Thoughtful Observations

Over a week has passed and I still haven’t finished taking stock of our property’s attributes. Or, at least I haven’t put them in writing and posted them.  In fact, I have a pretty good idea of what our location has to offer. So what have I been doing? I put up a Facebook page for PermaPress – - and it’s been a blast. I’ve been scouring the internet for items to post on our page, and there is an incredible amount of stuff out there. I’ve been doing a little reading, working on: Toby Hemenway,  Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd ed., Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2009; Ross Mars, The Basics of Permaculture Design, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2003; and Edward Mazria, The Passive Solar Energy Book: A Complete Guide to Passive Solar Home, Greenhouse, and Building Design, Rodale Press, 1979. In the meantime, I completely rebuilt the rear brakes on the Forester, and I am working on replacing the front steps to the house.


 In a nutshell, our place is on a corner lot across the street from the loading bay of a big-box retail outlet. They contribute noise pollution at all hours, air pollution from diesel trucks idling all night, light pollution, and traffic. There is a small house with a full basement, a good sized insulated, but unheated, garage/workshop, and a storage shed for implements of grass destruction. The house faces South, and the roof ridges on the house and garage both run East/West.

A 6 m. margin runs between the property line and the curb on the East and South sides. What do we do with that? City snow crews dump tons of snow laden with gravel, salt, and weed seeds on it all winter long. How do you rehabilitate an environment that is systematically destroyed every year?

We have a mature apple tree in the backyard, a chokecherry tree in poor health, and a nuisance ornamental crabapple tree. The berries on a small mountain ash are popular with the birds in winter. A row of pyramidal cedars add some privacy for the deck at the rear of the house, and act as a bit of a sound buffer. In the front yard, a couple of beautiful Japanese tree lilacs fill the house with a delicious perfume in Spring. Most of the garden space is comprised of raised beds, and far too much of the yard is covered in lawn or asphalt.

The subsoil is sandy and is very well drained
once the frost comes out of the ground, but it does not hold water very well. That said, the back of the lot where the garage is located is so low compared to the street and the rest of the property that meltwater floods the garage in the spring until the frost leaves the ground… don’t know how the home inspector missed that one.

Gwynn tells me we are in Zone 3b, whatever that is. It gets cold in Winter, and not warm enough in Summer. About the only thing you can say about our climate is that it is consistently unpredictable. Snow cover in mid-Winter varies from a metre or more to zero. It may rain right through Christmas, and then drop to -40 in January with no snow on the ground to protect the soil and wintering plants. Every year is different. In Summer, we may harvest fresh tomatoes all summer long, or have a Summer like last year. It was so cold and rainy that, when frosts came in September, not a single tomato had ripened. Essentially we are faced with a short growing season, moderately warm Summers, severe Winters, and variable rainfall.

If you care to follow our permaculture design and development process, subscribe to the RSS feed on the blog page and you will receive updates in your browser. “Like” the PermaPress page if you want our posts sent to your FB feed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>