December 13, 2014
Terra Perma Design — The Soil Hugger's Journey - Pick a Plant Day - Chilacayote (Cucurbita Ficifolia)
It’s light and fluffy blog day! As I am now a few months into this crazy, scary journey, I thought I would write a few short segments on the strange things I have found growing in my garden, now that I have the time to look. Hopefully you’ll find a few surprises amongst them and learn a little too! Thanks go to the guru who has planted many strange things over the years and found, by trial and error, which are the “fittest” for our climate and soil!
Introducing Exhibit A: Chilacayote (Cucurbita ficifolia)
Family – Cucurbitaceae
Genus - Cucurbita
Edible - Fruit, flowers, leaves and seeds.
Growth - In Perth, we’ve found it to be a hardy ground runner like pumpkin, but far easier to grow, with better pest and disease resistance (no powdery mildew, hurray!), and more prolific fruiting (or squash-ing in this case).
Head to the Soil Hugger's Website for full discussion.
December 09, 2014
We also have yakon growing in a few spots this year, so I guess we should actually eat some this autumn when it is ready.
Maybe this year we can trick the pesky rodents and end up with something to eat from our garden for a change.
December 05, 2014
Terra Perma Design — Permaculture 102 - Permaculture Design Part 2: Assessing an Urban Garden's Potential Based on Sun Angles, and other Sources of Natural Energy.
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Following on from Part 1 (in which we identified the layout of the property, prepared the aerial diagram and made some initial interpretations from both the diagram and by doing a little research into the general area’s climate), Permaculture Design Part 2 gives us the first look at real Permaculture thinking - the Sector Analysis of the space.
We'll look at what is outside the design area but has an impact on it – I.e. the channeling, or alternately protection from, one of nature's energy sources – wind, sun, fire, water, frost. One of these will often represents a dominant force in a design – e.g. the sun – pretty dominant in Perth!
November 13, 2014
Terra Perma Design — Permaculture 102 - Permaculture Design: For Rural Only? Not in the slightest! - Part 1
I hope I will adequately reward you for your patience as I take you on a step-wise walk-through of the Permaculture Design process drawing on what I learnt on my course and including some pretty key Permaculture "Rules of Thumb" along the way. Follow the Link and let the fun begin!
November 10, 2014
This page is full of fantastic information about how to design a house to maximise the free cooling and warming that is available by using proper solar passive design.
This is good if you are able to start from scratch. There are also lots of ways to retro fit a home to improve cooling and heating. Planting deciduous shade plants to the ease north and west of a home can prevent it heating up in summer.
Surrounding your house with food plants would also be a great thing to do to save money in the long term.
October 21, 2014
October 11, 2014
The Festival of Forgotten Skills is on again! Join us this Sunday for our amazing festival. For those of you that weren’t here for our 2012 Festival it was a beautiful day of sharing skills ranging from candle making to rope making to cheese making. This year we have a whole new range of skills with even more people […]
October 09, 2014
October 06, 2014
This includes removing food sources, keeping benches clean where ants are indoors and finding gaps and sealing them to prevent incursion of the tiny insects.
Ant rid and other target specific ant baits are available in some hardware or pet stores.
Sometimes outside but mostly inside, the black house ants only have a slight smell and are timid, they are easily discouraged by wiping surfaces with eucalyptus oil. They have no sting.
If you still don't know what sort of ant you have you could use this service:
Correct identification of the pest ant is crucial before commencing any control procedures. There are pest ants that can be more easily controlled based on advice appropriate to that species. A free identification and advisory service is provided by the Department of Agriculture and Food. To submit specimens for identification, stick about a dozen ants to a piece of paper with clear tape and enter your contact details on the paper. Ensure the ants are collected from a clean surface. This will prevent picking up sand and other debris which can allow the ants to escape from under the sticky tape, or spray the ants first with fly spray.
When sending or delivering samples, the following information is required:
• Collector’s name, location (where the specimen was found), full address, telephone number and e-mail address, description of the damage and date collected.
Department of Agriculture and Food
Pest and Disease Information Service
3 Baron Hay Court, South Perth WA 6151 Freecall: 1800 084 881
Once you know what you have but still don't know how to control the pest at hand contact Systems Pest Management, Fremantle for advice on the least toxic way to control your pest ants.
Some other resources ..
