Closing Wishes for 2013

December 31, 2013

Year End Greetings….

It has been a very full (fulfilling) year for us at Midwest Permaculture. So much so, that I have not been able to communicate in these emails on a monthly basis as I have done in the past and I miss that. It is my intention to do a better job of keeping those of you who are interested updated as our project of ‘leaving the planet in better condition than we found it’ continues to unfold. Midwest Permaculture, as of today, has just completed its 7th year and we have hosted 45 PDC courses over this time.  We loved every single one of them and look forward to many more as the people who take these courses are some of the most wonderful on the planet today.  Continue reading “Closing Wishes for 2013”

Spring Rains Fill Our Earthworks Multiple Times

While the city of Chicago was shutting down due to too much rain last week just 60 miles north of us, the swales, ponds, berms and rain gardens we have put in around our home and in Stelle did their job of filling up and holding water back from the creeks.  Over several days they will slowly release that water into the water table rather than let it run down into our creeks and rivers all at once.  

In this hugelkultured swale, both the ditch and the wood in the berm are holding rain water.

In this hugelkultured swale, both the ditch and the wood in the berm are holding rain water.

The water we are holding back will eventually make it to our creeks and rivers anyway, but it will do so slowly… and over a long period of time… thus trickle-feeding our creeks and rivers all year round.  This is the way a normal hydrological cycle works. Continue reading “Spring Rains Fill Our Earthworks Multiple Times”

Photos of a Winter PDC at Midwest Permaculture

Special Note:
Wondering about missing some hands-on activities at our annual Winter PDC Courses?

Grafting Workshop at Winter PDC

Grafting Workshop at Winter PDC

You won’t!  Most all of the hands-on activities we undertake at our regular PDC courses we can also do at our winter courses.  These include:

  • Learning to use the A-frame and sight level.
  • Building a dry-brick rocket stove and firing it up.
  • Making a clay model of a landscape to learn about swales, keylining, and ponds.
  • Touring Midwest Permaculture’s yard and the CSC land
  • Doing fruit tree grafting
  • Making cob from clay, sand and straw
  • and touring the Malchow’s (our neighbors) permaculture home to fire-up their thermal mass rocket stove couch/bench.

The one thing we cannot do because of the frozen ground is continue to work on the hugel-swale we are constructing for CSC, but this basically consists of digging a section of a ditch, putting logs in, and then covering them up. We’ll show some pictures of the details related to this so you’ll get the information without the tactile experience.

 

Raising Profitable Heritage Breed Hogs at Spence Farm in a very Humane Way

Raising Profitable Heritage Breed Hogs at Spence Farm in a very Humane Way

The one thing we do extra for this course is focus a bit more on the growing of food and what it takes to create a successful farming/growing/permaculture operation.

Many people want to make part or even all of their annual income from growing food.  This is certainly possible but it requires quite a bit of knowledge and then real practical experience. Our objective through this training is to save you years of time and money by giving you some critical information and fresh insights. 

To help anchor this learning experience we’ll be taking an extra field-trip over to Spence Farm in Fairbury, IL, to meet Kris and Marty Travis who are doing pioneering work in these areas. 

If the timing works for you to attend this winter course, we are confident that you will not leave feeling like you missed any hands-on activities.  It’s an amazing and very-full 8 days like all of our other PDC Courses.

Here are Pictures from one of our Winter PDC Course (from 2012)
Narration by Hayden Wilson (Standing, far right, son of Bill and Becky)

Our Group Photo with Rocket Stove in Foreground and Midwest Permaculture Home-site (our house). Mom (Becky Wilson) is standing on far left. Dad (Bill Wilson) took most of these pictures.

  Continue reading “Photos of a Winter PDC at Midwest Permaculture”

What A Difference A Path Makes – Before & After


Before

As I am doing my year-end clean-up and organizing of my computer files, I came across these two pictures of our front yard (Midwest Permaculture – Bill and Becky Wilson). Here is how the yard looked the spring following the digging of the rain gardens which we did in late October.

 

After

And here it is in June after we dug in the paths and covered them and the raised beds (our keyhole gardens) with shredded hardwood bark mulch. The mulch gives the yard a more finished look while also helping to hold in moisture and add organic matter to the soil. Because this is the front yard we felt it was important for it to look more ‘landscaped’ being located in a suburban setting. If we are going to help mainstream to see the value of permaculture, we will have to make it look nice as well as be functional & productive. 

Becky and I are strong advocates of making pathways a priority as well. They not only make it easier to get around the yard but they really help define space which helps the mind to organize what to do where. 

The plants in the foreground are sweet potatoes. The vines grew all the way down into the rain gardens and whenever it rained and they filled with water, the vines would float on the surface like water lilies. It was lovely.

Becky and I would like to wish you all a wonderful holiday season. We look forward to sharing much with you in 2012.

All the best…. Bill Wilson

 

 

6-Day Family Friendly Permaculture Training

 

 

Greetings from Stelle, IL. We are in the midst of a ‘permaculture training for families’ and took this photo in front of a hugelkultur bed that we built today in Bill and Becky’s back yard. This bed will now hold water and produce it’s own fertility for 5 years to come.  

We also want to say hello to all the folks visiting from The Survival Podcast. Bill skipped lunch yesterday to have a chat with Jack Spirko and returned to class, energized by their conversations. 

Permaculture is about a lot more than just gardening and growing things, it is about creating ways of living that care for people and the earth at the same time. We’re all having a really great week.  And what fun having young ones and families involved. 

The next 6-day hands-on training by Bill will be in California in early October.  With the experience of this training, Bill and Becky are planning to host another family training next summer.

 


 

 

Fall Freeze

Our first freeze is soon to be here so it’s decision making time for Becky and me… what to protect, what to consolidate and possibly replant, and what to let go of.

These tomato plants (left) grew to over 6 foot high and have produced very well. They are located on a berm that is fed water from the rooftop, 2 rain gardens and a swale. We hardly watered except to get them established early in the year. Rather than protecting the plant from frost we will go ahead and harvest all of these green tomatoes and enjoy them over the next month as they slowly ripen, turning red, in a box in our home.


Here is some more of our harvest in a holding area near our back door. Our permaculture students coming to Stelle in a week for a their training will enjoy a majority of their meals from local gardens and farms.

Fall Update

The dust has settled following our full schedule of trainings in August. It feels good to be home and to be getting into the garden harvest while starting to think about the upcoming winter season.


Becky made some fresh salads from our gardens including pickled beans, tomatoes, nasturtium flowers and fresh sauerkraut.
Yesterday we had two cords of oak delivered for our winter heating needs. I have cut and split our wood many times and believe me, it is a real blessing (and a bargain) to purchase the finished product.  

Invasive and Delicious

This Spring, I’ve discovered a new plant growing in profusion in our garden. I noticed it last year, but it was just a small mound. This year, it quickly grew tall and flowered. Before I had a chance to look it up, Milton stopped by and said that it was Garlic Mustard, and it makes great pesto! Sure enough – it was wonderful, with both flavors in abundance. Use the leaves just as you would basil. We picked lots of it before it went to seed, as it can be quite invasive; and we’ve enjoyed it several weeks before our basil will make a showing. Let’s hear it for free food!

425 Gallon Rain Tank

Permaculture Ideals:  – Hold water where it falls.
– Slow it down.    – Use it as much as possible.

Constructed Summer 2007
 

 

1.

Every time there is an inch
(1 inch) of rain, there are 1,248 gallons of water coming off the roof of our 2,000 sq/ft ranch-style home.

2/3rds of the water drains off the front of our home (now captured by our rain gardens in the front yard) and 1/3 off the back.

During the growing season, all of the water from the back of the our home flows through this tank first.

We started with a 55-gallon drum but when it filled in about the first 3 minutes of a good rain, we knew we wanted something much bigger.

 

  Continue reading “425 Gallon Rain Tank”