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Jonathan Naraine
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Gothemburg, Västra Götaland, Sweden
Climate Zone:
Cold Temperate

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Posted by Jonathan Naraine about 13 years ago

I have just got started on the actual design part of my permaculture project. To help myself /others to come up with creative and suitable ideas I have asssembled the forework of my design. The conclusions of my observations and interactions and my vision

Intro: This is a project I will make into an okaj design proposal in april as the final product of my graduation project, but after that I will come back to it regularly and I hopefully start to implement it this year.

Therefore I would be very happy if someone from the permaculture world, with a little experience could have a look at it and maybe give me some tips. After all I haven't taken any PDC-courses yet so right now I mainly follow tips I got from books. 

Goals: I want to be 50% self-sufficient, meaning that I grow 50% of all the medicin, food and personal hygiene products I consume. Secondly I want a place to rest and meditate in everyday life (for me observing and interacting with nature is a form of meditation).

I want ot learn, have fun and experiment in this project and I think that the design I make as a graduation project will be a good tool to be able to aquire a well functioning permaculture garden to help me obtain these goals. I also search for personal development and some real good friends and hope that this project will help me on my way to my better self.

My observations:

1, Ecological conditions:

I live in suburban residential neighbourhood on the top of hillside road, surrounded by a forest to the south-west and smaler forest strip to the north-east. Our hose is in a slopebetween this two forests and some regurlarly outplaced houses. In th garden we have a compressed and acid soil, waterlogged for much of the year, with early frosts (october) and possibly snow from november to april. There are also two huge pine-trees on the southern and western corners of the garden and a slope pointing to the north-east — wich together makes the garden very shady. With the house pointing north-east my backyard should be the sunniest location but thanks to slope and trees it's very shady. On my front yard I have an old Apple tree that I want to keep, some berrybushes and rhubarbd wich I want to spread/propagate. The apple tree probably has the only location that gets sun now in wintertime.

2, Social conditions: I am now working for possiblities to grow vegetables and bushes on large unmown fields by the big road. Although right now there are plans on building more apartments here. 1 km from ur house, by the food-store me and some transition-people have just started collaborations with a Housing Company with the possibility of lending us land (today huge trimmed lawn fields) that we could grow in / take care of. Personally I understand that I will probably not have very much spare time for gardening at home being active in such project besides my work in the local Slow Food convivia , as I will also be studying to Architect/Engineer at Chalmers. And I may not always be home in summertime, since I like being on the countryside on my sparetime.

My vision:

1, Create a garden of Eden. A place to rest and meditate, to interact with friends and to observe and be inspired from. A place that can feed me as well ass possible, whileas I do minimum work, a place to connect to the natural cycle. A garden that will make more self-suffient, happy, healthy and that will take most of my so called waste and transform it into resources. A slow garden for slow food and a slow enjoyable life.

2, Create an educational centre in the local area.

The region needs a demonstrations site on how to build and maintain a forest garden/ permaculture garden. To inspire more people to do it, by showing how simple fun and effective it is. And eventually teach the principles and basic design methodics as I get more experienced.

The future needs/wants: To be able to analyse the needs of the coming 5-10 years, I will need a plan of the coming time. I know that I will be studying the coming 5-10 years at Chalmers or Gothenburg University and that my parents will probably move to the countryside, and thus I will probably search for someone to share the house with (start a collective or something) and together we will start paying electricity, cook and so on. The garden could serve for some kind of ecomonic investment for these harder times by helping me be more self-sufiicient. I love food and want a varied diet with a lot of carbs, protein, fibers, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This I can partly get from a forest garden. It will mainly serve my medicinal and some varied household needs - soap, candles, shampoo, ect - but also inspirational culinary treats and my definition of luxury. But I think I will also need to intensively grown annual vegg. and ecological meat, milk products, eggs, oil and flower to obtain the gastronomical variety I want. Considering my gardens poor sun, soil conditions and size I suppose it will be far to expensive/unsustainable in time and money to develop the needed intensive beds/greenhouses. So here I just have to work hard for the projects in Backa — and they will make a yield! Considering my habits of never being here in summer and the costs of keeping animals indoors in wintertime I can neither have hens or rabbit for meat (and eggs). Although I've been reasearching the possibility of having pigs prepare my soil for planting, and if I get young ones I can eat them when they're done. Milk products will always have to be bought. However 50-60% of my meat consumption today is and will probably be covered by our own summer lambs, and maybe we can start milking them and make cheese. So the existing eggs and meat will have to be bought until my parents start producing it on the countryside.