October 05, 2014
|Torrential down pour at 14:30. The garden is under reconstruction!|
|Twenty minutes later at 15:00 it's bright and sunny|
October 01, 2014
- coconut coir
- a blood and bone mix
- garden lime
- sand - heat treated time permitting
- some fine vermicompost from the very bottom of the worm farm
- what are we going to want to eat this summer?
- what seeds do I need fresh seed of?
- what is the general weather conditions going to be?
- what will do best in these weather conditions?
- what plantings will make the garden different and interesting this year - for myself and visitors?
- what plant group will I focus on?
September 29, 2014
In preparation for the upcoming PDC, someone has been doing their pre-reading..... This Permaculture 101 Series blog presents a high level over view of what Permaculture is, what ethics are upheld and what design principles are woven through every design produced in order to achieve a permanent agricultural system that meets the needs of all life systems contained within it.
September 25, 2014
These chemicals are in a group called Persistant Organic Pollutants. They break down very very slowly and accumulate in the food chain; as each larger animal eats their prey they gather higher and higher amounts of the toxin in their fatty tissues. If you have chickens and they are scratching the soil and eating insects from an area that is still toxic and then you eat those eggs, there may be some of these poisons in your body. There are a number of problems caused by these toxins, from allergies and neonatal developmental changes to nervous system damage, cancer and even death.
You can reduce the risk of ingestion through eggs by siting the chicken run away from fence lines and house foundations and by installing a cement floor, layers of thick plastic or deep enough fresh soil to prevent the chickens getting to the deeper layers.
You can get your soil tested at various analytical soil labs around the city.
Chemcentre WA is the most commonly recommended.
September 23, 2014
Organic pest control talk.
IMPROVING CULTURAL PRACTICES IN THE GARDEN
Ponds. Many birds and insects use ponds in summer. Birdbaths are also frequented by bees, wasps and other flying things.
September 22, 2014
It is usual for me at this time of the year to 're-design' the garden for the coming summer. Each year it takes on a different look and purpose depending on what is required. Last year it was getting a good supply of tomatoes and seeds so tomatoes dominated the scene. I'm actually a little behind in the planning this year, but there is little I can do about that.
September 19, 2014
September 15, 2014
September 14, 2014
|Only sowed a few of each of lots of different varieties|
|I'm hoping that if I start beans off here first then they won't disappear like the last lot seem to have done that I planted direct in the soil.|
September 11, 2014
We continue the "Soil Series" with an investigation of the effect of our "Pieces of Soil Pie" on the Physical Properties of the soil, what affects them, how we might assess them, and what we hope to migrate our Perth coastal sandy / hills clay-ey soil towards. Episode 2.3 runs through soil texture, structure, density, porosity, consistency, temperature, colour and resistivity. Then, if you're not thoroughly exhausted, I've looked at pH just because I was curious. Next time....Nematodes - it takes more than one nematode to make a phylum. Enjoy!
September 09, 2014
Why are we open on Thursday? Our gardens and venue are, in true Permaculture style multi functional, that is they provide a variety of functions for a variety of people. They feed us, they provide a place for learning and they are a place of pleasure for visitors and the multitude of species that inhabit them. […]
September 04, 2014
September 02, 2014
Plus some fancy close up and personal paparazzi photos.... from our new digital microscope!
August 27, 2014
Terra Perma Design — Soil Series - High Level Components of Soil - Mineral Particles and Pore Spaces (Episode 2.1)
August 22, 2014
Terra Perma Design — The Soil Hugger's Journey - Planting in Spring .... Surviving through Summer - Wicking Beds are One Option.
Wicking Beds are one option.
See the concept explained, the size / container options, the drawbacks and the results of our experimentation with the whole range as we try to find the best fit for various sized gardens and circumstances.
August 20, 2014
Learn a little more about the joy of chooks, testing and keeping eggs, plus info regarding the small scale chook tractor. This blog is more for the self-confirmed "City-Kids".
Follow the link to read the blog on Cotton Plants grown in Perth and a little more info on this intriguing plant.
August 15, 2014
August 12, 2014
CinefestOZ “The Animal Condition” We are excited to have our first CinefestOZ Film showing at Fair Harvest, and have just found out that the film makers have confirmed they will be joining us for the screening. Price includes a delicious vego curry cooked by Heather. Burnside Organic wine available by the glass. The following is a […]
As of August 1st 2014, I’ve dropped out of the corporate world and am keen to find a very different passion. Being a city kid married to a Permaculture Nut (originally from farming stock - seedling, not grafted!), things were bound to rub off and now I’m ready to get my hands dirty.
