  • What is the history of this garden?
  • What were the main priorities that Kate & Jason had & why?
  • How has the design for the system evolved?
  • How have the climate & microclimates influenced how they have designed the garden?
  • How is the soil being cared for?
  • How is water harvested & stored?
  • What resources did they have on site? What did they bring in?
  • What resources did they need to introduce or establish first?
  • How are these resources used & kept cycling in the system?
  • How is biological balance kept (pest control)
  • What examples of multi function can you see? List some.
  • How are things planted? Eg closely, in rows or clumps, above, below, in the middle of the bed or at the edge? What difference could this be making to the plants?
  • Can you identify the zones?
  • What microclimates have been created or enhanced?
  • What do they want to develop for the future? How will the established areas aid this?
  • What has been the most interesting aspect of this visit for you?

Mark & Rayna WaitatiEdit

  • As above plus ~
  • What energies entering the system have had an effect on the design?
  • How was the income zone developed? What were the priorities?
  • What markets are there for the produce?
  • What differences do you see in this garden compared to Jason & Kates?
  • How are things planted in the income zone? How does this work for harvesting? An important consideration in a market garden.
  • What resources are exchanged between the zones?
  • Is there any particular emphasis on types or amounts of crops grown?
  • What strategies have been developed to reduce maintenance?

Renaissance Underground & Gallery RavensbourneEdit

Chooks, compost & worm farming

We will be mainly taking part in a talk/demonstration of how all the different elements work together here but you will have a chance to look around the garden & gallery. It would be interesting to ask Rachel how it has all developed & how, if at all, Permaculture approaches have influenced it.



Characteristics

These are all common characteristics that you will find in Permaculture systems. Each system will be unique as the conditions of climate, soils, aspects, culture, time & energy resources will guide its design & development

  • Small scale land use. By using the least possible area, marginal land is preserved in, or returned to, natural ecosystems.
  • Diversity of species & cultivars (types of plants) yields, microclimates, habitats, functions social roles & work.
  • Interweaving of agriculture, animal care, forestry, aquaculture, (water food systems), wilderness management, foraging, economics, culture, & land form engineering (such as dams).
  • Use of wild & domestic plants & animals. Rare, endangered & indigenous are included.
  • Uses the natural ways of plants, animals & their relationships to the characteristics of landscape to create environmentally safe sustainable agriculture. This means energy & biological resources including water & soil, are conserved rebuilt, self-regulating & self- repairing.
  • Long ~ term sustainability. Permaculture systems can be designed to adjust to environmental changes.

To sum it up in a few words:

  • Diverse
  • Interwoven
  • Multi layered
  • Conservative (of resources!)
  • Self-regulating
  • Self-repairing
  • Low inputs
  • High yields



Soil

Soil is made up ofEdit

  • Water and Air 50%
  • Minerals 40%
  • Biology 5%

Things to consider above the soilEdit

  • Sun
  • Water
  • Temperature (Right plant for conditions or build micro climates)
  • Shelter design (you should be able to see through your shelter belt)
  • Soil compaction
  • Breakages (human and animal movement, incorrect pruning, wind fall)
  • Competition and companion plants
  • Diversity
  • Pests and predators

Things to consider below the soilEdit

  • Balance the mineral content (Physical, clay, sand, salt and all elements)
  • Ensure correct soil biology organisms
  • Feed soil biology

Observing soilEdit

ColourEdit

  • Colourless/white: high silica content
  • Light/white: lack of oxygen; leached; high calcium; alkaline ph
  • Yellow: lack of oxygen; high clay content; aluminium & iron
  • Red: iron oxide
  • Red/brown: volcanic basalt origin; iron & magnesium
  • Black: rich in organic matter & nutrients; holds moisture

VegetationEdit

  • Azalea, dandelion: acid soils; usually leached; often compacted.
  • Berries, conifers, dock: Poor drainage
  • Saltbush, spinifex: alkaline; saline; dry soils
  • clovers, vetch, nettles: excess nitrogen; low humus content; low micr-organism content
  • blackberries: open disturbed soil, possibly acid
  • bracken: recent fire; general decline in soil fertility.
  • buttercup: poor drainage, acid.
  • thistles: low calcium & iron content; hard soils.
  • chicory, chickweed: good fertility

Parent MaterialEdit

Eg soils derived from:

  • Sandstone: sandy, high silica.
  • Shale: clay; high silica & iron.
  • Basalt: high iron & magnesium.

SmellEdit

  • Sour: Lacks oxygen, acidic, sulphur dioxide
  • Sweet & earthy: high oxygen, good soil life & OM
  • Garlic: arsenic in soil (or maybe theres some onion weed nearby!)

