Tag Archives: Ecological Gardening

GARDEN JOURNAL ** Predators Trying to Eat My Girls!

It started at 1:00 am this morning. My husband heard something outside; he jumped out of bed and grabbed his rifle. Its times like these that I realize that I had no idea what I was getting into when we moved to the back country. I am so not used to someone grabbing a rifle to solve a problem.

Its freezing, snow had been predicted, but we both dashed outside in just slippers and PJs. The first thing we saw was that I had left the coop open. Immediately the guilt set it in, but there was only time for action to see who we could save. I dashed back inside and grabbed the flashlight. While I held the door open and shined the flashlight into the coop …

Jack (my husband) points the gun and shoots! I don’t know what he’s shooting at but it’s not dead yet. He shoots again. My hand shakes, the flashlight beam wavers. I don’t like shooting, it scares me. The predator crawls to the open door and dies; it’s the biggest possum I have ever seen. My husband drags it out and we look to see how many of my six hens it got. One Rhode Island Red is dead. I feel terrible, but it gets worse. We count chickens, it looks like five girls (hens) made it through OK. We go back to bed.

It took forever to get warm and to get back to sleep.

Later, while having morning coffee, looking out the window at the coop, we were talking about what a crazy night it was and how upset our neighbors must be at shots being fired in the middle of the night. My husband felt bad about the hen. I was feeling bad about the hen and the possum. If I had not left the coop open the possum and the hen would still be alive. Then we saw this beautiful coyote come on to our property. Predictably my husband runs for the rifle. I shout, “No!” I have a real soft spot for coyotes. He does not; one killed his dog when he was a kid. I said the hens are safe in the coop and he should not shoot at the coyote. Why am I even having these conversations anyway?

We watched the coyote sniff around the coop and then wander off. I think fine, see chickens are safe and coyote is safe, win – win right? We sipped our coffee and I am going on and on about how beautiful the coyote was when the coyote streaks across the yard with one of my hens in its mouth!!!

We are both out the door and yelling before we can even think straight! The coyote drops the hen and dashes off. Of course, you guessed it, my husband and had gone for his rifle (again!) I yelled don’t shoot it. He’s not convinced that NOT shooting it is a good idea, but he knows I will freak if he shoots it dead so he fired off some shoots to scare it.

I went after the hen, yes I’m still in PJs and slippers and it’s starting to snow. The hen has disappeared. She is just gone. By time I got around the corner of the house she had vanished. I looked everywhere; followed the trail of feathers she was dropping until the trail ended. I was afraid that there was another coyote on the other side of the house who picked her up; anyway I looked for her, went inside put warm clothes on and looked some more, tramping around as it snowed.

After giving up all hope for any happy outcome what so ever, becoming resigned to the fact that I had failed my little flock of hens, not just once by leaving the coop open, but twice by not counting correctly after killing the possum and leaving one poor little hen wondering out by itself all night, I went back outside to sow some wildflower seeds. The snow had stopped and the ground was wet, a perfect time to sow wildflower seeds for flowers next spring and summer. I was in the front garden when I heard the best little noise ever, the soft clucking sound of a hen checking to see if I might have some treats. Yay! There she was, a bit battered, but overall in better shape than you would think after being  between a coyote’s teeth. So, she is back in her coop and I now understand why so many of my friends built chicken runs and do not free range their chickens anymore. I’m not sure what I will do. Certainly devise a better system to remember to close up the coop after the girls have gone in for the night – if I let them out during the day at all anymore.

Planting gardens that are more like small farms and orchards, having animals to care for and keep safe, making choices about eating a wild Thanksgiving turkey I had to pluck myself are all things that remind me that living in the back country is a lifestyle change that I embrace but not a lifestyle change I was really prepared for. I’m playing catch-up here, I read blogs by others that are trying to do what we are doing and they are encouraging.  We are 20 to 40 somethings and baby boomers, a small but growing group who are reclaiming the privilege of growing our own food. We make mistakes but we keep trying.

possum

Possum (not the one that got shot last night)

coyote

Coyote on the prowl!

