You are here: Home / Get Involved / Community Blogs

Community Blogs

by admin last modified Sep 01, 2014 09:05 AM

August 27, 2014

Terra Perma DesignSoil Series - High Level Components of Soil - Mineral Particles and Pore Spaces (Episode 2.1)

We kick off the "Soil Series" with an investigation of the components that make up soil.  Episode 2.1 focuses on the classification of the Mineral Particles and the Pore Spaces (containing Air or Water) within the Soil Composition Pie. 

August 22, 2014

Terra Perma DesignThe Soil Hugger's Journey - Planting in Spring .... Surviving through Summer - Wicking Beds are One Option.

The most precious gardening resources are water, soil and sunlight. How can we have a ripper productive garden through summer and not squander Perth’s rare two of the big three – water or soil nutrients?

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

Terra Perma DesignThe Soil Hugger's Journey - Soil Series - The Plan of Attack (Episode 1)

Find out how we'll tackle the enormous topic that is Soil and start our SR adventure together.

Terra Perma DesignThe Soil Hugger's Journey - Pick an Animal Day - The Common Chook (Episode 1)

Chooks, Eggs and a Chicken Tractor.....

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".

Terra Perma DesignThe Soil Hugger's Journey - Pick a Plant Day - Our Cotton Plant

Those cotton wool balls you have on hand for various uses around the home must have been significantly processed to look the way they do? Not as much as you think…

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

Freo PermiesPermablitz at Matt and Danna’s House – Coolbellup – Sunday Sept 14th 2014

Welcome from 8:30am for coffee and tea, briefing at 9am.Morning tea and Lunch provided, please tell us if you have any special requirements.Tasks: * Build Front Fence Passion Fruit Vines (grown in wicking barrels) * Mosaic for Fire Pit * Rear Food Forest Tree Planting including grey water mulch basins * Grey Water System to...

August 12, 2014

Fair HarvestCinefestOZ film night Fair Harvest

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 […]

The post CinefestOZ film night Fair Harvest appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

Terra Perma DesignThe Soil Hugger's Journey Begins

I've done a crazy thing.....I've left my job.

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 -

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

HumusBeingsYabbietat tank

The tank has lots of yabbies, a few tadpoles and a couple of small fish to help control mosquito larvae.
These little fish are minnows. They have tiny mouths, so they can only eat mossie larvae but not tadpoles or frogspawn.
Inside this roll of shade cloth there may, hopefully, be lurking baby yabbies. When we unrolled it to have a look there were tiny babies up to about 5 cms.

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.

Fair HarvestMargaret River Inspirational Food and Wine Journeys

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

Freo PermiesIt’s on – August 2014 Permablitz!

Come along to a garden in Willetton on Saturday 23 August 2014 and learn skills, meet people and help out. Morning tea and lunch provided. Projects include: A Berry trellis with buried containment self wicking pots with bottle edging. Fire pit with earth-ship style bottle walls, tyre retaining and (if we have time) cob rendering....

July 23, 2014

Terra Perma DesignTesting Blog Facebook Link

Just testing something, there is a new blog coming - The Soil Hugger's Journey.

July 17, 2014

Shaun's Backyard003: Permaculture as part of a personal evolution

A leucaena tree, I decided to chop down, nature decided to regrow!

A leucaena tree, I decided to chop down, nature decided to regrow!

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

Petit ParadisSeptember Update Part I

Today I spent nearly a full day in the garden and yet it does not look like it. This is somewhat disappointing, however its the end vision that keeps me inspired. If I can get the place as lush and productive as last year - or better - I'll be happy.

Though having not been able to spend much time out there over the last few weeks means I feel rushed now to get things going while there is a real energy spurt occurring

The priority job was getting the guinea pigs into the chicken's 'straw yard" and making it secure. This was easier than I thought it would be as much of the place was closed in already and the addition of some garden trellis made smaller holes pig proof. I have now moved two of the large compost bins into the straw yard as I value the growing space in the garden too much this year! The advantage is also that the chooks enjoy the presence of the extra insect life that is attracted to the bins as well as compost worms and slater bugs. It also is a convenient spot to put some of the scraps that the chooks don't eat. They are simply raked up and put into the bin to keep the yard somewhat tidy - especially now that it is home to an extended family of guinea pigs.

I removed the old hutch that was in the chook yard as the chooks were no longer using it to lay in and it was getting weathered and took up good scratching space. I trimmed the mallee tree and bottlebrush a little and mulched the remaining twigs that had been laying around for a while.

More tripods were made for growing plants up and I even made a bamboo frame for training and supporting a choko on that was well under way with new growth and was located in the corer of the new garden bed. I also found what looked like self-seeded basella which I planted in a large pot with a bamboo teepee to train the plants up.

My wife helped early in the day with the task of ripping up some fluted cardboard which I have been storing under the house and using in the worm farms as I find the worms really love to get in amongst the layers and sometimes will lay their cocoons there. The picture below is under the house where I am using the plastic tubs to start worm farms. The tubs are filled with shredded paper or newspaper, kitchen scraps, weeds and greens from the garden that are weeded out or pruned and sand (which really is just sand and is quite fine, but after this treatment it makes wonderful soil). I have begun to do this because as we are eating volumes more fruit and vegetables than ever before we are creating a lot more kitchen waste. It is a regular thing for us to fill a 9 litre bucket of kitchen waste each day, or more. Our garden areas are limited in size so I really only buried scraps in the first few months of us moving in. Most everything is planted out with stuff now so I have taken to using compost bins and these tubs to solve the problem. It is also intended to assist my wife with having somewhere to put the scraps instead of having to ask me where they are to go next. : )

What actually happens is that I will leave these tubs to sit once full for up to twelve months while the worms do their thing and transform the contents into wonderful, dark, water retentive soil. In this way I am using the area under the house in a more productive way and there is no shortage of areas to put the scrap bucket! I even have an aero bin set up which will function in a similar way over an extended period of time. In my experience I have found newsprint and straw to be a much more rich soil than simply horse manure which breaks down very quickly - and then disappears. Newsprint on the otherhand - and hay or straw - make a very dark compost or vermi-compost that has increased microbial activity. Ideally, I will have enough compost and castings to add a top dressing to the large vegetable garden bed each year - if not twice a year!

I realise that the garden has evolved from the early plans I had for it and I should do a more recent plan of what is where and what is being used. These tubs are a good example.

Here is the simple bamboo trellis I constructed today to give the choko some climbing space. I am utilising vertical spaces more this year as I can grow more and it adds to the layers in the garden and will also hopefully break up some of the easterlies when they come in summer.  In the garden bed is some of the sludge from the kitchen sink pit where the worms hang around some of the run-off water and food bits and are present in crazy numbers. The soil is literally crawling with them. I also planted our Japanese Taro and water spinach in the vicinity of the pit as the soil is constantly moist and should be ideal for them. They did poorly in the pot and I am hoping with fend for themselves better here.

