Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Today whilst trying to get a list of Perennial Herbs which are good in most Temperate Climates (mainly for the UK climate due to locality) I came across this extensive list that is short in descriptions, to the point and advises whether the plant is annual, biennial or perennial.

herbs

I’m just sharing the link below for anyone interested, their organisation has morals too, they have a pledge to be 100% peat free in their business – take a quick read on the peat free page, it is quite interesting and might make you think twice when buying compost again. This list is a great reference you could use to decide which herbs to obtain, further research for each plant’s specific requirements is likely to be needed once you have selected species and varieties.

http://www.devongrown.co.uk/herb-list.html

Nevermind mechanical tractors, the Chicken Tractor is not really a machanical machine at all, it’s just a quirky nickname for something far better than a Petrol Guzzling Monoculture Farmageddon contraption…

Simply put, a Chicken Tractor is a Chicken Coop on wheels, without a floor so that the Chickens can forage on the ground beneath the Tractor for a day then the Tractor will be moved the length of the coop the next morning in a rotation around a pre-designed (And pre-seeded) Plot of Land. This provides natural food (vegetation as well as insects) and a more natural almost free range style environment for them!
The benefits are good, The birds rely on less imports (feed) so it is a cost saver, they are healthier, the land gets ‘scratched over’ with pests becoming Chook food, the ground also gets manured so that the perennial greens have sufficient nutrients to sprout back before the Tractor is back in the same spot after sometime.

In the below Video, Joel Slatin (aka the Nutcase Farmer) explains the concept on his industrial sized enterprise:

Some more designs:

Article on Wikipedia:

Chicken tractors allow free ranging along with shelter, allowing chickens fresh forage such as grass, weeds and bugs (although these will quickly be stripped away if the tractor remains in the same place for too long), which widens their diet and lowers their feed needs. Unlike fixed coops, chicken tractors do not have floors so there is no need to clean them out. They echo a natural, symbiotic cycle of foraging through which the birds eat down vegetation, deposit fertilizing manure, then go on to a new area.

The term chicken tractor comes from the chickens performing many functions normally performed using a modern farm tractor: functions like digging and weeding the soil in preparation for planting trees or crops or fertilizing and weeding to enhance the growth of crops and trees already planted.

With chicken tractors flock owners can raise poultry in an extensive environment wherein the birds have access to fresh air, sunlight, forage and exercise, which caged birds in commercial coops do not have. With the coop on only a small area at any given time, the field has time to wholly regrow and more birds can be fed than if they were allowed to freely roam. A chicken tractor also gives some shelter from predators and weather. Moreover, hens lay eggs in nest boxes rather than hiding them in foliage.

In the below videos (Both less than 2 / 3 min’s each) the Guy explains the setup on day one of the tractor and birds being put into place, then day two (2nd Video) you see the area after the Tractor is relocated and the effects / benefits of Chicken Tractoring.
These two videos are what first made me understand the full reasoning and intent / benefits behind this practice a couple years ago when I first came across the concept.

Video 1; Chicken Tractor on first location:
https://youtu.be/3Er7R-AKQGg

Video 2; Result day after adn explanation of findings:
https://youtu.be/GQE0WyxgTT4

Late Summer / Early Autumn is the best time to start gathering the materials you need for your planned Hugel Bed / Mound, many Herbaceous plants which can be used in conjunction with the wood logs, branches and sticks are now ready to be chopped down and composted or used in another way. Autumn / Winter is the preferred time her in the UK to create your Hugelkultur mounds mainly due to the need for the wet season to soak the beds, the buried logs will soak up the winter rains for months until the upcoming growing season.

Two pieces of advice I can definitely lecture on about in this article to ensure a successful Hugel Project are;
1: Ensure Air Spaces inside the mound and
2: Add lots of Nitrogen rich Biomass internally to offset the nitrogen locking that the logs will create during decomposition

Air Spaces:
Although there are guaranteed to be air spaces between the logs and branches / sticks, I have found that rain and the settling down of the materials can cause these spaces to fill in, often causing or risking an anaerobic result – go explore your garden or any other garden you have access to (You may even be able to make a deal with a local gardening company – they could leave a bag of said such materials for you outside one of their customers properties so as long as you collect the bag and not leave unwanted contents at the site!) remember, you can always bargain that most companies have to pay to dump their waste at commercial specialist dumps, remind them that you are helping them reduce the need to do so, in most cases they will still have charged their customers to ”remove” the waste even though you took if off of their hands, the customer will inevitably still be charged for it being dumped.

