"Permaculture" from a Lost Age

“When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nr for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, “See! This our fathers did for us.”  –John Ruskin,  Audel’s Carpenters and Builders Guide  1921 I collect old manuals on construction, … Continue reading "Permaculture" from a Lost Age

Gravity Heat: the Complexity of Energy Efficiency

Recently, we’ve been looking into a few upgrades to our ol-timey Gravity Furnace. Whenever we ask for recommendations, we always hear the same advice: “just replace the thing!”  And that is the generally the advice you’d hear from just about anybody in business that makes money by selling new equpment.   In fact, a very similar project that I’ve been admiring for years-another ecological uprade of a victorian home–heralded the replacement of their gravity furnace as their number 1  “green” improvement!  But given the particulars of our home and furnace, when I “do the math” I find that replacing our … Continue reading Gravity Heat: the Complexity of Energy Efficiency

The Quince–a Great Permaculture Tree Crop

  If you want to grow your food on trees–and there’s a lot of good reasons to do so–then you traditionally would have an easier time of it in the tropics, where there are a lot of “tree fruits” that can be used as staple vegetables, like plantain, avocado, jack fruit, etc. With the powerful productivity of trees, this means that tropical Permaculturists with establish food forests report feeding 30 families from a small fraction of an acre year round from their “vegetable” CSA. Of course, most of the “vegetables” are actually tree fruits!  In cold climates, our ancestors haven’t … Continue reading The Quince–a Great Permaculture Tree Crop