Permaculture essay:

perma-culture - permanent culture or permanent agriculture, unless we work within the limits of the environment we live in then nothing will be permanent.

So with that premise firmly in mind then:
FIRST and FOREMOST permaculture is about the Habitat and the Environment surely?

"Only after the last tree has been cut down,
only after the last river has been poisoned,
only after the last fish has been caught.
only then will you find - that money cannot be eaten"
Chief Seattle

Permaculture, is a "mind set", it is not about man made design, design courses, diplomas, degrees or even school curriculum. Permaculture IS NOT a career path, permaculture is a path to improving how we look after the only planet we have to live on.

Len's thoughts, Permaculture is not a religion, it is not a philosophy as such, it is nothing that can be limited or limiting. Permaculture occurs when someone anyone is of the opinion that we can no longer keep pillaging and wrecking this planets resources. It is when that thought pattern occurs that people then look for something to highlite what it is they can do to change their habits.

You do not need acreage you don't even need a suburban yard you can do the things that Permaculture promotes in your confines, you simply do what you can and what fits that all works towards conserving the environment and the habitat. If we wait for those who want to change their earth unfriendly ways to buy acreage then change will never occur.

Someone asked the question on a 'Perma-C forum' they wanted to know where they could do a good Perma-C course, because the resulting diploma/degree/certificate(!!!???) would fit nicely with their "master gardener certificate" whatever that is or means?'. Someone else responded by saying "there was a course at someplace in the US, and that the conveners allowed for heaps of reading time!!!" Sounds like the learning might have come from the books hey? And they further said "if nothing else the $1000+USD they paid provided at the least a cheap holiday"!!!!! My response was that all they need to know is already in print. The whole PDC thing sounds awfully ego driven to me!

Other things I've seen written, someone did a course and then said it was like being a WWOOFer (or WWOPCFer - Willing Workers On Permaculture Farms) that paid to help the conveners to finish or start "permaculture projects", some holiday hey? (For those who may not be familiar with the term WWOOFer, it means Willing Workers On Organic Farms, and usually backpackers or working travellers stay on properties where they help with chores and in return get somewhere to bunk down or camp, and whatever food comes from the garden etc.,. they pay nothing and get no money reward other than what I mentioned earlier).

It is a grass roots level "mind set", so in other words an individual or family have it in mind that we humans are misusing this planet earth we call home. All the climate, air quality & environment ill's and woes are mainly due in course to this abuse of natural resources and the mismanagement of the resource. All for the sake of quick un-sustainable profits (don't like that word 'sustainable' it is too broad in it's meaning but until something better happens along there it is).

"The person does not understand Permaculture and unless they do a PDC they won't"
With quotes like this appearing on groups all over the place, one wonders how the grass roots level of our communities are ever going to get the message about permaculture, well apart from it means someone trying to organise the demise of that Goose that could have laid the Golden Egg. How elitist is that quote really?

Permaculture is using the natural design your system comes with, permaculture is maintaining habitat, building habitat, improving habitat, and then producing within the natural bounds of that habitat.

Permaculture is a tool full of ideas to help you achieve the changes you want to or can make in your system, don't look at the big picture too much yes by all means be aware of it but work within your picture. As in the end if change comes from permaculture then it will be a lot of little snowballs rolling into one big snowball that will succeed.

The change will come from the grass roots level of our society from the little man. It won't come from the corporate end of town they are driven solely by money and profit, and it won't come from diplomas or degrees, it will come from those who roll up their sleeves and get down and dirty so to speak. It won't come from the yuppies that want to sit back talk big and sell permaculture. And it will happen when we who are trying to change start talking about what we are doing, start swapping ideas, just have a look around the internet there isn't much of that going on.

If you take on permaculture to impress friends and associates or as a fad or fancy or fashion it won't last you will get very board with it and go to some other fad of the day.

Permaculture starts in your home, you do an audit on the following items:

1. How much can you minimise what you send to the trash can each week, how much of what you put in there could be recycled into your garden?

2. To cut down on the waste you need to process eg.,. send to the trash can or recycle you need to look at the things you buy and bring home, how are these things packaged, is the packaging able to be recycled either on site or sent to a recycle station?

3. How can you better use the fresh drinking quality water that comes piped to you through your reticulated water system, a resource that most have to pay for and all will pay for in years to come, so do an audit how you use this resource:

How much do you waste pushing that little button of convenience in your toilet, how many use drinking water to flush away urine?

Do you use showers all the time? Use the bath more and share the bath water i.e., wife baths first then hubby goes next or bathe together, don't fill the bath only use it full.

Do you use a fully automatic washing machine? They use heaps of water. We use a twin tub ok you can't set and forget you need to follow through with the wash, but we fill the machine and wash all the lighter cleaner stuff first working through to the extra dirty stuff so one fill of water does as does one tub for rinsing.

What do you do with your grey water, and it doesn't matter where it comes from i.e., bathroom, laundry, kitchen. Do you recycle any of this to your lawns/gardens? We use an earth friendly detergent in the kitchen, we make our washing detergent for the clothes and this gets used as a general purpose cleaner as well e.g., cleaning the bath tub, wiping bench tops & washing hands.

Lawns are the most resource wasteful folly gardeners have, they account for huge amounts of pollutant run off all in the cause of that perfect looking green carpet. The amount of drinking water that goes to watering this folly is indescribable, and the mowing and trimming. Then people collect the grass clip and dump it into their waste bins. Leave the clip on the ground to become nutrient for the lawn if it doesn't rain don't water the lawn, watch how fast it'll turn green when rain comes, everyone ends up with the same green looking lawn after rain even those who won't waste water keeping it green.

Mulch - use mulch on all gardens around all trees, not those fancy looking mulches or mulches that don't decompose and don't add to your soils nutrients, use mulches like hay or straw.

Here is a link to a site that offers for FREE, a Permaculture Design Course, hopefully this may be a sign of the times? to encourage many to consider how we humans use the resources of this Planet. We suggest once you have downloaded the file that you save it to your documents folder for later perusal.