There are many herbaceous plant species which have a hollow stem and need cutting down in Autumn, cut these stems into pieces which you will spread around and in between your logs at different levels to ensure small air cavities will remain. Cedums, Ornamental Globe Artichokes, Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes), Young Bamboo (and old), some Hydrangea varieties and many more have hollow cavity stems which harden enough when dry to be used in this case.

Then there is dry hard leaf ”garden waste” which takes ages to decompose, these are leaves from shrubs and trees which are more on a glossy and hard / stiff texture than a soft / decidious and most likely in all cases, evergreen. Three options I have from the top of my head as examples are the leaves of ‘Magnolia Grandeflora’, The climber ‘Clematis Armandii’ , the Loquat ‘Eribotrya japonica’ Fruit Tree, Some Rhododendrons (look for the large leaved varieties) and Laurels. We have found that most of these leaves can take up to two years in an unturned / undisturbed compost pile to break down, they maintain their structure even when pressed down so they are perfect for maintaining air spaces / gaps internally within the Hugel Bed / Mound! Practically any glossy leaved plant / shrub / tree will do but the larger and dryer – the better!
In fact, a couple of these Tree / Shrub leaves will actualy curl up to form a cilyndrical tube shape with an internal hollow gap, when pressed these are strong and bounce back right away once released.

Nitrogen Rich Biomass:
Probably one of the best options are fresh grass clippings from your lawn mowing or that of a neighbour / friend. You can even clip your grass at your home twice a week for the last 3 or so weeks of Summer, keep these clippings aside in a breathable bag until ready to add into the Hugel Bed – if you obtain clippings over several weeks, you Will need to add additional fresh greens into the mix to compenate lost nitrogen.
Horse Manure is also a great option but I would suggest it be used more as an addition to fresh green waste rather than 100% of the nitrogen source
The not-so-popular option amongst people new to Permaculture, is human Urine, which has a good nitrogen content and is often used diluted 1 part to 10 in early season liquid feed for plants
If you plan on lets say December being your target month for getting your Hugel project started, I would advise Growing a patch of Broad or Field bean green manure from Late August / Early September – these will be ready for chopping down and adding into your bed around and amongst the logs as the fresh greens instead of grass clippings which won’t be available during that month anyway

Further Reading: Click Here for an article on the step-by-step making of a Hugelkultur Mound / Bed

And so I finally get around to posting ”what’s going on” photo’s of both my Allotment and Garden …

I love bees, but unfortunately with this year’s cool weather, I haven’t been able to get a nice photo yet compared with previous years, I do have a frog though 😉

Click on each picture below for a larger image of such

 

Wildlife have increased both on the Allotment and Garden, mainly due to the added varieties of plants as well as ponds on both sites, I can’t stress enough how important a pond is, even if you just get a small container and place it in a hole with a few plants inside, it will go a long way to help the local ecosystem, not only that but can also create a Micro Climate which you can take advantage of in terms of Plant Variety and options …

Tadpoles are, Still Tadpoles! … in the small pond at home, I’m leaning towards that maybe they don’t have as much food due to the pond size compared with the Allotment, so I’ve made a mental note to throw in a few more ”accidentally stepped on” slugs to help them along …

I’m growing Achocha for the first time this year, they are climbers so they are growing amongst the Pumpkins on the large trellis, they are related to the famous ‘Exploding Cucumber’ but the reason why I’m growing them is I feel like giving up on Peppers, the slugs are too Rambo here and this variety is said to taste like Green Peppers when fried – they are also a vine plant so a bit out of reach for the slugs.

The Japanese ‘Hokkaido’ Pumpkin are said to be one of the easiest Heritage (Heirloom) pumpkins to grow in the UK climate, are quite prolific and highly recommended as well as the Pumpkin Masque De Province.

I chopped down my Bocking 14 Comfrey literally 3 – 4 weeks ago and already have a plant almost two thirds back to the original size! You definitely need to divide the roots every year after the second year onwards … the crowns sell for reasonable money online so keep that in mind! I am pondering opening an online shop here, this will be something on offer if I go ahead with the idea.

