Building a “Lasagna” Garden Bed

A very good technique.

One Heart Fire Permaculture

20141221_143357 The finished bed being watered in, and the rest of the small garden plot.

After years on the waiting list, my father was finally able to get a small plot in his town’s community garden.  His own backyard presents a few challenges to growing a thriving home garden.  The back yard sits at the bottom of a north facing slope which is covered in tall eucalyptus trees, so sunlight is very diminished, and the yard itself is very small.  He has had some luck growing shade and cold loving plants like lettuces in his backyard, but now he is excited to be able grow a wider variety of vegetables in his community garden plot.  However, this new plot presented some of its own challenges.

The soil  at the community garden is quite hard and compacted, likely from the repeated plowing and irrigation during the land’s previous agricultural use, as well…

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Living Frugal.

Design your world.

Design your world.

Living frugal life is a powerful thing. Living within your means doesn’t mean you have to give up things, but you just have to view the world slightly differently. Here my family have made a few changes to our lifestyles, such as: my wife makes our laundry and dish washing detergents, makes most of our meals and such. We really don’t miss out on anything. We just try to do things for ourselves this cuts costs  and saves money. We have internet access, but we do not have cable TV. We never watched live TV any ways when we had cable. We always had shows on our DVR. Now we watch an hour of TV after the kids are in bed. We stream the shows from the stations web sites. Never miss a thing. We also stream lots of movies and shows from Amazon with prime.

By living a frugal you may also learn new talents that you never knew you had. Now instead of buying cakes from the box stores my wife bakes our children’s cakes. Come to fond out she is very good at it. Lots of friends and family request her cakes now.

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My girls and I get custom cakes for all our birthday’s now. It all started with a three layered princess castle cake, and now she can do just about anything anyone wants. Things are different even better, and we save money. We spend every night around the diner table. Everything great thing in the world happens around the diner table.

I try to grow as much of our food as I can. Hopefully I keep getting better at that. Food I grow has more nutrients and tastes better. Growing food is like printing money. We all have to eat. The ability to grow your own food is like having a printing press.

What do you do to cut cost. Leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter @freedomfarmtv

How to apply the principles of permaculture in daily life

Permaculture is for everyone.

Permaculture is for everyone.

From Permaculture Association.

Firstly I should explain why I want to try and do this. I have begun an Applied Permaculture Design Course in order to get more design experience and to deepen my knowledge of this fascinating and life changing area. One of the designs can be made up of changes applied to everyday life

Sounds like a good place to start.

So what is the “everyday life” that I am applying the principles to? Well, I live in an upstairs Housing Association flat with my 8 year old daughter in a fairly densely populated urban area, close to parks, an allotment, school and local shops. The landlord insulated the loft but we do have an old 1800s converted flat so the rooms are big and wind whistles through the windows on dark winter nights. I haven’t carpeted the place yet or drought-proofed, DIY not being my favorite pastime.

We don’t have access to a garden and I travel by bike or train. I don’t fly any more (and don’t plan to) and we try to recycle as much as possible. I am trying to grow food on my allotment on a hill, its difficult due to heavy London clay soil which has been a bit eroded as well.

So what are the principles of permaculture? These vary but overlap, according to teacher or practitioner. I will use Bill Mollison’s as they are succinct and he is one of the main gurus:

Work with nature rather than against.
The problem is the solution.

Make the least change for the greatest possible effect.

The yield of a system is theoretically unlimited (or only limited by the imagination and information of the designer).

Everything gardens (or modifies its environment).
(From Permaculture, a Designers’ Manual, by Bill Mollison)

1.Work with nature.
This is the whole point of permaculture. Many of us have lost touch with what “nature” is and fill our time with distractions (TV, newspapers, computer games) instead of relaxing in nature, observing it both out there in the world and also our own inner nature. Permaculture talks about patterns in nature: spirals, apple core shapes, figures of 8, human languages, waves, rhythms, archetype the list is very long. If we work with these patterns rather than against we would use up less energy and get more favorable results. I would be able to apply this in my own life to parenting for example. My children is a fun-loving easy-going person who is not ambitious it seems and so I would be using up a lot of energy trying to convince her to do activities she’s not into, such as karate (even though I firmly believe it would give her more confidence when older perhaps). I could also pay more attention to synchronicity, meeting certain people at certain times often when I have been thinking about them, is often a mystery and a thrill. I don’t intend to look for meanings in everything that happens but I won’t discount serendipity as an indication that I’m on the right track. On a gardening level working with the nature of the soil on One Tree Hill will be a challenge. As mentioned it is made of heavy clay, nutrient poor. This I am working on but it will take time. So for now I plan to just grow things that survive there and use them as green manure (if not edible).

