DVD Review “Urban Permaculture” Geoff Lawton
I was really looking forward to this DVD, because I have heard Paul Wheaton talk so glowingly about it over the past couple of years. Geoff does a nice job of showing many different examples of urban permaculture. In some regard it was not super helpful to me because my property is on a larger scale, but it was enjoyable, and if you are new to permaculture or live in a city of suburb, this is a great DVD to have. Incidentally, I don’t think this is on You Tube, so you need to buy it if you want to see it.
Major Concepts in “Urban Permaculture”
Mini-swales: Most of the gardens that he visits harvest water through small swales, although they don’t really show you how to do it.
Water tanks: Almost every garden that is shown has a water tank for collecting rain water off the roof. Given the arid Australian climate, it makes sense, although I think it also makes sense in most places in the US.
Greywater Reed Beds: There is only a casual mention of this. I would have liked to see this explained more in detail.
Aquaponics: They did show a few aquaponic systems, and they were cool to see, especially the swimming pool, but they did not get into great detail on how to set these systems up.
Worm Towers: This was a cool concept that would be great for raised beds in a small backyard garden.
Compost Tumblers: I hate these things. They showed this really large version of a two bin tumbler, very similar to mine, but even bigger. Incidentally, I don’t use mine.
Strawbale Chicken House: Geoff went to a permaculture teacher’s house, and she had a very large strawbale insulated chicken house. This was disappointing because she should know better than to have a house that can’t be moved. The manure and disease will build up in and around the house, and the chickens will constantly get sick. I don’t know why people think chickens need a large house.
Spiral Herb Gardens: This is a pretty basic permaculture concept, but a good one for the kitchen garden. Basically, you build a raised spiral planting area that creates many different microclimates in a small space. This is great for the kitchen garden, because you can have access to many different herbs right outside your kitchen door. I may put one of these in for fun.
Two Plot Chicken Grazing: This is one that was new to me. Basically you plant your winter crops in one plot, and let the chickens graze the summer plot. When you are done with your winter crops, you let them in to graze, fertilize, eat the insects, and scratch the soil. Then you plant your summer crops in the plot that they just came from, that is prepped and ready to go. This would not work too well here in zone 6 as we have four seasons, but it is an interesting concept for the tropics. Although, I don’t think two plots is enough.
Permablitz Design Consultancy: This was where Geoff and his interns designed a permaculture garden, and then did the work with a bunch of interns. I did enjoy seeing Geoff go through the designing process as he tries to connect and stack functions. I think it is really good for people to see some of the actual work that they showed. I liked how they rented a chipper and made their own mulch out of the trees they removed. I really liked this segment.
Small Animals: They did show some chickens, but for the most part they were all coop and run. So basically the chickens were standing around in their own manure all day. I did like seeing the quails. They were really pretty birds that are actually more productive than rabbits for meat. It would be hard to slaughter these birds they really are nice looking birds. It was cool to see Geoff eat the quail eggs for breakfast. They also showed some ducks, and I was hoping to see more on caring for ducks, as that is something I may add to my garden in the future. Again it was just a cursory glance into ducks.