Today’s non-fiction writing contest entry, “Permaculture gardening tips for Food Production” By Happy Camper
WHAT IS PERMACULTURE
Permaculture practice is based on:
ü creating a sustaining cycle that nourishes the environmental balance
ü utilising nature to maximise the rewards from plants for food
ü Waste products going back into feeding the system
The purpose of this article is to encourage you to give it a go; you don’t need pre-planned garden maps drawn by experts with pretty pathways, grafted fruit trees and ponds. Sure this is a nice idea, but getting back to reality and a working class budget, you can create mini permaculture systems in their own containers, and extend this out to be a part of a larger system.
Even the smallest system is going to get you motivated to do more within your garden; the sky is the limit when it comes to ideas and planning. You can easily put your own traits into the system, for me I have enjoyed immensely the conversations that it has provoked in regards to raising rabbits for meat and pelts, as 99% of people in my area think meat comes in a package from the supermarket.
You do not need to jump in and spend loads of time or coin on this, I aim to keep the system maintained on a daily basis and add something to it on a weekly basis.
MY SIMPLE SYSTEM
I have created a very simple permaculture system within my urban environment, but specifically I have created it as a container based, raised system that can be moved, even though I own this house, I plan on relocating in the next few years.
*Hands up who has moved house and had to leave an awesome garden behind !
My requirements are simple, cheap to establish, easy to extend, portable, can be neglected when necessary, high production and yield, I am aiming to provide 50% of my own produce this year, 75% by the end of next year and then onto 100%
This is how my simple system works:
1. Organic waste is fed to the rabbits or worm farm (depending on the waste product)
2. Paper products go into the worm farm
3. The rabbit waste drops under the cage and feeds into a compost pile, wheat is growing in this compost pile
4. The purpose of the rabbits is to eat waste, create compost and breed for meat and pelts
5. Compost that is ready is added to a soil mixing container, as the compost is added, I add equal parts of saw dust and sand, also a sprinkle of water holding crystals (which get hydrated by organic worm tea)
6. Worm tea is used to fertilise the garden plants
7. The soil mixing container is hydrated by the run off from a vertical garden, which in itself is self-nourishing as there is a worm farm system built within the container, this within itself is a mini permaculture system, (see diagram and photo)
8. The soil mixture is used as needed in additional pots
9. Organic growth is utilised as food and organic waste is fed back into the system
Rabbits are eating and pooping machines. They are great in a permaculture system, they demolish waste, produce fertiliser, have lots of babies in quick succession, grow up fast, are good to eat and have lovely pelts. The only negative I have found with rabbits is the urine odour.
Where my system lacks is that I need to buy additional food for the rabbits, I intend on growing more wheat and extending my garden containers and garden beds to provide enough fresh fodder for them. Even though there is only three adult rabbits (and five x week old kits) they get through a cup of pellets a day each and roughly their own body size in fresh fodder each.
The ‘bunny berries’ can be used within the gardens without being processed. If you don’t have rabbits, I hope that you consider getting some ! Time spent maintaining the rabbits once established (three rabbits): 10 minutes a day and 1 hour a week for cleaning
SMALL AQUAPONICS / HYDROPONICS EXPERIMENT
As an experiment I have two identical tote containers growing tomatoes in net pots containing hydroton. The tomatoes were bought within the same punnet, however two plants are growing in aquaponics and two plants are growing in hydroponics.
Note in a larger scale aquaponics system, the fish would be bred for food. My intention is to assess plant growth rates.
|How does it work ?||The plant is grown without soil and fed artificial nutrients||The plant is grown without soil, the concept is that the fish waste fertilises the plants|
|Experiment growth @ 2 months||120cm||100cm|
|Cost to run||Approx. $10 in nutrient||Purchase cost of five gold fish $10, they are all thriving|
|Differences noticed||Huge root growth into the water||All the root growth has been eaten by the fish, probably explaining the smaller growth rate|
|Recommendation||Not cost effective or organic.
I will not continue to use this method.
|No ongoing cost if the fish don’t die off, totally organic.
Yes I will continue to use this method
Time spent maintaining these once established: a few minutes every few weeks, very minimal
Having an operating worm farm is great ! They eat so much waste and return it to you as rich organic matter for the garden. A healthy worm farm should have no odour, the only upkeep required is feeding the worms your scraps and adding about 5L of water to it per week. However I have left my worms unattended for up to three months and they have been fine.
I have three worm systems operating.
1: The ‘Can-O-Worms’, purchased for around $70 this is my primary system.
2: Rabbit area, the worms are great and fast at breaking down the rabbit waste, my main concern is odour control with keeping the rabbits. By breaking down the waste fast and growing wheat grass, the odour is completely eliminated.
3: Vertical container garden: There central pipe in the container is essentially the worm area, there is no need to add fertalisers to this container garden. The worms do require a small weekly feed of scraps and water the container as normal.
Time spent maintaining the worms once established: 5-15 mins a week
HOW CAN THIS BE ADAPTED IN A SHTF SITUATION?
To increase output from a permaculture system such as this there needs to be a little forward planning. This is what I would do with this particular system:
1: Use stockpiled seeds to sprout on a larger scale
2: Extend garden grow areas by utilising on ground space and prepare beds for seedlings
3: Increase rabbit breeding stock, hold back on dispatching younger rabbits to utilise for breeding
4: Find additional food source for rabbits, more breeding rabbits will require more fodder
What sort of permaculture principals are you already using ?
How could you extend your system if you needed to in a SHTF situation?
Any feedback on my simple system appreciated
Remember the collective knowledge of this group is HUGE, share your information with others
Prizes for this round (ends August 11 2014) in our non fiction writing contest include…
- First place winner will receive – A $150 gift certificate for Fiocchi Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner, and a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill courtesy of Kitchen Neads.
- Second place winner will receive – 15 Live Fire Original – Emergency Fire Starters courtesy of LPC Survival and a Survival Puck courtesy of Innovation Industries.
- Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of TheSurvivalistBlog.net and copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of www.doomandbloom.net.