So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Is anyone doing any permaculture? I'm woefully uneducated on the subject but I plan to change that soon.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Darius, I wasn't quite sure what you meant by Permaculture, so I went to the web and this is what I found
Is this what you meant? and if not can you explain?

San Jose, CA(Zone 9b)

The wikipedia article is a good beginning, (and could use some expansion its own self) introducing the broader concepts of permaculture.
I'm imagining that anyone who is messing around with organic gardening methods, alternative power, and or is thinking about learning more about sustainable practices in and around the garden or home, is dipping their toes into permaculture by definition. Some of the language growing up around the academic and practical studies of different areas starts to get a little too - something - (companion planting as 'guilds' of plants? oh come on) but by and large (companion planting *works*) the ideas are sound. It's heartening to see global students of these ideas swapping ideas and hands-on "we tried this and it worked, here!" experiments with one another; sounds like Dave's Garden on a global scale.
so, in short (she said, unpacking the bait-can o' worms happily), Darius, I think my answer is "yes" and there are lots and tons o' things that this means, that will be great fun to talk about, and learn about, and try!

Ida, MI

Actually anyone who makes compost or recycles their pots from year to year is practicing a small form of permaculture. Permaculture will be the only way man can survive on the earth eventually. The goal of permaculture is no waste products. All waste products should be considered a challenge to figure out ways to turn them into usefull products. Its in essence what this forum is all about. China used to support millions of people using these exact same principles. Now China has modernized, and is experiencing all the negatives like pollution that go with it.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Well spoken, Spots and RU. I'm out of town at thisw moment but hope to add to this thread!

Rocky Mount, VA(Zone 7a)

For all the good in the world that modern plastics have done us - plastic packaging - will undo. We can't compost all of our waste, but the more that we can, the better for the earth.

I ask for paper bags at the grocery store, sure they are not as easy to handle, will at times break, but will break-down quickly.

Please do me a favor the next time you take out your trash - look at how much of it is plastic packaging,
if that is reduced, then at least you will save money on gas or trouble carrying to the curb,

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Dyson, as I have been cutting my food budget by preparing things from scratch at home, I was very surprised at the few groceries I needed/bought yesterday for the month. All the plastic packaging would fit in one tiny bag and even the milk jugs will get used for winter sowing.

I pick up enough plastic debris flowing down my creek to fill a garbage can. Disgusting. I save the aluminum soda and beer cans thrown along the road in front... aluminum is now fetching 55 a pound

RU, your definition of No Waste is good! Down the road, they have surveyed 122 acres into 5 acre parcels. There was a hay barn that they partially took down this week (tin roofing, rafters and siding). If the poles are still there in a day or two, I plan to ask if I can have them. Add some cattle panels and I have a whole row of tomato and bean supports!

The immediate several feet of hillside behind my house has overgrown with trash trees now about an inch or so in diameter. When I cut them down, I'll use them as wattle for a wattle & daub base wall for my future GH. The daub will come from my clay soil and straw.

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

I am REALLY interested in Permaculture. I only have a 50' x 100' lot with a house and garage on it, but I'm working to plant it using modified permaculture methods. I've read most of the readily available books and think it is a sound method. I plant vegetable in my front yard and give them to the neighbors to encourage them to plant their own vegetables.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Rats, I didn't get the posts from that old hay barn! They cut them off at the base and took them away, I assume for a slightly shorter barn.

Cat... I first grew vegetables in the front yard at my old house and I got used to them in with flowers. I will do that here too. I have a much larger area now to plant but I still like going down the walkway to the truck and picking a handful of sun-ripened cherry tomatoes along the way.

Thinking on the Three Sisters planted together (corn, beans to climb the corn, and squash to shade the roots), I'm wondering why I couldn't grow early peas to climb up my asparagus stalks? LOL, the new asparagus crowns are still in a bag... I'm really skipping ahead of myself!

I have some books on permaculture but all my books are still in NC in storage.

