2. Catch and Store Energy

Food Forest
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The second permacuture principle is catch and store energy.  When you think of “catch and store energy,” solar power tends to be the first thing that comes to mind.  This is a great start, but energy that can be caught and stored can be so much more than just solar.

You may also think of wind or water to be used for charging batteries or running lights, but there is still more.  The sun can also be used for passive solar, build your garden beds or house South facing to get the most light and heat possible.  Water can generate electricity, but it is also a homestead essential, duh.  By catching water off of your roof and storing it for later use, you are following this principle.  You can take it a step further by putting your cistern up high so you have water pressure by gravity.  Then you can use your grey water (from taking baths or washing dishes) and use the stored energy (organic matter and the water itself) to water and feed your plants.  Then the plants are stored energy (food).

Compost in all it’s forms is stored energy that we covert to food.  From vermicomposting to humanure to hugelkulturs, it’s all stored energy that we use to grow plants that we eat to provide us enegy and health.  Health itself is stored energy if you think about it….  To continue talking about plants, comapanion planting is stored energy.  Growing plants that benefit each other in any way helps your plants to grow stronger and produce better fruits.  Growing perennial vegetables is energy that you have “stored” in the form of food that grows itself every year.

Raised beds conserve moisture and good soil, stored energy.  Using rocks to build beds helps store heat as a greenhouse would.  Wild harvesting perennial herbs is catching energy to store.

Now that I have rambled on for a while, I want to point out what I think is the most important part to catch and store energy.  Systems.  This one feature is the most important part of our homestead.  Everything that is part of a system is more efficient and flows more smooth.  Things that run smooth and efficient are a form of stored energy.  The catching of the energy is in the building of the system.

S. John’s wort tincture, turning pink before my eyes

Many of our systems effect us in our daily life, but none so much as wood collecting and processing.  If you look all around the property, what you see is wood in various forms.  Living trees, standing dead, fallen dead, and rotting away.  They have branches, leaves and trunks, which are all useful in some way.  The system pertains to gathering, processing, and storing all the energy the wood can provide.  We use sticks for kindling and rocket stove fuel.  We use strong, healthy wood for building.  We use dry wood for heat.  The rotten wood is organic matter for gardens.

As we clear new areas for garden beds or a house, we systematically seperate all the wood into various places depending on the use.  All the piles are as close to where we will use them as possible.  The rotten wood goes directly to where a new garden bed will be.  The fire wood gets stacked next to the house for the winter.  Not only is this system literally storing energy in the form of firewood, we are also storing energy in a sense by doing the cleanup systematically so that we don’t have to do all of the jobs painfully, one at a time.  You don’t even realize how much energy you conserve when you form systems that thn become good habits.

Check out all the permaculture principles here.

Check out these links for more catch and store…

Think of it as an Adventure

Permaculture

Milkwood

Temperate Climate Permaculture

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