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Hello,

My name is Jim and I am a firefighter/EMT/reserve police officer in an urban area.  I see a lot of violence and bad stuff, so I am trying to move my family out to the country and live more of a homesteading lifestyle.  Currently, we have a contract on a house, 4 acres with a pond, that is bordered by a small stream.  I have been reading on some homesteading websites and came across the "permaculture" concept. 

I am currently trying to read through this forum and learn what I can in my spare time, but there is a lot of information, and it tends to be a bit overwhelming for someone who swings an axe for a living.

I am already on board with the philosophy or the "why?" of permaculture, but I desperately need help figuring out the "how?" so that I don't make mistakes setting up the property when/if we get to move?  In a nutshell, what are the things I need to know and do as I arrange things when we move out to the new place?

I am in zone 7 in West Tennessee according to the growth chart.

Thanks,
Jim
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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ah I see you followed my trail of breadcrumbs and found your way here..Jim..go going.

As of reading your thread on the other site I know your interest is in designing your property for it's best use..and if you are reading on the zone system and permaculture from the sites given to you on the other site..then puruse these sites and you will see links to even more sites..there is one thread on here with the word PIX in the title (can't remember what it was) there are a whole lot of really good permaculture links on that thread..i bookmarked a bunch of them.

there are also some really good permaculture books availabe..my first one was  Introduction to Permaculture about 15 years ago.

On here you are best off askng quesitons about what you are intersted in doing..and then you will get lengthy and knowledgeable answers to your questions..start out with any question you have no matter how simple it seems to be..I'm sure that Paul, Dave or Dan will give you some basics on Zones and how to set them up..and maybe some better links than what I gave you..they are the more expert ones to turn to..
 
Gwen Lynn
Posts: 736
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Welcome!

So far, I have seen little "in a nutshell" on this site!  Other than nuts themselves! (& I mean the edible kind). Paragraphs have been written here as to the "how" of permaculture. Different opinions abound, but that is the purpose of a good forum. You may ask a question and get many answers!

There are a few people on this site who are in the south/zone 7. Some of the advice you'll find here is geared towards more cooler, northerly places & may not work as well in Zone 7, depending on what you're dealing with. Fortunately, more people are posting here from all parts of the country & that is a good thing.

I am in zone 6/7. I say that because our winters largely determine whether we've had a zone 6 year or a zone 7 year. Summers here are as hot as Texas or Tenn. I'm thinking that west TN gets as hot as we do. I have friends near Nashville. I realize that's more central, but I remember them talking about the heat.
 
Dave Boehnlein
Posts: 294
Location: Orcas Island, WA
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Hi Jim,

Welcome aboard! The "how" is a really big component of getting a design accomplished so you can start making forward progress. If you can have some sort of design worked out before you begin actually making changes to the land, you'll find that you end up with an overall better product (and avoid issues like blocking your garden sun with a giant shade tree).

To gain more familiarity with the design process there are a couple books I would recommend:

-Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison is a great one for understanding how the design system works
-Gaia's Garden by toby hemenway is also excellent for understanding the design process and different parameters you need to think about.

Beyond reading I would suggest trying to take a permaculture design course. One of the major advantages here is that you get to ask questions with knowledgeable instructors to answer them.

In terms of the actual process of permaculture design, here are the basic steps that you will find fleshed out in the literature and courses:


  • [li]Site Assessment - This is generally based on observation of the site and culminates in a base map showing the site as it is right now.[/li]
    [li]Human Needs Assessment - This is figuring out what you want from the land. What are your goals? What do you have available as resources?[/li]
    [li]Visioning - Write up a vision statement. What do you imagine it will look like? From this you can create more specific goals and objectives that will steer your design.[/li]
    [li]Conceptual designing - Identify what elements you will need in order to achieve the vision (e.g. if you want to raise trout for sale you will need a pond, processing facility, feed system, etc.). Once you know what elements you need try to identify the beneficial relationships that you could create between them. Stay conceptual! At this point don't start placing things on a map, just deal with concepts and relationships. The permaculture design methodologies (which help you think about problems differently) and principles (which act as filters for decision-making) will help you with this step and the next one.[/li]
    [li]Master Planning - Begin placing elements into the landscape to maximize beneficial relationships. Create a plan view showing where everything will go. Just show the most important elements (trees, shrubs, structures, paths, etc.). Details can be fleshed out later (e.g. ground cover species, engineering diagrams, blueprints, etc.)[/li]
    [li]Implementation Plan - Figure out the order in which you will implement the design. This will depend on logic, resources & time available, and personal preference. We often do it in phases (once everything in phase one is done, you can begin on phase two, and so on).[/li]