Ida, MI

Yankee, be prepared to meet resistance to vegetables in the front yard. If you live in a suburban neighborhood, and it sounds like you do, there are often ordinances against putting food crops in the front lawn. I would start small, and rember to put lots of flowers in too, keep it decorative and expand a little each year so you don't shock the neighbors. Its going to take some time before old ideas of "must have lawn" in front yards dies away and you can help hasten it by making your yard an asset. However old ideas die hard, so be prepared for resistance and taking it a step at a time can help immensly.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Yes, we have had some people sued by their neighbors here in Texas because of that reason.

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

My neighbors don't seem to care about my front yard - I'm lucky. The next door neighbor parks two commercial plated pickups loaded with tools in his front lawn making a few tomato and cucumber plants look good! From what I understand about permaculture - it is possible to make a productive garden without making it look like a vegetable patch. But you are SO right about lots of flowers! Everyone walking by says how pretty the yard is (no matter what is really looks like) if there are flowers blooming. I'm planning to put in quinoa and amaranth with sunflowers this year in the front. I already have three years on the creeping thyme bed that runs between the sidewalk and the curb. If "someone" asked - it is ground cover and the other herbs that I plant in it, sage, tarragon, basil, parsley, oregano, chives, garlic, horseradish, rosemary and saffron are "flowers". I used stones to build three sets of steps in appropriate places for car passengers to get from car to sidewalk. I share the vegetables and berries I grow with my neighbors and can enough green tomato relish for the whole block. I shovel my elderly neighbor's walks in the winter and do basic weeding and pruning for a couple of them who allow it.

My grand plan is to establish small fruit trees, underplanting with berry bushes and edging with perennial vegetables and using lettuces, beets, swiss chard, etc. as "color". I have tons of bulbs established - daffodils, crocus, tulips and lillies to distract from the "working" plants. My neighborhood is working class and elderly struggling with the highest taxes and utility rates in the US - we have a lot to do just to survive - not much time to complain about the lack of grass in each other's yard. I'm very, very blessed to be in this place at this time.

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

You are so right, I am very happy to know that some people have common sense and see the value of what you are doing.
More power to you, and keep up the good work, maybe others will wake up and do the same.

Ida, MI

Very cool Yankee! Isn't it funny it seems the more money folks have the more time they seem to have to spend worrying about the neighbor is growing is his yard? You say you do some yard work for folks who will allow it, do you mean they don't want someone messing with their yard or that they are reluctant to accept something that could be considered charity? If it is the latter you might be able to work out a trade for more gardening space. They let you grow stuff in their yard in exchange for yard maint. and some of your produce. Sounds to me like it could be a very happy arrangement.

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

My neighbor who grows "the most beautiful roses in the neighborhood" - he prunes them to nothing and I do all the feeding, weeding, mulching, fertilizing and replacing - digs up a garden plot every year that I tend and harvest. He brings home started plants from the Big Box and I put in seeds. It works out well for both of us. Last year he let me put three apple seedlings that I bought from a vendor on eBay who digs up plants from abandoned home sites. If they make it - we will have mystery apples that will contribute to the genetic diversity of the area. We have squirrels, 'possums and skunks that will appreciate the apples even if we don't.
Another neighbor who just hit 90 and I work together in both yards. I do all the fertilizing, mulching, planting, pruning and gutter cleaning - he supervises and helps and fixes everything that breaks around my house and is always up for a new project - like the kitchen counter he just built me out of salvaged lumber. He built me a cold frame from salvaged windows, a barrel composter, stripped and refinished a kitchen table and chairs I bought at a tag sale for $25 (turned out to be hard rock maple!) and always tends my cats while I am on vacation. Another neighbor just won't let me help - even though he needs it - too proud and solitary. He does appreciate fresh veggies and green tomato relish and apple butter, though. It is a very good life I have here - even though I work two jobs to support it.

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

Cat, that DOES sound like life & friendship at its finest.

Schroon Lake, NY(Zone 4a)

Yankee cat wrote:

My grand plan is to establish small fruit trees, underplanting with berry bushes and edging with perennial vegetables and using lettuces, beets, swiss chard, etc. as "color". I have tons of bulbs established - daffodils, crocus, tulips and lillies to distract from the "working" plants. My neighborhood is working class and elderly struggling with the highest taxes and utility rates in the US - we have a lot to do just to survive - not much time to complain about the lack of grass in each other's yard. I'm very, very blessed to be in this place at this time.

