Conservation, Food Forests, Land, Storm Water, Swales, Water Harvesting — by Dominick ter Huurne February 11, 2011
by Dominick ter Huurne & Inke Falkner
Having found the bush block we had long been searching for, a protracted settlement period gave us plenty of time to decide exactly what we wanted to do with it. At 40 hectares the property was much larger than we had ever envisaged buying, but we fell in love with the diversity of wildlife and vegetation, seduced by the possibilities it offered. Establishing an orchard was a major priority, and having recently been introduced to permaculture gave us a chance to put many ideas into practice. So, armed with a lot more enthusiasm than experience, this is how Inke and I began the transformation of one small pocket into a food forest.Comments (11)
Biological Cleaning, Conservation, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Swales, Urban Projects, Waste Water, Water Harvesting — by Nicola Chatham January 19, 2011
Editor’s Note: This article was written in mid-December, when Queensland’s rains were nothing like that witnessed of late, and which have caused the catastrophic flooding in many towns and cities across the state. I mention this to ensure people realise Nicola was not being insensitive with timing of a Queensland- and water-based article. Our thoughts go out to all who have suffered in the recent deluges.
Pit-falls, projects and laughs from our Permaculture journey
If women knew diggers looked this good I think swales would pop up like weeds
around the globe. Gee whiz. Beats a four-tonne excavator in my books
– even if it had a swivel bucket.
Chris woke up the other day and declared, “I think I can dig those swales by hand.”
“Super,” I said, “go for it!”Comments (13)
Aid Projects, Commercial Farm Projects, Community Projects, Compost, Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Energy Systems, Rehabilitation, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water, Water Harvesting — by Alex McCausland December 18, 2010
We recently submitted a short report on our hot-fast-composting system, which gave some detail on the theory and practice of producing compost in as short a time as 21 days. But Permaculture principals tell us that we should always be looking to yield as many useful products and functions from any process or element as possible and it is obvious that one bi-product of hot-composting is heat. If you get it really right, a heap should reach 80°C, which is literally too hot to touch. Feeling is believing. Once we were getting to that stage with our compost competency I began pondering how we could effectively catch and store some of that heat so that it can be used for a hot shower.
I finally realised that lots of mucking about with coils and heat exchange loops, lagging and insulation etc. could be avoided if we simply have the hot water tank inside the compost heap. Jean Pain, the old French Roi de Compost did something like this in his place, but took it a lot further, even to the point of having a biogas digester inside a cooling jacket inside a giant compost heap. He was able to heat his house and get compost and biogas all out of the one system. Ours is simpler, but the good thing about that is that you don’t have to be a practical genius to do it.Comments (0)
Conservation, Irrigation, Land, Storm Water, Water Harvesting — by Campbell Wilson December 15, 2010
This article talks about some of the design issues you’ll face when constructing a back-flooding swale, the signature of Mr Geoff “Reconstructive Earth Surgeon” Lawton.
It’s a great idea and provides a few additional beneficial functions to a standard valley dam, namely increasing the catchment by whatever length the contour trench wraps around the landscape, as well as utilising any dam overflow quite effectively by spreading it around the landscape and infiltrating it into the soil reserves.
