The evolution of my garden has lead to several discoveries and great creations. I started out growing my veggies in buckets, primarily because I wanted to be able to adjust the layout of the garden as things developed. I also had a source for cheap buckets and according to the many of the YouTube videos that I watched, growing your food in buckets should have made a lot of sense for a 1/4 acre permaculture, self-sustaining, self-contained garden. As the garden developed, natural spaces began to form and I expanded them to utilize as much of the ground space as I could within the limited area that I had to work with.
It is May in Florida and we are starting to get rain about once a week. Winter tends to be our dry season. In the spring, it rains hard when it rains but it doesn’t last long so we are getting about 2-3 inches a week. That is important because, you want to keep your compost moist but not wet. Too wet could cause it to smell and can wash out the nutrients and too dry will impede the composting process. There is a happy medium. Because you need to control the moisture content of the compost, the wishing well tower is designed not to be waterproof, but allows you to control how much rainwater gets inside the tower. The roof is made of slats that allow water to drop between the boards, and the same goes for the hinged lid over the tower. If you find yourself in a period of high precipitation, that is heavy, frequent rainfall like we get here in Florida occasionally, then you want to cover the slats with water proof material like canvas or corrugated tin or plastic material to shed the water away from the tower.
Meet Kristina Monroe. Some time back, she purchased a C-Head (which at that time was for land based purposes called a BoonJon) and incorporated it into her incredible home design. She has even written a book about how her new home came into existence, including the dream, the design and the final outcome. The name of the book is “Twisted Oak” and in it she devotes almost a complete chapter to the advantages of my toilet design and how it has worked with respect to her permaculture lifestyle. In her book she lays out in story form why she and her family decided to take the plunge and build the house of their dreams. She describes how they take maximum advantage of the property and its assets and construction techniques to create an environmentally friendly, beautiful, warm and cozy home with results that are fantastic.
I wish I might, I wish I may, I wish my poop would go away!
I finally finished one of my pet projects that has been in the making for a couple of years. People have asked me again and again, what do you do with the poop once you empty it out the toilet. For most travelers who use my toilet (boaters and recreational vehicles owners), the waste winds up in the trash. That has created a lot of discussion on whether it is legal or proper to do that. Actually it is both if the user uses minimal common sense. I foresee an issue in the future for boaters if emptying the contents into a marina dumpster becomes a common practice. If the waste is sealed in a 5-gallon plastic bucket as I advocate, then it shouldn’t be a problem, but some people can be more careless and create issues for everybody. So I have always thought; why not have a nice compost tower at home or on the facility where you can dump your waste and let nature do what nature does best. Put it to its intended use as fertilizer.
Think of them as cuddly, cute creatures or as the more deservedly descriptive title of “tree rats”, squirrels are a hazard to gardening among other things but especially gardening. My first negative encounter with the furry little guys was when one day Nancy came up to me while I was working in the garden shed and said, “There is a squirrel living inside the sail cover.” Immediately, I suspected the worst and sure enough the little bugger had made a nest inside our mainsail cover using the finest dacron she could find and turning it into a fluffy, comfy, show white bed for her and her soon to arrive family. She had eaten holes in every panel of my $2400 mainsail. AAAHH!
Building a BoonJon garden takes time. The whole process is designed to be undertaken in affordable stages. The basics are a raised bed or two and a composting tower or two. All the rest, the security fence, the trellises, the work tables, dehydrator system and pathways can be added as you go and may take years. It did for me and this is good because it gives you time to think things out and to experiment and fail on a smaller scale using trial and error. You’ll discover why something works better here rather than there. What grows best when and how much to plant. That is how a permaculture system should grow. But today I want to jump to the topic of pathways and why I chose what I did, specifically gravel chips.
I recently watched a YouTube video about a couple that decided to move to the woods and create a permaculture homestead for themselves. I know that this is the dream of many couples, especially younger people with unlimited desires and expectations but limited resources. The couple bought 30 acres because they wanted to be able to “have the resources” to operate a full blown permaculture domicile. On the face of it that seemed reasonable, even wonderful, but after having once had just two acres to maintain (during my twenties and thirties), I have a good appreciation how much work is involved managing 30 acres. I would imagine that the bulk of their land will be used to provide privacy. The video also got me thinking, so I googled the question, “Per capita, how much land is available on this earth for each human being to live on?” It drove me to this interesting discussion on Quora.com. The long and short of it is that after you deduct the water, deserts, mountain ranges and other uninhabitable or unproductive land on this earth, there remains, reasonably, less than two acres for each person, probably much less. Considering all the inhospitable land and governmental constraints against development, it is probably reasonable to say that, on average, a couple could expect to have less than a 1/2 to a 1/4 acre to share if it were possible to divide the productive land up among everybody on earth. All of this begs the question, “Would you want or need more than that?”
In a true permaculture setting, there is no such thing as waste and the same is true for bodily waste. Everything gets used. Keeping in mind that a BoonJon Garden is designed for managing organic waste as well as providing food, let’s look at the elements of the garden and the things that effect the design of your garden. It is important to remember the goal of your garden, which is to provide system for turning carbon based waste back into food and successfully managing the hazards associated with managing organic waste. It is an ongoing learning process. Aside from neighbors and local government, there are three major natural factors that will effect the design of your garden; local climate, the lay of the land, local fauna and flora.