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May 24, 2016

Freo PermiesMay 2016 Blitz at Matt & Dannas

PermaBlitz with the following projects depending on numbers: IBC wicking beds; IBC composter; pond; winter bed prep; pruning and relocating trees. Please book a free eventbrite ticket here to secure your place and meal as numbers are limited. project details and instructions here: IBC Composter Instructions IBC Wicking Bed Construction Tree Transplant Project Patio...

April 28, 2016

Freo PermiesApril Meeting Minutes

On Wednesday night the members met at Dan’s place to discuss the coming workshops, blitzes and activities. Attendees were Dan, Jodie, Renay, Fiona, Jakki, May Ring, Annika, Ruth and new member Adee. Apologies from Elizabeth(it was her birthday and she was having a family dinner), Aidan and George. Renay told us how lovely her intro...

April 25, 2016

HumusBeingsTwo greyhounds = less lawn.

Summer is over.. I can crawl back outside and be in the garden without feeling ill from overheating! Hooray.

Leucaena seeds gathered by rain.
I have been pruning things to let more sun in, gathering awkward greenwste for the quarterly collection, an excuse to remove a large but ugly Acacia saligna from the front yard. But now I have to  try and fill the gap, see the wonky fence pic below.

Trying to hide the road.
 A bit of fruit has managed to happen in the garden and some useful herbs, such as basil and mint survived summer.

Tiny happy mandarine shrub.
We also adopted a second greyhound after fostering her for a month or so. Which means I am trying to move the garden edges out further to allow the dogs room to run around and just for a change of space when looking out the window.

Spot the houndie.
 Ziggy loves a good dig in a sand pit.  Ziggy the digging greyhound

Prostrate rosemary.
While many of the pests have gone since the removal of the honey locust and powton trees the rodents are still around. We found a couple of dead ones when we came home from a trip away. I have also tried to remove many of their hidy holes in the garden, but they still get in our roof.

Rodents have eaten the kale.
There is lots more room without the two trees. They made wonderful summer shade but were sucking the useful garden area dry and casting too much shade. The honey locust has been suckering a lot though, so we had to use judicious amounts of glyphosate for spot treatment. It will be an ongoing effort, but that's why we did it now, rather than if we ever get kicked out of here.

Ziggy the greyhound. 
In some cases we have finally started to plant some of the potted plants into the ground. They won't be happy in pots anyway, so we may as well plant them and see what happens.
Moringa planted in the ground. Will it make it?
It's been handy having tough plants and only a few plants to keep alive over summer. The most useful have made it through.

It'd be good if it rained some more, though...

April 05, 2016

Freo PermiesMarch meeting/AGM Minutes

Present: Matt, Jodie, George, Dan, Fiona, Robert, May-Ring, Jakki, Elizabeth, Aidan and a couple of new members that we were happy to meet and welcome to the group, Amy and Benam. The new board members were allocated and are as follows: Convenor- Jodie Social Secretary- Jodie/Fiona Blitz Co-ordinator- Dan IT Wizz- George Treasurer- Ruth Secretary-...

March 21, 2016

Freo PermiesMarch Monthly Meeting / AGM

Well its that time of month again… Bring on the Freo Permies Meeting, where a bunch of like minded people get together and run riot with conversations about things we love! This meeting will be our AGM. Lots of discussions around upcoming permablitz’s and workshops such as brewing, cheesemaking, fruit wine, spoon carving, weaving, mushroom...

February 03, 2016

Fair HarvestJanuary Permaculture Design Certificate 2016

Congratulations to another group of Permaculture Design Certificate holders, it was a fabulous 2 weeks of living and learning together with an amazing group of diverse and interesting people. Each year our course changes due to the availability of teachers and the specifics of the design project that we have to work on.  Still what is always most memorable is […]

The post January Permaculture Design Certificate 2016 appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

January 29, 2016

Petit ParadisThe G-Pigs

The G-pigs are doing well at the moment and making their way through the grape vine that is gradually being trimmed back. The leaves have started to dry out already. Some months ahead of their normal pattern. No fruit on them at all this year after a heavy fruiting season last year. Amazing.

January 25, 2016

Petit ParadisJanuary Pumpkins & Celebrations

Our January garden was looking lush until a more recent few days of heat followed by a couple of days of rains. Really out of character for January, but not altogether surprising either.

I've just harvested pumpkins, with a few more to go. These have been great as they have largely taken care of themselves and have not needed much time or effort. As in previous years, some of the best performers were self-sown from the compost and no doubt with local Farmer's Market origions.

Fruit salad platter for summer.

This part of the garden is looking quite different now. It is now drying out and the bananas are taking off!

January 19, 2016

Petit ParadisPitaya Flowering Again

Our Dragon Fruit is budding again as it did about this time last year. I have been watching and waiting and despite my regular observations it was my wife who spotted the actual buds and brought them to my attention. A couple of days at work can make a difference.

So this year we will be around to nurture it through and hopefully have some pitaya fruit to show for it at the end. We were not around much when it started to fill its fruit last year and they were eventually shed from the plant under stress.

It is such an amazing process to watch as it unfolds and each day they are a little different. Last year the plant had about five flowers. This year it looks like there are nine. That is what I've counted thus far.

January 11, 2016

HumusBeingsMy home made dog food.

Yeah, nothing to do with gardening, but lately our garden has been changing due to our having adopted a greyhound just over a year ago. There are more spaces being made for the long legged dog to run around in. We have started fostering greys too, one sweet girl at a time. (Update, we are keeping one of them).

To make one large pot of dog food, about 8 take away containers full.

