Douglas Crouch

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since Feb 07, 2010
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Recent posts by Douglas Crouch

After nearly 20 years of growing paw paws and months of production, we bring you the paw paw masterclass online. If you want to create a Paw Paw Paradise, just as i have done in Northern Kentucky at Treasure Lake, this course is sure to help.  Whether its how to manage wild stands in a semi cultivated fashion, propagate your own seeds, how to plant, or the design behind it all, we have you covered.  Its a wonderful native plant for us in the eastern half of the USA and up into lower Ontario, but I also have planted in the climate analogous of Central and Eastern Europe.  Its a plant that is making headway as well in Northern Europe and the temperate realms of Asia.  We also get into processing which allows to harvest the seed for propagation and to enjoy the fruits of the labor for time to come.
3 years ago
Beyond food supply, one of the ways in which humans have increased their life expectancy, in my opinion, is to have hot water on demand.  We all consume it, but have we ever thought just how much energy this consumes and how that energy is produced?  At nearly 20% of household consumption on average in the USA, well thats a lot and there are alternatives for sure! This article details appropriate technology features for just that.


Water heating is a luxury we have become quite accustomed to in developed nations and probably never really have thought about the vast amount of energy this demands. Our consumption of hot water comes at a cascading fossil fuel price through the electricity or the natural gas we employ. We may not think of hot water as such, but I feel having hot water on demand is one of the ways in which humans have increased their life expectancy. Hygiene has improved because who wants to take a cold shower when its cold out. Also reheating the body in the winter is such a beneficial approach to keeping the immune system robust. However, as always with the burning of fossil fuels, sunlight stored of ancient times, there is a fallout of negative impacts from air quality where it’s burnt to water quality where the fuel source is mined.

Consequently, this heating of water is one of the first appropriate technologies many will implement in a permaculture built environment. The systems are less complex than the electricity producing and storing ones (solar PV and batteries for example) and it helps to reduce your electric demand if wanting to go with renewables or go completely off grid. Whether it is showering or washing dishes or laundry (just do laundry in cold water), your hot water needs can be met through appropriate technologies.

I could throw a lot of numbers and conversion rates at you to provide more substantial evidence that heating water is energy intensive. If you do a web search of “how much energy does it take to heat water”, you will find the conversion factors. This shows the amount of energy and its relationship to the cost of electricity and it is actually pretty astounding how much the cost of hot water is. Furthermore, the amount of total energy used in a household for water heating is quite astonishing and see the graph below. With an average in 2015 in the USA of nearly 20%, this is a critical factor of societal energy consumption or production.

Interestingly enough, Nature produces its own hot water on demand in the form of hot springs. Warmed by underlying volcanic/geologic figures, humans once did pilgrimages to source this heat and mineral rich waters. Now we simply open a tap and voila; no real thought on energy. Thus part of this articles desired outcome is for readers to simply even think about hot water and what that implies. Sitting in hot springs is my top pilgrimage choice and am grateful for this blessing of the earth.

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3 years ago
Timber and Forestry: Its actually the reason I got into Permaculture, not agriculture.  So this article is a special one for me full of different viewpoints, designs, and videos.  Check it out as this is a vital topic in how ecosystems are managed worldwide.

While much of what permaculture focuses on is agriculture, one of my main impetuses of getting involved with the movement was indeed timber and forestry. Seeing the affects in both my hometown state of Ohio in Wayne National Forest and then out west in the Redwoods in Northern California, well I was shocked and appalled.  While the local foods scene has grown in order to combat industrial agriculture, it is indeed harder to enter into the local timber scene but a very vital crux of reversing the damage.  It is not impossible and the aim for this article is to highlight just how pivotal this issue is and options.  Humans seem to have an insatiable thirst for lumber and pulp. Consequently, forestry monocultures still remain an enormous production system and its cascading negative environmental impacts such as a decline in biodiversity and the hydrological cycle.  While it would be great if we didn’t use lumber, well it is indeed part of our modern system.  And we can lessen this need but most likely, we will never eliminate it.