TasteEdit

  • Smooth & slippery: acidic, soil water lathers easily
  • Weak soda: alkaline/mineral; won’t lather easily

LifeEdit

  • Worms: good moisture, OM, low pesticide residues
  • Ants: drier, sandy
  • Slugs & snails: damp, decomposing plant & animal material.
  • Skinks & lizards: warm sunny, dry spots, good insect populations

WaterEdit

  • Run –off: is increased by bare ground, compaction, steep slopes
  • Repels water: compacted, eroded, excessive use of dolomite, very little OM, sandy & allowed to dry out & has formed a moisture resistant barrier
  • Shrinks & swells: high clay, holds water, cracks.
  • Fast draining ( hole filled with water, drains within 10mins: erodes easily, collapses easily, few fungal diseases, good movement of water & soil life. Not good for dams.

HistoryEdit

  • Bare ground: agricultural or industrial contamination.
  • Growth in poor soils: previous structures, compaction, old poultry or animal pen site
  • No topsoil: quarry or fill site, erosion.
  • Bad cracks & rubbish: old tip or landfill site


Plants and soil mineralsEdit

Often plants which grow in deficient soils have the ability to concentrate those missing elements in their structure.

  • Potassium present: marshmallow, knapweed, wormwood, opium poppy, fumitory, tansy & borage.
  • Deficient: red clover. Celery & leek like potassium. Chicory is pot. rich.
  • Calcium: buckwheat grown as a green manure or composted adds. Melon leaves are a source of it & oak bark is especially rich all thistles & willow. Dandelion “mines” it . Peas, beans, brassicas & turnips need it.
  • Phosphorous: bracken indicates a lack of & accumulates it. Burn it & spread the ashes. Valerian & comfrey are rich sources. Whitefly indicates a deficiency along with magnesium. Brassicas need it to head well.
  • Iron: blackberry is a rich source.
  • Magnesium & sulphur: broom, salad burnett, plantain, & sheep sorrel (for magnesium)
  • Ragwort: copper
  • Thistles: nitrogen, copper & silicon.

How do we balance the minerals of soil?Edit

  • Look for indicator plants which will tell things about Nitrogen Phosphorus and Potasium
  • Look at leaves for signs of deficiencies or excesses (Permaculture Designers Manual has a simple key to follow)
  • Get a soil test done
  • Book - The Soul of Soil
  • DCC Website has soil analysis maps
  • Talk to people
  • Don't rely on simple 'acid' or 'alkaline' measures. The treatment for these can be too simplistic and might not balance the soil.


Dynamic Accumulators of Nutrients for CompostingEdit

Name Botanical Name Na I Fl B Si S N Mg Ca K P Mn Fe Cu Co
Alfalfa Medicago sativa       x           x    
Arrowroot                   x            
Bladder wrack     x           x         x    
Borage Borago officinalis         x         x          
Bracken, eastern Pteridium aquifolium                   x x x x x x
Bridal bower                       x        
Buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentums                   x          
Burdock Arctium minus                       x      
Calamus               x     x x        
Carageen   x           x   x            
Caraway Carum carvi                     x        
Carrot leaves Daucus carota               x   x          
Cattail Typha latifolia             x                
Chamomile, corn Anthemis arvensis                 x x          
Chamomile, German Chamomilla recutita                 x x x        
Chickweed Stellaria media                   x x x      
 


Name Botanical Name Na I Fl B Si S N Mg Ca K P Mn Fe Cu Co
Chicory Cichorium intybus                 x x          
Chives Allium sp. x               x            
Cleavers Galium aparine x               x            
Clovers Trifolium sp.             x       x        
Clover, hop Medicago lupulina             x       x        
Clover, rabbit foot               x       x        
Clover, red Trifolium protense             x       x        
Clover, white Trifolium repens             x       x        
Coltsfoot             x   x x x     x x  
Comfrey Symphytum officinale         x   x x x x     x    
Dandelion Taraxacum vulgare x       x     x x x x   x x  
Dock, broad leaved Rumex obtusifolias                 x x x   x    
Dulse   x x           x x       x    
Fat hen Atriplex hastata                   x     x    
Fennel Foeniculum vulgare x           x       x        
Flax, seed Linum usitatissimum                   x          
 


Name Botanical Name Na I Fl B Si S N Mg Ca K P Mn Fe Cu Co
Garlic Allium sativum     x     x           x      
Groundsel Senecio vulgaris                         x    
Horsetails Equisetum sp.         x     x x       x   x
Kelp   x x         x x x       x    
Lamb’s quarters Chenopodsum album             x   x x x x      
Lemon Balm Melissa offcinalis                     x        
Lupine Lupinus sp.             x       x        
Marigold, flowers Tagetes sp.                     x        
Meadow sweet Astilbe sp. x         x   x x   x   x    
Mistletoe                 x              
Mullein, common Verbascum sp.           x   x   x     x    
Mustards Brassica sp.           x         x        
Nettles, stinging Urtica urens x         x x   x x     x x  
Oak, bark Quercus sp. x
Oat Straw x
Parsley x x x x
Peppermint Mentha piperita x x
 