So I’m setting off on a scary journey (with fabulous support crew, thanks to the Nut!) to seek out work/play which grabs my interest and satisfies my environmental conscience.
I welcome you to join me on this adventure.
The plan is to include snippets of Permaculture information for those just starting our on the journey - like me - or those just interested in gardening activities and methods. Hopefully we'll learn heaps together as I investigate each topic and we might even surprise some of our more learned colleagues along the way.
My plan is to investigate individual plants, insects, animals, structures, and quirky items, with additional info on activities I participate in which I think might interest others.
Identifying myself as the Soil Hugger comes from the belief that all good things come from great soil.....Tree hugging is great, but Soil Hugging is better!. Obviously the development of that great soil and the management of what grows (and lives) in it (on it and over it) will feature heavily in the blog from a gardening perspective, but also my curiosity about Soil Carbon Sequestration, and my desire to study this more, will potentially influence the blog. We'll see how that pans out.
Anyway, enough intro…. let’s get onto the interesting stuff. Feel free to ask questions, make requests, provide feedback, and add your own stories, but most of all enjoy and encourage others to do the same.
Head to the link - http://thesoilhuggersjourney.wordpress.com/
I'll also include the links on our Terra Perma Facebook Page, so feel free to follow my journey from that vantage point!
I hope you enjoy the ride.
August 08, 2014
Since taking these pictures more bits of pipe have been added so there are more spaces for the crustaceans to shelter so they don't attack each other.
We are so proud to be living in an area that is actively promoting its local produce and encouraging more people to get involved with growing food. Our local Farmers Market has steadily grown over the past couple of years, starting as a small event every second Saturday and evolving to a large, bustling weekly event. […]
The post Margaret River Inspirational Food and Wine Journeys appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.
July 26, 2014
July 23, 2014
July 17, 2014
It’s a leap to shift from thinking that there must be one right thing to do, one correct way to see a landscape, or best practice for developing a sustainable food system, to the discovery that there are many mutually beneficial things to do, many useful ways to see a landscape, and many developmental paths which can be taken toward sustainability.
For a long time I sat in the backyard and tried to reason what the next step should be, what the right thing to do must be. If ever something stood out as a foolproof action to take, I took such action with trepidation, as there always seemed more variables involved than I could possibly consider, and the thought that I might regret the steps I take now haunted me, as I’ve never enjoyed back-tracking or undoing what’s been done. It’s no surprise that in the two years since my last post, change in the backyard has been rather slow!
It’s dawned on me though that there need not be a single right action to take, if one can recognise the cloud of possibilities that all point toward improvement. Nature seems geared toward development, balance and maximum efficiency anyway, and it’s likely that it would do just fine without me. And so my efforts have settled to a gentle encouragement of what’s already working, what nature and I agree on, and less of the forceful experimentation I’ve been used to.
It seems there’s a spectrum between two extremes; at one end – nature left to her own devices (Masanobu Fukuoka’s ‘do-nothing’ farming), and at the other – commercial agriculture, where nature is exploited as much as possible, for maximum gain. Permaculture fits anywhere that a practice is sustainable, which I imagine would be closer to Fukuoka’s end of the spectrum. But any development of a landscape toward a regenerative food system, while in keeping with natural processes, is still a forceful process with human gain as the ultimate goal, and whether you’re growing salad greens in containers on a balcony, or casting seeds willy-nilly into a backyard jungle, you are always applying some force to a scenario that would play out quite differently if you weren’t there to influence it. In this compromise there will always be at least two perspectives to take into account – that which nature would do without you, and that which you would have nature do for you. Herein there can never be one ‘right’ thing to do, one ‘correct’ approach, but only guesswork – an intuition as to what might benefit both parties mutually.
So what I wait for now is not an intellectual lightbulb moment – a right thing to do – but an intuition that resonates; an idea that I love and which I feel invited to implement. Usually they are small motions, like scattering some legume seeds here and there, pruning a branch here and there, always with a view to increasing life and diversity, minimising effort and damage, so that the natural processes already occurring can continue uninhibited, and I can save my energy too. The result is a backyard that only half reflects my intention, and the rest is a magic show.
