I'm near the Loma Prieta fault line, and am thinking about some sort of earth sheltered home. Would the structural posts in a wofati provide adequate earthquake protection from the thermal mass on the roof?
My dome-yurt is off grid right now. I just charge my phone/laptop at work, But I looked up the rates in my area and the baseline is $0.77 per kilowatt-hour, but the total is like $1.19 after transportation and procurement costs.
Thank you both Tobias and Troy. I watched the videos by lds self reliance and found them to be exactly what I needed. And that deal on eBay for the two panels and charge controller is pretty nice. A few years ago I was looking on a site called alibaba or something and they had pretty cheap solar equipment.
Troy, when you said that this would not be a money saving operation, it confused me. Will I not eventually produce enough energy to pay for the equipment?
I think a something like a grape hoe would be nice. I'll be digging in extremely sand rich soil. Even a rake will suffice, but I want something more efficient at digging deeper and forming a rough mound.
I'll be digging swales pretty soon, and I want to hear what you guys think.
I won't have any tree roots do deal with, so i won't need a pulaski. A mattock isn't necessary since i don't have very compact ground.
Is there a name for a tool that is like a pulaski but doesn't have the axe part?
Wranglerstar on youtube has a video where he compares two different pulaskis, one traditional and one a little different. It looked great for scraping the earth to remove vegetation, but how good will it be at digging a 3 foot deep swale?
Roy Hinkley wrote:They all pretty much work the same way the difference being what happens to the first flushed water. You can easily harvest the first flush in one barrel strictly for irrigation and have the rest cleaner for other uses.
This vid shows using a 55 gal barrel as a reservoir to hold the first flushed water for later use, the rest is cleaner and diverted elsewhere. You don't need to do this if the water is for irrigation only but it does help keep sediment from clogging up your water system over the years.
Hey Roy, that is a very well done video. Thanks for the link. Do you have another link to show how to connect the storage barrels to one another?
I am getting to install a rain water catchment system with 55 gallon barrels which previously contained honey. I get them for $10 a pop, and have a potential limitless supply from a local bread bakery.
The California drought has severely impacted me, since I started getting involved in permaculture about 4 years ago, I haven't had a year with average rainfall. With a normal year averaging 50+ inches, we now only get around 20-30 inches.
What little we do get, I want to be sure to catch as much as I can when it does finally rain.
One thing, do I need a first flush diverter?
If so, what is the best way (cheapest and most functional) to go about building one? A link to a nice tutorial would be helpful. The more pictures the better.
I'll be getting this done as soon as I feel like I have sufficient information, I'll be documenting this project on my instagram. Follow me at @centralcoastpermaculture.
The rolling of this isn't the big deal, however you flip it, the top lid can be moved down to just above the top of the bedding, secured with rods, allowing the layers to stay in place when the bin is flipped over .
The bottom is then opened on a hinge,the castings then harvested,then the whole thing flipped back over. [/quote]
I like that idea William, it seems that it might reduce any disturbance to the worms. You would just have to work quickly, because they would probably move up after being flipped over to oppose gravity. It would be interesting to see how it works out.
anna swing wrote:The worms I have eat their shredded newspaper bedding. That makes me wonder what made the difference: the leaves or the compost?
Or are we introducing some organisms from outdoors that help decompose the food scraps so they taste better to the worms?
Thanks for the reply Anna.
One key piece missing from the strictly newspaper bedding is a lack of diversity. Once you have finished worm compost, it's just nutrients from newspaper. I know worms aren't too delicate, but I would liken that diet to feeding chickens only corn, or soy. The worms will live and thrive, yes, but i'm after a high quality end product that is rich with a diversity of nutrients from many different sources, much like a normal compost pile.
And I've read that the worms not only eat the food scraps, but they eat the bacteria also eating the scraps. So if you have some compost from a pile that is not quite finished, you have just introduced Segans of bacteria and fungi to your vermiculture, further mimicking a natural environment.
I think the thing that really made the difference is the boarder between the compost and leaf matter. In permaculture, we value edges, be it a fence-line, boarder of a pond, or convergence of two media like compost and leaves.
I hope i was able to clarify some things, and possibly help your vermiculture. One thing that I seem to apply to my garden, is that adding compost is usually never a bad thing.
Good tip on those egg shells, that would seem to imitate diatomaceous earth?
I've actually been doing some reading on turtles since I first posted. It turns out a box turtles only consume 30% plant material, and 70% animal material such as slugs, snails, and other invertibrets.
I hear your concern about bits of metal and chemicals, and I assure any harmful products are strictly forbidden in my garden.
What do you think about keeping them around only shrubs, and supplement their slug diet with plant material?