Name Botanical Name Na I Fl B Si S N Mg Ca K P Mn Fe Cu Co
Pigweed, red root Amaranthus retroflexus . x x x x
Plantains Plantago sp. x x x x x x
Primrose Oenothera biennis x
Purslane Portulaca oleracea x x x
Salad burnet Poterium sanguisorba x x x x x
Savory Satureja sp. x
Scarlet Pimpernel Anagallis arvensis x
Shepherd’s purse Capsella bursa-pastoris x x x
Skunk cabbage Navarretia squanosa x
Sorrel, sheep Rumex acetosella x x x
Sow thistle Sonchus arvensis x x x
Spurges Euphorbia sp. x
Strawberry, leaves Fragaria sp. x
Tansy Tanacetum vulgare x
Thistle, Canada Cirsium arvense x
Thistle, creeping Sonchus arvensis x x x
 


Name Botanical Name Na I Fl B Si S N Mg Ca K P Mn Fe Cu Co
Thistle, nodding Carduus nutans x
Thistle, Russian Salsola pestifer x
Toadflax Linaria vulgaris x x x
Tobacco, stems/stalk Nicotiana sp. x
Valerian Valeriana ofjicinalis x
Vetches Vicia sp. x x x x x
Watercress Nasturtium ofpcinale x x x x x x x x
Willow, bark Salix sp. x
Yarrow Achilea millefolium x x x x


Some Ways to Improve Your SoilsEdit

  • Plant mulch making plants ~ comfrey, tree lucerne, grasses for hay, weeds such as dandelion, plantain, nettles, borage, deciduous trees.
  • Use small prunings as part of the mulch around your trees. Place them over soil that you need to add organic matter to & put grass clippings, weeds, & manure on top & let nature do the rest. Once its reasonably broken down sow seeds/plant. Good way to establish an orchard/food forest.
  • Harvest local resources ~ bracken & chicory are high in potassium, add it to your compost, burn it & use the ashes around plants such as, celery & leeks. The brassicas (cabbage, cauli, brocoli) need phosphorous to head up well, comfrey & bracken supply it. Ragwort concentrates copper. Broom is high in magnesium & sulphur, lupins in nitrogen & calcium. Seaweed has many of the essential trace elements that plants need. Food scraps from cafes & super markets.
  • Plant wind breaks to filter air-born pollution
  • Plant trees & shrubs to take up ground water pollution e.g alongside a road, runoff from your nieghbour who uses chemicals.
  • Create wet lands planted with macrophytes ( reeds & rushes) to take up the above pollution.
  • Use raised beds for growing in.
  • Seaweed, compost & dolomite help to clean soils of pollutants such as heavy metals.
  • Allow weeds to grow ~ add OM, take up pollutants.
  • Spread rock dust to supply minerals ~ basalt, granite, dolomite.
  • Remember that the more conditions you create for soil life to thrive the better your soils will be. Create diversity.

Notes on soilEdit

  • Feed the soil and land base and you will indirectly feed your plants
  • Arden Anderson = Soil sciences writer and speaker
  • Why is it that plants that are healthy tend not to be attacked by pests and diseases? Their defense system is intact. A plant that is unhealthy or stressed will be full of simple carbohydrates - which attract pests and diseases. Healthy plants have complex carbohydrates which humans require. Therefore, nature has a way to clean up weak systems.
  • Arden Anderson started to observe a relationship between human disease and crop diseases, because of our industrial productions methods that prevent natures way of cleaning out weak species - and so we are interrupting our access to complex carbohydrates.
  • How then do we ensure healthy plants?

Things to doEdit

  • Compost and spread or inoculate areas during planting 30g per m2
  • Site specific compost made of the materials of the plants being nurtured
  • Biodynamics
  • Apply seaweed and fish 300g per m2
  • 3 comfry plants per fruit tree
  • For some pests consider using micro organisms from [Bokashi http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokashi] to out compete pests



Animals

The Polyface Farm Model

Pasture Management

Sadly Permaculture is sorely lacking in the widespread/effective implementation of animal agriculture systems into the landscape. Luckily other examples exist. The most prominent such example would be that of Polyface Farm, owned by Joel Salatin. Mr. Salatin manages his ranch in such a way that promotes ecosystem health and biodiversity, and nets him a "white collar" salary.

