outdoors

Permaculture by Sepp Holzer

The Big Idea: Learn how nature works. Then work with nature, instead of against it, to practice sustainable agriculture.

Ch 1: Landscape Design

  • Permaculture landscape design is about restoring a partially destroyed natural landscape.
  • Keep water on your land as long as possible.
  • Terraces are an important part of my permaculture system.
  • With the exception of raised beds, there should be no straight lines, corners, or steep slopes.
  • Create microclimates where possible, to increase diversity and maximize use of land.
  • Livestock plays an important role in my permaculture system.
  • When making larger changes, seek professional help to avoid landslides and gully erosion.
  • Mechanical diggers might be used when first creating the system.
  • Burning biomass is a mistake.
  • Loosening subsoil with the excavator helps make the soil productive again.
  • Flat land, at low altitude, with lots of sun is the easiest, but permaculture systems can be developed in many unfavorable lands.
  • Understand soil conditions, water sources, aspect (directionality), and climate.
  • Raised beds are great over heavy soils that are difficult for plants to establish roots in.
  • Good healthy soil is critical for earthworms and micro-organisms that benefit plants.
  • Indicator plants will tell you what the soil conditions are like.
  • Dig deep test trenches in many places to see what the soil layers are.
  • Always experiment with new plants to see what might grow.
  • Pioneer trees can be planted to quickly protect land from erosion.
  • Lay thorny branches to protect germinating seeds from animals and to create a microclimate for growth.
  • In dry areas, you must retain as much water as possible.
  • Terraces prevent erosion, hold moisture, and increase the amount of usable land.
  • Dispersing water for roads by making the middle of the road higher.
  • Use pipes or culverts to divert streams and springs underneath roads.
  • Ditches are good for collecting water and collecting organic material.
  • Develop terraces slowly, over multiple years.
  • After excavating terraces, plant immediately and mulch to encourage fast growth.
  • Green manure or wildflowers can be planted immediately to improve suboptimal soil on a terrace.
  • Cutting grasses in summer and autumn is not necessary.
  • Plant fruit bushes and trees on embankments of terraces.
  • Humus storage ditches can be built the bottom of a slope and a terrace.
  • Raised beds are a staple of Holzer permaculture.
  • Holzer permaculture raised beds are 3-4 feet deep into the ground, 4-6 feet wide, filled with hugelkultur material, then soil to 3 feet high, with steep (45+ degree) sides.
  • Cover raised beds with mulch to prevent drying out.
  • Consider planting bushes on top of raised beds. Vegetables can still be planted under the bush. Bushes can protect vegetables from the sun drying out the soil.
  • Inside the hugelkultur, use wood chips for vegetables that require lots of nutrients. Use bulky material for vegetables that don’t require as many nutrients.
  • Try to retain as much water as possible on your land.
  • Wetlands house snakes and amphibians that help control pests.
  • Large areas of water help to stabilize temperature fluctuations.
  • A pond for fish will be different than an aquatic garden for plants, or for a pond for swimming.
  • Play close attention to topography when building a pond.
  • Rain-filled ponds are for plants. Animals require a constant flow of water.
  • An excavator is used to dig the pond and tamp the base to seal it.
  • Holzer ponds never use a pond liner.

Ch. 2: Alternative Agriculture

  • Fossil fuels have enabled large, unsustainable monoculture farms to replace sustainable, diverse farms.
  • Healthy plants require healthy soil and healthy micro-organisms.
  • Green manure crops help restore soil health.
  • Using flail mowers to cut down green manure is a common mistake.
  • Gardening problems are usually caused by an imbalance which we should fix, instead of treating the symptoms.
  • Many corrections (weeding, chemical fertilizer) that are are possible on a small scale, but not feasible or desirable on a larger scale.
  • It’s better to understand and correct the imbalance instead. Eg. mulch with cardboard, plant Jerusalem artichokes.
  • Old plant varieties generally make the best crops. Avoid hybrid seeds.
  • Store or propagate the seeds of your strongest plants growing in the worst conditions.
  • Try to grow plants in polycultures. Eg. cereals with catch crops. Eg. corn with beans or peas.
  • Breed only old, domestic breeds of livestock.
  • Keep livestock humanely, and in family groups.
  • Pigs loosen the soil and till the terraces.
  • Direct pigs to loosen desired soil by scattering feed.
  • Pigs can clean up fruit orchards, preventing rotting fruit from spreading fungus and mold, without damaging the fruit trees.
  • Pigs can also control snails.
  • Use a rotating paddock system when keeping pigs.
  • Keep wild and domestic cattle in paddocks and let them forage to stay healthy.
  • Birds are great for controlling insect population and helping to propagate plants. Provide them with good forage and habitat.
  • Free range poultry needs good habitat, protection from predators, and good forage plants.
  • Ponds with an island in the middle provide good protection against predators for ducks and geese.
  • Earth shelters can be used to house pigs and as storage cellars.
  • Cellars can also be built out of stone to last forever.

