Tag Archives: permaculture

Innkeepers Complete Permaculture Certification

4 Jan

Another Hooray! Fred and Mary Beth finished their permaculture design certification course at the end of December. While no dates have been finalized, we look forward to leading small workshops here at the inn and consulting with others on their properties to help them begin the permaculture adventure.
For more information visit permaculture.Also check out the latest information on the permaculture Facebook page at Facebook.

Free Range Versus Pasture Raised Eggs

18 Jun

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At Cedar House Inn we care about animal welfare and eating healthy. Our breakfast ingredients contain organic milk, pasture raised eggs and seasonal veggies from our permaculture garden.

Many do not know that there is a big difference between free range and pasture raised eggs. We only use pasture raised eggs at the inn unless they are not available from the local farmer. Then we purchase free range organic at the grocery store.

Free range chickens (as defined by the USDA) have access to the outside but have no requirements on how much time they must spend outdoors. They also do not have any requirements for the size of the roaming area. Producers of free range eggs can label their eggs “free range”  even if all they do is leave a little door open in their giant chicken houses. Often chickens do not  go outside since they have not learned that behaviour. If they go outside there is often no bare dirt to scratch in or bugs to eat.

Pasture raised chickens stay outside and eat all kinds of seeds, green plants, insects, worms along with grain or mash. They have a hen-house with nesting boxes for egg laying and are free to come and go. They tend to be happier chickens and lay more nutritious eggs.

If you have the option, pasture raised chicken eggs are the preferred choice for nutrition and animal welfare.

To see a short video of the innkeepers visiting the egg farm visit farm.

Building Permaculture Swales to Conserve Water

23 Apr

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We built a permaculture swale above the vegetable garden and blueberry bush area to capture the rain to prevent runoff and conserve the water for future use. Swales have been proven to retain water by forcing the rainwater into the Earth down to the impervious layer of soil. The water then travels under the surface and provides plant roots with needed irrigation. Such water can travel great distances and be stored for extended periods of time. Swales conserve valuable rainwater that normally runs down slopes and eventually ends up in driveways and storm sewers. They also help reduce evaporation of rainwater.

We built a swale above the garden to capture water running down the hill from the north end of the property. The swale is approximately one foot deep and 16 inches wide. Swale depth can vary depending on slope of hill and soil type. For example we made the swale shallower but wider in areas with rock closer to the surface which made digging more difficult. The swale at the top of the hill provides water for the peach trees, blueberry bushes and concord grapes. Decomposed leaves are placed in the swale to help retain water. Wheat straw covers the leaves and swale berm to prohibit erosion.

Another smaller swale was dug at the bottom of the hill using the same technique. This swale catches additional water for the vegetable garden. We are considering the addition of strawberries on the berm portion of this swale since they have deep roots and will help stabilize the berm. Not to mention fresh strawberries in the future.

Additional swales will be built on the property in the future.

To see a video of our swales visit video.

Geoff Lawton is a renowned permaculturist and did a great video on how swales work. Visit his video by clicking how swales work.

Video Update of Permaculture Vegetable Garden

30 Mar

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We filmed a short video today showing the progress made on the garden area using a permaculture sheet mulching technique. We also cleared the hill above the garden of the pine trees and planted peaches and blueberries that will provide breakfast ingredients in the future. The pine trees were used to make a living fence to keep out larger animals and to provide a habitat for birds. In the future we will provide more video updates.

Permaculture Gardening

16 Mar

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Our property at Cedar House Inn is not known for good soil for growing flowers and vegetables. I have planted over 250 trees and shrubs since we purchased the property and struggled with digging each hole. First we have a very thin layer of top soil, then hard clay and finally a rock layer. To have a viable garden we have no choice but to haul in or make our own dirt.

Rather than hauling in dump truck loads of top soil I decided to make dirt the way mother nature intended. Down by the yurts we have a forest of trees and layers of leaves under the trees that have accumulated for many years. Raking back some of the leaves you notice decomposition of the organic matter. Worms, insects and fungi are all doing their part in breaking down the leaves. Could I use a similar process to make good dirt in areas where only rock and clay exists? I read about Permaculture (sheet mulching) and Lasagna Gardening that explains just how I can do that.

Last Fall I identified where I wanted the vegetable garden to be. I then took large sheets of cardboard and placed them on the ground as a weed barrier. The cardboard decomposes over time like the layers of leaves in the woods. After watering the cardboard sheets I hauled many loads of leaves to place over the cardboard. Next I added wheat straw, then more leaves. This created a “lasagna like” layer. Some beds were covered with black plastic to help the composting process. When my wife had vegetable scraps I dug a hole in the bed and bury the scraps. I also buried rotted wood to add other microbes and insects to assist in the composting process.

