Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yes the girl is still alive!!!!

Hi again to all of you! It's been a while.....ok that's an understatement. I've been seriously busy...and the proof is in the pudding (or the permaculture in this case!).

I saw a dear friend of mine today, who said I really needed to post an update..and so here it is!

First a quick peek at how things are looking... then some explanations!
Ta Dah!!! Yes that's actually my garden! I must admit, it is starting to look like those pictures in the permaculture books that I have been green with envy over for ages!

Soooo much to tell you! I've been learning and doing heaps....where to start!

Ok - first I got hold of the most amazing book ever - all Permies out there PAY ATTENTION. It's called Edible Forest Gardens (for temperate climates) by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier. It comes in two volumes. The first is the theory, the second is design and practise. I got Volume 2 and it works as a stand alone text (there's more than enough theory in this one too!).

The garden above is amidst the old orchard site (old as in there's only 4 old trees, the rest we ripped out as they were past their use by date). The plan is for this site to become a food forest in the years ahead. This is a long process as things grow in succession. We'll enjoy sunloving vegies from this space for many years yet, before the canopy finally starts to join and create a different microclimate underneath (which is when we'll grow more berries and less drought resistant foods).

For the first time I feel like energy in, is equalling produce out. We have food!
I've been doing things really differently. No more garden beds with crops which i plant, then rip out and start again in the next season. I'm combining HEAPS of things I've learned from different sources and it's working!

Ok so here's a bed (it's actually a mound set on contour - the path alongside it acts as a mini-swale catching and slowing down the water/rain and hopefully holding it in the soil a little longer). You'll notice it's a polyculture...This bed joins few fruit trees. A Wheelie bin Mulberry, middle left with wire around it (it was salvaged by a friend and arrived growing in a wheelie bin!) an apple tree, and a pomegranate (which you can just see in the top right hand corner). In the bed itself is a variety of things all intermingled. Just in this photo you can see Pepino (bottom left with flowers), mint, Beetroot, garlic, tomato (self sown), kale, onions. Sounds crazy huh?! But it works!
There's method in the madness.

I got the idea of on the spot succession planting from reading about Fukuoka's methods. When something is ready to harvest (like the beetroot just about is) I simply pull it out, and replace it with a handful of manure/compost and a seedling of some other kind of plant. Crop rotation happens on the spot, the soil is replenished and weeds don't have a chance to get in.

Other bonuses are that there are plant layers happening, because of the mix of plants and also because of their age. There's no room for competition from weeds, pests are kept at bay because there are no rows of vegies (and therefore no patterns to recognise and attack), microclimates happen in patches under larger plants, so fragile things like lettuce seedlings benefit from the part shade, and evaporation is minimised. And to top it off, it looks pretty! Never has so much been going on in so small a patch of my garden!

This patch is ticking over nicely now, one thing out, another goes in. But here's one that's just starting....

This is a close up of a very new bed. I read that when soil is disturbed, it releases a flush of nutrients. That's why weeds appear very quickly in disturbed ground. But we can take advantage of this. This bed was made of my existing soil (and I use the word soil really loosely because it's seriously rubbish stuff) and Vegetable Concentrate which I got from the Green Life Soil Company (link to them at the end of this post they are AWESOME!). Having dug it all in, and therefore disturbed it nicely, I threw radish and coriander seeds on it as a cover crop (because that's what I had on hand). THEY benefitted from the nutrient flush, and radishes, being a super quick germinator, ensured that weeds were outcompeted. The next step is to pull out a radish here and there as they are ready and replace it with a seedling. You'll notice I've already done this in a few spots in this bed. There is broad bean, tatsoi and lettuce in here. More brassicas and things will be added over the next few weeks as they grow to a suitable seedling size in my seed raising bed.

There is also a lemon grass in the photo. Each bed I set up has a few perrenials in it, either fruit trees, berries or herbs. The annuals are planted around them, so there's always something in the bed, always some shelter and pest control.

There's more happening around the property, but that'll be for another post.

One last thing - if you live in WA, I seriously recommend getting your soil and any additives you need from the Green Life Soil Company. They even have the rock dust Josh Byrne talked about on a Gardening Australia show recently - which puts all those minerals which are missing from Perth soils, back into the ground and into your vegies.
My garden absolutely TOOK OFF within a week of having their soil in. Even the Pepino (which constantly flowered and never grew fruit suddenly got some). Cat from Cathsode is my witness!
They really know their stuff and give great advice. A link to their site is below.

Happy gardening people!


Anonymous said...

Looking fab girl!! Good to see you back and posting, that way I can keep up:)

Cathode said...

YAY! You did an update!!!!

Had a wonderful time today and was so good to catch up! Was also brilliant to see that I am not alone in having hands full with 2 boys, LOL!

We have to do it again. SOON!
Crone would like to come out there as well, so let us know when you have a free day!

Cathode said...

Oh, and cheers for the Lemonade Lemons. I am a total addict. Only place that currently has them in stock is selling 6ft trees for $195!!!
Am hoping Daleys get them back in stock soon!

Cwm Goch Chronicles said...

Molly, thanks... It won't be so long between posts now for a while!

Cat - glad you like the lemons i can't believe they are costing that much. I think i got mine from Tim Eva's nursery but it was ages ago - and it only cost around $20.
You don't need a large tree, they produce well really quickly. I didn't let mine fruit the first year, (plucked off flowers) but by the second year we already had 10 or so fruit. You saw mine, we've harvested heaps already and it's weighed down with fruit still. It's only 3-4 years old. I'm going to mke lemon barley cordial out of it.

Another visit is a super idea, and I'd love to see Crone. I have to meet Llewellyn!