However, water’s erosive potential must be respected and hopefully, as well as making it easier and less daunting for people implementing Earthworks for the first time, my aim in writing this article is to help them avoid some potentially embarrassing, destructive and very expensive mistakes.Comments (33)
Aquaculture, Biological Cleaning, Dams, Fish, Land, Natural Swimming, Plant Systems, Water Harvesting — by Geoff Lawton November 26, 2010
The spillway that sets the height of the water and allows for passive
discharge of surplus water during large rainfall events
We can build a dam to serve specifically as a fish pond and which can be designed to be more productive for aquaculture systems generally, compared with stocking an existing farm dam with fish. As most of the production occurs in the upper levels of water, a depth of under 2 metres allows you to feed and harvest the fish easily and bring them to a desirable size as quickly as possible. Using an example of the chicken tractor, infrastructure design can also be applied to fish to create a more intensive system where resources such as the animals’ manure are cycled and productivity is increased whilst benefiting the surrounding systems. The ideal style of dam for the purpose of fish production is the contour dam, which is dug into the side of a shallow sloping hill (on a reasonable flat landscape) with a dam wall of a semi-circular curve or a semi-square shape. The profile of the dam floor can be easily constructed so that it is flat, and the inner walls and back-cut of the dam can be reasonably steep, maximising the volume and minimising the challenges of harvest, whilst maintaining a consistent temperature.Comments (17)
Conservation, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Water Harvesting — by Geoff Lawton November 25, 2010
Gabions are one of the crucial feature elements of dry land landscape water harvesting design. A gabion is a leaky rock dam wall built in a wadi, valley canyon or water flow, at a point where there would be a reasonable amount of water caught if there was a dam wall in the same position, but the gabion instead leaks through the rocks, slowly releasing a steady flow of water and retained moisture over time. As the water is slowed down by a gabion, it drops its sediments, organic materials, behind the rock wall. Desert catchments are often large and feature very infrequent rainfall events, and are an actively eroding landscape that is continually being blown away, with sediments either eroded or deposited by the wind if there are wind traps like desert tree systems and forests, but also by water flows which are usually strong and can carry large amounts of organic material and sediments away with them.Comments (9)
Community Projects, Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Nurseries & Propogation, Plant Systems, Trees, Water Harvesting — by Nick Huggins November 20, 2010
A footnote on the progress of the Southern Beaches Community Garden at Tugun in south east Queensland, Australia.
Just after planting
Our last planting of the food forest was held on the 4th August 2010. Since then we have had a very wet winter and spring this year in the lead up to the wet season in Queensland. So our food forest in now on its own and thriving.Comments (11)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Land, People Systems, Village Development, Water Harvesting — by Geoff Lawton November 18, 2010
Geoff Lawton reports from a consultation trip to what will become the Al Bayda Project, Saudi Arabia
The Al Bayda Project in Saudi Arabia aims to help rehabilitate a large area of land, roughly 35 x 20kms (700km2 in total) containing 9 villages of Bedouin people who have been settled for 20-30 years in very basic conditions. The main mission is to develop a sustainable design demonstration system for how they can develop their villages and manage their environment and quite large herds of animals. Traditionally they would move with seasonal conditions around good grazing range-land patterns of management. Now, in settled villages, they don’t have the possibility to manage good range-land grazing with the appropriate patterning, and so the environment is greatly suffering from over-grazing and cutting of trees for firewood. As this grazing is their cultural heritage, they are not prepared to let it go and yet they don’t exactly fit into modern systems of settlement either.Comments (20)
Conservation, Earth Banks, Irrigation, Land, Soil Conservation, Storm Water, Swales, Waste Water, Water Harvesting — by Geoff Lawton November 13, 2010
Permaculture is a connecting system between disciplines and elements in a matrix of design, and swales are a mainframe element. The efficiency of swales is that they can interrupt water surface flow high in a landscape where it is then infiltrated relatively quickly, on contour, and moves incredibly slowly through the landscape soil and subsoil profiles. This becomes a great advantage to the potential productivity of any property, especially a property that is designed to be diverse and interactive with many ecosystem elements. When you design a property this way, a mainframe approach as a consultant designer is:Comments (2)
Biological Cleaning, Compost, Courses/Workshops, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water, Water Harvesting — by Andrew Jones October 29, 2010
The dry tropics cover a significant land area of the planet, particularly around the regions of the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Characterized by a majority of the year when evaporation potential is greater than rainfall, they also support rapid biomass growth during and following the rainy season. Legume species normally form a significant portion of the species present, and provide for rapid biomass production.
Management of this biomass can be tricky, particularly when left above ground in dry mulch piles, as it normally stays dry, inhibiting both fungal and bacterial breakdown. On the flip side, dry tropics soils, whether sandy or clay-based are in need of organic matter to balance structure, enhance water retention or drainage and build humus. One approach for creating such conditions are mulch pit gardens.
