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Is any Permaculture info Specific?  RSS feed

 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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I've been trying to search for permaculture information.  Much of what I'm finding is very vague and the more detailed stuff I've found is also very generalized.

Of the good publications I've gotten a look at, it's mostly about earth moving on mountain sides, unfortunately, that doesn't help me much as I'm in Florida on sand.

Anyway, is there much permaculture info out there on plants and small animals that is of even a mildly specific nature?  I'm interested in planting using guilds and as many details on more perennial food crops as I can find.  I can find lists of simple companion planting for standard veggie gardens but was wondering if there is anything compiled with permaculture in mind.

I also have the challenge of being in the wet sub tropics.  There are few books written about gardening in such places and we usually have to adapt what is written for other zones as best we can.

See, I think my frustration is largely due to permaculture seeming to be an "Ideal" for which you can pay lots of money to go and be an intern on some ones farm or even more money for a 3-5 day class to go and listen to some one talk about their farms or ideals but so far as I can find, there are no references for the practitioners to actually use in choosing plants for different locations.  Many of the "videos" I see on permaculture are very "we can do this and we can do that to save the world and make things better" without ever saying what they are actually doing or how to do it.  In other words, it's like political speeches.  Perhaps I've just been finding the poor examples and am now getting jaded.  Does anyone have any recommendations that can draw me back in before I decide I'm better off just going and experimenting it all for myself?

I watched a food forest video that I thought was great.  I think I would love to do as much of that as I can!  However, when I go looking for types of plants to fill the niches in such a plan, I run into real challenges.  Diversity would be nice among the nitrogen fixing plants to be used.  Even when I went to the local "natives" nursery, they were at quite a loss about "nitrogen fixing plants"  and were not even aware that there are some non legume plants that have nitrogen fixing relationships with microbes and I found myself teaching them!

I'm rather used to teaching myself much using the internet as a resource.  (The BackYardAquaponics Forum was all I needed to design/build a low maintenance Aquaponics system in my side yard that can produce hundreds of pounds of fish to eat per year.)  I realize it is rather unfair to mention that forum in comparison to anything else as it is one of the most active and helpful forums I know of on the net.
 
                          
Posts: 250
Location: Marrakai Northern Territory Australia
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Hi TCLynx

A good down to earth book to read is Linda Woodrow- A pemaculture home garden-it an Australian book written by a sub tropic's gardener easy to follow and covers most of what you ask, i may be predigest as im Aussie, but it is a book worth looking into and should be of help
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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Cool, thanks for the tip.
Well that BYAP forum I mention is based in AU so I must admit that the Australians know some good stuff and how to share it.
 
Jennifer Smith
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Location: Zone 5
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I agree with all you have said.  I have learned much on this forum.  I have been dabbling in parts of my permaculture system long before I heard of permaculture, much as I know some of aquhaponics and that is a tottaly new word to me. 

I will be returning to Gulf Shores soon, I am guessing you are farther south east.  Are you south enough that peppers are perennial?  Can you grow banana?

 
                          
Posts: 250
Location: Marrakai Northern Territory Australia
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time, patients and the never ending learning curve, aquaculture can run hand in hand with permaculture without conflict in either methology

I,m new to tropical gardening, so i attended a few local garden clubs most were flower growers, but they still had the info i wanted about fruit and veg and made some new friends to boot- just remember to filter out the crap about what CHEMICALS they use

Another great resource i now use is the friends of the Botanical Gardens they have meetings once a month,plus i get to gather seeds from rare and endangered fruit trees with permission of the gardeners

 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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I am in central Florida (I would say our location is the cold edge of zone 9b.  9a is cooler than b)
Zone 10 would be tropical
keeping in mind that zones shift some.

Yes, I have managed to grow bananas.  And we actually managed to harvest some bananas last september even after the bad freezes we had the previous winter so I was shocked.

I've got friends who are also in zone 9a but they are surrounded by lakes and are lowland while I'm up on the ridge, but anyway, they get bananas regularly.

I expect you could easily grow banana plants but getting fruit from them may be quite sporadic depending on your situation.  They can grow in a greenhouse but the dwarf I planted in my aquaponics system got way too tall for my little greenhouse over it.  Perhaps it was just what happens when you plant them in aquaponnics though.