 

 

PERMACULTURE ** Design Principle #7 – Start small, figure out what works, then repeat with necessary modifications

hugelkultur bed, broccoli

Broccoli currently growing in hugelkultur bed

Following this principle:

  • Reduces gardener overwhelm
  • Saves time, energy and money in the long run
  • Gives a feeling of accomplishment as one section at a time of the garden and/or orchard becomes functional rather than having a huge unfinished project that may or may not work when it’s done

Following this principle requires: PATIENCE!

I believe I have mentioned that patience is not one of my gardening virtues so the application of this principle was a challenge for me! I wanted to do it all, vegetable and native plant gardens, food forest, edible landscaping, berms and swales, a pond, livestock, solar panels …  All of this I wanted done in my first year at Green Owl Gardens!

sheet mulch

I really wish I had used 1/2 inch aviary wire under all the lovely sheet mulch!

Here are a couple of examples of when I have and have not practiced this principle starting at the very beginning when I started work on the vegetable garden. We moved to Julian on December 1st, 2009. I felt like I was already a month behind in getting the vegetable garden prepped for spring planting so instead of gathering data and talking to neighbors I jumped right in and laid down 500 feet of chicken wire over the grass lawn. I then laid down flattened cardboard boxes to smother the lawn, some green clippings, a six inch “layer of straw, an inch or two of compost and another thick layer of straw. THEN I met my neighbor who gently informed me that the land I live on is heavily populated with gophers who will squeeze right through the regular one inch mesh chicken wire I had used.  I did not tear it all up and start over; I went into denial and hoped for the best and consequently my first year vegetable garden was overrun by gophers.

Since then I’ve been digging out the original chicken wire and experimenting with raised, sunken

sunken beds

My friend Alden helping to dig sunken beds in the vegetable garden

and hugelkultur garden beds diligently lining each of the new beds with ½ inch wire hardware cloth or ½ mesh aviary wire (which looks like chicken wire but with a ½ inch mesh).  What I’ve learned from redoing my beds I will now apply this spring when I work on expanding my developing food forest down in the orchard.

Remember -“Use small scale, intensive systems. Start at your doorstep with the smallest system that will do the job … then repeat it with variations” Toby Hemenway – Gaia’s Garden

PERMACULTURE ** Design Principle #6 – Make MINIMAL CHANGES to achieve MAXIMUM EFFECT when working to improve a system

pop-up sprinkler conversion

Chard and tomato plants benefitting from sprinkler to drip line conversion

This principle makes great time and energy saving sense, but first, before I could put it into practice I had to understand what was meant by a “system”. To understand the term “system” in a gardening context, it helps me to think of the human body and the integrated systems that keep it functioning.  The digestive, nervous and immune systems all work together to sustain one living organism. Gardens, orchards, neighborhoods and cities flourish when viewed as integrated living systems rather than isolated, separate, unconnected components.

After wrapping my brain around what a “system” was I started experimenting. Observation of those experiments made it possible to identify key leverage points. I then made a few changes to get the maximum benefit from each system. These changes altered how each system worked together to support the productivity of the whole garden. This is not a onetime deal. I’m always looking for ways to simplify, improve and streamline systems to create sustainable integrated gardens, fruit tree guilds and wild lands.

Pop-up sprinkler conversion

Pop-up sprinkler converted to drip line irrigation

Often, when moving to a new garden location the systems that have been installed before our arrival are not designed to support sustainable gardening efforts. This was the case when I converted the existing 660 square foot backyard lawn into a vegetable garden. The lawn had a conventional pop-up sprinkler system installed which sprayed precious water into the air to be carried away by evaporation while creating an unhappy environment for veggies that do not like wet leaves. Happily, through the UC Master Gardener program, I had a class on irrigation options. I discovered I could convert the existing sprinkler system to drip line irrigation. With limited expense, using the existing pipes and timer, I was able to revamp the system to meet the needs of my vegetable garden. Considering the effort and waste of installing a whole new irrigation system I was happy to make this relatively small change that had a big effect on the amount of water being used and the overall health of the vegetable garden.

Identifying systems, observing them and making minimal changes for maximum benefit has made gardening easier and more productive for me overall!

