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Permaculture: A Designers' Manual - Chapter 3 METHODS OF DESIGN  RSS feed

 
Burra Maluca
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Chapter 3 METHODS OF DESIGN

3.1 Introduction
3.2 Analysis: Design by listing characteristics of components
3.3 Observation: Design by expanding on direct observations of a site
3.4 Deduction from nature: Design by adopting lessons learnt from nature
3.5 Options and decisions: Design as a selection of options or pathways based on decisions
3.6 Data overlay: Design by map overlays
3.7 Random assembly: Design by assessing the results of random assemblies
3.8 Flow diagrams: Design for work places
3.9 Zone and sector analysis: Design by the application of a master pattern
3.10 Zoning of information and ethics
3.11 Incremental design
3.12 Summary of design methods
3.13 The concepts of guilds in nature
3.14 Succession: evolution of a system
3.15 The establishment and maintenance of systems
3.16 General practical procedures in property design
3.17 Principle summary
 
Burra Maluca
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bump
 
Ann Torrence
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some of us are behind on our homework
 
Janet Dowell
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I'm in the thick of it and should be done by the end of the week. What I'm finding difficult, though (as I'm assuming other people are), is finding the time to both make a thoughtful post or posts and get the reading done on top of everything else. So I will pop in to contribute as I can, hopefully soon with my thoughts on this chapter!

 
Cj Sloane
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To help get the ball rolling, I'm going to show an example of what not to do!

I helped a friend plant some herbs next to her house this summer using a sheet mulch technique from geoff lawton. The weeds were suppressed but the basil never took off which seemed odd because it appeared to be getting plenty of sun - facing south.

I did my final project using this friend's house - it was suggested you don't design you're own property first - you've already made too many mistakes.

So I was shocked that I wound up putting the basil in almost the worst possible spot! It was in the shade of the house for the whole day except very early morning!


It turns out that the house was not oriented due south as I thought. 150 years ago someone decided it was more important to face the road then to face south. That was their error but not realizing it was mine.

Although it's easy to go overboard with maps, sometimes it is easier to see what's going on with the distance a map can provide.
 
Ann Torrence
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The vast variety in the "Methods of Design" reminds me of adult learners. Some want to understand why before how, some want step-by-step instructions, some need to see it demonstrated and don't hear what I'm saying, some will be jumping in and doing without listening at all! All are equally valid ways of absorbing and integrating new information. Sometimes it's valuable to step through a couple of the processes (read the manual, watch a video, experiment), but when David Macke covers this in Edible Food Forests, he makes the important point that you probably shouldn't do them all!

Besides just getting a handle on vast quantities of details that are easy to forget, putting pencil on paper is critical for seeing connections. I see this unfold when I teach composition. I can show you composition and design in a million slides and you think you see it, but make your hands trace out the lines of a few images and your brain knows it in a different and more usable way. They hate it when I make them draw (it's a photography class) but it works and fast. I wonder if only doing mapping on a computer would side-step the intangible benefits of making even quick sketches. Maybe you can have it all, a map that you can print a bunch of times to sketch over top.

 
Matu Collins
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I'm really glad I'm reading the book. I've been reading all the smaller more affordable books that I could find for years.

Information is just starting to organize itself in my head. I have a lot of thoughts on individual bits but I think they go better in the individual sections. There's so much!

I appreciate the different approaches to design and the open-minded attitude toward the variety. I'm itching to apply these ideas, but I better be patient and finish the book at least!
 
wayne stephen
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Analysis can be daunting . I want to share a technique at this point , it may or may not be pertinent . Nurses are taught this in school and its called "The Nursing Process" . Basically a model for critical thinking . It's anagram is ADPIE or {most appropriately for permies.com} shortened to PIE . Works like this :

A : Assessment - Gather your data , use available tools and all 5 senses to gain as much information as possible about the situation
D : Diagnosis - Reach into your bank of gained knowledge , books , internet etc. and put a name to the problem
P : Plan - What outcome do you want to achieve and how will you achieve it
I : Implementation - Put those steps into action
E : Evaluation - Did you achieve the stated goal , what data supports this conclusion ? If not , repeat the process .

