Edward Jacobs

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since Apr 01, 2012
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Recent posts by Edward Jacobs

I have no idea which seeds it blocks. Found a couple studies, one of which was bermuda grass, which offers some interesting ideas. But the mesquite dumps a ton of leaves every year, and the "pathogen" (or whatever it is called) is water soluble. I know saguaro and cholla cactus do well under mesquite... but who wants that growing near the yard and house? Cholla has its use, but as a crop? It's main mission in life is to litter a mile around itself with horrendous evil poky things.

Currently, I have 5 "tire gardens" under a canopy of several mesquites, growing lemon balm, several mints, tumeric, and ginger, and a couple ashwagandha plants. None were started from seed, the soil was mixed from compost and native dirt and brought from another part of the yard, and all are doing well in the shade. I also have some periwinkle and canna bulbs, and even comfrey growing in another shady mesquite spot. Growth rate has not been inspirational, but they are all alive and showing slow progress. And again, none started from seed, they are all transplants.

Just figured its worth pointing out that mesquite has this "property", in case someone is trying to grow a flower garden under the nice big shady mesquite tree in the yard, and not having any luck germinating...  Your ideas for amending the situation sound feasible and worth a try. Or germinate elsewhere and transplant.
1 year ago
I just discovered that mesquite tree litter will prevent the germination of some seeds. So much for my idea of growing in the shade of the mesquites, or using all that built up mulch... Something to consider when growing seeds in the Tucson desert.
1 year ago
Thanks Jennifer, that segment of the book was awesome. Exactly what I was looking for!
4 years ago
I'm working with a lady who has an "orchard" in Tucson - a couple dozen various fruit trees, such as apple, peach, apricot, fig, pomegranate, etc. They are all several years old (approx. 4-6 yrs? And all are mature enough to be producing fruit.) The trees are mixed amongst each other, so she can't run a separate line to each type of tree. So the irrigation now is a "one size fits all" system. I don't think there is much in the way of mulch, other than weeds/grass that manages to grow, but mulching is part of the immediate plan.

I'm not that familiar with the desert climate, and was wondering if anybody has thoughts on how much water each tree should be getting? And should there be a plan to apply additional water when flowering and when the fruit is getting ripe?
4 years ago
So, here's a company that is using a wind turbine to create power to run it's own built-in condenser and heat exchanger, etc... 1,000 liters per day!


4 years ago
Another last minute guy.... I'm needing a place to stay. Haven't thought about camping until just reading this, so I'm glad I found it. It's just me, and I'll be driving in from Arizona. Debating on taking my car or my suburban. Since sharing a camp site is so much cheaper, I might bring the Suburban and then I can bring more gear to make it comfortable - like extra coolers for keeping food, some extra cast iron pans, etc. And I'll have room for hauling 5 extra people on the commute.
4 years ago

Nick Kitchener wrote:
The friction in this situation I see would be around the varying "ethical" points of view, especially around permacultural practice.

Unless you only accept people who are just like you, then you will have some who want to use heavy equipment to build infrastructure, while others want to raise and eat animals, while others don't want either of that.

Nick, I think you are describing the exact reason why a leader always emerges in a group. As Michael points out, the vast number of people DO NOT want to participate in the decision and building phase - i.e. they want to be led. If you try to have the entire community come together and agree on all design aspects of the overall community, you have the classic "too many chefs in the kitchen" crisis. If a small group works out the overall design, then people who want to join know up front what is going on, and can decide if the design "violates their ethics" to the point of making it a deal breaker for them. I imagine most people would be ok with a lot of variations, as long as they have enough of their own space and the freedom to "do it their way" in their own space.

If the leader doesn't become a ruler, you won't have friction from people resisting the control-freak.

If the people purchase their space, then they can't be kicked out (absent extreme cause). Therefore you would preserve/encourage autonomy, diversity, and freedom of individual thought and beliefs. Everyone has to learn to tolerate differences of opinion, and learn to not be obnoxious and pushy with their own beliefs. You'll have occasional friction between individuals, but everyone gets to grow up and work it out because "the kickout game" is not an option. This will also help prevent a leader from trying to become a ruler.

I think once the community is established, the "leadership" should be divested of any power to MAKE rules or design changes.

Assaf Koss wrote: I suspect that pretty much every person on permies.com chooses to join the discussion, because we are looking for an escape from state and social controls in our own lives. Permaculture aims for locality, while states and societies aim for wide-spread generalization. They negate each other. I suggest, strongly, that telling people what to do (or not to do), results in less productivity and less satisfaction from all participants.

The conclusion that can be derived from this is that our entire social effort should be in the design of our spaces, and not in the regulation of our fellow people.