 

PERMACULTURE ** Design Principle #5 – REDUNDANCY in the Garden is Good

Gardens that are riddled with redundancy thrive!

orbit timer_irrigationWHEN a key function such as getting water to the garden is supported by multiple elements such as:

  • Drip lines on timers
  • Rain barrels
  • Hoses, with adjustable spray nozzles, that are long enough to reach all parts of the garden

OR the key function of enriching your soil is supported by the elements of:

worms_red wigglers_ compost bin

Compost bin made with old wood pallets and red wiggler worms in a worm farm

  • Compost bins for kitchen scraps and shredded paper
  • A worm farm
  • Using poop from your small (or large) flock of chickens, geese or ducks

Then, if any one of these elements or functions fails, the whole system does not fall apart.

Even as I write I realize this principle planted right in the middle of the ten Permaculture design principles is in some ways redundant because I have already talked about some of these things in the first four principles.

Redundancy improves our chances of success. If I need to get up a 6am to get to the airport on time I set my cell phone alarm, the alarm on my nightstand and I raise the shades so the sun shines in my window. This insures that I will get up at 6am. The same applies in the garden.

When choosing plants and trees for gardens and orchards plant three or four different varieties of the same fruit or vegetable just in case one or two varieties fail. I also plant different varieties in different locations on our property so if one type of tomato in the garden gets a bad case of powdery mildew or an infestation of the tomato hornworms and the crop fails I still have the tomatoes I planted in the orchard. Of course if all goes well then I end up with a bumper crop of tomatoes and I am very busy canning, dehydrating and juicing!

Araucana_chickens_hens

Ameraucana Mix with Attitude

If you start a backyard flock of chickens for producing eggs and manure consider getting a variety of hens rather than just one breed. I have a Barred Rock, a Rhode Island Red, a Black Star, a Swedish Flower Hen, a Welsummer and two Ameraucana mixes (also called Easter Egger chickens)! Why have so many different breeds? Some of the hens lay later into the winter (the Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red), some lay blue eggs (Ameraucana mix) which are pretty, some of the hens are unique looking and are good layers (the Swedish Flower Hen) and so it goes. If you are not breeding chickens why not have a few different breeds?

Redundancy multiplies and strengthens the connections we build so our gardens thrive and produce abundant harvests.

 

 

Seasonal Recipes ** New recipes for Kale Chips!

lacinato kale_dino kale_kale chips

Lacinato Kale (aka Dino Kale) and Red Russian Kale Fresh Picked!

What to do with all that kale that came in the last CSA (Community Supported Agriculture co-op box of vegetables) or in my case all the kale that just kept growing into 4 foot high bushes?

Making chips is my favorite thing to do with kale. I just created a new recipe using coconut oil. I can’t stop eating the chips! The recipe using olive oil is really good too. Be sure to adapt either of these recipes to both your taste and what you have on your kitchen or pantry shelves. If you don’t have Brazil nuts or macadamia nuts then cashews fill in fine for either recipe. I think almonds would work well with the first version and walnuts with the second as well. Some people are not a fan of nutritional yeast, if you don’t like it then delete it from the recipe. Also, I use whatever kale I have which for me is Lacinato kale (aka Dino kale) or Red Russian kale. All the kale I’ve used make great kale chips.

For both versions tart with 2 bunches of kale and remove the tough spine then tear into bite size pieces. Keep in mind that they will shrink in size as they dehydrate.

 

kale chips

Coconut Macadamia Nut Kale Chips

Version #1

In a blender or food processor chop fine:

  • 1 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

In a small bowl stir together:

  • 3 T coconut oil
  • 2 T Nama Shoyu (unpasteurized soy sauce) or 1 tap. Salt

Massage into prepped kale

Sprinkle macadamia/nutritional yeast mixture into kale and coat kale evenly.

Lay kale out on dehydrator screens in a single layer or on cookies sheets and put in the oven.

If you have a dehydrator set it on 115 degrees for 4-6 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator set oven on lowest setting and dehydrate in oven taking them out when they are crispy.

Version #2

Mix in blender or food processor :

  • 1 cup Brazil nuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

In a small bowl stir together:

  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T Brags liquid Aminos or 1 tsp. Salt

Massage into prepped kale

Sprinkle Brazil nut/garlic/nutritional yeast mixture into kale and coat kale evenly.

Lay kale out on dehydrator screens in a single layer or on cookies sheets and put in the oven.

If you have a dehydrator set it on 115 degrees for 4-6 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator set oven on lowest setting and dehydrate in oven taking them out when they are crispy.

