Permaculture in the Far North

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by Farside, Aug 29, 2012.

  1. Farside

    Farside Junior Member

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    Hi all,

    I live in a continental environment at roughly 48N. Needless to say, the winters get pretty cold with it not getting warmer than -20C for about 6 weeks during the winter.

    I'm starting to think about systems to accommodate this environment that are as energy efficient as possible.

    Specifically, a greenhouse seems as good a place to start as any. I'm looking at a mash-up of technologies to use which include:

    A soap bubble insulating greenhouse structure similar to this: https://www.tdc.ca/bubblegreenhouse.htm

    A built in composting system for heating through the winter and also a ready supply of compost in the summer. Similar to this:
    https://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Sunspace/NewAlchemycompost.pdf but without the bio-filter and air circulatory system and using a heat exchanger instead.

    Venting the compost and greenhouse air intakes and exhaust through the thermal mass of water to recover waste heat and use it to preheat the -30 fresh air.

    Parking my chicken tractor in a section of the greenhouse over winter for further heating and maintenance (weeds, bugs etc) which is why I'm keeping the compost gasses out of the greenhouse.

    Putting my worm farm in the greenhouse so it doesn't freeze solid.

    I'm thinking of placing hanging columns of mulch for growing as much variety as possible, a herb spiral for my herbs, the floor for veges that won't grow vertically and so the chickens can roam as freely as possible underneath the hanging plantings.

    I can use the top of the composting chambers as seed raising beds.

    There are a few things I am trying to figure out and these are:

    Is there a resource anywhere that identifies what plants grow vertically? I know strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce do.

    Is it worth planting something for the chickens to dig up and eat or will they just rip through it in a matter of a few weeks? I was thinking of something that drops lots of seed and grows quickly. Maybe flowers (poppies?).

    If I put a pond in there, will the chickens foul the water or eat the aquatic plants?
     
  2. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    sound like you have a good handle on what you need to do - well done. At Purple Pear ten chickens will demolish an area of 12 sq meters in about a week but you can provide for them by denying them access to the ground and raising green pick under mesh so they get it as it grows through.
    I also thought of the rocket stove idea at permies.com that vents through the soil to warm it.
    good luck
     
  3. Farside

    Farside Junior Member

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    I have an interesting challenge...

    Friends of ours have property outside of town and although it's not a permaculture set-up, they do have quite a few apple and saskatoon trees. It is now almost fall which means that the saskatoons are now done and the apples are in the middle of harvest.

    The problem is that our friends haven't harvested anything because of the number of bears coming in to feed up for the winter. Lots of them. So many that they're too scared to go outside at the moment for any period of time. As fall approaches, the bears get more aggressive as they're competing for a dwindling food supply.

    I have been aware of the deer issues here. Even an urban garden won't survive unless it's enclosed in a high fence and I was wondering about what the best approach to deal with the deer were. Outside of town, the wolves follow in the deer so our friends not only have a lot of bears fighting over the apples but wolves stalking the deer who are also after the apples.

    My initial reaction to this (based on permaculture) was that there is obviously not enough natural food in the area to support the wildlife and my plan for our eventual property was to plant lots of root crops, berries, melons and such out in zone 4 / 5 to act as a buffer zone.

    Our friends experience however, has me thinking twice about this. It seems that the more food there is, the more wildlife it will attract and bears will come in from miles around for a good feed. Am I likely to just create an even bigger problem? Our friends currently have more than half a dozen black bears in their back yard. This is far too many for a natural environment to sustain as they are top of the food chain in many respects.

    Does anyone have any experience with bears and how best to manage them? I don't really know what they're actually good for (I guess they dig lots for roots and grubs so they perform the same function as a pig would) and it would be neat to put them to work without my kids being put in danger.

    Normally the bears aren't aggressive and would prefer to leave you alone or avoid you all together, except in fall and spring when everything (including the horses) are on the menu.