Ch. 3: Fruit Trees

  • Fruit trees provide food for animals and insects.
  • Fruit trees provide wood for homes, fuel, and furniture.
  • Fruit trees provide shade against the sun and also stabilize soil.
  • Plant fruit trees wherever possible.
  • Wild fruit trees can pollinate cultivated fruit trees.
  • You don’t need to prune, fertilize, or use chemical pesticides. Doing this trains them to depend on human care forever.
  • Leave all the branches below the graft intact.
  • Do not use a tree guard, hammer in a stake, or use chemical fertilizer.
  • Cover the base with mulch and stones.
  • Plant green manure around the base.
  • Create microclimates around the tree to give it protection.
  • Branches sink down under the weight of fruit, allowing sunlight to reach in. Do not prune.
  • Pruning also creates wounds and can introduce disease.
  • Side shoots and branches also protect the tree from deer from damaging the trunk.
  • Plant distraction plants such as fruit bushes and willow trees to protect fruit trees.

Ch. 4: Mushrooms

  • Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of mycelium.
  • Mushrooms can be cultivated on wood, compost, or straw.
  • It’s easiest to grow mushrooms on wood.
  • Softwoods gives faster yields, if that’s what you want.
  • Use only fresh, healthy wood.
  • Inoculation is easier than growing from spores.
  • The key to mushroom growing is the right combination of sun, moisture, and substrate.
  • Snails will try to eat your mushrooms.
  • You can also cultivate wild mushrooms by inoculating in the wild forest areas.

Ch. 5: Gardens

  • Try to keep gardens closer to the home.
  • Plant vegetables, medicinal, and culinary plants in your garden.
  • Natural medicine is being replaced by more effective modern medicine. However, natural medicine is safer and still effective.
  • A cold frame can extend the growing season.
  • When you weed the garden, place weeds on the ground as cover and mulch.
  • In the spring, you can lightly loosen the soil.
  • There is no need to dig soil over. It is harmful because it disturbs micro-organisms and worms.
  • Watering in the garden should be limited to dry weather. Use lots of mulch to help protect plants from drying out.
  • Adding compost is not required, though it is helpful.
  • Mulching is important. Mulching is basically surface composting and happens in nature. Spread mulch loosely because mulch needs oxygen for decomposition.
  • Natural liquid fertilizer is useful for nutrients and repelling pests.
  • Pest problems are an indication of an imbalance.
  • Monocultures are an imbalance, so there will be pests.
  • Lack of natural predators is an imbalance, so there will be pests.
  • Restore natural balance and pests should not be a problem.
  • Non-indigenous pests are an exception and should be controlled more aggressively.
  • Create good habitat for garden helpers like lizards, birds, worms, and predatory insects.
  • Create enough good forage to distract garden critters from your vegetable garden and fruit trees.
  • Encourage lots of earthworms by giving them lots of mulch and stones for good living conditions. Consider breeding earthworms in your garden by burying food compost in your garden.

Ch. 6: Projects

  • Example project in Scotland.
  • Example project in Thailand.

How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons

The Big Idea: Grow Biointensive (a variant of organic farming) produces more food per square foot while also building soil, using less water, using less fertilizer, and requiring less fossil fuel.

  • Industrial agriculture depletes 6 pounds of soil for every 1 pound of food produced.
  • Organic agriculture also depletes soil as it produces food.
  • Grow Biointensive and permaculture builds soils as it produces food.
  • Grow Biointensive farming builds soil, uses less water, uses less fertilizer, requires less energy, and increases food production per square foot.
  • Grow Biointensive relies on human labor instead of external inputs.
  • Similar to Grow Biointensive: agroforestry, no-till Fukuoka farming, Asian blue-green algal wet rice farming, natural rainfall arid farming, and indigenous farming.
  • Build compost (using earthworm) for soil fertility.
  • Deep soil preparation (double digging) sets a foundation for building good soil.
  • Companion planting enhances growth and plant health.
  • Carbon-efficient crops produces carbon for compost.
  • Calorie-efficient crops produces lots of calories.
  • Open-pollinated seeds preserves genetic diversity.
  • A holistic farming system minimizes waste and required inputs.
  • Start small and build from there.

