We wisely decided to slow our timeline to avoid making costly mistakes (due to lack of experience) and in the meantime, get our hands dirty messing around with water and soil. We needed to TRY some techniques and get some feedback from the site which in hindsight, I'm SO GLAD that we did.
The biggest lessons I learned in all the research/study of permaculture were:
1) Type 1 errors can't be easily fixed and in many cases, can't be fixed AT ALL
2) Try small things first to see what works on your site
3) Make many small mistakes and learn from them
Those tips were enough warning for me! Instead of hiring out an excavator right off the bat to make permanent changes to our property (that we may regret in future), our goal for 2014 was to "do the least for the most benefit". I wanted to see how little we could get away with doing (and spending) to successfully implement permaculture strategies on our property while I had my 'hands on, get dirty, learning year".
Designing around water harvesting/catchment is crucial. It was drilled into my head to deal with water FIRST before anything else. We have grand plans for an active water catchment system (complete with large above ground storage tanks and plans to fill our existing underground cistern with rainwater) but for now, in this year of learning, the passive system is working beautifully.
The foundation of this passive water harvesting/catchment was some basic survey work to find the contour lines of the land. True to permaculture ethics (use what you have), I scabbed together a makeshift bunyip water level using a 6' wooden stake and a bamboo pole. I had to buy tubing, but this can be re-used for many years of work here and on consultations. I marked the poles on both sides (metic and imperial), attached the tubing, filled it with water and within an hour had a functioning water level - HOT DANG! For more information about making a water level check out THIS VIDEO.
|Front of house after surveying and sod flipping - starting to mulch|
|Side of house, after surveying and sod flipping, starting to mulch|