    The wolves I'm not too worried about as they prefer deer to people and livestock. I'm confident I can keep the deer out of my inner zones too.

    But those bears...
     
  4. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    An abundance of bears! It sounds like your friends have an "attractive nuisance" going with their fruit trees. You've heard of garbage dump bears? (I'm assuming we're talking black bears here) Bears are opportunistic omnivores and like Permaculturists, prefer a set-up requiring less work. Easy food will attract them as they fatten up in the autumn preparing to go into hibernation and in the spring when they emerge with empty bellies. National parks go to great extremes to bar bear access to garbage and "problem" bears (those that just can't do without the easy life) are trapped and moved. Even this doesn't always work as some bears return to the scene!

    I don't know how big an area you are talking, but a stout fence may be the only option to keeping bears out of an orchard. As you noted, they dig rather well and may try to go under a barrier so instead of fence height, some depth may be required too. Good luck! Yours is not an issue I'd like to be facing. = /
     
  5. Farside

    Farside Junior Member

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    Coincidentally I came across a bear this morning on the way to work. He was in a neighbours yard eating apples and I was picking mushrooms so we sort of nodded to each other as I passed by :)

    I'd be looking eventually to establish a food forest of a few acres. I'd like a bear-dozer and I'm happy to share the harvest in return but how I put them to work will take a bit of thinking...

    I can just imagine what a bear would do to a raised garden bed lol! I doubt they could be beat turning fallen logs into mulch though.
     
  6. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Farside I was recently looking into the requirements for keeping deer, elk, and bison for someone. I read that the USDA recommends a 8' fence minimum for keeping deer in or out of a given space. They do go onto say 12' is a lot better but 8' is the minimum. Personally, I prefer fedges (Food hedge) to move large animals into corridors away from food production. Hope the info helps.
     
  7. Farside

    Farside Junior Member

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    Maybe a maze made from blueberries, saskatoons and apple trees would do it :D
     
  8. Terra

    Terra Moderator

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    Big Boxthorns grown as a solid hedge would stop anything , here they are declared weeds and must be controlled . Bears hmmm im glad i dont have to compete with them i can walk around outside in the dark without any worry at all , honestly i couldnt live with that i would be relocating , but i guess a large % of worlds population live with these issues . Im guessing big fence with multiple hot wires , big cost to be effective .
     
  9. Lesley W

    Lesley W Junior Member

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    Today a book about water gardens caught my attention at the hairdressers. I thought of your bears and deer when I read the section on Japanese water fountains that included a bamboo device I'd seen before but hadn't known its name ... a Shishi Odoshi. Meaning? "scare the deer" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shishi-odoshi
     
  10. Farside

    Farside Junior Member

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    Yes, I know those things. It fills with water and makes a knocking noise when it empties... Didn't know the name though. Very interesting.

    Recent research on deer suggest that they perceive the world very differently to us. There is a theory that they posses a photographic memory and when they glance up, they take a "snap shot" which is compared to the previous one (If you observe a deer feeding, they do this every few minutes). Any difference it the scene is then easily identified and the slightest movement by a predator can be detected even if the deer wasn't watching.

    This would explain why deer seem to "know" when a hunter is approaching, why they do this periodic glancing up, and why they get so nervous during windy weather.

    This reminded me of Geoff Lawton's comments on how insects perceive the world differently to us.
     
  11. Farside

    Farside Junior Member

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    I got a reminder about good building design on New Years Day. We had a family gathering at a relatives house which is a little north of 48 degrees.

    The South wall is two stories high, at least 50% glass and the interior is a vaulted ceiling and concrete slab floor.

    It was -16 C and sunny. The house had no heating going and we needed to periodically open the front and back doors to flush the heat out of the house (it was over 25 degrees C inside). The concrete floor felt like it had in-floor heating. It was dark at around 5 p.m. and when we left at around 8:30 p.m. it was still 25 degrees C inside with the floor pumping out heat. Upstairs it was even hotter.
     

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