This is an ongoing and cyclical process .

The shortened version is :

P : Problem / Plan - The steps are the same as the longer version - You still do the A and D as above
I : Implementation
E : Evaluation

Don't know if this helps with designing in permaculture . It sure helps many nurses dealing with chaotic and diverse situations on a daily basis - chronic long term problems or more emergent crises . The difference here is the problem is also the solution . Not so during a heart attack .

 
Cj Sloane
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I've never heard of ADPIE but it reminds me of the trivium and I wonder why they felt like they had to reinvent the wheel?

Grammar = gather your data; Input
Logic = Assess; Process
Rhetoric = Implement; Output
 
Peter Ellis
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Cj Verde wrote:I've never heard of ADPIE but it reminds me of the trivium and I wonder why they felt like they had to reinvent the wheel?

Grammar = gather your data; Input
Logic = Assess; Process
Rhetoric = Implement; Output


Interesting. Grammar really does not mean "gather your data; input". It means the systematic structure of language.

Even if it were the case that the trivium equated to gathering, organizing and acting upon information, re-stating that process in terms focused on a particular kind of enterprise is not reinventing the wheel so much as putting appropriate tires on it.

In military circles the term is "OODA Loop", and it is a method of processing information and translating it into action that can be effectively applied in many situations.

No harm in having multiple ways of saying basically the same thing.
 
wayne stephen
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ADPIE is a pragmatic working model . It gives you the steps easily defined to walk into a situation , assess , act , and evaluate . Then you can follow those same steps when you document what you saw , actions you took , and the outcome . Not exactly reinventing the wheel , more like putting rubber on it . Take it or leave it , works for me . It is simply critical thinking . Thought I would add it since analysis is a topic in chapter 3 .
 
Stuart Davis
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Perhaps in medieval times grammar did mean gathering of data or the facts. Here is another trivium link: www.triviumeducation.com
In any case, its great to see multiple ways to approach design. I appreciated reviewing all of the approaches Mollison details in this chapter.
I reflected much on what was said about EXTRA WORK.

EXTRA WORK is the result of an input not automatically provided by another component of the system.


I must pay attention to this more in my designs. It reminds me of something apparently sepp holzer said (as told by Paul W.),
If you are not willing to have a pig then you must do the work of the pig.
Not quoted exactly and is out of context. It was from some old podcast on RichSoil if you’re interested in finding it. It had something to do with a question posed to Sepp about clearing brambles or blackberries if you don't want a pig.
 
John Polk
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EXTRA WORK is the result of an input not automatically provided by another component of the system.

If you are not willing to have a pig then you must do the work of the pig.


Bill and Sepp, working on opposite sides of the earth, neither having heard of the other, were coming to the same conclusions:
If you observe nature, and mimic her in your design, your system should take care of itself.

Sepp also talks about not pruning his fruit trees.
* that would be work
* the deer come in and prune the lower branches for him
* if the deer didn't have the lower branches to browse on, they would be eating something he wanted instead.
Sepp has 'killed 3 birds' without even throwing a single stone.

 
Cj Sloane
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Stuart Davis wrote:Perhaps in medieval times grammar did mean gathering of data or the facts. Here is another trivium link: www.triviumeducation.com


Syntax might be a better word:
the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language: the syntax of English.
• a set of rules for or an analysis of this: generative syntax.


Still, they use grammar so I will too. I bring it up again because to a large extent you've got to use the language the system uses. Just like with the word "sector." You might think vector is better but if you swap it out for sector, other permaculturalists wont know what you're referring to.
 
Emily Aaston
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I spent the majority of yesterday catching up on my reading. I enjoyed this chapter. I did have to read and re-read some of the more mathy sections, but the sections on observation and general analysis of a site were important for me. After finishing chapter 3 yesterday I took a short walk out the backyard and spent a little time observing the dry creekbed. It occurred to me at that point that when I finally buy a plot of land on my own I may need to spend at least the first year observing, recording, and gathering data. This might include some infrastructure but a great deal of sitting on fallen logs or rocks and staring at details. Also, making lists, gathering materials, mapping, looking at seed catalogs etc. I have it in my mind that once I finally have land of my own I'd want to do everything at once. I have often wondered:
"Where does one begin?" I have spent time on a few start-up projects and so far have seen no definite answer. I would be antsy to get things planted and bring on animals but I am realizing that especially with permaculture, patience is a big part of the design process.

