Permaculturists??  Anyone else here consider themselves a permie.  Sustainable culture, self sufficiency, organic healthy food from your own garden. . .

 

I have had gardens most of my life and have always wanted to be able to grow just about all my own food.  I am still far from that goal but I am getting closer and closer to it each season.  Garden getting bigger.  Looking at getting some chickens.  Have played with growing corn, wheat, oats, barley and not just veggies.  Next I will try some dry climate rice and see how that goes.

 

So, how many of us is there here??

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I've also been gardening for a while...and have been intrigued by permaculture.  At this point, I'm mostly watching videos and checking books out of the library, and trying to figure out how to integrate it into my existing garden with out a ton of trouble.

 

 

Don't worry about some of the little details K.  Focus on the main points of the ideal.  Just because you don't have your garden planted around trees as a gardenforest. . .doesn't mean you are not a permie, LOL.  The main focus is on sustainable crop production and culture.  Setting up a culture that can continue and doesn't destroy or deplete the environment around it.  Everything else is little details or ideas on how to do this.

I wouldn't say I'm into permaculture all the way, but I do apply some principles in my garden/yard.  Never sure what to call it because my "yard" is not an expanse of lawn punctuated with borders and bushes, but rather a series of beds with grass paths among the beds. 

 

We have fruit trees trained to be small, so there are many instead of one or two large ones.  That way we get fruit through the entire season.  Figs, apples, plums, pears, peaches, sour cherries, sweet cherries.  I've followed some of the ideas from the "Backyard Orchard Culture" method of the Dave Wilson Nurseries (google on it) but my climate has less sunshine than the Dave Wilson California nurseries so I leave more room between the trees.  Plus strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.  Since fruits are perrennial, they involve less disturbance of the soil structure than veggies, but we also grow some veggies too. 

 

I'm using some perennials to extend the season.  We grow a chinese chive that we use for dumplings, about 2 meals per week when in season.  They are perennial and start growing before the ground is workable.  Similar for Egyptian walking onions, which give scallions before the ground can be worked, and which provide their own sets every year.  We also grow rhubarb, which is fully perrenial.  I keep trying to get an asparagus bed started, and this year am hoping to get the first small harvest, we'll see.

 

We also feed bean plants to the chickens after eating the beans.  Tomato plants and pepper plants are toxic, so they just go into the compost.  Also the rhubarb leaves.  The grapes grow too long, and mid to late summer I prune off excess vine and feed those to the chickens too.  They like the grape leaves a lot.

 

All scraps go to the chickens, as do weeds.  Chicken poop and bedding goes into the compost and onto the bed.  We save the eggshells and crush them  - this amounts to a few pounds of calcium supplement that I give to calcium-hungry plants like tomatoes and figs.  Some water comes from a barrel from the roof.

 

Im about halfway through "Gaia's Garden" by Toby Hemenway, and some of my decisions are informed by that book or similar books, but Im not at all fully permacultural.

 

I do have input and output that make my garden not fully self sufficient.  I took some truckloads of prunings to the composting center, because I don't have the time and energy to chop them myself, then brought a truckload of compost back to spread around. 

 

We also grow some bamboo that is used for shading the chickens and for making plant posts and some fencing. 

 

As much as the environmental friendliness, I really think the ideas are more economical, and I try to be frugal.  The eggs really are a lot better than store bought.  So are many of the fruits and veggies.

 

The diversity of the fruit trees is also good because some don't give fruits in some years, but there is usually something.

 

This is in an average size suburban lot.  We just pack more stuff into it than the neighbors do.

biped-

 

WOW!  I am working on getting more set up.  I have a good sized lot for living in a big city, 1/3 acre.  Setting up for more garden area.  Have an area set up for a covered garden and work area that I will install my solar panels.  And getting chickens soon I hope. 

 

I still have way too much import/export than I want.  I compost every scrap of organic matter my property produces.  Use egg shells, store bought for now, for the same purpose.  In the researching part right now but setting up a worm bed/box soon.  And I still can't get enough compost for my garden so I still bring some in.  And I am still buying seeds to plant.  Had gardens for years but something always seems to happen before I can let my garden go to seed and then collect them. . .LOL!

 

My property is still in the beginning stages of being set up.  But it is coming along.  Thanks for sharing!!  I'm hoping in a few years I can get it the way I want.  Citrus grows well here, and there are a few kinds of apple and peach trees that can handle the climate in Phoenix.  I just ran across some raspberry bushes that claim to be able to handle it here also and I would love that!  But I try to focus on classic native plants that grew here before columbus showed up.  Growing Maze, tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash all together works soooo well.  The corn shades everything in mid summer.  The peppers keep the tomato slugs away and helps with early and late tomato rot.  The squash, tomato and beans grow up around the corn stock for support.  And the peppers give the tomatoes a nice extra bite growing all together.  It can be fun getting to and picking everything, LOL!! But they all work well together and with my climate.