I still have a plan for how I’d like the backyard to be, with a tropical zone here, a citrus zone there, and a canopy to boot, but it’s all in pencil.
Developing the backyard has been as much an evolution of my own thinking, as it has an evolution of the soil and life emerging therein. I wonder what the next development will be…
July 14, 2014
- Through our mainly 'natural' diet we generate a lot of kitchen waste. The garden also creates a huge amount of green material that we cycle back through our system. Initially I set about digging much of this straight into the garden beds themselves. The chooks also got a good look in at selected stuff also. After a while I had the garden planted out and had nowhere to bury the ever-expanding green waste and kitchen scraps. This is when the garden evolved to its current container garden state. As I explain to people, think of these containers as mini worm farms that just happen to be planted out with vegetables, because that is basically what they are.
- I am well aware that many home gardeners prefer to rip up any bolting plants and start a new garden rather than allow plants to complete their cycle and collect the seeds for future crops. By growing in containers it permits us to retain some of our selected plants and enable them to go to seed so we have seed for the future with the traits we are seeking for our garden and our use. It doesn't tie up extra planting area and if the plant needs moving I can easily pick it up and move it to another spot in the garden where it is out of the way and can complete its cycle to produce seed.
- Water preservation and use is important where we live. I will concede that containers tend to use more water than the plants would require if planted in the earth, however in our situation we use our greywater which enables me to keep much of the garden (mainly the containers) well watered. I can also tailor the water usage per container if some plants are requiring more than others. This is part of the reason that small gardens like this are able to be so intensively used - we can spend more time observing the intimacies of what is occurring in the garden. Over time, the water retention of the containers is increased as the soil improves. There is very little tilling that occurs. It is more likely that a layer of compost will be added to the container to build up the level again and plant out seeds or seedlings into.
- Nutrients is better utilised and recycled. Whatever nutrients I add to the containers isn't easily flushed away, so it is more likely to be present and available when the plants have use for it. Periodically I may tip the soil out into another container to bulk up the soil a bit and start over with more scraps and dirt and a new family of compost worms.
- Container gardens leave smaller spaces bare. Sometimes between crops I will have a container left in fallow for a short time. Usually this is something like one or two containers among many, so rather than having a large area of ground left bare there may be only a couple of containers scattered amongst others. Visually, this a appealing and pleasing to the eye and makes the garden at joy to look at most times of the year in our climate. Periodically there may be times at the turn of the seasons when there are more containers starting over again, but usually they are not far from making themselves available for seedlings. This brings me to the next point.
- As with other intensive gardening methods I will also start seedlings in small pots or trays and then plant them out into the containers when ready. If this is managed in good time then there isn't much of a gap between an empty container and a productive one.
- Containers can be moved to different spots in the garden according to the needs of the plants it holds. I have banana plants in some containers that are developing and I can move these into sunny parts of the garden depending on the time of year to maximise their exposure to the sun and warmth. This is important for our climate because although it is temperate, some plants in our garden are sub-tropical and do benefit from a bit of special care.
- Our Babaco (paw paw hybrid) are planted into large containers which they prefer as they don't like to be too wet. So containers are ideal for such plants that require good drainage.
|Tomatoes, lettuce and zucchini in various spots.|
|Red Aztec Corn with Popping Corn in the foreground|
|The last week the garden has had a huge growth spurt. Note the buckets for capturing the grey water.|
|This is a mix of corn which is an experiment to see what comes of it all.|
|This chilacayote made numerous attempts to creep onto the path and has been turned back each time.|
|A Bronze-wing Pigeon arrives of an afternoon to search for seeds.|
|During winter this Fan=tailed Cuckoo made frequent visits over several mornings to our garden.|
|Red-capped Parrots are some of the larger birds to frequent the garden, particularly when sunflowers are ripening off.|
|Juvenile Western Silver-eye waiting for its parent to arrive with food.|
|A juvenile Willy Wagtail that was seen recently one morning. A very welcome sign in the garden.|
This is very much in line with the style of gardening that is seen as being the way ahead for developed countries as mentioned in Richard Mannings' book Against the Grain. I'm not sure what is lacking. It lies somewhere in the realms of being lazy, distracted by our culture and its social norms, following the herd, not being knowledgeable or fit enough to even start. . . there just isn't a compelling desire for most people. It almost seems ironic that the way ahead is actually the way back to previous small-scale farming and allotment style gardening.
