November 08, 2016
October was such a big month in the Permaculture world with some of the most amazing thinkers and doers from Australia and New Zealand converging in WA for a month of festivity, sharing ideas, visiting properties, running courses and generally immersing themselves in Permaculture. Unfortunately for us it is also one of the busiest times on the farm with everything […]
November 07, 2016
Learn Permaculture Design … a real life project! An important part of our Permaculture Design Certificate is the real life design project. For each course we choose a property that we feel will give the students the best learning opportunity for their future work as designers. As we get a range of students from rural and urban settings we like to choose a property […]
November 02, 2016
October 25, 2016
Festival of Fibre Program Nov 27 2016 Fair Harvest Permaculture 426 Carters Rd Margaret River W.A. from 10am – 4pm entry $10 kids $5 under 5’s free (ticket sales at the gate ) Thank you to everyone that has put their hands up to get involved in the Festival of Fibre , it’s shaping up to be a beautiful day. […]
October 11, 2016
I’m not so much a cook as a lover of tastes I imagine them in my mouth colliding with each other, simple strong earth tastes not needing too much tampering In fact, truth is, I start tampering and I loose it. Complex recipes are not for me My staple is pesto not the cheesy stuff you can buy, the fresh […]
Living in an area that receives all of its water over the winter months and almost none over the summer means that most productive food gardens are irrigated to some extent. Taking the challenge to create a garden that has no access to water means thinking carefully about catching and storing every available bit of water that passes as well as being prepared […]
The post Catch and Store Energy ……….Creating an edible garden with no water access appeared first on Fair Harvest Permaculture.
October 09, 2016
October 04, 2016
October 03, 2016
Blogspot has served me well and Hopefully all this will stay here. Maybe I can move it over there? I'm not sure. But, please, come and have a look at the new site. There is more about sustainability in the home as well as gardening tips and info for the dry old sands of the Swan Coastal Plain and other similar cruddy sands on the west coasts of various countries.
September 24, 2016
September 07, 2016
September 05, 2016
|A part of the garden as it was at the end of winter.|
August 29, 2016
August 25, 2016
An Amazing Weekend of Social Permaculture Look who’s coming to Fair Harvest over the weekend of the 15th, 16th and 17th of Oct Robin Clayfield and Robina McCurdy have worked nationally and internationally on developing permaculture, community projects, social permaculture, seed saving, innovative teaching styles and so much more. They truly live and breath the Ethics of Permaculture and […]
August 22, 2016
August 03, 2016
July 27, 2016
The bannah grass and Acacia leaves make great compost (but we just killed the Acacia, oh well).
Pulling apart the bin is a bit of a progression in that it takes a few goes to get there. If you don't mind cockroaches you can maybe go quicker.
The top layers tend to harbour cockroaches. I let them escape and leave the lid off so that the worms can retreat into the dark. That's when I take a few bucketfuls of the worm goodies and spread them around or put them somewhere out of the sun and rain. Once you expose worms, leave it again for a few hours/days. Then you can collect some more. It gives a few things a chance to move out before you take their home away.
As I rolled the tyres around big clods of worm poo was falling out.. fertilising on the go!! The tyres are going to be moved to a new spot in our front garden to help the hedge grow faster.
This one has lots of roots in it. I'm guessing asparagus, but not sure yet. Have to keep digging.
This is the lower part of the worm bin, it is drier and a bit more aged. Even if the nutrients are gone, this adds humus and structure to the soil when it is added. As you can also see, we eat a bit of chicken. One weird phenomena with these loooong time composts is that as you get closer to the bottom, more and more concentrated layers appear.. eggshells, bits of plastic, some still totally readable and brightly coloured. And allllll the bones.. I did put a dead raven in here at one point.. didn't manage to come across it's skull though in my unruly vermicompost digging.
It adds a fair bit of time to having to sort it out though and these little bits of plastic and bones are fiddly to have to pick out. We have a sieve (plastic plant tray with big holes) to help get some of the bones out.
