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Permaculture hacks that work

 
pollinator
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I do not have any pictures, but I always pound my fence posts in the Spring of the year. The wetter the ground, and still be able to drive; the better. I use a lining bar to start my sharpened post, but then use the bucket on my tractor to pound them into the ground. To get extra whollop, I fill my bucket with soil first. That extra few hundred pounds is WAY better then swinging a sledge hammer.
 
gardener
Posts: 2965
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
633
cattle chicken bee sheep
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Eric, back when i was in the city, and worried about a nice lawn, grass clippings went where i wanted a veggie garden the next year. Its as simple as that. It worked great. Lots of earthworms came in.
 
garden master
Posts: 1261
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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I love using cut grass or leaves for mulch too. It's free, keeps weeds out, and creates awesome soil fertility!
 
Posts: 106
Location: zone 6a, ish
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Ben Zumeta wrote:I bet someone here can explain how dehumidifiers work like Dan Ackroyd as Jimmy Carter on SNL, but my understanding is that they can leave chemicals in their water reservoirs. I very well could be wrong, but I assumed this is why every one I've ever had has very clear warnings not to drink it, and that's why I don't use it on edibles



After doing the laziest of Google searches, it seems like the search results are in agreement with what I suspected from experience: the main reason they tell you not to drink the water is the possibility of contamination from microorganisms.  I know the water collection bucket of our dehumidifier gets super slimy; they can harbor all kinds of algae, bacteria, molds, you name it--whatever's floating in the air and lands on the water.  There's also the possibility of leeching of heavy metals from the coils or the solder used on them, which would then bioaccumulate in plant material.  None of the sites I looked at provided any data or indication of lab testing or anything, either, so the heavy metal contamination is more in the realm of speculation, I think.  Honestly, even knowing that isn't going to stop me from using it on my tomatoes or whatever when I have the energy to waddle it out to my plants, since I probably get worse every day from my very hard well water running through 30 year old corroding pipes.
 
pollinator
Posts: 566
Location: Redwood Country, Zone 9-10, 60" rain/yr,
99
hugelkultur dog duck
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Thanks for doing the research I should have done myself before saying anything. I always noticed an faint odd chemical smell to the water, which was part of my previous assumption. Maybe it’s just the plastic of the tank.

On a more productive note, I have been refilling French drain trenches with woody debris instead of gravel, of course where well away from a massive structure you don’t want to settle upon the decomposed wood eventually. I go with minimally sloped trenches that start at the overflow of my duck pond, and divert the water to catchment basins filled with woody debris and topped with woodchips between hugel beds before it flows off my property. It’s a bit like keylining but can be done with a shovel or small trench digger in small and irregular sites. I can now hold and slowly absorb about 7500gal off rain that’s become duck pond tea. We have yet to have to runoff water yet this wet season, but it’s been relatively dry (17” since oct 1). The soil just builds pretty passively now. I also have to water only in getting plants established during dry periods. If nothing else, I have much less flooding now and the system has held up to a 10” day of rain.
 
Posts: 13
Location: Lancaster Ohio
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I've been gardening in the weeds.

We had our blueberry plants get overrun with weeds one summer to the point we lost a couple. No they didn't die.... We freakin' lost them. Couldn't find them. After hacking down a bunch of Johnson grass and goldenrod and blackberry bushes that didn't produce well, we found them again, and they were healthier than the ones we had exposed earlier. It's as if they were nourished and protected by the weeds.

So last spring I decided I would run with it. I started by laying out the cardboard and straw to keep the weeds at bay a little, then planted in between the cardboard.

As the weeds grew up past the tomatoes and peppers, I only chopped and dropped the weeds that were on the south sides of the plants I was growing for food, just enough to let the sun hit them. I let the ones on the north side grow up tall. They ended up supporting the tomato plants and even some smaller viney squash.

From outside the garden it just looked like a weed patch. The critters thought so too. The only food that was stolen was from the plants on the outer edges of the garden.

