Is there any reason you won't be trying to select for ease-of-growth?
Personally, I would direct sow and see what happens. Those plants that survive and produce fruit by the time frost hits are winners, and require much less babying and work on your side.
I'm gardening in a new region this year and have direct sown most of my melons (testing 5 varieties) to see what happens. So far the direct sown melons are doing a lot better than the transplanted starts, despite several weeks of a head start.
If you've found your way here and are looking to write simple updates and upload pictures, check out Permapeople's garden journal! Write a post, upload images, tag plants, and even follow-up with threaded posts so you can see each project in its own view. It's all integrated with our plant database so you can easily tag a list of plants for easy reference.
We've built it so you can add a new entry in as little as 30 seconds. Just sign up for Permapeople (it's free) and start posting journal updates.
Fabian Wild and Melody Goretti — Thanks for checking it out! Glad you've signed up. I got some great regional seed from the marketplace this year (yes, we founders use it a lot!) that I'm excited to get growing this year.
We appreciate the support, and please let us know if you have any questions or feature ideas. You can reply here or through Permapeople.
Kim Goodwin — As a co-founder with Ben, I'll happily respond here.
Thanks for the great feedback. This is definitely something that stands out to me as well. In the sidebar, you can search by location — if there is a listing for it. Additionally, here's a quick link to only North American products.
Zamzam Khan — As John C Daley says, be the first! I happen to know there are quite a few folks in the UK on our networks, just not listing things at the moment. The closest we have to you currently are some products from Germany. It's totally free to list, and there are successful swaps happening every day!
In other news, thank you so much Permies team for featuring this post on the Permies Daily-ish!! Ben and I met on here, so Permapeople is a baby of Permies.
Since we posted this, we have released a few more fun features, like a garden pattern designer, where you can lay out your gardens on a grid, using your own pre-made lists, or search the plant database.
We've also quietly release a garden journal feature, where you can quickly and easily log your gardening progress; take notes, save pictures, and share with others. The more you use it, the more powerful it gets. Each piece of data you enter in your journal will inform the rest of the community. Want to know when your neighbour transplanted their tomatoes, or when you seeded the turnips last summer? If you use the journal, we'll be able to tell you.
Additionally, we're getting ready to release our gardener dashboard. We'll give you up to date weather with tips; know when to cover or harvest before a frost, when to sow seed, or when to transplant. This dashboard will grow as we gather more data. The idea being we'll be able to tell you when/what other folks in your climate are doing.
Please note: When we talk about collecting data, this is anonymous and for your benefit only. We are an open and non-commercial entity. You even have access to all the plant data, and can edit it accordingly; add your own images, update planting methods, or just comment for other gardeners. Our whole concept with data collection is a circular economy of mutually beneficial actors. Each element in the system is and should be complementary to other elements in the system. Each person's input benefits another's outcomes.
Don't hesitate to reach out with any questions or feedback. We're always open, and we're an organization built FOR the community BY the community. Ben and I use Permapeople for our own research/planning maybe more than anyone else on the platform, so we're always looking to improve and jam with other perma-people.
Wanted to follow-up with an alternative to MavenFair... I've been around the forums at Permies for a few years now, but about 8 months ago I connected with another Permie and we set out on our big adventure of creating an entire platform for Permies and regenerative, home-based producers.
We've recently released an Open Marketplace where small-scale producers can sell/trade any regenerative or sustainably sourced products. The best part is that it's totally free! We're a regenerative, 100% organic organization - currently funding everything from our own pockets. We do have about 140+ items in the marketplace already, mainly seeds at the moment, but are looking to help some sellers get their products out there.
Some features of the marketplace:
- Potential buyers/traders can search via a map
- Sellers get their own "profile" page for their marketplace/shop where they can easily share their listed products via a URL
- Full marketplace search
- Support for barter/trade/swap options
- Basic messaging system through private anonymous email (without payment processing) to connect buyers and sellers
- Supporting features - like interactive plant lists (to list for trade items
- Canadian and German operated
You can check it out here. And if you have any questions or feedback, please don't hesitate to reach out. We are building this to facilitate localized, circular, regenerative economies - not for profit. We're also willing to assist in some marketing efforts (for free) if anyone would like to take the plunge and get their stuff out there.
Glad to hear it Derrick! Thanks for letting us know. Please don't hesitate to pass along any feedback that might make things easier for you. We're actively developing the platform and pushing updates almost daily.
