• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Anne Miller
  • Mike Haasl
  • Pearl Sutton
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • r ranson
  • Burra Maluca
  • Joseph Lofthouse
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Leigh Tate
  • Carla Burke
gardeners:
  • Greg Martin
  • Jay Angler
  • John F Dean

Advice for a 45+ Couple Doing Permaculture on a Suburban 1/4-Acre

 
pioneer
Posts: 126
Location: Midwestern USA
17
monies fungi trees foraging food preservation medical herbs bee writing
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Most permaculture books and programs are slanted toward owners of fairly sizable tracts of land, at least a few acres and usually more. And a lot of permaculture activity assumes a certain amount of - shall we say - youthful vigor in order to manage the physical labor input required.

But... a lot of human beings are middle age (and older), and most will only be able to work upon very small pieces of property, say the size of the average American suburban lawn.

So... it seems to me that permaculture, in order to gain mainstream acceptance AND succeed as a movement, must take these things into consideration.

My husband and I are a great example. We're in year 4 on a 1/4-acre suburban lot. We've already successfully converted nearly all of the turf grass and exotic ornamentals to native and beneficial human use plants, designing by adapting permaculture principles to our smaller scale. We've built 3 hugelkulturs (none of them 7 feet tall, by the way; that just wouldn't be practical for our space). I design plantings in multiple layers and guilds. But there are limits to what we can do - limits imposed by our suburban permitting authorities or by the size and scope of our space here or our own physical capabilities.

What resources would you suggest best fit our situation? What advice would you offer?
 
pollinator
Posts: 203
Location: Middle Georgia, Zone 8B
80
homeschooling home care chicken food preservation cooking fiber arts
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is a good thread that might give you some ideas: https://permies.com/t/146023/aging-homesteader

I am nearly 49, hubbie is nearly 50. We are in a weird suburban pocket of a larger urban area, on .5 acre. I imagine we face similar setbacks as you do.

Some ideas I've been implementing are:

1. Plan for as many perennials as you can. As we age, replanting annuals every year will become more challenging. I don't think my property will ever be 100% perennial, and I know that digging in the dirt is good exercise for the body. But planning ahead with fruit trees, brambles, perennial tubers, etc. will be a long-term benefit.

2. Plan for raised beds as bending, stooping, kneeling, etc. might become more difficult with age.

3. Realize that we don't have to do it all. We may never be able to grow our own chicken fodder while still providing all the necessary food for our own family. But every little bit snowballs on itself over time.

4. Utilize more tools if needed. Gas powered chainsaws are not a sin! LOL! If you can only handle a chainsaw versus an old axe, then use what you need.

5. I don't know if you have children/grandchildren. We do, and we are planting now for the benefits they'll hopefully reap 20 years from now. We're trying to think long-term.
 
Lisa Brunette
pioneer
Posts: 126
Location: Midwestern USA
17
monies fungi trees foraging food preservation medical herbs bee writing
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you, Stacie! What are your favorite edible perennials?

Stacie Kim wrote:

1. Plan for as many perennials as you can. As we age, replanting annuals every year will become more challenging. I don't think my property will ever be 100% perennial, and I know that digging in the dirt is good exercise for the body. But planning ahead with fruit trees, brambles, perennial tubers, etc. will be a long-term benefit.

 
Posts: 65
27
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Lisa!
I feel a little sheepish recommending it again, caus I was just banging on about it in another thread, but Linda Woodrows ‘The Permaculture Home Garden’ is an excellent book about getting a great deal from a small space with the least work. She talks about a few examples of people altering her system to better suit their needs and locations (ie a small courtyard, a suburban block, and her market garden system which took up about an acre I think).
It’s a really interesting book, chock full of ideas that can be adapted and made your own.
If you go hard core, it can be extremely detailed, however you can also start with the basic concepts and develop them in the way which suits your location and situation best.
Personally I am currently designing an adaptation to include making the beds raised hugel Chicken roundhouses, but that’s because of the climate and predator pressure (for both chickens and veges) at my site.
If you’re not keen on chickens Linda also gives some great ideas on working with worms

This is the book, I hope it helps! Seriously she’s so awesome....

https://www.amazon.com.au/Permaculture-Home-Garden-Linda-Woodrow/dp/0670865990/ref=asc_df_0670865990/?tag=googleshopmob-22&linkCode=df0&hvadid=341772445813&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=8397521840935148275&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9071399&hvtargid=pla-550422733657&psc=1

 
Stacie Kim
pollinator
Posts: 203
Location: Middle Georgia, Zone 8B
80
homeschooling home care chicken food preservation cooking fiber arts
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Lisa Brunette wrote:Thank you, Stacie! What are your favorite edible perennials?



