View Full Version : Eco's Lodge
08-09-2010, 11:09 PM
I can't promise to be a regular with updates as Mischief - but here's a description of my place and how I got here and where I might be going.
I built MY house almost 2 years ago - the first I've built from scratch (well I had a builder build it that is), and had fun doing it MY way. So it is energy / light efficient - and it actually works. There's no aircon and I really didn't miss it last summer. I have gas cooking, solar hot water and a 1 KW back to grid system for energy, a Nubian grey water system, and lots of rain water tanks - and I'm on town water and electricity. I have a see through roof over my bath tub so I can lie there at night and see the stars and the moon.
The house is on 1750 m2 of land on the side of a hill - high on the west and sloping down as you go east and south. The soil is pretty good, rocky and slightly on the clay side of loam. As the build was well under way I started (pre - permaculture "aha" moment) to think about what I was going to do with the garden....
A little vege patch in one of those cute rain water tanks, a little herb garden by the back deck, some gingers and strelitzia's, some native shrubs, a cactus garden, a water feature and a place to sit I thought. I worried about how much time I had to devote to it all, and didn't want to have to mow up and down the hill.
THEN the moment happened - I was in a shop and Linda Woodrow's Permaculture Home Garden book said BUY ME NOW (books do that to me...) I couldn't put it down! I kept interrupting other people's conversations and saying - "let me read you what she says about pests - this is so good". And I knew I had to do it!
My architect just happened to know a landscaper with a PDC, who came and sat and helped me come up with a plan - that involved lots of rock walls to get me level areas so I could have my chook dome and matching circular garden beds, and the removal of all the grass which was replaced with mulch. I distinctly recall telling him that I couldn't imagine that I'd want more than 10 fruit trees (I think I'm up to 40 now....)
So the way the system works - looking straight up the hill from my back deck the lowest level has a herb garden on the left and my daughter's cactus collection on the right, with strawberries just as you step off the deck on either side. The next level has 4 circular beds in a straight line (I don't have enough flat land to do the pretty circular mandala), with citrus trees in between each, and a fledgling rhubarb plant.
Then there's another narrow level - which I want to plant medicinal herbs into eventually - but the soil is quite poor there, so at present I have put straw bales along the lower edge and back filled behind them with compost ingredients and have planted nasturtiums in them. Once it rots down I'll try my herbs.
Then there's another wider level that is under the shade of a big tree. There's a bath tub pond on that level and 3 more circular beds. Then another narrow level with fruit trees in it. Then another wide level with another 3 beds, then above that yet again more fruit trees and at the very top a 20,000 L rain water tank. I've also got a few pigeon peas tucked in where I can fit them.
On the south side of the house (shady) I'm working on a fragrant garden as that is under the bedroom windows. Gardenia, jasmine, frangipani, geranium and pineapple sage are in there so far. I've just completed planting a long edge guild at the very south edge of the property with arrowroot, lemon grass and vetiver and comfrey.
On the north sunny side I have more fruit trees, and I'm starting to add some flowering natives to bring birds into the garden. There's a new big wooden fence along that edge that I'm going to grow a choko and whatever else I can cover it with. There are some large existing trees long the fence line at the top of the hill so I'm trying to find stuff that will do OK in the shade. There's another pond in construction on that side too - for frogs I hope. I don't get any in the bath pond.
At the front there's a steep slope down to the neighbours which I've started sweet potato on. The purple top weeds are thriving there at present... I've got to get another edge guild going there too.
I have 2 worm farms and 8 chooks in my dome. The spend 2 - 3 weeks on each of the 10 beds so it takes them 6 months to do the loop around and get back to where they started.
When I started dreaming of gardens I worried about whether I would find the time, or resent being tied to it, but I have found so much pleasure in it that I've turned into quite the home body. A good weekend now consists of about 15 hours of undisturbed garden time!
I have a big patch of Singapore Daisy that ticked me off for a while. But I've now got a really good system in place and I'm starting the worry about the day when I run out of it! I pull it out by hand and run it though the mulcher. Then it goes into a plastic bag on top of the rain water tank in the sun for a few weeks. Then I stick it in a large plastic bucket and soak it in water for another 2 weeks. I decant the resulting weed tea and use it diluted around the garden as a tonic - don't really know if it does anything but it sure smells like it should! The left over solids then go in the worm farm - they seem to like it. After a few weeks in there I tip it into the compost bit as I reckon that after all that it won't sprout again!
I've also discovered that making compost heaps is better that psychotherapy, and cheaper. I had little plastic ones at first, but they just didn't cut the mustard. I now have 2 BIG heaps affectionately called the Purple Pear Patented Permaculture Pine Plank Pile (the details are over at Mandala Town with pictures), as well as my two little plastic compost bin piles. You can never have too much compost!
All it really needs now is time, and more of what it already happening to fill in the empty bits of ground. I can't wait until the fruit trees reach maturity and I can stop going to the shops.
08-09-2010, 11:13 PM
We want photos!!!
08-09-2010, 11:17 PM
God you are fast! I only just hit Send!! There are some in Groups at Mandala Town. I'll try the photo bucket thingy when I get time.... It's off to bed time for me now though. 11:17 pm local time YAWN.
08-09-2010, 11:26 PM
Not sure if that'll work or not --- It's an early photo of my place when I was just getting started.
09-09-2010, 12:25 AM
Don't do photobucket, put them on photoblog, then just link it back here each time you add more piccies.
I very much enjoyed reading your descripiton and it prompted questions and comments which i am going to try to remember now.
Fragrant Garden - please plant more frangipannis. You've got to have more than one. They are glorious trees. I've got a box of cuttings on the go now. I don't know where I will put them all. I just know i want a lot of them. I think they are my favourite flower. I was reading a lovely book at hte library all about them the other day. Apparently they are easy to grow. And if you can find trees to get cuttings from you won't have to spend any money buying them.
Singapore Daisy. I don't like this stuff either but I was told very recently that it does good things to the soil structure. So maybe you could consider it a useful ground cover unless like me you don't like it either. But if you don't want to do that but you want to keep on having enough to rip up and make compost tea from, you'd better grow a special patch of it which you could call your compost tea farm.
You've done a lot of work on the rock walls. I hope i don't have to do anything like that.
Anyway thanks for telling us all this. And keep us posted occasionally on new developments.
The pleasure of working in the garden - I know! Isn't it the most wonderful thing. I think its partly because its creative work, partly because its being involved with nature, partly because it holds within it a certain degree of suspense and expectation, partly because of the phsyical aspect of it, not forgetting that it produces things you can consume, save you money. Its just so good for the soul. For a minute though I was stuck on how you could find composting better, even akin to psychotherapy but i guess you mean you can express your angry self in it. Is that what you mean? I like making compost but not for that reason. In fact it never occurred to me. I feel good doing it beucase its like cooking a really healthy meal. It makes me feel virtuous making compost.
Chook Tractors - its interesting that you are doing that. I haven't got plans to do that yet. Its hard enough making any chook pen. Maybe i will think about it later on and for now I've let my ducks run wild in a pen where hopefully come winter, I can create a second mandala garden for my european vegetables.
09-09-2010, 05:46 AM
Cool. I love the stone wall & I LOVE the single sunflower's cheery little face :)
Will check the photos at Mandala town later ... have to get my head into "going to town" mode now so I don't forget anything. I just had to check in for a quick peek this a.m before getting ready ... I'm SUCH a desperado! If you don't hear from me for a few days it'll mean the laptops in the shop, so say a prayer for me. I'll be sitting at home in severe withdrawals wondering if you & Mark & Rob have scampered off to paradise without me :)
09-09-2010, 09:12 PM
This is my vege/stroke aquaponic area taken may 2009
09-09-2010, 10:38 PM
Thanks for dropping by guys.
Sunburn - I have 2 frangipanis - a pink and a white. I think the idea of ripping stuff out that I don't want in my life, topping it off with poo and turning it into something productive (compost) is a really nice metaphor.
10-09-2010, 11:15 PM
I've made a start on telling the story in photos. I'll keep adding to it as I get time. It's been a worthwhile exercise to look back at the early photos. It feels like nothing changes in a hurry, but the garden is a whole lot different to 18 months ago!
11-09-2010, 07:53 PM
Its interesting to imagine what my place might look like in 12 months. If you have a the luxury of working in teh garden every day, its really quite a lot of work one can do. Then its just a waiting game isnt' it.
Its great to see you on pblog. I'll be working on a new entry tonight.
11-09-2010, 08:56 PM
taken August 2010...
11-09-2010, 09:16 PM
So the water gravity feeds down the hill from pond to pond? Do you a pump to circulate it around again?
12-09-2010, 01:36 AM
not a hill, but a slope none the less,runs 24/7 6000 lts per hour pump,does a great job and keeps 3000 lts nice n clear
12-09-2010, 04:49 PM
Eco your garden sounds fantastic.
I update so often cos I use it as my diary otherwise I never remember things and using a book diary doesnt work for me.
Looking forward to hearing more .
16-09-2010, 04:48 PM
I finished the meditation dome today. Pictures here - http://www.photoblog.com/eco4560/2010/09/15/
The base of the dome is 3m. I used 3 x 6 m lengths of PVC piping and bent each one over and slipped it over a reo bar stuck in the ground. It is reminiscent of my chook dome.
How fast does a passionfruit grow?
My daughter is worried about my moral sanctity (she goes to a Christian school) and think it should be called a prayer circle instead!
I've planted some pigeon pea seedlings, and seeds for beans and corn today. I have cassava cuttings that have been sitting in a styrofoam box covered in compost for what seems like an age since I lifted the one cassava plant that I have and I noticed today that there are little leaf buds starting to poke through. Hmmm where will I put the cassava? Hopefully I'll get a dozen plants from the cuttings. The arrowroot that I divided in winter and planted along the southern edge is starting to put up tiny green shoots too. Must be spring!
On a sad note - Chocolate the chook went to heaven on Tuesday. She was a beautiful big brown friendly thing. I don't know why she died - just found her dead in the chook run at the end of the day when I got home from work. No signs of previous illness, and the other 7 girls are all alive and well. They all stay in the dome so nothing gets it to attack them. I dug a ruddy big hole to bury her in - which is an act of love in itself because I hate digging! It wasn't really deep enough to stop something from digging her up so I plonked a pile of rocks over her like a little cairn. Sigh... I hope I don't have to do that too often.
16-09-2010, 04:59 PM
How fast does a passionfruit grow?
P.S. Loving the Meditation dome!
16-09-2010, 06:01 PM
Love the dome Eco - it reminds me of the bamboo one speedy showed us I may need to give it a go.
16-09-2010, 08:40 PM
Passionfruit is pretty fast if you feed it a lot. Plant several unless you have to buy it. You can try germinating seeds from a fruit you like though.
Why not take the chook for an autopsy? If its not too late. She must have been sick. Heart attack? Or maybe she ate some thing poisonous. Or maybe a spider or snake bit her?
16-09-2010, 10:57 PM
Mum has bought me a plant and I'm trying to get some to germinate that I saved from a store bought fruit last year (no luck yet....)
She's in her final resting place now, and I don't feel like exhuming her! I guess a snake might have got in under the edge of the dome - where it currently is isn't quite flat and one could have got in. Who knows. I think it is easier to just accept that chooks die.
21-09-2010, 12:09 AM
Great Meditatin Dome Eco...Great pics on your site..Excellent stuff thnx
28-09-2010, 03:57 PM
The passionfruit was planted on Sunday. Lets see how long it takes to create the "roof" of the dome. I'm wondering if there is such a thing as a subtropical grape? Maybe it could share the space with the passionfruit. I also planted 20 acacias on Sunday - fimbriata and melanoxylon. I'm hoping they grow like weeds for me to turn into mulch.
I'm harvesting fat broad beans, little cabbages, and tiny leeks. The leeks look more like shallots. Still - that's an improvement on last years effort when they didn't survive transplanting! Maybe next year I'll get it closer to right. Strawberries and mulberries and cape gooseberries are there if I'm faster than the kids. Fennel and kohlrabi, turnips, silverbeet, warrigul greens, plenty of herbs. I can't wait until my fruit trees reach maturity and I get fruit too. The nectarine is full of promise. I must put bird netting over it in the next few days or they might beat me to it.
The big compost pile is almost 4 months old now and has reduced by 50% in volume from when it was completed, so I started to pull it apart over the weekend. It's a bit of a disappointment. There are bits in the middle that are well composted but also areas that are dry and the vines haven't broken down at all. After seeing Purple Pear's reply to the Ant topic I had an aha! moment. I never watered my compost pile apart from when I built it. The ones I've done before have been in plastic compost bins so they've kept wetter. I assumed that being open to the rain would be enough, but obviously it wasn't. I always wondered why you would cover an open heap and now I realize that it is to keep the water IN not OUT. I've put the 2 plastic bins back into use down beside the mandala beds and have filled them with some of the better rotted stuff and some of the not so well rotted stuff, and added some compost worms, watered them well, and gave them a generous splash of molasses. I hope that restarts the biology and they compost down a bit more.
Then I went and watered the other compost pile that I have just finished. It has layers of mushy compost and one of site soil (left over from the recent landscaping) in between the green leafy stuff and the cardboard and the cow poo, so hopefully that'll hold some moisture better than the last one. There's a real art to this compost making - each mix is that bit different to the next. I can't wait to get started on the next one now. Plenty of purple top weeds waiting to go in... I need to visit my mate with the cows and get more cow poo first though.
28-09-2010, 06:49 PM
I don't think watering your compost heap is enough. I think you need to include more wet/green stuff. I also think turning it more often would help it to get even breakdown all over as well. When you water it, it still dries out. It seems that its mainly the damp vegetation and manure that holds the moisture.
I tried adding soil to one of my heaps and didn't like the effect. It seemed to make mud.
I probably wouldn't put a grape and a passionfruit on the same trellis. I think it would spoil the effect of either of them. But its your garden. On the other hand, maybe you can put a divider down the middle.
28-09-2010, 08:22 PM
The place sounds great Eco - I feel I want to come visit.
