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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.

November 05, 2015

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

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 […]

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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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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.     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 a variety of people. They feed us, they provide a place […]

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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

September 01, 2015

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 also seem to have started fostering greys too, one sweet girl at a time..

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

1 cup of white rice
optional couple of handfuls of orange lentils
about 800 ml water

200 -250 grams each of carrots
sweet potato
pumpkin or some combo or the abvove four veg, diced fairly small

a sprinkle of curry powder and or herbs to make it smell better
turmeric just in case it really is good for them

300-500 grams of mince or pre pulped dog mince

Let the rice and veges cook for 20 odd minutes, stirring so the rice doesnt all stick.

when you are fairly sure the rice is cooked, add the mince and stir it through..
cook for another 10-20 mins 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.

Sometimes he gets a few biscuits bot all that often..
as training treats/bribes we use biltong, less dodgy stuff in them than shchmackos or similar.

August 31, 2015

Fair HarvestMonthly Swap Shuffle Share at Fair Harvest

Swap Shuffle Share in the Old Barn  Special Christmas Swap at Janny and Pete’s 502 Carters Rd (just next door to Fair Harvest) Dec 19th. Bring a plate to share, a small home made gift and your bathers and towel! Swap Shuffle Share is a growing movement for sharing excess seed, plants and produce. Everyone seems to […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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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, […]

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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, […]

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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 […]

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 […]

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.

March 19, 2015

Petit ParadisPitaya Flowers @ Petit Paradis

We had a really mild, barmy night on Tuesday night which was followed by an overcast early morning with slight drizzle. I suspected that the pitaya would have opened flowers overnight, but I was not up for the astonishing sight as I came out of the house to find these two wonderful flowers in full bloom and at eye level to me.

You can see the flower that opened earlier the previous night. I used a paint brush to transfer pollen between the flowers and look forward to possibly seeing some fruit develop. Happy just to get them to this magnificent stage however. 

Freo PermiesNext Blitz is on 26 April 2015 at 9:30am – Parmelia

                                Jakki’s glitzy blitz! Exciting times! help Jakki create a garden of productivity and love! Even if you cant make it until later, but want to come n give a hand, any n all help is much appreciated!  ...

March 18, 2015


Previously we've discussed the most precious gardening resources are water, soil and sunlight.  We also stepped through how we can have a ripper productive garden through summer and not squander Perth’s rare two of the three most precious resources – water or soil nutrients. Well, let's revisit the Wicking Beds featured in that discussion and see just how they fared towards the end of Summer 2014/2015 - Soil Hugger's next BLOG - Did we survive?
If you would like to go back and look at in-ground and raised wicking beds in detail within the previous blog - head to: Planting in Spring…. Surviving through Summer – Wicking Beds are one Option!

March 16, 2015

Fair HarvestArt and Nature

We have been fortunate lately to work with some inspired nature artists, in particular Cynamon Aeria and Elaine Clocherty. these women have brought with them a way of interacting with nature that goes beyond our normal working, growing and  tending the land. Elaine and Cynamon see nature itself as a pallet of colours, shapes and textures, weaving and layering them […]

The post Art and Nature appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

March 14, 2015

Petit ParadisPermaculture Paradise Part I - Sustainable Living Fair & Expo Presentation

After returning from the fantastic Expo this afternoon with the feedback received following my presentation I have decided to post the basis for my presentation. This is part one. And I had thought it might be in lieu of doing a 5 Year Update post, but I think that will be forthcoming too! 

The Story of Petit Paradis

I want to encourage you to grow at least some food in your own living space. Three or four generations ago we did this anyway. How soon we’ve lost touch. It takes so little room and in our society we’ve got a lot of space in comparison to other countries. And you’ll reap multiple benefits.

When I was asked if I would do a presentation for the Expo I wanted to talk about permaculture and growing food in your own backyard. I could have chosen seed saving, its what a lot of people associate me with, but I’ve also gained a reputation for my family garden where I practice permaculture principles. Over the years we've hosted some open garden events and had a couple of Living Smart course participants come through also. Permaculture comes from the words permanent culture – and in its truest context we mean a sustainable culture. Because a sustainable culture will lead to a state of permanence and resilience.

When my wife and I moved into our house five years ago my goal was to grow what I could from my own backyard and supplement it with produce from the local farmers market. I wanted to take more responsibility for my food. And I wanted to do it because we were about to grow as a family and I wanted my kids to know about Nature and our connections to it. I have a background in hospitality and I wanted my kids to know the real source of food. From the seed to the table.

Our house and garden was on a 500m2 block here in Albany, in Spencer Park. I remember watching the house get built when I lived down the street from it and thinking “It' so small, who would want to live there?” Anyway, …. some years later, married and returning from Perth and looking for a new home, my wife and I were living there. So I turned it into an urban oasis. By thinking big on a small scale.