In the image below are the two crops of broad beans I have in at the moment. One is aquadulce - on the left - and the other is more a typical fava bean. I have already marked some with red ribbon so that we know which ones we will be saving seed from. In the foreground is a broccoli that we are also letting go to seed which is currently in flower.

Petit ParadisContainer Gardening

This is the first of a number of related posts where I am recording some of the techniques and ideas I have used in my own garden.

People are amazed at the 'intensive' nature of our garden. That is, at this time of the year through to the beginning of winter it is crowded with plants at various stages of their cycles. One of the main ways I manage this is with container gardening.

By growing our edibles in containers I have managed to solve several of our 'problems'.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

    Petit ParadisSummer Begins

    Now and then I like to try different plants to see what comes of them. At the moment I have 3 containers and a small patch in the side garden that are home to lush little forests of buckwheat. Over the last few days with a bit of water and extra sun they have grown much taller and are really showing off their titanium white flowers.

    Likewise, the beans that have been setting flowers have lovely little crops of beans already appearing and growing so quickly. These are a white climbing bean, much like my Pop used to grow. The bottom photo is of the corner garden area where I left things go a little crazy. At this time of the year through to autumn it jumps into jungle-mode, often revealing some surprises in autumn once it starts to thin out a bit. In this one area is a large chilacayote patch, a pumpkin, sugar cane, an avocado and tamarillo tree, a compost pile, worm farm, a choko vine and the bananas.

    Purple-podded peas. This is the first year I have grown them and they are tall, strong and abundant with their colourful flowers and dark purple pods.  Below is the flower of the climbing bean variety shown above. In the last day or two I have noticed the zucchinis have begun to open their flowers and put on strong growth.

    Petit ParadisSummer Evening

    I took a walk in the garden this afternoon after having spent the day away with family. It must have been a warm, sunny day because so many of the containers were getting dry or were very dry. I set about watering with grey water and ended up needing to spray with the hose to give everything a good finish.

    The extra sun however has boosted the growth in the garden, including the weeds. This is fantastic as it means I can probably stagger my growing and seed collecting - that is, having two crops in the one season. As for the weeds, most of them will be harvested and either juiced, put into the chook yard or into the compost bins which I noticed have sunk down significantly today with the warmer weather.

    I am happy to report that the beans and peas are doing really well and I will need to begin marking some of them for seed saving soon so that we can begin picking some for eating.

    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.
    The corn has been coming on strongly in the past week. I have planted out a mix of all the bits of corn I have. It is difficult to get many of the heirloom or open-pollinated varieties of corn here in WA so for the small amount of seeds I have managed to keep I decided to try and create something of my own open-pollinated corn variety. In case you are wondering, yes, this will be a long term project.

    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.

    Petit ParadisA New Start

    As mentioned in a previous post, we are looking at making a transition to a newly renovated house and creating a new garden between the existing house and a new house on the back of the block. Our goal is to feed our growing family of four plus two grandparents with as much produce from the garden as possible.

    The picture above is the block that we are starting to clear. It will one day become a new house for my In-Laws and a new garden that will be used to feed us all. It is a very peaceful spot. Lovely and shaded. Loved by birds and possums and loads of insects. This will all go. To do what we plan to do we need to remove all the trees that run down the fence line and are in the way of the future house. This means everything has to go for a new start. There is going to be a lot of wood and in keeping with my philosophy on this kind of thing I really don't want any of it to be leaving the block. Once cleared however, we will set about putting something just as magical in its place.

    There is so much that either wood chips or small logs can offer that I really want everything to stay on the block as it will really get the garden off to a great start. This land is really close to the coast and the soil testing results show that it really is just sand. No large granite boulders or rocks hiding anywhere close to the surface. Great for building on and from previous experience it will have a huge appetite when it comes to organic matter. It will just swallow it up. For this reason I am keen to have some of the sand removed from the garden bed area for use further up the block - then focus on building soil through a few strategies I am keen to put into practice.

    This is the first of what is likely to be many, many posts on our preparing for the transition to the new place and the decisions and choices we make along the way in the planning stages. In some ways it is probably going to mark a bit of a departure point for my blog records also as we make way to leave our small garden area for one with bigger possibilities, challenges and potential. So the current blog will slightly change from what it originally started out as, as a matter of natural progression.

    Petit ParadisAgainst The Grain

    I came across this book at our local library and used it for some research for a seed saving talk I was doing. It gives an incredible insight into how we as a western society have evolved into the sophisticated, agriculturally-reliant countries around the world with some major disadvantages. Our health being one of them, but a whole host of issues raises it head from modern agricultural practices and this book brings them to the surface.

    I guess to give a hint of what the book is about I could sum it up with the authors concept that we all advertise our ignorance to agriculture at least three times a day. That being the food we eat, the types of food we eat and the reasons for us actually eating it - they are far from our choice which is something I had never even considered. The reason being is that we are so detached from modern agricultural practices that we have no idea of some of the ways our food is handled and manipulated. 

    Another point that Richard Manning portrays really well is that most of the major agricultural industries today grow and deal with commodities - NOT FOOD. When I really thought about this it triggered a whole heap of thoughts that bought me to the realisation that again, not all is what it seems.

    At the end of the book Manning gives his own portrayal of how he sees we as a society need to be operating. It is largely a move back from an agricultural industry growing commodities to enterprising individuals and co-operatives growing food for local communities. Thus we can see the reason behind the popularity of today's farmer's markets, community gardens and backyard vege patches - there is a huge market in todays society for growing FOOD - not commodities such as rice, wheat and corn. If you suspect the wool has been pulled over your eyes then Manning's research and presentation of the material is intriguing and easy to read - and will showcase some of the ways we have been manipulated by big business.

    For me it has confirmed my engagement with our own backyard food garden and the permaculture principles we use to create something quite unique in today's world - the place where the food on our table comes from.

    Petit ParadisBird Visitors to our Garden in 2013

    A Bronze-wing Pigeon arrives of an afternoon to search for seeds.
     I wanted to put together a post of some of the birds that come into our garden. Mainly because I have found it to be of great benefit to have plenty of perching areas for birds to utilise. As a result I am seeing more and more bird activity as the many, varied perching opportunities give the birds access to hunting spots in the garden and greater safety from small raptors and intruding house cats.

    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.
    Various types of weld mesh are in the garden and used for plant supports and as a happy result are excellent perches for smaller birds such as silver-eyes and flycatchers. Both of which help reduce pest insect numbers in the garden. At this time of the year it is a common sight to see small flocks of silver-eyes moving through the garden in quite obscure areas and making off with green caterpillars to feed their young, or perching on the wire mesh and thrashing their prey about wildly before flying off with it.

    A juvenile Willy Wagtail that was seen recently one morning. A very welcome sign in the garden.

    Petit ParadisThe Start of the New Tillellen Project

    The trees are gone!

