Sunday, January 27, 2008

Embracing the Sun

In permaculture design, we learn to arrange things so that each element of our lives is supported by multiple natural processes, and we make way for each process to be supported by many elements. This creates a safety net of redundancies where the natural order of things is to have their needs met and if one things fails, there's always something to back it up. Figuring out ways of incorporating the warmth of our neighborhood friendly nuclear reactor, the sun, into these kinds of arrangements is an important part of letting nature work for us when it can.

Our passive solar, straw-bale GREENHOUSE is an example of a beneficial juxtaposition. The hot south facing windows and the blanket of insulating straw and plaster envelop the sun's warmth throughout cold nights, offering plants (and our hungry stomachs) a refuge from the winter. It turns out though, that our birds fit nicely into the system. They're able to keep their toes from freezing, and their breath feeds CO2 to the plants. On cloudy days, their body heat actually does a lot to maintain warmth for the plants. Then there is their poop... which the plants love, and the eggs... which we love! Everybody wins.

Then there is the NATURAL SWIMMING POOL we are building in a part of our garden where there is always a lot of
sun, even in the winter. Water is an excellent heat collector as well as reflector. To capitalize on this, we're building a sun trap on the north side of the pond out of rocks and soil to collect even more heat. In this good company, we'll plant fruit trees that need more warmth than is typically found in our climate, like citrus trees and kiwis. Between the rocks, the water and the increased air moisture, they won't get killed off by frosts. The mound will also give us a place to pump water to where it can filter through water cleaning plants and fall over flowforms to become oxygenated before it re-enters the pool. Ducks will be able to swim in it, and it will put water in easy reach of our chickens. And we of course have a place to swim, and relax. Natural swimming pools have become en vogue in Europe because they are easy to maintain and if they are designed well, will stay cleaner than chlorinated swimming pools. Again, everyone is happy.

The better we become at juxtaposing elements of our lives so that they compliment each other naturally, the closer we come to a life where our basic needs can be met by nature and our time can be freed up for helping others and living more creative, magical lives.

this post is the back-story for this post by grittypretty


d/b/c/m said...

I love how many ways you are using solar power! You're place is a little heaven.

james said...

how did the green house do this last winter?