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Transitioning the Garden, the Land and Belentepe Farm:

It is not an easy task to develop 1.4 hectare land. It needs capital, time & effort. Also before starting a big permaculture project it is advisable to gain experience on smaller projects. Small mistakes made in the beginning are acceptable, do not cost much and good lessons obtained. However starting a big project without the necessary experience and knowhow may lead to big mistakes and cost a lot of money and time. Thus I initially started with my 150 m2 garden.

In November 2010 I took the Permaculture Design Certificate course (PDC) from Bill Mollison & Geoff Lawton. Right after the course I started trying various permaculture activities in my garden. In November there were plenty of pruned branches, fallen leaves, grass, etc. So I initially purchased a small mulcher machine and made piles of mulch. Then I prepared compost from mulch, leaves, grass, kitchen scraps & fresh animal manure. The first things to do in gardening thus, are mulching and composting.

Prior to permaculture, I had made many mistakes in the garden. For instance, the garden was south looking and I had built a wall on the edges of it. Then I had planted evergreen shrubs (hedera) to cover the walls. Shrubs grew to 3 meters in 2 years and covered the south walls blocking a lot of the sun entering my garden. This then caused the lawn to deteriorate and instead lichens covered the whole ground. It was not a food producing garden at all. So after the PDC, I initially decided to take down the southern walls, the evergreen shrubs. Then I introduced many items I had learned during the course; here is :

Youtube: Aksel Permaculture Garden

Permaculture Design Steps:

In Permaculture design, the first step is to define your zones.

  1. Zone: center of activities. The house, places that are visited a couple of times a day are in zone 1.
    • In Zone 1. : existing wood cabin, chicken house, workshop, storage rooms, compost/mulch area, seed collecting, drying areas

  2. Zone: close to home, places that are visited almost everyday. The garden, raised beds, wind breakers are here. Intensive gardening is done here. The greenhouse is here. Mulching is also done here.

  3. Zone: less intensive farming, maybe visited a couple of times a week. Less water demanding plants are here. Our vineyard is in Zone 3. In between the vineyard, swales and trees are introduced to create an edge effect. Legume grasses ( vetch, clover, trefoil, alfalfa...) cover the soil and are cut down, laid on top of soil as green mulch. The ponds are constructed here.

  4. Zone: Food forest that request only rare visits. Green mulch cover.

  5. Zone: Natural forest, meadow - not managed.

After Zones, We design the land for its Sectors:

  • Solar Sector: Having the land on a southern slope of Belentepe hill is advantageous. Summer and winter solar angles are determined.

    • The sector within the orange colored lines is the summer sector. Summer evening solar rays are quite strong and these should be blocked by some means around buildings, gardens, animal houses...
    • The sector within pink lines is the winter sector. The sun rises from south east and sets in south west. During winter collecting solar rays' energy is a strategy in building & green house construction.
  • Winter and Summer Wind Sectors:

    • Since the land is on top of a hill, througout the year we get quite a lot of wind.
    • In winters northerly cold winds blow hard. We planted evergreens on the northern edges of the farm land. And also planted many forest trees on top of the hill to break the winter winds entering the farm.
    • In summers, hot & dry summer winds blow from south west. To stop these winds affecting our vegetable gardens, we constructed a wind break with trees and soil piles along the middle of the farm.

  • Solutions from Sectoring:

    • Northerly cold winds to be blocked by evergreen trees on land's northern edge
    • Wind break in middle of the land against summer winds
    • Trees planted along the swales will also help reduce effect of wind on the land
    • To protect the vegetable gardens & raised beds:
      • Trellisses are constructed and are covered with shading materials.
      • Deep mulching is done to retain soil moisture
      • Insulating vegetable gardens 90 cm under the soil so that top soil retains more moisture.
      • Planting forest trees on northern parts of the land.

    • Advantage of wind: we generate electricity from our 1 kW vertical axis wind generator.
    • Solar gain: Rest of our electricity and hot water comes from the sun.
      • Solar System: 2.6 kW of PV panels + 6 kW inverter + 10 kW battery bank

    Mid 2012 - Land Design:

    Main crops from the farmi:

    • Vineyardı: about 700 vines,
    • Fruit trees: cherry, prune, apple, sour cherry, walnut, chestnut
    • Vegetables, fruits
    • Occasionally grains.

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