    I met with the loppers Thursday to arrange how we can keep the bulk of the material on site. They seemed very accommodating which makes sense given that it won't need carting away.

    It was sad to see them go after they have been there so long - they have left a huge space until we can begin the process of re-planting the area.

    The upside I guess is that, as pretty as they are, most of them are not friendly to our native environment in that they seed easily and are spread by birds easily such as the Japanese Pepper (to the right in the photos). Others have not been looked after and would eventually  lead to problems with limbs falling, so as much as it will be a huge visual change to the block, it is a necessary part of the process. As it happened the guys showed me a photo taken from up the tree where a split had started to occur. So it really was a matter of time before it took out the neighbour's clothes-line!

    I looked over the plans again to locate the best spot for the piling of mulch and logs - so that they won't be in the way of earthworks for the retaining walls or new house. In doing so I came to the realisation that the block is actually going to leave us with much less garden area than I previously thought given that the retaining wall will be moved further back into the block and the top house is further in from the back street to allow for the slope and drive-way.

    Still, it is a bigger area than what we are currently growing on and is not so divided up. There are also smaller areas along the property line and where the house will be that can be planted out.

    There was one truck load of mulch that needed removing from the block to make room for access to the block and I had this carted to our property here so that I can use it for the native garden out the front and to dress the chook yard for the summer to cover up the grass and clippings and weeds that I have thrown in there from cleaning up at the Community Garden. Any grass that I removed I have been putting into the chook yard as they do a fine job of making sure it is dead far quicker than the compost bins I use where it is just too resilient to die off quickly. Between the sun and the chooks endless scratchings and upheaval of soil the grass is dealt with much more efficiently I find.

    So, well in advance of schedule the guys have cleared the block of trees in a day and a half! The land is literally swamped in sunlight so it will be a great spot for the new gardens and there are plenty of BIG logs to build the Hugelkultur beds that will be used to start the soil conditioning process and get an initial garden happening while the rest of the building, construction and renovating takes place. On the top of the block is the 5 truck loads worth of mulch that I was wanting to have on hand.

    Petit ParadisThe Ringing Cedars of Russia - Dachniks and The Way Forward

    Friends shared with us at our local Community Garden meet about a series of books they have been reading called the Ringing Cedars of Russia series.

    The books sounded intriguing and so I looked into them and consequently opened up a new world to contemplate. I won't go into the series here as there is a heap of stuff that any search engine will happily deliver up for you. Instead I would like to focus on some of the ideas portrayed in the books and why they resonate with me. Mainly it is due to the fact that they are ideas or concepts I am already putting into practice. Perhaps further down the track I will go into some of the ideas I have taken from the books and what I have done with our own garden and family.

    In the meantime, the books talk about home gardens or plots called Dachniks. For an interesting article, description and some impressive figures and stats check out this article.

    This is very much my own experience in our backyard. This post from the EQ Journal has a few specifics as to why this style of gardening works well.

    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.

    Petit ParadisCompost Worms - Adventures in the Toxic Environment

    The topic of using newsprint in the edible garden is one that raises its head on a regular basis and is something that I like to monitor. I use newsprint in the garden with the following considerations.

    • 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.
     This piece of information is from the Ecobaby website. I like it because it explains the process of conversion quite simply.

    "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."

    My own experience is that newsprint and cardboard are exceptional materials for building up soil and are enhanced by the actions of soil microbes and worms. This is from my own observations of the materials breaking down, the abundance of worms found in the compost and the masses of tiny, tiny worms and cocoons which more often than not is found in conjunction with cardboard, particularly corrugated cardboard where the worms can move into the ridges and tunnels. There are many gardeners who have used newsprint and cardboard in their gardens for years now, particularly since the shift to soy-based inks and more environmentally considerate paper products and processes.

    I choose to put the coloured printed material in the recycling bin instead of the garden mainly because it takes longer to break down and I personally have a dislike to the stuff and don't trust it. The other consideration is that the worms are not as attracted to it either because it takes a while for water to penetrate it and assist in breaking it down or because of the coatings used.

    I also found an interesting article on the Mercola website which features the use of GE crops and soil fertility.

     GE Crops Affect Soil Fertility -

    And this here is the link to an article with a little more depth to it than the normal articles found, but I still am having to scratch around to find some real statistics or studies indicating the dangers of toxic build-up in soils, particularly dioxins. There is some research into heavy metal conversion by compost worms and microbes, but dioxin appears to be a different matter.

    City Food Growers article on "Is newspaper toxic for my organic garden?"

    The other method I have found very efficient for converting large quantities of newsprint is ripping it into long shreds, a few cms wide and putting it into the chicken's strawyard where they dig it into the soil and scratch it up. The worms get to it a lot faster along with the action of the chook manure and it breaks down with a regular, gentle wetting. I like to do this in autumn when light showers keep it damp but not saturated.

    Petit ParadisThe Mulch Pile

     With the recent removal of the trees from the other block the tree loppers had a load they needed to dump elsewhere before they could make a start on the rest of the block. So I asked for them to deliver it to our house so that I could mulch some of the garden.

    It certainly went the distance at about 12 cubic metres a truck load it did the front yard, several bags, a couple of areas of the back garden and the chook yard - up to about a foot thick in some places.

    As daunting as the initial pile was - particularly as it was perched on half of our driveway and was nearly covering the letterbox - previous experience has taught me that the effort is worth it.

    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.

    This was a pleasure to do as it made the chook pen look a whole lot nicer than the previous ground cover of grass and weeds that had been put in there from weeding the Community Garden. As much as the chooks loved it, it soon wore down and the mulch still allows them to have a good scratch around while I have left areas of dirt for them to have their dust baths. I also want to see how it wears because I am thinking of utilising this deep litter method at the new garden.

    By Saturday lunch I had the rest of the mulch moved with some much appreciated help from my Dad! The backyard smells wonderful with the woodchips of lilly pilly, pepper tree and peppermint tree.

    Petit ParadisAustralian Backyard Gardening Blogs & Websites

    I did a post on other backyard gardening blogs some years ago and recently did a new search to find that we are growing in number.

    As though it is not enough that folks are taking to claim the backyard as a piece of productive edible gardening space and a real place of interest, many are recording their journeys on-line, much as we are doing. This is heartening and inspiring.

    Here is a more recent list of active sites for future reference. With the planning of the new garden and house(s) underway it will make checking out ideas and the experiences of others a little more handy.

    Zucchini Island  an urban families quest to feed themselves from their backyard. Check out the inspiring story on Jason's "What is this about?" tab.

    The Suburban Tomato - another great record of a suburban gardeners journey.

    500m2 in Sydney - a long-term regular favourite I like to drop in on from time to time. A very classy, well put together blog that inspires me.

    The Good Life Down Under - the continuing adventures of Margo & Jerry. Variety, so much variety!

    Vegetable Vagabond - coming to us from Cygnet in Tasmania.

    The New Good Life - another blog with a bit of variety and travel and urban adventures thrown in.