This is a cool idea - but I wonder how well Bitcoin (specifically) fits in with the values of the community, what with it's intensive energy consumption. I don't mean to bring down the party, but there are plenty of other more sustainable coins to play with. There's even a "regenerative currency" coin called Seeds which might fit better. Although it's not as valuable as BTC it may be a viable option. The team at SEEDS is also open to working with organizations, and there could be some collaboration opportunities here as well!
I've got a contact of one of the peeps behind it, so let me know if you want to connect with them.
Melonie Corder - Yikes - that first one took a beating, but the new one looks fantastically professional. I will definitely keep yours in mind for goals when I build my next one. This looks really fantastic, thank you for sharing.
Gregory Campbell - Thanks for the tip! I'm very new to carpentry, and have been mainly feeling out my designs organically, but this is a great point I will definitely keep in mind in the future, and I could see it eventually biting me in the ass.
Stacy Witscher - Sounds like you might be in a higher zone than me, but year-round growing is wonderful. I've been able to grow the cold-weather greens without any issues in the fall/winter, and in the summer the spaghetti squash polycultures are my favourite. These greenhouses are fun!
Jay Angler - Thanks! I'm on Haida Gwaii, and we may get a few inches for a few days, but that's it. I haven't experienced a snow on it yet, though the arch is steep, and I have no doubt it holds enough heat to keep the few inches of snow melting and sliding off. I suppose a freak snow-storm could happen, but it rarely dips below 2 or 3 here for more than a couple days.
We had 2 Indian Runners and they were a joy to watch. They went after some scary large slugs (like 15cm long), and most of the time managed to excitedly choke them down.
This is great! I’d love to see a picture if you have any.
Regarding the ducks, they are magnificent slug control, and I had a similar experience. We did let the ducks into the greenhouse when they were younger, but they quickly became snackers. That said, I’d let 2 of them in there once in a while if the plants were mature enough!
Glad you had such a good experience, even after such a loss from the cyclone!
Living on the Northwest Coast of British Columbia is beautiful - but it has its drawbacks. I need a greenhouse just as much to divert the rain as I do for the season extension. My first season gardening here was a disaster. Between the slugs, deer, and neverending rain - I managed to eke out a wonderous supply of tea herbs – but not much else from the garden.
To solve several of these issues that led to such a disappointing production (besides still learning the land and its ways) I set out to build a greenhouse, and apply as many permaculture principles to the thing I could.
Requirements and constraints
I already knew I would likely need to purchase poly for this, so it should cut out as many outside inputs as possible
It should be built in such a way that I can recycle, reuse or salvage as many materials as possible
The design can’t be too complex, because I’m just not that handy (yet)
It should be relatively cheap
It should survive the crazy winter winds (the islanders up there eat 100km/h gusts for breakfast)
It should be large enough to grow a significant amount of food - on all axes
The door and path should be wide enough to allow a wheelbarrow through
It should fit somewhere out of the way while optimizing sun exposure
I’ve been a fan of Edible Acres’ YouTube channel for years now - and always enjoyed their experiments. One of these experiments is the cattle panel greenhouse. This design seemed to fit all the criteria I had for this project so naturally, I got to work.
For the most part, I knew my designs would largely have the be based on the material I could acquire for this project. I needed something to form the shape and hold the poly.
I set out clearing an area that was overgrown with salmonberry bushes, and staking out approximate sizes. There were very little earthworks required, besides clearing a few salmonberry rootballs and covering the area in a few wheel-barrow loads of sand in an attempt to improve drainage around the future greenhouse.
It was already early spring by this time, and I had started and acquired a ton of seedlings that were ready to grow.
One thing I always hated about the property was that the surrounding woods had been used as a dumping site in years past. However, as they say in permaculture: the problem becomes the solution. I scrounged around and took stock of everything I had at my disposal.
One of my favourite aspects of this setup was the vertical space. Although the greenhouse itself is only 6’6” high, there is ample room for vining plants to grow up the sides, using the mesh as a trellis. This worked remarkably well for vining squash. It was a wonderful surprise to walk into the greenhouse and admire all my hanging spaghetti squash as they brightened towards harvest. Tomatoes were a lot easier to manage, with jute tied to the top of the arch guiding the plants along in between the squash.
