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This site has not been updated since 2014 and is being maintained as an archive for now. As time allows we'll be weeding out the dated material and presenting the many useful articles in a new format. We'd appreciate any feedback on what you find most useful on this site via our contact page.

Guest Writers

It's a PDC - but not as we (usually) know it

by Nick Talbott

I have just spent a thoroughly enjoyable weekend on the Permaculture Design course led by Steven Jones[1] and organised jointly by Roz Brown of Mid Wales Permaculture Network and Angela Coleridge of the Llandrindod Transition Town group.  This was the first of six weekend sessions - one weekend a month for six months - and is a new format for doing the Design course.  This format will work very well for me because it gives plenty of time to fit in practical work and study in between the monthly course sessions, and it does not involve the significant time commitment of a full-time residential course.

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Building a Low Impact Roundhouse - book review

'Building a Low Impact Roundhouse' by Tony Wrench.

Second Edition with a 10 Year Update. Published by Permanent Publications.

'Building a Low Impact Roundhouse' describes in detail the construction of the author's own roundhouse, covering the selection of materials, the frame, the roof and walls, water, sanitation, and energy supply.  The result, judging by the pictures, is far from primitive and appears to have all the modern comforts one would expect. The book is in paperback with 139 pages and has plenty of pictures and illustrations of the roundhouse at the various stages of its construction, although only a few of these are in colour.  From page 105 the book continues on from the first edition and gives an update ten years after the original was published, describing how the building has worked and how the separate den was added.

Tony Wrench's style of writing is humorous but to the point. He describes the building of the roundhouse in a casual manner and presents the project with an ease that allows the reader to access the information easily without the need to know any architectural jargon. Indeed, in his introduction he is keen to point out that he has no relevant qualifications and readers embark on similar projects at their own risk!  The two-chapter feedback section is informative, including a description of adjustments that Tony has made to the house. I especially liked the end of the cobwood walls section in the update, which gives a good example of the humour with which Tony writes:

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Hugelkultur: Using Woody Waste in Composting

Hugelkultur is an ancient form of sheet composting developed in Eastern Europe. It uses woody waste such as fallen logs and pruned branches to build soil fertility and improve drainage and moisture retention.

If you walk through natural woodland, you will see many fallen logs and branches on the ground. The older these logs are, the more life they sustain. A log that has rested on the ground for a few years will be covered in moss, fungi, wildflowers and even new saplings.  If you disturb it you will notice that the decaying wood is damp in all but the most severe droughts.

Hugelkultur is the practice of making raised beds filled with rotten wood. This produces raised beds loaded with organic material, nutrients, and air pockets. As time passes, the deep soil of the bed becomes richer with life. As the wood shrinks, it makes more tiny air pockets - so the hugelkultur bed becomes self-tilling. During the first few years, the composting process will slightly warm the soil giving you a slightly longer growing season. The woody matter helps to keep nutrient excess from passing into the ground water - and so re-feeds it to your garden plants.

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New Twist for Nettles

Heavenly Nettlebed Refresher

Celebrate your resilient nettles by making this heavenly refreshing drink. Perfect for those hot summer days when the garden seems to be running away with itself! This was offered to participants on our 'Slow Sunday' at Cwmberwyn in June , and was welcomed as just what was needed by all who came.

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Blaeneinion: Permaculture - with beavers in it!

Exciting new Permaculture Project in Mid Wales

Blaeneinion is an idyllic and secluded site set in 75 acres of land at the head of the Artists Valley near Machynlleth in mid Wales.  We are reforesting the open pasture with native broadleaf trees - the start of 'The Cambrian Wildwood', and are establishing food growing and orchards along Permaculture principles. The project began in the winter of 2008, and this year we are creating the vegetable beds, orchard site and a geodesic growing 'dome'.

Our visitors will be able to enjoy picking their own food, collecting eggs for breakfast, plunging in the stream, BBQ's over the fire, and a fantastic range of outdoor pursuits.

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