It was a two step process. 

  1. Eradicate the lawn,  and
  2. Grow food.

There came a collective cry of concern from friends and family.
 “Nooooooooooo. Where are your children going to play? They need a lawn to run and play and be kids!”

To which I would reply… "In the park! Where the nice bloke from the City mows the lawn! I turned 40 last year and I mowed my first lawn about 6 months ago. I see that as an accomplishment. I’ve owned three houses and I’ve killed the lawn at virtually every one of them! Lawn has a place, but its not at my place! Why, because I don’t eat lawn, my family won’t eat the stuff and I’ve yet to meet anyone that does!

Instead of lawn in our backyard we had koi and at one point rainbow trout, chooks, free-range guinea pigs, worm farms, fruit trees, vege gardens, herbs, berries, bananas, it evolved with every passing year to suit the needs of a growing family. We had sub tropical plants. We’ve got dragon fruit flowering right at the moment. The most time spent away from home was on average 3 days and everything would tick along nicely in that time frame without any concern. Anything beyond that was a matter of getting friends or family to keep an eye on it.,

In its last incarnation a whole side garden became a jungle of berries for our boys to graze on at their whim and fancy. It wasn’t the be all and end all of our food consumption by any means, but it filled our lives with extra nutrition, interest, entertainment and a place to relax and unwind as we wandered through it.

Here is the flipside to my social experiment with not having lawn. My 3 year old garden grub son will show you how to pick a tomato properly, what a tamarillo is, how to suck the sweet juice from a stick of sugar cane, where to find the chook eggs and get them to the kitchen in one piece. He became my number one snail and slug collector and fed them to the chickens and fish. And he developed patience by waiting, waiting, waiting for those delicious strawberries to finally ripen.

But one thing bemused me about our garden.

Unsuspecting visitors to our house would come in and look out the window and, upon being immediately confronted by our urban jungle I more often than not heard these words.
“Wow, you’ve got a garden.”
And I guess once they realised they’d just stated the obvious out loud, they would then usually add something like...
“I mean, you’ve actually got a GAAAARDEN.”

And yes, our garden stood in stark contrast to the neighbouring backyards. On google maps it’s a little green oasis in a sea of rooftops, browning lawn, concrete and paving. Over time I grew to better understand our visitors remarks. I came to realise we've totally, literally, lost THE PLOT. Our backyards are getting smaller and the indoor home entertainment area is getting bigger. We're subdividing our land. We're even building houses nowadays with virtually no backyard to begin with!

So what can you do? How can you move towards where you want to go, starting with what you’ve already got. Well, I want you to know you don’t need a heap of room to grow your own food. And most of us have a backyard or a space we can utilise if we really put our minds to it. Well, lets take a look at some considerations and please keep in mind your own house and land as I go through some of these.

The best starting place is a plan. Now stay with me here. Its as simple as a mud map, on a good day we’ll call it a sketch. A design which incorporates the various elements you want and will enable you to move towards your vision with a step by step plan.

And allow me to tell you right here that permaculture does not exist in a black and white realm of design. Its sustainable, it’s green, its organic, its not fixed, it’s fluid - things change, you change, your requirements change. Things in your environment that are outside your control change. You will go far if you can understand this and embrace it right from the start.

To be continued ...

A Garden Salad - with some important community connections. Parmesan cheese and Macadamia nuts from the Albany Farmer's Market, and smoked garlic from a friends gardening and preserving efforts. Everything else came out of our own garden.

March 11, 2015

Petit ParadisPitaya, Thriving on Neglect

I have been so tied up recently, busy with moving house(s) and all manner of other stuff that I care not to mention - that on a quick inspection of the garden on the 25th of February I discovered much to my joy 8 small buds forming on the Dragonfruit. What is amazing is how quickly they are growing.

The top photos where taken two weeks prior to the below pics. In the meantime a few have fallen off. There are about five remaining and the loss was probably due to a lack of water. Still, I talk to it nicely and it's doing really well.

I'll post more as the story 'unfolds' and time permits. Other plants thriving on neglect in the garden are Mouse Melons, Snake Beans, Marigolds and Sweet Potato.

March 03, 2015

Petit ParadisMid Summer Update 2015

A week or so ago I began to sort through some of the soil from the chook pen and managed to extract a few decent wheelbarrow loads of soil which I used to pot up seedlings and the odd avocado seed or mango seed that I found along the way. This is the second time I have 'mined' the chicken yard to get soil to top up containers instead of purchasing potting mix and it works well and is already inoculated with micro-organisms, matured chicken manure and tiny, tiny immature compost worms. It's great stuff. 