Beef is the keystone enterprise in his operation. Using electric fencing he manages it such that, in the summer months, the cattle get no more acreage than what they can graze evenly in a day. The next day they are moved to an adjacent paddock, and so on. Doing this shocks the grass without depleting it, and more closely mimics nature's example. The result has been enormous. Mr. Salatin reports that he is building soil, and that he has effectively doubled the carrying capacity of his farm. In his book, "$alad Bar Beef" he writes that he has effectively purchased another ranch for the cost of good management.

Egg Mobile

Another of Joel Salatin's pioneering examples is that of his Egg Mobile. An egg mobile is a chicken coop on wheels. Every couple of years he stocks this device with 200 young birds, and with his tractor pulls it to the paddock that his beeves have just grazed. The chickens excitedly dig through the manure patties searching for larvae. This action spreads the manure AND deworms his fields. Two chores that most farmers pay to do. By doing this his hens are able to forage most of their food, dramatically cutting back on his feed costs, and the eggs, which he sells locally, are said to be "the world's best."

Compost/Manure Management

Most farmer's work hard to keep their barns clean, often at an expense. Not Joel Salatin. Like many ranchers, Mr. Salatin adds carbon-rich bedding material to his barn floor throughout the winter. What he does differently is add corn kernels into the mix as well. As the bedding is turned by the hooves of cattle and the bedding is added on, the corn kernels ferment and become slightly alcoholic. In the spring Salatin turns his hogs loose on the barn. They eagerly root through the manure/bedding mix in search of the corn, which has become a special treat for them. This has the effect of turning the mixture and resulting in a compost that is then spread on the pasture.

Chicken Tractors

Racken House

Care of specific Animals



Base Map and sector analysis

A base map is a drawing that captures everything that is in place already on a property or space. It includes buildings, fences, trees, hedges, pathways and driveways, power lines and pipes... things that are in place.

A sector analysis map is a drawing that depicts what is happening in that base. What is the sun's path, what are the wind and rain directions, where are the main areas of people activity, where are the shade areas.



Designer's checklist

Designers Checklist for Otago Polytech Permaculture Design Course 2008 compiled by Peta Hudson (Edited version)

Your needs & resources are unique & important considerations, such as time available, physical ability, money, broad goals & dreams. If this step is missed out the design will most likely not work!

Base PlanEdit

Draw up a scale plan of everything that is on the land you are working with. This includes all structures, paths, vegetation (record whether it is evergreen or deciduous), power lines & boundary. Leave a good - sized margin for the recording of the sector analysis.

Observe & recordEdit

Start keeping a journal & keep it going to record the changes & your responses. Ideally best done over a period of time to experience the changes each season brings. The skill of observation is a primary tool of Permaculture design. It enables us to gather info to start to see relationships & correlations between elements & so to develop strategies & evolve site plans. We get in touch with the land & all it offers.

  • Watch for the comings & goings of birds & insects. When are they around? What are they doing? Identify them & find out about their life cycles. This info will aid you greatly to design in good biological balance.
  • Look at the weeds/plants/trees. Wind shearing indicates strong prevailing wind. They can also tell you of soil types & moisture levels. Light levels & microclimates. Plants won’t grow where it doesn’t suit them!
  • Look more closely at the structures you have mapped. What resources do they provide? Water catchment, shelter from wind, thermal mass, light reflection, greywater, kitchen scraps? What microclimates to they provide?
  • Check out the resources you can find within & without the boundaries of your land. List them all. For example lupin bush, gorse & broom provide nutrients & can be cut before flowering & laid as mulch around trees & shrubs or composted in a slow composting system. Rocks, bricks, tin, wood, lawn clippings, branches to prune are all resources.
  • Off site ~ materials from the verges (includes propagation material), organic material from cafés, restaurants, sawmills, gardening business’, organisations for shredded paper, vacant lots, the “tip shop”. People for help in various ways, markets for income

ResourcesEdit

Check out the resources you can find within & without the boundaries of your land. List them all!Off site ~ materials from the verges (includes propagation material), organic material from cafés, restaurants, sawmills, gardening business’, organizations for shredded paper, vacant lots, the “tip shop”.

Sector AnalysisEdit

Record all the incoming & out going energies affecting the land ~ winds (are they strong & cold bringing rain/ hail or hot & drying?) & what direction they come from & when. How does the sun move from season to season? How water moves on &/or off the land. Which direction would fires/floods come from? How does the surrounding landscape affect your plot? Do you have rain shadows, steep slopes which speed the winds up? Where are the views &/or noise pollution coming from? Are there any existing wildlife corridors? This knowledge enables us to harness, modify or enhance the energies. It also helps us to plan zone placement & the placement of many elements.Elevational planning looks at your site in profile which is useful when assessing slope.

Data OverlayEdit

Lay transparent sheets of paper over the base map/sector analysis on which are mapped the info on soils & micro climates you collect. It is a way of building up a picture of your plot. Aerial/topographic/cadastral maps can be useful too especially if you have a large area as they can, at a glance, give options not easily seen from the ground. They do lack detail & conditions may have changed since they were made e.g. pollution.