Permaculture for the Rest of Us by Jenni Blackmore

The Big Idea: With creativity and persistence, you can live well on a small homestead, even if the climate is difficult and the soil is subpar.

  • Every homestead will be unique. Contours, zones and sectors should be mapped out on paper before getting started.
  • Zones are concentric circles around your home. Zone 0 is your home. Zone 1 is next out and will contain herbs, etc. Zone 5 is further away and will contain less visited trees and bushes.
  • Sectors are like slices of a pie-chart  that clearly define sunniest spots, wind tunnels, water courses, etc.
  • Develop the land slowly so that you have time to experiment, adjust, and enjoy.
  • Develop intimate knowledge of every corner of your land.
  • Encourage what wants to stay and let the rest go away. This will lighten your work immensely.
  • Soil is made of sand, silt, and clay. There is an ideal ratio of all three for plants.
  • Important layers are: topsoil (2-8″), subsoil (12-30″), and bedrock.
  • Only a few plants (comfrey, dandelions, daikon radish) have roots long enough to penetrate subsoil and bring nutrients up.
  • Amend soil by adding good organic material like compost, humus, and worms.
  • A well-designed compost bin can speedy up decomposition and keep things clean.
  • Red Wrigglers are the best compost worm.
  • Chickens can be a great help turning compost.
  • Chicken manure must be aged one year before using on plants.
  • Comfrey fixes nitrogen, attracts bees, can reach down into the subsoil, and can be used to supplement compost piles or as green mulch. Just be careful to plant comfrey in an unused area of land.
  • Digging and tilling disrupts the organisms living in good soil. Try the no-till method instead.
  • Instead of digging vegetable garden beds, use raised bed gardens.
  • Try hugelkultur raised bed gardens.
  • Try keyhole raised bed gardens.
  • Try lasagna raised bed gardens.
  • Copper mesh along the top sides of raised bed walls keeps slugs away.
  • An herb spiral is a classic permaculture design.
  • Every vegetable has its own growing preference. Proper timing and environment is essential to learn.
  • Easy starter crops: garlic, chard, potatoes, squash.
  • Crop rotation is essential to healthy gardens.
  • Get at least on really comprehensive gardening guide to explain each plant’s preferences.
  • Legumes are great for the soil.
  • Greenhouses are not a luxury. They are integral to a successful homestead.
  • You can find lots of inexpensive DIY designs online.
  • Traditionally, greenhouses are placed with maximum southern exposure but this is not a hard rule.
  • Three purposes of a greenhouse: starting seeds, growing plants that prefer warmth, prolonging seasonal growth.
  • Brussel sprouts are underrated vegetables and should be started inside.
  • Ladybugs are fantastic for dealing with an aphid problem.
  • Even the smallest homestead should have a wild Zone 5. (Zone 4 is a food forest. Zones 2 and 3 are gardens, compost, and animals.
  • Hugulkulture is ideal in colder climates because it creates a warmer environment for growing.
  • Natural or manmade microclimates help protect plants from wind and cold.
  • While not required, good livestock design makes permaculture easier.
  • Chickens are great for eggs, manure, composting scraps.
  • Chicken manure always needs to be aged before using.
  • Chickens need to be well-protected from predators
  • Ducks are great for eggs and slug control.
  • Ducks are harder to keep because of their water requirements. Minimum 4 inches of water to dunk their heads.
  • Rabbits are great for meat production.
  • Rabbit manure can be used immediately in gardens.
  • Turkeys are good for meat and eggs and very easy to care for.
  • Build a chicken tractor and a henposter if you raise chickens.
  • Principle 1: Feedback loops: accepting and responding to change.
  • Principle 2: Integrated symbiotic support between all systems: every system must support other systems and in turn be supported by other systems.
  • Principle 3: Cultivate local species: avoid introducing invasive species.
  • Principle 4: Ensure the fair distribution of yield and empower others to become self-sustaining.
  • Principle 5: Continuous and mindful observation.
  • Principle 6: Intelligent design and the observation of naturally occurring patterns.
  • Principle 7: Capturing and storing energy and the efficient use of resources.
  • Principle 8: Ensure a yield.
  • Principle 9: Start small and move slowly.
  • Principle 10: Introduce renewable, biological resources only.
  • Principle 11: Celebrate and value diversity.
  • Principle 12: See creative solutions not problems.
  • Save any valuable seeds in labeled pill bottles or envelopes.
  • Learn to preserve harvest with canning, drying, root cellars, cold rooms, freezing.
  • Cold frames and greenhouses help to prolong the growing season.
  • Read Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets.

Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin

The Big Idea: Today’s level of overconsumption and resource-depletion is unsustainable.
Ch. 1: Children, Chores, Humility, and Health
  • Historically, children had chores and responsibilities that taught them how to be an adult.
  • Our children were homeschooled, never had television, and were encouraged to pursue entrepreneurial adventures.
  • I don’t believe in allowances.
  • 50 years ago, 50% of produce grown in America came from backyard gardens.  Gardening teaches children about responsibility and nature.
  • According to the hygiene hypothesis, sheltering children from dirt and minor pathogens leads to allergies, asthma, and a weaker immune systems.
Ch. 2: A Cat Is a Cow Is a Chicken Is My Aunt
  • Traditional agricultures has always used grazing animals to replenish the soil.
  • The circle of life demands that something must die for something to live.
  • Animal activists will learn more working on a functioning organic farm with animals than sitting in air-conditioned home, reading articles on the internet.
  • Chickens and pigs are great for turning scraps into fertilizer.
  • Nobody in the world goes hungry because of lack of food production.  What kills people is food distribution problems.
  • Heifer International is getting it right, by starting with livestock.
  • Not all plants are good.  Many grains, grown industrially, devastate our topsoil.
  • If people knew more about where food came from, we would all be better off.
  • Can you name four vegetables that grow underground?  Above ground? Legumes?
  • Spend some serious time on a farm.
  • Start a backyard vegetable garden.
  • Eat more grass-fed beef and less chicken and less pork.
  • Raise small livestock (rabbits, chickens).
  • Take your kids hunting.

Ch. 3: Hog Killin’s and Laying in the Larder

  • The average town only has three days’ supply of food.
  • The first supermarket in America appeared in the 1940’s.
  • Nobody goes hungry because of lack of food.  They go hungry due to a lack of distribution.
  • Having all food available all year is not natural.
  • Lack of food security, caused by our current system makes us vulnerable.
  • Buy more food from local farmers.
  • Learn how to preserve food.
  • Buy a big freezer and store more food.
  • Start a 19th-century hobby.
  • Grow some food on your property.

Ch. 4: Wrappings, Trappings, and Foil

  • Book: Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
  • Learn how to preserve your own food.
  • Learn how to extend your gardening season with cool-season crops like brassicas, carrots, beets, and greens.
  • Take your own containers to the farmer’s market and grocery store.
  • Reduce or eliminate buying processed foods.  They are responsible for all the wasteful packaging.
  • Get a ton of stackable, reusable containers.
  • Get a good thermos.

Ch. 5: Lawn Farms and Kitchen Chickens

  • Long distance distribution now defines the modern food system.
  • Half of all food fit for human consumption never gets eaten.  Much is lost to long-distance transportation.
  • Lots of farmland is going underused because farmers are getting older and the children are not farmers.
  • You can’t preserve farmland without preserving farmers.
  • Urban farm example: raised beds, chicken yard, worm farm.
  • Will Allen, Growing Power in Milwaukee: fish, hoophouses, warm farm.
  • Small Plot Intensive Farming (SPIN): half-acre, vertical stacking, polyculture.
  • Combining plants and animals gets the best of both worlds.
  • America has 35mm acres of lawns and 36mm acres of land for recreational horses.  And much more for golf courses.
  • Cheap energy masks the true cost of our food system.
  • We’ve traded our backyard gardens and neighborhood farms for Chinese imports and mega-crops filled with diseases.
  • Plant edible landscape.
  • Use marginal land.
  • Eat locally.
  • Raise backyard chickens.

Ch. 6: Dino-the-Dinosaur-Shaped Nuggets Don’t Grow on Chickens

  • People today have forgotten how to cut up a whole chicken.
  • Get a slow cooker.
  • Today’s kitchen is nothing more than an unpackaging center for packaged food.
  • Learn how to cook a complete meal from scratch.
  • Process something simple for yourself, like applesauce.
  • Everyone pitches in with cleaning up after dinner.

Ch. 7: We Only Serve White Meat Here

  • A quarter of all food is now eaten in automobiles.
  • Eat more home cooked meals and save more leftovers.
  • Eat more soups.  They are easy to prepare/store and way better than fast food.

Ch. 8: Disodium Ethylenediaminetetraacetate-Yum!

  • Quit buying processed food with ingredients you can’t pronounce.  It’s terrible for your gut biome.
  • Buy organic and local from farmer’s markets.

