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....
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!