- 1 cup of white rice
- half a cup of pearl barley
- half a cup of orange lentils

- about 1000 ml water

- 200 -250 grams each of carrots (2-3 carrots)
- potato (roughly 1 large or 2 smaller ones)
- sweet potato (a decent chunk)
- pumpkin
- or some combo of the above four veg, diced fairly small

- a sprinkle of curry powder and/or herbs to make it smell better
turmeric and black pepper just in case it really is good for them, parsley if you have it
- 300-500 grams of mince or pre pulped dog mince (ie mince for dogs).

Let the rice and vegies cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally so the rice doesn't stick.
When you are fairly sure the rice is cooked, add the mince and stir it through.
Cook for another 10-20 minutes to make sure it is all cooked through.

Scoop into containers once cooled a little,

I keep a few in the fridge and defrost when I start to run out.

Bear is about 30 kg and will have between 2/3 to 1 container for dinner.

This amount of food costs less than $10 for 8-12 meals.

For breakfast we give him 2 or 3 chicken wings and a few frozen mulies from the deli fishing bait freezer or sardines if we can get them cheap.

Meaty bones are always raw and we make sure they get put in the bin or compost after a day or so as dry bones wear the dog's teeth more and will get stolen by rats.

Sometimes he gets a few biscuits but not all that often.
For training treats/bribes we use biltong, which probably has less dodgy ingredients than schmackos or similar.

HumusBeingsNo effort edibles.

Considering how little effort we put into the garden at the moment it is still looking really green out there. I admit to using a bit too much water sometimes but it is our haven and provides homes for many small lizards and insects and the passing birds.
Some food has managed to survive despite us and the rats. Some capsicums grew themselves in a bamboo pot.. we didn't plant them, but they are the best caps we have grown! The rats and the pest moths don't seem to have noticed this pot over here away from the main garden.

The dragon fruit are going really well, lots of flowers and our first fruit is already in the fridge waiting to be eaten.  The dragon fruit cuttings I plonked around the fence and forgot about have now started to flower. Tough plant and good for vertical spaces.

These tiny watermelon looking fruit are a kind of gherkin that tastes like a cucumber. Mouse Melon (Melothria scabra) is it's name and they grow well if you look after them a little bit. I'm not having a lot get fertilised but hoping the bees will learn to check out their tiny flowers.  They are starting to scramble up any vertical part of the vegetable garden, so hopefully we'll get more soon.

Makrut lime leaves are delicious in Thai foods and other Asian cuisine. This little potted tree is much happier now I have given it some protection from the worst of the day's sun.

This plant is brilliant. Trombocino, a type of trailing zuchini. The fruit grow long and have a slightly different texture to zuke. It stays firmer when cooked and is a bit less starchy when eaten raw. 

Mediterranean herbs and some of the hardier ornamentals still look happy enough.
Perennials are the happiest plants out there right now. Starting seedlings is a nightmare at this time of year, with hot days coming. So, as long as I water the pots and turn on the retic every couple of mornings we might still get some tasty treats from the garden.

HumusBeingsHello fellow gardeners..

I am still out here, staring out the window.. the garden is good, the sun is shining. Having injured my shoulders doing horticultural nursery work for many years, I needed a change and have been a bit befuddled for some months about what to do that won't hurt me and uses my fairly vast knowledge of environmental and sustainability issues. It took a while but it seems to have presented itself before me.

I have added a new aspect to my environmental and sustainable work skills. In the interest of educating people not to use so many chemicals in their homes and to reduce chemical use in gardens, I am starting to do some low toxic pest control work with a friend of some years. He has been treating ants and termites and other household pests for years using least toxic and IPM methods and he is probably one of the reasons I am so into bugs, so it is great to have ended up working for his business. (I kind of always thought I would, eventually).

Integrated Pest Management has long been an interest of mine and the next course I attend will cover more IPM than in the past, as the TAFE's finally get to change chemical use towards less toxic answers. I just wish TAFE didn't cost so damn much these days.

I won't add any pictures from work coz it would be pics of ant holes and termites. Not that exciting for most people.


December 30, 2015

Petit ParadisSummer 2015

A view from the window after summer rain.

This year I was faced with the dilemma of having little time and still wanting to reap a reasonable harvest from the garden. Seed saving took a rest and I instead went through and planted out older seeds and packet seeds that had been accumulating. The best plants in the garden this year are actually the ones that came up through their own accord.

They boys have also claimed a portion of the garden with their climbing structure and play area, though I have made the most of pieces of space with container gardens.

This years crops are mainly pumpkins, beans, tomatoes, zucchinis, spinach and kale.

We have also added to the mix some new chicks, hatched by our clucky chooks and a Japanese Quail male and three hens - finally. This has been a long time coming and we are getting at least two eggs a day currently.

December 07, 2015

HumusBeingsFive main types of pest ants in the Perth area.

There are five main types of invasive ants in the Perth metro area.

Pheidole megacephala          Coastal brown/big headed ants  
Technomyrmex                      White footed ants
Linepethina                            Argentine ants  
Iridomyrmex spp (various)     Odorous ants  
Ochotellus                             Black house ants 

Firstly you must identify which Genus and possibly species of ant you have.
Identify the type of ant by its looks, food preferences, behaviours, nesting and what potential problems it is causing.
You can use DNA testing but that is expensive and in most cases they can be id'd by looking with an eyeglass or microscope. Close up examination using keys to identify needs some skills and correct information. 

Easiest identification is by observing behaviours etc (above):
*Food preferences: some ants like only sweet foods, some prefer oily foods such as vegetable oil, peanut butter or animal fats.
*Trailing behaviour. Some ants make obvious trails and walk quickly while others meander and seem less orderly.
*Sting or bite? Some ants will do one or the other, others can do both.
*Habitat/nesting type. White footed ants, for instance, will live inside buildings whereas most other ants prefer to live outdoors, only coming in if there is easy access to preferred foods.
*Smell when squashed. Some ants smell more or less strongly of formic acid when squashed and some ants don't smell at all.
*Do they dominate other ants and displace them? 

