Saturday, August 4, 2012

Rabbit on a Stick, Green Roofs, Fresh Fertilizer & Florida Permaculture

My green roof friend in France, Pascale says to eat rabbit on a stick with mustard.  It sounds good, but I've never tried rabbit on a stick.
Florida Permaculture Garden's Jack Rabbit in his Green Roofed Pen
However in the Florida Permaculture Garden rabbits played an important permaculture role.  The bunnies provided us with some of the most potent, ready to use fertilizers.
Ruby the Rabbit, Florida Permaculture Garden
In the Permaculture Garden, rabbits are one of the easiest livestock animals to keep.  They are quiet (except when a predator is around), their poo is ready to use without the required cooling off period normally associated with chicken manure, they are tasty and reproduce at lightening speeds.
Permaculture Green Roof for Rabbit Pen under construction

Our rabbit hutch has a vegetated roof.  Simple permaculture concepts.  Rabbits eat clipped forage off their green roof, rabbits grow, rabbits poo, we use the rabbit poo to fertilize and grow more plants on the rabbit hutch green roof, rabbits produce more rabbits and green roof plants feed the babies.
Rabbit forage on the Pen's Green Roof
Perfect perpetual motion machine.  Almost.

Fortunately, the rabbit hutch green roof was not expensive.  In fact, the hutch was built with only recycled stormwater panels, used felt material, wood scraps, old tin sheets and some chicken wire left over from the hen coop.
Remember, for green roofs on the cheap - structure, soil media and proper plants!
The rabbits loved their 'green' coop and the living roof kept them cool during the hot summer months.

We had the very best permaculture fertilizer one could have, a gift from the rabbits in return for their 'green' digs.
Florida Permaculture Garden's Green Roof Rabbit Pen makes for happy & hoppy bunnies
Much the way many living wall designers use felt or a non-woven geosynthetic, I rolled and inserted the felt fabric into the stormwater panels for a base growing platform.  The panels were placed atop a standard piece of roofing tin over wooden rafters above the rabbit cages.
Simple piece of tin covers the pen rafters under the DIY green roof system
The purpose for using the 50mm stormwater panels was to give the living roof a structural dimension, one that would place the weight of the green roof over the stronger outside pen supporting walls rather than on the rafters.
A reused gutter drain served as a green roof crown cap
Once the felt was embedded, rabbit poo, leaves and compost was added to the panels.  Garlic, rye and  other forage plant seed was added.  Soon the roof was green with tempting bunny forage.  The felt acted to wick water across the roof,  provided oxygen, drainage and a structural grid for roots to attach to.

Green roofs don't have to be expensive.  Think - support, innovative soil platform and proper plants.

As for the rabbits, try on a stick with mustard!


plumbing said...

Friends and acquaintances can't help but make mention of how many treats I give my pets. They know that I am a pet professional but instead of surprise in their voice, like maybe this treat thing is something they should try, I can hear distain and judgement.

Sylvia said...

I was wondering if using the manure to fertilize the same greens that they eat could make them sick with worms? I liked the idea of giving them the garlic for medicinal benefits.