Intro to Permaculture

What skills to learn, what tools to get
7Wannabe5
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

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

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by RoamingFrancis »

I've read a little over half the book now, but I've been jumping around based on what catches my interest. It seems to me there are lots of similarities between permaculture and ERE.

@7Wannabe5 Thank you for the suggestions; it looks like I have some Googling to do.

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Alphaville
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by Alphaville »

RoamingFrancis wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 1:33 pm
I've read a little over half the book now, but I've been jumping around based on what catches my interest. It seems to me there are lots of similarities between permaculture and ERE.
the part where he talks about jacob is funny

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Alphaville
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by Alphaville »

also i’d like to see paul and jacob friendly-debate “organic”

as i recall jacob is sort of agnostic or neutral on organic while paul seems very much for.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by RoamingFrancis »

What do you think of the passive income strategies recommended by Wheaton?

I have a couple of questions for the gardeners out there too - my family has a basic garden set up already, but from what I know we tend to use non-permaculture techniques for most of it. Is it better for me to wait to plan out a permaculture design, or just jump in and adapt things as I go? Maybe a little of both?

sky
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by sky »

I would use permaculture design for perennials, but for annual garden crops, use a strategy that includes bringing in compost and irrigation. You can successfully follow a number of gardening strategies such as no dig, square foot, row crops, etc. as long as your soil has a nice layer of compost on it and you have an easy way to water regularly. I wish I had solutions for weeds, animals and insects, they get more of my crop than I do.

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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by jacob »

Alphaville wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 5:30 pm
also i’d like to see paul and jacob friendly-debate “organic”
I don't really care what people eat as long as they don't eat too much. Quantity seems to be the bigger problem. Otherwise diet is one of those debates I really can't get enthusiastic about. If by organic you mean things beyond diet, I do think that "better living through chemistry" and Borlaug style agriculture has been a giant mistake that humanity will pay dearly for sometime in this century.

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Alphaville
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by Alphaville »

jacob wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 8:40 am
I don't really care what people eat as long as they don't eat too much. Quantity seems to be the bigger problem. Otherwise diet is one of those debates I really can't get enthusiastic about. If by organic you mean things beyond diet, I do think that "better living through chemistry" and Borlaug style agriculture has been a giant mistake that humanity will pay dearly for sometime in this century.
ah, i see.

i remember many years ago reading somewhere when you discussed how to buy lentils the cheapest at immigrant stores, people would chime “but it’s not organic” and you saying that the benefits of it were not clear (on diet/nutrition anyway) and even in some cases, like peanuts, organic might be counterproductive (due to mold/aflatoxins).

but that was indeed about diet, yeah.

as for the land/the planet: we now have something like “borlaug-organic” agriculture due to increased consumer demand over the past 2 or 3 decades.

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Re: Intro to Permaculture

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Alphaville
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by Alphaville »

oh, i searched “borlaug organic” (just to see if that was a thing) and this turned up:

https://reason.com/2009/03/26/norman-bo ... 95th-birt/

link to the original interview appears broken but his quote pulls no punches

7Wannabe5
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Interesting article. It seems to me that both sides of many 21st century arguments/dilemmas keep making the same mistake in describing/extending first and second order effects of alternate course of action or policy without considering options. For instance, the way Borlaug leaps to calculation of manure needed *cattle/acre etc. in the article linked.

I think this is due to the fact that as a species the best we can do is get halfway into systems level thinking before resorting to “efficiency.”

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by RoamingFrancis »

I finished Paul Wheaton's book, except for a couple of pages I skipped here and there. Thank you @jennypenny! The only chapter that is super relevant to my immediate goals is Chapter 17, where he talks about food production.

Some main points for me to remember:

1) Don't transplant or till
2) Google Hugelkultur and figure out how to do it
3) Focus on perennials
4) Mulch is good - find a good material for my plants.

I am planting the garden on a 7' x 25' strip along our back fence. I have two raised beds I built on one end of the strip. Currently deciding on what plants to grow and the layout.

I also want to start some mushroom cultivation, maybe in a basement closet or something.

I'm fumbling around slowly learning things from the Internet and trial and error - I appreciate any advice.

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TheWanderingScholar
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by TheWanderingScholar »

On transplanting point, I would debate for transplanting plants in cases of areas where the growing season is relatively short, meaning vegetables with longer growing times (ex. tomatoes) can and should be transplanted to increase chances of a successful harvest. However for the long-term, directly seeding tomatoes would create a more resilient variety of tomato for your garden.

My advice:
Companion planting is great for creating more resilient garden systems, example being basil and tomatoes. Google for specifics as to why and to find more companion pairings for your garden.