What happens of course is that along with whatever I am trying to grow in the pot, dozens of 'weed' plants also pop up. This did cause some despair at first until on careful observation I realised that the majority of them we can eat ourselves and the others are great feed for the chickens. So given that most of our plantings are in containers it is not such a big call to weed them out over time - especially when I am picking and thinning out for using in salads for lunch at work.

Something of an anomaly for us this year is the noticeable absence of Monarch butterflies. Only one has been sighted to my knowledge earlier in January. Ironically, of all years, I actually have a decent supply of milkweed for the caterpillars to feed on. On the upside however is that given the plants have not been eaten bare they have managed to set a decent bunch of seed pods which I will harvest for growing out a small forest of these plants to put to good use next season.

Last week I also managed to find some sweet potatoes in the garden. Normally I dig for these around autumn but with areas of the garden dying off and drying out I decided to hunt around. If there wasn't going to be a find of any sort then I would plan to plant out the garden earlier. This was the harvest I found in one area of barely a metre squared.

I thought that this year I would train the grape vine out into the garden to help reduce the impact of the easterlies in summer. I think it has worked but probably took energy from the plant which it would have put into fruit otherwise. Despite this, the vine was covered in more bunches than I have seen previous years, as though it has established itself after nearly five years and was tapping into some reliable water supply. Our boys got stuck into the bunches that the silver-eyes didn't get to and the rest were quickly harvested by my wife to dry out into delectable little currants.

This is a scene of the mid-summer jungle. Already plants are drying out and the garden is transitioning into an autumn looking garden as the vine leaves have turned colour in this last week quite quickly and are already falling from the vine, dried, brown or golden, and ready for the compost heap.

Petit ParadisSustainable Living Festival - Albany

Displaying Fair and Expo logo .png

Coming to town soon. Click on the image for further information.

March 02, 2015

Terra Perma DesignThe Soil Hugger's Journey - Pick an Insect Day - The Tiger Crane Fly

Have you ever glanced out of the corner of your eye and seen a mozzie which looks like it just stepped out of your worst night mare?  A massive beast with super long kinky legs plus orange and black stripes down its body.  Surely the bite of this foul creature would be agony in the form of both pain and itchiness! 
But hang on something seems to be missing….
Meet our next guest -
the Tiger Crane Fly (Nephrotoma Australasiae).
Find out just how much we should be fearing this garden visitor!

Shaun's Backyard005: Biointensive Growing in a Permaculture System

Biointensive Growing in a Permaculture System

My Biointensive growing bed, double-dug, amended and shaped, ready for planting.

My Biointensive growing bed, double-dug, amended and shaped, ready for planting.

Before I found out about permaculture, I was studying up on the bio-intensive method of growing food, and was about to dedicate the whole property to a biointensive farming system. As it happened, permaculture swept me off my feet and into a swirl of fascinating ideas and possible directions. As the dust settles now – as my head drifts gently out of the clouds, the bio-intensive idea is still glowing, but not as something separate from permaculture, but as an integral part of it.

The culmination of 30+ years of bio-intensive research and technique. They're up to 8th edition now.

The culmination of 30+ years of bio-intensive research and technique. They’re up to 8th edition now.

The biointensive growing method is an organic small-scale farming method designed to allow a maximum yield for a given area of land. The beds are rectangular and just wide enough that you can reach to the centre from either side without stepping into the bed. The soil is prepared by ‘double-digging’ – loosening the soil to a depth of 2ft whilst involving compost and other organic amendments. Loosening the soil to such depth allows the roots of plants to extend effortlessly, enabling them to take up more water and nutrients. The extra vertical space also enables you to plant with a much closer spacing, which means more produce from a smaller area of land. Finally, the beds are mounded up (raised), with a 45deg slope around the sides, which is also planted into. By the time crops are established, the soil is completed shaded and maximised.

Biointensive growing patterns, for maximum yields in small plots - a valid strategy for urban permaculture designs.

Biointensive growing patterns, for maximum yields in small plots – a valid strategy for urban permaculture designs.

Now this method is quite removed from any pattern in nature, and there’s probably permies out there who would contest the biointensive method, but I think biointensive growing beds can integrate nicely into a permaculture system, and I’m going to find out for sure.

There’s a flat area of land in the front yard which was sheet mulched 3 years ago. It’s since had a few trees put in and they’re taking off slowly. I had paved a narrow pathway dividing the area into biointensive-sized plots before I got involved with permaculture, but after crop failures due to the poor quality of the soil (and the farmer), I mulched right over the area and left it. Now, the soil is ready, and so am I.

Soil amendments and compost are spread over the surface before the bed is double-dug.

Soil amendments and compost are spread over the surface before the bed is double-dug.