Trees are grown like any other crop, for a harvest in the end.  The end product of a trees life maybe high end furniture for the Chinese market, pulp for toilet paper in the EU, or a wooden spoon sold at Ikea or a local farmers market.  Forests hold crops of diversity while a key distinction must be made around language in this moment.  Plantation, is a monoculture and not a forest.  Forests have inherent diversity with multiple layers.  While plantations may have multiple layers through the weeds that have grown, the monoculture style does not make it a forest.  It is the diversity that makes it a forest.  In forestry operations trees are most often grown in plantations for the end goal of harvest or clear cuts of biodiverse forests occur.  This is because like any other monoculture, it requires specialized and expensive equipment juiced up on fossil fuels. So when people say trees are being planted, if they are a monoculture, they are most likely not providing the ecosystem services that forests do. Moreover, timber is extracted from diverse forests as well, sometimes sustainably, which can actually spur growth and forest health, and mostly it is not sustainable. Monocultures can also lead to devastating and horribly tragic fires as is the case nearly every year in Portugal these days with its extensive pine and Eucalyptus production.

3 years ago
2019 has been a dynamic year for me fully back to Treasure Lake and really starting to make bigger moves there and in the area.  My blog details this, entitled tree planting recap 2019.  Check it out!  lots of video, text, and designs to help explain.  and yes 2020 there will be more climate positive action!

Excerpt: Lets face it, I love planting trees.  Doug the Digger. And after moving back to Treasure Lake in Northern Kentucky in summer of 2017, I have been busy planting and caring for trees.  However in 2019, it took a large step forward building on top of what was before and planting in new spaces framed by a new zone zero; the tiny house.  And this planting extends beyond just Treasure Lake, both in Petersburg, KY as a part of community building through my tips for tree planting jar, and also urban permaculture in Cincinnati. And yes I have been planting Paw Paws, and you can to with confidence after taking this new course, Paw Paw Master Class. Below is a list of locations and descriptions along with design visuals, videos, and pictures.

3 years ago
alone: my tiny house from across treasure lake, Northern Kentucky and part of the banks development below it.  Terraces, elongated and individual tree planting terraces of fruit and nuts below towering burr and Shumard oak and sugar maple.

3 years ago
I have tons of them in my 40 acre food forest, turning a native forest into an edible playground slowly but surely.  Been at it for nearly 20 years off and on.  I call it semi cultivated but now planting in more with intention into certain pockets where it makes sense.  I raise my own from wild seeds and two trees that we seedlings of cultivars that i planted 11 years ago.  I have just released a paw paw masterclass online for those interested in going into depth on this one.
3 years ago
After nearly 20 years of growing paw paws and months of production, we bring you the paw paw masterclass online. Very thorough, sale now, USA customer get some free seeds as well! Give the gift of education this holiday season!!!

The course covers the following:

Paw Paw Propagation and Planting
Turn a hand full of seeds into a forest.
Doug will start you with the foundations, so that you understand not just what to do for success but why. Become fully equipped with expert knowledge and have the best shot at paw paw propagation through systematic seed saving and planting success. Learning to work with what genetics you have will allow you to become a plant breeder, an age old tradition and noble cause.

Planning, Pollination, and Management
Learn techniques to leapfrog your tree’s growth cycle.
The difference between a small PawPaw grove and a prolific orchard is proper planning, techniques, and management. Learn advanced strategies for leapfroging your tree’s growth cycle while improving soil fertility and fruit production.

Picking and Processing for Food and Storage
Learn to add value to your fruit with some simple techniques.
Although quite seasonal, there are immediate usage recipes and storage capabilities.  By getting bananas out of our diets for months on end in the temperate climates, we will reduce our carbon footprint as they come great distances to those who live in climates where paw paw is grown easily.  

Design Strategies for Various Contexts
Techniques for leveraging the resources around you for success.
Advanced course content that guides you through the longer term management of a number of different scenarios- a must for reaching peak PawPaw production.

Advanced Strategy, Tools, Recipes, and More!
Get on your way to becoming a PawPaw Master-
This holistic offering of eight different sections overall gives you the full run through of paw paws.  This plant is in high demand and its fruits.  You can be the next to create a new grafted variety, the next best recipe, or lead people on tours through your paw paw paradise just as Doug Crouch does.  

3 years ago
Bringing animals into the systems requires a reduction of industrial feed inputs all the while pumping outputs within the system for animals to feed from. A long tradition, a creative complexity, and a boon to the animals.

When we look at feeding animals as a function, we need to see it in that lens of finding multiple elements or systems to support it.  Relying solely on outside inputs from monoculture grain production is analogous to erosion; a leak in the system.  We make our designs more robust through using varying strata of plants that bring forth fodder crops for animals at different times of the year.  This time and plant stacking principle breeds redundancy through diversifying the diet and leaning away from the industrial inputs. It requires us to be creative, to design from not just information, but also imagination. The infinite complexity of design reflecting the pattern of animal migrations to find a plethora of food sources at varying times of the years is indeed a worthwhile venture.

