I'm a developer too! This project looks daunting, but that never stopped me from creating something. Nobody has a clearer vision of what it could be than you do so I'm anxious to see what you put together. I made a philogenic tree to organize species once on an aquarium website that is no longer published. It would be cool to resurrect the code if I found the environment for it. My current full-time project is hydroharbor.com
I live in urban Tempe, AZ. While going rural is a lingering ambition for many of my friends and neighbors, I think the principles of permaculture can still apply to an urban lifestyle. Here in Arizona, our power company is investing in renewable resources and "greening the grid" as many power companies are. How do you feel about an on-the-grid alternative to fuel-dependent farming and distribution? I don't like to think that those of us who don't have land are out of luck. It's working for us, and many people in our city are producing food on small lots because we get lots of sunshine. We don't even need to refrigerate the produce we grow at home because we harvest as we eat.
The other obvious advantage to growing indoors is climate control. While our toughest plants are scraping by in the heat, our delicate plants are as comfortable as we are inside.
I'm curious if this presents a challenge to the values of permaculture, or if hydroponics is a step in the right direction for urbanites.
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I've created a hydroponics retail website with guides and tutorials. We carry products for indoor, on-the-grid urban gardening, and outdoor low-energy systems. I support the Do-It-Yourself and Use-What-You've-Got approach to gardening. The website aims to supplement your local resources with parts and technology developed and refined by the hydroponics industry.
Here in Arizona, watts are far greener than fossil fuels. We can grow organic fruits and vegetables inside our house using renewable electricity sources. There's no packaging, no distribution, and we don't even need to refrigerate because we can harvest when we eat.
While I dream of growing on a couple acres someday, I live in an urban neighborhood in a 1300SF house and a pretty small lot: just like a lot of people. I believe our cities and suburbs are where permaculture can make the biggest difference.
Many fruiting trees won't be edible if grown from seeds. You can clone new trees from a mother tree by taking cuttings from growth tips on the branches and rooting them. This is a routine process for greenhouses and nurseries. You might also want to use slow release soil ammendments so the young tree will have plenty of time to transition to native nutrient sources. Like someone already mentioned, the tree is going to concentrate any toxins from the ground and water into the fruit. Pick a location free of polluted wastewater, or plant a tree nobody will eat (like crabapples).