  • Elevational planning looks at your site in profile which is useful when assessing slope & aspect which affect airflows & can aid the flow of energies including yours.

Micro climatesEdit

Here’s an exercise you can do to gather info about the various micro climates, go to different areas of the land & close your eyes. Use all your senses. Your skin will pick up subtle temperature changes & air movements. Feel the soil beneath you for moisture, texture, mulch & temperature. Squat as well as stand & move around. Plants can be smaller than you! This info will enable you to use these areas & enhance/modify them if necessary.

SoilsEdit

Take a spade & go over your plot digging down to the spades depth. This will give you a basic idea of some of the different soil types you will be working with. You need at least 30cm of good topsoil to enable healthy plants to grow. Some deeper rooted plants/trees/shrubs will require more.

AnalysisEdit

This tool enables you to create the beneficial relationships that are central to good Permaculture design. It leads to a great deal of creation! These relationships echo those you find in Nature. The principles of “co-operation not competition” & “observe & interact” apply here. Take an element that you want in your design. Look at all its needs & what it gives ~ eg. a pond needs: shelter from wind, some sun, a water source/catchment, plants, fish, and aeration. It provides extra humidity & light to the area surrounding it, moisture to the edges, thermal mass (holds heat & radiates it out in the evening), food & beauty. Its needs will be met, if placed in good relationship to other elements & in return their needs will be met by it. Look at other elements that you have or need, in the same way & see how you can place them so that their needs & yields are met by each other. Cycles of energy are enhanced & created this way.

Deductions From NatureEdit

Here we look at nature to gain various ideas for strategies. How can we imitate nature? For example native plants on a windy site will have various ways to survive those conditions such as small leaves to reduce moisture loss. We can choose plants with similar characteristics for our windbreaks. Look for differences & ask yourself “why”?

Zone PlanningEdit

Even on a small section all zones from 0~5 can be included. See “Earth Users Guide to Permaculture Design” editions 1 or 2 by Rosemary Morrow.Zones are about creating & placing areas of activity in good relationship to their needs & yields. Eg zone 1 is traditionally placed as close to the house (zone 0) as possible, as it needs lots of visits to care for & harvest from it. See yourself as a yield of zone 0.

Flow diagramsEdit

If the land you are working with is already lived on look at how you move across it. How could this change when your design is implemented? Make the pathways multi – functional. You are a flow of energy in a Permaculture system for example you leave the house with the compost bucket & a basket & on the way back from the compost you can collect the eggs, & pick some herbs/vegetables & maybe grab a few pieces of wood or kindling from the woodpile.

Random AssemblyEdit

This is a fun way to find some really creative ideas. It breaks up the logical way of thinking!Make two lists of elements & put another list of connecting words(in,on,beside) in between them. Then have fun joining them up randomly!It can take some time to break through the “wanting things to make sense” way of being but some very good relationships, that never would have occurred otherwise, happen.



Zone design

Intro about zones needed here... in desiging for permaculture, it is typical to set multiple zones. This page will include an index of information relating to each zone, from zone 0 - 4, as well as information about the zoing process generally --leighblackall (talk) 03:46, 13 November 2008 (UTC)



Financial permaculture

Financial Permaculture is an approach to economics that emphasizes personal investment and community development. For example, a person may choose to walk away from a full-time job at a multinational corporation in order to purchase or acquire through other means land, and then grow their own food. By quitting the job the person has an abundance of time to focus on gardening or other creative pursuits. Further, due to the change in lifestyle, organic food and lots of exercise, their health improves. Of course there will still be bills to pay, but now this individual is independent enough to take on a part-time job that is more meaningful to them. This change of behavior would promote happiness and a more stress free existence. Or maybe instead the person chooses to start their own business. Success here leads to a greater sense of self-confidence. This persons happiness becomes infective, as s/he goes through their day smiling and having a positive attitude. This person's attitude towards the community may then change. Perhaps now there is more opportunity for volunteering, or helping neighbors. Making life easier for others is repaid with other intangibles such as friends or favors. Through these actions the individual is wealthier than s/he was when working full-time.

There are as many examples of Financial Permaculture as there are people. The following is a list of other examples: -Paying off debt. -Anything promoting health and wellness (besides "snake oil"). -Rather than saving money in a bank, entrusting it to gold/silver stored in a home safe. -Saving money in tangible form other than precious metals (guns, ammo, seeds, livestock, food, medicine, land, buildings, etc). -Practical education. -Things which free up time, and make for less work or expense in the future. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Another good example of Financial Permaculture would be giving up driving a car and instead riding a bike. By driving a car one impoverishes themselves through the costs of fuel, insurance, and maintenance. By buying a new car and taking on a loan, one further impoverishes themselves by selling their future time for paper money today. Even further poverty develops through stress from traffic and possible lack of exercise all leading to health complications. The only people who profit are the oil magnates and private banking interests.