My biggest challenge is (noting that much of the good info on permaculture seems to come from Australia) is finding appropriate plants here to use and even if I can find an appropriate plant that could grow here, I then have to find a source for it if it happens to be legal to grow here. 
 
                          
Posts: 250
Location: Marrakai Northern Territory Australia
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I,m trying to get an apricot tree to grow here, it will never fruit due to no cold but will make loverly shade tree, it,s a challenge i,ve only killed 3 trees so far
 
Jennifer Smith
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Location: Zone 5
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I think Gulf Shores is like 7b  I am in zone 5 now

I was in Lower Alabama 2 years and learned much.  I have lived on horse farms from coast to coast during my education.  Lots of overlap and some way cool stuff hard to duplicate.

...part of why there is so little specific information is that we each have our own unique climates.  We need more sharing of information to catch what overlaps and learn from each other. 

 
Robert Ray
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Location: Cascades of Oregon
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Once you find a book that covers it all let me know. Just because of the huge diversity just in growing zones I just don't think there is an all encompassing book.
One of my favorite High School teachers would always start the day by greeting his classes as  thieves. Knowledge thieves ready to steal all that he had learned.
That's the mindset you need, steal all the good ideas you see from books, nurseries, people that are successful in your particular area.
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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I'm not really expecting to find a single book to cover everything.  I suppose I'm looking mostly for web sites with examples.  That one site with the bed and breakfast up near Chicago had some great examples though definitely not my climate zone.

 
Jennifer Smith
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Location: Zone 5
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Ozarks Technical Community Collage in Springfield Missouri offers a non credit crdit class, a continuing education class,

... Permaculture...

$29  Looks to be a two evening 2 hour, class. 

"Work with, rather than against, nature.  Learn the methods of applying nature's most useful patterns to land use.  Concepts will be taught relating to yield, water,and how to design the landscape for it's most effective production.  Those interested in conservation, gardening, and landscaping will enhance their flowers, gardens, and yards."

taught by a Richard Herman. 

Who also teaches a one evening class, "Growing Shiitake Mushrooms"
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21481
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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Between climates, microclimates, sun exposure, annual rainfall patterns, frost zones, slope, neighbors and personal likes/dislikes, it is really impossible to to make even ten recipes. 

But ..... here is an idea .... 

What if we start with one plant and then people can talk about a guild that they currently have or a guild that they would like to have. 

So we could make a thread called "apple tree guild" and there can be 50 posts, each talking about different guilds and why.  Or maybe suggestions for enhancements or ...  whatever? 

Then, as time passes, there might be 100 different threads here, each one called "strawberry guild" or "cherry tree guild" or "tomato guild" or whatever.

Pick your top five plants and start five threads. 

 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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As Paul indicated, every location is likely to be unique so it's hard to make too many general recommendations.  Networking locally will  probably give you the best idea of what you can expect to do well.  Adding these items in different combinations is a lot of the fun!

regarding items that don't do well in low chill areas, if you have the space to do some experimenting you can be surprised by what will and will not grow well.  There was a great article in the Pomona (NAFEX's quarterly publication) regarding trying many varieties of apples in one of the warmer parts of California.  The person grafted
MANY scions of different varieties into their orchard over a number of years and were pleasantly surprised at how many did quite well.  They did not necessarily conform to their "normal" fruiting times and the fruit was even different in flavor or texture from what was traditional for that variety  when grown in other areas, but not bad.  The take-home was that even with a crop such as apples which are notoriously fussy when it comes to chill hours, you have to try it for yourself to see what you get.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21481
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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Travelling a little further down fantasy lane:

Suppose there is a thread about apple tree guilds.  A person might submit a picture, mention how cold it gets and say that this apple tree is part of a chicken paddock system.  The apple tree is near three other trees (black locust, northern pecan, mulberry).  Under this tree there is 15 herbacieous plants and two shrubs ....

Then the next post could be a completely different situation .... 

Etc.

 
Paul Cereghino
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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In my opinion, Permaculture(tm) is a particularly well conceived design system (that emerged out of the 1970s), but "it" is not a source of knowledge... I have always felt that Pc would be better off if it evolved into a LEEDS type system, deconstructing, rating, and cataloging "permacultures", rather than trying to control the trademark through educational lineage (spoken as someone who has never made time for a PDC).

The design challenge is to digest and mine the knowledge of local:

Ecological restoration, Scientific ecology, Natural history, Ethnobotany, Agronomy, Silviculture, Horticulture, Architecture, Agroforestry, Waste management, etc...