29-09-2010, 10:29 AM
I wos thinking of you on Sunday Mark. I went to Sandy Creek Organic Farm at Beerwah for their open day and did a farm tour. They do a CSA project and he uses biodynamics just like you.
He hasn't discovered the joy of circles yet and has lots of straight line rows planted up, and the chooks aren't part of the system - they have a grass field of their own. I learnt a few things - like the white flowering thing that looks vaguely like broccoli that was flowering at his place is radish - which is also flowering at my place in a green manure crop and I hadn't yet figured out what it was. I also discovered you can grow savoy cabbage here on the coast - I thought it was temperate only, but his look magnificent. And you harvest garlic after it sets a flower spike, and you can eat the flower.
I was secretly pleased that his tomatoes look just as daggy as mine - not like the ones on Gardening Australia, and his peas have sooty mould too just like mine!
There's always a free bed for you and Kate whenever you can drag yourself away. You can have a beer with me in the meditation dome.
29-09-2010, 11:23 AM
Your meditation dome sounds better and better.
30-09-2010, 11:11 AM
I stuck my hand in the compost bins this morning and it's hot, so it has obviously started up again. Love those nifty bacteria!
30-09-2010, 01:46 PM
Was that because you turned it over? Or because you watered it? or both? I reckon it might have needed some air.
30-09-2010, 07:55 PM
Yes... I turned it, added molasses and watered it. All or any of the above did the trick!
01-10-2010, 04:14 PM
Hey ECO, Youve re inspired me to officially declare my own meditation zone.its perfect spot as allmost smack in middle of our Block, its next to my aquaponic system,next to my chook house
door,and close to my main shed,where my music gets played,nice n close, and just far enough from the house to be well hidden without even trying to hide....
02-10-2010, 05:01 PM
We can meditate on each others meditation spots!
02-10-2010, 09:49 PM
My meditation seat in my meditation area
02-10-2010, 10:54 PM
Nice wattle. I've just planted some near my done too. Om Tara tuttare ture svaha.
02-10-2010, 11:02 PM
not sure on its variety but its huge tree with huge spread..
it drops a lot of yellow blossom in my aqua tanks,have to sift it out when in season...
its been thinned to over shoot my tanks and give more summer hot shelter....
ditto with your latin lol
08-10-2010, 09:42 PM
I'm heading off to Adelaide tomorrow for a week for a conference. That'll be pretty ho - hum, but I'm REALLY looking forward to hitting the city market. I discovered it late in my visit to Adelaide earlier this year and was disappointed that I hadn't found it earlier. As soon as I check in I'm hopping on the tram and heading down to buy good coffee, sourdough bread, fresh organic fruit, cheese, cheese and some more cheese, and probably some yoghurt. Maybe some of the local organic bacon and pork and some salad makings.... And a bottle or two of the local vino.
I've spent the past few days getting the garden ready for me to be absent for a bit. The kids will (I hope!) remember to feed the chooks, but they'll probably forget to water the seedlings. So I've planted as many as I can and the heavenly powers have been kind and it rained well last night and is currently bucketing down and looks like it has set in for a few days. So the plants will probably survive without me. In the recently vacated chook bed went potatoes, sunflowers, capsicums, eggplant and tomatoes. By 2 of the trellises I have planted beans and corn, and by the third jicama (yam bean). By the Great Wall of Nambour 3 gourd plants (close to the choko which is starting to get a kick along!). An achacha tree that has been knocked out of its pot by the cat in a nocturnal adventure went in below the meditation dome. It's only about 10 cm high... Hope it survives. Comfrey and lemon grass went along the southern edge - I've almost got the entire length of the boundary planted up. The arrowroot corms that went in back in early winter are starting to send up a green spike with red edges. A few sweet potato plants went in by the banana tree on the south side of the house. Well actually I think they might be yams. The label said sweet potato, but they are white / yellow corms and they taste different to sweet potato. And the leaves are identical to the plant that permasculptor gave me and he called his a yam. I have another plant that looks similar, but it really is a sweet potato.
I harvested some of the mystery yam for tonight's dinner. There's something magical about thrusting your hands into the earth and coming up with a corm the size of your forearm! I also found 2 jicama corms when I was planting them out - they stayed in the ground in perfect condition for several months since I pulled the tops off! (I had wondered where the bottoms went.) I did a beef curry so the yams and the jicamas went in the pot, along with lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, Vietnamese mint, coriander, garlic chives, silverbeet and warrigul greens. I added some of my preserved ginger (in sherry) and a spoonful of the chilli jam that I made last year. Stupendous!
I pruned my recently planted passionfruit back to one leader - I want to get it to go up before it goes out. The cape gooseberry plant got a prune too. Something gets to it at this time of the year - it looks like brown slimy snot on the leaves and the plant very quickly gets stripped of foliage. I tossed the prunings in with the chooks so they can eat whether the critter is. I've got tiny seedlings for more of the same to plant in other spots around the garden. The original seed came from my recently departed grandmothers plant. As kids the highlight of a visit to her place was to raid her bushes for the sweet yellow fruit. It's nice to think that my kids now get to enjoy the same thing. Hopefully I can pass the seeds on to them when they have their own gardens.
I have covered the nectarine in bird netting. The fruit are now starting to colour up and are about 4cm in size. There's a lot of fruit on there, and I'm REALLY excited by the thought that I'll be soon eating my first nectarine crop. This might be a bad time to find out that I do have a fruit fly problem after all.... So far I haven't had any problems with it. Fingers crossed. Which reminds me - I think there's a flower on the banana on the north side of the house - I was looking out the window this morning and could see something burgundy in colour, and I was going to go out and have a closer look at it today but I forgot and now it is dark and pouring rain! There's never enough hours of daylight!
08-10-2010, 10:19 PM
wow makes my garden sound quite bare lol.
We moved in our place 18 months ago and after two real bad dry winters,Im just glad i didnt go crazy with new tree planting programs? maybe my aquas has been a sign to save me heaps of water..
They say aqps use only 2% of water for that in normal in ground methods.... pretty impressive id say lol
Enjoy your trip
09-10-2010, 08:34 AM
It IS a banana flower! A huge one - and there are already 3 little banana hands forming. That's just as exciting as the nectarines!
Oh and by the way Tezza Om Tara etc is Sanskrit - I think the translation is Homage to Tara the Saviouress - or something. She's my favourite Buddhist Goddess and that's her mantra. She's the Tibetan equivalent of Qwan Yin. It also happens to be my daughters name - I chose it long before I know that she was being named after a Goddess! It also means Star, and in Gaelic Tara (Teamhair) was the ancient city of Druidic rule.
Boy did it rain last night.... I left the pump on the tank by the house - the one that pumps up to the big header tank. Normally it runs dry after a few hours and switches off, but it is still running and the tank is 3/4 full still! It must have rained faster than the pump could go for most of the night. There are very few boggy spots in the garden. The water management work that my landscaper did for me was worth every penny. It either soaks in or runs off down the dry gullies and down either side of my driveway.
09-10-2010, 09:02 AM
Stupendous indeed. It all sounds fantastic, the curry and the garden.
Now about this chilli jam.... What is chilli jam? Is it sweet? What do you eat it with?
I actually am afraid of chilli and don't like it when i am in india but its fine when it has an Australian touch so I'm willing to have a go at anything. If its quite harmless, could you post the recipe here please?
How are you capsicums growing? Are they growing up? (remembering our previous discussion).
One day could you take some pics of your bean trellises. I am not good at trellises. I am trying to make teepees with string around them but they are a bit wobbly and even the string sags.
What do you think of those jacama yams. Are they yummy?
I am excited for you about your nectarines. Good luck and may the dreaded fruit fly lose its way on the path to your tree.
10-10-2010, 10:52 PM
It is sweet. I found the recipe on the 'net, made the stuff and lost the recipe again... sorry. Think sweet chilli sauce but thicker. Use it any where you would use sweet chilli sauce. On sausages, in a salad dressing, in a curry or casserole etc.
I cheated and went to the nursery and bought capsicums as mine still haven't germinated. They are yellow ones. Fingers crossed that they bear fruit.
I'm not good are trellises either. I think they might be in some of the pics on my photoblog if you hunt a bit. I bought some dog wire second hand - the stuff that has square holes about 10 cm in size - whacked in a star picket at either end of where I wanted it to go - and tied the dog wire to it with tie wire. The first time it rained they sagged sadly in the middle - so I straightened them up and whacked them in again. Then as the vines got heavy they sagged in the middle again, so after I cleared the vines at the end of the season I whacked them in again.... I'll win eventually... They are butt ugly but cheap and I thought it would be good to see if they work well where they are, before I pay someone to come and do something attractive and more permanent.
The jicama is really yummy. Which brings me to Adelaide. They aren't very clever the Adelaide people. Saturday afternoon - I went up Gouger street to the market with cash burning a hole in my pocket and a desire to EAT. And it was shut.... I found a Chinese supermarket instead and figured that it would be a good adventure to see if I could put together a meal. I found a really big fat jicama corm, and kang kong leaves (never had it before), the skinny thai eggplants, mung bean sprouts, dried mushrooms, rice vermicelli, coconut milk and laksa paste and made a pretty good laksa. I'd have the kang king again - I'll have to see if I can score some to go by my pond....
11-10-2010, 12:17 AM
Wow all that from four lettle letters Tara
Tara for now.enjoy rest of your trip
11-10-2010, 09:13 AM
thanks eco. You've persuaded me on the chilli sauce. I like making vietnamese spring rolls so they'd go well with those. And likewise the jicama yams. Now i just need ot find that packet of seeds.
I've got kang kong in. Its been really easy to get start and is growing madly. I water them a lot as they like a moist soil. Its like an attractive plant also.
Some of my capsicum seedligns are starting to move - produce new leaves - perhaps they are just really slow and require really warm weather. My friend from up the hill at Kuranda visited yesterday. She said she also has difficult with them. Perhaps i've been too impatient. The ones that are moving, what i did was after they'd germinated and grew up to about 6-7cm i transplanted into a more spacious container with potting mix. Perhaps i could have sewed them more sparsely in the first place to save this step. I've taken to sewing the whole packet of seeds as i find it tedious sewing a few of everything. I'll probably live to regret this approach. There must be an easier way.
You sound like a pretty good cook eco. I went off laksa after having it too much but it sounds like i need to refresh my asian cooking techniques to enjoy all these asian vegies i'm growing.
11-10-2010, 07:29 PM
Ta sunburn. How big does the kang kong get? Is it like silver beet, or more like Vietnamese mint when it grows?
11-10-2010, 09:53 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bEoDIm8Nm8 I watched this yesterday and learnt what it would look like when grown up. Now i'm wondering if i planted mine too close together.
11-10-2010, 11:06 PM
Hey that might be a good aquaponic vege to try one day
12-10-2010, 03:59 PM
eco did you find out what your 'wild tobacco' was?
6 years ago i was at a tobacco farm, before they stopped growing it down here, funnily enough i remember chestnuts, deer and blackberries more than tobacco... anyway.
12-10-2010, 05:28 PM
Still haven't had a definite answer on that one!
12-10-2010, 09:08 PM
rip them out ?
13-10-2010, 02:31 PM
Apple of Sodom! Where do they come up with these names!!! Yes that looks like it - though I didn't wait long enough to see if it would set fruit before I chopped the last plant back to the base. It's a solanum so I was at least half right as it is in the same family as the tobaccos.
30-10-2010, 09:42 PM
The weather is starting to affect my gardening time... I have to come in for a few hours through the middle of the day as it it getting too hot. My arms are pink, and I have very noticeable lines marking where my shorts end, and where my shoes start.
Compost has been the theme for the past few weeks. Lots and lots of compost. Love the stuff, can't have too much of it! I had one BIG pile at the bottom end of the hill that was made with 4 star pickets and palings - with inspiration from the Purple Pear tomato stake 5 sided one. It was about 2 months old. After the first one of these was a bit of a failure I thought that it would be best to turn it over to keep it alive. So I stuck in another 4 star pickets just under the banana (I think it will enjoy the leaching nutrients) and turned the old pile into this. It's much better rotted than the first pile was, but around the edges there were still big balls of dried grasses and twigs. I've tried to get them into the middle and the better rotted stuff to the outside.
A trio of kookaburras was watching with much interest and now I often seem them sitting on or close by to this heap. There were a lot of worms, but I suspect they are reducing the population a bit!
With the empty space I started a new compost pile. This one has - some of the not so good dry compost from my first attempt, green weeds (I now realise that if I run out of weeds it'll be a sad day for compost making!), scrunched up newspaper, horse stable poo with wood shavings in it, kitty litter when I clean the tray, straw (from bales that were used to start a new raised garden bed - they are starting to break down and have worms in them), mushy compost (keeps the moisture in nicely) and worm castings (the end product of my Singapore Daisy eradication program). It's about 1 m high now - it is rotting down almost as fast as I am filling it.
I bought a new Aerobin. My previous one was about 4 years old and had been damaged by the removalists when I moved - which was a pity because the cost a packet! I used it as my "end product" bin, because it has the handy hatches at the bottom so I can get a bucket of compost out without having to dig over a whole pile. I emptied the contents out of one of my plastic compost bins into it - this lot was several months old and had been turned and turned and looks great. The other plastic bin I'm now using to follow the chooks on their rotation. The chooks got moved today - and the bin gets plonked down between the newly vacated bed and the newly occupied one. I use a rake to scratch up all the bits off the top of the empty bed, complete with a smattering of chook poo, and put that into the bin, and then dug over the previous pile and topped the bin up to the brim. The chooks got a LARGE tub of the middle well rotted bit of the pile, sending them into raptures of delight as they fought over the worms and wee creepy crawlies. It's sort of like Linda Woodrows compost beds in the mandala, but neater and a smaller footprint. I can plant into the small amount of compost that is left on the ground.