July 23, 2016
July 16, 2016
For the last four years we have held a festival at the end of spring. Starting with the Festival of Forgotten Skills, then a Bee Fair, another Forgotten Skills and a Beanie Festival. All of these festivals have been fun, family orientated and informative. They have been largely run by volunteers and we have managed to keep the entry fee […]
July 15, 2016
Do and I just completed the Holistic Management course with Brian Wehlburg from Inside Outside Management and it has inspired and encouraged us in many areas of our lives. It is fantastic to see a course that is primarily aimed at farmers start with personal goals around health, family, environment, community and finance. Starting with getting people to take a […]
June 30, 2016
June 18, 2016
Roasting green coffee beans using an old popcorn maker.
Read the full article on how I roast coffee here.
Before I roasted coffee for the first time, I had never seen green beans before. They were smaller than I expected, heavier too, and they didn’t smell like coffee.
The roaster I first used and still use to this day is a simple popcorn maker, which uses hot air to whirl the beans and roast them evenly, much like a commercial coffee roaster. The results are the same, only with a popcorn maker its only possible to roast 100g of beans at a time.
The first batch I ever roasted was perfect! I can still remember; they were Brazilian beans, roasted medium dark until their oils glistened over their surfaces. I had bought some professionally roasted Brazilian beans to compare them to. At three times the price, you can imagine the thrill of finding mine to be slightly better! Needless to say I was sold on home-roasting.
The next few weeks after the first roast saw me trying in vane to roast another batch exactly like the first. All my roasts were slightly sour, bitter or too burnt, and none of them roasted in the same time frame as the first.
When green coffee beans are roasted, they go through phases of change affectionately known as ‘first crack’ and ‘second crack’. First crack is a loud cracking sound made by each bean as it expands in size and adjusts. At the right temperature, this should happen sometime around 4 minutes after the roast begins. Second crack sounds different; it’s when the outer shells of the beans are caramelizing and shattering – each bean crackles during this phase and this should be heard sometime around the 7 minute mark. The roast can be stopped any time after first crack – sooner will yield a light roast, and dark roasts are achieved during second crack.
There’s no temperature control on my popcorn maker, and with the same weight of beans as before, I was at the end of my tether before I remembered that during the first roast, I had a fan plugged into the same outlet. I recreated these conditions and found that the fan was drawing down slightly on the power going to the roaster, which made for a slower roast. Finally I could roast coffee (at least those Brazilian beans) reliably well each time.
I’ve since found that varying the amount of beans in the popcorn maker has an effect on the roasting time; less beans allows the hot air to leave the system quickly, slowing down the roast, whereas more beans traps hot air in and the beans roast quicker. Somewhere between 90g and 100g is where I’ve had best results. A different machine will need some experimenting to find the right ‘control’.
A good way to sample your roasted beans is to grab a couple – once they’re cooled – and eat em! Yes they should be bitter, yes they should be burnt, yes they should be sour, all of which might make this a horrible experience for you, but squint and focus on each of these tastes, as a good coffee is when all of these tastes are present but none obviously stronger than the others – eg if they’re more sour than burnt or bitter, chances are you didn’t roast them long enough, and of course too burnt means you let them go too long. On top of these major tastes, coffee has potentially hundreds of taste components for you to explore, but I’m not that sophisticated, so I’m just taking in the basics when I’m crunching down on them. Note also that you won’t get any additional flavours out of your coffee that aren’t already present in the beans that you’re crunching on – everything that’s possible should be present, and from here the coffee making process can only emphasise or destroy the flavours that are there.
Roasted beans are said to be good for about 13 days, after which too many of the volatile oils in the beans have gassed off and a really good coffee is no longer possible. Some people freeze their roasted beans to slow down this degradation, but it’s difficult to get away from the fact that the best coffee will come from freshly roasted beans, and its expensive to buy small batches of roasted beans every week or two. Green beans however, are said to be good for a year, stored in a dark cupboard in a cotton/breathable bag. Roasting green beans any time during this year will yield good results, so you can buy in bulk, roast a small amount each week or two, and enjoy the freshest coffee in town. And did I mention green beans are a 3rd the price of the same beans roasted?
