Intro to Permaculture

What skills to learn, what tools to get
User avatar
TheWanderingScholar
Posts: 633
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:04 am

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by TheWanderingScholar »

ertyu wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 12:17 pm
wait so no tomatoes?
Tomatoes are fine, just finicky from what I have experienced. I prefer Tomatillos because many of the foods I eat incorporate it, and the fact that Tomatillos are just more hardy than Tomatoes in general.

@Roaming Francis:
If you are looking for more books that can help in self-sufficiency path, beyond just permaculture, I suggest Carol Deppe's work. I have bought both Breed Your Vegetable Varieties and Resilient Gardener, which I highly recommend both as good reads and containing useful information to come back to for reference. You can easily get these books use and on the cheap..when everyone is not buying them up on AbeBooks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, obviously. However if you want a new copy Ms. Deppe has a discount code on her website for her books https://www.caroldeppe.com/.

Personally, I would go through her website as the money she makes from the referral code is actually more than she makes from royalties and I want to support her. Also the discount she has for 35% off might still work.

Papers of Indenture
Posts: 181
Joined: Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:40 am
Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by Papers of Indenture »

Carol Deppe is cool. Plenty of good offerings, including her stuff, through Chelsea Green Publishing - https://www.chelseagreen.com/product-ca ... gardening/.

I like Lee Reich too http://www.leereich.com/.

And Robert Kourik as well https://robertkourik.com/.

RoamingFrancis
Posts: 307
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:43 am

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Thanks for the advice everyone. I won't be buying any new books right now, but I am continuing to reference this thread and check out the resources everyone recommends here. Peace!

7Wannabe5
Posts: 6649
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Permaculture is not to be understood as a collection of techniques such as hugelkulture, guild, rocket stove anymore than ERE should be narrowly described by lentil soup, no car, index fund.

Permaculture is a systems level design method. So any argument that seeks to discredit it at the level of specific example or efficiency simple does not grok what permaculture is about.

RoamingFrancis
Posts: 307
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:43 am

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Cool. I definitely see the overlap between the systems thinking in permaculture and in ERE.

niemand
Posts: 128
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2016 3:18 am
Location: Woop Woop, Australia

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by niemand »

David Holmgren on permaculture in a pandemic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBInCAXNnfs
The pay-what-you-feel ebook that he talks about will be available on https://retrosuburbia.com/

I got the book from my local library after a friend told me that I'd stacked plants in a similar way as in an example given in the book. A passionfruit growing up a loquat tree with cape gooseberries underneath. What are the chances? The authors must've peeked over my fence ;)

7Wannabe5
Posts: 6649
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I think a good part of the reason that permaculture is getting a bad rep for hucksterism is that people who are into permaculture are so lame at being hucksters. They’re like nerds trying to make player moves. The true hucksters and players in our society are so smooth they are undetectable.

@bigato:

I do know where you are coming from. I have had my moments of thinking “What’s the point of this, the world is already a permaculture system.” But...the question remains open about whether intelligently considered etc.

RoamingFrancis
Posts: 307
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:43 am

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Thanks for the link to David Holmgren's ebook. I got it, and between it and ERE, I think I have two books that'll take me a couple years to fully internalize :)

I got connected with some local sustainability people and am ready to take the deep dive! Looking forward to sharing what I learn with you all.

Alphaville
Posts: 2114
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by Alphaville »

not sure who the hucksters are but we adopted the dishwashing method from the book and it’s working out well for us ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Aspirant
Posts: 61
Joined: Mon Dec 31, 2018 10:57 am
Location: 65 deg north

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by Aspirant »

Thanks for the interesting links. I am planning on improving my backyard. The amount of stuff I don't know about gardening is astounding, and permaculture seems to be in the deep end. But I am trying to figure out uses for the plant material that accumulates in the yard (leaves and branches) to avoid buying dirt from the store.

I am thinking about buiding a raised bed planter (about 2x1 meters) hugelkultur-style. That way the nutrients should last for 5 years.

We try to plant apple trees if they have survived the winter mismanagement.

We have berry bushes and two small planting boxes for salads etc.

I think I would need to figure out permafrostculture somehow. Or move away from the arctic circle...

white belt
Posts: 157
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:15 am

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by white belt »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:05 am
Lots of good suggestions above. I’ve been trying to think of advice based on what I would have done differently if I knew what I know now. I guess my suggestion would be to focus on foraging (widely defined), processing, and soil biology as first or greater priority tasks.