DO YOU LIVE IN AN EFFICIENT HOUSE? No I don't mean what the modern building industry want you to believe in, I mean is your house designed to keep itself cool in summer and warm in winter. Or is your house designed to use far less heating and cooling, as do other houses in your climate? Bet it's not. You see modern architecture still has homeowners believing in and building those European style homes, they don't incorporate any thermal qualities. Everyone lives the dream that has been conditioned into him or her by the accepted standard, no matter how inefficient it is.

Get around the permaculture groups and forums no one talks about Eco' housing, surely this is as much part of the mind set as planting trees? We built an Eco' house along the 'warm-house/cool-house' theme, lots of people resist it because it doesn't comply with the accepted norm' in design thinking. How many do you know who bought land for the aspect i.e., southern aspect/northern aspect etc., etc., The answer will be almost none, real estate won't sell on aspect their slogan is position, position, position, and I agree the right position is the right aspect. So if we go along with that that there is 4 basic aspects e.g.. North, south, east & west and only one of those aspects is the one that will work for your Eco' home then on an average we could say that 's of all land sold is the wrong aspect. You see unless you orientated your Eco' style house with the right aspect on the right aspect on your land. How well it will work will be very doubtful.

There is only one important zone and it starts where you think and live in your mind & in your home.

HERE'S A POSER? How can anyone ever suggest that living in cold climates is as cheap as living in the sub-tropics? - This is what lots purport over here!
They don't count the extra resources used to provide clothing or maintain that clothing needed to keep warm at least 8 months of the year.
They say it is romantic and cosy to cuddle up in front of a fire burning wood (trees), charcoal (trees), coke, coal, fuel oil, gas (all fossil fuels), and not even consider the amount of pollution that is extra from their homes.
They still consume vast amounts of electricity, doubt they can run as cheap as those in sub-tropical climes.
They use airconditioners because the other end of their spectrum is heat wave conditions not endured by those of us in sub-tropical climes.
And the continued destruction of habitat to fire their cosyness.

Permaculture is living sustainably within our systems, providing safe good quality food that is produced with the safety of the habitat and environment taken into account, so that means no chemicals. We don't need regulators we need communities involved, as communities. Look what regulation has done to the organic name the standard has been lowered. Regulators can only work to the lowest common denominator.

When you purchase a rural block of ground what do you think about the trees & habitat on that block?

Do you reason you own the trees & habitat to do with what you desire?

Or are you a custodian of those trees & habitat that are needed for a stable environment & climate by the community at large?

Permaculture is making use of a natural system - The way I see it Permaculture in total may not suit your political, religious or dietary biases. If you have particular needs in this area take from or use what suits you or fits for you, but that then is your personal requirement.

Permaculture is about animals, work or useful animals i.e.,.

Animals and poultry to help with recycling and to create organic matter for the gardens, the list includes cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, sheep & goats. Whether you use these animals as a source of food or not is your decision.

Horses only as work animals e.g., for transportation or to work the fields.

Dogs only as work dogs to help with herding animals etc., or to act as protection for you.

Cats, I see absolutely no use for them as they are the greatest destroyers of fauna that was ever bred. In a case where the individual has cats and keeps them inside the house or confined in some way, but then they only serve as pets, and serve no real purpose in how well permaculture works for you.

Renewable Energy (Power)!!??

Yes we need to do something about how we currently generate and use power!? If re-newables are going to work? that is, be affordable, durable and provide the power needed then at present the way i see it they need to be a whole lot more robust & affordable. They at present have a lot of in-built obsolescence ie.,. some components need replacement after only 10 short years of service, the panels are expected to last around 25 years. (If you are thinking of not having your own storage for your own generated power then you may want to sit down and do your math' on that one). First up if you are using Solar (solar information one) you are only generating power through sunny daylight hours, and most homes use the most of their power in the evening and nighttime.

Renewables will most likley be more efficient in a decentralised system ie.,. each facility then provides it's own power.

In their haste to convince us that our coal fired power stations have to be replaced with what they call green clean nuclear power, the statistition works out how much carbon these stations emit then divides that figure by the amount of population who use the end product, so the disadvantage there for us here in Australia as I see it is our population is small so the bottom line looks bad.

So China curently has app' 300+ coal fired units, they have plans to double those facilities, the bet is their stations are not as modern in design as ours, and they could very well be using dirtier coal to fire them. BUT even though it is doubtfull that the same majority of their population have access to that power when their population figure is divided into the carbon out put of their stations it looks better on the bottom line that does ours, go figure!(Oh they are going to be buying all that coal we will no longer need!)

At present there is a push on to create these might I say UGLY wind farms, ok if wind is going to be affordable to the majority of the population (or are we going to create a new level of lower socio-economical strata in our society, that is a big chunk of our neighbours who can't afford the end product?).
Ok if wind is going to be the way then WHY plant these towers where once forests of biodiversity stood?
WHY not plant these ugly structures out in the brigalow/mulga/desert lands where they can tower over the biodiversity??

And why propellors, that do harm to the bird life and are noisy as well?

And the same should apply to solar collector farms they should be where there is no need to replace habitat forests, again out in the desert.

It is likley that if renewables (and I'm for that sort of power way above the yellow dirt stuff) then at current costs as I see it we are going to have a large number of our communites who won't be able to afford power, and they could be your next door neighbour or in the next suburb, and that is going to create a whole new list of social problems, think about it?

For those with the mathamatical apptitude that elludes most of us, do the Math' cost out the down side of clean green renewables and their impact on the environment (what happens with all the obsolete/worn out components, and if the suggestion is recycle them then there is a cost in doing that also), they after all have much material used in their production of a limited life time product, they require minerals from mining, they use polymers from the fossil fuel side of things, they use transportation to get them from point 'A' to point 'B', in short they take a lot of behind the scenes resources, that could be just as bad as what we already have.

Surely the first step to take in the power issue is to design and build efficient homes? that may mean getting rid of those we currently have that have no efficiencies outside of macmansion gradure looks?

