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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Garden in Bali

A Garden in Bali pt.3

With a Comfortable roof over our heads we progress outside to the transitional space between indoor and outdoor life. In Permaculture speak we will refer to this as Zone 1.

Zone 1

The zone nearest to the house, the location for those elements in the system that require frequent attention, or that need to be visited often, such as salad crops, herb plants, soft fruit like strawberries or raspberries, greenhouse and cold frames, propagation area, worm compost bin for kitchen waste, and so on.
Of course these examples are arbitrary and it is the idea not the example we are working with.
Our first concern is with the needs and wastes/resources created by our home.

In our case there is a need to mitigate the effects of traffic on the area, to maintain access in a way that doesnt damage the soil and also reduces negative effects on the house by factors like dust and mud, compaction of soil, discharge of waste and storm water.

One major design need is to accomodate the motorcycles that are the primary mode of transport on the island. Parking on bare soil stirs up mud and dust, compacts the earth and destroys the vegetative groundcover.

A traditional local practice is the location of a bare earth plaza adjacent to houses. This area allows drying of Crops like coffee, rice and chocolate in the full sun during the harvest seasons.

The Plaza is an open sunny expanse where tarpaulins can be laid out to dry valuable crops before sale or storage.
This system has evolved from the needs of the community and to maintain the functional space we will also maintain the small plaza, but with some modifications.
The drawbacks of this system are the earth compaction, the muddiness in wet seasons and dustiness in dry seasons. It creates a lot of housework to remove the dirt from tiles and concrete and the space though useful is 100% unproductive.

For areas of highest traffic a non slip surface will be installed as paths
For medium traffic areas and spaces to park visiting motorcycles a Cinderblock system will be installed that prevents compaction and allows rainfall to percolate through the soil profile. Planted inbetween the blocks are hardy and low or no mow species of grass used in local landscaping.
Volcanic Cinder blocks bound with some cement and interplanted with low  growing grasses  allow waste infiltration, reduce compaction and red dust/mud.

 When the fencing is complete to exclude local dogs, we will purchase 2 pairs of Chinese geese to mow and maintain the grassed areas. We have lived with geese before and like them a lot despite their tendency to be antisocial birds! Their hardiness, ability to resist predations and reliance on a primarily grass and herb diet make them perfect for our site. The 2 pairs will have in total 800m2 to range over, including a future water pool with gravity drain off to a fenced vegetable garden so the mucky water can be used to make composts. Supplemental feeding with mineral rich foodstuffs like Seaweed, Comfrey and protein and vitamin rich prunings from tree leaves like Moringa, Noni and Sesbania will help cycle nutrients in our garden and remineralize our soils. Tropical geese will be and adventure! and we look forward to researching local animal husbandry practices.
Basic information on raising geese

Water for the house is supplied from high up the mountain and is clean and potable. There is no need for water cisterns at this point. Water cisterns adjacent to volcanic areas can be problematic due to the ashfall  filling up gutters and tanks as sediment. First flow devices can be installed to clear most of this but currently the installation of water tanks is not a needed or cost effective modification. Should it be required in future there are several open sites on the property that can be reserved for that purpose.

Of greater concern is the treatment and reuse of contaminated waters. There are 2 sources of wastewater
Black water from a local style squat toilet that leads to a septic system, and Common greywater from showers and kitchen.

Bali has its fare share of gastrointestinal problems. The warm humid climate breeds bacteria very quickly and shoddy disposal of wastewater contaminates groundwater supplies. The main source of water in much of lowland bali are groundwater wells of dubious quality.
Given the quality of the Water the process of washing hands, utensils and food in tap water is somewhat self defeating!
That said Indonesians are clean people, in terms of their personal hygiene. In fact ive heard it said many thing Westerners smell because they don't wash enough. The truth behind this may be complicated by issues like unfamiliarity with the bathroom layout, i know i'm guilty of showering less than usual there when the prospects of yet another Ice cold bucket bath sink in. Also access to laundry facilities when travelling can be difficult as it takes time to wash and dry clothes. Its is also true that People from cool climates sweat a lot more than the locals. Im usually drenched in sweat while my friends brow merely shows a few sweat beads!
Clean people, in a filthy environment. Im still not sure how they do it! I can say for sure the environmental consciousness there is low, but improving rapidly. In contrast its hard to say for sure what is happening in Australia. In our consciousness we are much more aware of the needs of wildlife, of pollutants and environmental stewardship, but in practice we rely on expensive centralized systems to provide all our needs and remove all our wastes. Its easy to think you are clean and green when you aren't actually taking responsibility for your impacts.

So we want to take charge of our wastes, deal with them onsite, and discharge to others only outputs that we would be happy to receive back.

Our wastewater will be diverted through several systems.
Black water from a modified septic tank will exit to leach fields planted with high water use species like bamboo and reeds. Harvesting the biomass from these and pyrolizing it to make biochar is one way to cycle nutrients and water safely.
Grey water will pass through grease traps, then on through wastewater beds using wetland plants before moving to irrigate Timber and non food crops.

the next step is where we start to meet our own biological needs for food and medicine as we start using a variety of plant species to landscape the area directly around the house.
All covered in Part 4.


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