I've had a planting spree over the past 2 weeks - about 20 pigeon pea. I'll need them once I run out of weeds to compost! A much sought after Tamarillo tree (my son loves them), and 2 red bisexual paw paws. Along the fence I've made mounds of mushy compost and into each pile I've put a pigeon pea, a bean (snake, Madagascar, yam so far), and either a Spaghetti melon or a Turkish Turban pumpkin. I figure one will head up the fence, the other down the hill and the pigeon pea will sit in the middle. It's a LONG fence and I'm still germinating more things to grow on it. I already snuck in 2 chokos which are starting to take off, a hardenbergia, and 2 gourds. I'm planning on cucumber to grow up it as well, and watermelon, rockmelon, zucchini and squash.
In the mandala I've planted a circle of spuds right in the middle (I'll leave them all there until the chooks are ready to go on again and harvest them in the one go - hence they can hide in the centre), surrounded by sunflowers (hoping the beetles that eat the potato will get distracted and not notice the potatoes are under them), eggplant, chilli and capsicum, tomato, lettuce (directly seeded into the bed) and beetroot. Todays bed got a centre circle of a green manure crop which I'll leave for the chooks enjoyment. It's actually a collection of seed that I haven't had luck with, or didn't know what to do with, that wasn't so fresh any more - so I figure this is a nice way to give it one last chance to be useful. I've also spread seed for carrots - a mixture of red and orange ones.
So what's good in the garden this week? The nectarine is covered in fruit and the netting is keeping the birds off most of them. It is ALMOST ripe - still a bit crunchy, but we have started eating them and they are packed with flavour. My big adolescent boy that rarely leaves his computer can be seen sneaking out to the tree several times a day! There must be over 100 fruit so he can have as many as he likes and there'll still be some for me. I'm harvesting the last of the kohl rabi and fennel that was planted in autumn. I only ended up with 2 silver beet plants (I planted more than that!) and none of the kale survived. But the Warrrigul greens have filled in the gap nicely - they are very prolific. The bed they are in is shady and I think they prefer it that way. A generous handful of it got tucked into shepherd's pie last night along with fresh herbs, and cherry tomatoes. The potato was store bought, but I "hid" a turnip in the mash (the kids won't eat it on it's own) and some of my own sweet sweet potato. The banana is fruiting and I have managed to bag it to keep the bats away. I haven't yet worked out when I should start cutting hands off. When they colour up? The strawberries are still producing good amounts of fruit. It never makes it into the house. Gardener's privilege! The kids baulk at the ones with slug holes in them, but I've mastered the knack of biting that off spitting it at the chooks or the nearest compost pile and eating the rest. Mr Woolworths wouldn't approve.
Tomorrow I'm off to visit Tulipwood's hubby who is giving me a woodworking lesson. We are making her a chook house. I'm hoping that I still have all my fingers working by Monday morning. I belong to the generation of women who learnt cooking and sewing while the blokes learnt that blokey stuff. Never to late to learn (I hope!).
31-10-2010, 08:20 AM
Fantastic report Eco. That fence will be such an excellent spot once all the plants are going mad over it. My strawberry plant died. I think its too hot now.
02-11-2010, 07:07 PM
It was great to get the update Eco - how did the wood working go? He is a handy bloke as evidenced by the chook run we built earlier this year.
03-11-2010, 11:30 AM
I still have all my fingers and only a little bruise on my pinky from missing the chisel with the hammer when knocking out a rebate. I even got to use power tools! The "summer palace" will be magnificent when it is done. We got about half the floor finished before we ran out of supplies and most of the frame before we ran out of sun. I still couldn't contemplate making one myself, but at least I could now cut it as an unskilled labourer on a building site.
10-11-2010, 05:23 AM
You go girl!!!
10-11-2010, 12:11 PM
If I had A hammer,Id hammer in the morning de de dum
20-11-2010, 01:32 PM
I spent the morning wandering the garden with my camera in hand. I'm trying to do this once each season. My summer shots start here - Eco's photoblog (http://www.photoblog.com/eco4560/2010/11/13/) - if you navigate to the next page there's about 6 more entries with garden photos.
Everything is green and lush. I planted a water chestnut in the bath tub yesterday - after adding a pile of compost for it to take root in. I'm told you get a LOT of one plant. I bought it from the Permaculture Noosa meeting on Thursday, along with Yacon, Pepino, and Red Bell Pepper. I also picked up seeds for New Guinea Bean, Evening Primrose, Cassia, Bitter Melon, Telegraph Pea and Okra.
27-11-2010, 08:05 PM
I think I have frogs in residence in my new frog pond. There are new noises in the night garden which are decidedly frog like. I haven't seen any frogs yet though.
Today I spotted a small snake swimming in the pond, poking his / her head into all the cracks. I think IT knows that there are frogs too. Pretty snake - about 75 cm long, as thick as a finger, grey brown with yellow markings. It had disappeared the next time I went to look.
My cat it turning out to be an excellent mouser. I have NO idea where all the nice hide by day, but he yowls to be let out in the evenings and sometimes returns with a gruesome gift for me. (Look how much I love you! I left you the hindquarters. Would you like me to watch you eat it?)
27-11-2010, 08:21 PM
I forgot to comment last time you posted that bitter melon is not very yummy. Its very attractive but i didn't enjoy eating it. I think i've had it several times in India. Just grow it for its looks i reckon.
27-11-2010, 11:44 PM
what a great site eco,i even signed up and made a comment on your pics..
My frog is going great now,and i imported some spawn from some friends in a nearby town,they are now tadpoles albiet very small still..
28-11-2010, 09:35 PM
Thanks for the heads up sunburn. I got it because it fits in the stuff that grows well around here but I don't have it in my garden yet category. Gotta try everything at least once!
Thanks Tez - I've shown you mine now you have to show me yours... :blush: Post some pics!
And the cat caught another mouse tonight - and then released it alive in the kitchen. THAT isn't how it is supposed to work. I managed to catch the mouse but it bit me on the finger and I let it go! It ended up hiding in the garage and the cat went out to hunt for more prey... I hope it finds the mouse in the house before the mouse sets up house!
30-11-2010, 09:25 AM
Come to think of it, down the track i wouldn't mind growing it becuase its such a good looking vegie. I've also got these lovely spikey cucumbers which i am going to try to grow. They taste pretty much like any other cucumber but they are so pretty. These are the sorts of things i would particularly like growing in my food forest. In the vegie patch as i go along, i will confine it to things i like to eat a lot i think.
Try the New Guinea Bean if you haven't got it yet eco, that is if you have trouble growing zucchinis. It seems to be a very good alternative.
30-11-2010, 10:40 AM
Eco, i was just rereading your first post. You mentioned having a see through roof in your bathroom. Can you tell me all about it please? What material is it? How much did it cost to erect per square metre, if you know? Is this much more expensive than the rest of your roof? I suppose you had it professionally installed. What sort of materials does it have for support? is it wood or steel? or something else?
The reason i ask is that i am onto my second design for my house and its occurred to me that a transparent roof is almost essential because of the shade of all the trees. I don't like dark houses and obviously it wouldn't be a good thing to have the lights on all the time. So far I've discovered laserlite 2000 which is a type of polycarbonate roofing. Its corrugated rather than flat though and i wouldn't be able to see through it though it would let all the light in. My sister has some flat polycarbonate in their house though its not a roof but a wall panel. Perhaps its the same thing.
But maybe i could have section that is completely flat and see through.
Also i noticed you have 40 fruit trees? Is there a list somewhere?
30-11-2010, 01:13 PM
Lets see if I can remember them all -
Wampi, mulberry (purple), blueberry, bay (not a fruit tree I guess...), Kaffir lime, tropical nectarine, coffee, tahitian lime, cherry guava, carambola, lemonade, grapefruit, orange (sorry can't remember which sort), mandarin, lemon, pomegranate, cumquat, macadamia (also not a fruit tree!), Davidson's plum, and another native plum that I forget the name of, lychee, finger lime, avocado, olive, custard apple, loquat, banana (ladyfinger about 8 with new suckers popping up!), jaboticaba, fig, tamarillo, feijoa, achacha, vanilla bean, star apple (caimito or something like that), blue quandong, lemon myrtle (also not a fruit tree!), about 8 paw paws, passionfruit (fruit but not a tree), pepino, curry tree (also not really a fruit tree!). There are 3 mangos hanging over the fence line but they don't officially belong to me. Most are too small to have started fruiting yet, but I should be well fed in a few years time.
2 chokos and a partridge in a pear tree!
I'll have a look on my house plans tonight and give you some more info on the roof.
30-11-2010, 03:17 PM
There's a few there i haven't heard of. wampi, achaacha. ...Oh well two. I'll check them out. Thanks for the other thing.
30-11-2010, 08:38 PM
Yes it's polycarbonate sheeting. It is corrugated just the same as my zincalume roof and sits in a gap in the zincalume held on with roofing screws. There's something on the plan referring to span deck profile - I think that has something to do with the type of corrugation. It's about 1.7 m x 1.5 m directly over my bathtub so I can lie in it and look at the sky. Keeps the mould down too. It was part of the house build so I have no idea what individual component cost.
It's on the southern side of the house with the roof sloping to the south so during the day it only gets indirect light. If you had direct light getting in where you are I think you could put buckets of water out and charge people top use your sauna....
I can't imagine it is very strong so I would worry about having a WHOLE roof made out of it, but you might be able to use smaller segments like I have done to bring the light in rather than fancy sky lights. My architects specialize in "green" designs so if yours is threatened by your ideals let me know - you could always contact mine and see what they can do for you. They do straw bale and owner builder designs so they are used to demanding customers!
Here's the achacha info - Garcinia Humilis (http://forums.permaculture.org.au/showthread.php?6838-Garcinia-humilis&highlight=garcinia)
There's a basic run down on the wampi here - wampi (http://www.daleysfruit.com.au/plant/Wampi.htm) It is tropical so it should go nuts at your place. I have never tried the fruit so I don't know what it is like. But I figure when the system as we know it collapses anything edible will be worth having.
30-11-2010, 08:48 PM
I found a daggy photo of that section of the roof from during the build. I've used up my photo allowance so I can't post it here, and it's too ugly to put on photoblog. Pm me your email addy and I can send it to you.
01-12-2010, 06:45 AM
Thanks for that. And i don't think its a daggy photo. It shows pretty well what it looks like. The stars might be a bit blurry but its good to see the trees. It helps me visualise what I would be able to see through my roof - which is a lot. I think this stuff is laserlite.
11-12-2010, 12:39 PM
I'm heading off on holidays for 2 weeks, leaving tomorrow. I'm going cold turkey from the internet for the WHOLE time - it's a bit of a challenge and I may need to substitute alcohol for the message board to get through it.
Be well people while I'm away. See you after Christmas!
11-12-2010, 01:27 PM
You won't even think about us. You will have a great time.
12-12-2010, 07:33 AM
Wampee are not really tropical ....
Easy growing tree , that produces small bunches of brown fruits with a delightful sub-acid flesh .
Native to Asia they tolerate light frosts , and should grow well down to Melbourne with some protection for the first year.
25-12-2010, 11:58 PM
Holiday snaps are here! (http://www.photoblog.com/eco4560/2010/12/13/uepi-island-resort-morovo-lagoon-solomon-islands.html)
They are worth a look - I've got some good garden shots in there, and some building ones. Sunburn - I reckon you should build your house like this....
31-12-2010, 07:34 PM
Last update for 2010....
Mum came over and helped me in the garden. Lately I've been feeling that it is starting to escape from under my control and that if I don't pull ALL the weeds out right NOW, and made it look pretty then something bad will happen and I'll regret it forever. So I roped Mum in to help me try to make a dint on it.
But when I sat down and crystallised my thoughts on paper about what REALLY needed to happen first the plan evolved somewhat. And I was given a copy of Annette McFarlane's Successful Gardening in a Warm Climate, which I started reading last night. Fancy starting a book with compost first! I LIKE that woman. Anyway it helped to refocus my brain on the fact that planting stuff is infinitely more useful in the big scheme of things than pulling stuff out, if you want to not have empty spots full of weeds. I was also getting a bee in my bonnet about some rice bean that popped up from seed dropped last season that wasn't where I really wanted it to be. I decided to call it a green manure, but seeing how rampantly it had grown in the past 2 weeks had me itching to pull it all out NOW! The book reminded me that I can wait until I see flowers start to appear without panicking that I'll have it there forever, and of course it's a ground cover helping to keep the weeds down, keep the soil cool and fix nitrogen....
So what DID we get up to today? I decided to play to one of Mum's strengths AND stick to the plant stuff don't yank it out rule. Mum is a day lily nut and brought me about 100 day lilies that she propagated herself when I first moved in and helped me plant them in clusters of 6 - 8. I don't think a single one died and they are just starting to get past their best in terms of flower production for the season. Where each flower starts from then turns into a new baby plant - so we cut spent flower heads, and tidied up the little pups ready to replant. There were a LOT! My daughter came and joined us so we had the whole tribe of women gathered chatting over the pile with a pair of secatuers each.
My frog pond needs more strappy leaf plants around it to stop toads getting in - which was the perfect use for the new planting material. My son and myself moved about 10 barrow loads of compost to make a raised ring around the pond and we planted them really densely around the pond. If half of them snuff it it'll still be a nice impenetrable barrier. I also lifted a strelitzia that I had planted by the house that didn't like the shade, divided it into 3 and added it to the bed - to add some height. Lemon grass was tucked in as well. I have a long row of lemon grass plants that I used to use to define my northern boundary - but since the FENCE went in seems pointless having them there and they are suffering a bit with the shade the fence makes.
We managed to pull out some of the more annoying weeds on the way around the garden, and tucked a few day lilies in to replace them instead. A generous amount of green waste made it to the compost pile, which I've now covered with wet newspaper.
The next job of the day was to tidy up around the chooks. I moved them onto a new bed yesterday that had a VERY successful green manure crop mostly of cow pea - which if course had spilled out all over the edge of the bed. Which is fine but as the chooks eat it it'll start to die off, but only in patches, making little chook sized gaps under the dome to escape from. So we pruned back about a foot from the edge of the dome and I've put some plastic bags full of Singapore Daisy (Yes I'm STILL pulling out SD....) around the edge to make it harder to escape. Now I have a reason to pull out more SD - I need more bags to go all the way around. I also makes it harder for stuff to get in to them. The 3 beds that they are on next were an after thought in the mandala and they aren't perfectly level so the dome doesn't sit quite flat on the ground. I've acquired the cat since the last time they were on this bit of the garden, and I reckon the cat would probably beat a silky given the opportunity. Don't want to find out though.