I know that observation will be an on-going part of the strategy, but it seems to have a starring role at the beginning of the design process. I guess I am wondering: How have others begun their projects? What have been your priorities? How long have you spent observing before you do anything on your land?
 
Miles Flansburg
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Enjoying the conversations all !

Emily, My land is a four hour drive away from house and work. So My time there is to little. I tend to hurry to get all of the things done that I dream about when not there.
My priorities have been... Shelter, zone 1 stuff. Water, outhouse, camp stuff. Lots of hiking and looking around, taking pictures. This has taken about three years now.
Just last year I started building more access roads and trails. Will finish this next summer and begin to build ponds and hugels.
I must admit that I am usually flying by the seat of my pants, no design other than what is in my mind.
I have done many designs on many other properties but the artist in me always seems to take me off of the plan.
So reading the designers manual has given me lots to think about.
 
Peter Ellis
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Emily, although I have land now, it is not the land I will build my permaculture design on. So for now, I think a great deal about what I will want to do on that land, eventually. I read all I can find and I try to consider it all critically, looking for the parts that hold truth and/or look suited for my target climate. As I collect those ideas, the elements to build a design, I start looking at the sequencing of the ideas - what elements need to be eon place for other elements to belated. It is alarmist a "succession" of elements.

For example, if the land will need earthworks to manage water and there will be Swales involved, I would want to place e Swales Before I started planting my food forest. But I could get the market garden and the kitchen garden going before the Swales went in, with an eye to not planting them where I will be placing Swales. The chickens can get started before the Swales go in, but again, would want to avoid setting them up where he Swales are going.

Seems to me now, as I am planning for an unknown future space, that I can get some of the livestock set up very early, and then turn to what needs doing to start a food forest. Basic livestock arrangements can be made pretty quickly, allowing one to the. Turn to the more time consuming,longer range planning of the food forest. Need to get trees started thirty years ago, and all ;)

So, I think what i am getting at is, do loads of planning now, before you ever see your property, and then spend some time on the land looking at how your plans can be fit to this land. Having worked it all through in advance, and with multiple variations on the theme, it should be possible to overlay your plans on your property and figure out what to do when.

At least, I hope it will help.
 
Cj Sloane
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Emily Aaston wrote:How have others begun their projects? What have been your priorities?


Geoff Lawton says to start with:
Water
Access
Structures

Figure those out and the rest should fall into place esp if you overlap your zones & sectors.
 
Matu Collins
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Emily Aaston wrote:

I know that observation will be an on-going part of the strategy, but it seems to have a starring role at the beginning of the design process...How long have you spent observing before you do anything on your land?


This question is so astute. It took so long for the importance of observation to really sink in for me.

I wasn't starting from scratch with my land, there have been agricultural things happening here for some time and the house and outbuildings and swimming pool were here when I got here. Designing on an inhabited property is so different from starting from nothing and yet observation is just as important.

If you have the leisure, I would say observing through a year, watching how the seasons go is important. In our climate winter is a great time to observe the activity of the wild animals. They make tracks and trails all year round but winter showcases them nicely. Snow shows the animal tracks and the wind patterns. Watching during a good hard rainstorm is the best way to see the water flow issues. Wind! Neighbors! Summer and spring will show the "weeds" or as I like to call them "volunteers" and the places where growth is strongest and greenest.

