Companion Planting Guide by World Permaculture Association
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Derek Kanwischer

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since Feb 16, 2010
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Recent posts by Derek Kanwischer

Transition Town Missoula meeting

Please join Transition Town Missoula for an organizational meeting to discuss our budding strategy to declare Missoula a model town for demonstrating sustainability and resilience in the face of climate change, economic instability, and natural resource limits. The meeting will be Tuesday 11/29 from 12 noon to 1:00 in the large meeting room at the Missoula Public Library. For more information, to join the movement, or otherwise, please visit
11 years ago
If you are in Missoula, you can actually have 6 hens. There are some other regs such as: no roosters, providing a safe protective space from predators, there is a required setback distance away from neighboring properties, space per chicken, and a few other items found online here about the city ordinance:

This applies to Missoula, so I am unsure about Lolo, but as a previous post noted, chickens are being allowed in many urban spaces across the country.
11 years ago
One alternative to the glass problem here in Missoula would be to move to reusable bottles or move away from glass altogether. The growler is great. You might notice that the thick glass of the growler is what makes it reusable and this type of glass is not seen in conventional beer bottles. I've heard that there are 2-3 major companies in the country that produce most of the beer bottles for bottling all brews that are marketed and sold. That sounds kind of unbelievable, so it might not be correct, but the glass is thin enough that it chips and enables bacteria growth possible, thus dissuading breweries from even attempting to wash and sanitize returned bottles. (I've heard that somebody may be doing this and perhaps someone can enlighten us if they know)  The alternative aluminum cans now used by big sky and kettlehouse may not be a better option. I can only speculate the that the materials (bauxite and others) are strip mined to produce this aluminum that is recyclable, but often down-cycled rather than used to make aluminum cans yet again. Does anybody know the impact of the place that is being mined for this material?  Just a few thoughts on a complex issue.
11 years ago
From what I hear around campus, there are a couple groups working on this including UM CAN and MT PIRG.  They plan on building some momentum up when the spring semester kicks off late January. I think it is possible to have glass recycling that is economically and environmentally beneficial, but the infrastructure would have to be highly localized in order to make it work. Environmentally, it could be argued that any energy used to transport, collect, and pulverize the glass into cullet requires more energy than it takes to simply collect the glass and dump it in the landfill. Since it is an inert substance, it does not pollute the environment as it breaks down in the landfill.
11 years ago
For chickens in the wintertime, we've added some insulation to their coop, while assuring there is adequate ventilation through the lid that opens from the top. I hear a tightly insulated coop does not allow the ammonia and other natural gases to build up inside the coop. I've done the heat light sparingly for the coldest nights (and days) When it dips below tens degrees or when I notice the chickens aren't coming out of of the coop because of the cold, wind, or snow. I make sure to have at least one area in the yard that is covered for them to dust bathe that is clear from snow and also a place where they can eat and drink where it is dry. For feed, they get some grains, layer pellets, some scratch, kitchen compost. I think the layer pellets are 15-20% protein which keeps the chickens energized.. In the winter, the egg production seems to slow down a bit, but it seems to make sense that the chickens are using more of their energy to stay warm than to produce eggs. Like Jen from the last post, I am presuming that this is the case. I don't know any of this to be true beyond my own experience. Oh yeah, and make sure to visit your chickens when you pass through the yard or when you can. They like the human interaction and I've heard that is one element that helps with egg production and general well-being. They are not just egg layers, they are our jurassic pets.
11 years ago
Home Resource represents a lot of things, and with their new location and shop space, Home Resource really is at the forefront of reuse of materials and re-skilling interested folk about being handy with tools and materials, once again. HR is actually the first place I think of when I think of a supply source for materials! The Revamp shop is a great initiative providing community access to tools and training of how to use basic green woodworking tools (I think/hope) and power tools to do all sorts of DIY projects. Furthermore, the shared storefront is a great example of bringing together similar businesses under one roof to sport their practices and products like that of Mark VanderMeer and their sustainably harvested products. All this being said and so for so many other reasons, Home Resource is a leader of in the Missoula permaculture effort.

