Mowing Swale and Berm

Mowing a Swale and Berm System with a Ditch-Bank Flail Mower

Greetings…
A common question we get is how to maintain the ‘weeds’ or growth on a swale and berm system. I thought this pictoral summary would be helpful to many of you. Let us know what you think and about what you have been doing as well.
Cheers… Bill Wilson

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Plants and Pollinators Workshop

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. includes lunch.
Price – $20
Call or email to let us know you are coming.
Becky@midwestpermaculture.com
815-256-2215

Workshop will be both out in the field to identify plants and pollinators and indoors with a presentation.

For those interested there will be a casual introduction to Stelle during lunch and then a follow-up tour after 3:00. No additional charge. Continue reading “Plants and Pollinators Workshop”

Low-cost, knock-down, outdoor shower house

Here is some information about the progress we are making with our outdoor shower house projects. With campers coming to our Stelle (Il) and Bending Oak (Youngstown, OH) projects this summer we want to have a way that they can take a warm shower using current sunlight (scrap wood) to heat the water. (More on solar vs. wood burning hot shower water systems below.)

The goals for our shower houses are 5-fold;
     1. Non-permanent and portable
     2. Knock-down for winter storage
     3. Inexpensive (easily available or recycled materials)
     4. Easy to assemble/duplicate
     5. Attractive (Has to have a welcoming factor)

Prototype #1

The first concept we came up with that cost the least turned out to be more of a job to construct than first imagined, may not hold up in a hard wind, and frankly, looks a bit tacky (to me). But the price is right at $65.

Low-cost outdoor shower house made with T-posts and a tarp

Prototype #1 – Tarp and T-posts

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Residential Design for Midwest Permaculture Home

Below is the full design map of our Midwest Permaculture Home. Click on the picture to enlarge and zoom in on any details that interest you.

Click on Above Image to Enlarge or Save if you Like

Click Here to View a PDF of Each Layer as it Develops
or Download to your own computer by right clicking, then – ‘Save link as…’ 

We created the video below for a local-food summit which we were invited to co-host. It includes many pictures and information about our (Becky and Bill Wilson) reasons for starting Midwest Permaculture and how we designed and evolved our own home.  The blog-post that follows is a condensed version of this hour-long video presentation.

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Natural Building Workshop Successful

Hello All. Our natural building workshop this weekend was a great success.

Hassan Hall, our natural-builder friend from Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, taught a great hands-on class this past weekend here at Midwest Permaculture.

Hassan in building flanked by Justin and Will

Everything was ready to start the next phase of construction on the first of 9-small earth shelters we have planned for EarthCamp Village. It was now time to put the rough coat (or base coat) of earthen ‘plaster’ on to the walls of clay-slip-straw that had been packed in last fall. Continue reading “Natural Building Workshop Successful”

Late Flowering Fruit Trees to Avoid Frost Damage

Hello Fruit Tree Enthusiasts…

Why late flowering fruit tree cultivars?
We have a couple of clients with South facing slopes in Missouri. These slopes warm up much faster than North facing slopes and as such will tend to flower before the last frost thus killing the pollinated blossoms and eliminating the crop. So I emailed our Plant Guy, Bryce Ruddock, to make some recommendations.

Late blooming fruit tree cultivars can greatly minimize frost damage.

His response was so helpful we thought many of you might appreciate what he shared with us as well.  Here is the email from Bryce. Enjoy. Continue reading “Late Flowering Fruit Trees to Avoid Frost Damage”

Epic Greenhouse Rocket-Mass Heater

Taught by Bill Wilson and Members of the Midwest Permaculture Design Team

Bill Wilson

This is an April 2016 Blog Post on how we built a Thermal Mass Rocket Stove at Jordan Rubin’s Heal the Planet Farm‘. 

(We cover the foundations of rocket stove building at every Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course we host.)   Schedule of Upcoming Courses

We call it the Epic Greenhouse Rocket-Mass Heater because of it’s sheer size and multiple modifications we designed into it. The whole stove is built around an 8″ flue system that exits outside of the greenhouse below floor level, under the greenhouse end-wall, and then turns towards the sky.

Rocket Stove Mix

Designed by Bill Wilson (MWP) and Kevin Kepplinger (HTP Farm)
Construction and Design Assistance from Heal the Planet Farm Team (All are Midwest Permaculture PDC graduates)

The key modifications we made to this stove that are not usually found on more traditional rocket mass heaters are:

  1. ?The feed chamber is very large capable of holding full-sized firewood logs so it can be loaded to burn for up to 4 hours at a time and produce a lot of heat.
  2. The thermal battery or thermal mass is below grade and insulated so the heat will not wick into the soil surrounding it but instead radiate up to keep fish (aquaponics system) and bedding plants warm even in the dead of winter.
  3. We installed a multiple-speed flue fan and a flue damper near the end of the exhaust pipe to give ourselves greater control over the speed of the exhaust and even the burn. We can slow the exhaust down to hold the heat in the thermal mass longer when it’s hot or speed it up when we need a stronger pull to get it started. We know this is unorthodox and a bit like cheating, but it’s very helpful and the fan is variable speed using very little electricity.

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Permaculture Earthworks – The Clay Model

Permaculture Earthworks lay Model

Dripping water slowly on to the clay model clearly shows how rain water can be moved around a landscape and held to rehydrate the soil.

As permaculture teachers, we have landed on this simple clay-model demonstration as an excellent tool for explaining earthworks. We can cover how swales, ponds, key points and key lines all fit together. The appreciative response from our students continually confirms this.

We wanted to make this video available to more than just our own students so we videotaped this session at one of our summer PDC courses and are sharing it here. Continue reading “Permaculture Earthworks – The Clay Model”