This doesn't mean you must do nothing! You can tend a little garden while you observe. Just because you're not renting a big backhoe to dig big earthworks doesn't mean your hands are tied. Small and slow, small and slow. I read everything I could get my hands on and pick the brains of all the smart people I can find. I have walked around my land with experts from widely varying fields. I ask around to find people who know stuff. When the grass expert walked through he loved the diversity of my perennial grasses but when he walked around one corner he said with a rueful voice "Look at all that dock, you're going to have to get rid of all that or it will take over. When the wildlife biologist walked through she saw the same exact thing and exclaimed with delight "Oh look at all that Rumex! The seeds are excellent food for the birds"

I hit what felt like a wall when my understanding of permaculture did not meet my understanding of my land. I wanted a permaculture designer to come and explain everything to me and I couldn't find anyone handy who understood it any better than I did. Luckily there is permies.com! I was so impatient to get things going right and I didn't want to make any mistakes. I still don't want to make any mistakes but when I walk around every day observing I feel like I am making the right choice. As I do put systems into place, I observe how they work. I make lots of mistakes! Then I observe the results. Often this is when the lightbulb really goes on. I can read it in a book or online, but the real mistakes in the real dirt bring my understanding of the concepts of permaculture and my understanding of my land closer together.
 
Adam Klaus
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I definitely value observation and coming to an understanding before taking action. I lived in a tent and teepee for the first season on my land, and I very much appreciated this intimate process of participant observation.

Having said that, observing for a year, and assuming that that year was 'normal', might be hugely disappointing. I have now been living on my land for almost nine years, and one of the most consistent patterns I have notices is just how much variation there is every year. Yes summer is summer and winter is winter, but beyond the gerneralities that one could assume from knowing the region, the specifics vary so much all the time.

With wildlife, we had a few big deer years, now not so much. There was the couple grasshopper summers, now gone, replaced by big wild turkey populations that weren't here when we first got here. There was the crow year, the magpie year, the eagle year. It just keeps changing. There can be a certain logic, like the grasshoppers leading to the turkeys, but often times it is just natural change occuring. Taking a one-year sample in some ways is more misleading than correct, IME.

Winters have been all over the place. There have been deep snow years, with three feet of snowpack lingering into April. They have been barren cold winters. There have been barren rainy winters. There have been winters that were mild followed by endlessly snowy springs. There have been winters that kept the valley inverted and cold while the mountains were warm. There have been winters that were deep in the mountains but mellow in the valley. Windy winters, calm winters. Follow the pattern? I sure dont!

My development of the farm has been a pretty organic process. I didnt sit down with paper after my season of observation and design the grand masterplan. I basically started in on the project, and let things evolve. The basics of access and water were already established. Otherwise I had a blank canvas (once I ripped out the old barbed wire fences). Looking back, I feel remarkably pleased with how the design unfolded. I had read Mollison, Alan Savory, and A Pattern Language before I got started. These are all good influences!

I examined all the factors I couldnt easily change- access, water, slopes, soil fertility, sun, neighbors. These things shaped my earliest plans. Things that could go anywhere filled in around the periphery of the things that I didnt have much choice with. I thought a lot about the flow between different elements on the farm. The house, the barn, the henhouse, the garden, the orchard, the pond, the pastures. Drew pictures with arrows showing the relationships between the individual components in the system.

Ultimately, you just have to make a decision, and go with it. Indecision is way more problematic than making a bad decision. Go for it. Do your best, but dont try and be perfect. Let inspiration guide you as much as analysis. Be inspired!
 
John Polk
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While 'waiting and observing' certainly have their merits, I think that they are more important to the bigger and more permanent elements. You certainly don't want to put in 50 fruit/nut trees until you understand your land better, but don't let that slow you down in setting up a kitchen garden for annuals. If it turns out to be a wrong spot or layout, so what? Plant it in the right place next summer. In the mean time, you are learning your land and eating fresh produce all summer.

As the old saying goes "We don't start learning until we start making mistakes." If you are waiting to discover the perfect solution before you start, you could find yourself caught in a perpetual waiting game. Kitchen gardens, nurseries etc can always be moved. Not so easy for orchards, swales & ponds. Start on the movable items while you are piecing together the bigger puzzle.

 
Ann Torrence
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Where to start planning? Not according to any of the methods in the books, but ordering 500 custom grafted trees will concentrate the mind wonderfully. I had a year to observe, fence and start working out the irrigation issues while someone else has my trees in his nursery. Having a hard deadline at the end means you have to quit pondering - those trees ARE coming in April.

I would insert into Lawton's list as first or second: fences. If you don't have the deer under control, they can easily decimate a new planting overnight. Fence first, trees second.
 
