Season Extenders

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

 

Season Extenders Explained

Here is an introduction to various options–some traditional, some creative.

1) Common Seasonal Hoop House

hoop houses Continue reading “Season Extenders”

Chickens for the Orchard (Part 3)

Part 3:  8-13 Weeks of Age (As Adventurers)
Part 2:  4-8 Weeks of Age (As Kids)
Part 1:  0-4 Weeks of Age (As Chicks)                                                                                                                                                       

Original Objective: Raise some chickens for food and to also help with insect, grass and weed control in our 2-acre organic community orchard…!!!
New Objective:  Keep our birds alive so that we will have some sort of chicken harvest.  Ouch!

Over the last 5 weeks we have been stretched to learn more about the habits and characteristics of these inquisitive and entertaining birds.  They have been doing a fine job of keeping the orchard grass under control (we have only mowed once this year) and as a result, the amount that we have paid for chicken feed is significantly less than if they were confined to a small area.  This was working really well.
  Continue reading “Chickens for the Orchard (Part 3)”

Chickens for the Orchard (Part 2)

Part 3:    8-13 Weeks of Age (As Adventurers)
Part 2:  4-8 Weeks of Age (As Kids)
Part 1:    0-4 Weeks of Age (As Chicks)             

 This is where we ended in the first blog post of 3 weeks ago.  We had just moved the 4-week old chicks to the orchard to begin the process of weaning them from ‘chick’ feed and encouraging them to eat the grass, weeds, and bugs in the orchard for daily sustenance.  
 
 
 From the moment the chickens hit the grass, they were eating everything they could peck at and swallow. They seemed to visibly grow almost daily even though the amount of feed we were giving them did not increased since we brought them to the orchard.  Each day they are getting more and more of their food and nutrition from the orchard floor.  We’ve even seen them catch flying insects.
 
Continue reading “Chickens for the Orchard (Part 2)”

Chickens for the Orchard (Part 1)

Part 3:    8-13 Weeks of Age (As Adventurers)
Part 2:    4-8 Weeks of Age (As Kids)
Part 1:    0-4 Weeks of Age (As Chicks)   

Objective: Raise some chickens for food and to also help with insect, grass and weed control in our 2-acre organic community orchard…!!!

As most of you know, in permaculture design we attempt to:

  1. garner the greatest amount or number of yields
  2. from the minimum amount of work 
  3. while creating no waste (at least minimal)
  4. and restoring the environment.

Let’s see what additional benefits we can obtain from this project other than just the insect, grass and weed-removal help from 100 chickens.  This will be our chicken saga as it reveals itself in real time.   We’re always learning too and raising this many chickens at once, and in this way, is stretching us some.  

We will take the experience we do have, plus apply permaculture design principles, while adding in good-ole common sense (with help from some great books, friends  and the internet) to work creatively and see what we might come up with.

It all starts with an order of 100 chicks (multi-heritage breeds from McMurry) that Hayden and Cameron (our two work/study intern students) selected.  All were delivered through the U.S. mail.  All survived!  Hayden created a safe and warm habitat from a yard-storage container, a heat lamp, and some old boards and fencing.  This structure lasted almost 2 weeks before they outgrew it.  During this time we worked on a more permanent home/coop.

  Continue reading “Chickens for the Orchard (Part 1)”

Pictures From May 2011 “Hands-on Training” Week

May 2011 Hands-on Training Week
At Midwest Permaculture — Stelle, IL
For those interested, here are some pictures from our “Hands-on” work week.  It turned out to be a great time dispite the fact that it rained on most days.

The pictures are from student John Berton and myself, Bill Wilson. The narration is mine as well. You can learn more about our 6-Day course here.

6-Day (1)
Herb Drying – Lemon balm and spearment Continue reading “Pictures From May 2011 “Hands-on Training” Week”

Pictures From May 2011 “Hands-on Training” Week

May 2011 Hands-on Training Week
At Midwest Permaculture — Stelle, IL
For those interested, here are some pictures from our “Hands-on” work week.  It turned out to be a great time dispite the fact that it rained on most days.

The pictures are from student John Berton and myself, Bill Wilson. The narration is mine as well. You can learn more about our 6-Day course here.

6-Day (1)
Herb Drying – Lemon balm and spearment Continue reading “Pictures From May 2011 “Hands-on Training” Week”