It took a while, but we finally have the deck and doors in and boy has it made a difference! We can now hang outside in comfort with plenty of space to spread out, and plenty of sun to soak up. We have planter boxes all the way around for our herbs and perennial salads and the like, and over them we will plant fruit. The sun is now bouncing in off the North deck and straight in through the glass doors which has noticeably improved the passive heating inside. We've had 1 week of wintery weather already with outside temps down to 6, but inside was comfortable and warm without heaters. Of course when the sun goes down we need to start the fire, but the warmth inside lasts through the twilight well into dark. We are both very pleased with it.

Structurally it is solid as! We have 2 x 300mm round 3.6m posts that are sunk into very clay ground around 800mm (basically on bed rock each). They are held there by 8 bags of 30kPa concrete (4 in each).

Post levels

The 2 150x50 beams attached to their tops span 1500mm to the next 2 posts which are 100x100's sunk in over 600mm and held again by 30Kpa. The beams span another 1500 to 3 anchor posts that hold a beam coming off from the house.

Joists down

The joists cross the beams at 400mm intervals, and also span 1500mm with 400mm over hang. I put noggins through the centres of the joists for a bit of bracing. The 40x100 decking is finished with decking nails, with facing around the joists.

Around the back there are 150x50 and 100x100 bearers on posts and an old concrete retaining wall. The 150x50 joists are spaced 400 and span the 1200 space between the bearers. Then the ground steps up under the deck, requiring posts, 100x100 beams, and 50x100 joists. The posts span 1500 in both directions so that the bearers span 1500, and the joists do as well. These joists are also spaced at 400.

The doors are second hand Rimu timbers from Shaw's Yard and were framed by Shaw with treated pine. They sit in what was a window space.

Door cavity ready

The windows needed replacing, as did a number of weather boards due to significant rot.

Bitch paper up

I have used Aluband sealing tape to seal up all around the door frame, under the foot, and across the top flashing. There is now pink batts in the walls all around the door. The doors themselves swing clean and easy.

Now I need to plaster and paint the new gib inside, and build a railing around the high points of the deck. We plan for 150x50 posts standing 1500 high with a dressed cap for a railing across the top. We'll use Suntough panels on the outside of these posts with at least 1 shelf running low so we can use the cavity in the railing for plants. The 1500 should retain some of the privacy for next door without us losing sun through the doors.

Base Map

Our first assignment for the permaculture design course has been to draw a base map.

A base map is a drawing that captures everything that is in place already on a property or space. It includes buildings, fences, trees, hedges, pathways and driveways, power lines and pipes... things that are in place.

Here's my Base Map:

Google maps does a pretty good job at capturing it too...

View Larger Map

so, we're on a steep NNW facing block that is reasonably sheltered from all winds, although the cold Southerlies can touch our front pretty hard... but now I'm starting to get Sector Analysis about it, which is what I should be focusing on this week:
A sector analysis map is a drawing that depicts what is happening in that base. What is the sun's path, what are the wind and rain directions, where are the main areas of people activity, where are the shade areas.

Permaculture course progress

So I've been going along to the Sunday sessions for the Permaculture Design course, where we have been focusing a lot of time on the principles and ethics of permaculture. I agree that these need a lot of time and they are quite inspiring ideas that could be applied to just about everything we do (even organisationally), but I get a sense that the face to face participants might be feeling that the course is moving too slowly and that they would like to start getting into more tangible activities.

I'm really glad though that the online group is there with us. Their emails and blogs have given me a lot of motivation to research and maintain the course wiki and related resources, which in turn has kept me feeling as though the course is very active. However, because the face to face participants seem to be not participating online, they may be feeling that the Sunday sessions aren't moving along quickly enough. Today Kim and I spent a few minutes showing the face to face groups around the online work being done, so I hope some of them will come on and start putting more into the course so that they may get more out of it, but I suspect that that is not what they expected when they enrolled in the course.

So far we have the course wiki that includes the course schedule and links to any media recordings we capture throughout the course, as well as a discussion page that captures the latest from the online participant blogs (we're still waiting on 3 more). We have also started a Permaculture Design textbook over at Wikibooks that would at first appear to be all by me, but I've simply been copy and pasting the handouts, and some of the notes from the participant blogs as a process of my own study in the course. The text will hopefully evolve into a self sustaining resource for many others to use once it reaches that critical wiki point. And there's an email forum running for people to keep in close contact if they struggle with anything other than email.

What has surprised me is the level of interest that was quickly expressed by people from Portugal to Vermont, and how web savvy they all are :) It turns out that international interest in permaculture is quite high, which is easily verified by the extensive network of websites and media over the Net for it. With the the online participants helping us to use this pilot course to develop online communication channels and information, we will hopefully have a certificate level course soon, with an online study option, that will help enhance and sustain the face to face course.

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