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”

Rapidly-Cut Swales with Tractor Blade

3 Miles of Swales Cut in 5-Hours

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”

Plant Guild Designs for ‘Heal the Planet Farm’, Missouri

Midwest Permaculture Plant Guild Designs, Bryce Ruddock, Rubin Project - Compressed Version

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.

Bill Wilson Continue reading “Plant Guild Designs for ‘Heal the Planet Farm’, Missouri”

Linear Food Forests along Hugelkultured Swales

In this design we will be planting linear-food forests all along the downhill side of each of three hugelkultured swales.   What is a hugelkultured swale?

 

While the tress and shrubs are in the early stages of growing (small) we will use the open space to grow some of our annual vegetables. We will also plant some nitrogen fixing ground covers and dynamic accumulators to help build the soil.

Continue reading “Linear Food Forests along Hugelkultured Swales”

Thermal Mass Rocket Stoves on our Minds…

Why Thermal Mass Rocket Stoves are part of This Permaculture Design

Thermal Mass Rocket StoveWe cover the foundations of rocket stove building at every Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course we host.
Upcoming Courses

Whereas wood gasification turns wood scrap into a flammable gas to run engines (generating electricity  power and heat), a thermal mass rocket stove simple turns scrap wood into heat…. lots of heat…with a lot less wood!!!

So, we have included them in our overall design, especially for Earthcamp Village, because they are:

  1. Relavtively simple to understand, construct and use
  2. Inexpensive to build
  3. Beautiful, functional and warm.
  4. Fueled from current sunlight (i.e. wood)
  5. Very…very… efficient at converting wood into clean heat!

Bottomline:  They burn 1/4 of the wood to generate the same heat from a conventional wood stove and the outgases are 90% cleaner as well.

The Key?  They burn the wood, smoke and gasses at very high temperatures…SAFELY!

The exhaust system of Bev and Wayne’s stove before cobbing it over into a bench for heat extraction. More pictures at bottom of this post.

Thermal Mass Rocket Stoves Explained

Not long ago, our friends and neighbors, Bev and Wayne, started to build a thermal mass rocket stove in their living room.  Wayne took one of our PDC courses and was inspired by the rocket stove concept (See the illustration and links below).

Bev and Wayne have been sharing their adventure with us and we are very excited about the possibilities.

Imagine having a wood burning stove in your home that:

  1. Burns less than 1/4 the amount of wood you typically burn
  2. Keeps you as warm or warmer
  3. Allows you to easily burn sticks, twigs and branches instead of just large chunks of firewood.
  4. Burns cleaner than any wood stove ever made

The big thing for us, living here on the prairie in Illinois surrounded not by woods or forests but by corn and bean fields, is the very real shortage of easily available firewood.

What I am talking about are the large hardwood trees with trunks and large branches which are typically chainsawed to length and then split to fit into a wood burning stove.  All of this tonage of wood then needs to be hauled out of the woods, dumped or stacked somewhere, then loaded back into a truck for delivery to be driven to someone’s home (a lot more energy) and then unloaded and stacked again for winter use.

Continue reading “Thermal Mass Rocket Stoves on our Minds…”

What is a Permaculture Design Charrette?

A-Frame being used during a Permaculture Design Charrette

Learning to Create a Permaculture Design With Others  

Often times, the best way to learn something is by simply doing it.  It’s one thing to read and study about the permaculture design process, but until one actaully sits down and goes through all of the considerations and steps involved for an actaul piece of property, do the intricacies of this work really hit home.

The purpose of a charrette (a group design process) is to go through the design journey with others, some with more or less experience.  The idea is to tap the collective wisdom of the entire group to create a design that is likely better than any one person might create.

We will be hosting such a charrette in Door County, WI, over a 5-day period (June 29-July3) for a 40-acre farm. We will start by observing what is already there in the way of soil, sun, water, plants, local markets and other energy flows, move into what is possible with these combinations in comparison to what the land owners would like to create, and then dig into the research and design steps. By the time we are done, our hosts will have a permaculture design that they may implement over the next several years.

Time permitting, we may dig into some hands-on earth works such as digging some swales or rain-gardens.  Food and camping are included with the training.

Door County – Permaculture Design Charrette – June 29-July3

Meet Wes Jackson and the Folks from YERT

Watch This 5-min. Video Wes Jackson has been a key figure in the sustainable agriculture movement through his work at the Land Institute in Kansas. Their work is all about creating a more ‘permanent-agriculture’ – incredibly important work.

A small team of internet videographers that traveled our nation last year (Your Environmental Road Trip.com – YERT) stopped in to meet Wes and to learn more about what he and his team were doing. This is the best short video I’ve seen that clearing and quickly explains the significance of Wes’s work.

YERTpod30: Perennial Good Food in Kansas

I enjoyed this 5-minute video and wanted to share it with all of you. There are other short videos from YERT that I liked as well.

Pictured: Wes Jackson of the Land Institute