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Confused about permaculture  RSS feed

 
Locus life
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Hi,

Let me give a short introduction of myself so you guys can give more appropriate answers.

It's been some time I've get to know about permaculture or something similar. I'm not quite sure the difference between Hugelkultur, Forest Garden and Permaculture. Anyway, I'm in my mid twenties and is now saving some money to buy some land for growing own food supply in the future. I'm born a city dweller and not even having any knowledge in farming except that I've read quite some discussion, ideas and concepts of permaculture. I'm living in West peninsular of Malaysia, a tropical climate country. I do not have exact data about temperature and rainfall but I guess it is better to leave it for wiki to explain about my area. In recent years, we do face some flood problems in lower plains of certain states due to heavy rainy season around october-december. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Malaysia

1. What zone number am I considered to be in?

2. What kind of land is best or better to be chosen? Some examples are sloppy lands, plains, wild forest, orchards, rubber estates, oil palm plantations, with rivers, with ponds, etc. Which would be the priority?

3. In order to fully or covering atleast 80% of the food supply for 4 family of six each (24 person in total), how many acres of land do i need? Our diet can be mainly base on veggies, maybe some grains if not consuming too much land, poultry, and some fishes from ponds. We do not plan to have cows or other livestock that requires much space for grazing. I know it varies base on plannings but you guys can give estimation base on an average farmer's (sooner or later we will be one or even better).

4. If the design is just averagely efficient and not extremely bio-intensive, how many acres can a person handle with 30-40 hours of work a week on it? 2 acre? 2.5 acre? or much more.

Thanks,





 
John Elliott
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All the questions you ask have answers that vary. One good hectare may produce more than 3 bad hectares. If you know what you are doing, it will require less work than if you are starting something new.

You are probably climate zone 10 or 11, not that there is much difference between the two. Climate zones were developed to help farmers in temperate areas (like the U.S.) compare different areas. In the tropics, where it doesn't freeze, they are less meaningful, and what is more important is the length and timing of the dry and wet seasons.

Permaculture is an overall strategy, one of using techniques such as hugelkultur and the forest garden, to bring about consistent productivity to land in a way that can continue indefinitely.

This video brings a lot of the concepts together:
 
Paulo Bessa
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Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
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1. What zone number am I considered to be in?
Answered before. You live in a frost free tropical location. Zones are usually mostly used from 1 to 10, to distinguish how frosty each winter is in each zone. You have probably a very good climate for a self-sufficient living.

2. What kind of land is best or better to be chosen? Some examples are sloppy lands, plains, wild forest, orchards, rubber estates, oil palm plantations, with rivers, with ponds, etc. Which would be the priority?
I would assume in your spot, some place. with a fertile soil, probably near a valley, but with a slight slope, so that it does not flood. But being aware of erosion.

3. In order to fully or covering atleast 80% of the food supply for 4 family of six each (24 person in total), how many acres of land do i need? Our diet can be mainly base on veggies, maybe some grains if not consuming too much land, poultry, and some fishes from ponds. We do not plan to have cows or other livestock that requires much space for grazing. I know it varies base on plannings but you guys can give estimation base on an average farmer's (sooner or later we will be one or even better).
In most temperate climates, 1 acre should feed a family, including cereals, corn, pulses, potatoes, roots, and some chicken. In tropical climates, productivity can be even higher, so with 1 acre you should grow even more food, if you do not suffer from droughts. And your climates allows many high productive and valuable perennial sources of food, like pigeon pea, coconuts, bamboos, jackfruit, etc. Just google perennial solutions website by Eric Thoensmeyer.
Chicken only need small portions of land, but you might need to grow some food for them. Other large livestock, as you said, required much more land. So chicken are a good option. Ponds can be done in a relatively small area and have edible fish, though I have little experience with it.

4. If the design is just averagely efficient and not extremely bio-intensive, how many acres can a person handle with 30-40 hours of work a week on it? 2 acre? 2.5 acre? or much more. No idea, but I guess 1 acre should be easily managable, I think with that full work time even 3 acres should be doable. Having tools or even some small machinery can make a difference of course.
 
Su Ba
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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1- Tropical., I am assuming. But that may depend upon the elevation of the land. Coastal areas are usually much hotter year around than higher elevations. What's more of a concern is does the area experience drought periods? Typhoon? Seasonal floods? These would be factors to investigate. Before buying land, be sure to check with area farmers or gardeners. They would be the ones who know the local climate and what grows well in the area. Making friends with other local growers can provide you with a wealth of growing advice.
2- Since growing food for the table is your goal, look for fertile soil at least 10 inches deep that drains ok. Again, other local growers can tell you if a particular piece of land would be good for growing vegetables. In my own case, I bought land that was rocky but had deep enough soil and several acres where drainage was good. I gradually removed the big rocks and ended up with a large garden site for root crops. The garden area that still has its rocks is used for non-root crops or for raised beds. Don't forget to think about wind and sun. If winds are heavy, pick land that has trees or brush suitable for windbreaks. Totally forested land will need clearing in order to get sun to the gardening area. I have no idea what Malaysia is like, so I'm not good for any more suggestions.
3- How much land? That depends on a lot of different things. If no one has gardening experience, then your group might not be able to successfully produce much the first year or two. There will be a learning period where there will be many failures. Also, it depends upon how fertile the land is to start and how well your group can maintain that fertility through the year. It takes time and work to feed the garden soil unless you plan to rely upon commercial fertilizers. Plus water is a factor. With good irrigation available, the land can produce a lot of food. Without regular water, production drops significantly. And until you get experience in dealing with it, bugs and diseases can wipe out crops quickly in tropical zones.
So getting back to the acreage question, I have been told here in Hawaii that with a well tended tropical garden acre can produce all the vegetables a family of four would need but not the rice and meat. And I've also been told that one acre can produce plenty for two adults, plus enough for 2 rabbits (and the kitts they produce) and 5 hens. I have not tested either of these theories, so I don't know if they are true. But they are something that people around here believe. The general saying here is that a family needs an acre for sustainability.
4- How much can be person handle? That depends upon your gardening methods, availability of mulch for weed suppression, and what sort of tools are being used. I know a small farmer who handles 9 acres by himself except for harvesting, but he uses a tractor with various attachments, a sprayer, and a backhoe. On the other extreme, I know of a woman who can just barely handle a 1/4 acre which she does totally with hand tools (shovels, hoes, rakes, etc). She often gets others to rototill for her when the garden gets out of hand.
I work my own farm by myself (21 1/2 acres). I use small machines where useful, such as rototillers, lawn tractor, chainsaw, shredder, mower, and such. My lawn tractor pulls a cart which I find to be very useful for transporting stuff into and out of the garden. Because of my gardening methods, I can maintain 3 acres in assorted vegetables and grains using different growing methods -- standard, raised beds, container gardens, hydroponics, aquaponics. I also have about an acre in permanent culture -- bananas, papayas, fruit trees, pineapples, sugar cane. I maintain 15 acres in livestock pasture for chickens, ducks, rabbits, a small flock of sheep, and one horse. I have recently added two 16 foot diameters ponds for fish production. I'm considering adding 2 pigs.
So how many can could your group handle? Well, it depends on how they farm and how well they get along with one another.

...Su Ba
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
 
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