By riding a bike instead this all changes. Rather than spending money on fuel, one can instead spend that money on healthy organic foods. No insurance and practically free maintenance clears up capital for investment elsewhere (maybe on a garden or a steer, goodbye "fuel" cost). The exercise leaves the person in good physical shape and much less stress filled. Riding a bicycle has the further effect of making the community less oil dependent, which means less war.

A further example of Financial Permaculture on the community scale is the Local Food Movement. By purchasing vegetables from local farmers, one receives a higher quality product, promoting health. The community, however, is who truly profits. More people buying local means more people growing local. This means greater community resilience in the event of a national emergency, such as the disruption of oil supplies from the Middle East. I would encourage everyone interested to read the article "The Oil We Eat."

This is by no means an exhaustive discussion of Financial Permaculture, but I believe the examples provided should give the reader a general idea. One interested in Financial Permaculture should choose first to look at how their time and money is spent now, and how it can be freed up and reinvested in ways which make sense, not only financially, but also from the stand point of free time, health, and the enjoyability of one's day-to-day experience. Doing this tends to affect the individual on a level that makes sense financially, but also promotes further personal and community development.


ReferencesEdit



Edible plants Classification and Care

Under the three domain system,(the current standard for biological classification) All plants fall into the kingdom Plantae. Grouping edible plants in terms of their genetic clades can be very useful in establishing and predicting the care which a specific species/cultivar needs.



How to/Some ways to improve your soils

Traditional classifications of soilsEdit

Colour

  • Colourless/white: high silica content
  • Light/white: lack of oxygen; leached; high calcium; alkaline ph
  • Yellow: lack of oxygen; high clay content; aluminium & iron
  • Red: iron oxide
  • Red/brown: volcanic basalt origin; iron & magnesium
  • Black: rich in organic matter & nutrients; holds moisture

vegetation

  • Azalea, dandelion: acid soils; usually leached; often
  • berries, conifers, dock: compacted with poor drainage
  • saltbush, spinifex: alkaline; saline; dry soils
  • nettles, clovers, vetch: excess nitrogen; low humus content; low microorganism content
  • blackberries: open disturbed soil, possibly acid
  • bracken: recent fire; general decline in soil fertility.
  • buttercup: poor drainage, acid.
  • thistles: low calcium & iron content; hard soils.
  • chicory, chickweed, clover, groundsel: good fertility

parent material Eg soils derived from:

  • Sandstone: sandy, high silica.
  • Shale: clay; high silica & iron.
  • Basalt: high iron & magnesium.

smell

  • Sour: Lacks oxygen, acidic, sulphur dioxide
  • Sweet & earthy: high oxygen, good soil life & OM
  • Garlic: arsenic in soil.

taste

  • Smooth & slippery: acidic, soil water lathers easily
  • Weak soda: alkaline/mineral; won’t lather easily

soil life

  • Worms: good moisture, OM, low pesticide residues
  • Ants: drier, sandy
  • Slugs & snails: damp, decomposing plant & animal material.
  • Skinks & lizards: warm sunny, dry spots, good insect populations

water

  • Run –off: is increased by bare ground, compaction, steep slopes
  • Repels water: compacted, eroded, excessive use of dolomite, very little OM, sandy & allowed to dry out & has formed a moisture resistant barrier
  • Shrinks & swells: high clay, holds water, cracks.
  • Fast draining: hole filled with water, drains within 10mins: erodes easily, collapses easily, few fungal diseases, good movement of water & soil life. Not good for dams.

history

  • Bare ground: agricultural or industrial contamination.
  • Growth in poor soils:previous structures, compaction, old poultry or animal pen site
  • No topsoil:quarry or fill site, erosion.
  • Bad cracks & rubbish:old tip or landfill site

plants and soil mineralsEdit

Often plants which grow in deficient soils have the ability to concentrate those missing elements in their structure.

Potassium present ~ marshmallow, knapweed, wormwood, opium poppy, fumitory, tansy & borage. Deficient ~ red clover. Celery & leek like potassium. Chicory is potassium rich.

Calcium ~ buckwheat grown as a green manure or composted adds. Melon leaves are a source of it & oak bark is especially rich as are all thistles & willow. Dandelion “mines” it. Peas, beans, brassicas & turnips need it.

Phosphorous ~ bracken indicates a lack of it & accumulates it. Burn it & spread the ashes. Valerian & comfrey are rich sources. Whitefly indicates a deficiency along with magnesium. Brassicas need it to head well.