I grow 'hot lips' to attract humming birds and other insects. I also encourage alfalfa as a nitrogen fixing perennial chop and drop also really good for bees. Bush lupine for butterflies and creeping manzanita as a perennial ground cover.
I live in Santa Cruz county, any my garden is infested with slugs and snails. I don't have the time to pick every single one by hand, and I can't seem to keep any young plants or seedlings alive. They eat the seed leaves of every sunflower, bean, flower, herb plant that grows in my garden.
I realize the problem I have is a predator deficiency, but I am in an urban setting and my HOA doesn't allow chickens or ducks. I am completely against slug-o. I have been trying several things to deter the snails from entering a perimeter around my seedlings. For instance, I used to get bags of coffee grounds from local shops then spread it all in 6" thick circles around the base of a newly transplanted zucchini plant. I have read about people having success using this method, though I did not share their same success. Recently, I have been saving all of my egg shells, baking them at around 250F until completely dry and the tips are starting to get golden, crushing them roughly into 1/4-1/2" shards, then spreading them in circles around vulnerable seedlings. I have read snails don't like the feeling of moving over these 'shards-of-glass' and will avoid them if able. Again, I didn't get similar results. I believe I came up with an effective natural way to manage my snail population.
Some species of turtles eat snails and slugs, along with plants in your garden. I was wondering if others use turtles as a predator. What type of plants should I keep a turtle away from? It seems obviouse to me that I shouldn't let them into a bed of lettuce or low flowers, but can I have them around largest plants or shrubs? I have Artichoke plants, jeresulem artichokes, sunflowers, various woody shrubs like microphylla, Cleveland sage, African safe, phygellium, salvia greggi, bush lupine, and a manzanita ground cover, blueberries, goji berry,and I'm planning on planting alfalfa for a nitrogen fixing chop and drop mulch. I also grow herbaceous plants like comfrey, borage, nasturtium, arugula, squash, strawberries, calendula, curly dock, lambs quarters, kale, cilantro (planted 6 plants last weekend, only have 3 left), climbing winter pea, and California poppy. I'd be worried about all of those plants. I wouldn't be worried about them eating my ripening tomatoes because I use the love apple farms method, growing indeterminate varieties and training the vines to grow vertically so the turtles won't be able to reach them.
Which turtle species do you have, and what percentage of their diet is plant matter? Would they eat a large amount of snails and slugs if presented? Why special features do your turtles need? Please link videos and other helpful instructional articles.
Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for any advice.
I've read about ways to harvest casting, and i have harvested castings a few different ways without disturbing my colony.
One way that i found to be the easiest is to feed the worms on only one side of your bin for about a week or two. Once all of your worms migrate to the fed region of your bin, you harvest the other side of the bin, throwing all worm stragglers back in.
Another way is using a more complicated system that lets you scrape castings out from the bottom of the bin, without disturbing the worms living in the top of the bin. To me, I don't understand how you keep the worms from just wiggling down through the bottom the system.
One cool thing about my new system, is that you can build up the castings quite a bit and take a much bigger harvest less often. I am using a recycled storage bin that's 16" tall and my first venting holes on the sides start at about 10.5" from the bottom. Most other typical worm beds are shallow, so they tend to build up a higher concentration of casting and end up living in their own waste, forcing you to either add another tray with fresh bedding, or harvest and start again with fresh bedding.
With the deep-litter system, I could let castings build up since they are constantly living in fresh bedding, then automatically moving vertically through fresh leaves as they leave their castings.
I call my new technique the 'Deep-Litter Worm Bin'. I'd like to know what you guys think.
One night, I was on the computer reading different permaculture related articles as usual, then it hit me. Composting worms like red wigglers usually live in the top few inches of the soil and feed on organic matter in the leaf-litter right? Why don't I try to create an environment like a natural system in my worm bin?
I was too excited to wait for morning, so I threw on my headlamp and went outside. My worms lived in a satisfactory environment, emulating every other article I read about raising worms. Just moist bedding material like finely shredded newspaper, their own castings, some compost, food scraps, finally covered in a moist brown paper bag. With this average set-up, I had an average vermiculture.
I decked out their environment, and I am seeing the results. I started by taking out their bedding, leaving only worms, worm eggs, and their castings in the bottom of the bin. I then added a thick layer of aged compost from my hot compost pile on top of the worms/castings, about 3-4". Then I added a generous amount of leaves from a leaf pile I keep in my yard, moist, but not yet decomposing, about 8-10". The leaves make up the 'Deep-Litter' part of my system.
Why do I think this is an improvement to usual vermiculture? I think the leaves serve a few purposes...