It is clear that The Ringing Cedars of Russia series has stirred the desire in modern day Russians to compel them enough to go back to their Dachniks. Gradually it is inspiring people the world over to at least create a garden or a "Space of Love" wherever they can. This is what we have done here with our garden and plan to do with the new garden and house project.
- I don't like to burden an area with either a great heap of newsprint at any one time or over a period of a year or so.
- My main indicator to the health of my soil is the soil life itself - and the most visible, easily identifiable and more immediate indicator for me personally is the compost worms. If there is an abundance or even seemingly an over-abundance of worms in areas of composting with newsprint then I am relatively assured that there be no harm.
"As long as the worm composter is working properly, the worms will be able to handle these substances. Heavy metals become soluble and therefore potentially toxic in acidic environments. Worms prefer a relatively alkaline environment. Normally ground garden limestone is sprinkled into the composter. (Only use garden lime, NOT Quicklime, of course!). Worms carry out fine grinding of the lime particles. This neutralises any excess acidity and liberates plant nutrients stored in the rock. Heavy metals are also fixed in the soil and released slowly avoiding toxicity. Worms develop and maintain a culture of effective aerobic bacteria by culling pathogens, fungi and anaerobic bacteria. They also ensure the organic mass is well aerated."
City Food Growers article on "Is newspaper toxic for my organic garden?"
|A very large pile of mulch on Friday afternoon.|
|By Friday evening we could see the neighbour's house - nearly.|
|The new look chook yard with a large compost pile and Blue Banana Pumpkin.|
D - Deciduous
Food Forest Plants
Thornless Youngberry (Mainly as a forage crop for the kids)
Thornless Blackberry (Same as above)
Youngberry (plenty of thorns but a good producer)
Fig (Green) D
Fig (Striped) D
Mulberry (M. macroura 'Shatoot') D - smaller growing mulberry tree with long white fruit. It is said to be the best mulberry for home gardens as it is a small tree which does not produce fruit that stains. It is native to India, Pakistan, southern China and Sri Lanka. This variety is on my wishlist.
Roseapple - Syzygium
Capulin Cherry - Prunus salicifolia
Jelly Palm - Butia capitata
Passionfruit - Banana
Choko - Green
Choko - White
Grape - Dark (currently growing, will need propagating)
Grape - White
Grape - Sultana
Grapes - Currant (rescued cuttings, variety still to be confirmed
Lower storey Food Forest
Fruit Trees for Swales
Apricot D (Grown from seed from a local tree, produces small but tasty fruits)
Lemon - Eureka - on my wishlist
Apple - Golden Blush - on the wishlist.
Persimmon - on my wishlist
Tahitian Lime - to replace the current one we have
Blood Orange - on the wishlist.
Navel Orange - on the wishlist
Imperial Mandarin - on the wishlist
Mints - various in pots
Insect Attractors & Bee Pasturage
Buddleja - trimmed to produce a profusion of flowers as butterfly feeder
Milkweed - interplanted amongst other plants to attract butterflies and nurture caterpillars esp. Monarch
|Red Aztec Corn with its wig!|
July 13, 2014
July 06, 2014
Kikuyu and Poultry Kikuyu…..wonderful lawn if you want lawn, great summer feed if you have stock but if you’re into growing fruit and veg and you have kike get ready to set up some serious long term management systems. We use all sort of grazing, scratching and digging animals on our Kikuyu and enjoy all […]
June 19, 2014
June 13, 2014
June 04, 2014
Living in the South West of Western Australia, we are, like everyone bound to our seasonal conditions and for us this means waiting till the Autumn rains have really set in before we can plant our winter crops. Every summer we shrink our garden back to a minimal amount of space, growing our summer crops (tomatoes, […]
May 22, 2014
Charles has rescheduled the Edible Weeds Workshop to the weekend of June 7th and weekday 11th. We now have some weeds growing in our gardens so its worth having a workshop.
Please choose your preferred times/dates for the 2 hour workshop, minimum numbers 5 people. Once we have 5 in a time slot will run on that option, or both if we get numbers.
Book preferred time date here - http://doodle.com/ndxvktym4n45p42e
Cost: $60 (includes a $10 booklet with colour slides) or Couples $100 if sharing booklet.