One last tip (and confession) – sometimes I don’t get around to putting my chips away right when the dehydrator goes off and they get a little soft. I’ve discovered that if I turn the dehydrator back on for another 20 minutes or so they crunchy comes back and then I put them away.

 

 

GARDEN JOURNAL ** How to make “Sun-dried” Tomatoes

For all those great “sun-dried tomato” recipes I keep jars of dehydrated tomatoes on hand all winter. Simply slice the tomatoes, as thin as you can without having them fall apart, and put them on a drying rack. This can be done in the oven on a very low setting, in any type of dehydrator (you can often find the tower type at thrift stores) or invest in the Excalibur 9 tray food dehydrator, my favorite because I have so much to dry these days. Drying times will vary depending on the amount of humidity in the air and on the amount of heat you use (lower is always better keep the healthy enzymes in the tomatoes alive). If you invest in an Excalibur be sure to get the one with the built in the timer, it really comes in handy.

Making Sun-dried tomatoes

Dehydrating Tomatoes

Tomato slices ready to go into the dehydrator

Tomato slices ready to go into the dehydrator

GARDEN JOURNAL ** How to make Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

I’ve been experimenting with fermenting lately so I thought, since I have all these apples, I would try my hand at making raw apple cider vinegar. It seems pretty basic as long as you get Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar for starter. You can find Bragg’s at health food stores.  Use Bragg’s because it has the live “mother” in it.  The “mother” is the ingredient that gets the fermenting process going successfully. I looked up making apple cider vinegar, and found that recipes varied from mixing ½ Bragg’s with ½ half apple juice (raw apple juice if you can get it) to ¼: ¾ ratio. I compromised on 1/3 Bragg’s:2/3 raw fresh juiced apple juice. I covered the jar with cheese cloth and put it on my hall pantry shelf (a shelf that stays cool and dark most of the time). It supposed to take about 2-3 months to turn into apple cider vinegar. We’ll see how it goes!

Juicing Apples to make Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Juicing Apples to make Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

GARDEN JOURNAL ** How to make a Quick Basil Pesto

Making Fresh Basil Pesto

Making Fresh Basil Pesto -The glass of red wine is not part of the recipe but it goes well with the pesto once it’s done!

I made pesto with all the basil that needed to be picked now (or it was going to start flowering and go to seed).  The recipe I use is quick, versatile and easy to adapt to what I have on hand.

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts – Pine nuts are traditional and my favorite but they are hard to keep on my pantry shelf because we eat them up so fast around here. My second choice is walnuts and third choice is almonds. They all make tasty pesto.
  • 3 cloves of garlic – I’ve used elephant garlic, hard neck garlic and soft neck garlic. They all work, just keep in mind that some garlic is hotter or stronger than others, be sure you use one that is to your taste.

I put the nuts and garlic in the blender or food processor first to chop them up then I add:

  • 3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves – It works best if you chop up the leaves a bit before tossing them in
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Now pour in 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil– I use organic cold pressed extra virgin oil which is what I keep on the shelf. Again, use what you have to make your pesto.

So at this point you may be asking “where’s the cheese?” If you are vegan you can make pesto without cheese, it tastes great! If you want traditional Basil Pesto then you’ll add Parmesan cheese.

If you’re going to use your pesto within in a week and not freezing it than add 1/3 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese depending on your taste. The Parmesan cheese can be pre-grated or you can buy a chunk and grate it by hand. IF you are freezing the pesto, to be used later into the fall and winter, then don’t add the cheese now. It’s better if you add the cheese after you thaw it out.

I freeze pesto in small containers and thaw it out to put on wraps, mix into zucchini dishes and if I slide off the gluten free diet I have it on pasta.

The original of this recipe can be found in the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home cookbook

PERMACULTURE ** Design principle #2 – CONNECT

sustainable gardening_permaculture_organic gardening

Y-Star Patty Pan Squash – Connections: produces yummy edible; vegetable, provides lots of leafy bio mass for mulch, seeds and skins go to the chickens, compost pile or worm bin

Permaculture Design Principle #2. Connect

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”  – John Muir

In permaculture gardening terms this principle reminds us to place all the elements of our gardens in relationship to each other.

