Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Internet of food: Arduino-based, urban aquaponics in Oakland

The land in West Oakland where Eric Maundu is trying to farm is covered with freeways, roads, light rail and parking lots so there's not much arable land and the soil is contaminated. So Maundu doesn't use soil. Instead he's growing plants using fish and circulating water.
It's called aquaponics- a gardening system that combines hydroponics (water-based planting) and aquaculture (fish farming). It's been hailed as the future of farming: it uses less water (up to 90% less than traditional gardening), doesn't attract soil-based bugs and produces two types of produce (both plants and fish).
Aquaponics has become popular in recent years among urban gardeners and DIY tinkerers, but Maundu- who is trained in industrial robotics- has taken the agricultural craft one step further and made his gardens smart. Using sensors (to detect water level, pH and temperature), microprocessors (mostly the open-source Arduino microcontroller), relay cards, clouds and social media networks (Twitter and Facebook), Maundu has programmed his gardens to tweet when there's a problem (i.e. not enough water) or when there's news (i.e. an over-abundance of food to share).
Maundu himself ran from agriculture in his native Kenya- where he saw it as a struggle for land, water and resources. This changed when he realized he could farm without soil and with little water via aquaponics and that he could apply his robotics background to farming. Today he runs Kijani Grows ("Kijani" is Swahili for green), a small startup that designs and sells custom aquaponics systems for growing food and attempts to explore new frontiers of computer-controlled gardening. Maundu believes that by putting gardens online, especially in places like West Oakland (where his solar-powered gardens are totally off the grid), it's the only way to make sure that farming remains viable to the next generation of urban youth.

More info on original story: http://faircompanies.com/videos/view/internet-food-arduino-based-urban-aquaponics-in-oakland/

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Making of a Hugelkultur Garden Bed

My own garden bed, which I just completed in time for an Australian Springtime growing season. Enjoy.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The DONATE Button is Now Open!

Thank you to all those who visit the site. It's a real thrill to know how many daily visits I get and that Permaculture is gaining more and more awareness and enthusiasm. Just like it was once a big part of our past, it will be without a doubt an integral part of our future. Permaculture needs more attention! It's one of those things that just makes perfect sense.

This project isn't my livelihood, but I'd love it to be, or at least allow my family to feel great that it's taking my time away from them for a sustainable reason!

The Donate button is open, so feel free to show your appreciation of the ideas I find and share. Thanks.

More GREAT ideas to come. Stay tuned!

Recycled Milk Bottle - Lunch Box

Lunch box, storage container, sewing kit, ETC.!!! That little pop-stud is available from loads of places.

Tilling & Toiling: Permaculture Pigs in Action

This is a very simple video - no talking, no instructions, etc. - but I was compelled to put it up here because it really demonstrates to those who are unfamiliar with the tilling and toiling action of pigs. Left alone in an area, you get a great a idea of how pigs can do a hog-load of work for you - and be completely happy to do so!

Growing Self-Supporting Organic Tomatoes

Caged tomatoes are widely grown but you can grow strong healthy insanely productive plants with no cages. Here's how it's done.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Recycled Bottle - Mobile/Cell Phone Charger Pocket

Simple to make. Reduces landfill. Uses YOUR energy as opposed to that of the recycling plant. Innovative. Make a thoughtful observation of the things in your home and put them to good use. That's Permaculture.

Recycled Bottle - Bird Feeder for Compost Nitrogen or Fertiliser

1. Make four small holes in a plastic bottle. Don't forget to make them perpendicular to each other.
2. Feed through the wooden spoons.
3. Slightly enlarge the holes that open up to the "bowl" end of the spoons so the seeds "feed" out.
4. Fill bottle with bird seed.
5. Hang above a container to collect bird poo.
6. Use bird poo in compost or as a fertiliser.

Bird poo is rich in nitrogen and phosphate, essential ingredients for leaf and stem growth.