Iron ~ blackberry is a rich source.

Magnesium & sulphur ~ broom, salad burnett, plantain, & sheep sorrel (for magnesium)

Ragwort ~ copper

Thistles ~ nitrogen, copper & silicon.


Creating resources on your landEdit

  • Plant mulch making plants ~ comfrey, tree lucerne, grasses for hay, weeds such as dandelion, plantain, nettles, borage, deciduous trees.
  • Use small prunings as part of the mulch around your trees. Place them over soil that you need to add organic matter like grass clippings, weeds, & manure on top & let nature do the rest. Once it’s reasonably broken down sow seeds/plant. Good way to establish areas for under-planting an orchard/food forest.
  • Harvest local resources ~ bracken & chicory are high in potassium, add it to your compost, burn it & use the ashes around plants such as, celery & leeks. The brassicas (cabbage, cauli, broccoli, brussels) need phosphorous to head up well, comfrey & bracken supply it. Ragwort concentrates copper. Broom is high in magnesium & sulphur, lupins in nitrogen & calcium. Seaweed has many of the essential trace elements that plants need. Food scraps from cafes & super markets add to the mix for your compost.

Other StrategiesEdit

  • Plant wind breaks to filter air-born pollution and prevent soil erosion.
  • Plant trees & shrubs to take up ground water pollution e.g. alongside a road, runoff from your neighbour who uses chemicals. The leaf litter from deciduous trees and shrubs also adds organic material to the top layer of your soils. Over time this will be a significant addition.
  • Create wetlands planted with macrophytes (reeds & rushes) to take up the above pollution.
  • Use raised beds for growing in.
  • Seaweed, compost & dolomite help to clean soils of pollutants such as heavy metals.
  • Allow weeds to grow ~ add OM, take up pollutants.
  • Spread rock dust to supply minerals ~ basalt, granite, dolomite.
  • Where practical, change the contour of slopes to create swales so that water does not run off as quickly and cause erosion.
  • Don't leave bare soil, plant something instead -- or at least lay down some mulch.
  • Remember that the more conditions you create for soil life to thrive the better your soils will be. Create diversity.



How to/Effective but non toxic sprays

WaterEdit

  • pressure knocks insects off.
  • with lime added & applied around beets & cabbage, scab,
  • clubroot & cabbage is reduced.
  • Warm 54deg. C. for soft skinned insects, aphids & caterpillars.

MilkEdit

  • control sprays on tomatoes, cucumber & lettuce. Spray at planting time & then every 10 days, 1 part milk to 9 parts water.
  • Buttermilk is good for red spider mites. Add1/2 teacup b’milk to 4cups flour & 5gal. water.( an old recipe!)

SoapEdit

  • dissolve 2 tsp pure soap e.g. LUX, in 1lt water (you can use old soapy water from washing clothes), or use soft soap not ordinary soap (caustic soda) & dissolve 225gr in 9lt water. For aphids, white butterfly & caterpillars.

Ground rock dustEdit

  • mix water, flour & soap & sprayed on leaves. Deters soft bodied insects as sharp.

Crushed clayEdit

  • dust on to repel caterpillars.

Vege cooking oilsEdit

  • paint on or mix with water to spray on for aphids, whitefly & mealy bugs.

Fish emulsionEdit

  • repels many insects & fertilises plants.

Other methodsEdit

  • Wormwood cuttings put them over brassicas to camouflage & repel.
  • Give plants susceptible to whitefly, comfrey liquid or use the leaves as a mulch & in your compost. Whitefly occurs when potash levels are low. Wood ash & rock phosphate also helps.
  • You will see that you will need nozzles on your sprayer that can cope with the thicker mixes. They need to be used quickly, not stored.These sprays work by various means ~ smothering, deterring & dissolving insects protective shells.

ReferencesEdit

Thanks to Tania J. McLean, Waitati & Rodale Press U.S.A.



How to/Creating a natural balance

Some main pointsEdit

  • Don't panic! Take your time.
  • Remember the forest & how it keeps a balance. The web of life. Take a walk in one whenever you need a refresher course.
  • Everything gardens.
  • Observe what’s eating what & when in your garden.
  • Let them eat some! What can you accept?
  • Plagues are indicators of gross imbalance.
  • Too many pests? No ~ too few predators , or poor plant health, or soil health, or care of plants, or selection of plants, or lack of diversity, above & below ground (of animals, plants, habitats, insects & birds)

Respect insects we need them in our gardensEdit

What do they do? ~ fertilise, aerate, decompose, add nutrients, provide food for birds, animals & other insects (us too if only we would try them!), prune ( tribal gardeners have used insects to increase the yields of their crops by putting insects on their plants at certain times!), destroy weak plants & so help with natural selection, help plants through symbiotic relationships.