To finish off the day we had a cup of chai tea while I collected the eggs and picked beans and corn to go with the roast potato, and a sweet potato bake I made using slices of orange in between the layers of sweet potato with some nutmeg on top. And I passed on a copy of the recent blog on the main page about how to make a compost shower to add to her collection of things that she is posting to the folks at Uepi Island. A hot shower would have been nice from time to time, but not if you have to burn diesel for it.
Next year I want to make a raised garden bed at my Mum's place as a treat for her. She travels a lot though so it has to look after itself, and have plants that are more perennial than seasonal. She has a pretty good collection of culinary herbs and fruit trees already. I'd like it to have things that she could just go to at any time and dig up, or chop a bit off, and it'd always have something to eat and not need much work. I was thinking about things like arrowroot, cassava and jicama, Ginger, tumeric that whole family - where she can just dig up what she needs and leave the rest to continue. Does anyone have any suggestions for any thing OTHER than root crops that would work? It would have to survive on rain only. Are there any beans that produce all year round that wouldn't die just because she didn't harvest them for a few weeks? Or leafy greens that you could put in a salad or use as a cooked green? Nasturtiums maybe. Even if they died off they'd self seed.
I did have a moment this year when I thought that it would be a really good idea to plan to enter my place in a garden comp this year, to help focus my attention to keep working on making it actually have a point. It seemed like a good idea for a while, but lately I've been thinking that the problem is that it encourages me to plan for PRETTY, TIDY, NEAT rather than practical, interwoven, and easy - which is a much better idea. I'm hoping that eventually my place will be as nice a hardworkinghippy's place, but it will be a thing of beauty because it had years of looking like an ugly duckling first and matured, not because I bought it a push up bra and hair straighteners for it's birthday. If that makes sense! I started making a garden plan in midwinter of my first year, and updated this winter and it was amazing to see how much had changed. I'll do it again each year. It is a really useful exercise and I'd encourage all the townies to do it. Spending a day or two thinking about what you have done and want to do in the garden is just as important as spending a day or two in your garden.
Best wishes for whatever the new year holds for all of you out there. My prediction will be for expensive petrol, even more expensive food, expensive electricity and unpredictable weather.
03-01-2011, 06:46 PM
My chooks produced at least 1060 eggs last year. When I was away and someone else was looking after them I didn't make them count.... That's 88 doz eggs, or 2.9 eggs a day.
I spent $200 on grain for them. That works out at $2.26 a doz. For free range organic LOVED chicken eggs.
Not bad eh?!
03-01-2011, 07:20 PM
It never occurred to me to count my eggs. Perhaps I should. How many chickens do you have?
Are you eating all your eggs? Are you feeding them back to the chickens? I have just decided to start doing this more systematically. We don't eat so many eggs. And as i don't have a lot of spare money it makes more sense to feed the ducks and chickens eggs rather than give them away. I want to try to keep my grain consumption down to 1 22kg bag a month - ie about $20.
I've just noticed that the feet of my duckings are already bigger than the feet of their mother and aunts. I also noticed that size of the chickens i have raised is larger than the two mothers i bought fully grown from Joe. Joe keeps all his animals in a pen (large and good though) and gives them grain and scraps. Mine freerange and I think i am feeding them a lot more grain. Also when they were chickens he doesn't give them baby food like I have been doing.
04-01-2011, 07:05 AM
Seven chickens (4 are silky bantams). I give my eggs away to friends in return for kitchen scraps to feed the chooks.
05-01-2011, 12:18 PM
Hey Eco, that was a real joy to read....I was so taken by the family getting together and the simplicity of the flow of events that occured....I have known all along what I want to do on "my dream about to be realised" peice of dirt but you have just confirmed every thing I have been thinking...plan, plant, wait, look, share, taste, potter, rethink and remember... I guess thay are all the words that sum up the easy life that we all strive for in our gardens and your post reminded me of what it is that I am striving for on my peice of dirt... thankyou for sharing
05-01-2011, 01:52 PM
Aww shucks Linda! I'm pleased that someone is excited by it. I'm certainly having fun doing it.
17-03-2011, 05:25 PM
New photos here! (http://www.photoblog.com/entries/2011/03/12/) There are 5 days in a row.
Will post something in the next few days...
Time to hit the road and head to Cooroy for the Permaculture Noosa Meeting! See you later....
18-03-2011, 08:00 AM
the link doesn't work eco.
18-03-2011, 08:17 AM
Starting from #1 great series of photos - love your work Eco.
18-03-2011, 09:33 AM
18-03-2011, 12:14 PM
I enjoyed catching up on the bounty of your garden. I don't feel so bad about my sweet potato taking over my vegie patch now. i see its the same at your place. I haven't been looking for any to eat though perhaps there are some there somewhere. Perhaps i should look.
What do you do to your bananas? Mine are slow and right now they are sitting in sodden ground. How old are yours?
18-03-2011, 01:09 PM
You have a beautiful place and I really enjoyed reading about all the things you have done to it eco
19-03-2011, 11:47 AM
I'm learning the hard way that all that stuff in the books about zones is worth paying attention to.
The chooks have made it back down to the beds closest to the house. Which means that it is getting close to the 2 year anniversary of the garden. I have over the past few months had a realisation that you can't have a Zone 1 that extends all the way to the back fence...
I have been trying to look after 10 chook dome beds that extend from my back door to the back fence line and have found that I stretched myself too thin and none of them end up being looked after. So I don't notice that some things are dying and need to be replaced, or that weeds have taken over and need removing. At the moment I have 4 beds that are of any use - one I planted last weekend, one has rosellas in it that should be ready for harvest soon, and two others that have amaranth and okra (but even they are 50% weeds and the other 50% of the plants that I put in with them never made it). The others have been taken over by rouge pumpkins, or cobblers pegs.
I have decided that I need to keep the 4 chook dome beds that are closest to the house for the seasonal veges and work hard at getting the best out of them, and use the other areas for more perennials and self seeding annuals and so on.
Which means that I'll have to find somewhere else to house the chooks when they aren't needed in the dome. I want them fairly close to the house so I can keep an ear out for them at night, and so I don't start to ignore them because they are too far to walk up to visit easily. I've picked a spot that is where my new smaller zone 1 joins an area that is currently home to fruit trees and weeds - zone 2. There's an established tree there (not sure what it is) to provide shade for them. The real challenge is that I'm completely unskilled in construction! I want to try to use recycled stuff to build it with and end up with something that actually looks pretty good. This could take a while....
Permasculptor came a few weekends ago and walked around my place with me in the rain. Then we came in and looked at my plans. Then walked around in the rain some more before coming back to look at plans again! I had a grand plan to turn a large chunk of the yard into 4 separate chook runs opening off their new home, but once Permasculptor kindly patted me on the head and told me that I didn't really want that much work, he suggested that I can make simple temporary yards for the chooks during the day, and move them to the next patch of weeds when I want to. Once I slept on it a bit it his suggestion seemed like a much better idea than my original one.
We also came up with the great idea to use the chooks to make swales. I've even thought of a nifty name - CAMS - chicken assisted micro swales! The idea is to make sure that the bottom fence of the temporary run in perfectly on contour (and I'll put them just above a fruit tree each time). The chooks will scratch everything down hill against the fence and build up a mound for me. I can then dig out a small ditch just above that to add to the pile they scratch up and there you have it! Chicken swales. I've got to figure out what to plant them up with next...
One of Permasculptor's other ideas was to plant more deciduous trees to generate leaf litter. I'm seriously thinking about a Pecan.... Still researching my other options. Suggestions welcome!
I've been feeling very glum about the garden since getting home from holidays over Christmas. It seems to be taking more work and giving me less reward this year. I've been pondering why that is and what I need to do about it. Hence the "Things to be grateful for" photo session. I have realised that I haven't been very tidy over the past year. The garden stakes and bits of string that I used to tie stuff up have been left more or less where I dumped them when I pulled them out. There are broken bits of plastic buckets and bags that I was too lazy to put in the rubbish that I keep stepping over. And bag after bag full of Singapore Daisy waiting to go in the work farm sitting more or less where I left it when I filled it. It dawned on me that if I treated my bedroom the same way that I'd be having nightmares!
So the plan for the weekend is to get out there and clean out all the rubbish. And pull out the feral pumpkin that is growing across my back deck. It seemed sort of cute to have it there but it isn't setting fruit anyway and it is starting to annoy me having to step over it every time I walk out the back door.
Then I need to stand on the back deck and work out what is in my line of vision and what I need to do to make that look good. After all that is what will fill my vision each morning when I step out there. I seem to remember someone saying somewhere - start at the back door and work out. (It might even have been me! Much easier to give advice than follow it.)
So I'm going to do a bit of plant shopping this weekend, and have a look around the yard and see what I can propagate to use in the space between my back door and the planned chook house. Like the really pretty native violet hiding beside the jasmine vine.
Stepping out of the garden and into the outside world... A friend of mine who goes to Sunshine Coast Uni gave me a heads up about a lunchtime lecture series where a Uni lecture talks about something of interest. So yesterday I rocked on up and sat in on Morag Gamble who talked about "Food and Sustainability - food politics, food sovereignty and community food systems." Morag has lived at the Crystal Waters eco-village for 13 years, and is a lecturer in Food Politics. (Who would have guessed that there was such a thing!) For me it was a bit like preaching to the converted as I knew the sorts of messages that she covered already, but it was still refreshing to see someone bringing it to a mainstream audience. The take home quote for me was "by eating, we take the history and politics of food into our bodies". One of her websites is localfood.net.au - a 15 minute movie that she has produced. Might be a good one for a Transition Town night.
Then to top it all off I headed up the road for the Permaculture Noosa meeting. The first speaker (who's name escapes me at present) is an indigenous chef who talked about bush tucker. There were lots of things to touch and smell and even taste (lemon myrtle cheesecake - YUM!). The surprise ingredient for me was ground, roasted wattle seed. I had heard of it but thought it must be like sesame seeds (bit boring) but it smells like coffee / chocolate / nuts all mixed together. And it's the common as muck old Brisbane Wattle (acacia fimbriata) that I have in my back yard! Now I can't wait for it to set seed so I can have a go at making it myself.
Then Tom, one of the locals, showed pictures from his place and talked about his swales - how he made them, what works for him and so on. It was really interesting to see how he has identified his water problems and designed solutions that actually work really well.
So - now the challenge is to take a fresh look at my place and design my way out of the emotional doldrum that I've made for myself.
19-03-2011, 11:49 AM
Sunburn I have 2 stands of bananas and next to one I have made a Purple Pear inspired compost heap which I leave uncovered. The one next to the compost pile is twice the size of the other. It seems to soak up all the leached nutrients.
20-03-2011, 07:08 AM
Compost near the bananas sounds like a great idea. Though i've not actually got any compost piles at the moment. I've had to raid them all to make mulch. Mulch seemed more urgent to me after all than compost. Perhaps i just need to find some mulch for my bananas. I know, and a bag of old horse poo.
I do like these long reflective posts on people's gardens. I wish more people would do them.
About your chicken houses. I totally understand any trepidation you may feel about building one of these. You could just make a larger more permanent dome as you already know how to do that. Instead of the white plastic pipe you use, you could use black poly pipe which is pretty strong. And inexpensive. Though that would mean you'd have to buy it. Otherwise, a structure that i thought would be nice would be an arch made using corrugated iron as the roofing material. I would base it around (or over) a 4-posted square. This would work quite well at my place though i don't know about yours. I'd still use shade cloth for the back wall here and also the front. But chicken wire would be fine too. I came up with this idea when thinking about the look of the chook house because ours is quite close to the house and i want to put in a seating area near by because its nice to sit near the ducks at the end of the day and watch them. And so i thought the chook house should look good - better than it does that's for sure. And the iron would give more protection from the rain. The wooden frame would need beams in addition to the posts and probably some strut things to keep them square. And probably other structural members. And using this design, i could have more than one room which i really need because the different generations of ducks benefit from being kept apart. And also i want guinea fowl later on. This design would benefit from a shade tree as well or even a creeping vine.
There's no doubt that growing food is a lot of work. Growing anything if you don't want weeds over taking as well. And if you don't use round up. I hope that when my sister comes to live here that she will take an interest and help me maintain it. Meanwhile, i've no choice but to let some it be wild until it can be totally controlled.
For your back door, what about nasturtiums, or is that too common. Have you got a pond for water lilies? That is practically maintenance free.
Regarding the zones and managing everything, i keep intending to divide up the whole garden into maintenance sections and work it all in a sequence one day at a time. I've done the divvying up but i haven't really been doing the rostered work yet. Still i think its a good idea cause then you can just ignore the other sections for the other days in the roster. My roster is about two weeks. But also i've got more time than you and i dont mind walking all over the place to check on things. In fact, i like it. Still there are some areas at the moment, where i just walk through and notice how out of control its become. But its not as if you have to spend hours down there. Even if its 10 minutes or just a hand ful of weeds i do, that's a good start as far as i'm concerned. I find just doing this much even can motivate me and make me feel better anyway.
20-03-2011, 11:48 PM
LOVE nasturtiums - I have yellow ones and orange ones and white ones and I just bought seed for reds. But it's the time of year when the old plants have died down and the new ones are just starting up again, so not so much nasturtium joy happening here at present.
I have 2 ponds - one has water chestnut and a purple "elephant ears" type thing. The other is my frog pond. I keep looking out for sacred lotus to come on sale at Green Harvest as I'd really like one to go in the frog pond....
