I searched through all of the posts that mention battery back-ups (electrical inverter power), because that is what is most relevant to me in Haiti. I buy CFL's, not because they "save the earth" or are "cheaper in the long run." I buy them because they let my inverter power run for a longer amount of time. In fact, in Haiti, the corner-store boutiques refer to CFLs as "inverter lights," because they help inverter power to last longer.
I was wondering how these calculations hold up when taking this matter into account. What about the cost of a generator being run more frequently? What about the decrease in the life-span of an inverter battery due to increased cycling? What about the strain on the actual inverter itself?
Unfortunately, I could not find any direct references to research in this vein. Perhaps one of you could point me to some...
I'd be happy to provide numbers (cost of batteries, cost of fuel, generator servicing, etc.) if someone wants to try to calculate. Or, if someone has a suggested calculation, post it here and I'll plug in for the variables.
I have a friend in Haiti who has been working toward this same goal for a few years now, so I've also given it some thought. I think that the best bet for a constant flow of water, using only mechanical, non-human energy would be a hydraulic ram pump. I built this model designed by Clemson University awhile back, but I have yet to test it. It cost me about $350 with parts procured in Haiti.
There would be at least two problems with using a hydraulic ram, however. First, you can only use it near a flowing stream. That is an extremely limiting factor. Second, it would circulate FRESH water, not fishy, nutrient dense water. For that reason, you would have to use the water from the hydraulic ram to run the mechanics of a bell syphon without feeding into the actual fish tank. The best that I could come up with is a parallel bell syphon system where one tank fills with fish water, the other with fresh water, but the syphon for both is simultaneously triggered by the fresh water tank. However, there still remains the problem of actually pumping the fish water. Surely there could be a way to build pressure or to use the freshwater tank to create some sort of counterweight... but I haven't thought that far yet.
Dooley Tunner wrote:Some farms I visited in Ecuador were growing coffee, bananas, citrus, avocados all together in a food jungle. The coffee and bananas seemed to be the main sales crop.
Thanks Dooley. I have a ton of examples like that to work with, but I'm looking for a model that creates symbiotic relationships at all levels of the forest system. Co-cropping is one thing, and can be a good thing. But it is not necessarily a self-sustainable food forest system. That's what I'm looking for.
A couple of years ago I began the planning phases of a tropical food forest garden. I could blame it on work, busyness, or on a hurricane or two, but basically, I haven't gotten to the execution phase yet.
BUT, I have though A LOT about what kind of forest I want to build. One factor in my thinking is what kind of crops I want to sell. Trees are incredibly prolific, way beyond what the average family can consume, so I've thought to design my forest around a few systems that I may be able to turn a profit from. In particular, I'm interested in a few value-added products with processes that the farm could be organized around.
For example, I have dozens of mango trees already, so I've been learning how to dehydrate fruit in hopes of selling them. Cacao is also popular in our region, so I hope to plant a few dozen of those and process them in house. The actual "food" from this food forest would be interspersed throughout the understory, rhizome layer, and shrubbery.
Is anyone else doing this successfully? If so, what does your system look like?
While I enjoy reading and theory (I own hundreds of books), permaculture is one one those concepts that has to be seen to be understood. I always get 10x as much when words are accompanied by diagrams, photographs, and drawings. Looking forward to reading and "looking through" this book.
I never considered bougainvillea (that is the spelling ). I think it's more of a climbing plant and it is not as "woody" as what we are looking for. However, I guess it could technically be used if we used some posts and wires to guide it. Thanks for the suggestion, Maureen.
Druce, Leucaena (especially leucocephala) is abundant here and it has been promoted heavily for reforestation and soil conservation efforts, but the jury is out as to whether it can be useful as fodder for local cattle (due to the toxic mimosine content). If possible, I'd like for this fence to be multi-purpose, so using it for fodder and/or green manure is attractive (this is one reason I had originally considered moringa) but I'd hate to have it and then have to control cows and goats around it because they love it but can't digest it.