Peter Ellis
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Ann Torrence wrote:Where to start planning? Not according to any of the methods in the books, but ordering 500 custom grafted trees will concentrate the mind wonderfully. I had a year to observe, fence and start working out the irrigation issues while someone else has my trees in his nursery. Having a hard deadline at the end means you have to quit pondering - those trees ARE coming in April.

I would insert into Lawton's list as first or second: fences. If you don't have the deer under control, they can easily decimate a new planting overnight. Fence first, trees second.


I would say "plant protection" rather than fences. You need to determine if your plants will need protection and how to do it. Fences are only one possible solution to the problem. It is a question to be answered before you start planting, that is sure.

 
Ann Torrence
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Peter Ellis wrote:I would say "plant protection" rather than fences. You need to determine if your plants will need protection and how to do it. Fences are only one possible solution to the problem. It is a question to be answered before you start planting, that is sure.


I would rather have done a hedge, for sure, but that would mean waiting n years before planting the cash crop. A moat? Deer can swim. Or at least elk can, I've seen it. A 24 hour armed guard might be sufficient. Caging each tree is possible, but then it's just a perimeter vs circumference x n trees calculation. Our neighbors have caged so many trees they ought to have just tightened up their fence, would have kept the other neighbors' horses off their porch too.

Deer and other varmints are definitely a vector/sector to be reckoned with early in the process. Deer need a corridor and retraining to adjust their movements too, or the barrier needs to be that much higher.
 
Jami Gaither
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Emily Aaston wrote: I guess I am wondering: How have others begun their projects? What have been your priorities? How long have you spent observing before you do anything on your land?


We, like many, have had time to think due to our property being so far away (14 hours from home which I will say is a bit far!) so we have taken time to plan. But we learn more every year and it's easy to hesitate thinking that next year, when we will know more, the plan will be better! We built the house we live in now 11 years ago, when we were so much more ignorant. When we look at this stick built structure with no thought of passive solar or space planning, it really makes us feel stupid. But at least we chose to build the smallest house in the development we could so we did have some ideas different from the typical consumer culture of Bigger/Better in which we find ourselves. I believe it's OK to take some steps but to try to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible along the way. Some good suggestions have been added here - focusing on Structures/Zone 0 and working on projects that aren't difficult to move later if needed. All great ideas.

One thing I wish we'd known to do better was really check out the resources of our site. It has good, fast growing woods and some clearings and wildlife which was appealing. And it was a really good price on land. But it's pretty flat and there is no spring or pond. I was hoping for a stream running through a wooded lot with rolling hills and a little cottage and garden already in place. But for our available funds, that was not realistic. However, I know today that we can work toward developing some rolling swales and hugelkultur hills and gardens and ponds and maybe even a stream someday. This property can evolve in ways I didn't see before PDC.

We've done things as we get money - going along with no mortgage. Fans of rob roy will know his philosophy of avoiding the "death-pledge" at all costs. We started with putting in access. Initially we had to access the property from the neighbor's property because there was no way to get onto our portion from the main road with the deep roadside ditch. After the access, we cleared trees to put in a pole barn, which went up after we could afford to put in the driveway. While planning this, pre muhc PDC training/exposure, we still thought from a limited viewpoint. We knew solar access was important so planned for a home on the North side of the clearing with windows to the South for solar gain, protected by trees on the North to block cold winter winds. But we didn't know land as well. Luckily our bulldozer guy pointed out the slough that was going through our original barn location! Asking locals is crucial to success if you are from afar. We moved the barn more North which meant clearing some additional trees but it was way smarter than sticking with our plan which would have been disastrous.

Now that we have some PDC exposure, we're spending a lot of time drawing out plans that focus on Zones and Sectors. We've cut some firewood and hopefully have planned the locations of the stacks wisely. We're still in drawing phase for gardens, chickens and orchards but being on the property for longer periods over the last couple years has given us more ability to see the seasonal changes: sun, temperature, water differences. We are observing the wildlife and plantlife and gaining understanding of what will likely fare well where. And we've planted some blackberries and other things that we hope will develop in our absence. We always plan to spend time before implementing but sometimes life makes it evident that you need to JUST DO IT. Partway through the process of dreaming, John Ivanko (of Inn Serendipity who did bug-out from Chicago) recommended we develop an "emergency leave the rat race ASAP" plan. So we built a small apartment in the pole barn and every year we add more capability so our ability to bug-out gets more real. We could realistically check out this spring and finish the rocket stove before fall. We'd have to carry in water but it would be possible. Currently we are hoping to relocate to a location closer to the property which will give us more time to observe and plan while we still are working and gaining financial resources to implement more of our dreams. Taking it slow has been frustrating at times but I am grateful for the time now to keep learning. The more we know, the better we will succeed.