    Dancing with Frogs -  if you have a Thermomix, which we are fortunate enough to and use several times a day, you may find this blog useful.

    The Greening of Gavin - a pleasant journey into the very depths of backyard sustainability! Walking the talk.

    Suburban Digs - the adventures of Michael & Mel.

    Bees Hive -  I too, like Georgia aspire to keep bees when we move to our new house block, so in the meantime this is a great resource as we learn more about the world of bees.

    And last of all the Sustainable, Simple, Slow Living Blog at Sustainable Suburbia.  Very much a short cut to the whole process where Kirsten has set up a Linky List of Sustainable bloggers. Though unfortunately it does not have recent activity on the blog you can still use the fantastic resource to find other great sites to inspire you. Click here for the list.

    Petit ParadisOver Abundance

    One of the concepts or aspirations I have in mind for the new garden project is to fully design it for creating an over abundance of produce. Not just food, but also materials and benefits.

    I have come to thinking that this is going to be a necessary part of the gardens output and so have been thinking over how to best achieve this. The block is sloping sand that faces slightly off from north. There is ample sunlight and good drainage. I just need to build the surface soil and get the soil life flourishing. Rather than container gardens as we have here I am looking at planting out with areas of container gardens around the houses themselves, along with supplementary aquaponic systems here and there. For the main garden my current leaning is towards a couple of swales across the block to make the most of the slope, the sunlight and the water opportunities while also giving the fruit trees a good foundation for getting established and utilising the wood that we have from the tree felling and clearing.

    In contrast to Petit Paradis, the new garden will actually be required to produce volumes of produce to feed the family, whereas here we are supplementing our food costs with garden produce and using garden space to also build up seed volumes and varieties in anticipation for the move.

    I have also been keeping a watchful eye on what grows well and what produces. I have culled a few plants over the last few years simply because of their inability to produce or to produce well, or because they were just struggling and not really able to take off - and I didn't have the time or inclination to nurture them, so got rid of them to replace them with something that was working.

    Over the years I have propagated bamboo so that eventually I can have an area set out to plant it so that I can utilise the canes for stakes in the garden. I also hope to use some extra seed produced in the garden for green manure crops and have managed to build up a few extra tamarilo plants and have extra babaco plants in the making along with a few carefully chosen and purchased fruit trees. I fully intend on creating pockets of food forests interspersed with blocks of vegetable gardening, fruit trees, compost bins, chicken spaces and eventually a bee hive or two.

    In designing the new garden so that the needs of the system are satisfied from within the system I am aiming for an over abundance of produce so that we can also trade some produce, feed some of it back into the system to create a stronger, more resilient system and also, not have to have so many gaps in our harvesting (either in volume or availability) as I have had here due to time and space.

    Over the next few months I imagine my ideas of thinking will change as I set to study more intensely some of the permaculture concepts that I look to apply - or to look over those I am unfamiliar with in an effort to see what might best apply to the site and produce the results I am looking for - an over abundance.

    Petit ParadisMy Ongoing List of Plants for the New Garden

    This list is for me to add to over time as I collect or think of plants to add to the New Garden  
    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
    Cavendish Banana
    Passionfruit -
    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 -
    Apple -
    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

    Pioneer Plants
    Tagetes marigolds

    Salad Burnet
    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
    Bronze Fennel

    Petit ParadisAspects of Petit Paradis

    The garden is such a wonderland of surprises at the moment. There are tomatoes hiding deep in bushes along with pumpkins that were self sown and have fruit forming. The corn is doing well given it was sown early and then planted out just as we copped another few weeks of cold, wet weather. With any luck I will have managed to get three crops in this season, all staggered, providing we get the usual decent autumn weather that we usually get.

    With the recent feeding up of snails, the Koi and goldfish have put on some good growth and are looking super healthy.

    After the removal of our previous passionfruit we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Banana Passionfruit.

    I have however, made a huge job for myself. I have been going through my seed collection and having a good cull of seeds. There are many that have been saved over the years that I do not have any records for and so it is a bit hit and miss with what will grow from them. Given that I have limited space in the garden I have put some seed aside to use for green manure. Others I am sowing out into pots to see what really germinates. If nothing comes of them, so be it. Otherwise I will plant our strong seedlings in the back garden bed when that is ready to utilise - at the moment I am waiting for some plants to finish setting seed, then I'll put in a new crop.

    Other seeds I have grown from as little as five seeds and am gradually building up my numbers so that when we move there will be a good quantity of quality seed to sow a decent few rows of particular vegetables. For example I am building up numbers of bush beans and climbing beans, peas and zucchini. I have a small crop of popping corn on the go as a bit of a project for my son and to hopefully keep us in popcorn for another year or two.

    In previous years I have grown several types of tomatoes along with several that have self sown in the garden from our composting - either from the shops or the Farmers' Market. This has given me a good variety that seem to do well in our location and climate. This year I also have a few heirloom varieties such as Periforme, so I am trialling these to see how they go.

    Red Aztec Corn with its wig!

    July 13, 2014

    Petit ParadisGreen & Gold

    The wattles at the back fence are in full bloom now. We are treated to the green and gold pageantry of a southern Australian winter. On sunny winter days I am delighted to hear the hum of bees steadily working the pom-pom flowers of the wattle trees.

    The soil here is building into a deep, rich, black earth. It has taken some time. Years in fact. With what I have learnt here I aim to build the soil for the New Garden much, much faster.

    A compost pile lies almost forgotten in the back garden bed. Shaded now in mid-winter by the ever climbing wattles as they begin to block out the precious sunlight. I am hoping that in summer they will be an advantage as the sun will be a bit higher in the sky. We shall see. The bacteria and fungi and subterranean miracle workers do their magic under the black plastic sheltering the composting mass. 

    Of our new chickens, the roosters revealed themselves today. At about 6am.

    Two of them are no longer with us at the close of day. I'm not happy about it, but it's a responsibility I took on when I accepted the eggs for hatching under Clarice, our Orpington Cross Bantam. Of those that are hens we will hopefully start to see eggs from them soon given that they hatched in March.

    I find myself overtired after work and then coming home and looking after family matters. As I fall into bed I have started to find a great comfort in dreaming of the New Garden and of how I will plant out the garden here for spring and summer. I lose myself in thinking of trees growing and bearing fruit. I realise that I am constantly thinking of my own newer version of the garden here. A Petit Paradis that is relocated, but which is growing in form in the mind as I fall into a slumber.

    Petit ParadisRejuvenation

    There is change in the air here.

    With the progression of our plans to build and renovate I have decided to at least capture the journey towards our new destination as well as the journey out of our current situation. Our house here has evolved over the last four or so years and the garden has changed from season to season.

    This year I plan more changes now that our first son will be nearly three and is able to do so much more in the garden. It is also a period of transition for us as I start to propagate plants for the eventual set-up of the new garden.

