Tag Archives: water

005: Biointensive Growing in a Permaculture System

Biointensive Growing in a Permaculture System

My Biointensive growing bed, double-dug, amended and shaped, ready for planting.

My Biointensive growing bed, double-dug, amended and shaped, ready for planting.

Before I found out about permaculture, I was studying up on the bio-intensive method of growing food, and was about to dedicate the whole property to a biointensive farming system. As it happened, permaculture swept me off my feet and into a swirl of fascinating ideas and possible directions. As the dust settles now – as my head drifts gently out of the clouds, the bio-intensive idea is still glowing, but not as something separate from permaculture, but as a potentially integral part of it.

Making Biochar using Dry Mulch (video)


  • Making Biochar using dry mulch
  • Mulch is loaded into an old beer keg
Home-scale double-barrel top-lit-up-draft biochar retort stove!

Biochar Retort

“Biochar can be made cleanly and effectively on a home-scale, using a biochar retort.”

Biochar is a desirable material for anyone looking to improve their soil. Buried, it acts as a water retainer, nutrient trapper, and home for beneficial bacteria and plant roots, and it continues to support life and fertility for thousands of years! On a home-scale, biochar can be made from waste wood or mulch, using a biochar retort.


  • Produces biochar – a permanent soil amendment
  • Burns clean and hot
  • Can be used for heating or cooking
  • Can be fuelled with waste materials

Making a Coffee with Biogas (video)


  • Close the gas-out valve on the digester
  • Open the gas-out valve on the collector

002: Integration


A fruit tree can do more than just grow fruit!

A fruit tree can do more than just grow fruit!

What is Permaculture?

What do I think it is?

Permaculture is a vector through which people can learn and apply themselves to affect change in a landscape toward a regenerative, life-supporting food forest system. Well at least that’s how I see it. It is a set of principles and techniques that is freely available to read about on the internet, and courses are run all around the world to disseminate its message.

But what is it really?

Design for My Biogas Digester

Biogas Digester

“Biogas is the perfect solution to modern sustainable cooking.”

Biogas is a mixture of gasses that are produced as anaerobic bacteria break down organic matter. It is flammable, capable of producing a clean flame for cooking and heating, and it can be derived from as simple a feedstock as your kitchen rinse water.

A biogas digester is a container holding water and bacteria, which can be ‘fed’ organic matter to be broken down, and which collects the resultant biogas, to be tapped off either to a collector for storage, or directly for burning.


  • Creates flammable gas
  • Creates fertiliser
  • Runs on kitchen rinse water
  • Safe and Clean

Rebar Fence Trellis 02

Rebar Fence Trellis

“Make a self-supporting post-less fence trellis out of rebar!”

In Spring 2011 I wanted to make a fence across the backyard for three reasons; to enclose a chicken run, to grow fruit vines, and to support a future pvc arbour I had planned. Traditional fencing options were expensive, but I found a way to do it using only rebar steel mesh. The result exceeded my hopes.


  • Creates Vertical Space
  • Encloses Chickens
  • Supports Vines
  • Lasts 10 Years

Sugar cane mulch is great for vegetable beds


“Make your soil as healthy as a forest floor, by mulching!”

Mulching is the covering of soil with organic material. It is much the same as what naturally occurs in a forest when leaves fall to the floor. Mulch suppresses weeds and prevents evaporation, which allows the topsoil to remain moist so that earthworms and other creatures can live there.


  • Saves water
  • Builds soil life
  • Suppresses weeds
  • Becomes fertiliser

Inside a Worm Trough - Food is always added to one side

Worm Troughs

“Create masses of worm castings, and breed up masses of worms, with a worm trough!”

A worm trough is a large and long container which allows for a different system of feeding to a worm farm. Worm troughs can breed up a large population of worms who can process a large amount of material. A properly managed worm trough will allow you to access fresh castings any time, and to feed the worms just as easily as with any worm farm.


  • Creates lots of fertiliser
  • Breeds an abundance of worms
  • Easy to manage
  • Cheap to make