The tidying up over the weekend has been very good for me actually! It's not quite finished yet... (it's like the washing up - there's always more as soon as you are done!). I cleared all the stuff off the back deck that I had mentally been not seeing for months. I've weeded and tidied up dead stuff from the beds closest to the deck, and laid down cardboard and sat a compost bin on top of a bare spot and filled it with the weeds I pulled out. Once this lot is ready I'll spread it there and cover it with hay mulch and then plant it up. I need parsley - all died in the wet, and I think I'll plant my basil there rather than the chook beds. My rosemary and lavender died in the wet too - next time they are going in the wooden planter box on the back deck that currently has mint in it. It's too dry for the mint to do well in so it should be perfect for rosemary. I've planted out some of the mint next to paths as a fragrant ground cover. I know it might take over a bit, but I'd rather stomp all over mint than grassy weeds any day!
I then went hunting for stuff to propagate - and found rose and lime geranium, a nice ornamental ginger that seems to like the shade (not sure if that one will work...), a whole heap of pots of native violet, and more day lillies. That was part of the tidying up job as the flowers are almost all finished so I needed to chop the flower heads off, and I can't bear to throw out the little plantlets that grow off the flower stems. I have noticed that the lillies are really shallow rooted and when planted densely no weeds get a foot hold between them. So more of those is good! They also look like they'll be easy enough to remove if I change my mind later. I had a pile of pots with a fern that was growing in my rock wall that I had prised out months ago and potted up and agaves that my Mum and daughter had potted up to sell at markets that had become root bound. They all went into a tricky corner that I call the Cave. It's a narrow bit of ground in between the 2 wings of the house that has really shallow soil (on bedrock), gets minimal direct sun, and little rain as the eaves protect much of the ground. So they went in there. The agave is as tough as old boots so it should survive, and the fern was growing almost on bare rock so it should be OK too.
I find it easy to get distracted by pulling weeds out, and forget to plant stuff. So today reversed that trend. It also helps that my main compost pile is officially full so I have to lay off pulling out weeds for a month or so until it rots down a bit and I will then move it to the "finishing off" pile under the banana. I really can't imagine not having a compost pile....
I even got around to finally spraying all the citrus with white oil. It'll take another weekend or two to really get the immediate zone 1 situation under control, but already I feel better stepping out onto the back deck. I really have to keep reminding myself to be PRESENT when I'm out there and be aware when it needs work, and plan for it to be pretty and productive.
21-03-2011, 09:48 AM
I justify letting the weeds get out of hand by knowing i can always find something for the chooks . And i must do a cleanup too been stepping over stuff for too long .
21-03-2011, 02:38 PM
Just did a clean up out there today ECO. I do them more regularly than I used to but your reminder was timely. Thanks
21-03-2011, 03:47 PM
Your welcome. Looks like I've inspired a big "autumn" clean up!
22-03-2011, 03:44 AM
well, I just went through you pblog, it's amazing how you took it from brown emptyness to loads of green beauty. Quite inspiring, I like the use of rocks, very aestheticaly pleasing. So how many different species are there now?
22-03-2011, 08:27 AM
I wouldn't even contemplate counting! Well over 100 plant species.
14-05-2011, 03:29 PM
I love your pictures "Eco"...I been following your photo progress over a few months or more(not that im stalking you) lol...Ive posted pics also.
Its great looking back over the years,JUST TO SHOW how much a place can change as the seasons change and the years change.......CHANGE is from day one.... ONE good think about permaculture,is that,it can change hour by hour allmost,shadows by shadows,birds and animals,clouds or no clouds,
rain or sunshine..
15-05-2011, 02:35 PM
Thanks Tezza. Life's been really hectic lately so I'm only just keeping ahead of feeding and moving the chooks, and the absolute necessities in the garden - like pulling out all the rice bean I had in as a green manure crop because it was starting to flower! Very soon I should have lots more spare garden time and then the place will really start to hum!
29-05-2011, 09:10 PM
Big weekend in the garden at my place. The chooks have just moved on from the first bed that is about to become a more permanent garden rather than being a bed in the rotation. There's an east facing slope just below this, and nothing has done really well there as it is always dry. So - I've installed my first swale! I've been putting off doing it thinking that it would be hard, but it was easier than expected. First I used a A frame to find the level and marked it out. Then I dug a trench one spade deep and mounded up the soil on the down hill side. I ran the hose into it for half an hour - a few adjustments needed to be made as it wasn't quite level - and the water soaked in so fast that it never got more than an inch deep.
Below this I've planted a pecan tree. There's plenty of sun here, and it'll drop its leaves onto the path so I can use them as mulch. Under it I've planted garlic chives and allium bulbs, Pinto peanut, and clover to make a guild of sorts. Day lilies and marigolds too, just because they are nice!
The vege bed has cassava, sweet pea, bell peppers (thanks permasculptor!), zucchini, cauliflower (third try - never had any success with them before - fingers crossed), dill, lupins, and borage. All watered in with home made sea weed brew.
As the sun started to set I dropped a banana tree to harvest the big bunch that was just starting to ripen, and dug up a bucket of sweet potato. Beats going grocery shopping!
30-05-2011, 07:11 AM
Just fabulous Eco - a big day and I bet the satisfaction was great.
18-06-2011, 05:24 PM
I like this swale building! Made another one last weekend - just above the lychee tree. I needed to transplant a few fruit trees - 2 are inside the area that is going to be the new chook run (when I get around to it...) and I thought it would be better to move them than have to chook proof them. There was a finger lime and a Burdekin Plum. I have a custard apple just below my biggest compost pile and it hasn't done so well. In fact it is the second one that I have planted here and the last one turned into a stick. Mental note to self - when a tree dies it might be best to NOT replace it with the exact same type! So it and the other 2 trees have been shifted to just below the new swale. I think I've killed the plum in the process, and stressed the custard apple, but the finger lime seems happier.
Today was a big seed planting day. I've been putting off doing it, but am running out of seedlings to plant out. Beans, beans and more beans - Madagascar beans, snake beans, climbing beans - some to eat as fresh beans and some to dry, bush beans. Shallots - hopefully they'll work as onion replacements. I still can't grow onions and I'm starting to blame my climate (it's easier to accept than thinking that it might be ME!). Kohl rabi and Bok choy, lettuce, tomato, leek, capsicum. And some pigeon pea and crotolaria - because there is no such thing as too many legume trees for chopping and dropping.
And as the sun set I added more to the compost pile. If the sun never went down I think I'd forget to go inside and eat....
19-06-2011, 03:54 AM
Never heard of Crotolaria. Wikipedia lists many different varieties and lists it as toxic too cattle. Was wondering if any of the Crotolaria varieties are safe for human consumption, or if the plant is strictly for green manure/chop-n-drop? Also, are they all trees/shrubs?
19-06-2011, 01:00 PM
Try the bunching onions even if you do have success with the other ones.
This sort are more or less perennial.
19-06-2011, 01:29 PM
I agree mischief - they seem to just go on and on. We have put them in the boxes from time to time, more as a leek than the regular onion.
19-06-2011, 06:31 PM
I haven't managed to get my hands on any plant material to get a crop of bunching onions going, but I've got my eyes peeled.
Purecajn the crotolaria is just for chop and dropping. It is a small shrub, not quite as big as pigeon pea, and it's leguminous. It also has pretty yellow flowers - so that ticks three "uses" for me. It grows really well here through the warmer months so I get to attack it with the secateurs regularly.
03-07-2011, 10:23 PM
'Twas a lovely day. I got to have a sleep in, and started the day with bacon and eggs, freshly pressed apple juice from locally grown apples from the farmers market and a cuppa, while sitting on the back deck. The cat came and sat with me, while I pondered which job was the most pressing.
The weather was perfect for gardening - clear blue sky with fluffy white clouds, but cool enough to not get all hot and sweaty while working hard. And I had no one demanding my attention (apart from the cat who didn't like the food on offer).
So today's task was to do some work around the meditation dome. The sweet potato is so rampant that it keeps spilling over into the paved area and every 6 weeks or so I cut it back. I decided I need an edge guild to keep it out! So with the area cleared I laid down a perimeter of paper. All those annoying property magazines that keep ending up on my drive in front of the NO JUNK MAIL sign..... Then a layer of sheep poo - I'm going to go back for more of this - it's like pelletized manure without using petro chemicals to make it like that. Then a thick layer of compost. It isn't my best compost, and it'll probably spring forth with weeds. Never mind. Then a layer of mulch hay to finish it off.
I marked out the compass points and planted sugar cane. My mum and my son found a round side stand of it yesterday while out on a driving lesson and returned with a boot load of it. Half way between these I planted citronella grass. That came from Tulipwood's place. She thought it was lemon grass, but it is nothing like mine, so I think it is citronella. In between the grasses went ginger, turmeric and galangal. I tucked some thyme in to spill over the rock wall. I hope that all this grows up to make an interesting hedge that keeps the sweet potato runners on the outside. It'll give me chop and drop material too.
The next job of the day was to sort out the southern boundary of my property. There's an empty block next door (still for sale if anyone fancies living next door to a crazy permie woman....) and I've been working on getting an edge guild of arrowroot, various grasses and comfrey along there to keep the grass out, and eventually the neighbours animals. Two years ago I bought 20 corms of arrowroot from Green Harvest. That did about a quarter of the length of that edge. Last year I lifted and divided them and added the comfrey, lemon grass and vetiver. That got me about 2/3rds of the way along. Today I lifted about 8 big arrowroot plants and was able to finally remove the last section of green weed barrier and planted these and more citronella grass, and mulched it all. The comfrey and existing grasses and the arrowroot got a serious chop and drop too. It should look pretty good in 2 years when it has time to thicken up.
Then I went over to a friends place to look at her new house, had a cuppa and a home made muffin and a laugh. Came home and made potato and leek soup (my potatoes and leeks aren't ready yet - these came from the farmers market), and finished the meal off with stewed apple and rhubarb - also from the market).
Lots to be thankful for, and hope there are many more days like this one.
04-07-2011, 06:50 AM
Now that sounds like a good day Eco!
04-07-2011, 07:59 AM
What a lovely birthday Eco - well done.
10-07-2011, 08:38 PM
Gee I've had a great weekend! I spent 2 lovely days at the Garden Expo with my daughter. She tried her best to empty my wallet, while I dragged her from guest speaker to guest speaker. I got to hear Costa Georgiadis (http://www.sbs.com.au/shows/costa/flash-app/page/i/1/h/Who-Is-Costa-63/) speak about the importance of good soil, and of knowing where our food comes from. I like that he is obviously espousing permaculture philosophy but never once did the word permaculture get mentioned. It's just the RIGHT way to do stuff. The local newspaper ran a story (http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/story/2011/07/10/costa-georgiadis-slams-good-giants-nambour/) on it today.
I also got to learn some lazy gardening tips - some I knew already (like making your compost pile on top of your vege garden rather than having to move the compost there) but I didn't know what a Dutch Hoe was before today. And reinforced what I knew about making compost and growing subtropical veges (got to taste test roast arrowroot) and making ponds to attract frogs and birds to the garden.
I hung around the Big Kitchen Garden (a permies paradise) in the quiet moments and soaked up the atmosphere.
I've come home with Shiitake mushroom logs, a pomelo tree, ylang ylang, miracle fruit, pandan, cacti (my daughter collects these), carnivorous plants (that's my son), hippieastrum bulbs, and some herbs that I didn't already have. And a big smile on my face.
Now to plant it all.:clap:
12-07-2011, 05:40 AM
Oh wow that sounds like it was a wonderful weekend. I didn't get there unfortunately and now I'm really annoyed about it. Hope all your booty grows well!!
18-08-2011, 06:56 AM
Your garden is filling up so fast with plants. I'm envious. On sugarcane, my first crop is ready to harvest. I'm looking forward to that but its got to wait a bit while i have so much else on at the moment. I"m going to try using some of the cane cooking iwth my duck. Most of this crop i will replant in a block, as you do for corn. I think it will look better than a long single row. At least two rows would look alright but i like the sound of a block.
21-08-2011, 12:36 PM
Wow, Eco, lookt at all the work you've done! how nice! Six months for the chooks to migrate, that's wonderful. I love the rock walls. It's so much easier working on level spots than trying to balance on a hillside. And thanks for all the pics. I love to watch other people work, hahahaha. When you put the sweet potatoes under the rotted hay bales, was that it? You just piled them over the sweet potatoes? You don't have any problems with mice getting into the bales? Interesting guild under the citrus! You should be really proud of all the work you've done! Thanks for letting us see :)
22-08-2011, 09:23 AM
Thanks sweetpea. I've looked back to try to see what you are referring to about the sweet potato and I'm not 100% sure which bit you are talking about? You mean the new plantings around my dome to keep the sweet potato out? I cleared the vines away first, and then sheet mulched it and planted it up. I'm still waiting for the gingers and sugar cane to pop up through it all - but it hasn't started to warm up yet so I'm not worried yet.
I do get mice in the hay mulch - particularly in my raised potato beds. But they make nice snacks for my cat.....
The potato beds I make with 4 bales set up to make a square. I fill the middle with green waste, shredded paper, and top it up with compost. The potatoes get sat on top. I found that if I buried them they rotted before they sprouted. The potato beds also function as weed killers - I put them over grassy spots that I want to clear so I can plant something else, and as soil improvers because everything eventually rots down after I have harvested my spuds and I have a lovely patch of weed free soil to plant into.
04-10-2011, 06:27 PM
Eco,have you got any fruit off your Pawpaw trees yet?
How long did it take for them to get to the point where they started flowering?
04-10-2011, 09:50 PM
Mischief - do you have something dead hanging in the tree to attract pollinators? or are you self pollinating the paw-paw?
05-10-2011, 06:02 AM
No the seed has just come out of the freezer and is now in seed trays where hopefully they will soon sprout.
I collected 3 half fruit over the space of 6 weeks to try to make sure that they were not from the same plant-should be safe there.
I'm sure I saw these growing up in Titirangi,Auckland when I was a kid and from memory they just grew themselves.
Its only recently that I found out that they are deciduous and should grow this far south,heres hoping.
05-10-2011, 02:48 PM
There are little baby fruit looking very tantalising... Hopefully as the weather warms up they'll get big and ripe. I'm battling black spot on them still. Fertilizing, fertilizing, fertilizing... it seems to be getting better, but that could be wishful thinking.