As for moringa, like I said before, I know it can be established in clay soils, but not with the time that I can give to the project for now. The property that I am working on is fairly far from where we currently live and we won't be moving to it for quite some time. I'm trying to prepare the land so that it is how we want it when we do finally get the chance to build and move. This means, at best, I'm a weekend landscaper, but more usually I'll only be able to follow up with projects on site monthly. My experience with moringa in clay doesn't seem favorable to that plan. I can do plenty of preparation of seedlings, etc. from home, but once its in the ground its practically on it's own.
Perhaps you know of a way that I could amend soil during planting to remedy that... Thanks so far. Please keep the ideas coming!
I've been looking for the right tree species for a living fence that can be weaved like willow in my tropical climate. I have an additional challenge of having soil that has a high clay composition. I originally considered weaving young moringa trunks together, but they (surprisingly) struggle to take root in clay soil. It can be done, but it will require a lot more time and maintenance than I can afford to give to it.
Does anyone have any examples of fast growing, easily trained species that I might look into? I may not have your exact species at my disposal, but I could look to see if there is a cousin species available here.
If you've ever seen a urine diverting squatty, the "seat" is long... there's a reason for that. When you squat, the urine practically diverts itself. If you don't believe me, try one of these for the first time with your pants at your ankles.
P.S. I am being a bit hypocritical here... I do not (yet) own a squatty, but I want to. When I own my own home, I can poop wherever and however I want (as long as my wife agrees).
I don't have a composting toilet (yet) but here in the Caribbean they use bagasse (sugar cane pulp) and rice husks as cover material. Sugar cane is a popular snack to chew on, and a family could definitely produce quite a bit of pulp if they like it enough, but I'm not sure that they could produce enough pulp to fulfill their bulking needs at 100%. I guess if they save all of their grain husks from the prior season (corn, millet, and sorghum included), that could help quite a bit.
I wonder if dried banana leaves would work too...
I guess the key is to look at what YOU produce in abundance. That's where you'll find your answer (which will be different from mine).
Pedro Gonzalez wrote:Hey Joe. Greetings from Boriken!
Right there with you man! I live in Puerto Rico, really close to the coast.. so advice on just tropical region is good but it would be awsome to get something a little bit more specific. I'm just starting my project, implementing techniques for rainwater harvesting and water management in the house. Gardening for supplying my food truck with fresh veggies.. just looking for self sufficiency and freedom.
Anything in particular that you need help with?
Hey Pedro. Thanks for reaching out. Welcome to Permies.
I wasn't looking for anything in particular when I had created this post. I was just looking for the right set up for community support and the right place to post when I actually do have a regional question.
The Tropical Forum exists now, by the way. I haven't posted to it much, but Burru Maluca indexed some great posts there when she created it. It's worth browsing through, even just for general knowledge.
Thanks for sharing these PDFs. What a wonderful resource. Click around on the site for more. I just spent hours reading about breadfruit. Such a wonderful and versatile fruit! Very popular in the countryside in Haiti.
Our main problem with pickling and canning in the tropics is the abundance of fresh food every season! We've come close to picking beets a few times before, but we always end up eating them well before they are actually pickled. But they did taste like they were going through the process well enough.
Yo. This is Joe in Haiti. I explored the regional forums the other day and I was sad to see that there were no Caribbean nor Tropical "regional" forums. One of my biggest challenges has always been the difficulty of finding people doing Permaculture in a climate like my own. Is there any chance that we could open up that category?
Steve Farmer wrote:Joseph, great idea. My second reaction was it will never happen due to economics of needing to buy/rent the real estate and make the conversions with the payback coming some considerable time later.
But now I'm thinking it's such a great idea and vision that if it were a crowdfunding project it would have a serious chance of success.
Great points Steve. I thought of the same problems. And Dan, I hear you on not being able to count on Walmart charity. But it's my understanding (and I could be wrong) that some of the newer stores are built on conditional land leases. Many of the stores that closed were opened within the last few years. Maybe there's a loophole that might allow a city to reclaim the property or to cry "foul" against Walmart.