    The theme is very much one of a transition into abundance, hence I have changed the sub-title of the blog to reflect this. It is a new chapter with a new destination. Still along the lines of what we have done here, but leading more into my original plans and ideas and incorporating what I have learnt along the way and concepts and strategies for how I want to live in the future.

    I am excited about the journey and delighted that the destination will keep evolving, allowing the journey to continue along its progressive path.

    More soon.

    July 06, 2014

    Fair HarvestKikuyu management and poultry

    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 […]

    The post Kikuyu management and poultry appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

    July 03, 2014

    HumusBeingsOrganic pest control outline for Living Smarties Melville.

    ­­Organic pest control talk.

    How to reduce pest problems?

    Stop using any chemical pesticides and herbicides

    Choose appropriate plants
    Plant early and/or late varieties
    Grow lots of flowers
    Crop rotation
    Improving the soil
    Garden hygiene
    Avoid monoculture

    Biodiversity increases predators and Plant diversity allows some plants to survive when others get diseased or eaten. 



    Why not to use chemicals in the garden and how to encourage biodiversity and use cultural practices instead to reduce pests naturally.
    Beneficial insects and what they do and how to deal with pests in a non or low toxic manner.

    WHAT'S A PEST? (My definition): An insect or other animal becomes a pest when it causes economical damage. This may be due to there not being enough diversity in the surrounding ecosystem to support the predators, which keep the pests in check.

    Encouraging diversity in your garden is the best way to control pests.

    How to reduce pest problems?

    Generally the worst problems will occur in new or neglected gardens or those with a history of chemical abuse.  It can take 3 years for balance to occur as it takes  awhile for predator populations to increase.

    Stop using any chemical pesticides and herbicides. They kill far more than the target species; even the 'safer' ones can be dodgy.
    Chemicals can kill non-target species of beneficial insects as they are extremely sensitive to any chemical use at all.
    Resistance: Insects can become resistant to certain pesticides, making the surviving ones harder to kill may be hereditary resistanceto common toxic sprays.
    exposed eggs of an insect can show signs of resistance as an adult.
    Soil organisms are sometimes affected by biocides.

    Choose appropriate plants for your climate, time of year and soil type.  Certain varieties will be more locally adapted than others, if they've been grown there before.  Look around at other gardens to see what does well and isn't being bothered by pests. 
    There may be disease resistant strains of the plant you like.

    Plant early and/or late varieties: works to avoid pests such as Med fruit fly. You might just miss the time when the pests want to bother that crop.

    Grow lots of flowers: Asteraceae family (daisies) and the Apiaceae family (dill, fennel, carrots, Queen Anne's lace, yarrow, angelica, coriander, parsley). Salvias and gone to seed veg and herbs are great too

    Crop rotation stops a host plant being in the same place when eggs hatch the next year from adults that fed on the last seasons crop.  There can be problems associated with nematodes or other soil diseases when crop rotation doesn't occur.

    Improving the soil and feeding plants well will grow healthier, stronger and more pest resistant plants.  Overuse of nitrogen fertilizers makes sappy new growth. Kelp seems to increase leaf strength.

    Garden hygiene: some weeds harbour pests. Chickens can dig over the soil.

    Avoid monoculture...Plant similar things or groups of things around the garden not altogether or in rows that a pest can easily follow and decimate or if some get diseased they won't all pass it on to each other.

    Which leads to BIODIVERSITY..

    Biodiversity increases predators and Plant diversity allows some plants to survive when others get diseased or eaten. 
    Balance is easier to attain in a diverse environment.           
    wildlife needs food, water and shelter. Providing places for fauna to shelter is a great way to improve diversity in your garden.

    Increasing biodiversity is key.
    PLANT LOCAL SPECIES: more appropriate for the soil type and climate and will provide food for local birds and insects. Prickly shrubs and grasses are important for birds.
    Planting local species can help as this feeds local insects and small fauna such as beneficial insects, skinks, spiders, parasitic wasps.
    Structural diversity is important too for birds to be at diff heights. Different levels of vegetation so that small birds can hide. Posts and sticks in the air give birds a place to rest before they hop into a bush or birdbath.

    FOOD: Provide food: long flowering shrubs and herbs
    It is generally the young of beneficials that do the pest control. It is important to have flowers at all times of year so nectar is always available. 
    Herbs, daisies family and parsley family are great, gone to seed veges and salvias, mint etc.
    Attracting birds by planting shrubs they can use will control pests then poop, redistributing nutrients around the garden. Never feed birds seed,
    Leave some pests as food for the birds in your garden.

    Mulching the soil gives invertebrates a place to shelter and gives small lizards and frogs something to eat.

    WATER: Provide water: birdbaths, kept clean and full with sticks to escape on, lizard and bee bars  - shallow trays with water and pebbles so they can't drown. Ponds Many birds and insects use ponds in  summer. Birdbaths are also frequented by bees, wasps and other flying things.

    SHELTER: Prickly shrubs for birds, piles of wood and or rocks for lizards, spiders etc. Leave wild areas for small fauna, eg gabion walls are great. Ideally these areas should never be disturbed.

    Observation is important in all stages of pest control, to make sure you won't kill more than just the pest.  Use a magnifying glass to aid identification

    Most pests have a particular time of year when they will be at their worst. Spring is ideal for cabbage white and aphids. Some will overwinter in weeds waiting for conditions to be right. By spending time looking at your plants you can catch pests before they get too bad. This can help decide what needs doing, if anything..

    June 19, 2014

    HumusBeingsIt’s good to share, but beware. Plants and personal responsibility.

    This article will also appear in the PermacultureWest enews.

    Its good to share, but beware. Plants and personal responsibility.

    Plants are amazing things. They can fix most of the worlds problems if used correctly and are the source of a huge amount of what we need in our daily lives.
    As permaculture folk we want to fix degraded land and create complex ecosystems and we do this with plants as they can do it quickly. Unfortunately their speed of growth can sometimes also be a negative thing. Thousands of dollars and volunteer hours go towards removing escaped vegetation; lots of poison, too.
    Plant selection and use is a complex and controversial subject and is a reason why permaculture has sometimes been denigrated . Having studied and worked in both environmental restoration and permaculture I have some conflicted ideas about plants out of place aka exotics aka weeds. Some plants are brilliant, having multiple uses but some are just so good at propagating themselves they become rampant and have been banned from growing in certain areas, despite how useful they might be.
    Personal responsibility is a strong ethos of permaculture, so I am going to outline my concerns with the trend of sharing seeds without clearly considering the consequences.

    Novel ecosystems
    The term novel ecosystems (Hobbs, 2006) encompasses the many habitats on earth that have been altered in some way. Most habitats have been changed by the inclusion or removal of species, on purpose or accidentally; we can never go back to having pristine landscapes of purely indigenous species. Naturalised plants, that is introduced species which need no help to survive in a new place, have varying degrees of influence on bushland ecosystems, areas that are important repositories for endemic species including invertebrate populations. Earth care would have us protect remaining pre-settlement areas for health and wellbeing reasons.
    Through clever design we can integrate a lot more food plants and other useful species into our environment but we need to be careful not to accidentally reduce biodiversity by letting many species be overgrown by one rampant one.

