27 May 2018 8:14am – Chook Tunnels

Make chooks work for you! :)

Clever Tunnel System Makes Chickens Do The Gardening…

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19 May 2018 10:26am – Blue Sky Day

I never get tired of this blue sky :)

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19 May 2018 8:53am – Pruning Perennials

Tips on pruning perennials

https://www.organicgardener.com.au/blogs/perennial-pruning

 

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16 May 2018 5:43am – Agreena

Has anybody tried these?

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8 May 2018 2:56pm – Happy Birthday, Sir David!

A HUGE Happy Birthday to Sir David today!

Your documentaries growing up (along with the encouragement from my parents of course) set me on the road to study biology, nature conservation, ecology and now permaculture. You Sir, are my greatest idol. I hope you have a wonderful day :)

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8 May 2018 10:10am – Compost!

With the advent of Compost Awareness Week starting yesterday, I thought it was high time that I update you all on our composting system. As most processes tend to do, this one has changed and been adapted over the years: 1. we actually lost both of our worm farm bathtubs the summer before last, and 2. I’ve had to learn to be a bit kinder to my back, and have therefore started composting insitu more to cut back on digging.

We still have two compost bins behind the chook run, dedicated to manure composting (usually horse) along with a straw and some vegie scraps, but the other two have been moved to Beds 1 and 5 so that when the bin is ready to be used, all I have to do is lift the bin up carefully and spread out the compost – no digging out in an awkward space!

  

I took these pics as I was preparing the weekly top-up: the buckets are food scraps from a family we collect from (don’t panic, they’re only about half full), the white bag is horse manure, and the other, colourful bag is shredded paper. Each bin had already had a generous handful of comfrey leaves put down on top of last week’s straw topping, then the shredded paper went down to absorb the food liquids, then the food scraps, then about half of a bag of horse manure to cap off and keep out flies. Give that a good hose down to moisten the manure and paper and put the lid back on. Done! 

In addition to this, before planting out the greens in Beds 3 and 4, I put down a layer of comfrey, vegie scraps and straw, and let it compost insitu for a few weeks before planting out. This is the basis of no-dig gardening and is by far the easiest method of getting compost into your gardens and encouraging worms and other goodies to continue living there. No equipement needed. No digging required. Just good healthy soil feeding productive, happy plants, and in turn, happy us!

A new addition to our system is a compost bay behind the shed. We made this one mostly as a result of going on holiday in November last year and coming home to find the backyard taken over by pumpkin vines (which made a huge mess but didn’t actually provide any fruit). It’s simply 4 wooden (untreated!) pallets, screwed together at the corners (the front one is just tied on with old baling twine for easy removal) and covered by a left-over sheet of fencing tin (ex-worm farm lid), weighed down by a few lumps of waste concrete. It is now a receptical for all the larger materials, plus more manure, vegie scraps (if I get too much for the other bins to cope with), straw, paper, etc (changing it up as much as I can). And it now houses a rather large (and hopefully productive) sweet potato vine.

We also, as of Saturday, own a commercially-produced black plastic worm farm! I haven’t had one of these since I was a kid, and I wouldn’t normally say ‘yay for plastic’, but I’m hoping it will be a bit easier to manage than the bathtubs, again no shovelling out of castings, its more rodent-proof (we had a rat living in one of our old tubs  ) and I can move it if it gets too much sun (pretty sure that’s what killed the other tub). So hopefully I’ll get a chance to set that up this week as well!

Another addition, this time up at the farm, is a humanure bay. I know, I know, human waste is not a topic that is widely considered to be savory, but I want our farm to be completely off-grid and sustainable, and that means dealing with *all* of our waste. As you can see, it looks much the same as the bay behind the shed here in Brisbane, but it has far more straw and wood shavings in it to nutralise any liquids. Its also in full sun for most of the day, which should cook any nasties over the next 6-9mths. And it has no smell. I check.

So that’s our composting. Its a lot. But believe it or not, our soil is actually pretty rubbish here – mostly very fine silt/sand that, if we can manage to get water to go in at all, it flows straight through and takes any nutrients with it  So I’m constantly topping up beds and mulching to try to maintain good soil.