 

Not much rain here, but I am getting a rain water catch. . .ie 55gal drum fed from gutters, so I can catch and store rain from the massive t-storms we get here. 

Im probably making it sound better than it is. Last year weeds took over much of my yard, I was working so hard for work and didn't have much time. It was a real mess. This winter I've done about 3/4 of the needed cleanup, and I'm working on mulch options to keep weeds down. We have a cat who digs up most mulch and then weeds grow lake crazy. I think I've got it figured out, with a medium bark nugget mulch under most of the fruit trees, but we'll see. I don't think a bark nugget much counts as sustainable, but maybe so. Under the nuggets is brown paper, to kill the perennial weeds & grasses then hopefully disintegrate into the ground.

Got down to low 20s last night. I hope there didn't go the cherry and peach blossoms. The buds were barely swollen, not even showing color or whiteness yet.

That 55 gal drum is a start. According to Gaia's garden, some Southwest desert areas can be made fairly lush using careful terracing, shade, mulches, etc.

Im jealous you can grow citrus. That would be really cool. Maybe some pomegranites, kumquats,....

I wish I could use mulch to control weeds!!  Desert=termites. . . and they would have a hay day with any straw or bark I used.  So, I pull weeds. . .

 

For my rain water salvage idea I am going to use about a doz 55gal drums.  With the roof area that I have just counting my home and shop I would get about 500gal of water  possible to collect with 1/4" of rain!!  (gallon=231 square inches)  So, I will have to figure out a way to hide/cover the drums but with the quick fast heavy but short rain we get here I think I can recover a good portion of water from each rain.  We only average 8.3" here a year.  So I have a possibility to ideally collect 16600 a year off my roof.  In theory that would supply most of my water usage.  I use roughly 2000 gal a month in winter and 3000 in summer and that's only watering my grass enough in July to only half die, LOL!!  Water isn't real expensive but I hate to waste it here in the desert.  Since we don't get much rain I didn't think too hard on catching rain water until I sat down one day and did the math.  I was shocked at how much water runs off my roof in a year!!!  When I added up the square feet of my home, shop, porch, and carport and cranked out the gallons I knew It was something I wanted to do.

 

I hadn't thought about kumquats!!  I just might do that.  Pomegranate trees are a nice size but real messy!!!  Can't plant olive trees here anymore either. . . they passed a law against it. I wish I could have one though. . . home made fresh olive oil!!! A fuel and a food!! Carob grows real well here but the tree can get massive quick if you don't stay on it.  And only the female produces the pods so you have to buy an expensive almost full size tree to know if you are going to get a producing one.  Dates are also a good producer in the desert, I just don't want to climb up the tree to pick them!! 

 

So yea. . . I have had the permaculture ideas in my head long before I knew it had a name.  Being in a desert makes it different here.  I see many permies try to copy what is in a book written by someone back east.  They use 2 to 3 times my water per month, and it still doesn't work well.  thats why I have tried to research how the indians use to farm here and what they grew that worked well.  Also, if you couldn't tell from the olive and carob (locust) tree, what they grew in the "bible" works. LOL  I have actually searched it looking for references to what they grew for ideas. . .hehehe  So it is not a total waste of space having one. . .LOL!

 

One down side to citrus that a lot of people don't know about is they pollute!!  During the hot months when the sun is hitting the fruit they actually produce ozone.  But ozone (O^3) at ground level we normally call smog!!  So I will have one or two dwarf trees and call it good.  I figure my property can handle about 6 trees the way I want to set it up.  I just have to figure out what 6 I want.  I want to look into what nut tree I can grow. 

 

And. . . I rambled a bit.  Sorry.  Hope I didn't run on too long.  But I'm enjoying this discussion!  Thanks!

Being appropriate to local climate of course is central to permacuture. So would not make sense to grow water lilies in Arizona or Prickly Pears in Alaska.

I did try growing Prickly Pears in my yard. There are opuntias that are native in all states even WA I think. Also I do like Nopales which are really a healthy food. I think there are spineless varieties which would be nice. Unfortunately, even though mine bloomed and formed early fruit, the summer is too short and chilly to ripen them and I only ever ate one fruit in 5 years, then there was a hard freeze that killed them so I gave up.