I’ve excavated the paved path, and double-dug a single bed, adding copious amounts of clay (could probably add a lot more), worm castings and partially cured compost. Due to the enormous amount of mulch being mixed into this soil (enough to call it hugelkultur!), I’m likely to run into a ‘nitrogen draw-down’ situation where microbes breaking down all that mulch will temporarily take up all the nitrogen in the soil, leaving none for plant growth. That’s okay for now, because the first crops are going to be nitrogen-fixing legumes, which take much of their nitrogen from the air and actually make it more available in the soil. I will experiment with some other veg too, but without any lofty expectations.

As mentioned before, I see a spectrum spanning from unmanaged wilderness to the other extreme of petro-chemical agriculture, and permaculture is anywhere along that spectrum that’s sustainable or regenerative. The core goal of bio-intensive growing is closed-system sustainability. So while it’s closer to the artificiality of industrial agriculture (something permies try to steer clear of), it’s only artificial in its soil preparation and plant spacing – the rest is left to natural organic processes. The results, well, I’ll post an update and let you know…

If you’re working at establishing a permaculture system in your backyard, but want to dedicate an area to intensive annual vegetables, consider the biointensive growing method, established by Alan Chadwick and further developed by John Jeavons and Ecology Action.




Shaun's Backyard004: Permaculture as a Peaceful Lifestyle

A leucaena tree I cut down, but nature decided to regrow. The part I cut down I hammered into the ground as a stake - it regrew as well.

A leucaena tree I cut down, but nature decided to regrow. The part I cut down was hammered into the ground as a stake – it regrew as well. Nature having her way!

Permaculture has always meant heading in a direction – a direction toward sustainability, both in agriculture and culture. But what is it doing to us in the meantime?

As we move toward that common goal, each of us experiences many shifts in our perception; changes in the way we see the world, what’s important to us, and what we expect out of life. But what’s happening underneath is something much more subtle and (pardon my bias) something much more beautiful than just rewriting our coding or changing plans. It’s a shift toward a more peaceful way of life.

When we think of peaceful moments in our lives, we tend to think of brief moments of calm, usually after something has been accomplished. When we’re asked to think of a peaceful lifestyle, we can’t quiet get our heads around it, because we’re so used to a frenetic perpetuation of struggle, which is seen as a kind of requirement for success, and success with little or no effort is seen as either a kind of laziness or exploitation – not something to work toward, perhaps even something to avoid. But permaculture does offer us just that – that we can live quite harmoniously with nature, and have our needs taken care of with far less effort than we’re used to. Is that laziness? Is that exploitative?

Working with nature at first seems like a kind of utility; a sense that once we know nature’s patterns we can control and exploit her for all her worth, but in practice this attitude gives way to a more humble perspective – that we are just playing a part in the process, and that nature is much larger than anything we could ever control. With that comes a relinquishing – a lessening of our grip, as we begin to take part in those natural processes we once sought to control. To give up is something we often shun as a weakness, but, giving up our relentless struggle for control, we find peace.

As I look at the backyard, it becomes unclear to me how much of this was really me, and how much was nature having her way with me.

Good things


February 17, 2015

Terra Perma DesignThe Soil Hugger's Journey - Pick a Plant Day - The Slipper Gourd

Back to the light and fluffy blog day, this time I come bearing fruit! 

This handsome chap and his siblings will hold the limelight (from the salad bowl) for many dinner parties to come…. at least until we get around to making cocktails from the African Cucumber - a blog to look forward to!

Introducing: The Slipper Gourd (Cyclanthera pedata)

Read about the plant's origin, preferred growing condition, reported edible/medicinal properties and our experience.  He's a real ripper for Perth.

February 10, 2015

Fair HarvestWeaving with women and International Women’s Day 2015

Last weekend the Wardan Aboriginional Culture Centre opened its gate to women only and for the 4th time this included all women, not just indigenous women. It was an honour,  not only to be welcomed into the space but to be made to feel absolutely a part of the shared culture of this land along with the great […]

The post Weaving with women and International Women’s Day 2015 appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.

February 05, 2015

Terra Perma DesignThe Soil Hugger's Journey - GUEST BLOG - Spider Mites (Charles Otway)

Terra Perma's own Charles Otway giving us a rundown on the symptoms, historical battle and current measures being tested to control the summer nemesis known as the Bean Spider Mite (Tetranychus ludeni).  

This blog features a candid discussion of the decision to import
Phytoseiulus persimilis into the Terra Perma garden. Plus some brilliant photos to explain the difference between the good and bad mites.

Fair HarvestPermaculture Design Certificate Jan 2015

Congratulations to another group of Permaculture Design Certificate graduates, this course has certainly become one of the highlights of our year and each one just seems to be a little bit better than the last. This year saw two, new, young teachers introduced to the course, Byron Joel from Oak Tree Designs, a passionate and […]

The post Permaculture Design Certificate Jan 2015 appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.


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