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Geoff Lawton's online PDC course - Methods

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Released April 19th, 2014

Introduction to Permaculture DVD - Methods and Course Notes pdf
Introduction to Methods of Design
1.Analysis: Design by listing characteristics of components.
2.Connections between components. Slope. Orientation
3.Zone analysis. Sector analysis.
4.Designing with zones.
5.Zonal Placement.
6.Sectors. Outside energies effect on site.
Methods Class Q&A
7.Listing possibilities. Selection of random assemblies.
8.Connecting elements. Simple efficiencies. Observation.
Methods Class Q&A2
Methods of Design Conclusion
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Location: Toomsuba, MS, 8a, 54" annual rainfall
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Per Rebecca's invitation, I am posting the 'overview' videos I have been doing on my YouTube channel here on her weekly chains about the course.

I've had a YouTube channel for a few years and I knew that I would be too busy with the PDC to record most of my usual YouTube videos, so I decided I would do these overviews for the purpose of:

1) Getting the PDC info deeper embedded in my skull
2) Spread the concepts of Permaculture to more people
3) As a precursor to our own PDC far down the line.

I hope you enjoy:

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Location: Olyden, WA
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My notes.

3 - Methods of Design

3.1 - Analysis: Design By Listing Characteristics of Components

Carefully consider the needs, uses, behavior and intrinsic characteristics of each element in the system.

Chicken example: they need food, water, grit, other chickens, protection, habitat, control and dust. They clean their feathers with dust. Without it, they are susceptible to chicken mites in a warm climate. If dust isn't available, sulfur may be substituted. Chickens produce eggs, meat, heat, gas, manure and feathers. The feathers compost well as a nitrogen source. Chickens eat things, scratch and fight. Breed characteristics are an intrinsic characteristic.

It takes about 21 days to hatch a chicken. Broody chickens will sit on any egg. And they'll keep laying until there are too many to keep warm. It's necessary to mark the eggs you want to keep, and know how many a chicken is capable of keeping warm. Usually, if the chicken sits for 24 hours it's an indication she'll sit the whole 21 days. She won't require much food and water while brooding. When brooding, the hen will rotate her eggs several times a day. If you want to collect other eggs for hatching, you can do so. They will remain fertile for about 30 days as long as you rotate them a couple times a day and don't put them in the fridge. After going under a hen, they'll then still need the 21 days to hatch.

One rooster can hold a flock of about 30 hens, and most eggs will be fertile. All eggs will be fertile with only 8 hens per rooster. Once you go over about 30 hens the flock will divide and the strongest hen will take on a rooster role in the 2nd flock.

3.2 - Connections Between Components; Slope; Orientation

Determine how much interaction you expect to have with each element. Chickens require at least 800 visits per year normally.

Areas that receive morning sun warm more gently than areas that catch mostly evening sun, since morning follows night but evening follows midday.

If you have a slope over 18 degrees, a treed system is probably called for, for stability. Terraces may be an option, but they require a lot of complicated earthworks.

3.3 - Zone Analysis; Sector Analysis

Energy interactions dictate zone planning for efficiency.

3.4 - Designing Within Zones

Zone 1 is a small area surrounding the home that hosts elements you have a lot of interaction with. Perhaps 1/4 acre in size, it's often 50% structures, paths and driveways. Typical elements include: kitchen garden, water tanks, garden ponds, rockeries, multi-graft dwarf trees, quiet animals (worms, rabbits, guinea pigs, pigeons, quail), a seed store, shed, workshop, garage, greenhouse, mother plants, difficult to grow plants, trellises, espalier, feed store, fencing, washing line and herb garden. A good location for poultry and compost is on the edge of zone 1. You may also have a milking parlor on the edge that connects to the zone 3 grazing system.

Zone 2 is diverse food forest, main crops for storage and carbohydrates, crops that require a lot of room, grains, woodlot with coppice trees and cut forage.