Furthermore, J. Russel Smith wrote his seminal book entitled Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture in 1929, which was paramount in the formation of Permaculture itself. He was writing at a time when the dust bowl was raging and rivers muddied with massive erosion becoming the norm year after year.  Nearly 100 years ago, he credited this disturbance to annual agriculture for grain production with a focus on feeding animals. His remedy was to feed animals with tree crops as well as grain, but the grain being only a small portion of their diet. Humanity only made the situation worst with the advent of the Confined Animal Feed Operations (CAFO’s) as grain became even more central to raising animals for meat, eggs, fiber, and dairy.  The production of grain and concentration of animals has been catastrophic for the animals, the environment, and humanity.  Yes it makes meat cheap, but concentrates manures, relies on monocultures, erodes soils, poisons waterways, decreases biodiversity, and gives the animals themselves sickening ways to live, literally and figuratively.  They are so sick they are pumped with growth hormones and antibiotics making antibiotic resistant superbugs.  In fact, a recent report on CNN (Nov 2018) stated 33,000 people a year die of these bugs in Europe alone.

In all honestly, it’s almost impossible to eliminate grain inputs with domesticated animals but if you can reduce that dramatically with tree crops and insect farming, you are sure to save money and better the environment. Fodder crops come in a variety of forms and each animal, and even breeds, accept different fodders. A functional analysis can be expanded beyond just saying one of the needs is food.  Write down what all the foods are that an animal will accept and design your way into a beneficial relationship with the animals, the systems in place, and the environment. Thus the list below will be general but does allow for further consideration in your permaculture designs.  Fortunately, even if you don’t keep domesticated livestock, your local wildlife (if there is any) also often greatly benefits from tree crops like mulberries or burr oak trees.

3 years ago
Billions of people don't have the luxury of turning a nob to cook and our luxury to do so is quite taxing on the environment.  Our daily nourishments and cravings require quite an energy input for cooking. Remember that as you read please! My latest article on TreeYo EDU from the app tech chapter.


Our daily nourishments and cravings require quite an energy input for cooking. Food processing/ preserving and the electric tools of the kitchen are found in other articles.  This article covers several technologies for heating foods for prolonged periods at varying heats; cooking.  Because it is an energy input, no matter which one you choose, choose one that is efficient because we will be drawing on resources to cook. For example,
even if it is through the sun that you are cooking, the solar stove still contains a lot of embedded energy in its construction.   With the elements presented below, their placement is critical to take advantage of sectors like the sun but also their input of wood needs to be adjoined with another element such as wood storage in relative location.  And then where do you get the wood from?  Do you have coppice woodlot or better yet a variety of elements to meet the important function of fuel wood.  Lastly, I have seen across the world, ironically enough, examples of huge forests that were once charcoal producing zones (La Garotxa near Barcelona) or a more green countryside in general, i.e. Dominican Republic vs Haiti because of the gas propane bottle. Areas that once provided fuel wood or were deforested, now are able to grow because of the fossil fuel input. So again if wood is to be used, make sure it is burned efficiently and it is being sourced from multiple elements.

Rocket Stove
This super efficient cooking system uses small diameter wood that employs a rapid draft for clean burns thus producing intense heat. The name rocket refers to the sound that the draft creates, which allows for maximum oxygen to hit the fuel. They are built with varying materials from bricks to cob but the stove should use an insulated space around the burn chamber to radiate maximum heat rather than absorbing it through thermal mass like a cob oven. In fact the simplest form of the stove can be made from varying sized coffee cans and a soup can.  The coffee can rocket stove makes a great choice for backpacking and camping trips while the rocket stove forms a cornerstone of the outdoor kitchen/social space. Remember to site firewood nearby as well as a countertop to aid in the overall cooking process. Zone 0-2.

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4 years ago
Hey TY nice to receive a comment back.  Yes indeed it is tough around here but by forging a strong community here in Petersburg i hope we can give this area really great examples.  I also have local friends here who are doing it as well.  So yeah would love to show you around and in the winter is when i do a lot of forestry work, my active forest enhancement program.  I do have another teaching opportunity coming up around paw paws and foraging with my stellar teaching partner Abby Artemisia. Always great classes with her and we have a community of people and new comers each time.  Would be happy to give you a tour as well.  cheers mate
4 years ago