Sounds like permaculture to me. I've been reading permaculture books this winter and sketching garden plans, and hope to have a base similar to this. Fruit trees and a blueberry hedge - these are beautiful year round, as pretty as any ornamentals- beds of monarda and catmint and so forth- sunflowers for seed, asparagus beds (also beautiful and ferny in the summer and golden in fall against the scarlet blueberry hedge).

Lettuces and beets and multicolor swiss chard, trellises of beans...all of these can form a beautiful ornamental garden!

Water conservation is another aspect, so depending on your situation spend some time planning for this. Rain barrels, graywater systems, swales and catchments.

Mulch, and minimal tilling, and soil building are other interesting aspects for those just getting into it. I'm addicted already! If all this %*#& snow would go away!!

bundaberg, Australia(Zone 10b)

I'm a certified permaculture designer (wow, that sounds so official- I haven't said it many times yet!!), having taken the two-week intensive course back in October. It was great fun (though, a lot of work) and really opened my eyes to what is possible. Permaculture is as much or as little as you want it to be- it can be balcony gardening or the redesign of a multi-acre property.

This gives the philosophical overview of the concept: And I'd strongly suggest watching this flash video to see what permaculture is really about:

Here is my "final project" from my permaculture course: an analysis and design for my property in rural Queensland, Australia I also have two photo galleries from the course but those aren't very instructive at all :)


This message was edited Mar 17, 2008 10:21 AM

This message was edited Mar 17, 2008 10:24 AM

Ida, MI

Darius, I think your forum idea can officially be called a success! I can't Imagine it will sustain this amount of activity forever but look but look at all the notice its getting and the positive feedback? And welcome Andi, hope you stick around and be our Permaculture consultant, there are a lot of good people here looking for info and ideas.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Andi... Welcome aboard!

I wanted to see the flash video but just got a blank screen.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Andi, a hearty WELCOME TO DG!

Nice blog you have going. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing!


Ida, MI

I finally got a chance to flip through your blog Andi, very nice! Folks there is wealth of info. and personal experience here! Most of us don't live "down under" but this has references to a lot of topics we have talked about even humanure! Go Andi!

Lower Hudson Valley, NY(Zone 6b)

I prefer not to see 'down under' and 'humanure' in the same sentence - especially at lunchtime. Very nice Andi - thanks for posting it.

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

dmcdevitt - I have a second cousin in Schroon Lake! I get up there once a year to Warrensburg for the "Largest Garage Sale in the World". LOL Back on topic - I have started with rain barrels although in a good year I really don't have to water at all. I bought one barrel last year and this year I will get a fitting to my downspout made so that I can hook it up. Even without having it hooked up - I captured enough water to water my blackberries several times. One of the features of Permaculture that drew me was the lack of need for commercial fertilizers in a mature permaculture garden. To start that process, I'm using clover as a green crop to capture nitrogen and put it into the soil. I also ran into a deconstruction site where a truckload of leaves had been dumped a year ago and the leaves had fed earthworms. Bag by bag I probably brought in a cubic yard of earthworm castings and worms last fall. I had so much that I literally mulched with worm litter.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Andi, you should post that photo of you both in the StrawBale thread!

bundaberg, Australia(Zone 10b)

Thanks all for the kind words! Darius, if you run this Google search you should find several places where you can watch the flash video, called "Greening the Desert" by Geoff Lawton. It really is worth the effort.

Cheers all!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Hey Thanks! Wonderful video. I also watched 2 others on the YouTube sidebar.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

The Greening the Desert video was amazing!

bundaberg, Australia(Zone 10b)

There is a longer video, also called Greening the Desert (I think its a VHS even, it was made quite some time ago and is likely out of print) about Geoff's trip to Jordan with plenty of interviews and lots more in depth information. It is so inspiring. The flash video was what made me think I can create something special no matter how poor my soil or how harsh my weather, but seeing the full length video was absoultely outstanding. The man really should consult for the governments of the world, he could solve a lot of problems.