Later in the season I noticed the Japanese beetles were ignoring the tomatoes and peppers and only eating the surrounding weeds.

The weeds held in the moisture, protected the plants from too much exposure and I think even helped to feed them. The smell when you bent down into the weeds was rich. I never had to water at all, even in the dry summer.

We had a good harvest. Finding veggies was like a treasure hunt that never ended, and I could never bring enough containers to harvest everything.

I think my next design will include covering the ground with a thick, lofty layer of sticks so the tomatoes, when they bog down the tomato stakes, will stay off of the ground and stay dry. Some rotted from all the humidity so I may cut the southern weeds down a bit lower in summer also... Just to eliminate the excess humidity.
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
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I have heard people say that Hugels do not work, but I have never had any that did not. The only thing I have done differently is use 50/50 wood and sheep manure.

This is not mine, mine is buried under snow right now...but shows how attractive they can be, even in a suburban setting.

 
Posts: 29
Location: Kentucky - Zone6
3
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One hack that worked for me is capturing the water run-off from our gutters with a banana half circle (the pipes before exited the ground on the downhill part of our property).

In case you don't know what a banana circle is:
https://treeyopermacultureedu.com/chapter-10-the-humid-tropics/banana-circle/

Below the run-off pipes, I dug a round hole, putting the soil in a half circle around the hole (as you would do with a straight swale) to keep more water in the hole. Fill the hole with pieces of wood (which I plan to use when creating new garden beds this year) which absorb the water and slowly release it to the plants/trees I planted on the berm around the hole. If it works out well, I am planning to build a series of half banana circles downhill as the overflow from the top banana half circle flows into the next and so on.

M


 
Posts: 49
Location: Southeastern Louisiana
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:



Oh WOW I've not laughed that hard in a long time. I second this by the way. I'm in Louisiana. I have two of those damned dehumidifier things so I don't smell like mildew all the time. I feel your pain. SO. MUCH.
 
wayne fajkus
gardener
Posts: 2965
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
633
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I found a simple way to save eggshells. I placed a sprouting lid on a jar. Its probably not neccessary but i wanted them to dry out. but keep bugs out. Luckily it has not attracted bugs. I don't crush the shells till i need the space for new shells. This gives them a chance to dry out. I use the jar to crack the eggs also. Pretty simple and handy. No more cracking eggs then "oh, crap, where do i put the shell".

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wayne fajkus
gardener
Posts: 2965
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
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Sometimes the answer is to do nothing. This is a brilliant way that nature brought wild blackberries in my homestead. Ive been looking for 7 years. I have found them, under dense shade from birds dropping seeds from the trees. They don't make it. I had one that was dropped on a fenceline that got sun. But the deer must eat them bevause they dont make it.

Pic is about halfway down a steep rocky slope. If i had to guess, i would say that the birds pooped it uphill. Rain carried it down the hill. The yucca caught it and held it. While it has been browsed, the yucca needles have deterred enough that it is flowering and should fruit. Id guess 100 of these are on the slope. 95 of the 100 are coming out of a yucca.
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gardener
Posts: 944
Location: Galicia, Spain zone 9a
202
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wayne fajkus wrote:I saw a hugel hack on "deep south homestead" youtube channel.

When planting tomato transplants,  he digs a 16" hole and places 4 or 5 corn cobs(from last season) in the hole. He adds a little dirt and plants tomatos above that. The benefit he touted was its ability to hold water.