I am fairly new to our property (we bought it in 2019), so many of my perennials haven't started in full production yet. And I don't know what zone you're in, so take all of this with a grain of salt:

Trees:
1. Fuyu persimmon
2. Apples--crabapple, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Anna, and hopefully Pink Lady
3. Plum--Autumn Rosa and Morris
4. Native Mulberry
5. Figs-Celeste and Brown Turkey
6. Apricots--Garden Annie Dwarf
7. Nectarines--Fantasia and Sun Red
8. Pears--Keiffer and Bartlett

Bushes:
1. Russian Hardy Pomegranate
2. Blueberries--too many varieties to name!
3. Oregon Champion Gooseberry
4. Yucca--for security around the perimeter of our property and eating blossoms
5. Black Elderberry (new to us, still in the fridge for stratification)


Vines/Brambles:
1. Blackberry--Navajo, Prime Ark, and several native
2. Raspberry--Latham and Fall God
3. Prolific Kiwi (brand new to us, haven't seen much growth yet)
4. Grape--Razzmatazz, Concord, and Lakemont

Plants:
1. Strawberry
2. Dandelion (for leaves and roots)
3. Collards (I know they're not "technically" a perennial, but they volunteer themselves around here so readily!)
4. Jerusalem Artichoke
5. Groundnuts (new to us, still learning)
6. Broadleaf Plantain (for medicinal salves)
7. Lots of other "weeds" that I am still learning about. Until I learn more, they often get fed to the chickens. They do love Henbit and Chickweed!
8. Egyptian walking onions
9. Purslane. I have to overwinter it inside the house.
10. Many herbs here are perennial. Rosemary and thyme are doing well.

We don't have any asparagus, since only half of my family likes it. But I'd really like to set up a small patch someday. Until then, I need to focus more on the foods we all like.
I'd like to get a few cuttings of Prickly Pear soon. And I'd like to get a Camellia sinensis bush or two.

Edited to add: I'm also looking into getting a hazelnut bush. Pecans grow wild here, but they're not always good eating.
 
Posts: 79
Location: central Pennsylvania
10
2
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This thread speaks to me bc I am 60, and have only a 20'x60' urban lot.  Much of the permaculture info I  have read doesn't seem to apply to  smallish lots and the older bodies.  I will have to look for that book!
 
Lisa Brunette
pioneer
Posts: 126
Location: Midwestern USA
17
monies fungi trees foraging food preservation medical herbs bee writing
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Caitlin, Thanks for the recommendation. Though I've read a lot of permaculture books, I hadn't come across that one, as here in the U.S. you have to get the international edition from Australia. Will check it out!

Caitlin Mac Shim wrote:Hi Lisa!
I feel a little sheepish recommending it again, caus I was just banging on about it in another thread, but Linda Woodrows ‘The Permaculture Home Garden’ is an excellent book about getting a great deal from a small space with the least work. She talks about a few examples of people altering her system to better suit their needs and locations (ie a small courtyard, a suburban block, and her market garden system which took up about an acre I think).
It’s a really interesting book, chock full of ideas that can be adapted and made your own.
If you go hard core, it can be extremely detailed, however you can also start with the basic concepts and develop them in the way which suits your location and situation best.
Personally I am currently designing an adaptation to include making the beds raised hugel Chicken roundhouses, but that’s because of the climate and predator pressure (for both chickens and veges) at my site.
If you’re not keen on chickens Linda also gives some great ideas on working with worms

This is the book, I hope it helps! Seriously she’s so awesome....

https://www.amazon.com.au/Permaculture-Home-Garden-Linda-Woodrow/dp/0670865990/ref=asc_df_0670865990/?tag=googleshopmob-22&linkCode=df0&hvadid=341772445813&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=8397521840935148275&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9071399&hvtargid=pla-550422733657&psc=1

 
Lisa Brunette
pioneer
Posts: 126
Location: Midwestern USA
17
monies fungi trees foraging food preservation medical herbs bee writing
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Stacie,

We're in zone 6, but so close to a sweep for 7 that sometimes that's more accurate. Climate change shifted us in the 90s and looks to be shifting us again.