I had flowers within the first year.
05-10-2011, 05:34 PM
I'm heading off to Cambodia this weekend for 2 weeks, to do some volunteer work with Life Options. (http://www.LifeOptions.asia/#!) Please take a look at their website and make a donation. Every tiny bit makes a big difference.
Over the past few weeks I've been getting stuck into the garden to prepare it for not having me around for 2 weeks. Lots of seeds have gone into seed trays and pots so hopefully they'll be ready to plant out when I get home. The 'nursery' collection of plants that I have propagated has (mostly) been planted and mulched. The fruit trees have had a bucket of compost each, been watered with worm wee, and mulched heavily with hay.
The not so productive dry bed in the middle of the garden has had a top dress with compost and also been mulched really heavily. I've planted alliums, hippeastrums and gladiolis around the day lilies that are doing OK in there.
I've tossed lime everywhere as I have planted - I've decided that I don't have enough calcium. The chooks eggshells getting thinner each year was the give away... I've read that you shouldn't put lime in compost piles because it makes the nitrogen turn to ammonia and gas off. But I've also read and seen videos of people who are pretty expert at making compost and they add lime. So lime is now one of my regular compost additions.
I've made a new compost pile under the second stand of bananas. The first stand has had a compost pile under it for almost 2 years and is doing really well, while the other has struggled a little. I did get a HUGE crop of bananas off them recently - it was so heavy that when the rain and wind started at the end of winter the tree fell over! So the new compost pile has been made with 3 star pickets and some dog wire to make a cylinder - and I've filled it up with cardboard, weeds, crotolaria prunings, coffee grounds, shredded paper, cow and horse manure, and anything else I could get my hands on. The plan is to just use it to feed the bananas rather than to generate mulch so I'll just keep adding weeds and paper waste to it now that it is started.
My main compost pile has been rebuilt as well - it's HUGE. It's a little sad that the end result is about 1/4 of what you start out with..... As a result of all this composting the weed population has been reduced substantially, but there are still plenty out there for the next compost pile when I get back.
I've finally stopped procrastinating about the new chook house and run - I've been putting it off because there are skills that I don't have that I need to learn and it seemed too hard. But I'm proud to say there are now 9 posts cemented in place. None of them have fallen over yet and they are (mostly) vertical. 'Within tolerances';) as they say in the building industry. It's the first time I've put in posts and dealt with cement. The rest of the construction will now have to wait until I get back from Cambodia.
There's rain forecast for the next few days - which is good because all the tanks are just about empty! And the freshly planted plants will get a water and the hay will start to settle into place. I had 50 bales delivered and there are still about 35 stacked by the driveway.... Hopefully the tarp they are under will keep them dry until I get back to do more weeding and mulching and compost making.
There's been lots of produce from the garden over the past few months. Peas peas peas and more peas - which have now succumbed to the fungal thing they get as son as the humidity comes up in spring. Really yummy broccoli, cauliflower and kohl rabi which the cabbage moths failed to notice until just now. Lettuces and endives, kale and bok choy, silver beet, warrigul greens - no shortage of green things. The potatoes have done really well this time, but as soon as spring arrived so did the 28 spotted lady beetle. The trick is plant them earlier than the books say for here so that the get to maturity before the pests arrive. I have more sweet potatoes that I know what to do with. Not as many pumpkins this year as last, but the wet winter stopped them from being pollinated.
Now it is broad bean season - I planted a lot because I love them and there is a veritable feast of them out there ready for eating. I've also harvested my first coffee - it was really literally about 43 beans worth. The speaker at this months Transition Town is a local chap who grows, roasts and grinds his own and he explained how to do it. He's got some fancy bits of equipment that make it really easy that I don't have.
So - I popped the beans out of the pods by hand and left them to dry for a few days. Then I peeled off the 'skin' by hand. I didn't realize that there was another layer until I started to roast them... never mind! I dry roasted them in a frying pan which took longer than I thought - about 15 mins and they were not really dark, but I had other things to do than roast coffee! I put them through my grinder and into the plunger and got enough coffee for a cup and a half. I wouldn't be inviting friends over to share it just yet, but it tasted like coffee. The speaker reckons that 5 plants will make enough coffee for a couple of adults all year, and they are supposed to be really easy to grow from seed. So that's on the to do list....
When I get back I'll be planting beans (purple and green climbing, madagascar, snake bean, yam bean), corn (sweet and popping), tomato and basil (lots of basil so I can make pesto), cucumber, squash, zucchini, and hopefully watermelon and rockmelon - I haven't had any success with these so far but hopefully this is the year for it!
I've finished the day off today with a session of 'chopping and dropping' pigeon pea and crotolaria. They are both covered in seeds that I'm tossing into the corners of the yard that are under utilized because I could do with a forest of legumes for mulching.
05-10-2011, 05:59 PM
I am so green with envy, you grow bananas And coffee.
I'm sure you are going to have an absolute ball in Cambodia.
You are taking your camara arent you?
06-10-2011, 09:29 AM
Eco you are an exemplary permie woman. I am the epitome and unexmplary permie woman but its lovely to read your experience. My problem is that i am lazy and get preoccupied with things but mostly because i am lazy. You evidently are not. Great
Enjoy you holiday.
06-10-2011, 12:19 PM
Yes Mischief there will be photos to share when I get back.
Thanks Sunburn - no one has ever said that about me before!
06-10-2011, 07:18 PM
I would suggest avoiding lime in the compost, that ammonia stuff's true.
I'm assuming you have a low ph? I know various people aren't into soil-testing for various reasons, but I'm a fan. I ask mainly as you could be like me and be lowish in calcium, but with a high ph. If I added ag lime, my soil would be in be in all sorts of trouble. Getting the balance 'right' is part of the fun for me!
06-10-2011, 08:22 PM
I hope you have an inspirational time in Cambodia Eco. and may your garden thrive in your absence. take care. Annette
01-11-2011, 02:26 PM
As promised.... I have uploaded photos to my photoblog here (http://www.photoblog.com/eco4560/2011/10/10/volunteering-in-cambodia.html). There are 2 weeks worth - use the arrow or the calendar to navigate through them.
It was an absolutely amazing experience. I feel that I only just scratched the surface and am hoping that I can get back in a years time, with my kids, for a longer stay.
Living without ready access to electricity made me aware of how I take it for granted.
Living without a rubbish collection system - and watching the pile of plastic being burnt in the yard each afternoon - made me very aware of how I put crap in a bin and never think about it again.
Living with a tank of water that you have to ladle over your body to wash made me aware of how much water it takes each day to keep yourself clean. The WHO apparently say 16 liters is the absolute minimum for survival. I don't think I could get by on that. And I hate to think about how much I let run down the drain at home waiting for the shower to get warm....
Living with a pig through the window (look at the photos and you'll understand) reminded me that animals are for eating, not being friends with. (apologies to the vegetarians...)
Living in the shadow of high rates of maternal and infant mortality reminded me that I take my health for granted, and that simple health interventions make a huge difference, and anything is better than nothing. But sometimes nothing is the only thing you have to offer, and that can still be good enough.
Living with high petrol prices has given me a glimpse of the post Peak Oil way of life, and reminded me that learning to ride a motor bike might be a good idea.
Enjoy them. Feel free to ask me for any details that I have missed.
04-11-2011, 07:20 PM
Thank you for the pics of your Cambodian trip.
Very sobering though, we take so much for granted, I knew we do but was shocked at just how much more than I originally thought.
06-11-2011, 07:35 AM
I just worked out what petrol actually costs.... Given that the average weekly earnings in Australia is $1300 a week, and in Cambodia the ANNUAL income is $830 - if a dollar in Australia was as hard to come by as it is in Cambodia, then petrol here would cost $97 a litre.
I don't think I'd still be driving my car....
06-11-2011, 11:29 AM
37.5 cents a litre tax Plus 10% GST on Oz petrol helps make it (and everything else that needs transporting) dearer
27-11-2011, 02:02 PM
Don't start riding a motorbike until they severely lower the speed limits, unless you want to die early or end up disabled because you have a very good chance. I"ve hardly spent any time on a motorbike but even i have been in a motorbike accident. Luckily i was only grazed.
I don't agree with you that animals are for eating. They are for living a life just as we are cause we are not the centre of the universe. You can eat them if you want but that is not what they are for. ... Just thought i'd get on my buddhist high horse.
That said, i'm going to have to kill a rooster soon as my sister is coming home and she would rather eat it than have it disturb her sleep. I've stopped killing the ducks.
27-11-2011, 08:51 PM
Hi sunburn - that was one of the odd things that I noticed. Cambodia is deeply Buddhist - but there is no concept of vegetarianism. Every animal there IS for eating. There were no 'pets' as we know them. Dogs were guard animals, cats kept the rice store free of rodents. Every meal had some form of meat. When my mate Tania asked for vegetarian noodles or rice - she got exactly the same as me - with meat in it!
But you are correct - the western Buddhist view has animals having a right to exist just that same as I do.
29-11-2011, 03:56 PM
That's very interesting eco. I hadn't considered that. Its probable that the ordinary cambodian doesn't know the detail of buddhism as a monk or a western buddhist would. They probably haven't taken the 5 precepts which includes no killing. Aside from that, there is perhaps an economic reason for the continued eating of meat since buddhism was introduced. But i don't know. It would be interesting to discuss this on my buddhist forum and see what they say. I think the thais who are also largely buddhist eat quite a bit of meat too. I think the reasons are the same. So when you consider these countries as buddhist, it would be intersting to know how the ordinary thai or cambodian understands their religion. I bet it has a lot to do with gods and worship and all the usual baggage of any theistic religions. I think its a shame that they never benefited from the more detailed teachings. But at hte same time, perhaps we have the same thing in christian cultures. Perhaps what the priests learn is in far great depth than what ordinary chrisitains know and learn so i wonder if there is a schism here between practice. I hadn't thought so but it could be intersting to ask someone about that too.
29-11-2011, 03:59 PM
Eco are you still going to be around in January. My retreat will be over on about the 19th. which part of the sunshine coast do you live?
29-11-2011, 09:15 PM
Yes I'll be here. Nambour is home. The main train line comes through town if you are doing it by train.
30-11-2011, 08:14 PM
That could work out well though i am bringing my bike with me. I will only take the train if its raining too much. I"m just figuring out what to do with myself during the week between the end of the retreat and the weekend. I may end up staying at Chenrezig Tibetan Centre or i might go camping in a nat park. I think nambour is not far off the track on route southwards.
30-11-2011, 08:47 PM
PM me your mobile number closer to time. If I remember right the retreat is in Pomona, right? That's on the train line too, so you could pop your bike and yourself on the train. The train also goes through Eudlo, which is the closest stop to Chenrezig. There's plenty to see and do around the Coast, and lots of National Parks- either on the Coast or in the Hinterland.
13-02-2012, 09:39 AM
Yesterday was the first day of my PDC. I'm doing it with Tom Kendall at Kin Kin Souls. (http://www.kinkinsouls.com/)
There is a very intimate group of 3 of us doing the 12 weekend course. We sat under the recycled iron roofed area beside the WWOOFers accommodation, with the rainforest just outside, birds singing, and 3 dogs under foot - while Tom did his stuff on the white board.
The day was split up into 4 x 1.5 hour sessions - and every time we approached a break I started thinking 'but surely we've only been going for 30 mins so far!'. We covered the definition of permaculture, the ethics, and the principles from the Introduction of Permaculture book (different to David Holmgren's 12 principles). Zone and sector analysis was in there too.
Tom's white board skills are pretty good - you can tell which ones are chooks and which ones are geese!
Looking forward to Sunday rolling around again for the next instalment.
19-02-2012, 08:15 PM
Dog tired today! We covered the design principles from chapter 2 today, and finished early. We took a vote and decided that a walk around Tom's property was the best use of the remaining time. So we got to meet the 4 cows, 4 goats, 6 geese and too many chooks for me to count. The cows are very used to being handled and were happy to be hugged and patted. And we inspected the dam and the swales. It now makes more sense when Tom talks about putting something in the food forest, or on the top swale because I know where they are!
It has reinforced my belief that a smaller urban block really is a great way for me to walk my permaculture journey. Looking after a property of that size is a serious time commitment. My place is too small for a milking cow or goat, but I'm flat out keeping the weeds down on a 1/3 acre block!
Next week we are going to go a bit early so we can have a go at making an 18 day compost pile.
19-02-2012, 08:57 PM
Wish i could do a 3 day course... I gave up looking for classes, as most wanted groups of people and would cancell the course if insuficiant people apply...
Three is a great number,it more initmate and learning is much easier ,for all concered......
20-02-2012, 05:23 AM
your course sounds great Eco - I would love to visit Kin Kin. We do not cancel courses here anymore as they often fill in the week after you cancel. But we have had some with three or five and they have been great. It depends on who is in the group and what dynamic develops. They would be lucky to have someone like Eco to keep things bouncing. Tom would not be making anything either. Smaller courses tend to cost you money.
I trust you will have a great time Eco and give as much as you get.
20-02-2012, 08:17 AM
We have a landscaper, a massage therapist and me. So it really is diverse even with the small numbers. I think Tom is a little intimidated by me as he keeps asking me if he has made spelling mistakes! At what he is charging he isn't making a profit out of it, but I wasn't going to tell him it was too cheap until the end of the course.....
Walking the property was interesting at very many levels. Tom kept making the same sort of noises that I make when I'm looking at part of my garden that doesn't look like the image I have in my head of how I want it to look. But with 32 acres he made that noise a lot more often than I do! It was a good reminder that we need to know our limitations and not take on more than you can maintain.
He is using a rectangular chicken tractor in the areas that are begin converted to food forest. It has a 9 m2 footprint. As the chooks move on each area is planted up with the "apex" species - a fruit tree - and then a really dense planting of guild plants. Much denser than I would have contemplated. He reckons there are 80 - 100 plants in the 9 m2! The one that was last planted out had a border of galangal and arrowroot, with crotolaria, pigeon pea, and some others I can't put a name too, and then was seeded with clover, lucerne and daikon. The finished ones that were a few months old were already at head height with lush growth ready for chop and drop. Just up hill from it is his final swale - that collects run off from the yard where the cows are kept over night and the chooks and the geese are close by - so it is a veritable poo soup when the water hits that swale.