We draw things out and build models - these tools can help find big mistakes before putting things in practice for real. Like how exactly are those stairs going to fit in the floor plan and not come up in the attic in a totally non-functioning way? I also highly recommend Dream Pages - putting on paper in the form of words, pictures from magazines or your own art, the dreams you have for your future. I am a firm believer that putting it out there allows the Universe to bring it your way. Though sometimes in ways that you just never imagined.

So that's our experience. Observe, ask, observe some more, listen and then do the best you can with the know-how you have. You can always do more later or make changes if things aren't as good as you hoped. Part of learning what works is sometimes learning what doesn't. And sometimes you get lucky and get it right the first time.





 
Matu Collins
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We've done things as we get money - going along with no mortgage. 



Interest on loans is an example of entropy.
 
Johnny Niamert
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One thing I noticed was in 3.15 Mollison states that "On a rural (and sometimes urban) site, FENCING or hedgerow, SOIL REHABILITATION by mulch (or loosening the soil by tools), EROSION CONTROL, and WATER SUPPLY are the essential precursors to plant establishment ..." . These would be his answer, I assume, to the question of "Where to start planning?" at least at this point in the book. For me personally, I have my planting site defined with fencing and erosion controls in mind; soil tests done with recommendations made but still some reading/considering still to do; and water supply is defined and variable, with retaining ideas still being churned.

The property I will be moving to has been owned by family for almost a decade, so I have a good observation background with it over that time. Up until recently, my observations weren't directed towards permaculture, per se. For the last year or so, every time I visit I take daily walks with the dogs (great motivator). During these walks over the last year, my emphasis has been on a permaculture aspect of observation. I will take walks at all times of the day and night; shine, wind, snow, or rain. These walks are great for ideas and planning. Just last week, I noticed an area that would be ideal for a very small swale to take advantage of melting snows and run-off. During the summer, it would have been hard to see the subtle nature of what was needed, but during the middle of winter the freeze/thaw cycle made it easier. Really, it just needs about 5' of minor (6" high or so) swale, but I believe this will redirect a lot of snow-melt. I also decided on where, currently, I'm planning on putting a retaining pond. My property is gently sloped, but I still plan to add one at the top of the elevation grade. I also changed my thinking of run-off from solely what falls on my property. I plan on making some changes which I hope will divert more 'off-property' snow melt/rain onto my property, where I can use it to my advantage, instead of down the ditch gutter on the edge of the property.

Another thing I plan to start doing is multiple design plans, during reading of this book. I plan to use a base model with sketch-up and make/update designs with each successive chapter after reading the info. I haven't taken a PDC, so I'm still coming at this fairly fresh. I haven't looked ahead too much yet, so if a chapter doesn't inspire a re-design then I won't do one. But with each chapter fresh in my mind, the different designs will reinforce new ideas presented in a specific chapter; and create a specific log/record of my site specific ideas, so I can reference them in case my memory isn't so good with the "final" plan.

My plan will begin reality this spring, so I look forward to completing the book/discussion before spring really gets going.


------------------

Some other 'notes of interest' I made were on p55, Mollison's "Basic Energy-Conserving Rules: Every element (plant, animal, or structure) must be placed so that it serves at least two or more functions. Every function (e.g. water collection, fire protection) is served in two or more ways. This reminds me of Alton Brown's take on kitchen utensils. As in, there is no place for unitaskers in his kitchen, except a fire extinguisher.