Date palms would be cool. I have a windmill palm, they are hardy here. No food from it, just an exotic look. I hear you about not climbing them.

Illegal olives. Must be invasive?

Nuts in the desert. If peaches and apricots grow, then probably almonds would grow.

Chickens are great at eating weeds, but unfortunately will also eat whatever other plants or veggies you have growing with them. We have an invasive weed, bishopweed, I could not get rid of. The chickens loved it and it's completely gone in their area. Then they escaped and ate the strawberry plants.

I love figs. I have 5 trees. Sometimes I get some, sometimes I don't. As the trees mature, I'm getting more. The different varieties ripen at different times, so it pays to try several. I keep them pruned small, as I do my other fruit trees. The problem here is the early crop comes from overwintering buds, which sometimes freeze off, and the late crop comes from new growth, and some get moldy on the chilly fall nights, not enough hot sun to ripen the whole crop.

I have grape vines on the South side of the house to shade the glass doors and bedroom deck in the summer. It's a lot cooler with them there, and we don't have a/c. Some of the fig trees are also along the south side of the house. They are very leafy and the south side is warmer, which in this area helps with ripening. You would have completely different considerations although date palms on the south side might be good for some shade even if you didn't eat them.

I found a reference for Arizona fruits. http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/az1269/

I had no idea citrus make ozone. I hope it's a trivial amount! I have a Meyer lemon I grow for fun. It's inside in the winter. It does get a few lemons a year.

Thanks!!  That is a good link you posted.  When I was growing up my parents worked with the ag program at ASU and we had a few trees with a new rootstock they were trying.  A few of them worked well, a few didn't.  But at the time we were the only ones with a plum and apricot tree.  The plum did well, but the apricot needed more cold.  It only had a few years that it really produced.

 

So I will have to decide what I want and what I can find.  Hmmmm. . .

 

I wouldn't worry about your citrus making ozone.  If I remember right, it is only in hot summer here.  When I was growing up here and there were citrus groves EVERYWHERE we had problems.  They were producing more o^3 then people's cars. . . but there were more trees then cars at that time also.   Urban sprawl got rid of most of those groves now.  

 

Hadn't thought about getting a fig tree though.  Never crossed my mind they would work here.  Never seen anyone else with one, or I had but didn't know what I was looking at. 

 

Yea we have invasive weeds here also.  One of the worst is also what most people grow for their lawn, Bermuda grass.  It is an evil, vile creature.  It will die in your yard and turn brown but pop up in all kinds of other places and grow like mad!  Can spread by seed or runners it is very hard to get rid of once it sets up shop.  It has made its way into the desert also and chokes out other native plants along rivers and washes.

 

They banned planting olive trees here because many people are allergic to them.  For years doctors sent people to live in Arizona if they had bad allergies.  Different plants here so many had a few years of no allergies until they developed them for the local plants here.  So we have a very allergic voting population. . .LOL  Thats why I can't have an olive tree. 

 

Anyway, I'm off to work. . . get to babysit the retail staff today.  Thanks again for the link!

For Brebas (summer figs), my first was Brunswick/Magnolia/Dalmatian (different name for same fig), then Petite negri, then White Marseilles / Lattarula / Lemon (different names, same fig) and a couple days later King / Desert King.  This year I did not get a breba crop off my Hardy Chicago 

 

For Main crop (fall crop) I usually see  Hardy Chicago first, then Brunswick, then Petite negri, then Lattarula.   King doesnt get a fall crop.

 

I don't have celeste or brown turkey.  Yours might be a breba-only variety like King.

 

Figs are really easy to grow from dormant cuttings.  If you see ones in your area that have lots of figs, or really early figs, or really good figs, ask the owner in the winter.  I start them from cuttings every year, then don't know what to do with the started trees.  All but one of mine are cutting-started.

I started some wild cherries from seeds, they grew about a foot tall.  Then we had a long dry spell, and they were in a spot that didn't get watered.  Bummer.  Now I have some wild plums I've planted the seeds for.  We'll see what happens.  I often plant seeds or cuttings I have no idea what to do with if they grow.  

 

I also have a 2 year old mulberry tree, variety Illinois Everbearing.  Only a few berries, but it's early.  They taste wonderful.

Being male and having a private garden, I occasionally apply urine to certain areas of the garden, usually under fruit trees or perennials.  Then I water it in, unless it's raining.  I think I gave too much to the mulberry tree- the branches 5 grew feet this summer.  Too much nitrogen maybe.

 

That makes sense about the willow water.  Never tried it tho.

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