The tomatoes and spaghetti squash flourished here. Many of the other crops did not. It could be attributed to several factors (as is gardening), but both of these crops are especially well suited towards this environment. I think I’ll be doubling up on these next time!
As an added bonus, the greenhouse seemed to prove an ideal habitat for the little green tree-frogs we’ve seen around the yard. At one point we counted over 20 of them hanging out in the greenhouse! They loved the spots between the slabs of the raised bed and the poly. Nice and point, and ready for action if any bugs should come near. Being a source of heat, it also attracted a number of bugs so it made for a perfect tree frog habitat. The frogs in the picture below lived in the cannabis plant for over a week, nestled in the leaves.
Mistakes and what I would do differently
My biggest mistake has nothing to do with the design of this greenhouse, but with how I put the garden beds together; I built the frames before putting the cardboard and leaf mould down - in an attempt to smother the grass and buttercup underneath. What I should have done was place the cardboard and leaves down before framing the beds, so the buttercups and grass wouldn’t have as much room to creep through the cracks.
Another issue is water saturation. I placed the greenhouse on a flat spot, at the bottom of a slight pitch. When it rains for days on end (as it does up here) this ground get very saturated, and the water seeps through the soil into the greenhouse, creating a terribly wet environment. If I had thought about this or had the means, I might have dug 9” down and filled the area with sand or gravel to assist in the drainage of the area. For now, I may have to dig a small diversion ditch around the backside of the greenhouse.
One of my favourite parts of permaculture and gardening is experimentation. You can gain so much more from first-hand experience, and if you have the means to improve your outputs with even less input - why not give it a try?
If you've got any DIY greenhouse successes or failures, I'd love to see some of them!
For a bonus picture of my "pest control" roommates, and more details of what my build process looked like, check out the original post.
Hey Andy, this is a great idea! Myself and another permie are working on something similar at the moment. Currently you can only create guilds from a large database of plants, but we'll be working on more of the aspects soon too.
If it's an option for you, I'd love to see if we could collaborate on this! I'll send you a purple moosage with my email if you're interested!
Ben Falk's book, The Resilient Farm and Homestead, has a great overview of all the parts as a whole. He refers to it as: Whole Systems Design. There are a few case studies in this book about how many of these systems are designed, and how they're working in the real world.
Seeing the whole system is important from a vision perspective, and to know how all the pieces fit together.
At the end of 2019, I lost my job. I started working on a new project — a little app to help me track all the plants in the garden — so I could learn a new programming framework. I got to work and put together a little prototype - but then I got some work, and everything fell by the wayside. Several months later - I'm cruising "Recent Topics" on Permies, when I came across a post from Ben: "Would you be interested in a plant database/planner/tool focused on permaculture?". This was the exact project I had in mind. Ben had already done a ton of research, and had a solid plan in motion. Long story short, we connected, put our heads together and tinkered around - and 5 months later we've got Permapeople!
We've built a plant database. But not just any database — a database that focuses on the *value* of plants; their intrinsic value within a guild, garden, ecosystem, environment. We're also building a shed full of useful tools — like custom plant lists, an open marketplace and garden design tools — that work directly with the database.
We started the database with an import from Plants For A Future. While PFAF is a loaded database full of quality information, and great for searching for specific plants - there are certain things that it just can't do. To improve our offering, we'r working through the PFAF data and displaying what we find most relevant - sprinkling in some Wikipedia information and images, and best of all - allowing contributors like you to edit or add data.
So far, we have over 8500 plants indexed, and you can create and manage lists of plants, or contribute plant information. One of the biggest differentiators for us is that we're collaborative — like Wikipedia, but for the utility of plants. Anyone can add a missing plant - and update or edit data to improve quality.
Our goal here is that everyone's input maximizes the value for every other participant in this ecosystem.
Soon enough, you'll be able to design your garden or landscape using the plants in the database and easily share your experiences with other plant slingers. Permapeople can help guide you down a path to becoming a more knowledgeable gardener.
We've also built a marketplace for regenerative and sustainable items. You can list products, which are discoverable by location, set a monetary or trade value, add images, and set conditions (available for pick-up, will ship, delivery). When a customer is interested, they send you a message. It's simple, but we like to consider it an *appropriate technology*.
While there are other free plant databases out there, they're just not as active or adaptable as we need them to be, and they lack a marketplace and planning tools.