First, they serve as a famine food for the worms on the off chance I forget about them for a month or two.
Second, the leaf layer varies in moisture content throughout the bin, moist down by the food scraps and compost then they slowly transition to very dry at the top of the bin, so they have a choice as to what kind of conditions they feel they need at the time. In other words, it takes out the guess work of "is my worm bin too moist? is my worm bin too dry?", the worms know the answer and now they have a chance to self-regulate.
Third, its great insulation, I haven't taken temperature readings, but every time I dig through the leaves to feed my worms, it seems to be about the same temperature no matter the time of day or night.
And finally, it gives them the opportunity to eat what they would in the wild. Even if there are plenty of scraps to eat, they'll eat the leaves just because they like them.
I've had great success with this method, it's been about 6 months, and I noticed a HUGE surge of worm babies in my bin. For christmas I was given 2 pounds of african nightcrawlers and i set them up the same way. What a wild success. The African nightcrawlers are much more voracious than the red wigglers, they started out with about 8" of leaves, and I didn't feed them for the first two weeks to let them get settled in. They ate about 6" of the leaves, so I filled the bin back up to about 8" when I gave them their first meal, a whole pumpkin chopped up into about 4 inch squares.
Let me know what you think about my new system. Have you seen/heard/read about this before? Are you going to try it? I want to hear about your vermiculture innovations. Please ask questions if you have them.
I have two terraced beds filled with topsoil. In the picture below, you see the lowest bed with goji berry supported by a tripod, artichokes at either end, and you see the highest bed planted with perennial ground cover, lupine, various sages and salvias like greggi, african sage, microphylla, cleveland sage, and phigellium. I just planted a bunch of sunflower seeds on the top bed. I raise african nightcrawlers in the blue bin you just to the right of the goji. I keep them on the retaining wall because it acts as a thermal mass to keep the worms warmer. They like a much hotter and humid environment than the red wigglers.
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Below is my wild zone. I have an area flagged off to the right, i'll be putting some sort of patio to that sliding glass door. Mostly following that flag line is a path, that is the right most border of the wild zone and it extends in a meandering line all the way to the back fence. This photo was taken 2/09/15 at around 11am. As you can see, most of the wild zone is in shade this time of day and year. There is more sun available toward the fence. Just at the base of the hill in the top left of the picture, I planted a cotoneaster, it will bring birds to my house to keep the aphids and pill bugs away. Just 8 feet up the hill, I planted a madrone about a foot away from the fence.
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Here, you see a successful experiment, at the base of the lowest retaining wall is a long pile of mushroom compost mulched with leaves. There are a few canes of raspberries to my right I just planted 2 weeks ago with borage at its base and some freshly sown chive seeds. This row is about 20 feet long, 3 feet wide and maybe 8 inches tall at its peak.
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Here is a view of the bed from another angle. You see calendula to the left, california poppy in the middle, nasturtium behind the bed, an artichoke experiment in the pots on the bed, and above, you can see an artichoke plant, with a patch of borage to its left. I spread rocket seeds all to the artichoke's right side.
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Thanks Miles! Just a few days ago, before a rainy weekend, I cleaned out my seed stash of old seeds and just threw them into the wild zone. I never thought I would do anything with those seeds, but whatever grows there is welcome.
I did think about growing some deep rooted vegetable like parsnips, just to break up the soil. I heard of one soil conditioning technique where they just left the root veggies in the ground, to break it up, then add organic matter.
Juliet, you've got a nice looking backyard, i'll see if i can manage a few pictures which illustrate my situation. It's funny that you mentioned rocket, i just scattered some seeds a few days ago. They might be popping up now, i'll have to go check when I get a chance.
I made a little raised bed out of straw bales and filled it with mushroom compost and composted horse manure mixed with bedding, and just about 2 years later, i can stick my hand into the ground where I was never even able to stick in a shovel.
I'm amazed at the amount of worms I have in my back-yard. I have a ton of pill bugs, my HOA doesn't allow chickens so i don't really know what to do about those. I have many different kinds of bugs; spiders, centipedes, crickets, aphids, various beetles, bees, and hover flies.
I'm in a mediterranean climate. I'm actually in a town called Watsonville. We grow most of the worlds strawberries and raspberries (Driscolls is the big brand you might recognize). We are also famous for our Martinelli's Sparkling Cider. I live in a big agricultural community, I have a climate in which I can grow year round. Its the beginning of February and I have 2 artichokes the size of big grapefruits ready to harvest.
I live in a neighborhood with a HOA. When my house was built, the scraped away all of the topsoil, and neglected to replace it. I'm left with a flat area with only clay under my feet. Its a blessing and a curse. I live in the central coast of California and we just had our driest January in history. So whatever rain soaks into my back yard, stays in the clay for a while.