If you decide that renewable is for you then you go for it, but one thing I have learnt along the way from others do it as stand alone for you homes requirements, by that I mean it is not worth thinking of feeding back to the main grid (to save on buying storage batteries), as a costly inverter whatever it is, is needed to allow for that to happen, and you will never get a return on the equipment let alone make anything from it, you may have a negative account but the equipment cost isn't being recouped and it will need replacement at some time. And remember with solar you are only generating power through daylight sunny day hours (keep that generator in mind - and do you have a gen' set to charge up the batteries or one to run the home until the sun returns?), for most homes that is when the occupants are away from the home, and they all return for the evening (the time when your power requirements are at their greatest) when you are not likley to be producing power, so you will be drawing on grid! Hardly seems worth it doing it that way hey?

So far no one wants to talk about the down or dark side of renewables (and nothing is perfect, so if we are to make the choice of the lessor of two evils we need lots of open information. Like one person said about air-cinditioners they opted for the evaporative cooler type because it used less coal fired power than the refridgeration type, but the evaporative model also uses at least 20 litres per hour of drinking water!!?? and whilst the gardener is restricted on watering their plants or using grey water, owner of evaporated collers have no restrictions.), I've asked the question on many occassions yet there is still no answers, surely we all need to know everything there is to know so as to make an informed decision.

Me I don't know what the answer is? but lets not shoot ourselves in the foot in our haste for change.

"We humans are a very intelligent race of people - just that most of the time we aren't very wise" - Len

Time to think outside the square, test the comfort zone envelope, forget the feel good measures and find the balance for the planet and everyone or thing that lives on it. There is a lot more to it than the issues of WATER and POWER which we all know go hand in glove.

For the advocates of renewable decentralised power at the home front "so to speak", just something to throw into the calculations of affordability and return of some of the capitol expenditure.

Many familes will need the following:
1.. A fridge capacity of around 500 litres
2.. Freezer stroage of around 300 litres
3.. They need a 7 or 8 kilogram washing machine even if it is a presumably efficient front loader
4.. A normal electric stove.
5.. All the other electirc devices ie.,. T.V, Computer, Heating and Cooling etc.,.
6.. the obligatory Generator to top up batteries or run the household power on those inclemant days
7.. And not to forget to add in the funds they need to put away for the built in obsolescence factor and repairs/maintenance.

Be prepared for the nuclear power issue to raise its ugly head as the cost of coal fired power is pushed higher nuclear will look more affordable, although there is probably only enough to be mined to last about 60 years, but we will have to live with the waste product for a lot longer than that: Nuke Power Story.


Bill Mollison's description as per 'Introduction to Permaculture' - "Swales are long level excavations, which can vary greatly in width and treatment from small ridges in gardens, rock-piles thrown across slopes, or deliberately-excavated hollows in flat lands and low-slopes landscapes".

Don't try and find an understandable definition in a dictionary or encyclopedia.

Ok just remember nothing is set in concrete ok, and all is open to interpretation ok?

My idea of a swale: It is a method used to manipulate sudden storm or rainwater either into the sub-soil or across ground to another point! Commonly follows the contours across sloping ground.

So the method of constructing a swale is broad in description.

The permaculture designist ideal is a trench cut with some machinery i.e.. A disc plow and creating or causing the soil from that ditch to be piled on the lower side creating a berm, commonly if you remove 500mm of soil and pile it on the bottom side of that swale/trench you have a swale 1 meter deep or 1000mm deep. This type of design manipulated swale needs to be exactly level across the contour, or damming will occur which will then cause flood over and erosion. The length of this type of swale needs to be regulated, as you need to create spillways in case of over burden of water. Also these swales are very permanent (unless you go back and fill them in) inclusion in your landscape, and may mean you have to go around them instead of over them whenmoving around your property.

Commonly it is suggested that you grow food or habitat trees along the berm as well. And below the berm and above the swale proper, in high rainfall areas where trees need extra drainage the berm is ideal, but then if you are in a high rainfall area swales may not be that important. In lower or marginal rainfall areas planting trees on raised soil is going to keep them drier than what is needed.

So lets decide that a swale is something that does with the water what you want it to do:

Then if you used a ripper. (A ripper is a single plow like device for cutting a single deep rut into the soil. - commonly seen on the back ends of bulldozers and under the middle of road graders). Pulled behind a tractor like a plow this then is a swale, it impedes the flow of water down a slope and puts it underground. Let's investigate this method further I have very sandy loam type soils through to heavy volcanic clays, I used the rip method as I needed to get water into my soils this is another method of storing water.

1. This opens up the soil and helps compacted areas.

2. It allows organic matter and oxygen into the sub-surface.

3. It is semi-permanent and once grass is growing is not seen but can still be working it causes no inconvenience when moving around your property.

4. If you plant trees along this rip line they grow better and faster as the soil is aerated which allows for bacteria and micazoria growth.

So then if I lay a row of mulch grass or a row of bales of hey/straw etc., along the contour this too is a swale. As once it settles in and the grass starts growing along the edges and the mulch contacting the ground starts to decompose and worms etc, begin to work then water is impeded from flowing down that slope and it has a key to be able to soak into the sub-soil.

1. So if that row of mulch (mulch berm) material were laid over a rip it would be more effective.

2. Now if you planted your food or other trees along the contour mulched around the trees then mulched (berm) along the rows between the trees that is a swale, believe me it works for me, why not for you?

The swales we use are as permanent as you want/need or as are temporary as is required.

If you live in heavy clay soil areas you need to be aware that once clay saturates water no longer penetrates it. Just ask the blokes who build dams they need a clay (be it reactive volcanic clay or non-reactive sandstone clay) for the bottom of the dam so that the dam will hold water. Yes I know the designists say to mulch along the swale trench and in time this will make the clay more permeable to soaking in water, how much time well that is the big question. If you are so locked into the comfort zone of constructing this type of swale, and you are in clay soil. Then might I suggest a good dose of gypsum (no limit to how much can be used really, buy the good quality stuff, that is determined this way, the more like talcum powder it looks the better the quality). Along the bare swale surface and over the berm before laying the much this can have the effect of spreading up the amending process. To go one step further maybes consider cutting a rip along the bottom of the swale, after all you are trying to get water down into the sub-soil.