And recombine selected elements into systems  with diverse functions and complex interactions in the image of natural ecologies, that ultimately store more energy than they consume.

That all... 

I'd always start by:
Study native vegetative patterns, succession and natural history (learn to access university knowledge and people)
Study tribal ecology (the historic survival system for your ecosystem)
Pillage the agriculture system for information (land grant colleges, organic agriculture, etc..)
DON'T GAZE INTO THE NAVEL OF Pc FOR KNOWLEDGE... FORAGE... OBTAIN YIELD.

In short... use permaculture theory to build informational systems that support development of real world permacultures.

DOCUMENT WHAT YOU LEARN AND FIGURE OUT HOW TO SHARE IT!!

Perfect for anyone that ever wanted to be part of a noble vanguard.. 

 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
Posts: 489
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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I too would love a book that would tell me what to do - I am a highly book-oriented person! I just don't think that it works that way.

My permaculture teacher - Tom Ward - harped on observation, and emphasized the use of the "designer recliner". It happens to be a difficult thing for me to do, but I am trying.

My basic observation about our cut-over and over-grazed timberland is that it is trying as hard as it can to capture nitrogen. There are three different lupine species in the open grassland areas. In the areas where the trees are pushing out into the grassland, the first thing that happens is ceanothus (a non-legume nitrogen fixing shrub). After a pile of leaves has accumulated under the shrub, an oak seedling pops up under the shrub's canopy. The ceanothus is providing nitrogen, maybe the leaf litter is also moderating temp and water extremes, and it is harder for grazers to get to the seedling to nip it off. After the oak has gained some height - 3-4 feet or more - a ponderosa pine seedling usually shows up. I'm thinking that maybe the deep-rooted oak helps the seedling pine penetrate the silty clay soil and/or provides more air passages into the soil.

So how can I use these observations to establish fruit and nut trees? Obviously, my guilds need nitrogen fixers. My baby trees need protection from grazers (cows and deer), so I could plant some dense shrubs as a physical barrier or use cattle panels around them, and they would probably do better if I loosened their soil, by digging a large planting hole and burying some dead wood at the bottom of the hole. So I'm just going to try stuff out. Jacke's forest garden book is a good source for temperate zone permies, and the online Plants for a Future database is a great resource that includes sub-tropical and tropical species.

And in a few years, I'll be able to report back on what worked!

 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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I have been comming to those same conclusions.  That I will just have to do my best at observing what works as I try different things.
 
rose macaskie
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Tclynx, you said your soil was sandy didn't you? There are some basics, one of them is that sandy soil need lots of organic matter because water runs straight through it and away and itnot only leaves th esoil dry it  carries off the nutrients for plants in the soil with it.

  I have a good book about manure, i don't have it here, i shall have to put in the title later, by a farmers daughter who got the knickname of Lady Muck because she earns her money selling her fathers muck.
  She says that sandy soils are so poor that sandy soil districts were full of highway men, people could not get much out of the land and were reduced to stealing.
      Some people say thet sand  makes perfectly good soils and the dutch have lots of sandy soils and they are the growers by excellence, maybe difficulties make people more creative.
  One universal rule is organic matter to break up clay and make it drain better.
  Another is organic matter so that sand retains more water, organic matter holds more water than sand and the nutrients dissolved in the water. Also as sand drains too well the nutrients get carried away with the water so it it needs more nutrients than other soil and organic matter not only absorbs more water it provides mutrients as it break down. 
      Ordinary soil needs organic matter because organic matters a good thing in all soils anyway it makes them hold more water and increases the nutrients and feeds the fungi in the soil and its  microganisms, mites, insects, algae, etc.. 
  Only peat ground which is made of made of plant matter does not need it .

  This fundamental is covered by the permaculture technique. They tell everyone to mulch and to grow a good covering of plants, a lot of plants means a bigger production of organic matter, when you thin out what you pull out becomes organic matter, so don't thin out till you have too that way you get more organic matter.
    They tell people to grow special mulch plants that grow fast and big, i suppose, from which  you tear bits off to throw them to the floor as mulch.
    They tell you  and to have animals that give organic matter passed thorugh the digestive tract of an animal.