As with any pest problem always use PHYSICAL or CULTURAL CONTROL first, then least toxic solutions and highly targeted baiting.
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.
Big headed ants/coastal brown 
Pheidole megacephala  
These ants are very common around Fremantle. Easily identified by looking to see whether about 10% have large heads compared to the rest of the population of ants present. They have no smell or sting but they can cause a not-very-painful bite. They tunnel under pavers, leaving piles of sand everywhere.
They move into pots and damage plants by eating the root hairs which are high in proteins and sugars. They will also farm aphids and scale for honeydew.They will swarm at foods.
Borax bait using a plain peanut butter and vegetable oil base can be used. A highly succesful target specific product called Amdro works really well.

White footed ants
Smell when crushed and form trails. They don’t sting.
They will live inside buildings  and can appear suddenly in large numbers and then be gone again just as quick.
They will live on sites with other ants species and don't dominate.
These can be difficult to control, needing special baiting repeated frequently as they do not pass poisons to the higher orders but keep it to themselves and make clean sterile eggs for the queen. This means only soldiers die with baiting and thus it needs repetition until the nest is depleted.

Argentine ants
Linepethina humile
Argentine ants are about 2-3 mm long and smell slightly of formic acid when crushed. They have no sting and tend to create regular trails, which they move along slow or fast. They usually live outside and can form super colonies which displace other ants species.
These ants eat sugars and proteins, however sugary secretions called honeydew from scale on plants are a favourite, thus the ants will sometimes 'farm' scale insects.
These ants have multiple queens in each nest and new colonies are created when a queen and some workers move to a new area. Their nests are not always easy to identify for baiting. Least toxic control is by winter trapping of queens. Garden hygiene, removing piles of leaves, sticks etc, can provide less habitable spots for them. Other wise persistence is needed to control this hard to exterminate pest species.

Odorous ants
Iridomyrmex spp
This Genus of ants often move in after coastal browns are removed. They have a strong smell when crushed and no sting. They run riot when disturbed, running all over the creature disturbing their nest. These ants live outside in big colonies and will displace other species.
They prefer animal fats and sugar. Control is by use of targeted baits and DIY options -  2% borax  dissolved in 25% honey or sugar + 73% H2O. Place baits where there are large numbers of ants during their frenzy. 
Ant rid and other target specific ant baits are available in some hardware or pet stores.

Black house ant
Ochotellus spp
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.
These ants prefer sugar,  and can be controlled using Ant-rid.

If you still don't know what sort of ant you have you could use this service:
Identification service - Department of Agriculture and Food
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.

Specimen identification requirements
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.

May 5th 2014 was International Permaculture Day, and one of the talks was given by my old friend David Piggott from Systems Pest Management. He promotes non toxic solutions for termites and ants and willingly shared the information that I used to start these notes.

Some other resources .. 

December 05, 2015


Just a quick note in honour of World Soil Day in the International Year of the Soil – December 5th, 2015.  Did you miss it? Never mind, we can celebrate it tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day….
FOUR gifts for you today – (1) For the first time in 18 months, I’ll actually deliver what I promised to write in this next blog; (2) a brief reminder of how to hug that soil we depend on for so much, (3) I’ll give a brief rundown on my new field of study (which is slowly becoming clearer to me), and (4) an early Christmas present – Kiwano under the proverbial microscope.

Enjoy - Link to the Soil Hugger's Blog.

December 04, 2015

Fair HarvestSundowner with Charlie Mgee and Chief Monkey Sunday 29th November 2015

Sorry sold out !! It’s that Time of Year Again……………. Yayyyyy…………………..come and join us for a fabulous, fantabulous Sunday Sundowner with Charlie Mgee playing Permaculture tunes and Chief Monkey funking up the evening. Get your dancing shoes on, get your friends together, bring along your favourite beverage, throw in a picnic rug and even some snacks  (but Fair Harvest will […]

The post Sundowner with Charlie Mgee and Chief Monkey Sunday 29th November 2015 appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

November 25, 2015

Freo PermiesNovember Meeting Minutes

  Matt, Marvin, Jakki, Taryn, Jodie, May-Ring, Elaine, Fiona (by phone) Apologies from Cathy, Daniel, Renay   Taryn Hayes from Horizons childcare gave us a great overview of the vision for a food garden at the centre. They want to involve other community groups but need advice on preparing the space as a permaculture garden....

November 14, 2015

Terra Perma DesignFestivals, Fetes and Fun

Unsustainable September has well and truly spilled into October and November, but fear not, the learning continues as we prune, pick and propagate our way through all the events.  Today we'll look at learnings (through failure and success!) from the season's propagation and seed viability testing, but we'll also look at Hawke Moths, Macrofauna extraction kits, Strawberry barrels overtaken by Taro and tomatoes (companion planting specialist that I am!), our most seasonal productive plant (with a twist) and even do a little DIY pot making.  There is so much to share, so lets get on with it.  Happy reading - Link to the Soil Hugger's Blog.

October 21, 2015

Fair HarvestOpen Edible Gardens

Open Edible Gardens Weekend  – 14th & 15th November  ……..a Transition Margaret River Event. This great weekend of exploring some of the edible gardens in the Margaret River region is on again. Local gardeners have opened their plots to the public to share ideas and inspiration. From small plots to paddocks, private to public, ordered to eclectic, walk and talk […]

The post Open Edible Gardens appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

October 06, 2015

Petit ParadisFirst Cicada for Spring

Last Friday I heard the first cicada for the season. I always like to record the moment as it does seem to change from year to year.

With a number of warm days and evening rains the garden has taken off in the last few weeks. The plants that were transplanted from pots have put on new growth and have not looked back.