One bed has a worm tower that I made. The tower is a 5 gallon plastic bucket with holes the size of a pencil that I drilled. We add vegetable scraps and red wiggler worms to eat the scraps and make worm castings and tea.

I have read that by Spring if the organic matter is not fully decomposed that is fine. I can dig a hole in the garden for the plant, add some top soil in the hole and plant. This type of gardening also requires no weeding which I like.

We are looking forward to growing vegetables using this simple permaculture gardening method. Be on the look out for more posts about how our garden grows once planting season arrives.

Permaculture Workshop 3/20 Dawsonville

11 Jan

Come stay with us Friday and/or Saturday evening and attend this informative workshop. Here at Cedar House Inn we are very interested in permaculture.

Introduction to Permaculture, a one day workshop, at Cedar Hill Enrichment Center in Gainesville, GA, with Bob Burns and Isabel Crabtree, founders of Central Georgia Permaculture Institute and GeorgiaPermaculture.com. Bob and Isabel are regionally noted Permaculture Designers, teachers and homesteaders near Milledgeville, GA.

Date is Saturday, March 20, 2010, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Cost is $60 which INCLUDES LUNCH.
They will cover how to “Think like a Permaculturist”- the basic ideas of Permaculture, including principles, ethics, designing landscapes, water catchment and concepts such as Food Forests, Home Ecosystems, and much more will be covered in first half of this workshop. After lunch do a “walk-about” with plant guru Bob Burns, and then work on an “Herb Spiral” which exemplifies Permaculture Principles at work. Lunch will be provided. Cedar Hill is located at 5735 Dawsonville Hwy, Gainesville, GA 30506.

For more information or to register, please call Kat at (770)887-0051 or email her at kat@discovercedarhill.org. Class is expected to fill up quickly, so please sign up early!

Living Sustainably on 1/5 Acre

2 Jul

At Cedar House Inn my wife and I have attempted to create a sustainable earth friendly environment. We recycle, buy local, conserve natural resources and live somewhat frugally compared to others. We visited the half off sale at our local thrift store today and purchased slightly used clothing for ourselves.

The following video features a family in California that takes sustainability and living simply to the fullest.

Watch Video Now

Backyard Wildlife Habitat

23 Feb


When we purchased the house that is now the inn there were not many trees on the property. In fact shrubbery was also missing from the landscape. It looked like a Chernobyl waste site. Semi trucks and cars would actually park in the front yard to make cell phone calls or use our property as a rest stop. One gentleman drove his Cadillac up to the front door to make a cell phone call in his car. I asked him what he was doing and he said just making a phone call. I said this is my yard and he said it did not look like a yard. I immediately knew what I had to do. Make a yard.

The sad thing was that the property not only lacked trees but also wildlife and birds. No sounds of birds singing in the spring. It was sad.

We immediately started planting well over 200 fast growing trees like hybrid poplars, hollies and silver maples. We also moved white and black pine trees from the woods. Fast growing shrubs were also planted. Every trip to Home Depot not only meant purchasing what we needed but also a tree. We added bird feeders, bird houses and bird baths. Guess what happened?

The place became alive again with wildlife ranging from deer to all kinds of birds to possums and raccoons. Have not seen a bear yet.

We also decided to quit mowing most of the 3 acres. Now we mow near the entrance signs and house area. Native grasses and pine trees (that we moved) are now taking over and forming a buffer from the main road. A friend of my wife’s called and expressed concern that we might be falling on hard times since we quit mowing the property. I informed her we were making our property greener.

We also have quit using synthetic fertilizers and herbicides(see other post on liquid gold). We have a natural lawn in the grass areas since we do not use chemicals.

Our property has been certified as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the Natural Wildlife Federation. Certification is free and can be done online. We have a sign at our gate indicating certification. The program was launched in 1973 and has certified over 106,000 yards,farms,schools and urban balconies.

For more information click NWF.

Food Composting

3 Feb


At the inn we compost just about everything from raw food scraps from breakfast preparation to cooked food the guests do not consume. Fortunately Mary Beth’s breakfasts are well received and most guest’s plates are cleaned of food. Our dog Stu also likes to eat some leftovers but he needs to be on a diet.

For the cooked food that most people throw in the trash can or garbage disposal we use the Green Cone Cooked Food Composter. All kinds of cooked food from pasta to meat can go in the cone and it is gone forever. No odors have been noticed in the 5 plus years we have used ours. It also does not seem to attract animals or flies. All the contents is contained underground.

To learn more visit our eco store section on our web site link shown in the top right corner of this blog.

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