Over the past month or so, we've been doing extensive research, working to fill those gaps and design the best possible path forward for Permapeople.
There is a bright future for both the database and the open marketplace, and some new planning and design tools are coming soon. We will continue to improve this project to the best of our abilities - but we could use your help.
The database and marketplace are totally free - and will remain free forever. All we ask is that if you try it and find it useful, please add/update one little piece of information on a plant, sign up, or share permapeople.org with a friend! If you have your own database (spreadsheet or otherwise) — or any feedback on the project at all, we'd love to hear about it!
Our mission is to assist people in growing a productive future.
Thank you We want to thank a number of you who we consulted and answered some of our questions! You've been invaluable in our process so far!
I'm currently working on a project which will require a strong collection of wild/native/naturalized starts -- all part of a natural guild.
I'm attempting to develop a guild using a collection of native edible/medicinal plants which I've been able to acquire through local foraging. This guild will be used in re-greening civic green spaces that have been half-ass implemented (see: cleared of trees, soil disturbed, left to desertify) in our semi-arid climate in the midst of massive suburban development. This guild will be edible, easily scalable, and will serve to re-green small pockets of abused "green space", as well as provide education opportunities for students (schools in the area) and local residents. I've been working on a proposal for the city, and have a good idea of what they're looking for.
Strawberries are one of my favourite ground covers! Among my fruit trees, I've planted strawberries and chives. They both self-propagate extremely well, and I find both of them quite useful and delicious!
Just before planting the latest trees, I had read the "How to Plant Trees" chapter in Peter Bane's Permaculture Handbook. He suggests throwing down some cardboard to catch the soil from the tree-hole so it doesn't all disappear into the grass. This works well, and makes it easy to tip the cardboard at the end to pour the rest of the crumbs where you need them.
To Daniel - I've lined most of my beds with a short stack of partially rotting/punky alder wood, and the ground beetles seem to love it. Not sure how successful they are at keeping the slugs in check though - as the slugs sure are plentiful.
I've recently added 2 ducks to our little homestead for eggs/slug control, and at ust 4 weeks old they're already slug-eating machines, though they're only outside for short periods of time. I'm looking forward to getting them into a mini duck tractor when they're older to clear patches around the gardens!
I had the same experiences when looking for such a thing.
Last year during my down-time between jobs, I started putting together such a thing (I'm a designer with some programming skills by trade), and I was calling it Useful Plants, as the focus was on the actual uses of these plants. I ended up putting in several weeks' worth of work, and got a solid start on the application itself (it works, and you can create new users, add/edit plants, even pull from plant profiles from Wikipedia to get you started on a new plant profile).
Your thoughts on the features are very much in line with my own; I had built a small "related plants" section, which could suggest other plants - possibly more suitable or replaceable based on the layer or ecological function. The focus on the personal experience aspect would be huge as well.
Essentially, I have the platform running and the APIs and front-end and server-side stuff all built out, I'm just not hosting it, and it will require data entry.
I would love to collaborate on this if you want to explore this further! You can reply here, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss some more details!
I’m also in zone 7b and struggling with slugs, excess moisture (rain, rain, rain!), and mild temperatures.
This will be my second full growing season with real gardens and I’ve been able to complete a few experiments, and grow some things successfully despite the constraints.
Looks like I’m finally going to commit to staying here, so I’m looking to expand our production with new experiments over the coming years. We do get a good amount of forageable items around here (So many mushrooms), and there is salmon and halibut and cod to be caught right across the road from my property, and so many berries to collect throughout summer and fall (crow, salmon, salal, blueberry, huckleberry, thimble, Wild strawberry, lingonberry). We do alright in that regard, and enjoy making fermented beverages and baking with this surplus through the rest of the year.
Things that grow well, despite slugs and rain:
- plum (green gage, Italian plum)
- apple (Frankenstein)
- lemon balm
Useful green things that grow wild, and fill in the wild areas:
- red alder
- salmon berry
- stink currant
- pearly everlasting
- curly dock
- red huckleberry
- rhododendron (many types)
- miner’s lettuce
- pacific crab apple
Other things that I haven’t found use for yet:
- 9,000 types of grass
- western hemlock
- red elderberry
Some things I’m experimenting with:
- carmine jewel cherries (growing and green for past 18 months, but still young)
- hazelnut shrubs (about 2 years old, still young and early to tell but most look happy)
- Saskatoon berry (still young, but some of them are growing very quickly)
- apples from seed
- Greenhouse growing annuals that don’t like being wet all the time (tomatoes, squash, cucumber, lettuce, spinach, carrots)
Some experiments I’m planning:
- growing loads of crabapple starts on which to graft more tasty varieties
- found a pair of old 25 ft tall green plum trees in overgrown field, attempted grafting onto my plum tree, and attempting to root some more of it
- French drains/micro swales on contour to guide water off low points
- capturing runoff into tiered rice garden
What works for you in your 7b? Any nuts or fruits working for you?