Fair HarvestMargaret River Organic Garden Trail

We are exited to be a part of the new Margaret River Organic Garden Trail, here is a little info about the trail and how it came to be, written by Sharyn Carroll from the Margaret River Organic Garden Pick up the newly published brochure and map from the Margaret River Visitors Centre or from any of the venues on the […]

The post Margaret River Organic Garden Trail appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

October 01, 2015

Fair HarvestHow to run a Swap Shuffle Share

How to run a Swap Shuffle Share This information we also shared in the Australia’s Permaculture Magazine PIP Magazine (issue 2).   Local Produce Swaps A couple of years ago we fell upon the idea of Produce Swapping and decided to give it a go. The following is an account of how our Swap has progressed since then, why I believe it […]

The post How to run a Swap Shuffle Share appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

September 17, 2015

Fair HarvestGardens & Cafe – Open Thursdays

Fresh, Local & Organic Eat In or Take Away 10.00 a.m.  – 3.oo p.m.   The Cafe is now closed for Winter.  We will re-open in the Spring.  Date to be confirmed… Fair Harvest Cafe 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 […]

The post Gardens & Cafe – Open Thursdays appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

September 15, 2015

Terra Perma DesignSpring has Sprung.... Again - Fungi Fun Day (Earth Star – Geastrales) + More

Happy Spring!  So much has happened since we last spoke. We’ve run a Design Course; I’ve attended the Soil Science Australia WA State Conference; and submitted my Research Proposal.  And as we gallop through Sustainable September, the silly season for every sustainable activity, workshop and festival, the pace is unlikely to slow.  But I’ll keep you up to speed on activities as well as rambling on a little about some long promised topics or just the curiosities of the day.  So today we’ll see some Fungi, revisit the Chila, check out my slowly greening thumb, spot a few creatures in the garden, get some links to recent conference info and look at a seed I have probably walked past a million times and never noticed.  Finally there’ll be a shamelessly undisguised plug for our local Primary School Fete!  Ah, should be short and sweet then!  Head to Blog

August 31, 2015

Fair HarvestMonthly Swap Shuffle Share at Fair Harvest

Swap Shuffle Share in the Old Barn  Next Swap Saturday April 16th in the Old Barn Swap Shuffle Share is a growing movement for sharing excess seed, plants and produce. Everyone seems to have a little too much of something in their garden and not quite enough of something else. Put your excess on the table and you never know what […]

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

August 28, 2015

Fair HarvestCompost Shower

10 Months of Hot Water from our compost shower Our latest compost shower was our most successful ever, giving us fabulous hot showers for 10 months. Here’s an article I recently wrote for PIP Permaculture magazine about how we build our compost shower. A few years ago we were inspired by Jean Pain’s compost hot water system and as we […]

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August 25, 2015

Freo PermiesRenayGade Blitz

  Saturday 12th September 2015 @ 9am 1/45 mengler ave Claremont FREE Tickets Team 1: (3ppl) Court yard – Espalier fruit trees and guilds Stump removal Transplant 3 plants to front garden Drill holes in bricks for hooks to run wire for espaliered fruit trees Run wire Plant fruits and guilds Feed/mulch/water Team...

August 16, 2015

Petit ParadisSeasonal Observations

Following a current Introduction to Permaculture course, I was reminded of the Noongar seasons. This has led me to continue to record seasonal observations within the garden. These are what I have noticed recently as we move back into our house & garden after nearly six months absence.

  • One of the first things I noticed was the New Holland Honeyeaters were collecting food unusually low to the ground in the nasturtiums and I suspect this is for two main reasons. The first is that there is an abundance of caterpillars, many of which are feeding on the nasturtiums [which is another use for growing them, as the nasturtiums lure caterpillars away from cropping plants]. The second is that this bounty of grubs is also coinciding with the honeyeaters raising their brood of young.
  • This is the time of the year when I first dated my wife and I remember it in conjunction with two other seasonal events. The magpies start collecting nesting material and carol throughout the night in lovely serenades. The other being that the freesias begin to bloom.
  • There is also a marked increase in the ‘woolly bear’ caterpillars and other similar haired caterpillars which from my observations seem to prefer feeding on the more obscure plants in the garden like borage, assorted weeds like sows thistles…
  • Some self-sown tomatoes that endured through winter are now fruiting.
  • Down by Eyre Park I’ve noticed the yearly excursions of the Wood Ducks up to higher vantage points such as the neighbouring house roof tops. They are starting to pair up and looking for nesting hollows high in the trees. I always wish them luck as there seems to be fewer and fewer suitable nesting hollows available.
  • The first Shield Bugs were seen yesterday.
  • Slightly further afield during a trip to Dumbleyung I noticed Shellduck had a clutch of young. Days young by the look of them. Wood Ducks were seen near nesting logs and a Grey Butcherbird was seen building a nest.

August 15, 2015

Petit ParadisPetit Paradis - A New Beginning

This past twelve months has not been a particularly easy one. Actually, one of the toughest ever. As a result there have been many changes. Not the least have been the passing of my father-in-law and moving house, TWICE.

We moved away from our Petit Paradis somewhere around the end of February with a view to selling. As Dad's condition deteriorated our time was taken up with not just caring for him, but also Mum, as Dad was Mum's carer. There simply was no time to finish the house up to a stage where I was happy to put it on the market. Mid-year Dad passed away and Mum moved in with us at the rental we were leasing. This helped to consolidate things a little better as we weren't running meals to Mum and constantly having to check her welfare. Financially it wasn't any easier however. Inevitably, it worked out much better for us to move back to our own home with Mum and make a new start.

There is a whole background story involved which I wont' go into but involves the Bank. This complicated things quite a lot and as it turned out could have saved us all the hassle of moving in the first place. However, we are now back on track and for that I am grateful.