  • From there you can actually get down to physically putting it together. The master plan and implementation plan work together to act like a personalized set of instructions for your land. From here it is kind of like putting together a model. Doubtless, something won't work out quite as planned, but that's okay. After all the research and thinking you will have done during the design process there will be no one better to massage the design than you.

    There are also folks out there that can help with all aspects of permaculture design (from design to implementation). I believe you actually have some resources right there in Tennessee. I would google "Tennessee permaculture" and see what you find.

    Good luck, Jim!

    Dave
     
    paul wheaton
    master steward
    Posts: 22492
    Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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    Gotta support the recommendation for Gaia's Garden.

    The how  ....  well, there are some basic ideas ... but thar's the rub:  the "how" seems to get bigger and bigger all the time.  It's like asking how to get good music to come out of a fiddle. 

    Fortunately, there are now heaps of excellent resources.  Reading a good book or two can really launch you from "how?" to some first rate progress.

    Like Dave says, a PDC is what gets most folks immersed in the "how".  For me, I showed up at the PDC having read most of the books and having tried a lot of it out on my own place.

    The general recipe is:  diversity.  If you get 20 or more things growing in one big gob, then all of those things can help each other out.  A lot of permaculture is about figuring out what to put in that diversity for a given situation. 

     
                                  
    Posts: 262
    Location: Coast Range, Oregon--the New Magic Land
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    I would suggest another method--go ahead do some quick and dirty gardening and plant some stuff near the house, tomatos, lettuce, beans, in some containers or in the ground(think of it as temporary). Now live on the land for a year--be still and know--observe the weather, where the winds come from, the harsh ones, the dry ones, the flattening ones. Note the frost dates and the leaf emerging dates from native species or whatever is there. Get a feel for the temps in seasons. See what grows there, learn the names. Find the water, the springs, the soggy places. Ha, find N-S-E-W. Find the sunny places, the shady places. Are you gonna have a deer "problem". What kind of predators prowl around. Where does the winter sun hit, or the summer sun.

    Then you can make good plans to place things, and know better what will grow happy. I guess I always think it's better to say hello to the land and get to know it-- on the basis of a cycle of a year(and even then things flux).

     
    Brenda Groth
    pollinator
    Posts: 4437
    Location: North Central Michigan
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    think about what you want to do with the property..are you gonna have animals? farm or domestic? are you going to want to grow fruits, vegetables, ornamentals..

    what would you LIKE to do with the water..the creek..would you want a pond..want to drink from it use it for fish (cages??), do you need a bridge over it..where should it go..where will the paths go..where will animal pens go..where is the best place for your gardens to get some sun? do you need shade trees? do you need a windbreak? do you need privacy..trees for those should go in the first year if you can.

    do you see animal runs? can you use those for natural paths..the animals know the best paths.

    bring in everything you can for free or low cost to build up your soils..natural stuff..like hay, grass, straw, manure, compost, waste from natural manuf like leather companies, mushroom compost, wood chips

    start a compost pile..or sheet compost on the garden area to build up the soil tilth?

    do you want to grow food, if so..what are your favorite foods that you might grow? what do you like to eat..can you grow it there?..where..how..

    do you have the shetler you need for you..for animals..where should they go..

    should i put the garden between the house and the coop, so i can pick weeds to give to the animals and bring back eggs or milk from the barn and pick some salad on the way to the house? how can i plan things for best convenience..and workability.

     
    Let nothing stop you! Not even this tiny ad:
    Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
    https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
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