2. The problem is the solution.
Manosoba Fukuoka says that if there is a “problem” it is a symptom of something being out of balance, so problems are really nature’s feedback system in action. I like the way this can be applied to almost anything. As a parent I sometimes get grumpy through tiredness and relentless responsibility. My solution would be to priorities social life and fun on a regular basis, this is not rocket science! Often problems are things that actually need more attention, just like naughty kids! I’ve already mentioned we don’t have a garden, however, this does mean that we go out to parks more often and are able to bump into friends and interact with the real world. Back at the allotment, the soil again, which is hard and dry in summer is inhospitable. The stuff I can grow there, Broad Beans, grass, clover, can be used as mulch or can be dug in to improve quality of soil. I can attend to it also by adding compost on a regular basis.

3.Least changes for greatest possible effect.
Small changes meet with less resistance than huge overhauls. I can’t afford to retrofit my flat and moving is big upheaval that am not ready for yet, so I can start by drought proofing using old materials I have at home, pillows, unused itchy blankets for example. If I want to cut down on food miles and packaging I could grow salad on my windowsill, it would also cost me a lot less.

4.The yield of a system is theoretically unlimited.
This may be a difficult one to grasp in our current consumption-based society as we are encouraged to to act upon our cravings for the latest style, model, invention and consume even when we don’t really need it. Having the latest thing has become associated with social status and acceptability. However if we did more sharing and swapping (ie, LETS) we would potentially have access to limitless skills and items whenever we needed them. In my allotment there is a finite space of course, but viewed over time, there is no reason why, If I manage it well, it cannot continue to produce food indefinitely. The same applies to ideas, theer is a theoretically limitless store of ideas generated by people, especially when they get together and share. So this principle works best when resources are pooled and cooperation is in action.

This brings us to the final principle. :

5. Everything gardens (or modifies its environment)
To me everything gardens is about interconnectedness. Everthing we do has an effect on our world, on others. So if its a positive action we take we create positive results. If its negative we could actually spend quite a while to unpick the damage done. Personally I wish to reduce the impact I have on the environment as much as I can and am working towards becoming a vegan (just need to adapt to life without fried eggs and pizza first!). My welfare overlaps with the welfare of others, I know, the problem is that in our global times, I can’t always see the damage I might be inflicting on others by my lifestyle choices, which makes it easier for me to continue shopping at Primark and Tesco’s, buying heavily packaged goods etc

So what would be my small scale action plan to apply permaculture principles to daily life?

1 . Work with nature “ listen my body, try not to fill my time being busy and distracted. Use meditation and breathing as a grounding space-making tool.
2. The problem is the solution “ See problems as feedback. My child’s misbehavior is a warning sign. Do I need to do something differently? Pay more attention or let something go?
3. Least change for greatest possible effect. “ use my energy wisely and economically based on what I can comfortably do. Weigh up options before taking action (observation) , Start small “ Grow salad on windowsill, sprouts and drought proof doors.
4.Yield is limitless use resources already exisiting. Borrow a neighbor’s ladder, offer my time in exchange for use of their tools, bake a cake (people rarely have time to cook). Use LETS for outstanding DIY jobs at home.

 

Please comment or hit me up on Twitter @freedomfarmtv

Obtain a yield

Obtain that yield.

Growing out of chaos

One of the tenets of permaculture is to grow to use. Of course, if you are growing vegetables then de facto you hope to obtain a yield. But what about ornamentals? Do they have a place in the permaculture landscape?

Even before the concept of permaculture had come to my conscious mind, I had heard that nasturtiums were edible but it took a small leap of faith to actually try them out. In the event, I found that the flowers added a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to boiled rice. My daughter is a bit harder to convince but I now wait to see if the flowers I grew this year have self-seeded and I can try her again with the rice. I might also even try the flowers in salad or something!

In the meantime, I have picked one rosehip. I’m going to dry it and then make a herbal tea –…

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Where Can I Start?

Success starts now.

Success starts now.

Short on funds? Don’t know what to do? Don’t know where to start? Well this post is for you. Start gardening now. Here is a cheap and simple way to get started. Take an area in zone 1 ( closest to your house), and collect you leaves. I would run over the leaves a few times to chop them up. In the area you want to start a garden spread those leaves out. I also put a layer of straw on top of that. Water it down very well. Then wait. After you last frost date go to your local grocery store and buy a few bag of dried beans. What ever kind that you like. I bought several pounds of pinto beans for 99 cents a pound. When you get ready to plant you beans just pull back your leaves and straw. Broadcast those seeds on the area you prepped. Cover the beans back up with the leaves and straw. I had very good luck with planting beans this way.

Beans beans everywhere.

   Beans beans everywhere.

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I was trying this not expecting much results. Boy was I surprised! I had beans trough the whole summer and fall. Very low cost seeds, and nitrogen fixer to boot. 99 cents per pound verses $5 for a 1/4 pound of seeds at Home Depot. I will do this again next year. My girls loved picking beans. Most beans that they picked never made it to the house. They ate them raw right off the vine. I loved it, and so did they.

Please comment or hit me up on Twitter @freedomfarmtv