Plus, I have learnt some things which will be of no use to me or anyone else unless I start to apply the new knowledge. When I first started this blog it was as a personal record and journal. A convenient place to store my information and photos that detailed the journey I was on. For this reason there are what I consider large gaps in the story where time was constrained too much and I was not chronicling what was happening. As you look further and further back at posts you will see where we started from. I will also be writing about this soon so that you can see the evolution, the de-construction and the re-birth.

With our return to the house I am looking at the place with new eyes, new concepts and a new future. So this I will be recording in order to share more publicly. I hope you find it useful.

Freo PermiesFair Harvest Permie Pilgrimage

Wow! Hasn’t time travelled fast. Time for me to put on my ‘Fair Harvest Permie Pilgrimage trip’ hat. I don’t know about you but I am excited. I haven’t had the luxury of visiting and from what I have heard we are in for a treat. I am just waiting to hear back from Fair...

August 05, 2015

July 31, 2015

Petit ParadisPermaculture Paradise Part II

This post is a continuation of the previous post found here.

Starting with some form of design creates a firmer commitment to actually implementing your project. And action is what is going to get the ball rolling.

Where is everything and what are our inputs and outputs?

The basics of our situation were that the house was on a slope with the back facing north. So we had high, dry points and potentially lower, damper areas. There was an existing shed and rainwater tank. We could have utilised more tanks but given it was always going to be temporary we utilised the slope to get greywater to the garden which was piped down and then put in buckets and watering can. There are two limitations to your use of water. The laws of water physics and your imagination.

What about plants, animals and structures?

We had a small shed, we had some compost bins and some exotic plants already existing in the garden which we relocated to better positions. We wanted to get chooks, but we started with compost bins and burying our kitchen scraps directly into the soil until we ran out of room. So the chooks we had pegged to go at the back of the shed. We didn’t bite off more than we could chew initially. But that came.

Incidentally we didn’t have a green waste bin. There just wasn’t one that came with the house and we never needed one. Everything went back into the system. It was either buried, composted or in the case of the eucalypts – mulched.

What about aspect?

Our backyard faced just off due north which meant the edibles were placed there. Most of our windows were exposed to the north to allow the warmth in. We seldom used extra cooling or heating and usually only just to take the edge off winter chills. In summer extremes we opened the front and back windows to flush hot air out.

Just down the road from us our like-minded neighbours lived on the opposite side of the road. So their front yard captures most of the sunlight hours and as a result their growing area for edibles is in their front yard. Our front yard was mostly shaded and consisted of natives. It was heavily mulched with wood chips and I never watered it. Even in summer. The only visit it got was to go to the mail box. It was left to its own devices and the birds, insects and reptiles loved it.

How do these things connect to each other?

The products of one element fulfil the needs of another element. We position elements or components so that they have the maximum benefit to the system. Each element serves at least two or more functions. Every important function (water collection, fire protection) is served in two or more ways. Elements are placed according to their intensity of use (zones), control of external energies (sectors) and efficient energy flow (gravity, wind and heat). Doing a page up like this is a wonderful left and right brain activity.

Where do we place elements in order to conserve energy? We place elements according to how much energy is required to attend or utilise them. 
Look also for ways you can store and extend energy storage in a system. Water tanks, solar power, preserving your garden produce, capturing heat from the sun inside to warm the house. If you saved your own seeds you could grow food using tanked water from your roof which you can then preserve using very little energy, or store it in your fridge powered by the sun. Can you start to see how utilising a bit of thinking the permaculture way, can save you money in the long run – and be better for your health? Its common sense thinking that puts money back in your pocket It’s a down, down scenario for you.

Soil: We all share a common challenge here in the Great Southern. It’s our soil, or rather, our sand. Our place like many others was built on a sand dune. This can be overcome and you can create living, dynamic soil in a rather short time. In a small area like an urban backyard, potentially a couple of inches of soil per year. In fact you have a greater chance of doing this on a smaller scale than broad scale agriculture ever will. It’s a size thing and it takes a different approach.

Kitchen scraps, newspaper print, shredded paper and cardboard have always managed do the job for me. The worms are the real heroes here and they love it and if you can keep it moist long enough for the worms to settle in, they will make it into an incredible friable soil along with their allies bacteria. You’ve no doubt heard not to feed meat, dairy, onion and citrus peels to your worms. In my experience, it’s probably a good idea for a worm farm where the little darlings don’t have much room to move.

Sheep and chicken manure is good for attracting the worms though I never used it in large quantities. The absolute very best, water retaining, dynamic areas of soil in our garden were always the areas where I had used mulch from tree clippings and cuttings. The real twiggy, woody mulch. It works so well that in our next garden I am planning to use mulch on a broader scale.

I’m not sure if you picked up on a commonality here. Much of what we use in our garden you could refer to as waste, and yet it is all put through the system and comes out as food, and returns as waste and comes out as food. A pretty rough description, but close to the truth.

Observe and Experiment – A comparison of lawn vs diversity


We started with lawn and natives. We finished with a more diverse and varied living space. As energy is expressed in a harmonic form it takes on the ability to support more life. Birds moved into our garden, rather than moving through it. During summer and autumn we have monarch caterpillars munching their way through milkweed that was planted to support them.

Permaculture builds diversity. Diversity leads to stability which then leads to increased fertility and which by design leads to potential productivity.

Diversity for diversities sake is a collection! It doesn’t mean that there are meaningful interactions occurring. There needs to be inter-active diversity. Each element must interact with other elements. There is a process to this of observing and analysing a systems interactions for feed back in order to better place elements.

You can design ‘convenience’ into your system to facilitate the events you want. My boys were curious and hungry. So the berry patch down the garden area where they arrived at first was done in order to fulfill their needs and provide shelter for the soil as well – and to try and get them to stop picking tomatoes or beans that I was keeping for seeds.

