Permaculture A Designer’s Manual

bookAll you permies out there have surely at least heard of Bill Mollison’s monumental tome, Permaculture A Designer’s Manual. I have been eyeing it for years but always ended up buying other permaculture books instead. Two thinks put me off about buying this book, its price (upwards of $100) and its monumentalness. Maybe I just wasn’t ready. But now, since I have decided to go for it and start a permaculture design course, I figured it was time.

Well, I am amazed at this book. It is incredibly well written and covers so much more than I could have ever imagined. I think this is going to be essential to helping me figure out some essential issues (figuring out everything that has to do with slope, for instance). There are so many examples in this book, I don’t know how it wouldn’t be useful, even if you only use it for the pictures and don’t read it. But read it you will want to, my friend. I thought it might serve more as a reference for me but I find myself reading it and can hardly put it down.

I got mine for a decent price at Powell’s. Happy reading!

New cold frame

Me and my sweetie went a little crazy ordering seeds a couple of weeks ago. When we combined households last year our seed collections expanded dramatically! I added a lot of perennials, herbs and flowers to the mix, he brought a ton of tomatoes, peppers and squash. But somehow, it seemed we still needed more seeds.

And so now we need a new cold frame! My four DIY jobbies aren’t quite enough. After starting all those seeds, I still have 28 additional seed packs to start. And so, honey bunny and I wandered out into the yard looking at options for an additional cold frame system. We had several panes of glass, a bunch of big rocks and some bricks. Drawing inspiration from an article in Mother Earth News on Chinese Greenhouses, we decided to use the thermal mass from the rocks and bricks to form 3 sides of the cold frame. They should hold heat from our sunny days to keep the starts warm during cold nights. The top and front will be glass.


We, or should I say, he, got a good start on this over the weekend and both of us are psyched. The finished project will be a combo cold frame and garden bed which we’ll use to plant a few things like lettuce that would be useful a bit closer to the house. Which is an important principle of permaculture – keep the things you need to access more often closer to the house. The cold frame and raised bed will be in our zone 1, a few steps outside our front door.

Cheerio and until next time!

Sustainable Design Masterclass

I just took another great webinar with the guys at Sustainable Design Masterclass. About once a week they offer a free class with an innovator in the field of permaculture, and then rebroadcast the video for a small fee. I highly recommend their classes, am learning so much from them, and am always inspired. Thank you Raleigh and Neal!

Check it out if you are, like me, a permaculture junky!

A climate change

But not the kind you might be thinking of.

Last year I moved away from the Southeast where the summers are hot and humid and the winters are mild. It would be considered a temperate forest zone (as opposed to a tropical forest zone – though sometimes it felt pretty tropical!). This is what my garden in Charlotte, NC looked like:

garden party

Now I am in the Intermountain West, in the high desert or steppe, where the summers are hot and dry, with cool nights, and the winters are frigid and dry. Everything I learned about growing plants within my southeastern framework I am now trying to adapt to this new climate.


Whereas in the southeast I had to be careful not to plant things too deeply, so they didn’t rot, here it is the opposite. We have to plant things deeper than the surface of the soil to give the water a chance to soak the plant roots before running off and/ or evaporating.

However, since the challenges are greater here, there is even more need for smart solutions. Planting in rows are what my sweetie has been practicing for the past several years. This requires a lot of time watering as you have to lug the hose to each row. I’m working on a design for this space that should cut down on the amount of watering time involved and really help build up the soil to hold on to more moisture. I’m looking forward to sharing and would love feedback!

Until then – toodles!

Taking the plunge

After several years of dabbling in permaculture and dreaming of taking a permaculture design course, I am finally committing myself to an online certification program, the one started by Bill Mollison, no less.

Although taking an in person, on-site course at a permaculture learning center is extremely enticing, I won’t be able to take 2 weeks off of life to go to one of those amazing places in the next several months, so I have decided to go with the online version. I have heard good things about Geoff Lawton’s online course as well, but it’s not being offered at this time, and well, I’m ready to get started!

(It’s also possible I was subconsciously influenced by the website’s tree of life logo which resembles my building biology company logo!)

Yay for online learning and yay for permaculture!

Looking at Drip Irrigation

I’m working on a new permaculture design for my home and one of the important elements is drip irrigation. My goal is to eventually make the garden irrigation-free by adding organic matter to the soil that will retain moisture and prevent evaporation. This is a big and important goal for a garden in the high desert! The first couple of years will require irrigation though and a drip line seems like the most practical way to go.

Here’s a few resources for drip line supplies so far:

It’s important that the plastic be non-toxic, so NO vinyl tubing shall be used!


I’m a little obsessed with permaculture.

But let me back up a bit. A few years ago I learned about myers-briggs personality types. I learned that I am an INFJ, which stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging. One of the characteristics of this personality type, according to the good people at 16 Personalities, is believing that there are overarching better ways to do certain things and that doing things that way would prevent a lot of pain, suffering, waste, etc. While some people might get excited about volunteering to feed the hungry, instead, I am the type of person who wants to find out: what the problem is anyway, why is the system making people go hungry and what is the solution?

Speaking of food and hunger, I see permaculture as the perfect solution to the problems that plague our food systems (food waste, monoculture, soil depletion, heavy carbon footprint). Permaculture can produce food that is local, sustainable, and customizable to climate. Even better, it is a way for more people to eat more nutritious food.

One day I’d like to create a learning center on a permaculture farm, a place where folks can come to learn about permaculture and related topics. Many people in our society don’t even know how to cook, so cooking is an important permaculture skill too. What use is a bumper crop of squash if you don’t know what to do with it?

Thus my obsession with permaculture. It seems to funnel so many of my interests into one fabulous tool set. Vive la permaculture!