Plants can protect themselvesEdit

Some secrete enzymes when chewed which affects the insects digestion &/or their ability to reproduce. Others produce chemicals which smell like the alarm signals put out by insects being eaten. Trees in Africa being eaten by animals send signals to neighbouring trees & those trees secrete substances that make them unpalatable!

  • Create a seed bank in your soil. Let plants spread their seed & select the strongest.
  • Use your own instincts to help you to see what’s needed in your garden.

Some plants to encourage predatorsEdit

  • Let carrot, radish, parsnips, fennel & brassicas flower, even if you aren’t collecting seed.
  • Phacelia tanacetifolia, (Fiddleneck),Solidago canadensis (Goldenrod), Asters (Michmaelmas or Easter Daisy) Alyssum maritimum (Sweet Alice) all supply nectar for predators.

Generally introduce as many flowering plants into, &/or plant them around your garden. Do some research to work out which one’s to plant to extend the flowering season.

Spraying with even botannical sprays should be a last resort as these too can kill your beneficial insects.

Some design strategiesEdit

  • Sun~trap hedge, repellant or attractant.
  • Camouflage plantings.
  • Clump plantings rather than rows.
  • Trees & shrubs as flight barriers & wide (1/2 ~ 1mtr) rows of repellant plants
  • Create habitats ~ ponds, perches, shelters, warm, wind free micro climates.

Further readingEdit

  • The Wilderness Garden ~ Jackie French
  • Organic Plant Protection ~ Rodale Press, Inc.
  • Permaculture Home Garden ~ Linda Woodrow
  • Organic Gardening ~ Peter Bennett.
  • Natural Gardening & Farming in Australia (don’t be put off by the “in Austrslia” bit it’s applicable anywhere)



How to/Planting Calendars

At this stage, these planting Calendars are intended to help new comers to an area start planting productively. In that regard, the plants listed are common, generally well known, tested by many in that area. If you would like to develop a plan for your area, introduce yourself to a planting community and make notes on what they say. Start your calendar here and help us build plans for many regions.



References

  • Video entitled The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
  • Book List from Permaculture.org.uk
  • Permaculture Teacher's Guide. Edited by Andy Goldring. Permaculture Association / Permanent Publications / WWF, UK. 2000. 379pp.
  • The Earth Care Manual: A Permaculture Handbook For Britain & Other Temperate Climates. Patrick Whitefield. Permanent Publications, UK, 2004, 480pp Seven years in the making, this is the long awaited study of permaculture specifically for cooler climates. It takes a detailed view of designing sustainable systems both large and small, urban and rural.
  • Introduction to Permaculture. Bill Mollison and Reny Mia Slay. Tagari Publishers, Tyalgum, Australia.1991. 198pp.
  • The Woodland Way: A Permaculture Approach To Sustainable Woodland Management. Ben Law. Permanent Publications. UK. 2001. 256pp.
  • Permaculture One: A Perennial Agriculture for Human Settlements, 3rd Edition. Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Tagari Publishers, Tyalgum, New South Wales, Australia. 1987.127pp.
  • Permaculture Two: A Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture. Bill Mollison. Tagari Press, Stanley, Australia. 1979. 150pp.
  • Permaculture: A Designer's Manual. Bill Mollison. Tagari Publications, Tyalgum, Australia. 1988. 576pp.
  • Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture. Toby Hemenway. Chelsea Green Pub. Co., White River Junction, VT. 2001. 222pp.
  • The Best of Permaculture. Max O. Lindegger and Robert Tap. Nascimanere Publishers, Nambour, Australia. 1986. 136pp.
  • The Permaculture Way: Practical Ways to Create a Self-Sustaining World. By Graham Bell. Permanent Publications, UK. 2004 (2nd ed.). 239pp.
  • The Permaculture Garden. Graham Bell. Thorsons, London. 1994. 170pp.
  • Permaculture: A Beginner's Guide. Graham Burnett (2nd ed). Spiralseed, Westcliff On Sea, Essex, England. 2008. 76pp. ISBN 978-0-9553492-1-8
  • Urban Permaculture. David Watkins. Permanent Publications, U.K. 1993. 152pp.
  • Permaculture in a Nutshell. Patrick Whitefield. Permanent Publications, U.K. 1993. 75pp.
  • Earth User's Guide to Permaculture. Rosemary Morrow and Rob Allsop. Kangaroo Press, NSW Australia. 2006 (2nd ed.). 164pp.
  • Getting Started in Permaculture. Ross and Jennifer Mars. Candlelight Trust, Hovea, Western Australia. 1998. 96pp.
  • Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. David Holmgren, Holmgren Design Services, Australia, 2003, 320pp.
  • How To Make A Forest Garden. Patrick Whitefield. Permanent Publications, UK. 2002. 160pp.