If you get the energy right, then you have harmony in your design. If you don’t get the energy right, you have pockets of chaos and disorder and it will require you to look at the connections and redirect things, otherwise nature is going to do it for you, which may or may not be to your desire. I had aquaponics along a side of the house with fish tanks underneath the house, but I wasn’t able to get the balance right before my time was shifted to raising our babies instead. But rather than sit in a state of entropy I utilised the grow beds for worm farms and growing salad. I highly recommend aquaponics and I am planning to have it as an integral part of our next garden. But it needn’t be too complex. Our fish pond was a two tiered pond with koi in the bottom pond and water loving salad greens in the top. Simple, healthy and abundant.

My three year old told his Pa rather as a matter of fact, what proper food is. Folks we do need proper food and it starts in your backyard. Why strive for sustainable living if you can’t sustain your own body?! When you grow something to eat yourself, something grows inside you. There is an understanding, a richness, a whole different appreciation of food and what it takes to get it.

If you have limitations then look at alternatives. We have several available to us in the Great Southern. We have awesome farmers markets and community gardens. Please, support these champions of sustainable living. They are the way of the future, whats old is new again.

None of this is rocket science, but it takes a bit of real thought and the willingness to not get stopped by obstacles. It helps to be a problem solver. May your way be a sustainable, permaculture way.

July 20, 2015

Fair HarvestMini BEANIE FESTIVAL – Sunday 20th September

Everyone it’s time to start KNITTING AND CROCHETING because its winter brrrrrr! So, in conjunction with Arts Margaret River, Fair Harvest are hosting:-  ONE DAY mini BEANIE FESTIVAL Sunday, 20 September – 10.00 am – 3.00 pm Entry by Donation Cafe open for coffee and snacks Come and join in with:-  – Making and Shaking Beanie Fashion Parade – lots of fun […]

The post Mini BEANIE FESTIVAL – Sunday 20th September appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

July 18, 2015

Freo PermiesCathy’s Permablitz Saturday 8th August 2015

Facebook Event: Register Now (FREE!) Details: Our newest permablitz is at Cathy’s home in South Freo on Saturday 8th August 2015. Work starts at 9am, but come at 8.30 for a cuppa if you like. Address: The address will be sent to ticketholders just prior to the event. Bring: Food and drink will be catered by Jon,...

July 15, 2015

Fair HarvestEat Your Weeds (Forage and Feast)

Coming soon to Fair Harvest……….. Forage and Feast, Tour and Workshop Saturday 22nd August – 10.00 am – 5.00 pm The workshop will be facilitated by Brooke “Sparkles” Murphy, the author of the Odd Fodder cookbook. Sparkles has over 10 years of experience as a permaculturist, and is a fully qualified naturopath of 15 years. Currently, Sparkles runs a business […]

The post Eat Your Weeds (Forage and Feast) appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

July 14, 2015

Fair HarvestIt’s Mid-Winter. What’s growing? Weeds!

So, how do we CONTROL and WORK WITH weeds?   WEED CONTROL Timing Cultivation Mulching / Covering Animals Hand weeding WORKING WITH WEEDS Green manure Weed tea Useful/edible Soil indicators Stockfeed Use in Compost As a gardener weeds have challenged me, winter after winter, to become a little less uptight. Yes… weeds happen and they can even be a positive. […]

The post It’s Mid-Winter. What’s growing? Weeds! appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

Fair HarvestFresh Greens On The Road

Once apon a time eating was all a part of the joy of traveling, but as my life has changed through knowledge and health (or lack of) the need to find good, healthy, fresh food has turned eating while traveling into a challenge. I love food, I’ve  always been a try everything type, I love tasting the local specialties however […]

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July 04, 2015

Freo PermiesMeeting Minutes Tue 30th June 2015

PRESENT: Elizabeth Fiona Jakki Lilien May Ring Renay Teresa Daniel George Matt Bob (minutes) APOLOGIES: Cathy Jodie Ruth MINUTES: Recent Blitz. Fiona. All projects that were hoped for happened. African keyhole bed, mini swales, guild planting (Fiona is still adding to them) , seed bombs (now all out) and native garden at the front.  Fiona thanked all...

June 26, 2015

Terra Perma DesignThe Permaculture Design Course - To Do or Not To Do?  On the 3rd day of the PDC.....

Another step in our adventure through the PDC.   In this blog series we’ll try to explain what is covered through out each day of the PDC and why, so hopefully, you'll have enough information to determine what a course like this can or can’t offer to meet your current needs.  Next Up - DAY 3 - Climate; Buildings/structures - design and retrofit, materials, orientation, examples to observe; appropriate technologies, plant 'retrofit'; rainwater, greywater and all water capture/loss; and finally just a little bit of where Urban Animals fit in (both our introductions and those that make their own way into our oasis.... 

Day 3 sees us back to our comfortable base camp looking at all things planty as well as a community adventure to look and discuss the features (and mental climate required for) school and community gardens.

(If you missed Day 1 - click here; Day 2 - click here)

June 20, 2015

HumusBeingsAccidental food aka sow your own weedy edibles.

One way to supplement your diet without actually having to do any gardening is to encourage the growth of edible weeds. Every year we end up with lots of Italian parsley and nettles. In the above picture is also sow thistle and chickweed, both high in minerals. Dandelion is another useful edible weed we have that looks after itself. These are all just growing in the paths around the back yard. 
Many common weeds are quite edible and some even have simple medicinal uses if prepared correctly.

Other plants that can become established by allowing them to go to seed are rocket, lettuces, amaranth, mustards, mizuna, some of the Asian leafy greens.. there's more, too.

Of course, you need to make sure you have correctly identified the plant before you eat it. Oh, and that the dog hasn't weed on it. Foraging is a great thing to get into, but please be aware of roadsides being potentially sprayed with herbicides and possibly heavy metal content may be higher from particulates from vehicles or industrial exhaust.