The Chinese have used rocket style heaters (called Kang) for a long time. They've been known to include a horizontal run equipped with distillation bottles on an exhaust after a vertical exit, where elements of exhaust like turpines and acetone condense. This requires specific placement of the bottles on the horizontal run, which depends on the type of fuel being burned.

Zone 3 is a broader, hardier food forest, browse and graze pasture, beginning farm forestry, maybe a larger main crop.

Zone 4 is farm forestry. Zone 5 is wilderness.

Zones needn't be contiguous. E.g. zone 3 could be various paddocks.

3.5 - Zonal Placement

Zone placement depends on your topology, needs, climate, size, existing features, etc. Zone 3 is the zone most commonly omitted because grazing animals aren't for everybody.

3.6 - Sectors; Outside Energies Effect on Site

Analyze energies affecting your site. Most important is the sun. Know the exact path of the sun at midsummer and midwinter. The sun rises and sets at different points every day, bounded by those extremes. Know the prevailing winds and their usual temperatures. Pay attention to the good or bad views. Be aware of any potential flood zones. Know where microclimates exist where the land tends to be warmer or cooler. Gauge the fire hazard. Recognize things like pollution sources such as neighbor's lighting, noises, dust or odors. Identify seasonal springs, geothermal activity and waterfalls. These things affect your design. After you understand the outside energies effecting the site, it's just a matter of deciding whether you want their influence or not.

3.7 - Listing Possibilities; Selection From Random Assemblies

Sunken beds make more sense than raised beds in a desert because they'll hold more moisture.

Design possibilities are endless. One method of exploring options is to list the elements available and imagine how to combine them. What happens when you float a greenhouse on a pond? Should you trellis a swale? Would it be a good idea to locate a water tank inside a structure? And so on.

3.8 - Connecting Elements; Simple Efficiencies; Observation

Some old Chinese wheelbarrows had a tall wheel centrally located under the load with a rack on either side so the weight was on the wheel rather than the operator. Some had sails that could be erected to take advantage of winds.

The most efficient machine man has ever built is an overshot water wheel.

Observation is a method of design. View the site with an open mind in a near meditative state. Note anything that draws your attention, for consideration later. After you've considered present elements and sectors, a lot of the intuition you have is going to be significant. Don't ignore it. It's the instinct for survival coming through. Our ancestors survived by recognizing patterns in nature and taking advantage.

QnA 3.1

The first things experienced designers look at when visiting a site are 1. water 2. access and 3. structures. Usually the lowest point on the highest property boundary is the starting point of the longest highest contour line.

Rabbits are fertile in 11 weeks. Starting with 1 male and 2 females, Geoff butchered 95 rabbits in a year.

A lot of small permaculture dams can be considered silt traps and erosion control features, if that's at all helpful.

QnA 3.2

Fire travels uphill quickly due to the rise of heat. Dips in ridges usually channel wind and fire through them.

QnA 3.3

When consulting, you need to find out what your client seeks and how much time and money they are able to spend in the quest. And what kind of experience do they have?

Ram pumps use the energy of falling water to pump 20% of the volume uphill. A half meter fall can pump water 20 meters up!

QnA 3.4

Rodents leave urine trails that snakes follow.

Composting manure helps bind up the nutrients in humus and greatly delays their leaching out of soil.

QnA 3.5

You can't interbreed chickens too long. Change the rooster or all the offspring will eventually be infertile.

QnA 3.6

QnA 3.7

Access points and tracks should be considered early in the design process, along with water. They will evolve as you get deeper into the design implementation.

If you install a corridor to zone 1 for cattle, doing so on contour or along a gentle ridge will help facilitate nutrient and water runoff from that inevitably compacted track.

At Zaytuna they prepare for main crops with a chicken tractor. It gives the main crop a headstart on the weeds.

QnA 3.8

A site with a high water table may be ideal for aquaculture or chinampas.

Sunken beds are often raised to level with footpaths after filling in with compost and mulch. They hold water.

Permaculture could feed the world on 2-4% of the land currently being used for large scale agriculture.
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