Our idea is to plant enough trees along the contours so that in time they put the water underground as a full working forest does. As I see it you need to be getting water into the ground up on the slopes long before that water gets down to the flat lands or flood plains.

When we purchased this block it had a grazing rate of around 1 to 5 or 6 and in the very dry seasons may have to be taken out to as low as 1 to 10. After 3 years of what we call simple management skills the land will easily graze 1 to 3 or maybe down to 4. Right now as we are getting good rains it could cope with some time as low as 1 to 2 or even 1 to 1, these are cattle rates I am talking. Horses are a different kettle of fish needing more grazing ground per animal, unless improved pasture methods are used then you need to be where irrigation water is available.

The other bonuses of our system:

1. We have less tree loss at planting due to the extra moisture in the soil.

2. We don't water our citrus or stone fruit orchid (all heavily mulched as well so we don't feed the trees artificially).

3. The pasture grasses are growing faster and stronger, this then protects the surface soil from the sun and wind, and our growth rate at present is 18 to 24 "s over a 7-week period.

4. We now have wet/soak areas down the flat and this lasts for weeks after rain stops as the water slowly works it's way down though the sub-soil, on its way to the creek.

TREES the all important link to a sustainable life & climate:<>

With all the political hype and hoopla that goes on via the media the folk in our cities most likely have no idea that the degradation of forest, habitat and bio-diversity is still running at full steam.

Any vegetation protection legislation or any other rules and regulations bandied around are only there in an attempt to curb the little person in the big picture, when it comes to the sacred cows they do as they wish when they wish.


Quote from this site: Farm Forestry for Green and Gold

"Trees support valuable pasture Trees don't necessarily suppress pasture growth. It depends on the number of trees. A study near Gunnedah, NSW found that the pasture output was at its highest level when the proportion of tree cover across a farm was 34%. This moderate level of tree cover enhanced pasture production because trees cut down on wind driven evaporation and some highly productive and palatable grasses grow better in the cooler and more fertile soil under an open canopy of eucalypts.

Further reading: Walpole (1999)."

On our property our lushest grasses grow under the canopy of eucalypt trees, there they are protected from winds. sun and get the benefit of moisture that drips from the tree leafs from rain, heavy dew and fogs. The grasses also get the benefits of the mulching from fallen leafs and all the organisms that are attracted to break that material down.

So we guess the challenge to city folk who may read this, is next time you take your family on holidays do something different! take them on a campervan holiday, drive around the hinterland of your city, see the missing habitat and trees, see the greying remains of piled up trees where the best part has been used for fence posts, and the rest lays waiting to be burnt and cause pollutants into the atmosphere.

Note the piles of trees that could have been used for fence posts that have been burnt to create grazing ground or housing developments. There are wood chip mills logging forest for timber to chip yet all this resource is wasted left lying in paddocks. Reckon us humans might just have to think a little bit more about using resources less wastefully.

The latest from Australian Scientists is; 'There is a definite relationship between the loss of trees and droughts and lack of rain' WOW wonder how many degrees you need to work that one out just try living in rural it's right there in front for all to see.

As I write this essay I will try to encourage others to think "outside the square", this broadens your acceptance of different ideas and can help to break down cultural or indoctrinated barriers. I will also be encouraging you to extend your 'comfort zone/envelope'. It can be quiet exiting when you broaden your thinking to take a good hard look at our culture and see some of the ruts we are in, some of the old habits and ideas that never were and still aren't efficient.

Our homes for one the accepted European influenced design gabled macmansion with multiple bathrooms, toilets, lots of lighting, huge heating requirements and cooling requirements and taking up nearly all the land available on the typical 500 to 600 sq/mtr block (no room ther for natural habitat), just aren't going to be acceptable if we want to conserve resources and money yes the hip pocket feeling. So exploring the idea of having the right aspected land and then designing a home that will work toward keeping you comfortable without the use of the resources or with minimised.

The home we planned and live in is very comfortable for our climate, the aspect of the home is orientated correctly and it is built on the right aspected land. So in winter we get maximum sun from sunrise into the home, and in summer the sun is kept out of the house so it then keeps us cool. We do not use heaters or air-conditioners, yet we can have -3c outside in winter and +40c outside in the summer. All on very tight budget.


Cement rendered Straw Bale is a current fashion, the one I have seen don't seem to allow for the sun to access inside the home in the winter, but then that's only my observation, no doubt straw bale supporters will see it different.

So basically it has to be built on a slab, they use galvanised wire mesh as reinforcing to lock the bales together and also for the cement rendering. Now as we know cement can crack especially cement render now what happens then the termites find their way in, so I guess a straw bale house needs some pretty good termite control mechanisms in place this usually means chemicals. And there needs to be a frame work built to hold the roof and the windows and doors etc.,. Most of the termites in rural are the kind that seek out and eat grass straws. Oh don't forget to create the bales grass has to be slashed, dried and baled then transported.

Compacted Earth is the other fashion for those who dare to be different. Not sure how sustainable this sort of material is? As you need to source suitable soil for the purpose, might mean a lot of destruction of habitat and the creation of a large hole to do that, think about it? As I see it there is most likely a lot of resources used to complete the compacted walls. I really can't imagine anyone taking this task on with a pick, shovel & wheelbarrow.

And yes they can crack, and yes I reckon termites would probably like to move in so again termite protection is needed.

Timber well timber is out it just doesn't have the thermal qualities needed unless it's burning in a polluting fireplace. Remember plantation timbers are grown where once native habitat existed, I've seen the forestry people ripping out melaleuca scrub etc., just to plant pine trees doesn't come under the sustainable label now does it. And likewise the new agri-forest fad of growing non indemic eucalypts for the timber industry is not doing anything for habitat renewal or maintenance is it?

And of course not very fire resistant or termite resistant along with dry rot etc.,. and high in ongoing surface coating maintenance.

Steel on a cement slab is what we chose we get the heat of the winter sun through all the glass we have facing north. And by using a scillion roof (the only style roof to have uses less material in construction and there is no roof cavity area created to deal with), ok we lose a bit on surface are that affect the water catchment of the roof, but hey there's always a price to pay.