There is a beautful book written by a local Permaculture teacher, called The Odd Fodder Cookbook that is all about how to safely forage for weeds. It's fantastic to see people making better use of the resources around us. 

Enjoy the rains and go see what new tasty foods you can find to try out.

June 17, 2015

Freo PermiesMEETING MINUTES of Tuesday 26 May 2015

Fiona’s HousePRESENT: Fiona Jakki Lilien May Ring Ruth George Bob (minutes)APOLOGIES: Jodie Julia Daniel MattMINUTES:CommunicationGeorge reported that he had setup a mailing list using Mailchimp and this was working well. The domain is in the process of being moved from one host to another and will not be usable during this process. (it’s back!...

June 15, 2015

Terra Perma DesignThe Permaculture Design Course – To Do or Not To Do? On the 2nd Day of the PDC….

We continue our adventure through the PDC.   In this blog series we’ll try to explain what is covered through out each day of the PDC and why, so hopefully, you'll have enough information to determine what a course like this can or can’t offer to meet your current needs.  Next Up - DAY 2 - Soil, Nutrient Cycling, Seed Saving, Pruning, Propagation and just a little bit of Nursery building and importance.... 

Day 3 sees us head off on a field trip and look at home design for lower energy usage.....

(If you missed Day 1 - click here)

June 11, 2015

HumusBeingsRats. grrrr...

Rats, the scourge of our attemps to grow food in our garden. Their repeated onslaught into our brassicas, clearing kale and battering broccoli finally wore me down last summer, then of course summer comes. Hot and dry and much too long, still with very little rain compared to 'the old days'. It is not great trying to garden when you feel bad about any water you are using. 

We stopped growing anything the rats like and I have been trying to remove places they can hide. Walking out the other day I saw this confetti-like stuff. 

Weird green shavings and leaflets from the honey locust.

Rat poo and rat shavings. 

Looking up , I realised it was shavings from the stems of the dragon fruit above. Obviously not very tasty and they must be quite desperate to be chewing on that. 

Poxy rats have chewed all the green part off this cactus stem.
We bought some kale and broccoli seedlings the other day and have put cut off plastic bottles around each one for now, but I'm not sure what we'll do as they get bigger.. pesky rodents.

June 09, 2015

Terra Perma DesignThe Permaculture Design Course – To Do or Not To Do? On the 1st Day of the PDC….

Like every big question in life (let alone the more important ones about Soil!), everyone wants the same answer…..  THE RIGHT ANSWER.
But everyone who has been involved with Permaculture (or asked Charles a question) will know that we’ll all get the same answer…. IT DEPENDS.

In this BLOG SERIES we’ll try to explain what is covered through out each day of the PDC and why, so hopefully, you'll have enough information to determine what a course like this can or can’t offer to meet your current needs.  First Up - DAY 1

For past PDC-ers, welcome to memory lane..... Plus a treat at the end for those who persist!

June 08, 2015

Freo PermiesDaniel’s Peachy Place Blitz Saturday 18th July 2015

  Daniel’s Blitz Projects 1. Food Forest planting in southern wall approx 12m x .8m Cultivating soil with Greenlife mix, bentonite, coco peat, rock dust and bio char to a depth of 500mm. Planting in guilds and companions. Dig a very rich mix in for asparagus as per plan. Refer to plans for plant locations,...

June 05, 2015

Freo PermiesFiona’s (mini) Blitz – 27th June 2015

Fiona’s Blitz is almost here! Our newest permablitz is at Fiona’s (mini) blitz in Hilton on Saturday 27 June  2015.  Its a mini blitz as the garden is already established with over 30 fruit trees planted. Work starts at 9:00 am, but come at 8.30 am for a cuppa if you like. Children are welcome but your pets...

June 03, 2015

Fair HarvestBiodynamics in the Garden

Biodynamics in the Garden Good gardening seems a cross between observation, organisation and intuition – recognising and working with cycles and being open to nature’s suggestions. In the Fair Harvest veggie garden we use an Astronomy Calendar to support this process.  Activities that need doing in the garden are planned ahead according to the season, weather, the calendar and ‘a […]

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

May 12, 2015

HumusBeingsand then....

and then, twenty years later I was sooo sick of trying to grow food in Fremantle sand, with way too much shade from our much too big trees that we were recommended by permaculture people back in the day.
Since then I have learnt to research better, so I probably wouldn't be planting such big trees. I have also learnt as much as I feel I can for now about growing plants in Perth and am really uninterested in horticulture anymore. The harsh sun and the hard yakka are not something I can put up with these days. Summer never helps and now that is over, maybe a few volunteer food plants will sprout and encourage me to do more, if it ever rains.

There are of course all the other aspects of permaculture that are important, the environmental  ethics and efforts we can all make to make ourselves feel better while the government fritters away time that could be used to leave less of a mess for the next generations to cope with. Resilience and resource guarding, learning how to live more with less stuff is where it's at now. Coz the shit is gonna hit the fan in some way or another and there's an awful lot of folks who aren't ready, sadly, including myself.

I always thought (and still do) that growing food and trees is the most important thing anyone can do in the city or anywhere, to provide two of the most vital things we need for life: food, water, shelter.

People expect that we have an amazing vegetable garden, but it's pretty sparse as far as edibles go. We have two trees we need to remove to get more sun on the vegie beds. Hopefully that will be enough to allow food to grow again. Luckily the framework of the natives and the trees harbour many birds which are uplifting to watch as they come and help with the clean up of insects we can't even see.
We also have an endless supply of rodents that eat anything even slightly tasty. I guess they know where we live after so many years. Slowly slowly I remove the piles of potential breeding sites, exposing more ground for the lanky long dog to be able to explore - so far he has found the same cat twice and no mice or rats.

Trying to figure out what to do next. Education about how to live more with less stuff sounds good.