I am fairly new to our property (we bought it in 2019), so many of my perennials haven't started in full production yet. And I don't know what zone you're in, so take all of this with a grain of salt:

Trees:
1. Fuyu persimmon
2. Apples--crabapple, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Anna, and hopefully Pink Lady
3. Plum--Autumn Rosa and Morris
4. Native Mulberry
5. Figs-Celeste and Brown Turkey
6. Apricots--Garden Annie Dwarf
7. Nectarines--Fantasia and Sun Red
8. Pears--Keiffer and Bartlett

Bushes:
1. Russian Hardy Pomegranate
2. Blueberries--too many varieties to name!
3. Oregon Champion Gooseberry
4. Yucca--for security around the perimeter of our property and eating blossoms
5. Black Elderberry (new to us, still in the fridge for stratification)


Vines/Brambles:
1. Blackberry--Navajo, Prime Ark, and several native
2. Raspberry--Latham and Fall God
3. Prolific Kiwi (brand new to us, haven't seen much growth yet)
4. Grape--Razzmatazz, Concord, and Lakemont

Plants:
1. Strawberry
2. Dandelion (for leaves and roots)
3. Collards (I know they're not "technically" a perennial, but they volunteer themselves around here so readily!)
4. Jerusalem Artichoke
5. Groundnuts (new to us, still learning)
6. Broadleaf Plantain (for medicinal salves)
7. Lots of other "weeds" that I am still learning about. Until I learn more, they often get fed to the chickens. They do love Henbit and Chickweed!
8. Egyptian walking onions
9. Purslane. I have to overwinter it inside the house.
10. Many herbs here are perennial. Rosemary and thyme are doing well.

We don't have any asparagus, since only half of my family likes it. But I'd really like to set up a small patch someday. Until then, I need to focus more on the foods we all like.
I'd like to get a few cuttings of Prickly Pear soon. And I'd like to get a Camellia sinensis bush or two.

Edited to add: I'm also looking into getting a hazelnut bush. Pecans grow wild here, but they're not always good eating.



That's an impressive list! Do you need to use netting or any other barriers to keep wildlife from consuming? I want to try collards, and now you've further encouraged me. I'm with you on henbit. I find it tasty, too. I've heard mulberry can get out of control - do you have to keep it in check?

I also have been on a quest for prickly pear but only see it while hiking where I can't harvest.

Here's ours, though most of these are too young yet to bear:

Native: Persimmon, pawpaw, blackberry, plum, serviceberry, hazelnut, blueberry, elderberry, hibiscus, bee balm, echinacea, chokecherry, evening primrose, hyssop, violets

Non-native: Rhubarb, apple, pear, gooseberry, raspberry, horseradish, asparagus, potato onions, rose, lilac, artemisia, sage, oregano, marjoram

Not perennial but tends to self-seed with abandon: sunflowers, arugula
 
Stacie Kim
pollinator
Posts: 203
Location: Middle Georgia, Zone 8B
80
homeschooling home care chicken food preservation cooking fiber arts
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Do you need to use netting or any other barriers to keep wildlife from consuming? I want to try collards, and now you've further encouraged me. I'm with you on henbit. I find it tasty, too. I've heard mulberry can get out of control - do you have to keep it in check?



Yes, we need to use netting. Wild birds, although I dearly love them, also love our berries! Native mulberry does get quite large, so we bought a small one we hope to keep pruned to a manageable size.

I see you have horseradish! I have some ordered, and we're hoping it does well here. I'd also like to get a Rosa canina, as I understand they make the best rosehips.

 
Caitlin Mac Shim
Posts: 65
27
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is an awesome book about perennial vegetables. Lots of the plants aren’t available here (in Oz) as the author is in the USA but you’re in the states too right?


https://www.booktopia.com.au/perennial-vegetables-eric-toensmeier/book/9781931498401.html?source=pla&gclid=CjwKCAiAmrOBBhA0EiwArn3mfHQZlSsQRfN-K4LuTrUc_MZTjzJnU-UZsQ6J7KsQA7L5IGN15WTeShoC8lMQAvD_BwE

He gives lots of examples of how to grow and also eat the plants, but also the story of how he developed his very challenging (shady, builders rubble, small, very long cold winters) suburban block into a perennial food garden is really cool too. I think that’s another book though so I’ll try and find it again too!
 