With that, maybe a city council might be able to change the zoning on the property to effectively make the place a "public park." I don't know much about how such things work, but my mind lives in Ideal-Land. Regardless, it will probably be awhile before Walmart finds a buyer for 2,000 acres of facilities and land. Also the cities are already facing huge tax revenue losses. Maybe they can just cut their losses and start a public food park... Who knows, that could create some attraction from neighboring towns.
And Steve, I like your thinking about crowdfunding. I don't have a lot of dough, but I'd be the first to give to that project.
For the record, a Walmart can occupy as much as 18 acres (or 7.3 hectares) of land! That's a crazy amount of space to work with. Maybe we start by turning the building itself into a supersized greenhouse. But what do you do in a 4 acre greenhouse? Sounds like a Permaculture Designer's dream!
I'm out of country right now and I just caught wind of the sudden closures of 150+ Walmarts across the United States. I read the sad, sad articles about the "Food Deserts" that the closures have left behind. I also read about former Mom & Pop Store owners lamenting that it's too late for them to make a comeback and serve their communities. Walmart had already crushed them out of existence and its too hard to get back in the game.
Then I had a thought...
What if residents reclaimed these Walmarts and their vast, VAST parking lots to build community Permaculture gardens and food forests. Someone out there reading this has to be close to someone on a city council facing this... So I thought I'd throw out the idea. What better way to beat the Wal-monster than with good, locally grown, community owned, organic food. I'm sure that Walmart shoppers haven't seen that in awhile.
Share your thoughts here... and maybe one of you will have the influence to make it happen somewhere.
wayne fajkus wrote:With all the regenerative abilities of earth, the ocean is the one that stumps me. It accumulates minerals constantly but never gives it back, at the expense of mineral depletion upland. So putting it back makes sense. For the earth to do it for us, we'd be looking at animals 2x2 loaded in an ark.
I was reading on volcanoes and randomly thought of your post... Strange I know, but when I realized that every eruption brings tons of minerals and gasses to the surface, I began to wonder if maybe volcanoes might have the ability to replenish the earth with what the ocean takes from it... Just a thought. Might wanna build a fireproof ark next time.
I found this article after a quick search. It has a cool chart that details the trace minerals found in seawater. It also makes a claim that the land that got hit by the 2004 tsunami in South East Asia experienced 2 years of bumper crops. @Wayne, maybe that's one way the earth gets some of those minerals back... That and coastal winds blowing ocean sprays...
I just found these nifty graphs that give info on rain and temperature in my region. If anyone else would like to give their input, these graphs should give you a better idea of what I'm working with in terms of climate. I got this info at http://en.climate-data.org. Thanks again for the suggestions so far.
@Steve: We are at about 500m elevation, somewhere between 15 and 20 North Latitude, I believe, and the average daily highs and lows in our region barely fluctuate throughout the year. Our temperature range last year was about 16C - 37C (including nighttime lows). Our day time temperature hardly ever drops below 30C, so it may be a bit more challenging for us to get the same results. But I bet my friends that are higher up in Kenscoff, Haiti would have great successes.
@Su Ba: If rust wasn't a problem, do you think that the blueberries would have been successful? We plan to experiment with a cocktail of essential oils to deal with rust in a coffee program that I'm involved in. Maybe you could look into it. Here's a link to a Brazilian scientific study on treating rust with essential oils.
Charli Wilson wrote:Yellow leaves with green veins can indicate iron deficiency/iron chlorosis
Thanks @Charli, I think that's the best diagnosis so far. If you look a the picture of the darker green leaf, you'll see that it's starting to grow faintly yellow as well. @Roberta may be right as well with the sulfur deficiency. I saw both suggestions in my searching, as well as a suggestion to check the soil pH, so I'm waiting on a soil test kit to come in to test everything. But in the meantime, I'll head to a garden store to see what they have that I can use to give my tree some iron and see how that helps.