A "Popping" Herb Spiral!

The classic Permaculture Spiral, and a very nicely designed and looked-after Herb Spiral at that, displaying multiple micro climates. "Popping" as our narrator puts it!

Three "Honour System" Farm Stands

source: http://permies.com

The first honor system farm stand is at Inspiration Farm in Bellingham, Washington. Brian Kerkvliet gives us the tour. He's selling plant starts in the spring and the full array of produce as everything comes on. He says that the stand next to the road is, at the very least, generating curiosity. People are stopping just to check it out. He talks about the idea of potting up plants that he finds on his property that he doesn't want like stinging nettles or black locust trees.

Brian says that he hasn't had any problems with vandalism or theft.

Next I visit with Karen Biondo of la Biondo Farm and Kitchen on Vashon Island, Washington. She says that she used to keep all the money stuff in an open tackle box so people could make change. Twice in one year the money was stolen, but that still works out to be not a big deal. A neighbor made her an industrial strength cash box which has eliminated the theft problem.

She has something called "pay it forward farm bucks" as an alternative to making change.

She has garbage cans for keeping potatoes.

I like the free basket. I think it would be neat to have a free shed where people can drop off free stuff and pick up free stuff. Maybe ask folks to put a buck in to haul off old free stuff.

The final stop is at Langley Fine Gardens. Little Jamie has been peristant throughout the day about feeding tennis balls to the chicken. Jamie's mom, Anna Olive has been awesome at taking me around vashon island to see lots of cool things. The bottom line is that the tennis balls with the chicken is a brilliant way to build business - especially with any family with little kids that have seen the tennis ball chicken.

Jamie puts the tennis ball in and we follow where it goes.

Langley has lots of plants starts available when we stop by. Leda Menser-Langley tells me about how they used to have a money box, but had some tiny theft. And then came up with the chicken thing due to concerns about possible future theft. So customers put the money in the tennis ball and then send it down the tube. Leda explains that she feels discomfort at farm stands with messages like "please don't steal from us" - as if they are accusing her of being the thief.

Relevant threads at permies:

music by Jimmy Pardo

Friday, March 30, 2012

Recycled Forks Make Lovely Hooks

Hooked on recycling.

Why Permaculture Folks Love Comfrey

Source: http://www.permies.com
Comfrey may be the most talked about permaculture plant. It is commonly planted under fruit trees because it does not compete with tree roots, but it does compete with plants that do compete with tree roots.

Alexia Allen of Hawthorn Farm tell us how she like using it as a poultice. We get to see bees and ants racing for the nectar of the comfrey blossoms. She also feeds it to her animals.

Toby Hemenway is the author of "Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture." He calls comfrey "the queen of the multi function plants." He talks a little about how easily it can spread when you don't want it. And then he talks about how he is able to get rid of it through mulching - but why would you not want it? It's a beneficial insect attractor; it is able to heal wounds; a dynamic nutrient accumulator; good for under fruit trees; good for a comfrey tree for soils; a huge biomass accumulator.

Tulsey Latoski of Portland, Oregon tells us about how comfrey makes a great green manure and living mulch. Mostly due to the tap roots that will pull nutrients up from down deep. She also shows us two different types of comfrey.

Norris Thomlinson of Portland, Oregon shares some observations about how comfrey fares as chicken feed; edible plant for humans; medicinal plant for humans; 

Michael Pilarski is a famous wildcrafter and permaculture consultant.http://www.friendsofthetrees.net He tells us about how comfrey sluff material off into the soil to make for a richer soil. Apparently earthworms love comfrey! Michael tells us how comfrey is sometimes called "knit-bone" because it proliferates cell division - a great healer. His spring salads are loaded with comfrey leaves and blossoms. Michael talks about Dr. James Duke says that one bottle of beer has the same level of dangerous alkaloids as 100 cups of comfrey tea.

Matt from Feral Farm shows an understory heavy with comfrey.