Mark, next time you come up the coast I'd love to take you out to visit. I've already told him your story about the mother with the child who thought he would be poisoned by the little berries on the tree, that turned out to be olives....
20-02-2012, 10:05 AM
Mark, next time you come up the coast I'd love to take you out to visit. I've already told him your story about the mother with the child who thought he would be poisoned by the little berries on the tree, that turned out to be olives...
I may have to stop telling lies since I do not remember the story about the olives. I would love to visit and to go to see Tom. I hope I can do it soon.
20-02-2012, 08:46 PM
Hmmm maybe it wasn't you... It was very funny at the time though.
27-02-2012, 01:25 PM
It was touch and go to see if we were having a class this week - flooding had cut the road through Pomona, but there was still a road open from closer to Gympie via Cooran. It was a bit interesting at one point over a low creek crossing - the water had stopped off the asphalt and removed it exposing bare dirt underneath. The water had dropped so it was safe to cross at low speed.
It was patterns this week - I really like fractals and stuff but couldn't imagine how you could apply them in a design, but there were lots of Aha! moments through the day where it fell into place. The most memorable teaching point for me was that if you see the same thing in nature 3 times in a row then it is a pattern - and you should work out if it is useful in your design.
After discussing the unlimited potential for yield last week, I made a shared lunch for the group out of a 'wasted' resource - banana flower salad! The flowers aren't really wasted at Tom's place though - they would otherwise go back into the banana circle. (This way they end up in the composting toilet, into the compost and back into the soil via a slightly longer route!) I found a Thai style recipe on the internet. It was really yummy.
There was only light rain through the day and the sun even managed an appearance by the end of the day, so we didn't have any troubles staying dry in the teaching shed.
We had enough time at the end of the day to watch the Introduction to Permaculture DVD. Tom is hoping to put a trip to The Channon together at the end of the PDC so we can go and see Geoff Lawton's place in person. That will be sooooo coooool (now I just have to figure out where to park my kids for the night...).
04-03-2012, 07:54 PM
Today we covered Climate. Which was appropriate as it rained for much of the day! Talking through the different approaches to tropical, temperate and arid was really useful. It is easy to assume that the way it works here is the way it works everywhere.
The Kin Kin markets were on, so we nipped back into town at lunchtime for a quick poke around. There's a chap who is a chemist and used to make stuff for the people who make OMO, who now makes his own 'green' cleaning products. Not everyday you get dishwasher powder that smells nice enough that you could put it in your bathtub and for only $7 (enough for 30 washes).
Someone was selling innocent looking loofah seedlings for $2 a pop. I wanted to stick a warning label on the side - be careful - will take over!
In the afternoon we watched the Greening the Desert video and one on the Loess Plateau in China. We were hoping the rain would stop for a while, but it didn't. To end the day we watched poor Tom make the first turn on the now 4 day old 18 day compost heap (in the pouring rain - we had umbrellas, he just got wet). The thermometer said it was a toasty 64 degrees C in the middle of the pile and it was warm enough to feel the heat coming off it standing close by. Fungal hyphae were starting to make an appearance. By the time we get to the Soils chapter it'll be well and truly ready for use.
I'm getting used to spending every Sunday in the shed chatting with my fellow PDC'ers and Tom. It'll be a pity to have it come to an end eventually.
05-03-2012, 06:07 PM
Can't wait until your unleashed on the world.
11-03-2012, 08:05 PM
I've been unleashed for a while now.... This is just like finishing school!
This week was trees. We looked at how trees cycle water and nutrients, and how to put together a tree guild for a food forest. To round out the day we watched Geoff Lawton's Food Forest DVD - including the extra bit about the 300 year old food forest in Vietnam - AMAZING!
I realise now why digging a hole and whacking a fruit tree in wasn't really working for me. I have spent the past year 'retrofitting' support species around my trees. Some have responded well and are taking off, others.... well it may be too late!
And we turned our compost pile. It didn't get turned during the week, so it isn't going to be 18 day compost, but it is coming along nicely. The thermometer said it was a pleasant 56 deg C in the centre, and it is full of white fungal hyphae and getting harder to see what is what as it all mixes together.
It rained and rained and rained at Tom's place earlier this week, so at lunch we headed up to the dam and the top swale to see how it had performed and where the water spilled out (where it was supposed to!). The top swale still has water in it. The second last swale had a small blow out, but there was still water above this level flowing out from the soil and along the swale. We also went and had a look at where the creek has cut away the banks - except for the bit held in place by some tough looking lomandra grasses.
The lessons learned in between the lessons are just as interesting as the ones in the lessons!
Tom has a WWOOFer at present who was planting out vetiver along the top edge of a new swale. I just paid almost $20 for 5 slips of the stuff, and here he was up to his armpits in it! Money really is a theoretical concept....
18-03-2012, 07:30 PM
Water - which was appropriate because it is STILL raining up here. Tom's swales are full, the paths in the kitchen garden are eroding down the hill, and the freshly planted vetiver has put up 10 cm of new growth! The water was about a foot under the bridge near Pomona on the way home - where it went under 2 weeks ago.
We covered the Keyline concepts of deep ripping, and using interconnected dams and swales; how to prevent slumping below a swale (plant trees); how to clean water (with a nifty plan for how to make a worm powered grease trap) and so on. We caught some rain water and tested the pH - 5.5!!! It was straight from the sky not run off from the roof. I thought acid rain was only a problem in cities....
We turned 'our' compost again - it's all brown now, no green to the grass, still warm but not as hot, and still smells good and is light and fluffy. A few fungi were fruiting out the side of it as we uncovered it (and a family of cane toads had set up residence under the tarp too...).
We had a look at the food forest bed that was planted 2 weeks ago and everything is taking off nicely. Tom's poor WWOOFer was out working in the rain planting out a new bed as the chooks have just moved on again. Grumichama was the 'apex' plant this time.
It's going to be sad to stop turning up every Sunday at the end of the course. I still want to move in to the bus and stay forever...
18-03-2012, 07:35 PM
Thanks for sharing Eco - I feel a little ashamed that I have not contributed for some time but I love reading how things are up there.
18-03-2012, 08:30 PM
I'd love to go check his place out one day. I'll have to work that one out.
Thanks for the updates.
19-03-2012, 07:37 AM
Sounds like a great PDC Echo.
26-03-2012, 09:35 AM
It's still been raining through the week so Tom's gardens are still wet and the swales still have water in them.
We covered Soil this week. We talked about minerals and trace element balances, and mineralising the soil by mineralising your animal feed. I'm going to borrow Pat Coleby's book from Tom next week to learn more about how to do this as it seems like a really sensible approach. We talked about soil biota (wee beasties as MA would call them), and different types of compost including worm farms.
We turned our compost pile again at lunch break - I think that's turn number 6 (of 9) so it's getting close to the end. A small snake was hiding in the warmth of the pile. (It was sent flying into the food forest with a fork....) The temperature has dropped a bit - it was just under 50 deg C. There really is no loss of volume (didn't quite believe that was going to work but it does!) and it is harder to recognise what is what in the pile now.
After lunch we walked through the chook runs and talked about deep litter systems and how to design things so the nutrients run down hill to a place that is easy to access when you want to remove them to compost. And we looked at the concreted area where the cows and the geese spend their nights and how the manure (goose poo is not at all like what I expected!) can be washed to a low point and collected. There are plans for a methane digester at a later point in the low corner of the yard.
We also looked at how the composting toilets are set up, what an empty bin looks like (with liquid drain at the bottom and air vent at the top) and how to keep them well ventilated so they don't smell and took a look at some that was a few months old in a compost pile. We looked at various styles and ages of compost piles, and the worm farm. And dug some holes in different areas to look at what is happening to the soil.
We finished off the day with the Soils DVD. I really liked the bit where Geoff spreads the chook food around the new fruit trees in the food forest to encourage the birds to spend more time close to the trees dropping manure. Everything is designed with conscious thought.
Next week - Earthworks! Hopefully it'll have dried out a bit by then.
01-04-2012, 08:27 PM
The rain has stayed away! There's a very definite shift in the seasons noticeable today. The sun is coming into the teaching area at a different angle, so are the breezes and there are different bird songs in the area.
In the morning we ran through some of the issues of earth moving - like cut and fill and how it alters angles and water movement and how to use that to your advantage, or at least plan for the consequences of your decisions. We looked at the importance of adequate planning before calling in the excavator and how to avoid some of the common mistakes. We've covered much of the ground work for this when discussing site, soils and water - and today it felt like the concepts were starting to gel into a usable form.
We turned our compost for the final time today - we think it is turn number 8 (but we did lose count along the way!) - but no one is going to be around for the next 2 weeks because of the Easter break - so we've decided to call it finished. The temp in the pile was 45 deg C today. It has lost a little volume since we first made it, but only about 10% I would guess. There are still a few chunky bits of manure, but mostly it is fine dark black and sweet smelling crumbles.
After lunch we grabbed some 'toys' and went and surveyed a possible spot for a new swale - where the water from the bathroom by the bus empties into a banana circle. There's a gentle slope across a grassed area and another banana circle at the end and Tom was hoping that he could connect the two with a swale - which of course will only work if they are on the same contour line. We all had a go at guessing it by eye (the landscaper in the group proved to be out by only a few cms!), and then by using an Abney level. Then we grabbed the trusty A frame and measured and marked it out with pegs. And to finish off we double checked that with a dumpy level - we were only about 10 mm off with the A frame. And yes - the two banana circles are on the same contour line. (I was rather pleased we didn't get handed shovels to dig out the swale!)
Then we hopped in the car and headed up the back hills of Kin Kin to visit a property, where the owner has asked Tom to do a design. This is our group design project, which we have to work on as a group over the rest of the course. It's 60 acres and has been in use for many years already, so there's lots of established infrastructure to have to work around. I just felt completely overwhelmed by the scale of it! I can cope with getting my head around an urban back yard, but this is truly outside of my comfort zone. I had a headache after the first 15 mins.
After a few deep breaths, my brain stopped hyperventilating and I thought back to our design session to - zones and sectors - slope and elevation - water, access, structures etc. When you break it down into smaller bits it becomes more manageable. We've taken notes, made diagrams, taken photos, talked to the owners, thrown balls for the dogs and walked up the very steep hill (well - halfway anyway!). Each of us has homework to bring back to the group.
We have next weekend off for Easter. I'm really going to miss being in Kin Kin on a Sunday! It is very peaceful sitting under the shed roof with my new friends and the dogs (who have stopped farting)...
04-04-2012, 08:53 AM
The course sounds fantastic echo. Although my intensive was great, I sometimes think that doing it over a longer period gives you a chance just to sit back and mull over what you have learnt before the next session. Can only be good.
Nothing worse than a farting dog...............
05-04-2012, 03:37 PM
Oh Eco that's terrible!! We can't have your permie brain relaxing on a Sunday! I know exactly where you can come and give it (and perhaps other parts of your body) some exercise this weekend. I'll look forward to seeing you and hearing lots and lots about your new learnings.
05-04-2012, 05:47 PM
I'll be there by morning tea time. Save me an organic Fair Trade choccy egg.
I hope you have found compost ingredients for me, or I'll start composting any old stuff that is lying around. (Phone books, underwear, husbands...)
I'll see if I can convince your man that swales are what he needs.
11-04-2012, 12:45 PM
Oh dear , looks like a lot of reading i've got to catch up on. How are you going eco. Probably good by all that up above. you survived all the wet weather i see. I bet you are glad you live on the side of a hill now.
11-04-2012, 03:23 PM
Struggling on! If only someone was paying me to stay home and garden I'd be set. Slowly I'm getting it into shape again around juggling multiple different jobs to keep the bank happy.
11-04-2012, 07:39 PM
Well i hope you can find something sooner rather than later.
16-04-2012, 09:28 AM
This week we covered 2 chapters - Humid Tropics, and Humid cool to cold climates. We looked at house design, garden design, earthworks (like terracing), and composting toilets. We touched on animal tractors again.
In the afternoon Tom left the 3 of us to bounce around ideas for our design project, but gave us permission to mess around with the brief a bit - so we added two fit husbands who want to work really hard into the picture to open up some of the opportunities further. The reality is an older woman with a bad back, and her daughter who works away 4 days away week.
I had requested early in the course that if Tom had chooks to kill, that he teach me how to do it. So - he came and took us away from our design efforts as there were 2 roosters that were destined for the kitchen. I killed one (well ALMOST) and he dispatched the other. When I say almost, he was bleeding vigorously but kept blinking and breathing for ages! I think I only got one artery, so Tom got to the other one and the breathing stopped. It was less traumatic for all concerned (me and the rosters) than I had anticipated.
They were then dunked in hot water and we plucked them. Tom demonstrated how to remove the inside bits on the first bird and I did it on the second one.
So I'm pretty chuffed that I can now prepare a chook for the pot. You don't get a certificate for that!
16-04-2012, 10:01 AM
Well done Eco, I reckon learning to 'dress' a bird is an important survival skill. Every now and then we get a thread in here that asks about the essential post-oil survival skills and tools or something like that. To me the ability to kill and prepare animals should definitely be on the list.
I still don't like doing it, but I am definitely getting more efficient and neater. A pair of 'kitchen shears' has been a great addition to my tool kit.
16-04-2012, 04:20 PM
So long as there are chooks to hand I'm survival ready. Pigs, guinea pigs, turkeys, cows, goats and frogs? Not yet!
24-04-2012, 11:37 AM
We looked at housing (quite like the idea of digging myself a cave!) and design principles for the garden - avoid evaporation (so any ponds / dams are deep with a smaller surface area and are covered), mulch like there's no tomorrow, don't till, no chemical use as there's no soil biota to break it down. I learnt that termites are the earthworm equivalent in arid zones. And to capture ever single drop of rain that falls, using gabions and swales as well as tanks and cisterns.