For example:

– Put rain barrels, grey water collection systems, watering hoses, irrigation lines and/or ponds in locations close to where you will need the water. If you don’t do this, you will end up hauling water in buckets, or lugging heavy long lines of hose, all over your property. If this happens you will quickly discover that water is heavy (and so are long lines of hose). I learned this one the hard way!

– Plan pathways strategically so they take up the least amount of space, but are wide enough for what you need. You may only need a simple walking path, or room for wheelbarrow maneuvering or something wide enough to accommodate a truck to load a crop of apples or oranges.

– Place plants in locations where they benefit each other. Flowering plants that attract bees and other pollinators can be located next to fruits and vegetables that need pollination. Plants that can be slashed and left on the ground to provide a water conserving, cooling mulch, can also be grown next to the tree or garden where it will be used.

-A trellis can be built where it will frame a gateway, provide shade over a too sunny corner of your home or be used to screen off a less than beautiful part of your or your neighbor’s yard.

Remember “the number of connections among elements creates a healthy diverse ecosystem, not the number of elements” – Toby Hemenway , Gaia’s Garden – A guide to Home – Scale Permaculture.

Permaculture design and principles can be more than gardening practices; they can become a way of moving through life. As I write I’m looking at the connections between gardening, creating art and blogging. Some of the connections are obvious and some are more subtle. I’m looking at the connections between the three elements and finding ways to create a healthy connected endeavor not just three fragmented activities that seem to be related.

Permaculture_sustainalbe gardening

Examples of Permaculture Design Principle #2 Connect
Trellis with beans growing on it frames the entrance to the garden, rain barrels connected to rain to gutters provide water for patio plants, and pathways wide enough for wheelbarrow manuvering where needed

GARDEN JOURNAL ** It’s time to order garlic for Fall Planting

Order Garlic Bulbs Now! 

It’s almost time to plant garlic! If you haven’t ordered yours you can still get them at: http://www.groworganic.com/seasonal-items/seed-garlic.html, I just checked. I’ve been buying organic garlic bulbs here for 3 yrs. and have been really happy with the harvest (fyi – I’m not on their payroll). Plant garlic in October or November for a June/July harvest, here in Julian (USDA Zone 7) I plant it in early November. You can get hard neck, soft neck (the kind you can braid) and elephant garlic. They are all good! I’ll be posting some planting tips for garlic next month. One important early tip is to plan ahead and choose a location in your garden that is protected from gophers. Gophers love garlic.

elephant garlic_how to grow garlic_ when to plant garlic

Elephant Garlic harvested in June

PERMACULTURE ** Design Principle #1 – OBSERVE

This afternoon this wild turkey was just outside the fenced portion of the area I will be gardening in. Turkeys are one of the many critters that want to eat the food I grow!This afternoon this wild turkey was just outside the fenced portion of the area I will be gardening in.

This afternoon this wild turkey was just outside the fenced portion of the area I will be gardening in. Turkeys are one of the many critters that want to eat the food I grow!

The 10 permaculture design principles I’m posting about are applicable to all sizes of gardens from the very smallest to full on farms. I’m revisiting them now because I’m expanding my gardening efforts (again) and it’s good for me to go back and review before I start new projects, otherwise I tend to get carried away with enthusiasm and do things that may or may not work!

Permaculture design principle #1. Observe 

Before starting a project whether it’s big or small, acres and acres or a new patio container garden, take time to observe thoughtfully and carefully – the longer the time taken to observe the better. Observe how each season interacts with your environment or if you just can’t wait (I couldn’t) than observe for as long as your patience (or winter) holds out and then start small (I didn’t) and learn from what works or doesn’t work on a small scale. I’m learning that moving mountains before I understand the lay of the land is counterproductive!

[Side note . . . these principles work great for ANY project whether it’s a garden, a business or a blog. It amazes me how universally applicable these principles are.]

I went out today and spent time on the land where I intend to expand my gardening and orchard growing efforts next spring. I took some took notes and photos of possible locations. I noticed what plants, birds, insects, and mammals are living there now at the end of summer. This first principle is a challenge for me. I want to jump right in and start doing the project. I’m still learning that thoughtful observation is much more rewarding in the long run than thoughtless uninformed action.