I'm very much in agreement with your approach, Assaf. I suspect I'm not communicating very well, though.

5 years ago

Assaf Koss wrote:
The solution I offer for discussion, is having a design that is agreed upon, by all those who wish to join the community.

I think one major aspect to consider is the initiation of a community project. If there is no community, then how do you wrangle a herd of people into the commitment and discussion stage for discussing the design? On the other hand, if you do have an existing community, then newcomers who want input on the design will be highly disruptive to all that has been accomplished. Another issue is that if a guy has a certain amount of land, and wants to be the "founder" and start a community on HIS land, you will have the difficulty of a guy not wanting to give up control to the hoard that is moving into HIS space and using HIS resources.

The model I envision would be a small group of Founders who hash out a basic plan, then pitch the idea to private *investors and prospective residents simultaneously. The investors would want to know there is significant interest. The prospective residents would need to know this project will be funded and will become a reality. Residents would have to "purchase" their land in some fashion (lifetime lease, control rights over a designated piece of land by way of contract, ownership shares in an LLC or Trust, etc.), and those combined purchase prices should pay for most (if not all) of the real estate for the community. This process of selling all the resident spots will be slow, and might straggle out 2-5 years, so you get investors to front the whole amount needed to launch it properly and buy the land and build the infrastructure. The investor gets paid as each homestead gets sold, the community launches essentially debt free, and everyone focuses on getting their own stuff in order. The hope is that "if you build it, they will come". People want a "sure thing", a functioning project, security to know they aren't going to buy in and have the thing go bankrupt.

[* private investors are NOT "loaning" you money! You are not seeking a bank loan, or getting trapped in the debt slavery system with interest and monthly payments! Investors are buying in, and taking an ownership interest until they are bought out by way of residents buying in. Investors get paid as the money comes in. NO clause for foreclosure if a monthly payment cannot be made, etc.]

On the leadership issue: There is a big difference between a "leader" and a "ruler". Perhaps make sure the Leader is actually an office filled by someone (or a group of 3-5 someones) selected by the residents from among the residents. The holders of this office should be easily replaced. And never convey "power" to this office. Replace anyone who shows any signs of wanting to be a Ruler. The Leadership office should remain an administrative function, merely a point of contact so outsiders have a face and a name to deal with, and residents have a contact person who "knows what's going on" so problems, issues, and discussions can be brought to a central place. Someone to handle coordination of projects and ideas and handle paperwork and project a unified vision and goal.

I think if a person actually "owned" a piece of land in the community, and were fully and completely responsible for building their own house and developing their own homestead, you would automatically attract only the right kind of people. Having private property in this manner leads to an automatic respect for other people's rights and autonomy/independence. Exchanges between people are then voluntary, and a free market based on fair exchange can develop to everyone's benefit. I think this leads to supporting the original posters main point:

The design will be similar to a standard Permaculture design of a property, only it will expand over the entire land of the community, and put emphasis on how the different lots (houses) interact, while remaining independent entities.

If a guy can buy an acre for under $5k, and roll in with an $800 RV he bought off craigslist, you have achieved affordability and an instant functional population. Recycle the old RV's as people build, and sell them to new incoming residents.

Call the residents "Stewards" and show them how their land interacts with their neighbor's land in the grand Permaculture Design for the whole community, and set the interaction rules accordingly..

5 years ago
I realize that plans such as this are not a literal final product, and technicalities and details get worked out along the way by the common sense of the builders. But I have a few questions that come to mind based on the drawings.

1. Will the roof be covered in dirt? If so, how will you keep it up there and still allow water drainage? I ask because it seems typically that an earth roof runs into the earth berm and you have an uninterrupted "dirt flow" that holds itself in place and lets water flow through the soil naturally. This design appears to have the roof elevated from the ground all the way around.

2. Will you backfill dirt against the sides and down-hill side? If so, what are you planning to use for siding/shoring material? I've never heard Mike admit or even acknowledge it, but his "approved design" of using 2x6 tongue and groove siding *always* fails, even on spans as small as 4 feet, and even with a soil depth as low as 3 feet. Thin walls like that always bulge in. Bulging means there was movement. Movement creates a high risk of perforating the waterproofing material. And bulging walls are ugly, and a bit scary. This design here shows 10 foot spans. The pictures of the actual site don't indicate much of an excavation, so maybe the sides won't be very deep into the ground on the actual structure?

3. The design looks like it will be dark inside. But perhaps the building won't be as far underground as the drawing shows?

4. What kind of discussions have been going on regarding the "ATI" part of WOFATI? Will you spread out an "umbrella" around the structure? What about use of earth tubes and that sort of thing?

5 years ago