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Alphaville
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by Alphaville »

RoamingFrancis wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 9:15 pm
What do you think of the passive income strategies recommended by Wheaton?
not sure if this was for me, but i like the ideas, only they have to be modified for each person. e.g., the adsense ads might work for paul wheaton because he’s known and has an audience that trusts him. but yeha it’s a little bit like having personal dividends in nanoenterprises.

funny i was asking about something like that in the post-depression business thread i made. so in principle i’m very much for them.

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Alphaville
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by Alphaville »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 7:52 am
Interesting article. It seems to me that both sides of many 21st century arguments/dilemmas keep making the same mistake in describing/extending first and second order effects of alternate course of action or policy without considering options. For instance, the way Borlaug leaps to calculation of manure needed *cattle/acre etc. in the article linked.

I think this is due to the fact that as a species the best we can do is get halfway into systems level thinking before resorting to “efficiency.”
Yes but I think he’s got a point about the limits we’re going to butt against as we look for options.

I just did a back of the envelope calculation, very rough. Let’s see where it goes.

I read in a book (which one?) that with intensive permaculture gardening you can support a person in something like 1/4 acre.

From other sources (I forget the name, a famous Swedish scientist, there’s videos of him out there) Earth’s population should stabilize at around11 billion.

That would put our organic garden needs at 2.75 billion acres or 11,128,860 square kilometers according to https://www.checkyourmath.com/convert/area/acres_km.php

That’s less than the current arable land in the world at 13+ [strike]billion[/strike]*million* km^2 yes?
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arable_land
Which is great.

But of course it’s not all used to produce food, we grow fiber etc.

But that is I think if each person tends to their garden, not a lot of division of labor. I got my olive tree, you got your olive tree, each of us presses their own artisanal oil, maybe it’s not the most efficient. I don’t know. Though olive groves aren’t arable land—I just meant about the advantages of large operations.

In any case, nitrogen is not a finite resource, it operates in a cycle, there is plenty of it in the atmosphere, and industrial fertilizers simply fixate it from there. The part I don’t understand yet is what are the environmental problems this causes, so I need to read more.

eta: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonia ... production
👆 i’m all for recovering fertilizer from our overwhelmed waterways
Last edited by Alphaville on Mon Apr 06, 2020 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sky
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by sky »

RoamingFrancis wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 12:34 am
I finished Paul Wheaton's book, except for a couple of pages I skipped here and there. Thank you @jennypenny! The only chapter that is super relevant to my immediate goals is Chapter 17, where he talks about food production.

Some main points for me to remember:

1) Don't transplant or till
2) Google Hugelkultur and figure out how to do it
3) Focus on perennials
4) Mulch is good - find a good material for my plants.
This is a problem with Permaculture. Many of the food plants that we enjoy and that are nutritious are annuals. In order to get a good harvest, many annuals are best started early and transplanted. They usually need compost added to the soil and irrigation during dry times. They may need protection from pests.

When it comes to annual plant food production, be pragmatic and learn from experts in methods such as no dig, square foot gardening or even market gardeners.

Unfortunately, Permaculture has become a business and there are a lot of people trying to build their media empire with false claims and hucksterism. It has become a cult of personality and is full of false orthodoxy and witch hunts.

You can find valuable information in permaculture philosophy, you just need to avoid the personalities of the self appointed experts and focus on an understandig of how nature works and how you can design a natural system that sustains itself and provides food for you.

ertyu
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by ertyu »

wait so no tomatoes?

Papers of Indenture
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by Papers of Indenture »

At the end of the day "permaculture" is just a word that describes no till, no spray, low input perennial gardening combined with careful observation of your landscape...and sometimes adds a helping of bullshit. Experienced gardeners committed to minimizing inputs will end up learning the best ways to accomplish this whether they ever read the word "permcaulture" or not.

Unfortunately it promotes some stuff that's really just aesthetics as more important than it really is. You can really waste your time if you get too caught up in stuff like guilds and bed shapes. On the other hand it popularizes gardening.

I definitely wouldn't spend a bunch of cash on a permaculture branded design course. Everything you need to know is out there for free or for the cost of a used book.

Knowing your plant hardiness zone, getting a good handle on the quirks of your regional climate & microclimate through observation, and seeking out the advice of more experienced growers with similar environments & interests is really the best thing you can do to get started and avoid wasting time.

growingfruit.org is a forum that's been helpful to my interest in growing berries and fruits with minimal inputs.
Last edited by Papers of Indenture on Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:14 pm, edited 14 times in total.

George the original one
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

Post by George the original one »

Alphaville wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:05 am
I read in a book (which one?) that with intensive permaculture gardening you can support a person in something like 1/4 acre.
That's true for all gardening methods. Usually the catch is whether you have adequate water/fertility and select the crops that allow you to maximise the growing season.

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TheWanderingScholar
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Re: Intro to Permaculture

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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.

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