Ch. 9: No Compost, No Digestion

  • Food that doesn’t decompose isn’t normal.
  • Get chickens to turn kitchen scraps into fertilizer.
  • Get earthworms to turn kitchen scraps into earthworm castings for your garden.
  • Buy only perishable food.
  • The only stable foods at ambient temperature are normally nuts and dehydrated foods.

**Ch. 10 The Poop, the Whole Poop, and Nothing but the Poop

  • On some farms, half the workload can be shoveling manure.
  • Cities in the early 1900’s would suffocate in horse manure.
  • Soil fertility is linked to manure.
  • Cheap energy led to chemical fertilization.
  • Soil is fundamentally a living organism.
  • Book: The Complete Book of Composting by Rodale
  • Composting + intensive pasture management with herbivores and electric fencing = productive soil.
  • We should not be feeding herbivores grain.  It’s not their natural diet.

Ch. 11: Park, Plant, and Power

  • We are too dependent on cheap oil, even as we are reaching or have reached peak oil.
  • Before petroleum people acquired their own energy.
  • Before petroleum, people didn’t commute.  They lived where they worked.
  • Without petroleum, the suburbs will have to become more self-sufficient or else collapse from lack of food.
  • Green trend: living where you work
  • Green trend: passive solar gains at home
  • Green trend: edible landscaping
  • Green trend: backyard chickens and rabbits
  • Green trend: biodiesel

Ch. 12: Roofless Underground Dream Houses

  • Earth-sheltered home are naturally cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
  • A methane digester can take care of human waste.
  • A solar water heater would run showers and hot water faucets.
  • A clothesline would replace a dryer.
  • Gray water would irrigate vegetables and fruits.
  • Rain water would collect in the cistern.
  • A small woodstove would supplement passive solar gain.
  • A solar array or windmill would supply energy.
  • Earth berming would keep the house cool in the summer.
  • Tiny houses are replacing McMansions.
  • Buy tiny homes that are built with local materials.
  • Book: Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire.
  • Book: The Moving Feast
  • Hogs in forests help to stimulate growth.

Ch. 13: Grasping for Water

  • Water is the most essential and overlooked resource.
  • Less than 22 inches of annual rainfall is brittle (vs. temperate.)
  • Permaculturists are deep ecologists who understand the need to collect, preserve, and use water efficiently.
  • The key concept is to slow down and hold onto rainwater on your land.
  • Use water barrels.
  • Use greywater instead of clean water for toilets and landscaping.
  • Consider alternative toilets like composting toilets or moldering toilets.
  • Dig more ponds.

Ch. 14: Mob Stocking Herbivorous Solar Conversion Lignified Carbon Sequestration Fertilization

  • Traditional farms used to be very diversified, with varieties of plants and animals working together. Modern farms specialize in one crop or animal.
  • Perennials and herbivores build soil naturally.
  • Perennials are great for building soil because they put all their energy into accumulating root reserves. They sequester lots of CO2.
  • Herbivores forage on these grasslands and close the loop.
  • Too much grain production leads to deserts.
  • Herbivores + grazing management + grasslands + compost can build great soil on eroded bare rock.
  • Traditionally, herbivores (cows, sheep, goats) were a stable and omnivores (chickens, pigs) were a luxury. Grains were expensive.
  • Cheap oil reversed this. Omnivores > Herbivores.
  • Grassland is as efficient as trees at sequestering carbon.
  • Grass + herbivores is nature’s miracle cycle.
  • Eat more grass-fed beef, less chicken, less pork, less soy.

Ch. 15: Let’s Make a Despicable Farm

  • Today’s animal farms are kept alive only by cheap oil, animal pharma, and money.

Ch. 16: Scientific Mythology: Centaurs and Mermaids Now in Supermarkets

  • Buy organic, local, unprocessed, non-genetically modified food.

Ch. 17: You Get What You Pay For

  • Farmers are often synonymous with peasants.
  • To save our environment, farming needs to attract more of our best and brightest people. Even at the very small-scale with backyard vegetable gardens and chicken coops.
  • Buy less, but higher quality food and be willing to pay more if needed.

Ch. 18: Get Your Grubby Hands

  • When you tax inheritance, you destroy farms.
  • Prosecute anyone who pollutes, especially industrial agriculture.
  • Reign back eminent domain.

Ch. 19: Sterile Poop and Other Unsavory Cultural Objectives

  • Our legal system is set up to support industrial, mono-species farms, not small, diversified family farms.

Ch. 20: I Hereby Release You from Being Responsible for Me

  • Frivolous lawsuits cost millions of dollars.
  • Due to the risk of litigation, people confuse safe with sterile.
  • Our legal system needs reform.

