Archive for September, 2010

Safe and Poisonous Houseplants

Many homes contain houseplants or other natural materials to add beauty and interest to the décor. Not only are they attractive but many varieties of houseplants serve as indoor air cleaners as well. Lovely and functional as they may be, some houseplants may present a hazard especially if young children or pets share the household.

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Ernie Wisner shows off his double chamber cob oven which burns cleaner than a conventional cob oven. The second chamber is what gives the cleaner burn. And your cob oven ends up looking nicer too (not all black in the front).

This cob oven uses some of the stuff from rocket mass heaters (or rocket stoves) for a cleaner burn. Ernie explains why this is not a “rocket cob oven”.

A part that I edited out is where Ernie talked about sitting outside around the fire in a way where people stay warm and enjoy a fire without getting smoke in your face.

This video has pictures of other cob ovens and addresses some of the concerns about smoke and wasting of heat. Ernie explains how you start off with a two hour fire and end up with eight hours of cooking: starting with pizza, then moving on to breads, roasts, soups, rice, beans and then yogurt and granola which cook at much lower temperatures.

Ernies also talks about the quality of bread from a cob oven vs. the quality of bread from a conventional oven.

Ernie addresses how he elected to not have a permanent roof over his cob oven.

Ernie’s friend Kiko Denzer has a book on cob ovens that talks about this technique.

This video shows a huge flame coming out of the top.


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Permaculture game

Permaculture Elements

Permaculture Elements

Test your skill with “Permaculture Elements” the game here


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The Chinese plan to build housing for as many as 400 million of its citizens by 2017. With this in mind the Chinese government commissioned world famous eco-architect Bill McDonough and partner Michael Braungart to design a prototype city. Here, McDonough explains describes his vision for a sustainable, thriving metropolis.
See his video here

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Permaculture.org.au writes…

Case Study – Noela’s Garden, as installed by Geoff and Nadia Lawton

This is a story about a garden that Nadia and I were asked to establish in 2006. It’s a very small space – the area is 95m2. A friend of a friend asked if we could get involved to help to design and implement a garden. Nadia had only recently arrived in Australia and I wanted her and I to put a garden in together as a ‘start to finish’ job so she could get a feel for how we establish small space gardens in Australia, as she already had experience in small space gardening in Jordan…”

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Cam Wilson runs Forest Edge Permaculture Design

Urban drought proofing in design

Urban drought proofing in design

“…It’s all pretty simple really. When designing your own system, just remember these two simple points, water is always level and it runs downhill…”

Complete design  by Cam and source


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Carbon “Fixing” Plants

Carbon Fixing

Carbon Fixing Plants

Rob from “One Straw” writes…

“Most gardeners are aware of “nitrogen fixing” plants; those plants, typically legumes, that have formed symbiotic relationships with soil bacteria to take airborne nitrogen and fix it into water-soluble form.  As far back as the Romans, humans have fostered this natural occurrence to increase yields and increase fertility.  What we hear about much less is carbon “fixing” plants – in Permaculture speak – biomass or mulching plants.  In the past year, as I have learned more and more about soil ecosystems, I have become far more convinced that these “carbon fixers” are even more important in early successions as we heal our suburban ecosystems…”

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