Functional demonstration of an applicable urban permaculture model.
One of the significances with this project is that it is using a building style very common to the area. Many homes in the Downtown Orlando area have features of this site in common:
- Many are bungalows (wood framed buildings built from 1-2' above the ground on blocks (makes for very accessible greywater pipes amongst other things)
- Many have a large trees, usually Live Oaks (Quercus virginiana) or Camphors (Cinnamomum camphora)
- The other commonality being the climate, being 9B, which is a very versatile and sometimes difficult climate to grow in. We have multiple freezes each winter, a long dry period, a very wet summer and 100 degree temperatures. This means with the application of Permaculture principles one can use these extremes as advantages.
This house has two greywater systems:
1) Is a Banana circle fed from the shower. This one is significant because most people who grow banana trees in the Orlando area do not actually receive fruit from them. The location of the circle and the design of the system are significant because they maximize warmth, frost protectoin and water harvesting. All things which make for very happy bananas! This system is located on the south side of a rather large Red Cedar whose canopy protects the trees from frost. The banana circle was dug several feet down, the hold filled alternatingly with oak leaves and mushroom compost. The displaced soil was used to create a brick-lined burm around the Northern edge of the circle to trap in heat. An additional element at play here is the compost bin which is in the middle of the banana circle.
2) The second greywater system is a laundry to landscape system which uses an artificial wetlands type design incorporating an old bathtub turned biofilter (loaded with a plethora of local aquaphilic plants), a taro and water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica) pond, a fish pond as the third tier, and finally the water drains into a drainage basin where it can not only return to the Earth but also create some nice muck as well as water more aquaphilic plants like Musa sp., Jaboticaba (pending!), Blackberries, etc.
The yard incorporates a bathouse as well. This is crucial for sustainability because of the guano harvesting . Currently I do not have chickens, though they are one of the next projects, so I don't have a source of animal manure on my property. The bats eat moths which would othere wise eat my plants, they eat mosquitos which would otherwise bite me, and in return I get fertilizer. Not such a bad deal!
Trees of interest on this property are: 2 large camphors, 1 large laurel oak, a Choc Anon Mango, Nitrogen fixing shrubs (Calliandra, Desmanthus, etc.), Mexicola Avocado (cold hardy to 18 degrees fahrenheit), Winter Mexican Avocado (cold hardy to 22 degrees fahrenheit), Moringa oleifera, Neem, 4 Dwarf solo Papayas (Waimanalo and Red Lady), a handful of Mountain Papayas (Carica pubescens), a fig (unknown cultivar), a 'Wonderful' Pomegranate, a handful of blueberry bushes a various cultivars, Cranberry hibiscus, Okinawan spinach, Pineapple, several different bamboos, Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia), perennial peanut and others that currently escape me. Annuals are planted in between the perennials. Sweet potato is used extensively as a ground cover but also as a food source.
I would consider this site young, however, it is off to a strong start and is already producing a fair amount of is own soil and nutrients. The site also employs vermiculture for nutrient independence.
Plans in the near future include: chicken coop built into the camphor tree utilizing self-harvesting black soldier fly system, a large compost pile used for hot water generation, outdoor shower, amongst others. Time will tell!
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