So we have steel framed, steel clad on 3 walls (what we could afford), insulated with pink batts and sizalation, it works well. We could only get a magnetic north aspect (should be true north which correct me if I'm wrong is app' 11 degrees west of magnetic north) with the house the chap who did our site just didn't know enough or understand enough. Problems are few nothing that some tree growth and maybe the inclusion of an awning along the southern wall won't fix.

Other material could have been instead of the clad walls; Besser block; Bricks; Rock or cement prefab walls, these materials might need to be high on the list for this style of home to work well in colder climes. But at all times a scillion roof, and the house to be aspected with the front facing true north.

We use no heating or cooling. We are using the open plan that suits us, and our kitchen is on the north/eastern end just about ideal by our reckoning. No windows on the western wall, a couple in the eastern end where the sink is, and some hoppers along the southern wall for cross-ventilation (the design does not need those hoppers and the use of eastern windows is to be with caution).

Probably need some whiz kid here but how much more environmentally friendly is using steel that can be recycled, is fire resistant and termite resistant (we have no need for termite protection), as against using timber that destroys forest creates atmosphere problems along with loss of rainfall and habitat. How many ore mines would we need to service Australia's needs and how many smelters? Compared to the resources needed in other materials used.

Something to think about and you extrapolate it out I'll just give you what I know:

A family in the south of Australia uses 4 ton (imperial not tonne) of firewood each winter??

Another in the north of Great Britain uses 20 imp' ton of firewood over a 9 month winter using 3 fireplaces and generally runs one wood burner all through summer as it can still get cold!!!???

Not to mention the pollution all this keeping warm is causing and the damage to habitat, I guess if you are busily copicing trees for winter wood you don't have much time to repair habitat hey?

Can you imagine the resources needed to create, transport and store those requirements?

Some use coke/coal, oil, gas or electricity, with diminishing fossil fuel resources and forest how can this be sustainable?

I mean one home runs 3 burners for 9 months non-stop is this the needs of a properly designed home?

Mind you there is no account in the above for the electricity or gas that these homes may use as well.

Maybe the Planet is letting us know HEY we can't keep going along in this vane??

It needs to be said and said again and again and again so we get it clear;

''We this generation and generations before us are merely custodians of this planet and all that exists within it, We are responsible to leave a habitable planet/home for not only our children's children, but their children and their children thereafter''

"So then the question again begs to be asked when you buy a property is the habitat and fauna and flora contained within that property yours to do with what you may or are you the custodians of that resource for the betterment of the total community for generations to follow?"

think about it!!

BIO-CHAR!!! - AGRICHAR - TERRA PRETA The latest catch cry the latest fashion, the latest trendy trend, what is it? For me it is an evolution of SLASH & BURN TECHNOLOGY (for want of a better word). In one recent debate the protaganists worked very hard to keep any tag of slash and burn being attributed to this terra preta stuff, even went so far as to say that burn wasn't used and said it was smoulder that was used, for me no difference!! Smouldering is a product of burning, suppose also they think that the pollutants in fire smoke are somehow different worse maybe to those presented in smoulder smoke? the later being the more preffered. Well I dunno realy for me smoke is smoke hey.

With the use of rubbery figured science all supporting science, the pundents set up an incinerator and then create material generally branches etc.,. that can be turned into charcoal by the use of fire. the ensuing process creates not only local visible pollution but also local invisible pollution, but ah! the science says the means justifies the ends. So far not much is mentioned about the energy imput needed to create the end product, no mention of what is involved in building a processing plant then creating and transporting the material needed. Then last but not least the transportation of the end charcoal to the site it is to be used on.

Here is a list of some of the pollutants found in wood smoke it came from this site: Wood Smoke

And here is another link: Burnin Issues

"The main pollutants in wood smoke that cause health concerns are:

* Particulate Matter: This is the term for solid or liquid particles found in the air. They can be very small and can travel deep into your lungs, causing respiratory and heart problems.
* Carbon Monoxide: This is a colorless, odorless gas that is poisonous at high levels. It can interfere with the delivery of oxygen in the blood to the rest of your body.
* Volatile Organic Compounds: These are a wide range of compounds that usually have no color, taste or smell. Some cause direct health effects, while others contribute to smog.
* Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons: These compounds are a health concern because of their potential to cause cancer.

In communities where wood heating is common, wood smoke can be responsible for as much as 25% of the airborne Particulate Matter, 15% of the Volatile Organic Compounds and 10% of the Carbon Monoxide in the atmosphere. Wood smoke also contains other toxic compounds, including nitrogen oxides and chlorinated dioxins. These can contribute to environmental hazards, such as smog and acid rain."

Here is a video link to give some insight into the process: Bio-Char

and another static link:Bio-Char a picture speaks a thousand word.

Yet another pertenant link:

Black is the New Green

In all links look behind the picture

Here are some random pictures gleened from the internet freely and used freely (with no personnal gain) of charcoal/Terra Preta making in backyard devices in use in a garden in a suburb somewhere in the world:

I was looking for the link i saw recently that showed a diagram of the gases contained in the smoke of burning. Many years ago burning trash in a home incinerator was banned in the cities, now under the guise of this process a neighbour could once again smelly up the neighbourhood, maybe worse a large unit at a local refuse transfer station just to add to the local aroma's, but the expense of such a device? Who pays for it cost wise/health wise? or we simply won't get a say.

Just one more piece in the puzzle of false prophecy science! The Emporers Clothes Hey no matter how you look at it Weaving was the science of the day.

While on the subject of burning stuff, this romance of the warming flame is the crux of the modern trendy!! The romance of a spiral of smoke emmitting from a chimney bedecked cabin is nothing less that romance and not needed. We live in a neighbourhood where heating burners are in oh! i don't know say in every 10th to 40th homes, but that is more than enough to creat and odour in the neighbourhood, i live across the road from one that doesn't even have a decent chimney and it can make life very uncomfortable for us at night time right into our bedroom, the stench is something else! Dunno' what they burn in it? This one is out in their entertainment area not even in the house, so might be along with their air conditioners they run electric heaters as well?? wouldn't surprise me. Ok back in the early days when no one had power they had to do something, but we should have come a long way since then and be building homes that can be run on other than solid/fossil fuels or flame drive appliances, on one hand the authorities banned outside incinerators and are targetting wood fired BBQ's, yet every home can run a fire place?? doesn't make sense hey?

