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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Why a ‘Vision’ is part of this Permaculture Design
Every permaculture design begins with the vision that the owner or owners have for the property. We will end up with quite different designs for the same piece of property should one owner have the vision of creating a pick-your-own fruit operation where another wants to create a healthy and safe environment for aging horses. Some elements will be the same – many others will be different.
Here are the sorts of questions we will ask an owner(s) when starting a permaculture design for their property:
What is your vision for the land over the next 5 years, 15 years, 30 years, 60 years, etc.
What do you expect or need from the land?
Food (how much of annual consumption?)
A lot of income?
(List all others)
Will the focus be on buildings, plants, animals, agroforestry, education or something else?
Does the vision include the public? In what ways?
What resources are available (labor, design talent, experience, equipment, money, etc.)
Is developing a piece of property really what you want to do with your time and money (your life energy)? How does this fit into your life’s work?
Why a Design Overview is part of this Permaculture Design
When creating a permaculture design for a client, it’s very helpful to give a clear and brief overview of the existing resources, goals and key elements of the proposed design so that they can see the bigger picture. It is also a very helpful tool should they need to explain their plans to family members, partners, investors or lenders.