See a video of how I roast coffee here.
Are you a coffee roaster?
What’s your secret?
What’s your favourite variety or blend and why?
June 16, 2016
Then there were the two large, deciduous trees we planted early on when we moved in. Paulownia and Gleditsia are both excellent trees with many uses. Beautiful shade and flowers and the leaves drop, letting in winter sun and feeding the soil, but wow, did they get big quick!
After a few years of way too much shade and the trees stealing all the water from our vegetable patch came the realisation that they had to go. We knew there would be issues with suckering so had that to look forward to for at least a year before it stops trying to fill the entire garden with itself. The Paulownia can also sucker but seemed less likely to cause problems.
We invited a friend to come and cut them down for us. He had some chainsaws he had found at the swap meet and fixed so was keen to test them.
Once we had the stump of the honey locust (Gleditsia) we decided to try a tactic someone had suggested for killing off a suckering tree.
The idea is to cover the stump with charcoal and let it burn as far down as you can. Normally more likely done with dry stumps but we wantted to mess it up as much as we could without using herbicide (that comes later).
|Cutting a grid to leat heat in.|
|These things burnt for hours.|
|Next morning after fire.|
|Not looking too happy.|
June 07, 2016
June 01, 2016
May 24, 2016
April 28, 2016
April 25, 2016
|Leucaena seeds gathered by rain.|
|Trying to hide the road.|
|Tiny happy mandarine shrub.|
|Spot the houndie.|
|Rodents have eaten the kale.|
|Ziggy the greyhound.|
|Moringa planted in the ground. Will it make it?|
It'd be good if it rained some more, though...
April 05, 2016
March 21, 2016
February 03, 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 […]
January 29, 2016
January 25, 2016
|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
January 11, 2016
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.
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
A view from the window after summer rain.
December 07, 2015
This includes removing food sources, keeping benches clean where ants are indoors and finding gaps and sealing them to prevent incursion of the tiny insects.
Ant rid and other target specific ant baits are available in some hardware or pet stores.
Sometimes outside but mostly inside, the black house ants only have a slight smell and are timid, they are easily discouraged by wiping surfaces with eucalyptus oil. They have no sting.
If you still don't know what sort of ant you have you could use this service:
Correct identification of the pest ant is crucial before commencing any control procedures. There are pest ants that can be more easily controlled based on advice appropriate to that species. A free identification and advisory service is provided by the Department of Agriculture and Food. To submit specimens for identification, stick about a dozen ants to a piece of paper with clear tape and enter your contact details on the paper. Ensure the ants are collected from a clean surface. This will prevent picking up sand and other debris which can allow the ants to escape from under the sticky tape, or spray the ants first with fly spray.
When sending or delivering samples, the following information is required:
• Collector’s name, location (where the specimen was found), full address, telephone number and e-mail address, description of the damage and date collected.
Department of Agriculture and Food
Pest and Disease Information Service
3 Baron Hay Court, South Perth WA 6151 Freecall: 1800 084 881
Once you know what you have but still don't know how to control the pest at hand contact Systems Pest Management, Fremantle for advice on the least toxic way to control your pest ants.
Some other resources ..
December 05, 2015
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
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
November 14, 2015
October 21, 2015
Open Edible Gardens Weekend – 14th & 15th November 2015……..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 […]
October 06, 2015
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.
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 […]
October 01, 2015
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 […]
September 17, 2015
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 […]
September 15, 2015
August 31, 2015
Swap Shuffle Share 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 you may end up taking home. We’ve also […]
August 28, 2015
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 […]
August 25, 2015
August 16, 2015
- 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
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.
August 05, 2015
Day 4 consists of a technical morning of botany, the purpose of trees and how they can fulfill so many roles within a system. This is followed by an afternoon in the field exploring the importance of community and what is possible when like minded people work together. With an understanding of plants of different characteristics work together in a garden context is not so dissimilar to an understanding how individuals in the community work better with support, both for themselves and initiatives which encourage others.
(If you missed Day 1 - click here; Day 2 - click here; Day 3 - click here)