  Jungles are too and suprisingly, places with problems of lack of nutrients in the soil because it rains so much the nutrients get washed out of the soil.
  I think that the North of Australia is pretty close to being tropical and their permaculturists will give lists of tropical type plants. Maybe you should ask Brazilians, I have heard from a cousin of mine whose father was Brazilian, that  they have an incredible number of different fruits in brazil.

    Near the tropics must be just the place for a food forest there is so much sun there, it must get through the trees to the floor of the forest.agri rose macaskie.

 
 
                        
Posts: 122
Location: sub-tropics downunder
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just for me no nothing is set in concrete, you take what works for you and fine tune it to work even better for you, so be basically is good that is why it works best, i sue what works best for my in my style and rest well maybe for another day?

no expert on sandy soils but at the end of the day it will take a large imput of organic material and over a continuing period, another trick i have heard sandy gardeners use is to dissolve clay (you need to get clay that will dissolve) into water and water it into the garden, or maybe a clay substitute one called bentonite or something like that?

len
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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Yes sandy soil.
However
We have made great improvements to our soil by bringing in lost of organic matter and keeping things consistently moist with drip irrigation so we can wet the organic matter and garden soil without watering so much that we loose nutrients out of reach of the plants (this can be tricky.)

Finding good mulch plants has been a challenge.  My comfrey all died.  I've not gotten any tagaste to germinate.  And all but about 4 of my wax myrtle didn't survive.  The bananas, Moringa, papaya and ginger have provided some mulch since the freeze did kill them back, I just hope they recover nicely this spring.

Hopefully some of my new plants will do well.  I got 5 new types of plants, all provide something edible.  Two of them are nitrogen fixers, one is supposedly dear repellent, all can handle full sun to partial shade, one is a native nut tree, a couple have thorns and most of them will do fine pruned as a hedge.
Perhaps I'll get lucky with a few of them I hope!
 
j. bruce
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Location: York, PA
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Jacke's forest garden book is a good source for temperate zone permies


I second that.  Anyone looking for specific examples of forest garden style permaculture in a temperate climate is going to love the Dave Jacke "Edible Forest Gardens" book series.  Some highlights that i enjoyed were the chicken tractor (Mother Earth News has an adaptation, but i like the illustration and permaculture focus), Petal Gardens under trees, and real explanation of building polycultures.  Really, that book has more information than anyone can digest in a reading, but what i really enjoyed was the attention to garden planning and analysis of other established permaculture gardens.
 
Travis Philp
gardener
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TC,

It might not help you very much as you're in a more sub tropical climate but I found that 'Edible Forest Gardens' two volume text book had many specific as well as theoretical spots as one book was for theory and one was for practice. It focused on a variety of locations and situations (albeit geared to temperate climates) and had many diagrams with scale and full species lists. The index of plant lists at the back of the book is extremely comprehensive.

I also found a lot of specifics in Gaia's Garden by toby hemenway, and I hear the revised edition has even more polyculture examples.
 
larry korn
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I'm with you Travis.  Gaia's Garden is probably the best overall summary of permaculture, especially on an urban, suburban and small farm scale, and Jacke's Forest Farming is the standard for that topic.  Eventually any information from a book will have to be adapted for one's own site.  The books are a guide and set the course.  Each of us has to work out the specifics.  The local county extention service is usually a good source of information for some of those specifics.
 
                                      
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Location: Eastern Shore of Virginia
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While I love and swear by the two volume Edible Forest Gardening books, I am having quite a fling with Martin Crawford's Creating a Forest Garden, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for specifics.  I find it much more approachable than Edible Forest Gardening, less academic and very easy to use and apply.  It came out in 2010.  I can't say enough good things about it. 
 
Lf London
Posts: 96
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
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SouthEastFarmer wrote:
As Paul indicated, every location is likely to be unique so it's hard to make too many general recommendations.  Networking locally will  probably give you the best idea of what you can expect to do well.  Adding these items in different combinations is a lot of the fun!

regarding items that don't do well in low chill areas, if you have the space to do some experimenting you can be surprised by what will and will not grow well.  There was a great article in the Pomona (NAFEX's quarterly publication) regarding trying many varieties of apples in one of the warmer parts of California.  The person grafted
MANY scions of different varieties into their orchard over a number of years and were pleasantly surprised at how many did quite well.  They did not necessarily conform to their "normal" fruiting times and the fruit was even different in flavor or texture from what was traditional for that variety  when grown in other areas, but not bad.  The take-home was that even with a crop such as apples which are notoriously fussy when it comes to chill hours, you have to try it for yourself to see what you get.