Any questions, let me know!

Posted in Compost, CompostWorms, GardenDesign, NutrientCycling, Permaculture, SoilCare, The Farm, Upcycling, Vegie Patch, WasteManagement | Comments Off on 8 May 2018 10:10am – Compost!

8 May 2018 8:53am – Vegie Patch Update

Yay! Rainy day updates! 

Here is the pic of our vegie patch as of yesterday. I must admit that, although The Vegie Patch is often thought of as ‘the whole point’ to permaculture (it so isn’t, by the way – you can be a total ‘black thumb’ and still participate in permaculture, there are SO many other aspects than just growing food), and although I really enjoying it, this part of the yard often leaves me feeling totally overwhelmed when I don’t have the time to dedicate to it (like in summer when sunlight = migraines for me), and it gets a bit out-of-control (I’m looking at you cherry tomatoes and fruit fly!).

But its been good for a few weeks now and the cooler temps have meant that its really starting to work for us. So, from the left, there is The Rosella Patch (not technically part of the Vegie Patch but still in the pic), then the 5 beds that make up our Vegie Patch: in the front is Beds 2, 3 and 4, with Beds 1 and 5 behind (you can’t really see these well in this pic, but you’ll get a better look at these ones when I talk about composting in the next post). Bed 2, on the left, is coming to an end – it had more rosellas and strawberries in it over summer, and the lucerne is in need of a good trim, so once the rosellas are finished and have died back, they’ll get pulled out and the bed topped up, ready for winter plantings; Bed 3 now has silverbeet on the north side (left) and bok choy on the south with a row of alyssum along the north edge, a single marigold at this end and a stack of marigolds and nasturtiums at the far end that were leftover from having tomatoes in here over summer. The brown pot between these two beds is a sad-looking mint that I actually took away after taking this shot and moved it to a more shaded area. The terracotta pots to the southside of Bed 3 are towers of strawberries that are spewing out everywhere and have even infiltrated the bok choy (like i’m complaining!) and another alyssum. Bed 4 is more greens, with chives, lettuce, red russian kale, nero kale and basil on the northside, and parsley, english spinach, red spinach, basil and dill on the southside, along with more nasturiums … everywhere  You can’t really see them, but under the in-need-of-a-trim rosemary hedge on the right, is yarrow, soapwort and a stack of ‘Isabella’ grape cuttings.

With Beds 1 and 5, at the back, I’ve decided to make these two beds semi-perenial this year (and next) with eggplant, capsicum and chillis, with more herbs and flowers (have to have flowers!) in the gaps. The white box behind Bed 1 is a hive of Tetragonula carbonaria (native stingless bees). Behind that is the Arrowroot and Ginger Patch, and there are three dragonfruit climbing up the centre callistemon, with aloe below.

That sounds like a lot, I know, but I try to keep a range of annual and perennial/long-lived plants to reduce maintainence and give a year-round harvest for our little household. Growing food is one of the parts of permaculture that I like best (along with talking about it!) so let me know if you have any questions.

Ok, on to another fave topic: composting! :D

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7 May 2018 7:45am – “Too big”

Holy moly! I’d thought these were heavy bringing them inside: 2950g and 3057g respectively.

Dried pineapple coming up! 

PS these were being sold at a roadside stall because they were rejected as “too big” … Think about that. “Too big” .. when pineapple is usually sold by the weight anyway …

Posted in Fruit, WasteManagement | Comments Off on 7 May 2018 7:45am – “Too big”

6 May 2018 6:13pm – International Permaculture Day

Well, the sun is down and I hope everyone had a great, productive and fun-filled International Permaculture Day!

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to sit still for a bit tomorrow and post a quick update on our little patch here in Brisbane, as well as (hopefully) a video of part of our farm at Benarkin. Can you believe the citrus trees have been in for almost a year?!

Happy International Permaculture Day everyone! :D

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6 May 2018 5:22pm – Midjim Berries!

Squeezing in a quick bit of weeding in our front yard native garden while the light lasts, and found these beauties! I’d thought that midjim berries were finished for this season but apparently this little bush didn’t get the memo Yay! Yummo!

Close-up of this tiny, little (delicious!) bushfood

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