May 11, 2015

Fair HarvestBuilding a Cob Oven

BUILDING A COB OVEN One of the most exciting things about a cob, is that it is using materials collected from the property including, clay, sand, straw, rocks and recycled materials. It is one of the oldest building methods on the planet and has a tiny carbon footprint.  It also can be made with unskilled labour, although having someone to give […]

The post Building a Cob Oven appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

May 07, 2015

Freo PermiesNewsletter May 7th

Another Autumn Summer’s gone, it’s nice to play in the garden again. Welcome to our new newsletter.  We’ve been a bit remiss at communication with our members, so this email newsletter is now our main channel to you.  Sure there’s lots of activity on the Facebook Page and the Facebook Group, but we understand that’s not...

Terra Perma DesignTHE SOIL HUGGER'S JOURNEY - PICK A PLANT DAY - KLIP DAGGA (Leonotis Nepetifolia)

Back to the light and fluffy blog day - this gal is a stunner! 

Today it’s the one I’ve been most curious about….. what is its purpose? 
The Guru is definitely thinking past its beauty as I have seen it pop up in our past blogs, but never as the lead role. 

Well now it’s her time to shine – introducing The Lion’s Ear or Klip Dagga (Leonotis nepetifolia)…… But watch out for the elephant in the room ;).

Once you've read the blog, you'll understand why
I want a bunch of Klip Dagga flowers for Mother’s Day (which should be everyday by the way!) ........ but I want them still on the plant and preferably with a bird, a predatory mite and a climbing purple king attached, please!

May 06, 2015

Fair HarvestAutumn in the Fair Harvest veggie garden

Autumn in the vegetable garden is such a productive time. Early rains, cooler nights and days, plenty of sun and warm soil makes for happy plants and even happier gardeners. We thought we would share 6 things we are loving about autumn in the Fairharvest garden.   Compost The cooler months are when we make compost. As often as possible […]

The post Autumn in the Fair Harvest veggie garden appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

Freo PermiesBob and Lili’s Blitz – 30th May 2015 – Coolbellup

  Facebook Event: Tickets   Our newest permablitz is at Bob n Lili’s blitz in Coolbellup on Saturday May 30th 2015. Work starts at 9am, but come at 8.30 for a cuppa if you like. Address: Coolbellup (The address will be sent to ticket holders before the event)     Please park …….Please...

April 29, 2015

Freo PermiesForthcoming Permablitzes

Save the (Blitz) Dates:   Bob n Lili’s – Saturday 30th May – Coolbellup Fiona – Saturday 27th June – Hilton Daniel – Saturday 18th July – Hilton Cathy – (tentatively) Sunday 16th August (TBC- may be 23rd Aug)   More details to follow….

April 22, 2015

Freo PermiesPermaculture Course is go!

Hey there all you permies, it’s that time again, Sparkles in her new incarnation is running another Permaculture Design Course, set to be the best yet with a whoppingly awesome and talented list of teachers, this course runs for 12 weeks part time on Sundays.. places are filling fast to make sure you book your...

April 20, 2015

Terra Perma DesignTHE SOIL HUGGER'S JOURNEY - Amazing Stuff Happening - Early April 2015

Come for a wander around our yard and see what early April has to offer.... you'll see successes and failures; hear of experiments and accidents; and of course be exposed to a few SH opinions and we'll do something we have NEVER done before.... I'll take a short pause on the investigations of seedlings, "pretty" plants, nature's patterns, fruiting wonders and resident creatures, to pay homage to the larger beasts that provided protection for them all over the hot summer.... Until Next Time, Enjoy. SH  (BLOG LINK)

April 07, 2015

Fair HarvestInternational Permaculture Day 2015…… support of soil

International Permaculture Day 2015:   In Support of Soil! Sunday 3rd May Fair Harvest Soil Celebration Day 10am till 3pm Admission FREE Come and join us on the farm for an informative day all about soil. The farm will be open and we’ll have a range of speakers and displays with a focus on soil. Wholesome food Available from our kitchen. […]

The post International Permaculture Day 2015…… support of soil appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

Fair HarvestInternational Permaculture Day 2015…… support of soil

International Permaculture Day 2015:   In Support of Soil! Sunday 3rd May Fair Harvest Soil Celebration Day 10am till 3pm Admission FREE Come and join us on the farm for an informative day all about soil. The farm will be open and we’ll have a range of speakers and displays with a focus on soil. Wholesome food Available from our kitchen. […]

The post International Permaculture Day 2015…… support of soil appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

April 04, 2015

Terra Perma DesignTHE SOIL HUGGER'S JOURNEY - Permaculture Design - The Client Interview Sheet Part 2

We’ve already gone through (a) the Permaculture Ethics and Principles; (b) the layout of the property – have an aerial diagram and some initial interpretations; (c) performed an assessment of the impact of nature on the block (the Sun’s mainly, but also wind, water, fire and others) and (d) finally we started a ramble through the client questionnaire (Part 1) and the reasoning behind the specific questions.  And it was there on Christmas Eve, with baited breath, I left you all …. mid way through the questionnaire as preparation for Santa’s arrival could no longer be put off.  And so it is only fitting that, more than 3 months later, as we bask in the cooler weather of an alternate super long weekend, we head back to pick up the proverbial design ball and run with it….  PART 2 - Completing the Story

March 22, 2015

Petit ParadisAlbany Permaculture Group Forming

Following feedback from the Sustainable Living Expo we are in the stages of getting a permaculture group up and running in Albany, Western Australia. For those that attended the presentation and/or speed dating events that expressed an interest, please use either this Facebook link or contact me via the seed savers email you were given.

Our first gathering is likely to take place in late April to flesh out some organisational stuff and get the ball rolling. The main request from those with whom the idea has been discussed with, is to do permablitz type events and hands-on design activities.

Your feedback or suggestions can be posted on the facebook site or emailed.


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