We watched the Global Gardener DVD (Bill Mollison looking at swales in the US desert and teaching in Africa).
We spent some time on our design in the afternoon, serenaded by the marimba band which was rehearsing for a performance next week. Before the last sun disappeared we took a look up at the dam and the planting work that's been happening up on the top swale.
Next weekend is very exciting - no class, because there's a group of Permaculture Noosa people (include us PDC'ers) getting on a bus and going to Zaytuna for a farm tour. Tom is the tour guide and bus driver. I wonder how many times we can sing 'The Wheels on the Bus" before he loses his temper (I don't think he ever does though....). There's a verse that goes - 'the permies on the bus go chop and drop....'
27-04-2012, 07:49 PM
Only 2 sleeps to go before I'm heading off to Zaytuna! Will try and take lots of pictures for you all.
The last time I was on a big bus with a group of people all going to the same place for such a long trip was my high school excursion to Canberra. That was a LONG time ago. Bob Hawke was PM.....
27-04-2012, 07:59 PM
Very jealous. And please do take lots of photos, even a video of an established forest would be nice.
I may be blind, or not looking in the right places, but I've missed a lot of before, during and after photos of established food forests. Where it worked, what worked and why it worked. There needs to be more articles of this ilk.
27-04-2012, 10:31 PM
Eco, on a pilgrimage to the permacultural Mecca.
28-04-2012, 04:58 PM
Yay,have a great time!!
I'm so jealous.
30-04-2012, 03:27 PM
What's happened to her? She should be back and have posted by now. The suspense is killing me.
30-04-2012, 10:03 PM
Geez pet! I've only just got back through the front door of the house. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more. I'll post the details in another day or two. I was up - literally - with the first rooster crow this morning and it's been a big day so I'm off to bed now.
01-05-2012, 01:19 PM
Thirteen excited Noosa Permaculture Members headed off early on Sunday morning in a rented bus. After lunching at the Kirra Hotel, we headed inland to The Channon. Most of the group stayed at the pub, with one couple opting for a local B&B and four brave souls including myself continued on to Zaytuna Farm to camp. It had rained all day, and was still overcast with the sound of thunder in the distance so camping seemed like a bit of an adventure.
The plus side to camping was that we got to wander around the farm and have a bit of an explore before the official tour the following day. It looks like the United Nations! People of every nationality, all looking comfortably daggy in their farming clothes, busy doing stuff.
For dinner we all met back at the pub for a good country feed. We campers were tucked up in our tents by about 8:30, and God smiled on us sufficiently that it didn't actually rain overnight. I heard the first rooster about 5:30 am and was up soon after, and wandered over to where a group of people were chopping wood and starting a fire in the rocket water heater for the shower. Once a decent blaze was going, I hopped in for quick shower to try it out. And yes - the water was pleasantly hot.
When I got out the others had gone back into town to collect the rest of our group, so I wandered up to the kitchen. Everyone was busy with a job - feeding ducks, collecting eggs, milking cows... I felt a bit left out! I tried to volunteer in the kitchen but the delightful young chap said that I wasn't allowed to help, so I just chatted to him while he cooked the biggest bowl of porridge I have ever seen. There were 39 of us for breakfast! As well as the porridge, tea and coffee there was a bucket of freshly picked mandarins from a tree about 10 metres away.
After breakfast plates where washed and stacked, the group formed up and Geoff took us for a wander through the property. Pictures are here.... (http://www.photoblog.com/eco4560/2012/04/29/zaytuna-farm-tour.html)
It is obvious that a great deal of thought and planning has gone into how things are placed and work together. Like feeding the chooks underneath whichever fruit tree is in flower so that the chooks spend more time poo-ing under that tree. There were some criticisms from people in the group - you should have a biodigester and make methane, you should grow all your own wheat not buy it off site, that sort of thing. Geoff responded by pointing out that he has no more hours in his day than we do, and the place isn't finished yet. He also made the point that his farm isn't designed to grow food - it's to grow people who know how to grow food. So demonstration sized systems that are easily managed so that students enjoy their time rather than feeling like slaves, and allow them the time to learn theory as well, are better than trying to scale up to the maximum production that the property allows for.
We looked at the solar system, and water collection and storage systems, and talked about compost and liquid biofertilizer making, swales and dams, rotational grazing... You name it we touched on it! I was like a PDC in a half a day.
And yes - I can confirm that Singapore Daisy is deliberately planted as a ground cover. But only in the food forest - never near the vege gardens.
We headed for lunch with heads buzzing with new ideas. Pasta with pesto, sweet potato and capsicum soup and a number of different salads. Yum! I got to sit with Geoff and ask more questions over lunch. He must get tired of having people try to get inside his head at every meal, but he was extremely gracious.
AND I got to finally meet our wonderful techno-guru Craig. If you don't know he's the editor of the PRI website. And I can vouch for the fact that he has a really big camera!
Tired and muddy (and just a bit smelly) we all piled back on the bus and made it safely home to Cooroy by 7 pm.
PS there's an open day on for International Permaculture Day (May 6). Work out a way to get yourself there and you won't regret it!
01-05-2012, 05:58 PM
Wow the camping ground looks a lot different to 3 years ago. It was just a field back then. It's a great place isn't it? Geoff is such a calming intelligent person to speak to. He has done such a great job there. Glad you enjoyed it echo.
01-05-2012, 09:27 PM
He sure is. Though I put my foot (err hand) in it when I tried to shake his hand... I should have known better, because I know he's Muslim and I know Muslim men can't touch women that aren't family. But when you are in Australia and you are both Aussies it kinda slips your mind.... He politely declined.
What is currently the camping area is set to become the new house site, and the interns will move into the house. Eventually.
02-05-2012, 02:33 PM
It's like we are in this post apocalyptic movie and you are describing to us some mythical place where people go and find the beginnings of a new society; a Utopia, where the survivors are all heading...
02-05-2012, 03:37 PM
Yup. It was kinda hard to leave. I would imagine there are a pile of tears by the front gate shed by departing interns.
Coming back down to the coast to take a toilet stop at a row of chemical toilets was like a smack in the face. Most people emerged gagging from the horrible smell. Raw poo and wood shavings were much nicer!
02-05-2012, 03:44 PM
One more interesting thing that got mentioned - Lismore council is quite happy for home owners to use compost toilets. Their info is here (http://www.lismore.nsw.gov.au/content/digger/appendix_a.pdf). Might come in handy for anyone who is trying to convince their own council.
02-05-2012, 03:48 PM
Oh Yes the compost toilets were amazing!!! And so simple in design too. Ahhhhhhhh the memories.
02-05-2012, 08:38 PM
:handshake:Id never stop you from holding my hand Eco....
03-05-2012, 08:30 AM
G'day Tezza! Don't worry I always wash them after the deed. Not always after mucking about in the compost heap though!
I got to give a presentation last night in Brisbane on Peak Oil and Permaculture to a group of doctors and scientists. There were about 30 people there. It went over really well. The person who asked me to speak said I was probably the best speaker they had ever had! (Maybe she says that to everyone....) Lots of good questions.
Watch out world!
03-05-2012, 09:17 AM
Great stuff Eco! Keep up the good work
03-05-2012, 06:09 PM
Welcome to our First "Female Emperor"... Arise EMPEROR "ECO" 1st...
Burn your bras and lead your "Permies" out of the Wilderness....Lets bring the Wilderness back HOME again
04-05-2012, 09:24 AM
I can be an emperor. So long as you don't expect me to fall for that old trick about making me clothes that aren't actually there!
05-05-2012, 11:36 AM
I met a lovely chap at the talk that I gave. His name is Peter and he is 94. He is the living embodiment of optimism - because he's worried about what will happen once peak oil and climate change make their presence felt.... At 94 I think that is optimism!
05-05-2012, 05:06 PM
"Emperess Eco" arise...a permie Emperess will recieve the finest organic silk,"one straw method" Hemp products....No Invisable materials for Us...
I think Fresh blood is required in our permie world thats forever changing. AND WHY NOT A WOMAN................. Me thinks that males have let the planet down,BIG TIME....
:@::@::@::@::@::@::@::@::@::@::@::@::@::@::@::@::@ ::@::@::@::@::@::@::@::@::punch::punch::punch::pun ch::punch::punch::punch::punch::punch::punch::punc h::punch:
05-05-2012, 05:16 PM
Wow Optimism at 94.... Thats a wonder, good on him,surely this bloke must'nt listen to the media much..... hard to be optimist in a lotta cases out there in the big old world...
Glad he can still work on removing the negativity in his own way,like myself and most permies,but "DOING" instead of "DOING NOTHING"..
when we stop, that's when we give up/in..
07-05-2012, 08:25 PM
My PDC is officially over, which is bittersweet. I'm looking forward to having one extra day a week to do stuff in, but having a day a week sitting still and talking to others about a better way to live was very nice (I guess church fulfils that spot for some).
We had two consecutive days of teaching - our usual Sunday, and today Monday - which is a public holiday up here in Qld. Yesterday we covered aquaculture, which was interesting. Tom introduced us to (amongst other books) the Power of Duck book - using ducks, plus azolla plus fish on rice paddies, which has lots of scientific data about the experiments the Japanese author did to prove that it increased rice yield, and you get to eat the duck and the fish as well.
We had some time in the afternoon to complete our design, and it was hard to decide what to leave out, because we wanted to add a bit of everything we learned about during the course! The chinampas never made it into the final design, nor the guinea pig tractors after much discussion.
We two ladies were camping over at Tom's place to save on driving time and petrol. Our male student lives close by, so as the sun set we had a tour of his garden before settling in to a fabulous chicken curry made by his wife. We watched the Urban chapter of the Global Gardener DVD after dinner - just can't get enough of this permaculture even after a full day of lectures!
We girls headed back to camp about 9, and under the gloriously bright full moon and a clear sky set out a circle of candle lanterns and sat in the middle talking until WAY too late... And then hit the sack. My air bed let itself down halfway through the night, and some demented rooster thought that sun rise was about 3 am and all the other roosters started talking back. After tossing and turning a few more times I heard Tom berating an animal soundly and knew that the farm was about to spring into action. (The littlest dog had left a donation on the door step in protest about the cold night - hence the telling off!) We joined Tom on his morning round feeding the cows, geese and chooks, and headed back to the teaching area to cook ourselves breakfast.
There was still some time to fill in before class so we weeded a section of the kitchen garden and mulched it. The chooks got to share 2 wheelbarrows worth of greens from the garden.
Today we covered the final chapter of the book - about establishing a permaculture community. When we took stock of it, the Sunny Coast is very well served with a strong permaculture group, several Transition groups, community gardens and so even a good number of intentional communities based on permaculture. We talked about alternative financial systems, and about how we might generate an income give our own individual skill sets.
Because we were such keen students we didn't need the last few hours of the afternoon to finish off our design, so we cut back the long grass hiding the lovely rock wall around the camping area that had been made by a former intern, and piled the grass up in the mulch bay in the kitchen garden ready for use, and did a bit more weeding.
Eventually it was time to show off our design. I had been really confident that we nailed it until we started presenting it, because it seemed too easy and I kept thinking that it had to be harder than this! But we got a thumbs up for it and were presented with our certificates. Yay!
To top the day off Zaia made us afternoon tea. And MA - I'm going to get the recipe just for YOU! It was banana and choko tart, served with bunya nut and coconut cream. It sounds a bit weird but my heavens it was truly splendid! After doing a round of the table to talk about what we got out of the course and giving feedback, the sun started to set and we had to drag ourselves away to return to our 'normal' lives.
At least until there's a really interesting course on that I can get to at Tom and Zaia's place one weekend....
20-11-2012, 01:51 PM
It's almost time to spread my wings and head back to Cambodia. I'm taking my teenage daughter with me this time (which will be a huge challenge for her!). We'll be there for 4 weeks as volunteers with Women's Health Cambodia.
If you didn't get a chance to look at the story from last years trip it is here - Photoblog (http://www.photoblog.com/eco4560/2011/10/10/volunteering-in-cambodia.html).
You can also follow what is happening at Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/womenshealthcambodia), or make a donation via the Life Options (http://www.lifeoptions.asia) website.
If you haven't made a donation yet please, please, please do it. It all goes to on the ground work. $2 will pay a village health care worker to visit a new mum and her baby three times in the first 6 weeks of life. Every little bit helps!
Will add more photos to photoblog during this years trip - if I can get internet access that is. The village I was at last year didn't have electricity so I can't make any promises!!!
29-03-2013, 01:28 PM
Everyone here in the Southern Hemisphere is gearing up for Easter. Except it's all wrong! Easter is a spring festival (Ostara) of fertility, held around the vernal equinox.
It's just past the autumnal equinox which means we should be celebrating Mabon instead. The Harvest festival. I'm pretty sure that you can have chocolate at a harvest festival.
So I'll be celebrating the balance that comes with the equinox (OK I'm late it was the 21st.....) and being grateful for bountiful harvests, and reminding myself that descending into the cold and dark is just part of the cycle and makes us appreciate the sunny and warm times even more when they are here.
Happy Mabon to all my fellow Antipodeans.
29-03-2013, 03:07 PM
Happy Mabon Eco and all the forum members
29-03-2013, 04:05 PM
We are totally with you on this one here at Purple Pear Farm Eco. Living with the land has given us a sense of the seasons and the rythmns of nature and to celebrate birth and renewal as we come towards winter does not feel right. We have a St George and the dragon theme at the moment with rightesousness taming the ravages of the world as we settle for the sleep of winter.
we are planning a harvest festival for the 13th - a little late due to other committments - when the friends of the farm will gather to celebrate the bounty of the summer and look to the winter for quite reflection.Happy Marbon.
01-04-2013, 02:15 PM
These posts (about upsidedown holidays :)) intrigued me... Like others here, I really wish our imposed holidays were more connected to nature (and to the rhythm of our actual existence) as summarised in the "wheel of the year": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheel_of_the_Year)...
01-04-2013, 03:46 PM
They can be - just stop celebrating what everyone else is calling it and get on with it! Start inviting people to your Samhain gathering on May 1.... Any excuse for a get together.
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