Brian Kerkvliet of Inspiration Farm in Bellingham, Washington, talks about the challenges of getting comfrey out of an area where you don't want it. He uses a hot compost pile on top of it. He also shares the idea that if you have comfrey, that's a great place to plant a fruit tree! Then he shows a permaculture guild that includes comfrey.

Samantha Lewis describes how to tell the difference between comfrey, foxglove, mullein and borage.

Toby Hemenway wraps up with who is the king of the permaculture multifunctional plants (spoiler: bamboo!)

Relevant threads at permies:

music by Jimmy Pardo

Urban Permaculture - SF

Many valuable reflections of how Permaculture is more than just gardening, and how it brings the community together.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Recycled Cardboard Tube: A Bird Feeder

Birds are an important diversity factor of the Permaculture garden. The provide pest control, pollination, company and and of course, beautiful music!

Orlando Permaculture - Natasha

Natasha shares some of her design goals and ideas for a private home owner in the Orlando, Florida area (sub-tropical). She illustrates the thought process of permaculture design when looking at a landscape.

Recycled Suitcases

I think the common element here is "For medicinal use".

Recycled Boat Planter


Sitting in a garden is the cure for sea-sickness.

Small Scale and Urban Food Production

Geoff Lawton of the Permaculture Institute of Australia talks about a chicken lot design for cyclic chicken tractoring while another garden grows, and city agriculture production.

"At present one of the things that's really in surplus in our cities is organic matter. We have lots of it. And the thing about our cities are that they're full of hardware that runs off water. and they're a great micro-climate. There's lots of thermal mass that gains heat. And there's lots of sheltering from wind. So you can design city production. Urban agriculture and perimeter urban agriculture is much more productive than open space agriculture. So it's something that we're going to see more of."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chicken Tunnel Man

http://www.ecofilms.com.au/ Bruce Morgan is into making his chickens do the work around the house using a series of wire tunnels.

Table Top Bar (or Herb Garden!)

Just swap the middle board with a rain gutter for instant Table Top Bar.

...or... How about drilling some small drainage holes in the bottom of it and growing your favourite culinary herbs?

The Winter Cover Crop

Make the most out of your Spring Garden! See why the winter cover cropping is worth it.

"So we've got all this beautiful organic matter. We've got nitrogen in here. Earthworms. I mean it's just like CAKE! So how much better can it get? I don't know."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Sheet Mulched Keyhole Garden

A limestone drystack garden being built with sheet mulching methods to improve soil health and conserve water. The keyhole design allows maximum garden space and minimum pathway for increased veggie production capacity.

Jo Dyantyi's Permaculture Food Forest Garden

An inspiring and touching video of a man who has made friends with the land he's living on.
"It feeds more than me. It feeds many, many people ... It's the land. The land is doing all the providing ... It's all in the process of development. Everything will change. You see, you start and once you start you get a vision. You start directing. Ah! Like this, like that ... you get more and more inspired."

Recycled Bottle Broom

Another one of those things you look at and think "I could have thought of that!"

Apologies: source unknown. It was emailed to me.


Thanks to Permaculture Ideas visitor Mr.Sorightz I was asked for more info and found the original post (translated). Enjoy:

What you need:
  • 20 plastic soft drink bottles 2 liter PET
  • broomstick
  • scissors
  • stylus
  • awl
  • wire
  • hammer
  • nails
1. Remove the label on the bottle.
2. Remove the bottom of the bottle, with the cutting stylus.
3. Make cuts in the bottle up to the more rounded
The bottle will keep strips approximately 0.5 cm.