    Using naturalised plants
    There are many reasons to use existing weedy or naturalised species in an area; biomass production, shelter and insect habitats for instance. When trying to improve degraded sites the idea may be entertained that any plant that will grow in a place  should be encouraged. If a site is degraded it needs any plant to grow there to protect and improve the soil. However some newly introduced plants can settle into an area too quickly, becoming costly to remove if they turn out to be a bit more voracious than one had hoped or expected.
    Ideally, before planting, the permie designer would look around and see what is already nearby to fulfil their needs for vegetation before introducing new species to an area. if a plant is a declared or environmental weed in another place it is worth researching to make sure the same thing wont happen on your site.  There are always plenty of choices for all but the most marginal of conditions.

    While I agree with Holmgren in his Weeds or Wild Nature essay that there has been demonisation of certain species, we should be careful not to dismiss the fact that some plants do escape into otherwise healthy bushland, changing the ecosystem structure.  Many naturalised species are not encroaching any further than they have done since they settled in however I would suggest that there are some species recommended in permaculture readings that reproduce a bit too successfully where we are and as with all things, the better educated we are before we start, the less costly mistakes will be made.

    Why are some plants more problematic than others

    This depends on the plants life cycle, method of propagation and their self defence mechanisms.

    Self-seeding is good, sometimes.
    Part of a good permaculture garden involves finding some edibles that will self seed. For some plants this is fine, we water and look after the soil so it is good enough to support self sowing vegetables. Lettuces, rocket, parsley, and a range of other vegetables are a fantastic set of foodstuffs to happen on their own. Other plants self sowing isnt so beneficial for suburban gardens, though. This is due to their size, rate of reproduction or some other behaviour.  An example would be some extremely useful trees, Albizia lophantha and Acacia saligna. Both species kept coming up each year for a number of years in our garden and we would let them grow where they wanted. But only ever one at a time would come up and they are short lived and easy to prune. We knew we could manage them. Of course, in South Africa the Acacia saligna has become a big problem, changing ecosystem structure and fire regimes in the fynbos.  It grows better there than it does here.

    Weediness potential depends how the plant produces seeds.
    Some plants will behave within their natural range and be controlled by natural seed or leaf eaters however outside of that, where soil or rainfall are more favourable, and no biological controls exist, there is the chance of over population.

    There are a variety of ways that a plant can produce seeds that can escape.

    Windblown- plants in the daisy family make thousands and thousands of seeds, which then blow away on the lightest breeze. This includes lettuces and globe artichoke, closely related to prickly thistles.
    Pods - some seed pods can throw seeds many metres away from the parent plant, or make hundreds of seed per tree. Leucaena, Im looking at you.
    Suckers - may be prickly and hard to remove, Robinia, a nitrogen-fixing deciduous shade tree is renowned for this.
    Prickly and spines: Blackberries, cactus. Ouch. They can be spread by animals eating them and dropping the seeds or they may have seeds that attach to an animals fur, and spread that way.
    Berries and fruit - birds carry seeds away and drop them off with a little free fertiliser. Olives easily spread into bushland this way. Blackberries - spread by seed and by sucker and are really prickly as well. Triple threat.
    Bulbs: some can reproduce two ways, ie gladiolus makes bulbs and seeds.
    Plants that creep and climb: kudzu, really useful, really buries houses.

    Be aware of what seeds you are sharing.
    I am not saying no weedy plants should be used in permaculture systems because any plant can be a weed if it is in the wrong place and we love weeds. What I am stating here is that there are a FEW really bad plants in terms of how readily they spread. I think we need to consider these plants and be aware of what we are sharing. If you are handing over seeds be honest about how hard that plant might be to keep under control; if they are in a different part of Australia definitely check that the plant isnt a weed.

    It is too easy for people to swap plant propagules and there isn't always a description or warning of any sort whether the plant has potential issues. Indeed, the plant may behave totally differently in the two places, especially if the rainfall or soil is better in the new place.  Some plants can outcompete all others, reducing your carefully designed food forest.

    WHAT can we do as responsible gardeners?
    Be aware of who you are sharing seeds with. Do they live near bushland? Is there a less invasive plant they could be using instead. I am very unlikely to pass on seeds of a plant I know can make hundreds of seeds.
    Also, be careful at swap meets, as sometimes people can be selling plants that are potential weeds and they may not even know.

    There are still thousands of species and plenty of responsible food growers out there.   Just have a little think before you give seeds away to that thing youve been battling to control in your own garden, eh. 


    Holmgren, D. 2013.

    UCDavis IPM:

    June 13, 2014

    Freo PermiesJuly Permablitz – Sat 12th July

    Sparkles Permablitz - the SUPER revolution  Come and create and incredible edible super delicious, super conscious, medicinal superfood forest and biodynamic system in Sparkles backyard. Sparkles Place – Aham Vritti Herbal 22 Snook Crescent Hilton, Western Australia 6163 Sparkles 0406 449 369   Book your spot now!!!

    June 04, 2014

    Fair HarvestEarly winter in the Fair Harvest Garden

    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, […]

    The post Early winter in the Fair Harvest Garden appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

    May 22, 2014

    Terra Perma DesignEdible Weed Workshop - Choice of two dates

    Thinks have been a little hectic in Terra Perma with Tash and Tod getting ready to move to Tassie and a bunch of council workshops and every day life fun.
    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 -
    Cost: $60 (includes a $10 booklet with colour slides) or Couples $100 if sharing booklet.
    Venue: Innaloo

    May 14, 2014

    Freo PermiesJune Permablitz 2014

      Facebook Event: Details: Our newest permablitz is at George’s home in Mosman Park on Saturday 14th June 2014. Work starts at 9am, but come at 8.30 for a cuppa if you like. Address: Please park further up the hill where the road is wider. Please don’t park on my neighbours’ lawns. Entry via...

    May 07, 2014

    HumusBeingsFire Site Design article

    I wrote an article for the permaculturewest enews recently about how to improve the safety of a home on a rural site by thoughtful placement of where to place the home and infrastructure so it is less prone to fire incursion.
    Here is the link to it.. Property fire safety design

    May 06, 2014

    HumusBeingsSlug and snail control- the easy hands-on method.

    The designated slug collecting spoon.

    Snails and slugs can easily build up in winter where there is lot of vegetation, mulch and manures lying around. They congregate beneath pots and pavers or rock edges. When the first rains come suddenly the snails are out, marauding and chomping the little seedlings we waited so long to plant after the heat of summer.

    Lots of different remedies are suggested by organic gardeners and I have tried many but really, the best way to get rid of them is to collect them. I don't squash them. I scoop them up and drop them into a small container of water with a few drops of washing detergent in it. This breaks the surface tension and the snail or slug drops straight to the bottom. I have a special, easily identified teaspoon that is used to scoop slugs up, too. Oh and a headlamp is handy, too so you can collect the slimy little beasts with two hands.