Anyhow here are some links:

Dangers of Burning Wood

Burning Issues

Wood Smoke Dangers


The more trees and habitat we destroy the less rainfall and the dirtier the air we breathe:

The Sub-Aquifer surprising how many people are using this very fragile system, and most likely none realize that it is truly a NON-RENEWABLE RESOURCE. That is if we diminish the system we cannot replace the water that was there, if we corrupt the system by causing it to become contaminated with salt water we cannot repair that.

The Sub-Aquifer is vulnerable to many contaminates from Agriculture, Industry and domestic applications like septic toilet systems. It is vulnerable to over use this is where it then falls down, in our search for our property we saw lots of bores just capped off due to the system being over pumped and drawing salt water into the system.

We do not believe that in Permaculture that we should use this resource, because it is non-renewable. Our original plans were not to use it but then circumstances made me change that decision. We only needed to draw a small amount each day, our bore was rated at 300 imp' gallons per hour, that was more than what we needed so we imagined that we could not over use the system and that would still have stood true. But we didn't count on how many other bores went in at the same time most rated at 1,000 gph or under.

First with all the other holes being drilled the pressure dropped just noticeable, as did the delivery quantity. But to top all this off someone set up an agricultural venture growing squash type vegetables, and they did this on poor quality already agriculturally degraded land eg.,. the top soil around here has long been eroded away from continued clear felling etc.,.

This farmer needed to create irrigation water he put in a large dam that will take quiet some time to fill enough for his uses, the thought is it may never do that. So he opted for bore water he apparently drilled a number of holes (each hole dropped the pressure of the system) looking for the one with the greatest capacity. He eventually sprung one at a delivery rate of around 3,000 gph, this bore is in the vicinity of 10" or more diameter, compared to our 6" bore. Needless to say that the money we expended on our bore is all but wasted it now only delivers around 50 gallons per day in 2 hits, the pressure is so low as to be almost as bad as water pressures in some older homes in the city. So I guess when he causes the system to corrupt he will sell up to some other hopeful. To top things off the farmer also clear felled (We heard that he was fined for habitat destruction for what he did, but they are a very wealthy family so any monetary fine will be loose change to them, fines do not repair the accumulative damage done) the top of a ridge an area app' 1 kilometer long and 600 meters wide, it was most likely this re-growth that was feeding the aquifer (can't say for sure don't know who can but might be that this system begins in his area?). And that when we got some heavy rains there was massive erosion visible, will they never learn.

Then I read in another forum that I participate in someone over in the south west of the country has a bore for his suburban garden and he has it fitted with a computerized automatic watering system, just so his lawn will get watered every second night. I believe that this resource should not be used for agricultural irrigation or domestic use in the way mentioned above, I don't believe bringing the regulator in will solve the problem the rich agriculturists will still prevail.

Now back in the Suburbs:

We are now back in the 'burb's living in yes the yuppy status symbol of the 22nd century, the obligatory inefficient resource wastefull "MacMansion". Aren't people easily manipulated into accepted what someone else dictates is the acceptable standard??
Think outside the square?? We sure are most don't even realise they are locked into a sqaure and tucked comfortably into comfort zones all manipulated for them by the controllers and money makers, there are just so many aspects of this negative side there are almost too many to mention ie.,. appearances of 1.. The home 2.. Lawns and Gardens 3.. The all but obligatory 2 vehicles (1 SUV + 1 Sedan) all for a family of 2 adults and .6 of a child on average.

The latest indoctrination is all new developments feature not only the now common micro-wave and dishwasher as standard equipment, but air conditioners!!! Some of these are Evaporative Air Coolers that use up to 50 litres an hour of good drinking water I am told, if this is correct? What does it say about a community that allows for this sheer waster to occur?

There are many areas of waste in our communities the industrial sector being by far the worst, in our homes the uncontrolled waste of flushing urine with drinking water. In public areas and business again this folly runs unchecked, when there are available full flush waterless urinals, all this because of some odour no health risk to speak of just odour!!??

And in the feel good stakes the regulator and the building industry have sactioned the use of some appliances etc.,. as being "water-wise", so the Government allocates tax payer derived funds to offer home owner rebates on certain applications, and of course as soon as a rebate applies the price of the goods & assiociated services increases.

Because of our many years now of thinking outside the square, we worked with a criteria to help us select a home that would fill our needs ie.,. be as naturally comfortable as possible, have enough yard space for our outside infrastructure, and enough room inside for our living needs.
Yes it came with the now familiar dishwasher (never usd be the last owner and used once by us), so it is still technically 'as new' even though it is 7 years old as the home is.

Currently on these muggy mid-summer days the home is a little uncomfortable, as they aren't designed to create natural air flow ie.,. sliding windows instead of the more efficient casement/hopper type windows (may never be able to afford to do anything about that but you never know?). All the home has is ceiling fans by way of observation the cheapest and the least effectivet that could be bought for the purpose of maintaining the indoctrinated standard.

We use the most water efficient washing machine available and that is a 'twin-tub', it takes 90 litres (of our own water) to fill it and the rinse tub and this one fill does 3 loads of washing, it is a 4 kilogram washer, the big downside we don't generate enough grey water for the gardens.

Where we are we could do little about aspect of the land it is basically all flat and like nearly all estates treeless, but we could look for a home that was orientated well on that block. Our criteria was such that at the time this property became available we had all but exhausted our prospects of buying in this location, and we certainly had not found favour with the Estate Agents, as they expect that after looking at 2 homes we should sign on the bottom line, in other word they expected us to fall in love with aspects of the properties that they tried to sell, but buying with the heart is not a good way to go, actually it can be doomed to failure.