Ch. 21: I’m from the Government, and I’m Here to Help You — Right

  • The two enemies of the people are criminals and government. –Thomas Jefferson
  • If we want to raise responsible children, we cannot protect them from every risk.
  • Quit buying from industrial food systems.
  • The answer is not regulations that limit competition but favor industrial agriculture.

Ch. 22: The Church of Industrial Food’s Unholy Food Inquisition

  • The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund is the small farmer’s version of the NRA, built to protect small farmers and food rights.

SAS Survival Handbook by John Wiseman

The Big Idea: if you head out to the wilderness, tell someone exactly where you are going. Take a wilderness survival course to learn how to survive for a few days until you are found.

  • The average person requires 0.5 liters of water a day.
  • Three fires are an internationally recognized distress signal.  SOS is also widely recognized.
  • Carry matches and learn how to build a fire.
  • Learn how to forage for edible plants and mushrooms and how to avoid poisonous ones.
  • Learn how to identify and use a few key medicinal plants.
  • Take a wilderness survival class and a wilderness first aid class.

Aquaponic Gardening by Sylvia Bernstein

The Big Idea: Aquaponic gardening is a symbiotic, permaculture-friendly version of gardening in which fish supply nutrients to plants, which then remove all fish waste from the water.

  • Aquaculture dates back to 5th century B.C. China
  • Benefits of aquaponics: completely organic, cheaper than hydroponics, minimal maintenance, minimal fertilizer, lots of vegetable production, fewer diseases, no weeding, no watering, growing fish is a bonus
  • In warm weather states, you can have an aquaponics system outdoors year-round.  Just watch out for insects.
  • The “basic flood and drain” setup is good for beginners. In this system, gravity carries water from the grow bed to the fish tank and a pump carries it back.
  • Use a 1:1 grow bed volume to fish tank volume for the basic flood and drain setup.
  • More advanced setups: CHOP, CHOP2, Barrel-ponics
  • Stock your tank with 0.1-0.2 lb of fish per gallon of tank water.
  • Place your fish tank in the shade if you put it outdoors.  Also partially cover it to help prevent debris and algae growth.
  • IBC totes are ideal for aquaponics systems. You can also use a bathtub for a vintage look.
  • For your grow media, use gravel or expanded clay (Hydroton). Grow media is the replacement for soil, and houses beneficial worms and bacteria.
  • Use only dechlorinated water.  Protect your water from changes in temperature, pH, oxygen levels.
  • Fish that work well: tilapia, goldfish, catfish, koi, shrimp.
  • Choose a fish depending on your needs and climate.
  • Supplement commercial fish feed with duckweed, worms, black soldier fly larvae.
  • All plants (except those requiring acidic or basic soil) grow well in aquaponics systems.
  • Nitrosomonas and Nitrospria bacteria convert fish waste into nitrites and nitrates, which are less harmfell to fish and nourish the plants.
  • Worms digest solid waste and dead root matter into valuable vermicompost tea for the plants.
  • Cycle the system with half of your fish to get your system started.
  • Check system levels of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates regularly.
  • Check pH. temperature, and check for insects regularly.

Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

Last year, I planted my first ever square root, raised bed vegetable garden with my girlfriend and had no idea what I was doing.  This year, I’ll read up on it first.  Brilliant, right?

The Big Idea: Square foot, raised bed gardening will give you more vegetables with much less work, money, and space. For the home gardener, smaller is better. 

Why square foot gardens?

  • Makes your work easier since there is less soil and less garden to take care of
  • Makes water faster since there’s less garden to water
  • Makes weeding easier since there’s less garden to weed
  • Creates living mulch which helps create healthier soil and keep weeds away
  • Is more pleasant to look at, which makes you more like to spend time caring for your garden
  • Makes vegetable garden more practical for urbanites, since you can have a productive garden almost anywhere
  • Makes protective plants from the weather or pests with a cage or box possible since the garden is smaller
  • Gives the soil the right texture since you will never be walking on the soil.

How do you get started?