Caitlin Mac Shim
Posts: 65
27
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here it is, Paradise Lot.

https://www.booktopia.com.au/paradise-lot-eric-toensmeier/book/9781603583992.html?source=pla&gclid=CjwKCAiAmrOBBhA0EiwArn3mfIUMoWPbvkUfX--DI-n2tQdJBmLEmhgaSbCIgllVCWu4FAP63KeegBoChdUQAvD_BwE

This ones the story of creating a small all perennial edible food garden in the city. 1/10th of an acre with lots of design challenges.

He’s a really cool guy.

Ok no more books I promise!
 
Posts: 6
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi there!  I am 57 and disabled, on a 3/4 acre lot.  I have been slowly building zones 1, 2, and 3.  At first I concentrated on zone 1, then 2, then 3 for my plantings; recently put in 2 black walnuts and 3 pecans that I figure will feed my grandchildren well.  Now that I have so many things to eat ( and yes, collards can reseed along with mustard, cilantro, and green onion) I am ready to add water collection, a few chickens, and composting of dog poo.  I also want to learn to cook with a solar oven, a rocket stove, and a hay bale cooker ( but substituting things I have plenty of like dog hair, leaves for the hay).  I do not expect to ever be as efficient as a larger place but I am excited to make this piece of the world a little more sustainable.  Honestly, at my level of energy I am patting myself on the back!
 
Lisa Brunette
pioneer
Posts: 126
Location: Midwestern USA
17
monies fungi trees foraging food preservation medical herbs bee writing
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Caitlin Mac Shim wrote:This is an awesome book about perennial vegetables. Lots of the plants aren’t available here (in Oz) as the author is in the USA but you’re in the states too right?


https://www.booktopia.com.au/perennial-vegetables-eric-toensmeier/book/9781931498401.html?source=pla&gclid=CjwKCAiAmrOBBhA0EiwArn3mfHQZlSsQRfN-K4LuTrUc_MZTjzJnU-UZsQ6J7KsQA7L5IGN15WTeShoC8lMQAvD_BwE

He gives lots of examples of how to grow and also eat the plants, but also the story of how he developed his very challenging (shady, builders rubble, small, very long cold winters) suburban block into a perennial food garden is really cool too. I think that’s another book though so I’ll try and find it again too!



That book is perfect! It's in my cart already. Thanks for the recommendation.
 
Lisa Brunette
pioneer
Posts: 126
Location: Midwestern USA
17
monies fungi trees foraging food preservation medical herbs bee writing
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Caitlin Mac Shim wrote:Here it is, Paradise Lot.

https://www.booktopia.com.au/paradise-lot-eric-toensmeier/book/9781603583992.html?source=pla&gclid=CjwKCAiAmrOBBhA0EiwArn3mfIUMoWPbvkUfX--DI-n2tQdJBmLEmhgaSbCIgllVCWu4FAP63KeegBoChdUQAvD_BwE

This ones the story of creating a small all perennial edible food garden in the city. 1/10th of an acre with lots of design challenges.

He’s a really cool guy.

Ok no more books I promise!



LOL, now this one's in my cart, too! Thanks again.
 
Lisa Brunette
pioneer
Posts: 126
Location: Midwestern USA
17
monies fungi trees foraging food preservation medical herbs bee writing
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Mary Laird wrote:Hi there!  I am 57 and disabled, on a 3/4 acre lot.  I have been slowly building zones 1, 2, and 3.  At first I concentrated on zone 1, then 2, then 3 for my plantings; recently put in 2 black walnuts and 3 pecans that I figure will feed my grandchildren well.  Now that I have so many things to eat ( and yes, collards can reseed along with mustard, cilantro, and green onion) I am ready to add water collection, a few chickens, and composting of dog poo.  I also want to learn to cook with a solar oven, a rocket stove, and a hay bale cooker ( but substituting things I have plenty of like dog hair, leaves for the hay).  I do not expect to ever be as efficient as a larger place but I am excited to make this piece of the world a little more sustainable.  Honestly, at my level of energy I am patting myself on the back!



That's truly inspiring, Mary! Thank you so much for sharing your story.
gift
 
10 Podcast Review of the book Just Enough by Azby Brown
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic