Erik Peterson – Permaculture Teacher/Designer/Builder
Hey permies! In this blog post, we’re going to get the skinny on rainwater harvesting…
Bill asked if I could share with you all the process of designing and installing the rainwater catchment system we constructed for the Youngstown, Ohio permaculture project that Bill and Becky have been leading, known as Bending Oak . So herein we will explore the nuts and bolts of our own install, and give you the essential information that you will need to consider in designing a rainwater harvesting system of your own.
At Bending Oak I have been involved with tending to the fruit and nut orchards, finishing the construction of the shipping container barn, planting native wetland plants around the newly installed pond, and more. Now that the rain catchment system is in place, we’re one big step closer towards off grid, self-sufficiency! So let’s dive in…
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.
We are making early progress on our 320-acre Missouri permaculture-farm project (Jordan Rubin’s Heal the Planet Farm). Last fall, a local dozer operator was brought in to dig the first swales. It was a small dozer but it did a respectable job and did the work in a relatively short period of time compared to an excavator. See the blog post with video here.
Before we brought the dozer back in this spring, Kevin, a long-time farmer in the area who is also Jordan’s lead farmer on this project, suggested that we simply try the 135hp farm tractor with it’s 9-foot tilting scraper blade (it’s just over 6′ wide when fully angled at 45 degrees) to see what kind of swales it would cut. It certainly seemed worth trying though I’d never seen it done before.
Adam and I headed out early one morning with the laser level and marked off about a mile of swales with white-wire flags. When Kevin arrived later in the morning with the tractor all he had to do was adjust the angle of the blade, drop it down, and start running. He ran three passes on every swale we had marked and did it all in about 60 minutes!Continue reading “Rapidly-Cut Swales with Tractor Blade”
Click on Image to View the Full Size (10MB)
Feel free to download, forward, print or share with others. It’s really interesting.
As part of the full design for Jordan Rubin’s Heal the Planet Farm in Koshkonong, MO, we will be creating a demonstration food-forest walk consisting of 6-distinct plant guilds, all designed by Midwest Permaculture’s official plant guy and co-author of Integrated Forest Gardening, Bryce Ruddock. We thought you might like to take a closer look at the final design sketch which was digitally crafted by our fellow teacher/designer, Milton Dixon.
The earthworks and tree planting are scheduled to happen either this fall or in spring of 2016. We’ll keep you posted.
Below is the overview image of where the guild fit into the larger Zone 1 area.
We have been invited by a family in Southern Missouri to assist with the design of a 320-acre farm. They want to transition the land into a permaculture landscape capable of producing a wide range of perennial foods (nuts, vegetables, herbs, fruit, etc.) as well as livestock (beef and goats).
Over generations, rain has slowly degraded this sloping landscape with a loss of nutrients and topsoil. It is not uncommon for a million gallons of water to wash off this landscape with a 1-inch rain. Continue reading “Bulldozer Digging Swales”
Why Season Extenders are part of This Permaculture Design
For those of us who garden in a temperate climate (freezes in winter), we know only too well the disappointment when, for example, our indeterminate tomato plants are full of tomatoes in the fall, they are producing wonderfully, and then the first frost hits. The tomato season is now over and the plants were producing so well for the last 4 weeks.
Now, suppose we created a very simple cold frame or low tunnel to start our tomato plants earlier in the spring so that they had a 4-week earlier start. That would mean that we would now get 8 weeks of tomatoes by the time the fall frost came calling. We just doubled our production from 4 to 8 weeks with a little protection in the spring.
But what if we constructed some kind of added protection in the fall as well, before the frost hit, and ended up getting yet another 4 weeks of production? We just tripled our yield with a little help from our season extenders.
Our Objective: To include in this permaculture design a variety of hoop-houses, cold-frames and other frost/wind protection techniques with the goal of increasing our yields while minimizing the work typically required to get those yields. This is a primary permaculture design principle.
Season Extenders Explained
Here is an introduction to various options–some traditional, some creative.
Why A Year-Round Greenhouse is part of This Permaculture Design
It doesn’t take much for those of us in temperate climate zones to imagine the allure for year-round greenhouses. Fresh tomatoes in January are compelling! A more controlled and protected environment in spring, summer and fall has real advantages as well. And from a small business perspective, what if we could produce enough fresh produce for ourselves and a handful of our neighbors 52 weeks of the year?
In a good permaculture design for an urban residence, a homestead or a farm, the first thing we seek to accomplish is the efficient storage of summer crops through root cellaring, drying, fermentation and other forms of preserving. But once we accomplish this… few things beat fresh produce in the middle of winter.
To get this done we need to design for the two major demands of plants that are in short supply during the winter months: heat and light.
Why Chinampas Gardens are part of This Permaculture Design
Chinampas Gardens are artificial islands or peninsulas created by scooping nutrient-rich lake, swamp or pond muck into a woven cage so that crops can be grown above the waterline in a wet environment. Within this simple design, several unique functions are accomplished at once: a micro-climate that prevents early frost damage; an extremely productive soil that is mostly self-sustaining; a self-watering system created by water wicking in from the sides as moisture evaporates from the surface of the beds; and the growing of plants and fish within the same area.
In Particular we want to:
Test the efficacy of Chinampas in our northerly-temperate climate
Assess their productivity and labor requirements compared to regular garden beds
Coppicing and pollarding are two methods of wood pruning that allows us to continually harvest wood from the same trees while keeping them healthy for centuries. They produce a sustainable supply of timber for many generations while enhancing the natural state for wildlife and native plants.
Why We’re Employing Them In Our Design
Provide continuous supply of sustainably-harvested wood for:
My mother and father-in-laws, Win and Mike, live on a beautiful and rugged piece of land on Colorado’s Front Range known as Table Rock Ranch. For over 25 years, Win and Mike have raised a small herd of Scottish Highland beef cattle on the 85-acre property using a largely pastured, grass-fed approach. The ranch lies on the high plains about 15 miles as the crow flies from the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains and at about 7,300 feet elevation. The ranch is named for a mesa on part of the property called Table Rock, which is an easily-recognizable landmark in the area and which is an important Native American site. There is an authentic Native American medicine wheel on top of the mesa, which is still visited occasionally by members of the Ute nation. Table Rock was previously the resting place of a Native American holy man (who was exhumed in the 20th century), and may still be home to some as-yet unconfirmed Native American grave sites.