  • Build or buy a box with sides about 12″ high.
  • Place the box in an area with lots of sunshine.
  • Fill the box with good soil and compost.
  • Divide the box into 12″ x 12″ squares.
  • Each 12″ x 12″ square should get one type of vegetable.
  • Decide what you want to grow (look this up in a reference book or web site.)
  • Some vegetables (peppers) require the entire 12″ x 12″ square.  Other vegetables (carrots) can fit 16 to a 12″ x 12″ square.
  • Keep tall-growing plants on the north side of your garden.
  • Support your tall-growing, vining plants like tomatoes and cucumbers with stakes, cages, or trellises.
  • Look up which month to plant which vegetables.  (The average growing season is May to September.)
  • Water with a bucket of warm water and a cup.  Daily, when they are just starting, then weekly, or more, if you live in a hot climate.
  • Weed your garden once a week.
  • Remove pests by hand if you can, or use natural pest deterrents.
  • Fertilize as needed.
  • Harvest when ready (look this up in a reference book or web site.)

Basic Wilderness Life Support

This was from a wilderness medicine course I took at BCM.

The Big Idea: boil all water, clean wounds with soap and water, wash off poison ivy within 1-4 hours, do not suck out snake venom, splint possible fractures, seek medical attention

Essentials for Wilderness Travel

  • map, compass, knife, matches, flashlight, first aid kit, sunglasses/sunscreen, extra food, extra clothes, water
  • first aid kit/prevention: blister prevention, insect repellant, gloves
  • first aid kit/procedures: splint, scissors, duct tape, zip lock bags, safety pins, tweezers, syringe
  • first aid kit/medication: topical antibiotics/antiseptics, tylenol, imodium, benadryl, hydrocortisone cream, aloe, antifungal, epipen
  • first aid kit/wound: gloves, bandaids, irrigation, wound closure strips, moleskin, povidone-iodine, benzoin, dressings, antiseptic towelletes, alcohol swabs, gauze, antibiotic ointment, Ace bandage, Q-tip, triangular bandage
  • vehicle first aid kit: large burn dressings, rope, splints, blankets, radio, shovel, chains, food, water, fire extinguisher, candle, saw, flares

Water

  • use screen (bandana) to remove debris
  • let water stand for debris to settle, then decant from the top
  • boil to kill hep A, bacteria, enteric viruses, crypto, giardia
  • if you can’t boil, filtration works for all except viruses
  • if you can’t boil, chemical disinfection (iodine/chlorine) works for all except helminths and protozoa
  • chlorine dioxide is highly effective against all

Assessment

  • ABCDE: airway, breathing, circulation, disability, environment
  • if not breathing, CPR: 30 chest compressions, 2 rescue breaths
  • never move a victim with possible spinal injuries, unless you have to

Wounds

  • abrasions: minimal blood loss, painful, foreign objects
  • lacerations: high risk of infection, foreign objects, animal bites
  • first degree burn: red, treat with aloe, damp cloth
  • second degree burn: blistered, treat with cool water, antibacterial ointment, dressing, possible evac
  • third degree burn: all layers burned, nerve damage, possible reduced pain, evac
  • 1st treatment for bleeding: direct pressure for several minutes, longer for scalp wounds
  • 2nd treatment for bleeding: after direct pressure, pressure points (axillary artery, femoral artery) and elevation
  • tourniquet: last resort for bleeding, may result in amputation, tie a cloth around limb and tighten by turning a stick through the knot
  • irrigate wound with lots of clean water to help prevent infection
  • remove foreign matter from wound if possible
  • don’t worry about closing a wound, worry more about irrigating and dressing it well
  • use tape to close a cleaned and irrigated wound
  • dressing: antibiotic/antiseptic ointment, dressing, gauze, tape
  • check dressings 1-2x daily for infections
  • alternative topical antimicrobial: unprocessed honey
  • scrub abrasions well, even if painful
  • keep thumbs and fingers for possible re-implantations, keep cold but do not ice directly
  • lacerations to eyelids, ears should evac
  • deep lacerations to limbs: test strength, full range of motion, sensation, for possible tendon and nerve damage
  • puncture wounds: don’t forcefully irrigate or might push in debris, scrub and dress, do not close, evaluate frequently for infections
  • bites: clean very well, look for debris, evaluate frequently for infections
  • blister: okay to puncture large blisters

Sprains, Dislocations, and Fractures

  • sprain: stretching or tearing of ligaments, knee/ankle, similar symptoms to fracture
  • dislocation: bone pulled out of its socket, shoulder, elbow, finger, kneecap, compare joint to the uninjured side
  • fracture: closed vs open, difficult to diagnose without X-rays
  • sprain/fracture: assume it’s fractured, splint, evac
  • neck/back, pelvic, femur fractures: very serious, helicopter evac
  • splinting: remove jewelry before swelling, recheck circulation and sensation after splinting
  • sprain: RICES for 72 hours (rest, ice, compression, elevation, stabilization)
  • dislocations: reduce if you know how, otherwise evac