So when we can we will be incorporating some Passive Cooling-- Techniques which will cost nothing to run and little to maintain. They are
1.. Turbine--Vents for the roof not those little run of the mill vents but vents that have the capacity to do the job.
2.. Ceiling registers/vents in appropriate places in those rooms that need the attention, for here that is pretty much every room (some will have 2 or 3) and every built-in/walk-in robe and the pantry as well.
and somewhere down track these fans will be replaced for models that do the job better, though we believe the passive cooling will do the job there is an image to uphold should we decide to sell later on.

Yes we have a pool it has around 30,000 litres of water in it, a once up fill. We installed a back flush tank (see picture below) capacity 1800 litres (this will all but ensure we never need fresh water to top up, as no one had any experience in this field we went with that capacity tank, but feel now we should have gotten a bigger tank tank (tall ones can fit into tight corners as height is no object with this application), so up to 3,000 litre should have been considered we would suggest if you can accommodate it a little more but 3,000 is 10% of the pool capacity.

Our water conservation methods we employ are:

a 25,000 litre water tank.

5 of these 220 litre plastic drums for water to be used primarily for washing clothes, but also for plant watering and pool topping up.

So with our water-wise garden methods, and using all grey water including urine, we feel we are doing what we can we are always open minded so that if a new process comes along we will adopt it. Our hope is that we can inspire others to walk these paths?

How long can the system be taken for granted? The sub-aquifer belongs to the community, where most irrigators have licenses to draw water from river catchments this water here is being used with non-of those constraints.


1.. We have installed a common sense usable sized rainwater tank.

2.. We have 220 litre plastic drums capturing water.

3.. We use all water at least twice ie.,.
All bath/shower, dishwashing water is used, the bath/shower water commonly for flushing solids only in the toilet (this water originates from our tank).
The laundry water goes to the garden as it generates from our rain barrels/drums, and dishwater that originates from the tanks goes to the gardens.
When needed (summer mostly) vegetables and some of the other plants get fresh rainwater from the tank moslty but also from the rain drums.

4.. Shock horror we drink our rainwater

A tank of no less than 15,000 litres is needed to be realy conserving and managing water, with some self reliance, this takes it out of the "feel good" arena.


I frequent any number of boards, forums and groups all dealing with from Gardening to Sustainable practises related to Permaculture principals, and rarely do i find others who are outside their comfort zones in pursuit of latteral thinking outside "THE BOX/SQUARE".

By and large it is all too common on these Earth Friendly boards to find that the rank and file are all living the dreams of the heart?

There is no real effort to get a grasp of the things that are really affecting how we live sustainable or efficiently, things like installing water tanks for the main as it is in the general community often the smallest allowable for the rebate tank is bought, meaning that water itself is not high on most thinking patterns of importance, so that anything that requires broader thinking than that gets not even scant regard is then no real surprise.

Not worth going "there" for the run of the mill land barron dream thinkings of securing a pocket handkerchief piece of degraded land and thinking it can be turned into full bio-diversity habitat and still contain human infrastructure including food growing.

So understandably when it comes to those 4 walls and a roof called the home/house the thinking is full of heart indoctrinated dreams of un-sustainable wooden structures with verandahs and romantic smoke curling out of an equaly un-sustainble and polluting fuel burning device, for warm and cooking. Not to forget the pundants of the fad claddings ie.,. straw-bale, compacted earth, adobe block and gathered bush rock, all either un-sustainable or habitat destroying and all adding to the environment woes in their own ways.

the efficiency of a home comes from its design, its orientation on the block of land and the aspect of that land, then interior orientation comes into play, even if the heart felt dream is to run with currently very expensive renewables surely a home should be designed to run efficiently long before any props like power, heating and cooling are thought of?

Often the only criteria driving this thinking is any block of land bigger than the current suburbian block, and once the "Sea-Change/Tree-Change" mind set is up and running then the size of the baronage that has been determined in a dream has to be bought at the price that the budget will cope with. Couldn't be any more wrong if it was planned this way, buying something that one can afford and then thinking because they are of a certain thinking ilk that they can change a piece of desolate rock into a "Garden of Eden" with pristene soil etc.,. in an area where the rain fall won't support a field of cactus. So they end up with Scrub country that won't hold water so no capacity for a dam and if the Aqafa comes to mind it will generally only deliver salt water or at very best brackish water, because they have this thought process that says no one could possibly surpass their intelegence level and offer any real help for them with any ideas in any way shape or form, their highly intelligent ego's are fully in control it would seem.

In the end it all ends up as "FEEL GOOD" intentions that deliver little, but oneupmanship postulating.

And though many profess to be of the Environmently friendly ilk, sadly it is all hot air, as most are driven by Yuppyism, which encompasses Consumerism, Afluenzaism which are all ills of society that work against care for the habitat adn the community at large>
Motives and actions are driven by Government handouts in the name of "Rebates", which do nothing for the cause they are supposed to help, but do heaps for the bottom lines of all those who are in those industries that then generate income from selling to consumers as in the Solar power and the Water tanks side of things.
Think outside the box/square, come outside the comfort zone and have a look at who realy gains when something is purchased under the "feel-good" process, those Government taxes would be better spent for all in other more pressing areas surely? And though some may feel they are impervious to living from hand to mouth many in our communities do so!! And it could be any of those who are in the Affluent set, many people can no longer afford rent, water & power, and making it all the more expensive by supporting lacking Gov' initiatives will easily have a sting in the tail later on in those folks lives.

Another blight on the Environment & Habitat is the new age term "Lifestyle", it is used to keep those who use it safely tucked away in their comfort zones, it is the reason oft' used for covering why there is no planning/thinking outside the box, it is the reason that the indoctrinated home fashions are so well entrenched, it encourages to do things driven by the heart instead of driven by the thinking of the head.