    A few nights of obsessive snail collecting can make a huge difference to the numbers of hungry mouths out there, including the people who get to eat the vegies that the snails would have eaten!

    May 03, 2014

    Terra Perma DesignTerra Perma has been awarded two of the latest round of City of Stirling Green Workshops

    Autumn Practical Gardening Workshops 2014
    Presented by the City of Stirling, Beyond Gardens, Terra Perma, SERCUL and the Water Corporation
    Registrations are now open for the Autumn series of gardening workshops. All workshops, except the Gardening 101 Seminar, are hands on practical workshops some come and get your hands dirty!

    Sun  -18 May -11.00am – 1.30pm
    Free Plants! The Basics of Propagating and Seed Saving with John Colwill
    Crossroads Community Garden

    Sat  31 May 10.00am – 12.30pm
    Creating a Native Habitat Garden with SERCUL
    Westminster Community Garden

    Thurs 5 June 6.00pm – 9.00pm
    Gardening 101 Seminar with the Beyond Gardens Team – Win a Free Verge Makeover!
    Tuart Hill Community Centre

    Sat 7 June 10.00am – 12.30pm
    What’s Eating My Food Garden? with Peter Coppin
    Joondanna Community Garden

    Sun 8 June 9.00am – 12.30pm
    Waterwise Verge Garden Design with Beyond Gardens
    Joondanna Community Garden

    Sat 14 June10.00am – 12.30pm
    Self Watering Garden Beds with Charles Otway
    Westminster Community Garden

    Sat 28 June 10.00am – 12.30pm
    Creating a No Dig Garden with Charles Otway
    Westminster Community Garden

    TBC June Waterwise Verge Makeover Workshops (x4) with Beyond Gardens
    All events are FREE for City of Stirling residents – Registrations are essential!

    For more information and to register please visit

    Look forward to seeing you at the upcoming workshops.


    Julia Christensen

    April 23, 2014

    Fair HarvestPomegranate wine

    Our beautiful little Pomegranate tree was abundant this year and we were eating as many as we could but the birds had discovered them ( yes one of those trees we planted outside the bird net because we thought they’d be ok) and when we saw a friend was trying Pomegranate wine we thought we’d give […]

    The post Pomegranate wine appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

    Fair HarvestInternational Permaculture Day at Fair Harvest May 4th

      International Permaculture Day 2014 will be celebrated around the world with open gardens, seed swap events, tours and talks. “National Permaculture Day is a chance to share thoughts, visions and lots of common sense ways that we can all make a positive difference to the world we live in.Its all about combining age old […]

    The post International Permaculture Day at Fair Harvest May 4th appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

    April 20, 2014

    Fair HarvestPermaculture in action at Swap Shuffle Share

    Our Monthly Swap Shuffle Share is my sort of Permaculture in action. If we really look at the ethics of Permaculture “Care for the Earth’, “Care for the People” and “Fair Share” then there is nothing that does it better than getting together with local growers and community members to share excess produce.   In […]

    The post Permaculture in action at Swap Shuffle Share appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

    April 10, 2014

    Terra Perma DesignPermaculture Design - Site Design Process and Checklists to Help

    We have two new items on the resources page to help out those of you that are trying to get into permaculture design. With the emphasis on design here is our summary of the design process and a checklist to help you get all the relevant info. Everyone designs differently, but for those just starting out I hope this helps you find your own style.
    Terra Perma's - Permaculture Design Process Summary
    Terra Perma's - Site Design and Client Interview Checklist

    April 06, 2014

    Freo PermiesInternational Permie Day 2014

    It’s on again on this Sunday May 4th 2014, and just like last year it will be held at the South Fremantle High School. Freo Permies are planning some great activities right now so do get in touch if you’d like to help, teach or organise. Look here for the latest information!      ...

    April 01, 2014

    Fair HarvestFlinders Bay

    Even living on the most beautiful permaculture dream farm calls for a holiday sometimes. Dealing with amazing people every day, managing beautiful old buildings, productive gardens, interesting emails and a never ending list of small, boring, necessary jobs can lead to cranky girls. I think we’d reached the point that the farm was as happy […]

    The post Flinders Bay appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

    March 26, 2014

    Freo PermiesBlitz on in Coolbellup Saturday 8.30am 12 April 2014

    The next Blitz is on Saturday 12th April at Jodie’s place in Coolbellup. Come to learn about a banana circle and wicking beds. Lunch will be provided. Please register (no cost) so we can work out how many people are going to come. They are great fun. More information can be found at the eventbrite...

    March 23, 2014


    The soil is dry .. dry.. all the way down. Several drops of rain fell last night. A tease.

    This is the time of year I always feel so disheartened by how the garden looks, but it is a good time to see what survived. We have been plagued by pests of all kinds this past summer as well as spending a lot of extra time tending our old dog instead of tending the garden. Time to get some soil building going on again.

    There have been quite a few baby frogs this year though and quite a few tadpoles we gave away have become frogs in their new homes.

    March 18, 2014

    Fair HarvestRunner up RIRDC Rural Women’s Award 2014

    RIRDC Rural Women’s Award 2014 (Runner up)  For the second year in a row I nominated a project for the RIRDC Rural Women’s Award, an award that focuses on women in rural industries and communities,. Last year I was selected as a finalist (based on a project for running workshops for rural women) and was […]

    The post Runner up RIRDC Rural Women’s Award 2014 appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

    March 09, 2014

    HumusBeingsSad times. RIP Gruntle Bucket.

    Gruntle Bucket 1999-2014
    We were recently devastated to have to put our old boy Gruntle to sleep. He'd had a long life and we did all we could to keep him happy and well to his very last hours. We had him from a puppy and was the son of my previous dog, Rusty Bucket. Gruntle never ate any dog food from a can and was pretty much a raw bones and human leftovers fed animal witha few good quality dog biscuits here n there. When he was younger we would make a blended mash of raw vegies with maybe some canned sardines and/or yoghurt and/or an egg and/or crushed up liver treats.  He must have eaten a mountain of frozen chicken necks, frames and wings in his lifetime and plenty of raw meaty beefbones until we realised that as those big beef bones dry that dogs can actually wear their teeth down a bit on them. We would clean those bones up quickly so they didn't get too dry and overchewed. 
    I personally spent more time with him than I have any other beastie, human or otherwise, so it is quite a loss and our house feels weird without him.

    Whilst not strictly a permaculture post I would just like to mention a few things that I think dogs are good for in gardens.

    -Fur provides bird nesting material, holds soil together and provides nitrogen as it breaks down. 

    -Food scraps can be eaten by dogs as part of their feed to reduce the need to buy food for them. Human food in most instances will be better for them than any dog food out of  can. Gruntle ate all kinds of fruit, too so he was good for eating slightly over ripe fruits. 