So going to try this. We get about 1 m of rain a year but the 'soil'  2 inches down is dry. I fill my planting holes with water and let them drain before planting. No extra work to add some old cobs.
 
pollinator
Posts: 371
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
82
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Asparagus must be planted deep and seem to attract lots of weeds. Rather than fight with the weeds, I will inter-plant with strawberries, which are shallow rooted but will eventually make a tight mat through which the asparagus will come up. The 50 asparagus plants have been planted in 4 beds [each 3'X 12']. They are mulched heavily with chicken do-do.
The strawberries are in a 4 year old bed and need rejuvenating. Once that crop is done in a couple of weeks, I will select young strawberry plants from thereto transplant [so I don't have to buy new] and will encourage their vining through the asparagus bed. Mother Nature abhors an empty space, so I choose the "weeds" that will live there happily.
Working *with* Nature pays off.
The old strawberry bed will be replaced by raised beds. Not sure what I will put in there yet. Potatoes that grow well here. Cucumbers? maybe. In the beds, I hesitate to put perennials, although I could always use more comfrey yet. We'll see.
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
gardener
Posts: 944
Location: Galicia, Spain zone 9a
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:Asparagus must be planted deep and seem to attract lots of weeds. Rather than fight with the weeds, I will inter-plant with strawberries, which are shallow rooted but will eventually make a tight mat through which the asparagus will come up. The 50 asparagus plants have been planted in 4 beds [each 3'X 12']. They are mulched heavily with chicken do-do.



Another great tip. Do you have any pictures yet please? And you can never have too much comfrey. Or rhubarb.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
pollinator
Posts: 371
Location: zone 4b, sandy, Continental D
82
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Mandy Launchbury-Rainey wrote:

Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:Asparagus must be planted deep and seem to attract lots of weeds. Rather than fight with the weeds, I will inter-plant with strawberries, which are shallow rooted but will eventually make a tight mat through which the asparagus will come up. The 50 asparagus plants have been planted in 4 beds [each 3'X 12']. They are mulched heavily with chicken do-do.



Another great tip. Do you have any pictures yet please? And you can never have too much comfrey. Or rhubarb.



My picture uploading skills are not up to par. Right now, the asparagus are out of the ground and doing well and I'm still picking strawberries. Once that is done, they will get transplanted. Then, maybe I will try again to put out some picks. Same thing with rhubarb: They will get split and transplanted this fall and placed around some trees. Next spring, that should be worth a pic. Comfrey will have to stay inside the garden as the deer are voracious!
 
pollinator
Posts: 119
Location: Wichita, Kansas, United States
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Ben Zumeta wrote:I bet someone here can explain how dehumidifiers work like Dan Ackroyd as Jimmy Carter on SNL, but my understanding is that they can leave chemicals in their water reservoirs. I very well could be wrong, but I assumed this is why every one I've ever had has very clear warnings not to drink it, and that's why I don't use it on edibles:



Think of the sweat that builds up on the outside of a cold drink.  When enough builds up it runs off your glass/bottle/can and leaves a ring on the table.

A dehumidifier uses the same technology as an air conditioner to do the same thing.  Only instead of making a ring on the table it drips into the container until you dump it.
 
pollinator
Posts: 251
Location: Athens, GA Zone 8a
45
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Eric Hanson wrote:I think my best permaculture hack is also one of the simplest.  I like to build a compost pile in the garden.  Even if the compost is not high quality, the nutrients flow down the pile and into the soil.  Moreover, the microbes in the pile work their way into the soil along with the nutrients.  Even if the eventual compost is only of so-so quality, the spot upon which it sits is magically fertile.

Eric



I'm bad about buying stupid things from Amazon in the middle of the night. I'm also a very lazy composter, who tends to just dump whatever kitchen scraps out on the ground somewhere...none of this "ideal mix" stuff and all. So I ordered this crazy thing one night, and spent too much for it (but less than it costs now), and put it in my garden, steadied by a metal fence post up through the middle. It looks a little like a triple flying saucer has landed in the garden...it's big. I just dumped stuff inside of it and put the lid back on. It soon filled up with maggots chewing everything down inside, and the tomato I'd planted nearby doubled in size and started putting out tomatoes like crazy. I'm thinking of trying to put some red wrigglers inside and see if they might survive through the winter. The bottom is open to the ground, so the worst that can happen is they'll die and go into the soil.

https://amzn.to/2xjOaI5




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The plum tree will grow up over this, shading it some.
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2 cu ft wasn't enough to fill the whole planter up. To keep the flies inside, I had to top this off. As long as the holes are covered, the flies can't get out.
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Threw in a ton of fresh compost materials and it didn't even begin to fill it up.
 