This message was edited Mar 21, 2007 9:47 AM

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Mittleider has also had great success with greening some of the poorest African soils, as well as elsewhere. His site is

Clemmons, NC(Zone 7b)

Darius-don't know if this is what people mean my permaculture, but has anyone ever heard of the Zendik Farm?

It is pretty unusual-they used to sell magazines to helpkeep their community going. Maybe they have a website?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Have you googled their name?

Clemmons, NC(Zone 7b)

Yeah-I did-wow. Didn't want to put a link, we are talking beyond political here. I'm ready to move in!

Search on Zendik Farm

marshville,, NC(Zone 8a)

Darius, my son is becoming interested in permaculture.....we have land that is perfect for using runoff for watering & many microclimates just waiting to be developed with their own crops

it's a strange area where the lows get to -5 & the summer night temps stay high...wet winters & dry summers.....the temps go from zone 6 to zone 8 so using the microclimates is really necessary here

all of our buildings including my house have been built from recycled materials & unused building products from commercial building sites...their waste is dreadful!!
Easy to get, too....they throw away what they don't use & have to pay to have it hauled away...we do it for's a good place to look for scavenged SURE, anyone, to'll get put in the pokey for thievery if you don't have permission....

We are putting our well on solar power this year......hopefully we can eventually get our whole road off the grid.......only 4 houses & its a dead end. We'd like to start a permaculture community...the neighbors seem enthusiastic......we had a scare a few years back & they were going to put in a nuclear waste dump out woke everyone up.

All of our material storage barns are made to harvest water......we are building cisterns in connection with every wrote about lining cisterns with concrete or cement & I've lost the thread.......could you by any chance refer me to that line again?


This message was edited Jun 19, 2007 4:39 PM

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

Update on the rain barrel - I got the first one hooked up to the gutter this year. (It worked last year just collecting rain through the 2"x4" opening.) We've been a little dry here so I've been filling my watering can from the barrel. It was just announced that the cost of water will go up 28% in the near future - so I'd better get the other barrels ready to go.

Madison, WI

I am interested in incorporating some permaculture concepts in my landscape.
I am not using any pesticides on the property. I do compost 90% of the green food
scraps either using the trench method or in the compost bin. The same is true for
100% of the yard waste.

1. I'd like to improve on water concervation.

Currently, I mulch all of my flower beds with 2" layer of wood chips.
I do get free wood chips occasionally, but need far more than I can get.
One question I have here is what are the free mulch alternatives I could use.
Or how could I possibly use the wood chip mulch more effectively.

I am also working on creating a 1' deep 3' wide and 6' long swale on the sloped
part of the land that dries too quickly and is prone to erosion. It's all in the shade.
This project is progressing very slowly as moving dirt is pretty heavy work, hopefully
by the end of the season I'll have it. Do the dimensions of the swale sound reasonable
or should it really be larger to make a difference?

I also have a rain barrel project on the list. I'd have to put one together myself as
they are a big pricy for me. I also fill that making one from recycled materials would
be more in agreement with the permaculture principles of reducing waste.

2. I'd like to grow some food on my property. Unfortunately, I have very limited
space in full sun and was wondering if anybody could suggest what would do well in

Fairfield County, CT(Zone 6b)

For the half shade look at understory "trees" that are shrubs in the understory. I put in Paw-paws, elder berry, aronia, oriental persimmon, ostrich fern, thimbleberry, blueberries, chinaquipins (sp) and even a tea camelia. (I'm doing understory planting this year so I can't help with veggies - ask me again in a couple of years.)

Rocky Mount, VA(Zone 7a)

as far as I can tell - most veggies require "full sun" to do well, if someone else knows different - Please let me know!

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

You could grow Curly Kale, I have grown it part sun and it does well, it is a biennial and you can pick leaves for two years. Also it doesn't freeze and you can pick it even in winter.
It is also extremely rich in vitamins and minerals, so it is a wonderful crop.
You might also try growing potatoes in hay, it it is not too late in your zone for them.

Berkeley, CA(Zone 9b)

> 2. I'd like to grow some food on my property. Unfortunately, I have very limited
space in full sun and was wondering if anybody could suggest what would do well in

Lettuces, snow peas, lingonberry, evergreen huckleberry

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