Drowning

  • drowning: body involuntary breathes, water enters lung, lung injury, decreased oxygen to brain, death if not rescued
  • pass out after 3 minutes, brain damage after 5 minutes
  • CPR if victim not breathing: 2 rescue breaths, 30 chest compressions
  • no special drainage procedures to empty water out of the lungs or stomach
  • if no symptoms, observe victims for 6 hours

Medical Problems

  • chest pain: rest and take a history (OLDCARTS), if in doubt chew aspirin and evac
  • shortness of breath: rest and take a history (OLDCARTS), if no resolution evac
  • seizures: let it run its course, after it stops roll patient on side, first time seizures (low blood sugar, head injury, CNS infection, toxicity, stroke) require rapid evac
  • stroke: lack of blood flow to the brain, helicopter evac
  • diabetes/low blood sugar: clammy skin, weakness, confusion, give sugar and evac
  • diabetes/high blood sugar: confusion, blurry vision, nausea, fruity smelling breath, give lots of fluids with electrolytes, evac
  • local allergic reaction: cold packs, hydrocortisone cream, benadryl
  • generalized allergic reaction: epipen+benadryl
  • abdominal pain: too many possible causes so just evac

Bites and Stings

  • get your tetanus vaccination
  • all wounds: irrigate with water, clean with soap and water, dress with clean cloth
  • dog/cat bites: consider oral antibiotics
  • wild animal attacks in the US are rare
  • rabies: skunks, raccoons, foxes, bats
  • black bear: try to scare away, if attacked get into fetal position
  • brown bear: stand quietly, do not run, if attacked get into fetal position
  • cougar: do not run away, try to scare off, pick up children
  • snakes (pit viper): mostly hemotoxic, support airway/breathing/circulation, evac, bite kits ineffective, do not tourniquet, do not use alcohol, do not use aspirin, do not ice
  • snakes (coral): red on black venom lack — red on yellow kill a fellow, wrap limb tightly in elastic bandage
  • mosquitos: most active at dusk, use DEET, put campsite should be high and away from standing water
  • spiders (black widow): catch the spider, clean the bite with soap and water, evac
  • spiders (brown recluse): painless bite, swollen after 2-8 hours, catch the spider, clean the bite, look for white core with white/blue border, elevate limb, systemic signs means get to hospital
  • spider (hobo): brown spider with yellow green dorsal abdomen, no need to evac unless systemic symptoms
  • ticks: remove ticks within 48 hours to prevent Lyme, use twizzers only
  • ants/bees/wasps: treat generalized allergic reactions with epipen
  • scorpions: only bark scorpion is dangerous, clean sting, apply ice and oral pain meds, rapid evac if bark scorpion
  • jellyfish/man-o-war: rinse with seawater/vinegar (except man-o-war)/alcohol, do not use freshwater/rub/warm water
  • sea snake: begins painless, then aches and fatigue within 2-3 hours, immobilize limb, no ice, no suction, no incision, rapid evac
  • poison ivy/oak/sumac: poison ivy = leaves of three let it be, never burn the leaves, watch with soap and water within 1-4 hours, hydrocortisone cream asap (except face/genitals), benadryl/calamine for relief

Lightning

  • most common cause of death in a lightning victim is cardiopulmonary arrest
  • continue to give rescue breathing once a victim recovers a pulse because drive to breathe is often delayed
  • treat unconscious/no-pulse/no-breathing victims first (reverse triage)
  • no need to worry about touching a lightning strike victim
  • avoid being the tallest object in an open field
  • avoid being next to the tallest object in an open field
  • seek shelter in a low area under small trees
  • avoid open doors and windows, metal objects

Heat Injuries

  • heat cramps: oral salt replacement and hydration
  • heat fainting: lie the victim flat so blood can flow back from legs to brain
  • heat exhaustion: cool victim and rehydrate
  • heat stroke: emergency, lack of active sweating, CNS disturbance, ice packs, evaporate cooling, rapid evac

Cold Injuries

  • hypothermia: rewarm the patient
  • cold rescue: no one is dead until they are warm and dead
  • frostbite: elevate the extremity, thawing and rewarming should be done by a doctor, doctor will rapid rewarm with warm water not fire
  • trenchfoot: rewarm foot, resolves spontaneously

Altitude Sickness

  • acute mountain sickness: rest, tylenol
  • high altitude cerebral edema: unsteady gait, fatigue, immediate descent and evac, full recovery can take weeks
  • high altitude pulmonary edema: shortness of breath at rest, immediate descent and evac