I also found it interesting that in 3.14 he says you can successfully evolve succession in one planting. He gives the example of starting 4,000-8,000 plants for a hectare, while doing fencing, soil building, etc. But then in 3.15 he essentially counters this by saying only focus on zones 1-2, and keep the plant numbers and varieties to minimum.
Maybe it's just a case of "Could be done" vs. "Should be done"; don't bite off more than you can chew; or whether the site is your own or you are designing for someone else?


And finally on a side note, his discussion of guilds reminded me of this Nature program. Very interesting, if you have some time to spare.
What Plants Talk About
 
Michael Cox
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Johnny Niamert wrote:
Some other 'notes of interest' I made were on p55, Mollison's "Basic Energy-Conserving Rules: Every element (plant, animal, or structure) must be placed so that it serves at least two or more functions. Every function (e.g. water collection, fire protection) is served in two or more ways. This reminds me of Alton Brown's take on kitchen utensils. As in, there is no place for unitaskers in his kitchen, except a fire extinguisher.

I also found it interesting that in 3.14 he says you can successfully evolve succession in one planting. He gives the example of starting 4,000-8,000 plants for a hectare, while doing fencing, soil building, etc. But then in 3.15 he essentially counters this by saying only focus on zones 1-2, and keep the plant numbers and varieties to minimum.
Maybe it's just a case of "Could be done" vs. "Should be done"; don't bite off more than you can chew; or whether the site is your own or you are designing for someone else?


Johnny - Mollison talks about starting with a nucleus and building incrementally outwards from there once it is established and stable. If the scale you are working at means that the next increment is a converting a hectare of field to food forest the his single planting makes sense in an "all at once" fashion. I guess if you were hand planting by yourself you may work on a quarter of an acre per year however!
 
Michael Cox
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I really enjoyed this chapter

Discussion of zones vrs sectors was really relevant to our situation. We have a vegetable garden, but by a quirk of historical landscaping it is at the far end of the garden (200m+) and gets very little casual traffic. you have to want to go there to see what is happening. Near the house we have a lovely but labour intensive formal garden. This was rather illuminating and shone a light on why we struggle so much to maintain things there.

We have also been discussing setting up for chickens this year. The sectors discussion convinced me that the site I had in mind was totally the wrong location. I was going to end up blocking some of the already limited southerly sun from our annual beds!

I think I'll need to re-read this chapter in a week or so to get it to sink in!
 
Johnny Niamert
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Michael Cox wrote:Mollison talks about starting with a nucleus and building incrementally outwards from there once it is established and stable. If the scale you are working at means that the next increment is a converting a hectare of field to food forest the his single planting makes sense in an "all at once" fashion. I guess if you were hand planting by yourself you may work on a quarter of an acre per year however!


Yeah, that's what I figured he meant. I just thought it was odd to say you can do it all at once at such a large scale, then say the nucleus part about starting.
I would have imagined the starting nucleus would come first, both in doing and reading, then get to the next step.
 
Dave Burton
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I recently finished reading Chapter 3 of Permaculture: A Designer's Manual by Bill Mollison today.

Zone and sector analysis was well-covered in the PDC that I took last year, but there was still a lot to learn and appreciate from Chapter 3.

My favorite part of Chapter 3 was Section 3.7: Random Assembly. I liked this section a lot because it reminds me of how children will say "Why not?" and "Why can't I do this?". There is absolutely no reason to dismiss things just because they sound silly at first glance which is what I felt Bill Mollison was getting at when he mentions that

Bill Mollison wrote: [Random assembly] frees us from 'rational decisions' and forces us to consider unusual connections for their value,"
.

I also found his discussions in sections 3.3 and 3.4 on Observation and Deduction from Nature to be enlightening. For it is pretty hard to outsmart several billion years of evolution. This reminds me of the person he quoted back in, I think, Chapter 2 who said something along the lines that Westerners never sit still long enough. And then how he talked about that eventually people just don't have time for anything. I think many other cultures and people have it nailed down pretty well: maybe we do need to spend more time observing nature, me included,....

I also found Bill Mollison's discussion on Guilds in Chapter 3, Section 3.13 to be very interesting. I found his discussion on arbitrator species to be pretty profound, along with his method of tabulated analysis of species interaction to determine a layout of optimized interactions. I appreciate how he walked through the the reader through the thought process to coming to a conclusion.
 
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