Posts: 132
Location: Newfoundland, Canada
1
solar woodworking
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I am experimenting with planting cool season crops in late fall when the soil gets too cool for them to germinate. They sit there all winter and germinate in the spring when weather warms. Works for parsnip, carrot, turnip and rutabaga so far.
I turn my compost. this year I have set the bins at the beginning of the 30 foot stretch. I will turn them going down that row and follow with planting crops. When I get to the end, I will start back at the beginning. 30 feet gives 6 turns times 3 bins (18 in all), that will give me plenty time to grow where I previously had each bin sitting.
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
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I hate plumbing, but yesterday I was installing a new bathroom faucet and having trouble adding all the plumbing connections on a pedestal sink.

What was really hard was working upside down because everything is backwards compared to when I put it into place. The hack that I found worked was, setting the sink down into a narrow, deep cardboard box. This let the tail pipe fit down into something, yet hold the sink upright. Then I took a utility knife and cut away the cardboard on the back of the box so I could get to the plumbing connections. This was especially helpful in adjusting the  and pop--up stopper.

It made the task quick and easy, and I realized this life hack could be used in tons of other situations where things should be set on a bench, but have a protrusion.  
 
Diane Kistner
pollinator
Posts: 251
Location: Athens, GA Zone 8a
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Jotham Bessey wrote:I am experimenting with planting cool season crops in late fall when the soil gets too cool for them to germinate. They sit there all winter and germinate in the spring when weather warms. Works for parsnip, carrot, turnip and rutabaga so far.



I'd think this would work with anything you can winter sow: https://getbusygardening.com/winter-sowing-seeds/

I've had good luck using open-bottomed containers (like two-liter bottles with the bottom cut off) that can be just lifted off once the seedlings are going strong.



 
Posts: 23
Location: Southern Oregon
13
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Pee Bucket hack:  I don't know if this is original, but because I keep barrels of biochar for the garden and add urine to it to "activate" it - and noticed there is no smell - it occurred to me that I could use charcoal in my pee collecting buckets. I have two 5 gallon buckets with snap on Lugable Loo toilets seats on them - one in my big walk-in closet in my bedroom/office and one in my potting shed in the garden. The smell would get pretty rank after a couple days. So I decided to try using charcoal in the buckets. I shoveled about 10-12 inches into each of them and Voila! - no more smell! When the urine reaches the top of the charcoal, I take a big mesh sieve and put it on a small bucket and slowly empty the pee bucket into it, catching any charcoal and putting it back in the "toilet" for a couple more rounds. Fine charcoal powder goes with the urine into the small bucket. I then use it in the garden and on potted plants by putting a quart or two into a 3 gal. watering can and filling with water to fertilize whatever needs it at the moment (houseplants love it, too!).  After a few rounds of that I empty the charcoal onto a compost pile or somewhere that needs it and add fresh charcoal to the "toilets".  The system keeps me from using a toilet for urine and wasting water, and collects a valuable resource simply and easily. The toilet paper is all saved for a compost pile.
 
wayne fajkus
gardener
Posts: 2965
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
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Barb, simple and brilliant. Good stuff
 
Travis Johnson
pollinator
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Nitrogen Fixation works...

I was bushogging around a few fields yesterday and it was clear as day that Nitrogen Fixation works...

One field where I sowed down 50% Timothy, and 50% Clover is a thick deep green, the other field beyond was sown down into Timothy, Reed Canary, Clover, Orchard Grass, and Alfalfa...and it is all yellow. In the first field (8 acres) the clover is pulling nitrogen from the air and feeding the roots, while on the second field (15 acres) there is not enough clover to make enough of a nitrogen difference. Soil tests show (as if the yellowing was not an indicator enough) that it needs 3 tons of fertilizer.
 
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