I have come up with a design that I believe can be a great addition to Amanda and Dino’s property. I am a firm believer that permaculture is going to change the world, and the way in which we interact with it, if we use action to demonstrate our theoretic designs on ground level. I find myself in a tricky situation where I am already 1200km from the Can Coll property due to the nature of my life adventure at this time. Although I am putting myself to good use wwoofing and volunteering for projects on route to Australia it does not help me to implement the design in Spain that I have left behind.
I have two choices. I can back track. I can go back to the Pyrenees to help Dino and Amanda implement the wetland design. I would really like to do this. I am totally excited by the design and turning it into a reality seems the next logical progression. This though will mean a 2500km round trip which given the fact that I’m trying to reach Australia in the most environmentally conscious way doesn’t really add up. The second option is to give them an easy to understand implementation plan and communicate with them regularly and help advise them on any problems they may encounter. The design, like most designs, involves a slow and steady implementation process which is likely to happen over the course of one year. I would not be able to oversee the whole process but I am beginning to understand that my responsibility lies with making sure the system is established rather than needing to establish it personally.
I haven’t spoken to Amanda and Dino yet or made a decision whether to head back to Spain and help build the system. Based on either choice though I have detailed the process of implementation starting with the next achievable steps…
What can be done now with no money and external input…
These are the things that can be done using the resources that already exist around the property with the knowledge and skills that Amanda and Dino already possess. Extra help can be obtained through wwoofers and a clear visual idea of the plan will be sent to them via email or accessed on this website.
Plant Willow Hedge – 100 cuttings of willow can be placed into rooting hormone (willow solution) and then planted at 20cm spacing around the new forest garden seating area. When the willow becomes tall it can be looped back into itself to form a nice thick hedge. Click here for rooting hormone
Bamboo Path – Bamboo can be removed from the thicket to form the path through to the Peace Pond. Rock can be laid along the water course with red clay from the nearby clay source to form the water containing stream. This will become an instant habitat for wildlife.
Holm Oak Prune – Holm oaks can be cut back to allow sufficient light into the forest garden and tank area. This wood can then be used for the benches, bridge and wildlife habitat.
Peace Pond – A hole can be dug and lined with sand and then a plastic sheet. Rocks can be positioned to hold it in place. Clay and rocks can then be positioned to bring water from the exit passage of tank2.
Planting – Seedlings and suckers can be transplanted from around the property into positions on the wet patch in front of tank1 and also the forest garden area. These include raspberry, mint, artichoke, leaf beet, strawberry, lemon balm, calendula, rocket, wild rosemary, wild thyme, penny royal, shepherds purse, violets, hazel and plum trees.
Rocks – can be placed to form the frog ladder, heat sinks and stepping stones.
Tank1 bog garden – a bamboo trellis can be constructed using the bamboo cut for the path. Soil can be added to a depth of around 10cm ready for planting. An area of more sandy soil (which is abundant) should be placed for plants that prefer it like the Tiger nut for example. Brush and mulch can be added to the soil and any plants that are found wild can be added.
Tank2 edible pond – a bamboo trellis can be constructed using the bamboo cut for the path. Passage1 can be blocked using a rock and some clay. Brush can be added for wildlife habitat. Soil can be banked on the north eastern side including old gutter or old pipe for burrows. Rocks can be added for frog ladders, heat sinks and stepping stones. Any plants that can be found wild can be added. Overflow pipe can be added using pipe that is already lying around.
Bat Boxes – These can be constructed using spare wood that is lying around. Plans can be found here.
Next steps with a bit of money…
Mushrooms – Holm oak logs can be inoculated with shitake mushroom spores for around £12. This would be enough for 6 50cm logs. Mushroom logs will fruit for four years. I believe Dino could be encouraged by this and expand his mushroom growing capacity as he gains confidence. Check out the Ann Miller website.
Tank1 – Plants can be added in accordance with costs. For the plants that cannot be found wild or as gifts, seed is the cheapest way to get the plants underway and most can be found at B&T World Seeds.
Tank2 – Pipe must be laid to join IBC to duck tank. An overflow pipe should then be added to the duck tank and piped down to tank2. Once water is entering the tank and a stable level is achieved it should then be drained so that planting can be done. For the plants that cannot be found wild or as gifts, seed is the cheapest way to get the plants underway and most can be found at B&T World Seeds.
New plants – Cuttings and seeds is the cheapest way to obtain plants that cannot be found wild. Some fruit bushes may need to be purchased.
Just a little bit more money…
Added growing mediums – Once the pipes are in place any number of additonal growing mediums can be added in between the duck tank and the wet system. IBC’s or bath tubs can be added to grow wild rice or more water chestnuts for example. Wild rice can be used to feed the ducks and chickens and the cost can be recouped. I believe that Dino could become very interested in producing crayfish for example and with the resources available he could slowly add more tanks and even obtain a cash crop as well as a delicious addition to his cooking prowess.
Adding crayfish and mussells – When the balance has been reached in tank2 I would suggest adding crayfish and or freshwater mussels. This is perhaps a good idea after a year (spring 2013). These can provide a good source of food and clean the water up before it reenters the wilderness.
Ideas for covering some costs…
Collect and crush acorns to supplement 50% of chicken food. This was not uncommon in the early 1900s and lots of records exist to prove that acorns do not have to be treated for tannin. Add comfrey and wild herbs to the chickens diet. This will in turn increase the chickens health saving money on medication and in turn having to buy eggs as homemade eggs would be inedible. Supplimenting 50% of grain will save £150 per year.
Insects can be bread directly above tank2 in a cage where they will fall to feed crayfish. Added protein from aquaculture will save buying in extra food in the form of red meat.
The yield in food from this system will save money every year and the increase from agritourism will benefit the overall business.
Dino is a carpenter and so making an item of furniture from the felling holm oaks could pay for pipe and plants.
Using wwoofers to help put this system in to place is a free way of getting the work done quickly.
Growing mushrooms could also be a great commercial venture for Dino and Amanda. Shitake mushrooms grow really well on oak logs. As Can Coll in surrounded by holm oak forests there seems to be an excellent opportunity to grow edible and gourmet mushrooms. They could be grown more naturally in an outside environment but they could also utilise the other half of the chicken shed to grow them in a more controlled environment.
I see mushrooms, along with the possibility of crayfish, the existing success of asparagus and raspberries as a a great way to supplement their income. Amanda and Dino already visit Figueres once a week and could sell items at the market with no extra costs in fuel than what they use already.
I hope this page as served as a useful tool in the implementation of this design and provided Amanda and Dino with a few ideas, food for thought…
The next page in the appendix