Saw your post about dropping money on Google Ads and the return. I dabble in e-commerce and do a bit of marketing for various projects, and I’ve found (much cheaper) success with many of the lesser, yet more focused advertising networks.
Some specific ideas for you:
- Reddit: Targeting hobbyist, textiles, crafting, DIY, knitting subreddits
- Quora: Targeting questions about spinning, yarn, wool, dyeing textiles, etc.
These two are significantly cheaper than Google and I get great results of the ad is written just right. The targeting on these two networks is solid.
I'm no expert, but I have the same issue, living on extremely heavy soil with a high water table. The yard slopes slightly, and there's an old overgrown "ditch" running down the lowest point, 20' before the gravel platform of the house (which drains nicely).
I've experimented with two different ideas over the past 2 years and I'll outline the experiences below.
1. I cut a 9-12" ditch (about 6-8" wide) running down one side of the hill, slightly on contour, but mostly along the edge of the "wild island" (which is an overgrown patch with old-growth stumps and such, which we kept for the wildlife habitat) as it was more convenient. This helped with drainage along the one side. Ideally, I would have cut a ditch on contour, feeding into the first ditch which runs down the hill. I didn't want to cut the ditch on contour, because this would cut the usable/cleared part of the side yard in half. I support in retrospect I should have added a french drain style ditch so as to not interrupt the usage too much. The main problem with this would be the grass. Grass roots would likely fill the french drain within a year and I'd have to be actively maintaining this ditch. I guess it might be worth it though...
TL;DR: Dig some shallow ditches as on-contour as possible.
2. When removing patches of sedge, and buried trash that the previous tenants buried/left in the yard, I was left with some holes. Some deeper than others. I patched these holes using pebbles and gravel from the beach across the street. A few of these holes happened to be near a low/wet spot in the yard, and once they were filled with gravel, the areas are no longer soggy after the rain!
TL;DR: Dig a pit in the wet spots and fill with gravel/sand/pebbles to enhance the drainage into the soil below.
As I'm writing this out, I'm realizing a combination of the two would suffice. I'm inspired to go work on this now...
Another vote for Abundant Edge Podcast, and Cannabis Cultivation Podcast. Okay, okay, before you call me out on the second one — they cover much more than just cannabis cultivation; there are episodes on natural farming, permaculture, organic mulch, soil building, etc.
Some of my favourite podcasts these days are audio drama / fiction. Supernatural and weird and mysterious: Tanis, Rabbits, Black Tapes, The Bug Loop, Limetown, Deca Tapes.
Radio Rental for weird stories about people’s fears (featuring Dwight from The Office), Thunder Bay for investigative reports on the corruption in Thunder Bay, Ontario (well written and well-produced), Someone Knows Something for well-produced and heartfelt and mysterious true crime cases.
If it is unlocked, you can usually find an unlock code on eBay for $1 or less. I've unlocked all my hand-me-down phones over the past few years through this method with great success. I'm also in Canada, so I know it works for Canadian carriers.
When I lived in Montreal, there was a week or so at the beginning of July - where some mayor in the past had made it a rule that everyone should move on this day. In a city full of apartments, that makes for one big mess, and a load of opportunity for treasure hunters!
I would walk the blocks of my neighbourhood every evening around this time of year. My favourite finds were an 18” cast iron pan in fine shape, a large 8-person tent, and much of the furniture and books we still have years later!
Aside from the hellish “moving week” treasure hunting, one of my favourite dumpsters was at Canadian Tire. I found dozens of plants from the garden center - which just needed some love, a 2 pack of Coleman sleeping bags (which they had slashed with a box-cutter — an easy mend), and almost a whole roll of slightly tangled nylon rope — had to be 300 feet of it!
This is one thing I miss about living in Montreal. If you needed something, the city always produced!