Suburban Permaculture 20 miles from Washington DC

Hot Composting

My Hot Composting Pallet System – Compost in 18 days. Mix greens (Nitrogen – fresh Green vegetation or animal manure) and browns (Carbon – Brown leaves, wood shavings / chips). One layer of greens then add a layer of browns, water then repeat until its 4 feet high. let sit for 2 days and it should be at 140F temperature or above then turn it every other day. Turn as is demonstrated in the video. Be very careful and take temperature measurements with a long compost thermometer everyday. If it gets above 150 degrees, turn it. If it gets much hotter it could go anaerobic and start to produce alcohols and then burst into flames with a fire that can not be put out with water. Please be very careful.

Here is a quick video (40 seconds!) of me turning the compost using my pallet system.


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Winter Indoor Aquaponics System

Winter Indoor Aquaponics System

I live in Northern Virginia, so when it starts to freeze outside, I move my fish to my winter garage aquaponics system.  I can do 3 rafts which is about 90 lettuce plants. I don’t heat the garage and it stays above freezing because some heat escapes from my house. The reflective mylar foil sheets reflect the light and get it bouncing all over the plants.

Indoor aquaponics set up. Its about 6 feet long and 4 feet wide not including the fish tank.
Fish Tank. This is a 150 gallon cattle watering tank you can get at farm supply stores

Suburban Hugelkultur Garden Integrated with Aquaponics

Suburban Hugelkultur Garden Integrated with Aquaponics

My backyard Hugelkultur garden:  What if I told you, that you can make a garden that never needs to be watered for 20 years?  Well this is it.  You bury logs underneath your garden and the wood acts like a sponge and soaks up the water when it rains and stays moist until the next rain.  This slowly breaks down over 20 years and then you have some amazing soil.  The first year is not supposed to be so great as the wood (carbon) steals nitrogen (plant food) from the plants in an effort to compost itself.  I had a great first season but I cheated with Aquaponics water (check out my backyard aquaponics).  When it rains, my nearby Aquaponics system overflows into a ditch which leads to my Hugelkultur.

This supercharges the soil with nitrogen & microbe rich oxygenated water. Plants really dig that.

Here is my step by step.  1) make a trench about 2 feet down.

2) Fill trench with a bunch of logs.

3) Cover logs with the dirt you dug out of the trench and then cover everything with compost and cast seeds all over the place.\

4) Cover with straw and transplant some plants if you got them.

5) Water the seeds to get things started and watch the sprouting happen!  You won’t have to water later. 

6) Cheat with some Aquaponics water if you got it. When it rains, my aquaponics system fills up with extra water and overflows to a ditch which leads to my hugelkulture here.  You don’t need the aquaponics water but its something I have surplus of so I integrated it with my Hugelkultur bed.

7) Watch it grow! 

8) See the lush diversity taking off.

9) Harvest the fruit of your labor. I dug out about 100 pounds of sweet potatoes along with a ton of other veggies at the same time.  

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