4. Remove the neck with scissors.
5. Make 18 pieces without neck and leave with a bottleneck.
6. Fitting parts with no neck, one by one over the part with neck. Are you ready base of the broom
7. Cut the top of another bottle and fit over the base of the broom you just prepared
8. Drill two holes and insert the wire through all layers of bottles
9. Pull the wire to the other side and twist the ends to fasten
10. Secure parts with the aid of two nails
11. Your broom is ready!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Straw Bale Gardening: Start to Finish

From the YouTube Description:
"Straw bales (not hay bales) are a great place to plant vegetables. Here's my start-to-finish results! The straw is an easy, loose place for the plants to spread out their roots. Also, up on the straw bale there is essentially ZERO weeds to pick. (Note: do NOT use a "hay" bale: unlike straw, the hay has lots of seeds and you will have wheat/oats/grass/etc. growing as weeds in your garden!). Straw bales have some benefits like "raised bed" gardening."

Biochar: Nature's Fertiliser

"Bio-char is the carbon structure of a plant after all of the other elements have been removed. Bio-char permanently stores the carbon in a beneficial way, in the ground, making it carbon-negative. Bio-char acts as a hotel for soil microbes. This can be used to enhance soil quality even in the poorest of soils, without using dangerous and expensive chemical fertilizers.

When mixed in with the soil, it has the double impact of permanently sequestering large amounts of CO
² and improving soil quality, so as to dramatically increase the crop yields and the income that results from sale of the excess produce. Bio-char as a permanent fertilizer has been known to double plant growth. This increases the yields and profitability per square foot. The habitual use of bio-char leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing economic prosperity from year to year, using land resources currently viewed as "unproductive." ...

Making and using bio-char was a tool the ancient Amazon natives used to convert infertile soil into soil that produced in abundance.

This is a simple way to help solve hunger worldwide, through creating local food abundance. Anyone can do it, once you learn how."

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Praying Mantis Helpers

Praying Mantis are eager workers and can take care of the jobs you wish you didn't have to do! This is Permaculture folks.

This video "...shows finding and protecting praying mantis egg cases so the mantis hatchlings will eat insects in our garden. See how we have organized our youtube videos to help gardeners at Organotill.org, a unique tool. This is one of many videos that follow the gardening season month by month on organotill.org for Kansas City and similar areas. We hope that people can follow along and work in their own gardens. Organotill.org features organic no-till methods used at Niles Home for Children's Garden, Tracy Garden & elsewhere."

Permaculture Fence Light

1. Drill holes
2. Add marbles.

Space Saver


Out of space? Only YOU think so!!

Pop Bottle Drip System

(images via: you grow girl)

Unless you’re really conscientious, it’s way too easy to accidentally kill plants growing in small pots under the brutal heat of the summer sun, especially in urban environments where reflected heat can dry out soil fast. A slow-delivering drip irrigation system is the way to go – and you don’t have to spend a dime. An easy tutorial from You Grow Girl explains how to use recycled pop bottles.

Cob Building / Earth Building Course with Edwards Eco Building

This short video is from BBC1 INside Out - shows Kate Edwards running one of her famous cob courses in Norfolk in the UK.
Kate Edwards says, "Wherever you are in the world you can dig it from the Earth and build your own house. How fantastic is that? It can't be any more environmental than that. There's no transportation, no manufacture of materials, there's no energy gone into it. You're just literally digging it and making a house with your bare hands."

If you want to find out more about cob building courses visit Kate Edwards' cob website at www.edwardscobbuilding.com

Friday, March 23, 2012

Permaculture in Action - Onion Ring for Sunny-Side Up Eggs


Thanks to Apron Strings Blog for this deliciously wonderful idea. Yet another concept to demonstrate what Permaculture is about, how Fukuoka Masanobu puts it, making a thoughtful observation to avoid thoughtless labour. It's not just about gardening, folks!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Orlando Permaculture - Ralphie

Since it's been nearly a year since my last post, I'd like to celebrate my return with some inspiration.
A backyard garden started by "Ralphie" in Orlando, Florida (USA) explaining some of the principles of why permaculture is applied to our environments.

A section from the orlando permaculture documentary viewed at:
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