For example, start from where you are right now and determine your nearest local source of fresh water (not from city pipes) before fretting about digging swales etc. Determine what kind of edible “weeds” are already growing in your area before bothering to plant spinach. Have a clear idea about how you are going to store the fruits of your labor before you plant 10 different varieties of tomatoes. Gain some understanding of the complex ecosystem that already exists beneath your suburban sod before you expose it to hot bounty of oxygen by turning it with shovel. Read some very local history to get some sense of what the first native humans typically ate in your micro-region and how far they typically travelled in search of food Etc. Etc.

I am definitely not some sort of purist. I will plant neon green giant zinnia 1950s commercial hybrids in my garden if that’s what I like, but it has been my experience that research and thoughtfulness will save a lot of unnecessary effort. Side benefit being that it is fascinating to learn about all these things. Anybody can cut/paste a permaculture design posted on YouTube. You can do better than that!

I
I've been thinking about this a lot when considering how to apply some Permaculture Principles to my own life. The past few weeks I've been pouring over gardening books and videos, along with permaculture texts I can get my hands on (so far I'm enjoying Retrosuburbia, especially since he starts from the system perspective and emphasizes how to change/grow/improve in place rather than the common trope of "just move to the countryside to start a homestead/food forest").

In terms of foraging, I'm starting with hunting and fishing as I eat a lot of meat and they mesh with skills I have already acquired in other pursuits. In my area, hunting/fishing is quite common and thus there are numerous opportunities nearby. I guess that would qualify as foraging for meat?

After initial research, I agree with you that processing will be the bottleneck. For example, I'm starting with hunting small game because it is easier to process compared to larger game like turkey or deer, even though those would provide better yields. My next step will be figuring out how to can/preserve/cook a wider variety of fruits and vegetables. For example, I've never had to figure out what to do with 100 lbs of potatoes or 10 lbs of greens at once, but I figure I can probably dry run it by just buying a larger amount at once from the store to practice storage techniques. I've also never had to come up with 6+ ways to cook/utilize a crop so I don't lose my mind from the monotony of the same dish for months on end. I think with gardening especially, everything that goes into growing the crops is the real focus, whereas processing and storage is just an afterthought.

Soil biology does seem quite important from everything I've read. My plan is to start with some Hugelkulture raised beds because I am unable to plant in the ground at my current location.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 6649
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@white belt:

I’ll have to check out Restrosuburbia. It sounds interesting. There’s a level on which permaculture can be done as almost a purely social and/or intellectual exercise as opposed to a project within coordinate boundaries. For instance, I once tried to trace back to origins some boxed cookies I purchased in a chain drugstore.

Processing is usually the most lucrative or value-added piece of the chain. In fact, I am currently stuck/bored because there is seemingly an infinite supply of affluent older men who will pay for all my groceries if I cook for them. Another place in the chain frugal forager/processors can get stuck is dumpster diving, because most experienced dumpster divers can provide themselves with most of their nutritional needs through this practice alone.

Recent research on human gut biome indicates that it is optimal to consume at least 30 different species of plants per week in your diet*. The amounts consumed can vary somewhat, because some plant species are only tolerable in medicinal/spice level doses. I think variety at this level is easier/cheaper to achieve through foraging/gardening/permaculture than bargain shopping for the SAD which mostly achieves variety by simply arranging the same 8 species into different shapes and textures.

Since the average human also requires approximately 3 lbs wet prepared weight of food/day, it works out to an average of 2/3 lbs of each of the 30 species consumed per week. If you were attempting to be completely self-sufficient in temperate climate, the trick would be figuring out how to keep yourself provisioned at this level through the “hunger gap” of late winter/early spring.

*I actually tracked my own diet for a couple months and determined that I was pretty good about eating at least 30 species in reasonably whole form, but not so good at limiting high caloric density add-ons. Mixed bitter greens salad with blue cheese dressing, bowl of fresh berries with custard, 3 bean soup with bread and butter etc. (sigh)

Alphaville
Posts: 2114
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by Alphaville »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Fri Oct 30, 2020 8:40 am
(sigh)
i think the word you were looking for here is YUM.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 6649
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

True, but in hetereolytic conflict with other flavors of “Yum.” I can eat pudding when I am 85, but I am running out of time/potential partners for other recipes in my GTD Tickle File. It’s just not fair or likely to expect a man pushing 60 to simultaneously perform all the necessary moves without injuring himself if I am not at healthy BMI at 5’9.”