    -Protection from cats for the many frogs that live here. The smell of a dog reduces incursion by the neighbours pesky cats and possibly also helps keep rats at bay a little. As Gruntle got older and ranged around the yard less,  we noticed there were more rats in the garden.

    The garden had become a series of small barricades so he could walk around so it is a relief to finally be able to rearrange certain areas of the garden which had become static so the blind old dog could get around without falling over things. It is good to be able to walk around the garden without stepping over things and not having to help the old boy up. I miss him and I will forever but I was glad I got to hang out with him for 14 and a half years. Thanks, Gruntle. You were beautiful.

    March 07, 2014

    Terra Perma DesignOne Spot Now Available For March PDC

    Hi Folks,
    Just a quick one, we now have a free spot as one of the PDC team picked up a new job (good luck Ellie !). Its late notice I realise, late for all of us, but when you get a job you have been waiting for I can understand postponing your PDC :)
    Anyway if you or friends were interested, there is 1 vacancy again.
    Charles Otway

    February 27, 2014

    Terra Perma DesignMARCH PDC FULL

    Thanks to great support again for our PDC's, we are full at a team of 14. We have gone for lower numbers this time to make group work and logistics a little easier to manage.  We have not locked it in yet but the next PDC will most likely be in Spring 2014.

    February 26, 2014

    Fair HarvestJan 2014 PDC update and Pics

     A few pics from our January PDC Our January Permaculture Design Certificate was a huge 2 week event, with 24 students, 9 teachers, guest speakers, field trips and design projects we were all kept busy. It’s hard to describe a 2 week course in a few words but here’s a few quotes…. “I have never […]

    The post Jan 2014 PDC update and Pics appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

    February 25, 2014

    Fair HarvestClaire’s Moved to Fair Harvest

    Claire Coleman arrived at our farm in 1995, she was our first wwoofer and we were her first wwoof hosts………her dynamic gardening energy was amazing then, a passionate allotment gardener from London who knew so much about making small spaces productive, she was also a whizz on European trees species and was here in Australia […]

    The post Claire’s Moved to Fair Harvest appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

    February 21, 2014

    HumusBeingsWelcome to the new year.

    Yeah, yeah, a bit late, I know. I blame summer. This summer has seemed fierce. No moisture in the air, not even enough cloud for people to get  grumpy about how muggy it is.. just the heat and the feeble see breeze on some evenings, that only us lucky Freo folk get coz I reckon it must peter out by the bottom of the next dune.

    The garden is just hanging in, we probably water too often but the garden is our haven and we don't need much more than a happy garden. Dripper line has given us 20 odd minutes reprieve each morning from having to hand water and the "potted orchard" is all still looking pretty happy.
    The pests have changed since putting the drip line in. Slaters are much reduced, possibly also because we have changed our mulch this year. Mites seemed to enjoy the dry out there, though. They like dry situations so, with the lack of spray, they had attacked a lot of plants. Too much shade from the much-too-large powton didn't help, nor did us not being very good at feeding things. Summer is a hard time to do anything out there, really.

    If we ate rats and tomato borer grubs we would have had a good summer's feast, sadly it was mostly herbs and the odd dragon fruit, along with three pumpkins which grew themselves. Basil always does well here and that New Zealand spinach stuff that no one actually eats.

    In a moment of autumn hope two weeks ago vegetable and herbs seeds were sown across the Perth suburbs as a cloud drifted across the sky and made us think it would rain soon! It'll be interesting to see how long into March this late summer persists. I'll be glad not to need to water so much though, whenever that is. Maybe when it goes down to only a maximum of 32C, maybe then I can plant those seedlings.

    February 04, 2014

    Fair HarvestHannah’s Locavore blog (2) including some recipes

    Hannah’s Locavore blog (2) including some recipes I would love to thank everyone for the amazing response to my first blog entry. I was incredibly surprised how interested and eager people are to share our locavore story. The first few months of opening on Thursdays have been filled with learning, experimentation and fun! We are […]

    The post Hannah’s Locavore blog (2) including some recipes appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

    January 23, 2014

    Terra Perma DesignTerra Perma Workshops for Early 2014

    Just in case you were wondering our PDC starting 12th March is filling up but with lots of people yet to get their deposits we still spots. Due to popular demand we are offering a few Pre-PDC workshops.

    Full details of what is in the workshops can be found here.

    Wood Fired Pizza Oven Basics
    Book Here
    Date:  Monday 27th January, Time: 2-4pm.
    Cost: $50 p/p or $90 couple
    Venue: Hamersley

    DIY Backyard Ponds - For Veggies and Native Habitat
    Book Here
    Date: Saturday Feb 8th
    Time: 10am-12.
    Cost: $50 p/p or $90 couple
    Venue: Innaloo workshop with Charles

    How to Build Wicking Beds  and Container Gardens
    Book Here
    Date: Saturday Feb 8th
    Time: 2-4pm.
    Cost: $50 p/p or $90 couple
    Venue: Innaloo workshop with Charles

    Recycle your Scraps - Composters, Wormfarms, Chooks, Bokaashi
    Date: 22nd February
    Time: 10am -12
    Cost: $50 p/p or $90 couple
    Venue: Innaloo workshop with Charles

    DIY Garden Retic And Watering
    Date: 22nd February
    Time: 2pm - 4pm
    Cost: $50 p/p or $90 couple
    Venue: Innaloo workshop with Charles

    January 20, 2014

    Fair HarvestFeeding the PDC

    Here we are in the middle of our Permaculture Design Certificate and I’m excited about what people are eating. Feeding 30 people (students, wwoofers and teachers) a day is a big ask, but feeding them local, fresh, organic is pure joy. Do has been working hard in the garden for months now, planting so that […]

    The post Feeding the PDC appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

    January 10, 2014

    Fair HarvestSummer on the farm

    Summer on the farm (and a reminder that we are fully booked from Jan 12 – 26) It feels like I haven’t written an update for a long time, but it certainly isn’t through a lack of things happening here on the farm.  Fair Harvest has been a hive of activity, our Thursday open day […]

    The post Summer on the farm appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

    December 18, 2013

    Terra Perma DesignEdible Weeds Segment on TV

    Charles was invited in to the Couch to do a segment on Edible Weeds with Cara. Have a look at the section on Youtube -  and perhaps you will be encouraged to do further reading in our Edible Weeds booklet
    There is loads of purslane growing in mid summer blazing sun to be eaten, many people spend hours pulling it out in Summer. Two tips. Eat the purslane !!, and mulch the surface of your soil rather than cultivating out the weeds and exposing more soil and previous years weed seeds.


    Community Blogs is a collection of the most recent blog posts from Perth and WA based permies. The content here is unfiltered and uncensored, and represents the views of individual community members, not Permaculture West. Individual posts are owned by their authors -- see the original source for licensing information.


    Want your blog featured here too? Then contact us.



    Powered by Planet