Above are the photo’s from the Allotment plot, starting with a nice sunrise sometime perhaps after 6am? Once cloud, wow, amazing for the UK skyline eh?

The wildflower bed is doing better now than I had expected (I really waited very late to buy and sow a pack on that dedicated bed) luckily all worked out fine, I suspect maybe less than half of the varieties mentioned on the seed pack germinated so I was quite happy with what came out. The Borage flowers are beautiful aren’t they? No wonder they are used in salads for a visual touch!

The Pumpkin is another French variety Galeuse d’Eysines which I had some reasonable success with last year, it climbs well and does pretty good in storage

I placed Marigolds ‘Tagetes’ too late ( well I discovered that Marigolds really should be the First plant you germinate before you start sowing vegetable seeds – this is a personal observation, but I bet not my own) and hence lost a Pumpkin and Courgette plant to slugs, the other marigolds under my Achocha plants almost got completely decimated (that’s their purpose anyway) but are coming back to life now, their new purpose is ornamental to brighten up the plot and finally to provide me with seed for next year

The Water Mint ‘Mentha Aquatica’ are now flowering, they are insect / Bee beneficial and if you look closely in the photo, you can see a resident Frog on the left near the flower right in the emergence zone at the water line.

Till the next Garden / Allotment update – most likely a Harvest Update but there might be more ”mid summer” if we suddenly get good hot weather so the plants can get a boost

Everyone in the Permaculture scene has heard of, or studied the works of Sepp Holzer to some extent, if not, then their tunnel vision is testament to their level of research skill.

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Sepp Holzer in Austria

Ever since I decided to buy Sepp’s main book ‘Holzer Permaculture’ from the Book Stand at the London Permaculture Festival 2015, I was truly captivated, this man Knows what he is doing and he was practicing Permaculture way before the word had even been coined!

Sepp Holzer, a short Bio :

Sepp Holzer (born July 24, 1942 in Ramingstein, Province of Salzburg, Austria) is a farmer, author, and an international consultant for natural agriculture. He took over his parents’ mountain farm business in 1962 and pioneered the use of ecological farming, or permaculture, techniques at high altitudes (1100 to 1500 meters above sea level) after being unsuccessful with regular farming methods.

Holzer was called the “rebel farmer” because he persisted, despite being fined and even threatened with prison, with practices such as not pruning his fruit trees (unpruned fruit trees survive snow loads that will break pruned trees). He has created some of the world’s best examples of using ponds as reflectors to increase solar gain for Passive solar heating of structures, and of using the microclimate created by rock outcrops to effectively change the hardiness zone for nearby plants. He has also done original work in the use of Hugelkultur and natural branch development instead of pruning to allow fruit trees to survive high altitudes and harsh winters.

kramertehof

Ponds and House at his 45ha Krameterhof Farm

His expanded farm – the Krameterhof – now spans over 45 hectares of forest gardens, including 70 ponds, and is said to be the most consistent example of permaculture worldwide.
In 2009 Sepp Holzer left the Krameterhof in the hands of his son Josef Andreas Holzer. Since 2013 Sepp Holzer lives on his new farm – the Holzerhof farm – in the Burgenland, Austria. He is currently conducting permaculture (“Holzer Permaculture”) seminars both at his Holzerhof farm and worldwide.

He is an author of several books, works nationally as a permaculture-activist in the established agricultural industry, and works internationally as an adviser for ecological agriculture.

Source: Sepp Holzer’s Website

Click Here for more on the Krameterhof farm where he was born.

Click Here for what he is doing currently on the new, smaller Holzerhof.

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Sepp Takes Great Effort to Rest and Connect With Nature

I have two videos that I recommend watching, the first is ‘Sepp Holzer, The Agro Rebel’ (44 min’s):

Second Video is ‘Sepp Holzer’s Mountain Permaculture Farm’ (33 min’s):

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Sepp Passionately Explaining on His Farm

Hello everyone, new and old followers alike …

Todays post will be purely focusing on the recent London Permaculture Festival (Annual Event) held last Sunday the 31st of July 2016.

This is the second year running I have attended the festival, it is also the Seventh year that the festival has been going, where it is always based in the Cecil Sharp House in Camden, home to the English Folk and Dance Society.