11 years ago
1,000 New Gardens (1KNG) is an exciting new initiative here in Missoula. If you haven't heard about them yet, you should look them up. They recently won funding from the Clinton Global Initiative and have expanded from their base here in Missoula to start a chapter in Bozeman. The volunteer group started out by creating lasagna gardens out of existing lawns. They got a lot of support from the community that has offered free soil, manure, and other materials. They have since begun working on outreach components with schools and the community.
11 years ago
Of course, Paul Wheaton is offering a permaculture lecture series where the full schedule can be viewed here:

The first presentation, intro to perm., provided a great overview for what is yet to come.
Thanks to Paul for doing this. He does not charge anything for his courses and would like to see more people learn about the value of permaculture.

And you are already here, but is much larger than the missoula eco forum. If you check out some of the other threads and discussions, there is a lot to engage with and learn about here.
11 years ago
MUD seems like the first place I think of when I think permaculture. They have a great site and offer a range of activities and workshops that are community oriented. The site is full of frugal ideas to live more self-sufficiently such as an amazing tool library, truck share program, and so much more.

The UM FLAT project is a University project led by students who are demonstrating sustainable living practices. They are relatively new, but are developing an outreach / education component, recently hosting a Terra Madre event. The site has a mandala shaped permaculture garden, a hot box for extending the season, chickens, a garage renovation that will be used as a community demonstration space, and quite a few other things.

The PEAS farm has been increasingly using permaculture at their site. The barn is straw bale, they have a great root cellar with a living roof, they use a lot of reclaimed materials, their tractor runs on a single-tank vegetable oil system, they are experimenting in the fields a bit with companion planting, herb and veggie spirals, and for the most part, the farm is all student run and they run a great CSA and a lot of their food gets donated to the Poverello Center and the Food Bank. Awesome!

Sundog Ecovillage:   Sundog has a world of potential and have made some good progress this past year. They have 40 acres in the Potomac and have been doing a lot of permaculture work. Last spring, they approved their permaculture plan for the core of their site that includes a community center, greenhouse, rocket mass heater, outdoor gathering space, new homes utilizing local materials, an expanded garden, innovative timber management practices, and host of other exciting plans. Check them out at

Sage Mountain Center: is near Butte and they have several exciting building, garden, and appropriate technology features at their site. The have a few buildings that are made of cord wood, with cob, glass bottles, and other natural plasters. They have simple composting toilets, rain water collection, solar panels, passive solar structures, and they offer a yoga and retreat space for the local community.

Missoula has a great resource for native plants. You can see their demonstration garden near the Kim Williams trail and Higgins Street, though I can't think of who the contact is.

I am sure there are many more, can anybody add to this list.
11 years ago
The weather may be hard to gauge these days, but it is tough to deny that some semblance of winter has arrived and we will be dealing with the cold, icy, wet, snowy, rutted, slushy, puddly conditions for at least a few months. So, as a winter bicyclist I am offering my two cents on preparation and riding in this season. Add your own, if you have your own suggestions.

1. dress in layers
2. fenders are good
3. wear a helmet: I sometimes like the ski helmet for the added warmth
4. studded tires: I don't use them, but some people like them
5. oil that chain: do this regularly (weekly) to keep your ride from rusting and wasting away.
6. bike lights: essential at night
7. wear goggles for cold and/or snowy conditions
8. road versus sidewalks: depends on the conditions: if the roads are real bad or impassible, I'll duck onto the sidewalks and take it real slow being respectful of any walkers.
9. follow the rules: be courteous as always and respectful of vehicles even though they should be offering right of way. Be aware they may not expect to see bikes and their windshields may be fogged or frosted over.
10. Go to Free Cycles to keep your ride tuned up: 
11 years ago