I tell myself all this as I realize that I still jump into projects head first without a lot of informed observation like deciding I’ll start doing stained glass windows and then figuring out that it’s a very challenging art form that requires lots of time, tools, materials and yes, patience, or blogging – talk about a steep learning curve! Good thing I have a hard head since I keep landing on it! When I back up and apply the permaculture principles to all my projects I find the results are much more sustainable and rewarding.

Here’s a list of questions I made before I went out today:

  •  Where is the sun? Where do I predict it will be throughout the day? Is the garden in shade in the afternoon or morning? Is it in full sun all day?
  •  How does the water flow and where does it collect? How will I deliver water to this space during the dry summer months? How will I conserve water?
  • What might work best large pots, raised beds, sunken beds, a “hugelkultur” bed? I’ll be talking about hugelkultur and other new (and some very old) ways to garden in later posts?
  •  How much time will realistically be devoted to this new garden?
  •  How often will I be leaving this new garden in the hands of friends, family or neighbors?
  • What kind of soil is in the area to be gardened? Will it need lots of nutrient rich compost and mulching? Can I produce this on my property or will it have to be brought from off site?  Does the soil need to be tested for possible contaminants?  Will I have to do a lot of clearing?
  • Where will paths go? How will I get the harvest out of the garden? Am I leaving room for a wheel barrow or if needed a truck to get to the produce?
  •  What critters will I have to deal with? How will I keep them out of the garden?
  • You could try this with a project you are looking to start. Jot down your answers. Post them here on the blog to share with others. Your observations may spark insights for others. If you have questions please ask. If you want to share gardening adventures please do!

You could try this too with a project you are looking to start. Jot down your answers. Post them here on the blog to share with others. Your observations may spark insights for others. If you have questions please ask. If you want to share gardening adventures please do!

Location shots for possible garden expansion project…

organic gardening, raised bed gardening, permaculture, seed saving, growing heirloom vegetables, herb gardening, planting fruit trees, edible landscaping and water harvesting also garden art, mosaic, stained glass

First possible location for vegetable garden expansion for next years summer garden

permaculture

Second possible location for vegetable garden expansion for next years summer garden

permaculture

third possible location for vegetable garden expansion for next years summer garden

 

 

PERMACULTURE ** An adventure in lifestyle change…

lawn_irradication,organic gardening, raised bed gardening, permaculture, seed saving, growing heirloom vegetables, herb gardening, planting fruit trees, edible landscaping and water harvesting also garden art, mosaic, stained glass

February 5, 2010 Doing away with the backyard lawn!

Our journey towards living a more sustainable lifestyle started four years ago when my husband and I decided we wanted to live a little more off the grid. I was curious as to how much of our own food we could actually grow and I wanted to experiment with alternative energy. I was looking into solar hot water heaters and using solar panels to supply household electricity, as well as water harvesting techniques.

I was somewhat familiar with organic gardening practices, composting and the idea of using rain barrels but I hadn’t had a much long term success with any of it so I figured, since I was planning on doing something on a larger scale, I should learn a lot more about it. I did a bunch of research and discovered the term “permaculture”. While still living in a one bedroom apartment I started checking out books from the library and reading lots of articles on the internet. I decided that permaculture was the way I wanted to go when we finally found land somewhere. Once we bought our four and half acre property, permaculture design principles gave me a framework to work within that was both practical and in alignment with my wish to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Without the permaculture design principles I would have been completely overwhelmed. I was about to begin gardening on a large scale, in a four season climate, in the mountains and it turned out that there was a lot of competition from hungry critters for just about everything I grew to eat. I could make lists of things I wish I’d known before and after we purchased land in the back country! I would do it all over again but I would be a lot more prepared and do more than a few things differently right from the beginning. At the very least I would know what questions to ask, questions I never thought of until after we moved.

So in an effort to both remind myself as well as share with others I’m doing a series of posts on 10 permaculture design principles based on what I’ve understood from the book Gaia’s Garden, A Guide to home-scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway. When I use these principles I’m productive in a ways that are more sustainable for myself, others and the planet and I achieve an overall saner existence! I would love to hear from you about your experience  if you have started using these principles and if you haven’t yet I’d like to hear what questions you have. I invite you to subscribe and be part of discussion about what we are all doing to have an environmentally friendly sustainable lifestyle.