A great example of how we can bring back power to our communities is shown in the agreement between the Permaculture Association in London and the English Folk and Dance Society. The Festival organisers and the Society made an agreement that the festival can be held for free, so as long as the outside gardens are designed, installed and maintained free of charge.

 

Click on each photo image above for a larger image and caption

Upon arrival and after paying entrance (£ 6 normal rate and £4 Concessions for Pensioners, Students, Low Income Earners etc.) you are greeted on the left by the award winning Permablitz created, Food Forest concept which utilizes many of the classic Permaculture methods and designs including a herb spiral, pond, poly culture planting scheme, various multi use, edible plants and self supporting systems.

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Workshop Time Table – London Permaculture Festival 2016

 

Inside, as soon as you arrive, check around for the Time Table (although this is also viewable online before the event day) so that you can start planning what you are interested in attending, these time tables are posted all around the building, mainly near door exits etc.

The market comprises of everything from the large Permanent Publications book store, to crafts, a bakery with cakes etc (including vegan / allergen free produce), protest stalls educating visitors about harmful chemicals used in Agriculture such as Glyphosate as well as info on corporate / political deals such as TTIP etc, the Nursery with it’s rare plants, people selling honeys, jams, other preserves and many more!

The information shared in the Workshops is valuable to anyone, you do not at all even need to understand the concept of Permaculture to be able to make use of these systems, designs  and ideas, any allotment holder or average joe with a small back garden or even just a Balcony (Click here for an excellent video of an Edible Balcony Garden).
The garden area was full of family / children’s activities ensuring the event was for the whole family and not just the Perma. Nutter!

As in previous years, the books at the Permanent Publications stand are mostly discounted, they also had back issues of the Permaculture Magazine going for £1 per copy which was also a great bargain!

Taking a walk around the garden, you can find plants that are supplied by the same ‘rare plant nursery’, their info. tags are normally still attached and as I checked, you can find some of the species at their stand inside the main building which was great!

The garden was very interesting, I can see why it has won an award – it is likely that all stages of the design have been implemented already, but they do still require volunteers to regularly maintain the garden, there is no set days / dates so you will have to contact them at their Main Site Here to be added to a mailing list.

Overall, I think it was a very great and productive day! Myself and company had great fun and I did learn a lot, this is an event I can see myself making sure I never miss!

I will be posting a series of articles on Wildlife Ponds, although these ponds may be slightly more relevant to the UK, you can still use the same concepts and tips no matter where you are!

pond frog

Frogs in a Pond, make excellent Slug Terminators in a Permaculture System

This is article #1, further below I will update with links to future articles in the series so please keep an eye out and follow the blog, out of all of my mini projects in my mini garden over the last year or two, this has been the first which really excited me and is keeping me very interested and motivated, I guess it is the multiple benefits which a pond can provide which make it such a worthwhile project, that I am already figuring out little ways to extend the size of the pond and plants which I will place into  the system, all of this will be shared in the future once complete …

Quick Update on my own mini pond and it’s progress, the pond is in place, filled with water, pebbles and some duck weed as an interim substitute for the pond plants I intend to obtain in the coming weeks. I am specifically concentrating on only British Native species for the reason that they are more friendly to local wildlife and the ecosystem in general. A net was made from chicken wire just in case any herons or blackbirds decide to fish for frogs, today I got hold of what I hope is ‘Iris pseudacorus’ which is a native Water Iris, I should be able to give a true identification once it flowers in June. Now I await for my trusted ‘Pond Plant Nursery’ to sell me their winter recovering Oxygenating plants and others which I am adding into the design, Oxygenators are important especially if the pond is ”still” meaning without a water feature such as a fountain or waterfall. Never hesitate to find a specialist like I have, they should normally be more than happy to help out with advice depending on your pond size, mine is almost a micro pond if there is such a category?

Below are a few pictures I have obtained from other online sources, The last image is one I would like you all to look at and decide for yourselves, why that particular pond has a few issues with it which may be inhibiting frogs rather than promoting or helping them, just use your common sense and in the coming days I will post what I know is wrong with it based on the picture.

Click on each picture above and it will open in a larger viewing window

perma ponds - wrong doings

In the last picture above, take a look and see if you can find at least 3-4 issues with this pond which are inhibiting the frog / wildlife ecosystem, I will post the exact same photo in a few days highlighting the issues and discussing further!

Click HERE for a previous post with a nice video explaining 6 great benefits to having a pond system