With my conditions I can either have a professional cut down the pine trees (resulting in even more flooding problems) and hope that the neighbours trees doesn't make my backyard to shady for annual vegetables. Or I can create a forest garden. With the forest garden being more flexible and depent on a careful design it is after all easier to put in have garden than somewhere else. So I have decided that the forest garden shall be the primal element of my design. However to decide how much time I wan't it to take I'll have to chose between the economic and sustainable slow method and the expensive unsustainable fast method of implementation. The choice is easy. By propagating the plants from seedlings it will be less expensive and I can get help prepare soil with pigs and sheet mulching or heavy sheet mulching.

But this way the forest garden will take 3-5 years to establish. So once again: what will I be doing then? Maybe I won't be here to obtain full yield from it when finally mature, I might decide to practice as an architect in another country in 2017 och take my Master abroad in 2015. But then at least the implementation will be done and the system will be relatively self-sustaining/self-regulating. And whileas an annual system wouldn't produce any yield without a lot of work, I can have my neighbours/ houskeeper to still rape the benefits and do some maintainance of my forest garden. 

Therefore I shall plan the implementation period so that I can get as much annual/perennial vegetable yield as possible. For example: Instead of sheet mulching after pigs I can plant a green manure as an edible/medicinal crop. This way the roots will loosen up an fertilize my compacted garden soil and it will probably produce masses of organic biomass for composting/sheet-mulching.

Now it's time to get going in the actual design.

I know some of the plants I want and can grow, but would appreciate more tips on frost hardy species that tolerates shade and maybe some tolerating drought and waterlogging. Especially I would be thankful on tips how to combine the species and elements of my design.

List of the plants I have chosen: Coming up soon!

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Comments (3)

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Sven Horner
Sven Horner : Hi Jonathan. I neither took a PDC until now. (Couldnt afford it). As you dont know, what your future brings (well, you never **know**) - why not see it as an opportunity to make mistakes and learn in the first place? Im glad our winters hear in southern bavaria, just before the alpine upland, aren't as long as yours. But still I also needed to choose some very frost hardy species. Im going to plant them next month. Today ill dig the some more holes (3 i did yesterday :) ). I chose the following: Elaeagnus multiflora, Elaeagnus angustifolia, Elaeagnus x ebbingei, Sambucus nigra, Ribes nigrum, Ribes uva-crispa, Ribes divaricatum, Chaenomeles japonica, Rubus phoenicolasius, Lycium barbarum. Maybe one of those also fits your conditions. Much more important: Do you know the Plants for a Future database? It was tremendously valuable in my design process. See http://www.pfaf.org
Posted about 13 years ago

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Jonathan Naraine
Jonathan Naraine : Hi Sven! Thank you very much for your tips (especially the plant tips)! The winter I was describing is the extreme winter of last year (havent been so much snow in 50 years — and three months later we had the worst drought in a 100 years!) but as these extreme conditions are getting more common I guess I need to count them in. In Gothenburg snow has just dissapeared, at least for now, but I guess this winter will be as last years (snow until april) and right now the ground is still inpenetrable because of permafrost. So as for me digging has to wait for some time.. Have been considering some Eleaugnus for my forest garden, but I wonder: Which variety makes the best jam? I eat a lot of porridge and need aa lot of good jam. And where do you get hold of seeds/sticklings? We have only a couple of active permaculturists in Sweden so far.. Maybe I could get some online? //Jonathan
Posted about 13 years ago

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My Permaculture Qualifications
Grundkurs i Permakulturdesign
Type: Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course
Teacher: Esbjörn Wandt
Location: Sweden
Date: Apr 2012

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