I've already established the whole path as a 'wild zone', i never step foot in it. There is a nice natural poly-culture that I didn't plant including; vetch, curly dock, dandelion, various grass, and some tall weeds with a huge radish-like taproot, and a few more. I plan on introducing alfalfa to the wild zone because I heard it will do well in clay, and drought/soaked conditions.
I have several sources for spent mushroom compost that I can get for free. Our HOA uses a local landscaping service who come to work weekly. They rake leaves onto tarps, mow the grass, and trim trees/shrubs. I have built a relationship with the workers, and i'm encouraged to take as much material off of their hands as i wish. Its a win-win, they have fewer tarps of stuff to haul away, I have an unlimited supply of local organic matter to add to my garden as mulch or compostables. Every fall, i gather as much leaves as I can from the neighborhood and lay it thick on my raised beds.
I haven't produced much food on my plot yet, I feel like I should be more focused on investing in my soil before I focus on production. Can anybody suggest a few essential edibles you feel should be in every permaculture plot? Does anybody have pointers? Or before/after photos for inspiration?
I just signed up for Geoff's online PDC a few days ago. I'm in the same boat as you, i've read a stack of books, watched hours and hours of videos and spend a lot of my spare time researching permaculture. I feel like getting the certificate will legitimize my learning and show any future employers/clients that I'm serious enough about this field to invest in myself.
The online thing is cheaper than going to many 'in person' 72 hour courses.
To answer your question about it being "more of the same". I think yes and no. There is going to be some overlap with the videos we've watched. But he provides so many videos that you just can't find online for free. I'm hoping the videos address technical aspects that I'm having trouble finding out in the wild web.
Does anybody know the steepest hill on which to install a swale? Also, I'd imagine, the steeper the hill, the swales should be deeper and occur more frequently. How far/close can I dig swales? Also, how wide/deep should an ideal swale be?
One of the natural health systems where you can find some of this information is ayurveda.
I like lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) for focus and calm.
My girlfriend started auyrveda a few months ago, and thats how this topic was brought up. We've been making green smoothies for years, and one day I was just about to load the blender up with kale and thats when she brought up the enzyme thing. She now takes tablets with a mix of dry herbs. I know Aristotle said "let food be thy medicine" and most likely meant fresh like you said in a later post.
I am an adult leader for a Boy Scout Troop and the youth have decided to take on a garden project at our meeting place. And since a scout is thrifty, we're looking for seed donations for a good start.
We'll be working on the gardening merit badge, as well as the sustainability merit badge and the scouts have requested some 'must haves' for a permaculture garden (comfrey? some sort of cover crop?) whatever you would classify as a classic food forest plant or a few heirloom vegetable seeds (preferably self saved). Some interesting/rare plants or seeds would be amazing.
If you send us some seeds, be sure to write a return address, we like to give out stickers.
Whatever you can spare will be greatly appreciated by a bunch of eager scouts
Please send me a message to get my address.
I have mullein and yarrow; would love comfrey and sunchokes
I just got yarrow seeds, and don't have sun chokes. but I'm cool with a straight trade of my comfrey for your mullein.
My trade list is... Russian mammoth sunflower.... Green globe artichokes... Purple artichokes... Calendula... Curly dock... California poppy... Borage... Broccoli rhab... And various salvias and mints like... Hot lips... Agastache... Greggi... Veronica.
Give me a short list of the other seeds you have up for trade.
Thanks for the serviceberry suggestion. From what I researched so far, it seems like the branches wouldn't be conducive for a walking path. If it were planted within a foot and a half of a sidewalk, would I be able to walk under its branches without bending over? It seems more like a tall shrub. Do you have any links describing the nature of its roots, trunk, and branches?
Hi permies, this is my first post on any public forum. I want to get my homeowners association to allow me to plant a fruit tree in a patch of dirt in between an asphalt road and a concrete sidewalk. They have a problem with this idea because they don't want the roots of the tree to damage the sidewalk. There was an ornamental tree there before, but the HOA cut it down and chipped it because its was causing the sidewalk to vault and they ended up replacing the concrete. If I can give them a list of fruit trees that won't damage the sidewalk, they will plant one. And hopefully pave the way for more fruit tree plantings in the neighborhood.
The problem is that it is not my land and I can't plant what I want, and I am not allowed to even plant the tree myself. They hire a landscaping service to do all of the maintenance.
I am in usda Zone 8b for sure, and sunset zone 16 i think? South Santa Cruz County, Ca, just west of the Mount Madonna range.