Excellent. Where's the like button...?
 
                          
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If TCLynx is still around, I can attest that the new edition of Gaia's Garden has lots of lists of plants which perform different functions.  I was just sitting with a friend, actually, and looking at the two-plus pages list of Nutrient Accumulators.... for instance. 

Also, I've found much useful info on blogs here and there.  Here is one I like not because I share this guy's circumstance or even climate -- both are very different from my situation -- but because he details how he is transforming his situation step by step, and it has useful lessons of several kinds including practical advice:  http://onestraw.wordpress.com/
 
Aljaz Plankl
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Maybe Geoff has something for you? His DVD on how to establish a forest garden is really good. It's filmed in Australia. He's got wet and dry season and i think it's Australia sub tropics.

This is the way he do it in Australia.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QG_vRG66wkA

And he has also done a project that is totally crazy, greening a desert.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzTHjlueqFI&feature=related
 
                                      
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Location: Amsterdam, the netherlands
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Hey,

I second most of what is said here

Dave jacke's book is great.
gaia's garden is quite specific
the earth user guide from rosemary morow is also a very nice book on the practical side. im in zone 5/6 and have been frustrated on the very little info to be found about temperate climates. rosemary morow is more towards your climate i think.

About specific info on plants, do you know the 'permaculture plants' book by jeff nugent? link: http://www.permacultureplants.net/index.html#B
(scroll down a bit)
it's in the pc centre's store down here but i haven't touched it because it's worthless for our climate, it seems to be for tropical and subtropical climates.

I hope you have watched geoff lawtons how to establish a food forest the permaculture way. it isn't a complete works, but its darn informative.


off corse, like has been said, permaculture ís mostly about the process, about forming the relationship with you land, learning by observation and trial and error etc.  but hey, we don't want to be reïnventing the wheel if some-one's already done that....
 
Aljaz Plankl
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Oh, here is antoher Geoff's work, great one. Many specific infos, like for an example banana guild in part 4.

Introduction to permaculture - geoff lawton
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZmYdX9zHVU
 
                    
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Lynx: I know people in the Tampa Bay area doing permaculture, and a few that are quite successful. If you want, I can PM you a contact down there. I'm not sure if you have the time or resources to travel to Tampa, but I'm sure you could work something out through the internet to discuss things.

I agree about your thoughts on the lack of specificity, but also agree with those who say "it depends." Like others, I have found the Edible Forest Gardens by Davide Jacke and Eric Toensmeier to be extremely valuable. In fact, its the only hard source I have right now (Gaia's Garden is on the list though!).

Paul Wheaton's videos inspired me to add to the discussion. His signature "If you like this sort of thing..."  line brought me here. And I see a lot of other new people as well. My only hope is that we all stay and help out as best as we can.

One thing that I'm hoping to accomplish with my postings here and with my "blog" (which will probably turn into a website), is to be as specific as I possibly can. I want to use all the privileges that I have to better this world, so I invested in a very nice camera.  I want people to see, up close and in detail what I'm doing and why. I want folks to become more familiar with the plants and terminology, and I think that adding more media to the equation, and in one place, will be helpful.

I'm working full time at a low-end job, so I can't do as much as I'd like, but I am working on some rough annual guilds and a site-plan. I'll be sharing my experiences, down to measurements for individual plants and guild performance, throughout the coming year.
 
                          
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Hooray, Finch, good for you!  I just visited your blog and will keep reading and looking.  I really applaud your attitude.  And agree.  Let's keep helping each other make these transitions.  Everyone has a different situation...... I come here mostly to learn.  Grateful for all the many teachers with such varied experience.

 
                    
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Kyla: Glad to hear that others are looking! I like coming here because the attitudes on display are enthusiastic and everyone seems hungry to know more. I usually head here as a way to unwind and immerse myself in my new-found field of interest.

I'm very new to gardening and permaculture so I am very grateful for everyone's input. The fact that everyone is so different, but so much alike in that we love growing things and caring for our planet as much as we can makes this place special.
 
Paula Edwards
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For warmer climates Australian books are generally more suitable, but the soil etc. is different. I like the books of Jackie French like Wilderness garden. She writes a lot on frost protection too.
 
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