Papaya, banana, and coconut circles are developed by digging pits up to two meters in diameter (for papaya or banana – up to three meters for coconuts) and about 1 meter deep. These are then filled with dampened, compacted organic material to a height of 1 meter above ground. Up to seven plants of the appropriate type are then planted in the rim of the pit. Taro or other moisture loving plants may be planted on the inside edge, and sweet potato along the outside edge to provide a living mulch as well as extra production.
Double mulch pit greywater system being developed at Baja BioSana, Baja
Conservation, Irrigation, Land, Swales, Water Harvesting — by Samantha Downing October 25, 2010
One of the major assets of our property in Central Victoria is a storm water culvert which brings storm water runoff from a number of roads nearby. Water begins to flow through the culvert whenever we have rainfall of more than 8mm. After 25 years of water pouring onto the property, a large gully has been washed away, and this is one of the places in which Gorse (Ulex europeaus) has found a niche.
This satellite pic shows the course the gully runs and the growth of gorse around it. The main swale bisects the water course and now directs water across the property on contour.Comments (8)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conservation, Dams, Demonstration Sites, Earth Banks, Education Centres, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Regional Water Cycle, Roads, Soil Conservation, Storm Water, Terraces, Water Harvesting — by Alex McCausland October 8, 2010
One of the biggest challenges of doing Permaculture in a semi-arid place like Konso is the drought-flood hydrology besets in degraded dry-lands. The whole of south Ethiopia has now been so deforested, added to the fact that the global climate is getting completely messed up, that rainfall is now completely unpredictable. The old folks are always talking about it here – “you can’t tell when it will rain any-more, it’s not like the old days….” That makes planning plantings much harder for one thing. The other thing is that when it does rain, it pours.
Our site at Strawberry Fields is placed (purposefully) at the bottom of a watershed and at the junction of this watershed and a larger watershed which carries run-off down the main road from the town.
Rough Topographic sketch of the site at SFEL. Shows approximate
positions of the 3 ridges (R1,R2, R3 and 3 primary gulleys G1, G2 and G3
as well as the Main Gulley on as well as the 2 main flows of run-off
effecting the site.
Biological Cleaning, Commercial Farm Projects, Conservation, Gabions, Land, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees, Water Harvesting — by Nick Huggins September 28, 2010
Story by Nick Huggins.
Video by Patrick Blampied.
For the past month I have been in and out of airports and driving from one end of the Australian continent consulting and talking Permaculture, and one topic that is of great interest to me – the repair of the Australian Landscape.Comments (22)
Animal Housing, Bird Life, Compost, Demonstration Sites, Fencing, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Insects, Land, Livestock, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Seeds, Urban Projects, Village Development, Waste Systems & Recycling, Water Harvesting — by Geoff Lawton September 20, 2010
Editor’s Note: This post is a good reminder to ensure you take good before, during and after photos as you implement projects! Case studies like this become an awesome portfolio for yourselves, and help people to see the practical potential in permaculture. It can be totally inspiring, and help get people moving on the ground!
Case Study – Noela’s Garden, as installed by Geoff and Nadia Lawton
This is a story about a garden that Nadia and I were asked to establish in 2006. It’s a very small space – the area is 95m2. A friend of a friend asked if we could get involved to help to design and implement a garden. Nadia had only recently arrived in Australia and I wanted her and I to put a garden in together as a ‘start to finish’ job so she could get a feel for how we establish small space gardens in Australia, as she already had experience in small space gardening in Jordan.
The area on the North side of Noela’s house.
Compost, Conservation, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Water Harvesting — by Melissa Miles August 3, 2010
Wooden debris will decompose faster,
(and be transformed into a resource)
when hugelkultur techniques are
Used for centuries in Eastern Europe and Germany, hugelkultur (in German hugelkultur translates roughly as “mound culture”) is a gardening and farming technique whereby woody debris (fallen branches and/or logs) are used as a resource.
Often employed in permaculture systems, hugelkultur allows gardeners and farmers to mimic the nutrient cycling found in a natural woodland to realize several benefits. Woody debris (and other detritus) that falls to the forest floor can readily become sponge like, soaking up rainfall and releasing it slowly into the surrounding soil, thus making this moisture available to nearby plants.
Hugelkultur garden beds (and hugelkultur ditches and swales) using the same principle to:Comments (35)