Alphaville
Posts: 2114
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by Alphaville »

hahaha! ok... but are you really unhealthy? you don’t “sound” unhealthy to me. i know that’s a weird thing to say, but you write more like someone who is conditioned to feel guilty about enjoying good food than like someone who is actually unfit and eats poorly and maybe has pre-diabetes.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 6649
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@Alphaville:

I don’t want to further distract this thread with my babble. Will continue conversation on my own journal.

Alphaville
Posts: 2114
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by Alphaville »

it’s never babble, it’s always good stuff, but ok! back to permaculture.

and thanks for the mention of 30 vegetables... my pandemic diet has experienced reduced plant diversity and i’m trying to fix this now.

white belt
Posts: 157
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:15 am

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by white belt »

@7Wannabe5

I'd caution against drawing any conclusions about gut biome health and diet from the research so far. The field is very new and no causative outcomes have been linked to gut biome health. Here is an interview that provides a good overview of the literature from a researcher's perspective: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9zPpAmmvE8

In terms of being completely self-sufficient in a temperate climate, it seems that calorie crops are the most critical component, with vegetables second but necessary for providing micronutrients. I suppose at some point you are going to have to make a tradeoff between efficiency and variety, as there may be only 2-3 calorie crops that are suitable for a home-scale gardener in a particular zone. Additionally, even among calorie crops, yields range widely. Based on what I'm reading in Jeavons' and Cox's The Sustainable Vegetable Garden, here are what we see as the "moderate" biointensive yields of calorie crops that can be grown in my zone and I believe all the way north to you as well:

Potato (Irish) - 2lbs per sqft = 558 calories per sqft
Onions - 2lbs per sqft = 382 calories per sqft
Wheat - .1 lbs per sqft = 156 calories per sqft
Dry Beans - .1 lbs per sqft = 156 calories per sqft
Sweet Corn - .34 lbs per sqft = 133 calories per sqft

Now of course, there are lots of factors that can change those yields, but I'm more just using those as a baseline. So if I was aiming for pure self-sufficiency in a limited space, it would make sense for me to only grow potatoes as my calorie crop and then grow whatever varieties of veggies I feel like that will provide enough micronutrient yield. Of course I'd incorporate companion planting, closed loop systems, etc while trying to utilize as many permaculture principles as possible. If that strategy is taken, likely the bottleneck will be processing, as we've already discussed.

In my particular plan (work in progress), I may end up getting a good chunk of my leafy green nutrition from microgreens, so I'm unsure of how many vegetables I would grow other than the basics to provide variety and ingredients for meals (peppers, tomatoes, carrots, etc). I still have not done the calculations to plan out my spring garden yet, but I at least like that the book provides me with a baseline to plan off in terms of seeds, space, and yields (so I don't end up with the hundreds of pounds of zucchini problem).

I plan on supplementing the calories from my garden with fishing and hunting, so I still have to calculate what my garden caloric requirements would be. It's on my to do list.

Edit: The system wouldn't be very resilient with just one strain of a calorie crop, so I'd have to rely on a few different varieties to reduce risk of potato blight. TBD what my risk/reward framework is for my garden when I can just go to the store or dip into reserves if my crop fails.

ertyu
Posts: 1453
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by ertyu »

TIL: onions are a calorie crop. This fact is breaking my brain a little never realized you could get more than double the calories out of a sqft of onions compared to wheat and dry beans.

User avatar
jennypenny
Posts: 6636
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by jennypenny »

It's rare to be able to be completely self-sufficient, especially if it's a solo attempt. I'd argue that it's wasted effort to try to grow carbs/staple crops when they are so cheap to buy and store. Assuming you have a permanent residence, it's not that expensive to buy several years worth of rice or dehydrated potatoes. That way you can put your efforts into crops that are more nutritionally dense, have a faster production rate, can be grown in a greenhouse, or can be attained with perennials. I'm thinking of greens, berries, small-scale fruit, etc.

Having grown several types of staple crops at this point, I found the potatoes to be the least satisfying as far as effort-to-production ratio. I would much rather have used that space for more berries or something that required less effort. I think the only staple I'd consider growing myself is sweet potatoes.

A lot of this depends on how much time and land you have, how much you need to grow, and how old you are. DH and I are 54 so we could literally store enough rice and beans to last us the rest of our lives in a manageable amount of space. I'd rather do that and spend my time tending more rewarding and nutritious crops. We also prefer a lower carb diet so focusing solely on calorie count doesn't provide us with the food we prefer to eat.

The only drawback of eating stored carbs is that you need water to prepare them. I wouldn't rely on stored rice like I do now if we lived in an arid or soon-to-be arid environment.

Post Reply