Yes we need to develop a Lifestyle, but make it a "Sustainable Lifestyle", not one driven by fashion and the affluence of economy of one's current standard of living. A lot of homeowners get the opportunity at least once in their home buying life to build a home from scratch that is when the "Sustainable Lifestyle" can begin, buy a block of land with the correct aspect to build a home that will keep itself cooler and warmer without the need for added appliances or in warm temporate climates even the need for double glazing.
Use Permaculture as a tool to change living patterns and thinking patterns to consider taking better actions that what are commonly taken, sustainable practises come from having an objective look at our habits and use better habits.

I frequent some so called living sustainably including permaculture boards, and as yet nowhere have i seen any take on what sort of home design and building materials are needed to minimise our impact long term on this planet. We have never had any discussions about the design we came up with or how it worked or may work better (anything a human does can always be improved on). The all still indoctrinated matters of the heart desiring the romance of wood, even to the degreee of yearning for a wood or solid fule burning heating device, because of the indoctrinated unsustainable romance of sitting around a fuel burning fire polluting the local atmosphere.

Sad realy that people professing to wanting to be "Earth Freindly" but can't come outside the square or their comfort zones to explore the options, in one breath they are protesting about clear felling & destruction of habitat, yet without hessitation those same people will go buy a block of ground too small for much habitat if any at all, that they then have to all but clear fell for their own needs!!?? To follow some posts seems an exercise in futility!!

Star date September 2010, as Permaculture moves further and further away from the grass roots, driven by new blood the young Turk's maybe, the flavour Permaculture has altered, for those altering it they would see it for the better, there is a lot of ego in Pemaculture circles and a lack of tollerence of others right to their individual opinions, seems to me there are these Little Lord Fauntleroy's, faceless maybe even for now nameless lurking in the shadows, waiting for the seeds they sow to burst forth in bloom.

FAILED - Permaculture has failed to make it self a household name let alone process at the grass roots level of our society, a great many have no idea that Permaculture even exists, some have this left over hippy image of a low moral society living in the bush in an otherwise idillic stuation. Or they simply laugh it off.

FAILED - In their efforts to sell courses as part of being recognised as a person qualified to be a pemaculturist.

FAILED - In their quest to make Permaculture a curriculum in schools and colleges, "Curriculum"?? surely if something is going to be a curriculum it needs to have some predetermined career path? maybe the cart was being put before the horse in this vane attempt. In recognition some exclusive upper class bastions of education do have Pemaculture courses on their curiculum

FAILED - To get a patent for the name (Permanent-Agriculture or Permanent-Culture), this might be because there needs to be some intellectual structure that the name points to?? There is a religious group out there well versed in patenting the unpatentable, maybe an alliance could have be formed?? That might have been an interesting thing to see hey.

Failed - In attracting an never ending stream of grass roots new comers, many look in and see the push for a course to be paid for, they see the targetting of individuals in the discussion forums, simple they say not for me I'm out of here. Had many e/mails with such concerns, and I did try to keep them interested in grass roots applications of permaculture. Maybe I failed to?? But then it realy is not my job is it?

What is the next step? maybe they need to become a quazzie political type troupe? Maybe they align with so called political fringe groups who appear green by name? Maybe they await the time they can influence these figureheads, influence Governemnt policy, into promoting the need for a Quango for these L.L.F's to flex their ego muscles in?

Holding that thought, the formation of a "Citizens Forum", might be it gets called the "Peoples Assembly", good and patriotic hey? mmm!! slip into those titles Inquisition as a silent word, the picture will form.

Okey dokey they now have their regulated group in which the ego's and intollerances of those who would lead can now come forth. It is said that history repeats itself? Hark back to mid 1930's and early 1940's, a little bloke with a funny moustache comes along and deals up an autocratic governance, he forms many groups to effect his control he has a troupe of young, and they seek out discenters even in the smallest way and cause summary justice to be bought upon these discenters. Might be this new Quango will be dressed in a green type coloured uniform enter premises without warrant aprehend citizens in the street, and deal out summary justice if they oh I dunno? Maybe don't like your hair cut or your opinion or some books in your library?? Whatever, in these changing times is it ready for the circle to go round again, that's it hey? What goes round comes round. Don't forget the group would be formed by Government so would have access to whatever they need to excecute their seen duties. The Government would be distant enough in the public arena to be able to wash their hands of the forum should the poo hit the fan, but the poo won't hit the fan.

You see I remember about 30 years give or take ago, when someone threw a mattress down in a backyard, cut a hole in it, planted a banana in it then mulched it, this was the beginning of the pemaculture happening (it ultimately failed due to lack of follow up) out of that their need to make money came. Then on a lunchtime studio stage with a prompted audience, about 10 years maybe later? along comes another Pemaculture under study, did the person promote Permaculture in real time using that mediums time slot opportunity, don't reckon so, the ego was well satiated but with much acting like a marionette, got lots of promped laughs. But at the end of the day those opportunities were wasted until maybe about now?

End of update


Interesting and sadly true.

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, 'Common Sense', who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
why the early bird gets the worm;
life isn't always fair;
and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge)

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouth wash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an Aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement .

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust. His wife, Discretion, his daughter, Responsibility, his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights; I Want It Now; Someone Else Is To Blame; I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Living Outside the Box


Nature Loo Construction guidelines for a waterless composting toilet
Sustainable Sanitation Manual THE AFFORDABLE YET ELEGANT SOLUTION: Our goal is to provide the lowest priced, most environmentally friendly wastewater management system with quality assured performance.
The Humanure Handbook The Humanure Handbook - Waste Not Want Not: A Guide to Composting Human Manure.
Keyline Designs Keyline Designs - Water for every farm: Keyline is a set of principles, techniques and systems, which form the logical basis for a practical plan for the sustainable development of rural and urban landscapes.
Sustainable Sanitation Manual Manual for the DIY in you: For a waterless composting toilet.
'Sawdust' Toilet Making a Simple 'Sawdust' Toilet: My version of a "sawdust toilet" (as described in the Humanure Handbook) consists of a receptacle bucket,
National Poly' Industries was Bundaberg Poly' Tank Industry National (was Bundaberg) Poly' Tank Industry: Tanks now available from Mackay to Mildura - Water - one of the world's most precious commodities is now being recognised as a scarce resource which needs to be managed efficiently, think latteraly buy big.

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