Yesterday, we talked about observing closed loop systems in nature and looking at how materials mostly flow into and out of our homes in a linear way While we can’t mimic the efficiency with which natural systems recycle all outputs, we certainly can do a lot at both the family and global level to reduce waste by designing closed loops systems. I’ll leave the global level to others for now, and focus on closing some loops in our homes.

One of many permaculture ideas that I love is to start small. The center of my learning around closed loop system through this winter has been my inside herb and lettuce garden shown below. The basic elements of this garden are an 18”x36” plastic grow table, a 4-bulb 48” T5 fluorescent grow-light fixture and a timer for the light. My garden sits in front of south facing sliding glass-doors to take advantage of natural sunlight. 

In addition to being able to very carefully observe the growth of my romaine lettuce, basil and cilantro, my indoor garden provides me with an opportunity to close some loops on an easy to observe scale. Remember that the key to closing loops is plugging together the outputs from one home element with the inputs of another. For example, I water my garden with the rinse-water from my bean sprouts. I burry selected kitchen scraps in my garden including left-over starter from my sourdough bread making, mung-bean shells from my sprouting and any trimmings from my indoor garden. The outputs of our garden become inputs to our kitchen.

I strongly encourage y’all to start an indoor garden even if you are also going to garden outdoors because of the opportunities for careful observation and interaction. As always, please post questions and comments below. Soon, I’ll talk about the next step-up in home gardening: a covered raised-bed that integrates compost collection into sheet-mulching.

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