@Bengi I've been reluctant to transplant it because I don't have enough soil in my yard (mostly concrete, unfortunately), and my (future) food forest is pretty far away. Until I am sure that someone that can take care of the transplant, this tree, and my beautiful fig tree, will have to stay with me.
Amedean Messan wrote:With this said, yes, you can make a decent living. Because a "decent living" is relative, to describe the emotional constraint I would say that no, you will not afford the mega-yacht with permaculture. But to add, I will also say that yes, you can facilitate a life of fullness, balance and spiritual well being as well as provide a reasonable surplus (including economic) to you and your family. The rat race is yours to choose.....
I think that @Amedean_Messan has it just right. Before you make a decision to pursue anything in life, you must decide how you want to define "abundant life." Is it a nice first home, a summer home, 3 cars, 2 storage closets full of junk, and spare change to explore the world? Or is it something else... Something less... tangible... Few recognize that the pursuit of "things" is also, at the heart, a pursuit of the intangible. And it's a poor pursuit at that.
Sometimes we also forget what permaculture actually affords us (beyond money). For example, many subsistence farmers here in Haiti eat an organic diet that is the envy of all of Hollywood. As a result, I know some 110 year old men here who are as sharp and strong as an American 50-year old. Good food = good health. How much is good health worth to you?
And why worry about bills when permaculture embraces many forms of renewable, grid-free energy? Why pay a mortgage when there are so many reasonable and cheap building methods? We often work hard to pay for things that can be better supplied through other means. Whether you incorporate one element or if you go all out, permaculture is bound to add something to your life that millions are willing to pay good money for, and something that you wouldn't sell for the world.
The lie of the Rat Race is that life can be quantified. It cannot be, not by any metric or means, especially not by money (which, by the way, is an imaginary concept). So instead of wondering how much money you can make, think, rather, of the things that one life or the other can afford you, and what it would take for you to obtain that life. If you can't seem to clear up those questions, you'll never be happy without money. And heck, you'll probably never be happy with money either.
I have an avocado tree that is just under a year old (grown from the pit of one delicious avocado!). I pruned it about 4 or 5 months ago so that it would branch out. That worked out well enough, except that the new leaves on those branches are significantly lighter than the old leaves. At first I thought they would darken, but that has not happened.
A friend of mine suggested moving it to a sunnier spot, which I did... that still didn't help. And now the edges of the leaves are browning although it gets plenty of water. The only thought I have left would be that the container is too small... but I hardly think that a 50+ liter (15 gallon) container would already be too small for a meter high tree. What do you think?
Thanks @Sean. I'm already fairly confident about strawberries, first from experience (my family grew a couple of acres of strawberries in the USA when I was a kid) and second because I've seen them grown in Haiti before, also at high elevation.
What I'm less confident about is fruit that requires a certain amount of chill hours before it will blossom and bear fruit. Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries fit that description, so do many fruit trees like apples, peaches, etc.
BUT... I know there are ways around the chill requirements with certain varieties. That's what I'm looking for here.
Have any of you had success with growing blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or any other "cool-weather" berry in the tropics. I have friends that are successfully growing blackberries and strawberries higher up in the mountains. I remember hearing of some blueberry cultivars having success in Hawaii.
What have your experiences been? Can you suggest any particular varieties or cultivars? Any tips for planting and care?
Thanks for the helpful videos and tips. This will help me with my own food forest planning. @Tyler, Geoff Lawton is quickly becoming my new best friend . This article from the Permaculture Research Institute mentions the use of Pigeon Peas, which I will probably use extensively where I can. And @Duane, anyone who has the ability to grow moringa in their environment is lucky. That includes me. I have lots of plans for that tree...
I do plan to build a pond or two. Like you said, the clay will help it to seal off pretty well. I didn't think to build it/them first since I have a natural water source (a spring-fed stream) about 100m away. Granted, that stream is further downhill, so it will require a bit of labor to get the water to where I need it... So maybe building a pond earlier on wouldn't be a bad idea. Thanks for the suggestion, Rene.